Rufus Conrad (1895-1972) and Leila Mae Hartley (1894-1953)





Rufus Franklin and Leila Mae Hartley Conrad

George Leroy and Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley Family
Back: Samuel Richard, George Benjamin, Edward Lee, Alma Lee, Leila Mae
Front: George H. , George Leroy and Mary Elizabeth
Photo about 1902


Rufus Franklin and Leila Mae Hartley Conrad

Leila Mae Hartley was born May 4, 1894 to George Leroy and Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley in Flora, MS. Her siblings included, Alma Lee, George Benjamin, Samuel Richard, Edward Lee, Margie Louise, James Russell, Marvin Ashley and Rudolf (still born). She married Rufus Franklin Conrad on September 20, 1914 in Canton, MS. Rufus was 19 and Leila Mae was 20. Rufus was born in Flora, MS in 1885. 18. Their children were Charles Estus, Louise Elizabeth, Leroy Kirkland, Marie Marie, Ashford Harper, Leila Mae, George Franklin, Betty Ophelia and Mary Agnes.. Leila Mae died in 1953 at the age of 59. Rufus married Gladys Varner after Leila Mae's death. Rufus died May 26, 1972 in Vicksburg, MS.Madison County, MS.

Cowart-Conrad Family History

Written by Estus Conrad Cowart (1915-81)
(Annotations added by Mel Oakes unless indicated.)

On September 20, 1914, Rufus Franklin Conrad and Leila May Hartley were united in marriage in Canton, Mississippi. They were farmers on Grandaddy Hartley's plantation in Flora, MS. This is now the Petrified Forest in Flora.(George Leroy and Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley were the grandparents.)

To this happy couple on August 20, 1915, a darling baby daughter, Charles Estus was born. For the life of me, I don't know where they got that name. They always told me that Charles was after a dear great Uncle, Charles Talley who loved them so much and that Estus was the name of a beautiful girl my daddy once knew.

Then on September 9, 1916, in Flora, MS, another girl was born . They named her Louise Elizabeth, after grandmother Hartley. (Louise was also the name of her sister Margie Louise Hartley Oakes.)

Then over in the land of opportunity where our dear daddy thought the grass was greener, Mangham, LA, daddy's dream for a boy was fulfilled. A son who was named Leroy Kirkland, after Grandpa Hartley, was born on June 24, 1918.

Our Daddy almost had to go to World War I, but it ended just before he had to leave. Prosperity didn't come to us in LA, so back to good old Mississippi we came. I'll never forget crossing the river on a train. I was literally scared to death. While we were on the river I told mother to "hold me like a sweet girl." When the train reached the land I began singing "Standing on the Promises of God". We went back to Flora, MS again to share cropping. The only thing we had going for us was lots of love. Times were... hard...hard...

Then on March 26, 1921, another girl, Margie Marie was added to our family. She was named again for Aunt Margie Oakes, Mother's sister. We had to pack her everywhere. Her heart hurt, she said.

Not long after this on March 8, 1923, another boy was born and named Ashford Harper. He was the baby when dear old Will Wadford, mother’s cousin, came over and saw how poverty stricken we were and how hard Mother and Daddy were working. He got daddy a job in Vicksburg at Houston Brothers Sawmill, and us a house on top of Fort Hill. (Two houses over from his home.) He brought his big truck to Flora, loaded all of our few belongings in it and moved us to Vicksburg. We had a half decent living for the first time in our life.

I can remember so well when the next baby was born. There were 5 of us already. Daddy would come by the Lustburg Store every afternoon from work and buy us 5 pieces of candy for 5 cents... 1 piece each. We were really rich!!! Then on March 18, 1926, along came Leila Mae. She was named after our dear Mother. I really worried because I knew I was the oldest, and when she got big enough, she would get my piece of candy and I wouldn't get any...but the Lord always looks after things like this. The great depression was beginning to come on strong and with another baby to feed, Daddy gradually stopped bringing candy in the evening. Daddy worked I0 hours per day, 6 days a week, and when he got paid on Saturday night he would buy a sack full of candy for all of us.

On December 20, 1928, another boy, George Franklin, named after dear Daddy was born.(George probably for Leila’s father, George Leroy Hartley.)

