- [S84] E-Mail, Carroll McMahan [firstname.lastname@example.org], 11 Dec 2007.
- [S112] Census, 1930.
Name: Nina Mcmahan
Event Date: 1930
Event Place: District 3, Campbell, Tennessee
Marital Status: Single
Estimated Birth Year: 1925
Relationship to Head of Household: Daughter
Father's Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother's Birthplace: Tennessee
Enumeration District Number: 0012
Family Number: 481
Sheet Number and Letter: 25A
Line Number: 4
NARA Publication: T626, roll 2235
Film Number: 2341969
Digital Folder Number: 4548149
Image Number: 00502
Household Gender Age
Parent George Mcmahan M 28
Parent Nancy Mcmahan F 26
Lucele Mcmahan F 7
Nina Mcmahan F 5
Ray Mcmahan M 2
Clyde Mcmahan M 0
Effie Cain F 19
Lynn Knight M 27
Haskel Dunn M 29
- [S23] Atchley Funeral Home, (http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/), 27 Sep 2011.
Nina Ruth McMahan Smelcer
December 11, 1924 - September 27, 2011
Birthplace: Sevier Co., TN
Resided In: Sevierville TN USA
Visitation: September 30, 2011
Service: September 30, 2011
Cemetery: Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens
Nina McMahan Smelcer, age 86, of Sevierville, passed away Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at Pigeon Forge Care and Rehabilitation Center, ending a courageous struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
She was a devoted wife, dedicated daughter, beloved sister, precious aunt, and treasured friend. Her tireless work ethic, gentle spirit and kindness will long be remembered by everyone she knew.
Nina was born December 11, 1924. Her parents were George McMahan and Nancy King McMahan. She married Levator Smelcer April 19, 1941. Besides her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by brothers, Ray McMahan and Eugene McMahan; nephews, Doyle Watson, Ronnie Watson, and Howard McMahan, Jr.
During World War II, Nina worked on the Manhatten Project in Oak Ridge, TN, while her husband served overseas in the U.S. Army. After the war, the couple returned to Sevierville and began operating a farm for Norman and Josephine Burchfiel on Middle Creek Road, where they remained the rest of their lives. Among numerous agricultural endeavors, Nina and Levator were widely known for the production of large quantities of eggs, which they sold to numerous businesses and individual families throughout Sevier County for many years.
She was a member of Laurel Branch Baptist Church and recently attended Fellowship Baptist Church. She was also a member of the Sevier County Farmer’s Co-Op and Sevier County Farm Bureau.
Brothers and sisters-in-law: Clyde and Louise McMahan; Howard and Pauline McMahan; Charles and Lillie McMahan; and James (J.L.) and Jerri McMahan
Sisters and brother-in-law: Lucille Watson; Bonnie and Lowell Whaley
Sisters-in-law: Vernice Branch and Pauline McMahan
Nephews and nieces: Ray Watson, Carroll McMahan, Janice McKinley, Linda Kupferer, Susan Howell, Nina Reagan, Terry Montgomery, Debbie Atchley, Steve McMahan, Jeff McMahan, Gary McMahan, Doyle McMahan, Greg Whaley, Dennis McMahan, Jentri Lynn and Jason McMahan
Her husband’s nephews and nieces who include Juanita Shults, Linda Key, Earlene Harper, and numerous others
In lieu of flowers, those who wish may contribute to the Memorial Tree Program, c/o Bob Parker, Director, Sevierville Department of Parks and Recreation, 200 Gary Wade Blvd., Sevierville, TN 37862.
Family will receive friends 5-7 PM Friday, followed by a celebration of life service at 7 PM in the West Chapel of Atchley Funeral Home with Rev. Melvin Carr officiating. Graveside service will be held at 10 AM Saturday in Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens. (www.atchleyfuneralhome.com)
- [S84] E-Mail, Carroll McMahan [email@example.com], 9 Mar 2012.
Eulogy for Nina McMahan Smelcer, delivered by her nephew, Carroll McMahan:
We’ve gathered here to say farewell to my beloved aunt,
Nina McMahan Smelcer,
who in some way, touched the lives of each of us.
We’ve come to share our grief
but equally we’ve come to celebrate God’s creation in her life
and rejoice with the knowledge that she has been released from the terrible disease which gradually took away the gleam from her eyes,
obscured her thoughts
and stripped her of everything, leaving nothing in its place.
Throughout her 86 yrears, she held steadfast to her beliefs
and never wavered from her principals.
Reflecting on her passing,
I’m reminded of the comforting words in the second Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day
and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Her parting creates a void that will never be filled.
