The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
Apparently among those who consider their social standing some measure of importance, I am to be admired, for I am one of few Nashvillians who can claim with infallible certainty that a blood relation has lived in this town since its inception. My mother, although a Grove by marriage, never tired of sharing this piece of family trivia at cocktail parties or morning coffees, convinced that it elevated her position far beyond what her birth parents could have guaranteed. And whether she did exaggerate the details in the hopes of impressing her peers, the truth remains that a poor Carolina farmer did pack his bags some two hundred and fifty years ago and set out to cross the Appalachian Mountains, heading west with his young bride determined to claim a few acres of his own and a better life for his family. He probably didn’t have a penny to his name by the time he got to Fort Nashboro begging for a hot meal and a place to sleep, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the Grove family anymore.
Legend has it that when the Chickamauga Indians attacked the Nashville settlement, they killed my ancestral father as he fought to protect his beloved wife. She grabbed the musket from her dead husband’s hands and continued the fight, killing three Indian warriors herself. Then she fell on top of her husband’s cold, bloody body and held him in her arms throughout the night.
Her name was Bezellia Louise, and for generations since, the first girl born to a Grove has been named in her memory. Although most official historians dispute any claims of her heroics, my father donated thousands of dollars to the Nashville Historical Society with the belief that eventually some fresh, young academic would see the past more according to my family’s advantage. But fact or fiction, I believed in her courage and passion and have always been proud to share her name.
Sadly, the Bezellias birthed before me never cared for this designation, preferring a monosyllabic moniker – like Bee, Zee or Zell – to their formal Christian name. My own mother disliked the name so much that for years she refused to let it cross her lips, calling me only sister, a generic substitution that summed up her distaste for my name and her inadequate affection for me. I, on the other hand, always wanted to hear my name in its entirety, never caring what others thought of it.