Something keeps drawing me back to Malakoff. That something is my Tapley roots. My name is Nancy (Tapley) Mundell, I live with my family in Haysville, Kansas. I am the great-granddaughter of R. E. and Susie (Courtney) Tapley.
R. E. Tapley, born February 22, 1868 and Susie Eugenia Courtney, born November 25, 1871 were married December 29, 1887 in Angelina County, Texas. They started their family in Nacogdoches, Texas, then moved to Malakoff in 1907. They raised their family on a homestead just outside of Malakoff. R. E. was a merchant who owned a dry goods store. He also was a blacksmith and a farmer. He grew cotton and raised short-horned cattle.
I was often told a story about R. E. and a car he drove – I believe it was a “Model T” – not the customary color of black, but bright yellow. It was called the “chicken catcher” because of his erratic driving. If some unlucky chickens happened to be near the road way when R.E. drove by – well just use your imagination!
When visiting Malakoff and its older buildings, I can close my eyes and envision my great-grandfather, R. E. and my grandfather Everett working in the dry goods store and out in front of the store is my father, Thomas Edward “Tommy” Tapley, playing with his cousins. My father, like many of his cousins, was born in Malakoff.
R. E. Tapley’s dry goods store did not fare well during the Depression years. Many could not pay on their own their credit accounts at the store, and my great-grandfather R. E. never could say “No” to anyone in real need. Later, when the store went out of business, R. E. retired to the family homestead, and my grandparents moved to Ben Wheeler, Texas, where my grandfather sharecropped with a landowner there by the name of Jody Gamble. On his lunch breaks, grandfather Everett would eat his lunch at the bedside of Jody and Mada’s son who had cerebral palsy. Each day, he would work on teaching this young boy simple words and phrases. Others have told me that grandfather Everett was a kind, loving person with an easy smile.
In September of 1940, Everett’s sister Lizzie’s husband, Harvey Buckner, died of a sudden apparent heart attack. Willie Ruth (Buckner) Morgan, only surviving child of Lizzie and Harvey Buckner, has told me that the first person to reach them after the death of her father was grandfather Everett. He helped, doing what he could for his sister and her family. Harvey Buckner died September 24, 1940. On September 28, 1940, just four days later, my grandfather was lighting the oil lamps, after playing with his two younger children, Genell and Tommy, when he suddenly fell to the floor. On that evening, September 28, 1940, my Grandfather Everett Wallace Tapley died in the arms of his fourteen‑year‑old son, my father, Tommy Tapley. Less than a month later Everett’s father, R. E.Tapley, died on October 22.
They are all buried in the Malakoff City Cemetery. My grandfather Everett is buried in an unmarked grave near his mother and father.
Following is R. E. Tapley’s obituary.
R. E. Tapley Dies Tuesday Morning
Buried at Malakoff
from the Athens Weekly Review
Thursday, October 31, 1940
R. E. Tapley, 72, a well-known citizen of Malakoff and a retired merchant for many years, died at Wolfe‑Duphorne hospital in Athens at 6:30 Tuesday morning. He had been confined to his bed for the past three weeks when his condition became critical and he was moved to the hospital on Monday evening. Funeral services were held on Tuesday evening at 4 o clock in the Malakoff cemetery.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Susie Tapley; five sons, E. A., Frank, Walter and Ellis, all of Malakoff and William of Kerens; three daughter: Mrs. Ollie Crocker, of Kerens; Mrs. Lizzie Buckner and Mrs. Annie Mae Matthews, both of Athens. Four sons preceded him in death.
The deceased was born in Nacogdoches County in 1868 and moved to Henderson County in 1907 where he had resided since. He was married in 1887 to Susie Courtney. He was united in the Assembly of God Church in 1930.
Note: My grandfather, Everett; his wife, Clara Lorene (Grant), known as “Sugar Pie” to her grandchildren; my Uncle Wallace Neil; my Aunt Genell; and now my father, Thomas Edward Tapley, have all passed away. I am the oldest surviving child or grandchild in our Tapley line.
Nancy (Tapley) Mundell