Mildred Motts Hooper was born in Tallulah, Louisiana in 1944, the half sister of Molly Motts Raney. Mildred married Leon Hooper and had one son, Levi Hooper, and passed away in 2014 at the age of 69 just before her 70th birthday.
Mildred liked to cook and crochet and was happy as a homemaker. One of her favorite dishes to prepare was baked cheese grits which she would serve with breaded pork chops and homemade rolls.
She and Leon were married in 1963 shortly before Leon was shipped off to Vietnam. When Leon returned from his tour of service they settled down in Jackson, Mississippi where Leon worked as a welder and they raised their only son, Levi, who was born in 1973.
However, Leon only lived another two years, dying in 1975, and Levi had no memories of his father. To help make ends meet Mildred began to sell items from her home, establishing a thrift store at her residence (see song, “Mildred’s House of Values“).
Mildred passed away in 2014 after suffering a stroke.
Leon Hooper made a good living as a welder and hardly spoke of his war years. However, he was quietly proud of his Marine service, first in the infantry in Korea later in a support unit in Vietnam, and kept in touch with his buddies from the war. Leon did not drink hard liquor as a rule, but on those occasions when he got together with his Marine buddies, mostly those who were with him in Korea, he would have a few shots of bourbon and turn a bright shade of red if the talk became bawdy.
Leon was born in Jackson, Mississippi and lived his entire life there with his wife, Mildred, and son, Levi. He did not see Levi grow up, however, because Leon died in 1975 just two years after Levi was born.
Leon would repair bicycles and give them to the neighborhood kids and he also created steam powered folk art which he would roll out and run on the Fourth of July each year.
Elijah “Lige” Langford was the patriarch of a strict Presbyterian family of Scots-Irish descent from Mississippi by way of North Carolina (see article “The Knox Family” and song “Nathaniel Knox was an Ulster Man”). His daughter Emily married into a less religious family, the Littlejohns, and eventually along came Levi Hooper.
Alma Prescott Langford was the daughter of a minister and the granddaughter of a Cherokee chief. Alma was a serious woman, but would display uncommon compassion given the right circumstances. Those circumstances arose concerning her daughter Emily Langford.
Her maternal grandfather was a Cherokee chief, Franklin Largo, who married a white woman, Hilary Cosgrove, and helped her operate the general store her father started. The Prescotts were a Calvinist Presbyterian family whose men were often called to preach.
People said she got the “Italian” look from the Indian side. It’s true she had her grandpa’a’s black eyes and prominent cheek bones but she got her mama’s fair skin and height.
When George Littlejohn came to court her daughter Emily, it was Alma who softened up Lige Langford enough to allow the match to proceed. She had a keen understanding about love cropping up in places that a straight-laced Calvinist community frowned upon (see song “The Langfords and the Littlejohns“).
Emily Lankford was the sweet daughter of Elijah Langford a strict religious man who raised her to certainly not fall in love and marry someone like George Littlejohn. At least he didn’t think he wanted George Littlejohn in his family. But as it turned out George was a good husband to Emily and became someone Lize liked and respected.
The Littlejohns were a family of hell-raisers and Lize Langford wanted nothing to do with them. However, George was not cut out of the same cloth, and Emily saw him for who he really was. George had a good singing voice and the story goes that when Lize Langford would not let him in his house to see Emily, George stayed outside on the porch and sang all night. He usually accompanying himself on a handmade dulcimer.
George and Emily left North Carolina and moved to Mississippi, their daughter Marjy Littlejohn was Levi Hooper’s maternal grandmother.
Anse Littlejohn was Levi Hooper’s great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side. Anse was the patriarch of a family of ner-do-wells. His son George, however, fell in love with Emily Langford, one of the children from a church going family. When George and Emily married these two families merged, softening the Littlejohns but also undercutting the piety of the Langfords.
George Littlejohn, the “lone white sheep in a family of black,” was the son of Anse Littlejohn. While his father, and brothers, were hard-nosed, severe and difficult to get along with North Carolinians, George was pretty much the opposite. However, he was a strong individual, a quality which allowed him to defy his father and marry Emily Langford, the daughter of a strict Presbyterian family.
George and Emily left North Carolina and ended up in Mississippi, they were the great grandparents of Levi Hooper.