Elvis was a Presley alright.
But what was known for years by the family and kept a
secret for the sake of respect to all involved is the
name of the true father of Jessie Dee Pressley, John Wallace.
The last known
of Rosie Pressley
shortly before she died.
JohnWallace was born August 1, 1853 in Itawamba
County, MS, to Hugh and Lidya Gideon Wallace.
John later became a farmer who bought and sold properties, and who
also was a fiddle player in Tilden and played at most of the local
barn dances there. He played quite often at a resort cabin known
as "Linger Longer" and would meet up there with Rosella
Pressley who would spend many a night there dancing and socializing.
The two became acquainted and began to meet on a regular basis.
John had been married once before and lived with his first wife
in Texas where she died. John and his firstborn son, William Hugh
Wallace, then moved back to MS where he met and marriet Elmira McFadden.
John Wallace died November 17, 1935.
Story of Rosella Elizabeth Pressley and
The Presley Connections~
from NC ... to MS...
Wallace/Presley connection from MS
as told by Mackey Hargett, ggrandson of
story of Rosella Elizabeth Pressley was a tragic one, but a story
no different than a young woman living through the reconstruction
period of a war between states, a young woman whose daddy left
her and her mother and sister when she was just a child. A young
woman whose mama, Martha Jane Wesson Pressley, had died in childbirth
in 1868 after remarrying a man named William Steele. Afterward,
the girls went to live for a time with their grandmother, Millie
Brown Wesson. William Steele, a Civil War veteran had abused his
step-daughters and fathered the first born of each, including
Rosella's first born, Walter G. Pressley who was born December
19, 1880. Rosella's children would all retain the surname of "Presley"
which was her maiden name. Someone going by the name of Valley
J. Presley of Texas believed that his father, William Steele,
was Rosella's stepfather. This has yet to be confirmed.
This young woman grew up penniless on White Springs Road in the
small farming community of Tilden, Itawamba County, Mississippi,
where the men were scarce having been off to war, and the means
of support were minimal at most. The Union army had stormed through
Itawamba County and destroyed many of the farm buildings and homes
and absconded with livestock, leaving many families destitute.
Rosella, called "Rosie" by those dear to her, together
with her sister, Rosalinda, made their home in on White Springs
Road. The two young women needed the means to support themselves
and their firstborn, and with no family but for the neighbors
who had become "family," Rosella became independent
of her own means and started in to sharecropping her land. John
Wallace and his wife, Elmira McFadden Wallace, lived nearby and
it was not long before Wallace fell for the young, attractive
woman who had developed an independent air, meanwhile, longing
for the happiness and security of a solid relationship. What was
difficult most was that the men who weren't lost to the war or
damaged from it were all married.
A strong woman and yet a woman who was a victim of both the times
and of her environment, Rosella managed to raise 10 children on
her own, all of whom respected her as their mama and accepted
her position though most would be embarrassed by the truth of
their illigitimacy and try to cover for the situation out of respect
for their beloved mother.
Rosella Pressley and John Wallace shared some trials in their
lives, however, fate surely brought them together because out
of their love for one another came the greatest entertainer in
the world and of generations to come, Elvis Presley. Though they
did not live to see him, they helped to create him. God Bless
you, Rosella. God Bless you John. Thank you both for sharing your
love with us all.
It was easy to see that John Wallace
had developed a deep love for Rosie Pressley and cared for her
enough to support both her and their children. Before he had met
Rosie, however, John had given himself in marriage to Elmira McFadden
on December 20th of 1880 and sired nine children with her, to
1) ELNORA WALLACE b. Sept. 1, 1882 in Itawamba
County, MS. She married Joe Yarber. They had a child Lillian Yarber
born October 24, 1905. Lillian married Tearsie Edward Hargett
born August 12, 1910 of Marion Co.., Alabama and they were the
parents of Mackey Hargett born August 24, 1943 in Tupelo, MS.
Elnora died on Dec. 14, 1971 in Tishimingo Co., MS and Lillian
Yarber Hargett died January 23, 1989 in Tishimingo Co.
NOTE: Tearsie E. Hargett died June 18th, 1944,
killed in action in France.
