By Dottie Dewberry
For the WPT
“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”
Celebrating 100 years, the Vickers House stands proud and straight as any house built with the most in modern technology. It was amazing to see the walls straight as arrows, the corners still perfect right angles and floors without dips and sways.
Mr. William Owen Vickers, the builder and original owner of the home, should be proud of this fine home that stands as erect as it ever did.
According to ones that I talked with, the walls, floors and ceiling are all built of heart-pine lumber. I was told that the lumber for the house was cut from the property where it stands. The trees were then milled and planed on site by William Owen and his brothers, Mark and Mike Vickers.
The walls, floors and ceiling are constructed out of tongue-and-groove boards that measure about 4 inches wide. Few places in the walls have boards that abut each other. All the planks were cut the length to fit the spot where they reside today. The trueness of the walls, corners and ceiling is amazing for a building of this age.
The exterior is lapboard with a few places where windows have been filled in using the same type of lumber, leaving an outline of the filled-in shape.
I was told by one of the family descendants that the walls were hollow from the bottom to the top for ventilation, which is especially useful in the summertime.
According to the present owners, the place is too cold to live in during the winter, which they did for two years. According to one story, they took the temperature in the hall, and it was colder inside the house than it was outside. Go figure. They then built a new modern house next door.
The present-day owners, James and Francine Vickers, revealed that they had replaced windows, replumbed the water lines and added a metal roof. Obviously the house has a fantastic foundation as everything is plumb: perpendicular, upright, level, vertical.
They said that a bathroom, kitchen cabinets and closets were added during the 1960s. They also have an original look-alike, usable outhouse built quite near the old home.
The only original furniture is a straight-back chair that resides in honor on top of an old, old refrigerator in the kitchen. This is to keep people from sitting in it. It is pegged together and looks like it had been sat in many times and for many hours.
When I commented on the cornice window shelves, I was told they were put there so they could display various pieces of glassware or metal ware, which has been donated by members of the original family down through the generations.
Throughout the years, the family has hosted parties for the huge extended family, which Francine Vickers told me started originally with nine kids, 21 grandkids and unnumbered great-grandkids, who all have a blast running up and down the steep hill where the house is sitting at the edge of Winston County. The family is spread over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, California.
For the Nov. 30, birthday party, some of the family had cooked jambalaya in an old washpot. Inside were tables of treats and all kinds of drinks (hot or cold) for the discerning palate.
On the walls in various rooms were pictures of kids and grown-ups that have long gone on to meet their maker. There is a framed diploma for William Owen Vickers and a framed Course of Study price list for books used in the public schools in Mississippi during the 1920-25 eras. It was interesting to note that the diploma spelled Sturgis as “Sturges.” He was a schoolteacher at a one-room school called Shady Grove. It was located where today`s Morgantown Road and Hwy. 25 intersect.
The original owner of the house as stated before is William Owen and his wife, Mary Evie Green Vickers. They had nine children: James Green Vickers, who married Nell VanLandingham; Marshall Morris Vickers, who married Mary Marvel Spence; Mary Neva ,Vickers who married Ickie Arthur and then married Lauren Huss; John Smith Vickers, who married Thelma Lindsey; Paul John Vickers, who married Ruby Spence; Daniel Webster Vickers, who married Dorothy Rose Crowson; Ed Vickers, who married Beatrice Ellis; Francis Vickers, who married Edwin Hudspeth; and the last and only one still living is Maudean Vickers Jackson, who married M.T. Jackson.
At the party were two generations of her descendants: Ralph Jackson and Vickie Jackson Lowery and Ralph`s son, Daniel Jackson, who is an Oktibbeha County supervisor.
After much discussion and figuring, it was decided that members of the third, fourth, and fifth generations were present.
Marshall Morris Vickers` child, James Marshall Vickers, had two grandchildren present: Rush and Owen Phipps, who are fifth generation. Their mother is Jamie Vickers Phipps, which makes her the fourth generation.
Descendants were also present from Mike and Mark Vickers, who are brothers to William Owen Vickers. They are the two brothers who helped to build the house in the beginning 100 years ago.
It was a true celebration for a beautiful house still standing proud and erect, and sheltering all who seek her portals.