On October 20, 1931, another girl, Betty Ophelia, named after Grandmother Conrad was born. (“Betty” was also the name Leila’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley went by.) She was the baby for about 7 years. How we loved and petted her. Everyone said she was the cleanest baby in the country. We played with her like she was a doll. Daddy was out of work now..the miill had burned and times were very hard. I remember once Roy and I gathered wild cherries and made some wine. By this time we had moved up in the house by Mr. Crutchfield and Mrs. Groves. (The families of William and Agnes Crutchfield, (William worked at Y&MV Railroad), and Charlie and Amelia Groves lived on Union Avenue.) Mother was helping Mrs. Groves get up her cow and get a little milk for us for the depression was so great then just to eat was a problem. The wine was really good and we were tending to Betty, who was just learning to walk, while Mama was gone. We were drinking the good wine and Betty wanted some too. We would give her a taste every once in a while just to shut her up. Roy and I were enjoying that wine until we looked over and saw one of Betty's eyes going one way and one another way, and she couldn't hold her head up straight. WE KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPENED!!!. Roy got one hand and I got the other and we taught her that evening how to walk real good, as 'round and 'round the house we went to get her sober before Mother came home.

We were all growing up and Daddy worked and worked. They planted food and managed someway to feed and clothe us the best they could. I can't ever remember being hungry. We ate cornbread only a few times for breakfast. We ate nearly everything that is edible in this world during those hard days. I can understand since I have a family, how Mother and Daddy must have worried over us kid's during that terrible depression. We all went to school and all of us who would keep going and graduated. How proud I was when Mr. Kleinman finally in 1934 got Daddy a job with Anderson Tully Lumber Company in the filing room. (Probably William M. Klineman who worked with Rufus’ brother Jones Conrad at the US Engineering Shops.) With his first payday he bought me the prettiest white and blue crepe dress I had ever seen to wear to graduation on May 4, 1934. How proud he and Mother were to do this. I got lots of pretty clothes for graduation...I also got my first permanent given to me by a boy friend, Jake Gray. I tell you with my curly hair and that beautiful white organdy dress on graduation night I had a ball. We had a dance after graduation. GOSH I WAS PRETTY!!! Only 10 girls graduated and we were the belles of the ball. Mrs. Margie Broome, a former principal's wife who had opened up a flower shop, gave us a beautiful sweet pea corsage we were all just queens.

After graduation times were still hard . The government under the leadership of President Roosevelt had CCC Camps all over that park (The National Park - where the Civil War was fought). Our home was located in that park. We never had seen so many good-looking boys in our life. I met one Vicksburg boy, James Cowart, at a regular Sunday evening baseball game in the Raines cow pasture. I couldn't see anyone else. I married him on October 26, 1935. On February 1, 1933, we had a darling son, Charles Wayne. Four months later on June 28, 1938, I had a baby sister, Mary Agnes (For the life of me I don't know who she was named after). She had the blackest, thickest hair and the longest legs l had ever seen on a baby. I was there...I bathed and dressed her the first time. She was a little doll and such a blessing to Mom and Dad and to all of us. (Note by Agnes: I was named by my brother Roy, after a lady he worked for and loved very much, named Agnes Crutchfield(see above)...I guess Mama and Daddy added the Mary). (Mary was Leila’s mother’s name, Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley.-Mel Oakes)

James and I had a little girl, Edith Arlene, on October 25, 1939 and another little boy on June 14, 1944, James Allen. We loved them all and did the very best we knew how to raise them under difficult and trying times in World War II.

Our hearts were broken and our faith strengthened in the Lord, when Charles (our oldest son) drowned on December 28, 1963. God has been good to us. We have five grandchildren, Rhonda Rene Cowart, Chris & Teresa Cowart, Leland and Gary Wayne Hennington. The Lord gave us the very best mates for our children. Carolyn Doan for Charles, Joyce Dodd for Jimmy and Walter Hennington for Arlene.

On May 6, 1953, our dear Mother went home to be with the Lord. The Lord sent us a dear sweet step-mother, Gladys Varner, and three Step-Sisters, Madelyn, Naomi & Willa Dean, and one Step-Brother, Billy. Gladys was an answer to prayer and still blesses our heart. (Gladys’ first husband was Lacey B. Varner, the grandson of Robert Benjamin Varner, Leila Mae Hartley Conrad’s maternal grandfather.)

On May 26, 1972, our Daddy joined Mother in Heaven. All of us young'uns are still around. We were raised in a home of so much love until we just love each other so much. All are married and have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our love will stay strong throughout eternity, when some day we will all be with Mother and Dad again in Heaven.


