WINNSBORO — Maggie Small Brown turned 108 on Nov. 29 and while her sight isn’t what it used to be, one thing that has remained constant is her belief in God.
She readily admits she doesn’t remember a whole lot about her 108 years but if there is one thing she does know, it’s that the Bible has been a constant in her life.
God, she makes it clear, is important to her and has been since she was a child. She said she remembers her mother and father reading the Bible.
“We always had prayer before we ate breakfast and they read the Bible. We had Sunday school,” she said. “Mama raised us up reading the Bible and going to Sunday school.”
Her favorite Bible passage?
“Oh, there’s so much in there I would have to have it here to show you,” she said. “So much.”
But when someone mentions the 23rd Psalm, she starts reciting it from memory — “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want …” — and her voice perks up, ringing clear throughout the house she has lived in for more than five decades.
Maggie and her husband had 13 children, 10 of whom are still living: Lucinda Harris, Robbie Brown, Sara Estell, Willie Jane Brown, Mary Cloud, twins Josephine Hance and Joseph Brown, Loritha Hall, Ann Adams and Donald Brown. The deceased children are Samuel Brown, Thomas Brown and Maybelle Brown.
Maggie has a multitude of grandchildren (at least 30, daughter Loritha says), great-grandchildren (in the double digits) and even some great-great-grandchildren.
She has lived in the same house for about 55 years, give or take a few years.
Maggie was born in White Oak, one of nine children. She had five brothers and three sisters. She said they did embroidery, made quilts and made clothes for baby dolls when they were growing up.
Beyond that, the details are kind of fuzzy – unless you get her Bible.
“Lord, it’s been a long time,” she said when pressed for details about her life. “I’ve got it down here in the Bible. I like to write it all down because you can’t remember it all. Mama and them made notes in the Bible.”
The Bible she refers to has been in her family for years, and has been passed down from generation to generation.
She was 22 when the Great Depression hit and she remembers it, but not with any sadness.
“I lived and worked on a farm that grew cotton, wheat, corn, oats, sugar cane, hogs and cows. We farmed,” she said. “Daddy and them raised them things. You didn’t have much time to fool about.”
Once she was married, she did the same thing – worked on a farm and continued going to church.
She said she doesn’t have a favorite television show and spends most of her day sitting in the living room, nicely furnished with lots of photographs of family members, trinkets and plenty of chairs for visitors to find a spot to sit a spell.
The high points of her life?
“I have trouble remembering what’s going on right now,” she said and chuckled about the question.
She does remembers the wars and that two of her brothers served in World War I.
“I remember Mama and them would be having prayer because of the men going into the service,” she said.
When asked why she has lived as long as she has, the answer to her is simple: “God has blessed people who live longer,” she said plainly. “God was blessing us to have life. He gives some longer. He sure does.”
Her favorite thing to do now? “I can’t really do anything else I wouldn’t be sitting here,” she said and chuckled.
Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross is one of her favorite hymns and the refrain perhaps sums up what Maggie Brown embodies in a life lived full: “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.”
Patricia M. Edwards is the regional editor for Civitas Media’s properties in South Carolina, which include The Herald Independent. She is also the General Manager for The Herald Independent.