The late Fannie Eula Campbell Stubblefield, a Grapeland native and mother of twelve children, was honored by the Grapeland Public Library, Inc. (GPL) in a ceremony held on Saturday, September 15, 2012.
Ten of Campbell’s surviving children were present as the library’s Genealogy Room was named the “Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room” in honor of their mother. The Rev. Elbert Stubblefield, the eldest child who is now 88 years old, was among the first group to tour the room following the dedication ceremony. Campbell’s grandchildren, great-grandchildren, local dignitaries, Library Board members, and friends of the family made up the capacity crowd.
“The ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony culminated a three-month long project to upgrade and refurbish the family history area,” Harry W. Pridgen, GPL Board president stated. “This project was made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Ruth Simmons and her extended family,” Pridgen continued. “We honor the Stubblefield and Simmons families by naming this room in honor of Fannie Campbell Stubblefield.”
A brass plaque installed above the doors to the room reads “Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room – Dedicated September 15, 2012.”
“This memorial celebrates my mother’s many contributions to her family and her community. Born at a time when she was barred from the resources and access to learning that she deserved, she set a standard for excellence that belies the modest circumstances of her own eighth grade education,” Dr. Ruth Simmons commented.
According to the family, “Fannie was known for her wisdom and discernment. She was a mentor to many in her community and extended family. She was known for her great fortitude, compassion, and integrity. The appreciation and regard of her family has endured and it is with great pleasure that the family is able to acknowledge her achievements through the dedication of the Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room in the Grapeland Public Library,” she continued.
“It is our hope that those who use the resources in the Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room will find in their own histories the same points of reference and inspiration that our family enjoyed in learning about the lives of Emma, Fannie, and our extended Campbell and Stubblefield heritage,” Simmons concluded.
A family biography states that Fannie Eula Campbell Stubblefield was born on September 6, 1906. Her parents, Richard and Emma Johnson Campbell, had married on August 19, 1891 in Leon County, Texas. They settled in the Dailey and Cedar Branch communities where, along with Dick’s brother Doc Campbell, they purchased land for farming. Richard and Emma had seven children, including Savannah, Eliza, Fannie, Aggie, Mary, John, and a boy who died in his youth.
Following the untimely death of her father, Fannie Campbell and her siblings grew up on the family farm. Under the watchful eye of their mother, Emma, they were taught the importance of hard work, constancy, and piety. Emma’s example became Fannie’s own as Fannie later focused on family life and her own children.
Like many of her era, Fannie married young. She and Isaac Stubblefield were married on January 29, 1924. They settled into the hardscrabble sharecropping life in the Grapeland area while rearing 12 children: Elbert, Chester, Wilford, Atherine, Albert, Arnold, Nora, Ruben, Clarence, Ozella, Azella, and Ruth.
After many years in the Grapeland and Latexo areas, Isaac and Fannie Stubblefield moved their family to Houston, where Fannie worked as a homemaker and part-time maid. The move meant improved economic circumstances for the family and the opportunity for the children to attend Houston public schools. This led to a significant improvement in the family’s circumstances and outlook.
Fannie was a devoted wife and mother, sacrificing her own needs to support her husband and children. She succumbed to kidney disease on June 15, 1961. Isaac died in 1985, never remarrying.
“The Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room evolved from our initial efforts to upgrade the Genealogy area with a new computer, printer, reference materials, and a subscription to Ancestry.com,” Diane Goode stated. “We want to preserve the family history materials we receive from the community, and to make all these tools available to family researchers.” Goode, who wrote the grant proposal which led to Simmons’ support of the project, acted as project coordinator. “The scope of the project changed in late July when Dr. Simmons provided additional funding to cover the costs of refurbishing the Genealogy Room.
Since late July, we have repainted the room, installed new lighting, added a new desk and comfortable seating, and re-conditioned the original old growth pine floors. The original French doors have been re-installed, and the result is a complete transformation of the area. We invite the community to visit the Fannie Campbell Stubblefield Room and to utilize the new resources provided by the Stubblefield-Simmons family,” Goode stated. “We will begin Ancestry.com classes for the community later this fall.”
Simmons, the youngest of the 12 children, was born in Grapeland and moved to Houston at an early age. She recently retired after 11 years as president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She visited the Library in January 2012 during the filming of the PBS television program, “Finding Your Roots.” The program, which aired in late April 2012, explored Simmons’ early life and her family ties to the Grapeland and Houston County area. During that initial visit, Simmons learned about the Library and its desire to improve the family history area.