This was written and told to all of us at one of the Family Reunions at Jeff Davis Community Center...l'm not sure what year it was.–Agnes

Click Here for: “Memories of Grandpa and Grandma Conrad” written by Rufus Franklin Stephenson


Rufus Franklin and Leila May Hartley Conrad Family Gallery

Back: Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley, Margie Louise (Oakes), James Russell "Buddy", and Marvin Ashley "Cootze"
Front: Aileen (King), George Leroy Hartley,. Parents and younger siblings of Leila Mae Hartley.
Picture taken in Clinton, MS, about 1916 .

Samuel Richard 9 (1896), George Benjamin 10 (1995), Edward Lee 7 (1898), George L. 41 (1863), Unknown girl 6 (1899), Unknown child 1 1/2 (1903), Mary Elizabeth “Betty” 28 (1876), maybe Mary Caroline Hartley Talley in back,
ca 1905. The two children in white dresses are a mystery. Their ages appear to match being young siblings of the boys, however the other children in the family does not match their ages. Maybe they are neices and nephews. Ages don't match grandchildren. Mary Caroline never had children.

Robert Benjamin Varner, maternal grandfather of Leila Mae Hartley
George L.Hartley, father of Leila Mae Hartley
Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley, mother of Leila Mae Hartley
George L.Hartley, father of Leila Mae Hartley
Leila Mae Hartley (1894-1953), photo from Mary Agnes Conrad.
Leila Mae Hartley, about 1914
(1894-1953) (Restored by Mel Oakes)
Leila Mae Hartley (1894-1953)
Leila Mae & Agnes Conrad at All Saints College, Vicksburg, MS, Leila however looks too young for this to be Agnes, maybe Leila
Rufus and Leila Mae Hartley Conrad
Rufus and Leila Mae Hartley Conrad
From Left: Ninnie, Rufus, Ada & Heber Conrad, (Brothers & Sisters)
Rufus Conrad, Ninnie Conrad Hartley, Heber Conrad, Ada Conrad Graham, (Brothers and Sisters)
Emily Ophelia Conrad-(Little-Grannie)-(1863-?). Rufus Conrad's mother.
Back:Mary Graham Hawkins & Ada Graham
Frt: Laura Hawkins & Emily Ophelia Jackson Conrad
Waltersville Baptist Church, Waltersville, MS, north of Vicksburg, 1944
1 Rufus Conrad
2 Leila Mae Conrad
3 Eula Mae Stephenson
4 Agnes Conrad
5 Rufus Stephenson
6 Kenny Stephenson
7 George Conrad
8 (Leila) Mae Conrad
9 Louise Conrad Stephenson
10 Alton Ray Stephenson
11 Betty Conrad
12 Mrs. Stephenson
13 Mrs. Henley
14 Mr. Henley
15 Henley Child
16 Pauline Sharp
17 Donnie Sharp
18 Mildred Sharp
19 Billy Sharp
20 Jean Matthews
21 Barbara Henley
22 Albert McMullen
23 Dixie Sharp
24 Edith Sharp
25 Barbara Sharp
26 Brother Guy
27 Juggles Allison
28 Billie Ruth Allison
29 Thelma Muirhead
30 Ralph Webster
31 Nellie Jean Huggins
32 Mrs. Guy
33 Mrs. Nell Allison
34 Lendle Allison
35 Alma Lee Hartley Matthews

The Waltersville Baptist Church started in the summer of 1933 with a tent revival sponsored by Bowmar Avenue Baptist Church, then pastored by Rev. J L. Boyd. A month later, a Sunday school was organized, first meeting in the Wadford home, then at Givens’ Machine Shop, later in a vacant house, and by the time attendance reached 100, a Mr. Ford made the old dance hall pavilion at Mont Springs available.

On June 24, 1934, the church was established with 16 members, nine by letter and seven by baptism. Meetings were held once a month, on the first Sunday afternoon, with Boyd as pastor.

The church was offered land by the Meachams, and a frame structure, 44 feet by 20 feet, was built. It stood near Toler’s Camp beside the road that was down the hill from old U. S. 61, which was built later. The building was eventually raised to the level of the highway and a basement and front porch were added.

Which Wadford was this?

Jones & Ella Conrad, Rufus Conrad’s brother and his wife.

Conrads. Please help identify.

