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Fussell Marion Chalker, former principal of Douglas High School, built the small cottage-like home on 504 North Gaskin Avenue in 1932. The home was sold in 1944 to J.N. McDonald who purchased the property for him and his mother. Some years later in 1955, the house was sold to Walter L. And Wanelle Lott Yeomans. This is where the story begins.
Wanelle was born on February 26, 1910 in Garrant, what we now know as West Green. Throughout her lifetime, Wanelle’s memory held more history than we could probably ever learn about in a textbook. She saw two world wars unravel, lived through the Great Depression, and even witnessed the industrial revolution bring a new wave of technology to life. As some would say, the most tragic event that would take place in her life happened when she was just 5 years old.
On November 24, 1915, Wanelle’s father was shot and killed at the station in West Green. As if his death wasn’t tragic enough, it was his own father that was responsible for it.
It was stated in the local paper that Wash Lott, Wanelle’s grandfather, had some troubling animosity towards his children that had been boiling over for quite a while. It started when his health began to decline and his children decided it would be best for him to go to a sanitarium in Atlanta. After his return, he later went to another sanitarium for more treatment; however, this trip was against his will.
It is said that due to his lack of choice in the matter, he assumed that his children were just trying to send him away so they could get rid of his property back home. With his assumption that Warren, Wanelle’s father, was the ringleader of this plot to dispose of his property, he shot his son 3 times.
After the death of her father, Wanelle’s mother struggled to keep her family afloat at times. However, the hard times didn’t last for Wanelle and she went on to become a secretary for an insurance company and even taught school. Wanelle eventually retired and served as a Pink Lady with the Coffee Regional Ladies’ Auxiliary.
Another unique thing about Wanelle’s life, especially for that time period, was that she didn’t marry until she was 45 years old. Her husband, Walter, was 22 years older than her which made him 67 years old at the time of their marriage. It is said that Walter met Wanelle when she was around 1 year old, making him roughly 23 at the time, and said to her, “You’re a mighty pretty baby! When you grow up, I’m going to marry you!” It seems that after a long wait, he fulfilled that promise and married the love of his life in 1955. All in the same year, the couple saw marriage, retirement, and both moved back to Douglas where they purchased the cozy little cottage on 504 North Gaskin Avenue.
Their marriage only lasted 12 years before Walter passed away on November 17, 1967. Wanelle continued to live out the rest of her years in the home on Gaskin Avenue and enjoyed all of the company from her friends and family. Even the members of First Baptist Church paid her frequent visits. Sadly, Wanelle passed away on October 30, 2003 at the age of 93 at Coffee Regional Medical Center.
Today, the home, now painted pink, still stands and is occupied. If you’re traveling north, it is the first house on the east side of North Gaskin Avenue between Franklin and Gordon streets.
The book From Graveyard Road to Silk Stocking Row contributed to this story.
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