When Commodore Young “Bud” Wiser, my great grandfather, and his fraternal twin brother Forrest Plum were born on October 10, 1884, in Coffee County, Tennessee, their father, John Martin, was 48 and their mother, Oregon Texas Mankin, was 37. He had three sons and one daughter with Reatha Alma McKee between 1909 and 1921. He died on March 19, 1958, in Kaufman County, Texas, at the age of 73, and was buried in Kaufman, Texas. On his grave marker it says C D Wiser. He had become known as Cd. for Commodore, but it should have been C Y Wiser. However, on the birth certificate of his last child, Commie McKee Wiser, “Bud’s” name is noted as Commie D. Wiser. This is not consistent with Cd. for Commodore. By the time Bud died, it is noted in his obituary that he had lived in Kaufman for 55 years. That would have put him in Kaufman about 1903.
I note here that “Bud’s” father did not die until 1913, and the will shows that John Martin Wiser left equal shares of his land to all his children, which I calculated to be about 55 acres in Coffee County TN.
Most likely Bud had left TN in 1903 and traveled to Kaufman. Sometime between 1903 and 1908 Bud met and married Retha, and born to them were Avis Barilla, Nolan Douglas, Forrest Young, and Commodore McKee Wiser. Initially he made his living as a farmer as noted in the 1910 US Census in Prairieville. September 12,1918 Bud completed his WWI Draft registration card, but was never drafted. He gave his age as 33 and his address as Rt. 1 Mabank and was signed by W. R. Taylor. He signed as C.Y. Wiser. His handwriting was commendable! Blue eyes are noted and light color hair., height at 5 feet 6 inches. It is stamped Kaufman Co. Exemption board, Terrell Texas (On his 1942 Registration for the draft he reports at age 57 his height at 5’ 5” and weight as 137 lb.) He was still farming in the 1920 Census, when he was 34, Reatha was 27, and the children were Avis 10, Nolan 7 and Forrest was 3. The 1930 Census shows that Bud was 45, was an employer as a farmer located at Yarborough Road tower Dixie School House. Reatha was 39, Forrest was 13 and C. M. was 9. Obviously, Avis was married by then and Nolan was out of the house. This is perhaps the period Nolan road the rails, catching freight trains like a hobo or bum. Some of the time he drove a gravel truck he told me. Anyway at 17 he was not on this Census. The 1940 Census shows the family located at Route 5 in Kaufman on Ola Road still on the farm, his occupation though listed as operator. He said he worked 52 weeks in 1939, with an income of zero! Forrest Young is age 23 and Commie M Wiser is noted at age 19 of course, by this time. He always went by C. M. and then Commie and even Connie later on. A PublicData.com search showed that C.M. had a long list of aliases and a rap sheet that included larceny, forgery and driving while intoxicated.
Bud had a cafe on Mulberry, just off the town square in Kaufman in the 40s, (noted in 1942 on his 1942 Draft registration card, when he was 57), and early 50s. The café had neither a name nor a sign, but was noted for its hearty stew, hamburgers and for his chili. Retha, Nolan and Forest Young helped in the cafe, whether cutting up potatoes or peeling onions or serving up this great food to all of those from the Ford house (Paul Murrey) and the courthouse as well as those who came to the square to shop and avail themselves of services there. He also had a woman help at the cafe name Bobbie Sullin.
From all reports Bud was the complete opposite of the gentle, sweet “Rethie” his wife. JoAnn Wiser Land Burk says she never knew of him “darkening the doors” of any church, though Retha was a faithful member and well-loved at the First Baptist Church of Kaufman. We do know that Bud did gamble regularly, meeting up with other gamblers in the evening at the cafe or some other location. He was also known to sleep with a gun under his pillow every night. We wonder about the circumstances under which he left Tennessee, never to return. There is nothing to substantiate claims that he was escaping some situation back in Coffee County, TN, but my mother JoAnn Wiser Land reminds me that it was rumored he killed a man back in Tennessee..
His precious wife died first even though she was seven years younger. She died suddenly one Sunday afternoon while napping. Frances Wiser discovered her and called my mother, JoAnn Wiser Land, to let her know. She did not have a phone but they lived in rooms owned by Pauline Durham, so she had called JoAnn to the phone. Of course, she was devastated. Uncle Forrest Young drove over to get her and they arrived at the house on 1101 E. Grove to the rest of the family. My mother tells me Uncle Barney McKee was under the house leveling it. They had spent the summer previous working in Longview, but Papa was still down there working. Don Robison was down there working for him, and Jean Robison had divorced and come to Texas was driving a city bus there. It was terrible news to hear for sure and the drive from Longview to Kaufman probably seemed endless.
My mother loved her grandmother dearly and the grief might have been strong enough to make her deliver baby Cynthia, but she waited until December 10 to enter this world. Grandmother Retha had looked so forward to being a great-grandmother, but she was gone too soon at age 61.
Bud would trudge on, however difficult it may have been, for another six years. He too died suddenly of an apparent heart attack March 19, 1958 at the café at 206 East Mulberry at the age of 73. He was buried next to sweet Retha in the Kaufman Cemetery. His death certificate incorrectly states James Monroe Wiser as his father. His son, Forest was the informant but should have stated John Martin Wiser.
Note from Wikipedia, “commodore is a naval rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. It is either regarded as the lowest of the flag officers rank or may not hold the jurisdiction of a flag officer at all depending on the officer’s appointment.”
Bud and Retha never had a car or drove in their latter years. When Bud inherited his 55 acres in TN after 1913, they may have gotten a car. The fact that Bud and Retha got their two year old to Dallas St. Paul Sanitorium may indicate they owned a car then. The poor baby Leotta died of septicemia with an infection that began as mastoiditis. To the family, it was just an earache, but proved to be deadly at just two years of age. Papa Wiser still spoke of her when I was growing up, and one time when I was in high school, Mama Wiser and I drove and found the grave and visited it.