Laura Ann Batterall was born on November 30, 1910 in the Lewis community of New Madird County in southeastern Missouri. The only child of nomadic parents who moved frequently and traeled throughout southern Missouri, north and central Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas, she longed for the association of people closer to her own age. For a large part of her early childhood a coverd wagon moving from one part of the county to another was the only home she knew and this hard life made an adult of her while she was still a young girl.
She was given into marriage 9 days before her 13th birthday to Thomas Hamlett Hale who, at the age of 26, was twice her age. Tom was the son of Dr. amd Mrs. M.D. Hale. Four children were born to Laura and Tom Hale. Their firstborn son, David William Hale, died as a newborn infant the day after his birth and is buried in Littlejohn Cemetery in Chicota, Lamar County, Texas. THe marriage was terminated by divorce in 1935 after she had endured almost 12 years of physical and emotional abuse from a husband who always thouhgt of her as a child.
Laura, along with her 3 surviving children, again lived with her parents in Paririe County and Mississippi County Arkansas until July 1937 when she became the wife of 51 year old Thomas Jasper Hightower.
Although the abusive part of her life was over, the hardships were not. THe day to day struggles of the pos-depression era continued and, as time went by, it became necessary for her to find work outside the home to help make a living for her growing family. A grandmother at the age of 32, she worked beside her husband in the cotton fields and as a commerical fisherman while never neglecting her duties as a housewie. As the years passed, with her grwoing family and aging husband, it became increasingly necessary for her to work outside the home and, by the time she was in her early to mid 40's, she was forced to become the primary bread-winner for her family.
A housewife, a filed hand, a fisherman, a waitress, cook, dishwasher, maid, no matter what the job or how physically demanding, she was never too proud to do any kind of honest work and always gave more than was required of her despite her severe astham that often made even the act of breathing a laboriously difficult task for her.
Although her whole life seemed to be a series of struggles and had times, her determination to see that her children had the opportunity for a better life and her faith in God gave her the strength to continue her labor and maintain a positive attitude with hope for the future when others woul dimply have given up. She was a stern disciplinarian and made sure that her children conducted themselves in a manner that was above reproach and were looked up to in the communty.
Throughout her life of adversity however, her most outstanding and memorable characteristic trait was her exterme generosity. For the railroad hobos of the 1940's who were down on their luck, there was aways a free meal. For her own children with families of their own who returned to live in her home, there was always room for everybody even if it meant she would sleep on a pallet on the floor. From her used-clothing store in her later years, there was always a free pair of shoes or a winter coat for anyone she deemed to be in need and all her charity and goodwill was totally without regard to race or creed and without regard to her own personal need.
To her second marriage were born 4 sons, Raymond, Charles, John and Elvis and 1 daughter, Georgia.
On Saturday, April 13, 1985, her life of hard labor abd poverty came ot an end. Being preceded in death by her husband and their son Charles, Laura was survived by 2 daughters, 5 sons, 29 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild. She was buried beside her husband in Oaklwan Cemetery in De Valls Bluff, Arkansas.
(written by son Raymond)