Agnes Conrad Modeling
Agnes Conrad
Charles Estus Conrad
Edith Arlene Cowart Hennington (1939-2020)
Walter and Arlene Cowart Hennington's Family
Durwood Graham receives his award as one of the 100 most passionate about Hind Community College. HCC President Dr. Clyde Muse makes the presentation. 2017.
Durwood & Ada Graham
C. Albert Graham
Ada Conrad Graham, Rufus’ sister.
Ada Conrad Graham, Rufus’ sister.
Mary, Evelyn, Mary Glen Hawkins and Ada Graham seated.
Back:Vivian Hartley, George & Betty Conrad
Frt: Charles Wayne & Arlene Cowart, Agnes Conrad
Ashford, Aunt Leila, Aggie, and Leila Mae Conrad Vicksburg Park
Jack, Evelyn, Martin &Mary Graham, brothers & sisters
Rufus & Joyce Stephenson,
50th Anniversary, 2008
Gerald and Agnes Gregory
Agnes Conrad Gregory
Gerald Gregory
Conrad Family, please help identify.
Fount and Betty Ophela Conrad Beard
Tom Grady and Leila Mae Conrad Marshall
MysteryWoman, Leila Mae Hartley had picture
Agnes Conrad Child
Agnes Conrad Child
Agnes Gregory, Leila Mae Marshall, Louise Stephenson, Marie Williams, Betty Beard
Left to Right: Joyce Stephenson, Betty Conrad Beard, Leila Mae Conrad Marshall, Marie Conrad Williams, Rufus Stephenson
Ashley Conrad
Ashley Conrad
Rufus & Leila Conrad, Ashley’s Bible
Leroy Conrad's obituary, (zoom browser to read.) Leroy was son of Rufus and Leila Mae Conrad.
Margaret Martha Cockrell Conrad, wife of Leroy Conrad.
Left to Right: Peggy Joyce Shirley, Gene Aubrey Williams (husband of Margaret Marie "Margie" Conrad, daughter of Rufus and Leila Mae Conrad), Randall Williams, Ronald Wynn Williams, Freddie Shirley, David Richard Williams, Mickey Ray Williams
2008 Conrad-Hartley Reunion
Alma Lee Hartley, (1892-1954). married Grady Matthews. Older sister of Leila Mae Hartly
Alma Lee Hartley, Jean Matthews, her daughter said she made this graduation dress. ca 1910
Henry Grady Matthews, brother-in-law to Leila Mae Hartley
Henry Grady Matthews and and brother Charles G.
Henry Grady Matthews & Hill Store, Flora, MS
Henry was the store manager. ca 1920s
Grandma Hartley & Aileen Hartley at Green Hall, All Saints College, Vicksburg. Mother and sister of Leila Mae Hartley.
Henry & Jean Matthews, Flora 1932
House in background is their overseer home on plantation
Oakes Auto Parts 1931, Chris Oakes, Marvin Hartley, Willaim Reed, James Hartley, (Dr), James C. Deason, Fred Oakes. Leila Mae 's two brothers James and Marvin are in this picture, along with her brother-in-law, Fred Oakes, husband of her sister, Margie Louise.
Bennie Hartley & Leona Bowman. Bennis was brother of Leila Mae.
Margie (3), James (2) Hartley. Sister and brother of Leila Mae.
Margie (3) & James (2) Hartley, sister and brother of Leila Mae Hartley, gift from Frances Cronin, granddaughter of Ora Lee Hartley Hill who was a sister of George L. Hartley.
Alma Lee Hartley Matthews (1892-1954), sister of Leila Mae.

Margie Louise Hartley, age 21, All Saints College, Vicksburg, 1927
Sister of Leila Mae Hartley

Alma Lee Hartley Matthews and son William (Tete) Matthews
Sister of Leila Mae Hartley

George Benjamin Hartley, brother of Leila Mae Hartley
George Benjamin Hartley
Petrified Forest, Flora, MS. G. L. Hartley family lived in sight of the forest.
Marvin Ashley Hartley, brother of Leila Mae Hartley
Catherine Elizabeth Jones (1917-86), 2nd wife of Marvin Hartley
Aileen & J. C.King, sister of Leila Mae Hartley
Charles S. & Mary Caroline Hartley Talley, G. L. Hartley’s sister.
Downtown Flora, Mississippi, three years after Margie Louise Hartley Oakes was born.
Mary Elizabeth Varner Hartley Death Certificate. She was living with son, James Russell Hartley.
Alma Lee Hartley Matthews Griffin Tombstone, Mount Bluff Cemetery, Flora, MS.