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Mary Helen Enecks Laffitte. 1881-1913

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Mary Helen Enecks Laffitte. 1881-1913

Mary Helen Enecks was born Dec. 16, 1 881 in Screven County, Georgia, the first born child of J.O.A. (Colonel) and Anna Christie Enecks. Their home was in the Enecks community within sight of the home in which Colonel grew up, and in which Helen's grandfather, two aunts and two uncles still lived. The only other grandchild, Tom Enecks, was already eight years old, so Helen, as a baby, was the center of a great deal of loving attention. However, life would not be easy for this little girl. Her mother died when she was eleven and six years later her beloved "Auntie", Irene Christie Enecks, who was also her stepmother, died, leaving Helen with three younger brothers and sisters, Will, Osgood and Floerl, to care for.

We have a copy of an eight page letter that Helen wrote to her Uncle Bob (R.S. Enecks) when she was attending Winthrope College at Rockhill, SC. in 1897. She lived in dormitory room 24 on the third floor. Her handwriting is bold, even, and clearly legible. At the time she wrote the letter the school was in turmoil. She said "Julian Johnson went to Atlanta and caught smallpox at a circus. The girls have been and are perfectly wild". She goes on to describe the panic, as telegrams fly and fathers come for their daughters and efforts are made to close the school for two weeks and other efforts made to keep it open. Finally a quarantine is declared and all the girls are vaccinated, more than 165. Other subjects she wrote about were Bob's recent trip to Savannah, where he "saw all the preachers" -- evidently he attended a Methodist annual Conference, because she goes on to discuss appointments; the fact that Kate has "changed her mind" about wearing black and not leaving home for six months after a parent died; lectures she has attended which Uncle Bob would have enjoyed; examinations coming up; disappointment that Tom has not written her to describe his trip; that if school had closed she would have "boarded downtown" until it opened again; that she is reading Thackery and likes it very much; that she has an actress as a friend, a catholic and "a tender-hearted girl though a little fast"; that Christmas is coming and she will be lonesome as she can't go home. She mentions Auntie (my grandmother Irene) and her father, (spelled "Poppa)"

This letter, written in December of 1897, three days before her sixteenth birthday, shows Helen, even though so young, to be a self-assured and intelligent young lady, very articulate and with an excellent command of language. It also shows that she loves her many relatives and is interested in people, opinions and ideas. We . have no record of how long she was at Winthrope but most likely she left when "Auntie" died in September of 1898 and went home to help her father with the three children. She took loving care of my mother, Floerl, who became five years old in October of that year, and as Floerl grew older, continued to watch over her as if she were her own child.

The only other example of her writing that has been saved that I know of is a note written to Aunt Kate when Helen's children were small. It was written on the backs of four checks and mentions a Jones family in Bladen N.C., probably Enecks ancestors, of interest to both her and Kate.

It would be so nice to have more details about her courtship and marriage. She did not marry until after her father had married again. In 1905 she married Gordon Bowie Laffitte, who lived in Screven County several miles north of the Enecks community. Gordon's father was Charles Atkins Laffitte and his mother was Martha Boston Laffitte. The old Laffitte home, at Poor Robin Cross Road, on the Augusta-Savannah Road, was a fine two story house built high off the ground and put together with wooden pegs. The front part of the house had five large rooms plus the entrance hall and an open upstairs, and was entirely separate from the kitchen and dining room. Later, the two sections were joined by a "dog trot".

Helen and Gordon first lived in a small house about one-fourth mile south of his parents home, then built a house with four big rooms with a hall down the middle and a big front porch, across the road from the old home. The family went to church at Buck Creek Methodist Church about 4 miles north of the home. Jackson Baptist church was about 2 miles north on Savannah-Augusta Road. This was also the site of the school the Laffitte children attended, a two-room building named Jackson School.

Charles Laffitte, Gordon's father, was a large landowner but did not own slaves. His leg was crippled for some reason forgotten. (These notes were given to me from the memory of two of Helen's daughters, Christie and Sydnor.) Charles died first, leaving his wife a widow. One of Gordon's brothers, Tucker Laffitte, took her to live with him at Estell, SC, even though she did not want to go.

Helen and Gordon had four children, Sydnor, Mary, Hawley and Christie. They would often hitch up the horses and drive "down the road" to visit the old Enecks home where Helen's aunts and uncles still lived, and her father's home, where he and Lena lived with their children, who were near the age of Helen's own children. Then in 1913, Helen died in childbirth, when her youngest, Christie, was just one year old. Helen's brother, Will Enecks, newly married to Marion Smith, lived across the road from the Laffittes and Osgood and Floerl lived with them. Will is listed in 1910 census of GMD 1676, Screven Co., Ga, as head of household #123, 26 years old, wife, Marion, 18; brother, James 0 Enecks, 23; sister. Floerl, 16. Together, they were able to help Gordon with the children. Floerl, nineteen years old, took over most of their care until Gordon married his second wife, Ola Lester. So Floerl, in turn became" Auntie" to four motherless children and to the end of their lives all four continued to think of her as their second mother.

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