A celebration of Mattie Emma Sutton Johnson’s 105 years of life is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 30, in San Saba Cemetery, San Saba, Texas. Officiating the graveside service will be Pastor Samuel Crosby of First Baptist Church, San Saba, Texas.
Teddy Roosevelt was president and William Howard Taft was president-elect when Mattie Emma Sutton came into the world on Jan. 14, 1908. The youngest of five, Emma, like her other siblings, was born at home in the little community of Fairview, about four miles north of San Saba. She was blessed to live all 105 years in San Saba County.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Irby Marcus Johnson; her father, Iscoe Philip Sutton; her mother, Susan Emily Brown Sutton; her sisters, Willie Pearl Sutton, Lillie Sutton; and brothers, Allen Sutton and Thomas Sutton. She was also preceded in death by her daughter, Joyce Colleen Hallmark; son-in-law, Raymond Hurston Hallmark; son, Irby Craigan Johnson; grandson, Hurston Craig Hallmark; and granddaughter-in-law, Beverly Hallmark.
She is survived by a son, Jerry Walker Johnson and wife Eleanor Owen Johnson of San Saba, Texas; by a daughter, Connie Johnson Taff and husband Thomas Eugene Taff of Harrison, Ark., and Betty Ann Johnson, San Saba, Texas. Grandchildren, Douglas Kyle Hallmark of San Antonio, Texas, Tama Hallmark Blend and husband, James Blend of San Antonio, Texas, Leslie Taff Hendrickson and husband John Hendrickson of Richardson, Texas, Thomas Richard Johnson and wife Marianella Johnson of San Saba, Texas, Jay Patrick Taff and wife Gloria Taff of Berryville, Arkansas, Phyllis Lynn Johnson of Austin, Texas, Brady Marcus Johnson and wife Anna Johnson of Sonora, Texas, Jeri Ann Johnson Willoughby and husband Ray W. Willoughby III of Eldorado, Texas, and Dub Zackary Johnson and wife Gina Johnson of San Angelo, Texas. Great-grandchildren, Paige Blend, JB Blend and wife Veronica Blend, Jenna Blend, Clayton Allen Taff and wife Bethany Chapman Taff, Chelsea Danielle Taff, Marshall Johnson Taff, Craigan Ross Johnson, Austin, Texas, Thomas Heath Johnson, San Saba, Zackary Ryan Johnson, Jared Walker Johnson, Travis Owen Johnson, Mary Kyle Johnson, Wilson Marcus Johnson, TSgt Jacob Nathaniel Eaves, Candace Emmali Barnes and husband Daniel Barnes, and their son, Lucas Patrick Barnes, great-great-grandson.
Emma was married to Marcus Irby Johnson in 1926. She described her husband, her one and only boyfriend and seven years her senior, simply as a good ol’ country boy. They were married by a county judge in the little West Texas community of Loop. They spent their honeymoon with his sister and brother-in-law, who lived in Loop. They had three small children during the height of the Depression, and the fourth was born not long after. “It was bad, but it was bad for everyone,” Ms. Emma said. “We didn’t know we were poor.”
Mammaw lived to see a couple World Wars, a Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, devastating 1938 flood, severe droughts and 19 Presidents. She saw the advent of rural electricity, telephones, radios, televisions, airplanes, automobiles, space travel, a moon landing, personal computers and even smart phones. Emma recalled traveling by horse and buggy with her mother to visit an ill sister-in-law. The horse just all of the sudden stopped dead still and just stood there. Her mother saw something up ahead and said, “Oh, I think that’s what they call an automobile.” The man driving the car stopped and came up to their horse and buggy with a tow sack. He blind-folded the horse and led it past the car. Emma was about four years old then but remembered the event as if it had happened yesterday.
One of Mammaw’s claims to fame is that during her freshman year she won the county meet and was recognized for being able to throw a softball further than any girl in the county. She has a medal to prove it. She was also the Valedictorian of the 1926 Class of San Saba High.
It is unimaginable to comprehend the changes she saw and experienced in her lifetime; however, the love for her family, her grands, great grands and great great grand never changed. Christmas gatherings and other holiday family get-togethers at Mammaw’s house were comprised of great food, great laughter and great love.
In 2006 at age 98 Mammaw wrote a letter with instructions regarding her funeral service and the following comments and wishes for her family. “I believe you are judged by the good deeds you do and I am so proud of all of you, so proud and thankful – and the way people love you. I want my family to be kind to people and each other – kind and good! Stuff and things are not important – Love is!”
She was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. She will be deeply missed by her family and many, many friends. In her personal journal she writes the words from Don Blanding’s “Somehow”: “I cannot think of the autumn leaves without me here alive, aware. I cannot imagine a dawn of spring without my heart awakening. These treasured days will come and go at a swift pace, but this I know — I have no fear; I have no dread of that marked day that lies ahead. My flesh will turn to ash and clay, but I’ll be here — somehow, some way.”
Pallbearers are her grandsons, Douglas Kyle Hallmark, Thomas Richard Johnson, Jay Patrick Taff, Brady Marcus Johnson, Dub Zackary Johnson and, in memoriam, Hurston Craig Hallmark along with grandson-in-laws, James Blend, Ray W. Willoughby III and John Hendrickson.
The family suggests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the San Saba Cemetery Association or a charity of your choice.