Mary E. Reese 1928
Mary E. Reese was born Marietta Peeler on March 17, 1886 and was the oldest daughter and fourth child in a family of eight children, living near Gattman, Mississippi. Following business school, she worked for her brother using her typing and bookkeeping skills until she got employment at Pearce’s Mills in Marion County, Alabama.
In that time, social pressures were great against a girl having any gainful employment except teaching. She changed her given name to two words to have a middle initial for business usage. She bought a 200 acre farm, mules, wagon and farm machinery during her seven year employment as postmistress, store clerk, bookkeeper, cotton weigher, and time keeper as well as helping her widowed mother and the younger children at home.
The children and her mother liked ice cream so twice weekly Mary Etta had ice sent by train from Aberdeen, Mississippi to Gattman so they could make ice cream. She bought a suite of parlor furniture so the girls (sisters) could entertain their boyfriends more easily.
To go home, she went from Pearce’s Mills to Guin by buggy and boarded the train to Gattman, Mississippi. On one of these trips her smile attracted the attention of L. D. Littleton, a Guin banker and merchant. She married him in 1916 at which time she joined Guin Methodist Church to worship with the Littleton family.
After Mr. Littleton’s death in January, 1920, Mary Etta, his widow, was left with two lovable children, three mercantile stores, hundreds of acres of farm land, the responsibility to support forty farm families until harvest and settlement time, and banking duties. Some store managers had overbought, cotton prices dropped to five cents per pound and debts were accumulating. She arranged sale of the two out of town stores and resumed business as usual.
She became director of Marion County Banking Company at that time and served for fifty-five years on the loan committee and as a vice president for many years. In 1923 Mrs. Littleton became Mrs. Calhoun L. Reese and reunited with the Baptist Church.