Fishing – Where a Family Legacy Began

Martha Jane Lett Maddox

b. 16 Jan 1851

d. 15 Feb 1935

Anyone who knew my grandfather James Lester Howard knew of his love of fishing. A fishing trip to local ponds (usually located in someone’s cow pasture) was always highly coveted event. All the grandchildren (and great grandchildren) at one time or another got to go fishing. Keep in mind that this was cane pole fishing with live worms on the hooks. (And yes, I did bait my own hooks.)

My personal fishing story begins as a very young girl who was angry that her brother got to go fishing with Grandaddy and she did not. Well…when the fishermen got back, I put my hands on my hips, stamped my foot and in no uncertain terms stated “When I get to be a boy, I’ll get to go fishing!” I was sitting on the banks of a pond with a fishing pole in my hands the next day. I enjoyed many fishing trips with my grandfather through the years.

It was not until I began researching the family history that I discovered how my grandfather started fishing. His maternal grandmother Martha Jane Lett Maddox would take him fishing on the banks of the Cape Fear River in Lee County, NC. In his journal, he related being a young boy of five or so and proudly carrying the fish they caught home. It was so big (or he was so small) that the fish’s tail dragged the ground all the way. Obviously this was a special memory that stayed with him throughout his life.
So, what drew Grandaddy to fishing and made him share his love for it with future generations? Perhaps it was the time spent one on one with his grandmother. Perhaps it was the satisfaction of providing his family’s food. Or perhaps it was the quiet time spent with his own thoughts. I suspect it was all three. Whatever the reason, fishing gave him much enjoyment throughout his life.

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