Several years ago, veteran NBC news reporter Tom Brokaw wrote a bestselling book titled The Greatest Generation.
The book consisted of life stories about Americans who were born before the great depression and became adults just as the United States entered World War ll.
My Aunt Nina was very much a part of the greatest generation.
Born December 11, 1924, she was the second of nine children born to my paternal grandparents, George and Nancy King McMahan.
Grandpa operated a saw mill and therefore the family was always picking up and moving.
Lucille was older and in rapid succession came Ray, Clyde, Howard, Eugene, Charles, Bonnie and J.L. Two of them, Ray and Eugene, have died before her.
Grandma called her “my little peace maker” because she was always breaking up scuffles between her brothers.
While Grandpa operated the saw mill, Grandma and the children worked on the farm.
The family grew very close
and in many ways Aunt Nina was the glue that held them together.
From an early age, she mothered her siblings,
a quality she possessed throughout her life.
Her love for family was deep and unqualified.
At the Sevier County Fair in 1940 she met a young man from Pittman Center named Levator Smelcer.
He came from an even larger family of fourteen.
They started dating, fell in love and decided to get married.
On April 19, 1941, Levator picked up Nina in his Model A Ford and the couple set out to the Courthouse
they obtained a marriage license and went to find the Reverend Sheldon Ogle.
When the couple arrived at Rev. Ogle’s house, he was not at home.
Traveling back along Pittman Center Road, They encountered Rev. Ogle riding down the road on his horse.
The nervous couple stopped, got out of the car, showed the preacher their marriage license and ask him marry them.
Remaining seated on his horse, the preacher pulled a little black book out of his pocket, performed the ceremony
and pronounced them man and wife right there between the road and the Little Pigeon River.
Thus was the humble beginning of a marriage that lasted “until death they did part” 58 years later when Uncle Levator passed away in 1999.
Uncle Levator worked for a few years with the Civil Conservation Corps, known as the CCC, on a crew that constructed the stone bridges on Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, NC at a salary of $30.00 per month.
He was working for the TVA on the Douglas Dam project when the U.S. Army drafted him and he was required to report to Camp Forrest near Manchester, Tn.
For three months. Aunt Nina was allowed to join him and returned home when he completed basic training and was deployed to Crozon Peninsula in France following maneuvers at Camp Leonard Wood, MO., Camp Laguna, AZ and Camp Kilmer, NJ.
He sailed from New York Harbor to Belfast, Northern Ireland en route to France where he was involved in active combat
Aunt Nina found employment at the hosiery mill in Sevierville for a few months before she rented a room in Knoxville and began working the midnight shift at Fulton Manufacturing Company.
Eleven months later she acquired a job with the U.S. government at the Clinton Engineer Works,
in a place, which at that time, could not be found on any map and was later named Oak Ridge.
The position was in the Y-12 plant where everything was top secret.
While working in Oak Ridge,
she was required to wear an ID badge, clear a security gate to enter, live in Government barracks and stand in line for rations.
On August 6, 1945, Aunt Nina, along with her fellow Y-12 employees learned they had played a part in history when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
The federal government announced the Manhattan Project had created the bomb and the Oak Ridge Y-12 plant had played a major role in the creation of the bomb called ‘little Boy” which was dropped on Hiroshima.
Uncle Levator never talked very much about his experiences in World War ll.
He returned home after serving his country and never wanted to speak of the horrors he endured.
I’ve only heard one story about an incident in which he was lying underneath a jeep while making repairs when enemy troops attacked blowing the jeep apart.
After a brief time in Oak Ridge and Knoxville, The young couple returned to Sevier County.
Except for vacations, they never left again.
Levator wanted to be a farmer.
In 1949, on an agreement secured with a handshake, they began operating a farm on Middle Creek Road for Norman Burchfiel.
By working long, hard hours they obtained a happy, productive and successful life.
Nina’s youngest brother, J.L., joined them on the farm when he was 9-years-old and helped out until he graduated high school.
I can recall the house they lived in for most of the first 22 years. It was a white weatherboard house with a screened –in front porch, surrounded by a white picket fence.
In 1971, they moved in a new brick house near the same location.
A typical day on the farm began before sunrise with a big breakfast.
There were always eggs to gather, cows to milk, tobacco and hay to grow along with gardens to plow, sow, tend and harvest.
Aunt Nina frequently prepared a big noontime meal for Uncle Levator and the farm hands before returning to her other duties.
It was not unusual to drive by the farm and see both of them operating a tractor in the fields.
There were also days when Aunt Nina would take time out of her busy routine to perform an act of kindness such as driving my mother to Knoxville for a child’s doctor’s appointment.
