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Robert Wilson and Lillie Gertrude (Webber) Presley

Robert Wilson "Wilson" Presley was born in Baxter County, Arkansas, on June 18, 1897, the oldest child of William David and Cora Belle (Gloer) Presley. About the only thing I know of his childhood was he lived on Grant Street in a rented house for some time in Carthrage, Missouri.

In her parents house with mostly only family present on Wednesday August 7, 1918, at 4 PM, Wilson married Lillie Gertrude Webber. Lillie was born August 17, 1897, at the family home northwest of Mountain Home, Arkansas. As a child Lillie started a pattern that followed her throughout her life. She was the third of eight children. The Webbers were poor farmers, and all the children worked, some inside and some in the fields. Lillie worked in the fields. Her heart was always outside and she never learned to like housework much, preferring to work in her garden as an adult. Her house was always clean to my memory though. For entertainment the Webber kids would mostly just go outside and roam around playing imaginary games. They had one old rag doll for the girls and Lillie would make paper dolls out of catalogs. Catalogs also provided many "changes of clothes" for the paper dolls. It was a big treat when the kids could walk the five or so miles into town. They attended the Free Will Baptist Church.

To Wilson and Lillie two sons were born: 1) Coy Otto Presley born October 3, 1919. Coy died December 21, 2006 and 2) Bobby Gene Presley born March 26, 1928, died August 5, 1987.

Wilson, like his father, had a variety of jobs during his life. He moved the family to Oklahoma for a time while he worked in the oil fields. They returned to Mountain Home in 1934. After his father's death he inherited part of the family gas station and grocery store. He hurt his back during this time and sold out his interest to his brother Edgar. As the years went on Wilson owned a black panel truck and ran his own supply business. He sold lotion, razor blades, etc. to businesses in the area around the Bull Shoals and North Fork Lakes. Also he sold pencils, paper, etc. to schools. He got his supplies from a warehouse near Harrison, Arkansas.

Wilson designed and hand built, along with Coy, a 4-room house for Lillie sometime in the mid 1930's. It was one story and very small. It had two bedrooms, one off the living room and one off the kitchen (this one was Lillie's). There was a covered back porch to which an indoor bathroom was added years later. The refrigerator sat on this porch. This part of the house was not heated by the wood heat stove in the living room and I remember how I hated the thought of having to go to the bathroom in the winter time. The house had a cellar on the east side where Lillie put her canned goods from the garden. Wilson also dug a water well which stood right outside the back door. There was a chicken house and wood shed to the southwest of the house, but I don't remember there ever being a barn although I know they had a horse and cow at one time.

Wilson and Lillie's marriage was rocky. Wilson always had the reputation as a lady's man and by the late 1930's Lillie took Bobby Gene and moved in with her sisters. Actually they lived in the wood shed out back. After a lot of advice, Lillie filed for divorce and child support. They were divorced in January 1944. Lillie moved back into the house on West Road and lived there until her death.

During these days Lillie herself had several jobs trying to support her son. (Coy being eight years older was out on his own by now.) She would wash, iron and fold a bushel basket of clothes for a little over a dollar. She was also the operator of the Central Telephone for a time. The bills were 75 cents for six months at that time.

As the years went on Wilson ran for County Assessor and lost to Charlie Howard sometime between 1938 and 1949. My memories of Grandpa's job was he traveled to carnivals and fairs where he had booths with games. He always kept us supplied with different felt hats, flags, pencils and the likes.

Wilson remarried on March 13,1944, to Lorene Kelsie Reed (born July 27, 1917). They had one son, Kenneth, but they were soon divorced and the child died as a baby. Coy remembers going to his father's house to find him making the casket for the baby one day.

Wilson was a fairly tall man. He was right handed, like to fish, and was an avid, avid Cardinal baseball fan. He wore a hat a lot and one of his favorite foods was gravy bread.

Lillie was a short, extremely thin woman. Lillie was left handed, always a hard worker, very conservative (saved everything), and never baked. Vanilla cream cookies is what she'd buy at Piggly Wiggley's when we came to visit. Lillie had a hard life. She had her own banking system. She's keep money in Kleenex boxes, cans of old nails, etc. She'd get up in the cabinet and there she's have fruit jars or cans where she kept the chicken money (from selling eggs) separated from the milk money, etc. She used to say "The old cow ran out of feed. I'm going to borrow from the chicken money to buy some." Lillie always wore shirt dresses and liked to eat pork chops. "Days Of Our Lives" was her favorite soap opera and she stopped everything to watch her "story" every day.

Despite all they'd been through Lillie found Wilson's death a very hard thing to take. Wilson died at Baxter County General Hospital, Mountain Home, Arkansas on December 14, 1971 of pulmonary insufficiency secondary to congestive heart failure, and renal shutdown. He is buried next to his parents, brother and sister next to the east road in the Mountain Home Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas. Lillie lived three years longer, part of that time here with us in Topeka, Kansas. Lillie died December 28, 1974 at the Baxter General Hospital (not a nursing home like her obituary says) of multiple myeloma. Lillie is buried next to her parents, brothers, and sisters at the Conley Cemetery, northwest of Mountain Home, Arkansas. (Directions to Conley Cemetery - 4.9 miles west of the Y of highways 5 and 62 on Highway 5, turn right onto Conley Road - Baxter Co. Road #3. Go 0.2 miles north. The cemetery is on the right . The Webber family is buried towards the back on the left.)

References: Rosine and Maxine Webber
Coy Presley
Personal memories
Census Records
History of Baxter County - Centennial Edition - Messick
Bible Records

Wilson and Lillie's Wedding Photo