AGE 13
DATE OF DEATH:  8/22/1926

Emails submitted by:  Delores Straight - Cousin

First Email - 6/17/02

Dear Texas Bonny,

I don't know exactly where this info belongs in the Bonny Oaks website, perhaps you will know where to place it.

I do genealogy as a hobby, and one of the saddest stories I have come across in my family is a story concerning Bonnie Oaks and one of my mother's first cousins, little Willie Carden. 

Willie was the son of Arthur and Pearl Hixson Carden.  Pearl was the daughter of Timothy L. Hixson and Tennie Brooks Hixson of the town of Hixson.  Pearl married in1912 at age 14 to Arthur Carden who was 20 at the time.  Willard was born some time in 1913; his sister Lowie Carden was born in 1916. Soon afterward in 1918 Pearl died of TB.  Arthur remarried and sometime after 1920, both Lowie and Willard were sent to Bonnie Oaks. 

On August 22, 1926, Willard was sent out to burn rubbish at the school, his clothing caught on fire, and he died of second and third degree burns at Erlanger Hospital.

Willard's death certificate lists only that he was a single white male, age 13 with no record of a family.  In the family section of his death certificate is written, NO RECORD
BONNIE OAKS INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL.  The informant for the information was W. S. Keese.  He was buried in Hixson Cemetery with no tombstone.

Lowie married and moved to Florida.  I don't know her married name. 

I am only supposing that Arthur Carden did not want the children after he remarried. Perhaps he was ill himself and could not care for them.  Certainly Lowie and Willard were too young to be considered delinquent children. My great grandmother Tennie Hixson was very poor at the time and could not care for them herself.

It is very sad to me that there is so little record of Willard's life and death.  Only a death certificate that lists no birthdate, no family.

Second Email - 6/18/02

Dear Christine,

Thank you for checking on Willard in your records.  I am enclosing a copy of his death certificate so you can read the information. 

Willard was living with his sister, dad and new mother in the census in 1920.  I do not know when he went to Bonny Oaks. My mother was born in 1924, and she of course was too young in 1926 to remember the accident but remembers hearing about it later.  She knew Lowie as a child.

I have a photo of Willard and Lowie taken about 1920 for he looks to be about 4 years old.

I am sure that W. S. Keese was kind and generous and did what they could for Willard at the orphanage.  Somehow Willard just was lost, with his mother dying, his father remarrying, and I have no idea what kind of father he was, even whether or not he was capable of caring for those two children.  I just don't know.  The whole family was very poor at the time of Pearl's death, and very sickly. Pearl was living with her older brother at the time of her death, and her brother's two year old child died of pneumonia the day before Pearl died of TB, which leads me to believe that perhaps they both died of the terrible flu epidemic of 1918.  Another of Pearl's nephews died that fall, and her grandfather also, both of pneumonia, possibly the flu epidemic.

You are right, I could try to locate Willard's grave.  Tennie is buried in the Hixson cemetery, across from the Methodist Church in Hixson. The first row of graves there were for her descendants, actually the descendants of her husband, Timothy L. Hixson.  The cemetery was founded by Timothy L. Hixson's grandparents who were pioneers in Hixson.

Thanks for putting Willard in the memoriam file.  I certainly do not want to discredit the fine work Bonnie Oaks has done, I just felt sad Willie was lost in the files.

If you would like, I will send you a copy of his photo.


Delores Straight
Loganville, GA

carden_willard_death_cert_1926.jpg (157229 bytes)    1926 Death Certificate  - Signed by W.S. Keese, Bonnie Oaks