Izora Johnson McCool: Tennessee Girl

Izora Johnson McCool

Izora Johnson McCool
Izora Johnson McCool | Source
Izora Johnson McCool
Izora Johnson McCool | Source

The Early Years

Izora Johnson McCool, known to some as Aunt Dolie, was born in Chester County Tennessee in 1908. I never heard where she got her nickname, but to me she was Grandma McCool. She was five foot eight with jet black hair and green eyes and a beauty. She was prim and proper and all the young men were eager to get to know her!

Her parents called her Vina Izora. She was the third child born to Pappy Johnson and the love of his life, Mary Presley. She had two older siblings, Lura and Luther. She must have been spoiled as a baby and loved. That life ended when their mother died in childbirth. Izora was three years old.

The McCool Connection

The years passed and Izora grew into a beautiful young lady. She was particularly taken with the McCool brothers who had moved into Dyer County. Izora had a date with one of the McCool brothers when she went into town with a close friend on Saturday morning. Harvard Wayne McCool, better known as Dick fell in love on sight with the seventeen year old Izora. Dick McCool was twenty-two years old and not really a respectable person for Izora to know. Dick was determined to have her for his bride. He went to the courthouse and obtained a marriage license.

The Marriage

Dick found Izora having a great time with her friend. Saturdays were special, almost like a holiday today, and everyone was in town. When Dick found Izora he asked her to marry him. She was shocked and surprised and said no. He then told her that she had to marry him because he had a marriage license and she would never be able to marry anyone else. Izora was innocent in the ways of the world and thought that what he said was true. After much soul searching Dick and Izora were married on May 9, 1925. Izora could not have known what life had in store for her.

The Marriage License Trivia

Izora never did get a look at that marriage license! She had been married for fifty-four years when my husband and I traveled to Tennessee doing some research. She needed the marriage license when it came time to sign up for social security benefits but it could not be found. It was there all right, but Dick had put his name in the bride column and her name in the groom column! Just another bit of trivia!

Dyer County Court House
Dyer County Court House | Source
Marriage License for Dick and Izora McCool
Marriage License for Dick and Izora McCool | Source
Luther William Johnson, Sr. (Izora Johnson's older brother.
Luther William Johnson, Sr. (Izora Johnson's older brother. | Source

Silas and Ellen Johnson

Silas Johnson was devastated by the loss of his wife, but he had to go on and with three children to raise he did what any man of his time would do. He found himself a wife. Ellen came into Izora’s life in a big way. She ran the house and was a strict stepmother. Grandma did not say a lot about Miss Ellen but what she did say spoke volumes.

Life With StepMother

After the birth of Silas and Ellen’s daughter Velma, life got really hard for young Izora. From family stories there is no doubt that Ellen favored her daughter over the young Izora. This produced sibling rivalry that made life difficult. Young Velma delighted in mischief and jumped on the beds and other childhood antics blaming Izora when she was caught. Velma was a child and her actions reflect the innocence of childhood but it made life difficult for Izora. Her older sister and brother were about seven or eight years older so they left home long before Izora, who endured the brunt of Ellen’s meanness.

Thoughts About Ellen Johnson

In fairness to Ellen Johnson, I have to admit that life must have been hard for her. Marriage to a man whose love for his wife was evident to all their friends and relatives caused her no end of humiliation. No woman wants to play second fiddle to a ghost.


A markerHenderson, Chester, Tennessee -
Henderson, TN 38340, USA
[get directions]

Where Izora Johnson was born.


Dick and Izora Johnson McCool
Dick and Izora Johnson McCool | Source


The Eighteenth Amendment was signed into law on January 29, 1919, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol. The 1920s were troubled years made more so by the enterprise of moonshiners who made their living making illegal liquor. On December 5, 1933 the Twenty-first Amendment repealed prohibition.
Izora married a man who was already heavily involved in making and selling moonshine although she did not know it at the time. During those days if the Revenuers found your still they would destroy it. Once when Dick’s still was destroyed he and his cohorts came into Izora’s kitchen while she was away from home and had were completely set up making whiskey. I do not know anything about making whiskey but that must have been a sight! The fight that took place between Dick and Izora was also legendary when she ran the entire group out of her house!

History of Bootlegging

McCool Children

Children of Dick and Izora McCool
Children of Dick and Izora McCool | Source
Barbara JoAnn McCool Philpott, daughter of Dick and Izora McCool
Barbara JoAnn McCool Philpott, daughter of Dick and Izora McCool | Source
Janette Lorene McCool Rone
Janette Lorene McCool Rone | Source

Dick and Izora

Izora Johnson McCool
Izora Johnson McCool | Source
Harvard Wayne McCool (Dick)
Harvard Wayne McCool (Dick) | Source

The Ice Cream Social

This is a wonderful story that is almost unbelievable to Izora’s descendants! The Izora we knew was quiet, reserved, and always a lady. The very idea that she could raise her voice or indulge in a no holds barred confrontation is not something that we associate with Grandma McCool! The Ice Cream Social encounter is absolutely true and happened exactly as I am about to describe. Grandma McCool told me this story herself.

On Saturday night most couples gathered at a designated house in the neighborhood for what was called an Ice Cream Social. This offered social interaction for the families to break up the work week. Many times the couples would bring relatives and friends to the party. On this occasion the party was in full swing when Izora’s sister-in-law, Becky, sought her out in tears because she had found her husband Tommy, flirting with a nice looking young woman who came to the party alone. Izora felt sorry for her sister-in-law and was trying to comfort her by telling her not to worry about it. She told her that it was nothing but a friendly conversation at a party. Well, while Izora was in the back room comforting Becky, Izora’s husband decided to try his hand with the young lady! Another woman at the party came running to tell Izora what was going on!

While Izora was calm and complacent when her brother-in-law was flirting, it was an entirely different thing when her husband started it! Forgetting about her role as comforter, Izora marched into the room where she found her husband and the woman whose name has been forgotten, and started yelling! Dick was embarrassed and hustled her away from the party. The quarrel got louder and louder as they headed for the house and ended in a full fledged shouting match in the front yard of their house.

I can only imagine that it was really quiet in the country in those days. We have accustomed ourselves to the noise that surrounds us and pay no attention. This quarrel happened around midnight. It was so loud that Dick’s parents who lived a half mile away from Dick and Izora were roused from their beds and hurried down the road to find out what the commotion was about. They broke up the fight and sent the young couple into the house where things finally settled down. Although I know the name of the flirty woman who caused the fight I have chosen not to include her name in this recounting for obvious reasons.

More about Dick and Izora in another hub!


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Comments 11 comments

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

Very interesting, I can hardly wait to read the second installment.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you so much. I have been working on the family history for more than thirty years. I love it.

jiberish profile image

jiberish 7 years ago from florida

I too love stories about people who contributed so much to our past. Very intersting Hub, going to read part two.

BJC 7 years ago

The McCool saga sounds thrilling. I love history so keep it coming on.:>

RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

oh yummy smireless!! more drama :) cant wait to hear more

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you all so much for your comments. Ginn, I come from VERY COOL stock. I have many more stories where that one came from. I love these stories and cannot let them die! Duchess, the next installment is on the way!

Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

Love this Smireles, I want the next hub! is it done yet?

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing this story---You might say that you and I must come from COOL stock! with our memories?

SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

How great to have and share stories from the yesteryears that made our foundations Smireles :) Thank you

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

She was!

judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

Wow! I'd say she was pretty McCool.

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