Some of my favorite childhood memories,
and I feel certain;
those of my siblings and cousins
involve Aunt Nina and the farm.
It’s ironic that she was never blessed with children because she possessed wonderful maternal qualities.
We loved to visit Aunt Nina.
I remember an old dog named Betsy who we rode as if she were a pony; and other dogs, among them Lady and Sam.
We were fascinated with the numerous cats, chickens by the thousands, horses, pigs, cows, vegetable gardens and fields of hay and tobacco.
Many times, Aunt Nina would allow us to assist her with grading eggs.
She had an old table by the door in the egg house with a piece of linoleum nailed down on three corners.
She’d d lift up the remaining corner to place the money she collected or to make change.
We laughed at her when she referred to the primitive but functional setup as her cash register.
Sometimes, we children would lock each other in the huge walk-in cooler when she wasn’t looking.
My cousin Ronnie Watson and I loved to climb in the hay loft and sprinkle a handful of hay on our Aunt Bonnie, my sisters, Janice and Nina and our cousin Susan.
Predictably, the girls ran screaming to tell Aunt Nina get Ronnie and me into trouble.
One of my personal favorite memories is riding shogun in an old pick-up truck driven by my Uncle J.L.
He’d pick up speed once we were down by the creek
and out of Uncle Levator’s sight,
so I could watch the chickens fly as they dodged the speeding truck while feathers flew all around us.
Aunt Nina cultivated and maintained a beautiful vegetable garden between the barn and Middle Creek Road
and shared generously the resulting bounty.
When I recall gathering vegetables with her,
I never think about the heat or pesky bugs
but fondly remember her wearing a little sun hat and sharing bits of gardening knowledge and folklore with us kids.
My sister Nina has always been proud that she’s Aunt Nina’s namesake
and Aunt Nina felt honored as well.
Neither of them was ever bothered by the family calling our aunt “Big Nina”
and my sister “Little Nina” to differentiate between them.
Aunt Nina always opened up her home and their place along the river in Pittman Center to the entire family as a gathering place in times of crisis and for dinners and picnics whenever there was a holidays, a birthday or any other special occasion.
I treasure those good times of delicious food and good fellowship.
When circumstances allowed them to take time away from the farm,
Aunt Nina and Uncle Levator loved to travel.
Many of their vacations in the 50s and 60s were spent with Aunt Nina’s dear friend Cythia and her husband, Lewis Clayton.
The two women were long time friends, after working together at Fulton’s and Oak Ridge during World War ll.
One of the foursome’s favorite destinations was Daytona Beach, FL.
They also traveled with Ed and Jean Bohannon and their family,
and joined some of the Sevier County Farmers Co-Op sponsored tours.
And of course, many vacations tat were just the two of them
Aunt Nina always remembered birthdays and other milestones.
I loved the way she signed greeting cards with “Lots of Love”
and underlined the words three times to emphasis her affection.
In her later years, Aunt Nina displayed her share of idiosyncrasies.
It was not uncommon to walk in her house to find her covered with a blanket with the temperature in the room hovering around 90 degrees.
Upon insisting a large number of family members pack into her car for a drive
she would not only appoint the driver but announce the seating arrangement as well.
She loved to clip coupons and would spend several dollars on gas redeeming one valued no more than 25 cents.
Before discarding a piece of aluminum foil, she’d recycle it at least four times
and she’d eat warmed over; three-day-old corn bread like it had just been taken out of the oven.
I am very proud the McMahan family has remained close knit,
a sentiment I appreciate more as I grow older.
It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing my father and his siblings possess the same devotion to each other they shared in their youth
even though they have now reached retirement age and beyond.
In today’s ever changing world,
the family of George and Nancy McMahan have held steadfast to their values.
When Uncle Levator died, those same brothers and sisters who Aunt Nina looked after when they were children rallied around her and provided a much needed solace.
She was sustained with the comfort of a loving support system.
Throughout her life, Nina McMahan Smelcer was a devoted and beloved wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.
She possessed a beauty of character that endeared her to all who crossed her path;
she was in every sense of the word, a lady.
In the end,
the true measure of a person is not the wealth left behind but the richness of memories they gave to others.
Aunt Nina has enriched my life immeasurably.
I’ve always taken an interest in genealogy and with her passing;
I’ve lost my best resource for the oral history of our family.
However, I consider myself fortunate to have a wealth of wonderful memories
and will always remember her grace, radiance and kindness.
She would want us to be strong and carry on,
remembering the good times and comforting each other.
Lots of love, Aunt Nina
Underlined three times
- [S147] Find a Grave, (Memorial: 77216600).