BETTIE LOU WALLACE b. March
1885. She married Jesse Martin. She died in Red Bay, AL in 1980.
3.) ROBBIE C. WALLACE b. August,
1886 in Itawamba Co. She married George Huff. Robbie died in
1929 in White Co., AR
4.) OSSIE HOWARD WALLACE b. June
18th 1888 in Itawamba Co. He married Mary Barkley. Ossie died
5.) JOHN KIRBY (CURB) WALLACE b. Oct.
24, 1889 in Hawthorn Co., MS. He married Rosa Cox. John died
1957 in Tupelo, OK.
6.) SELMA ANN
WALLACE b. November,
1891 in Itawamba Co., MS. She married Hollis Huff. Selma died
in 1985 in Enciniatas, CA.
Children of Rosella Pressley and John Wallace
1.) The first child
born to Rosella Pressley and John Wallace was JESSIE DEE
McDOWELL PRESSLEY, the grandfather of Elvis Presley,
b. April 9, 1896 in Itawamba Co. Jessie married Minnie Mae Hood
and then Vera Leftwich. Jessie died March 19, 1973 in Louisville,
2. )CALHOUN "CAL" PRESSLEY b. May 9,
1899 in Itawamba Co. He died in East Prairie, MO.
3.) MACK PRESSLEY b. Oct. 2, 1901 in Itawamba
Co. and died 1917 in Tremont, MS. He is buried in Priceville Cemetery
4.) ROBBIE PRESSLEY b. March 1, 1903 in Itawamba
Co. She married Otis Stacey. Robbie died Sept. 9, 2001 in Tupelo.
5.) JOSEPH WARREN PRESLEY b. January 6, 1907
in Itawamba Co. He married Delma Jackson. Joe died July 16, 1979
in Red Bay, AL.
Dee Pressley, first child
of Rosella Pressley and John Wallace. Jessie is the father of
Vernon Elvis Pressley/Presley and the grandfather of Elvis Presley.
Jessie shown with the car bought for him by Elvis.
PEARL WALLACE b. April 21, 1895 in Itawamba Co., MS. She
married John Graham. Jessie died November 11, 1980 in Tremont, Itawamba
8.) WILLIE MAE WALLACE b. February 1898 in Itawamba
Co., MS. She married Sid Smedley. Willie Mae died January 19, 1995
in Itawamba Co.
9.) ARCHIE HOMER WALLACE b. February 12, 1903 in
Itawamba Co., MS. He married Alvilee Swindle. Archie died July 17,
1994 in Columbus, MS.
and Rosella stayed together also as a couple throughout the years
of 1880 to 1935 when John had passed away. He is buried in Salem
Cemetery with his wife, Elmira who died in 1934.
No one will ever know or understand Rosella's reasons for staying
with John Wallace other than she loved him deeply and he took care
of her and their children. For many years Rosie never told her children
who their natural father was, nor was it known in the town where
John Wallace was a prominent member of society.
The children of Rosie Pressley and John
Wallace were given similar names to the children of John and Elmira
daughters of John Wallace and Elmira. At left is Mackey Hargett's
grandmother, Elnora, Bettie Lou (Lovie), Jesse, and Willie. These
are the half-sisters of Jessie Dee Pressley.
(Click photo to enlarge)
Thanks to cousin
Mackey Hargett, the truest factual
account of Rosella Presley's life is now in book form.
Year in the making, Mackey originally told Rosella and
John's story to Mississippi historian Julian C. Riley who
began further research into the project.
Mackey waited many years to acknowledge the truth of
this portion of the Presley family history, mainly because
he was keeping a promise to someone who's wishes meant
most to Mackey. Having fulfilled his word, Mackey now
feels that it is time for John Wallace to be presented in the
same light enjoyed by other family members. John, after all,
helped to create the legend, Elvis Presley, and is Elvis'
natural great grandfather.
To purchase and read this enjoyable journey getting to
know Rosella and John, the most long-awaited story in
Presley family genealogy, click on the following link:
The fate of Rosella Pressley was in large part owing to the circumstances
surrounding her poverty-ridden, deprived childhood. Never
a bad or mischeavous girl, both she and her sister were raised in
Church and remained Christian until their dying days. It was during
one Sunday mass when Rosella and Rosalinda's father, Dunning Pressley,
up and left his family to never return to them. He had gone home
to Tennessee and the family he had left behind there before the
war. The War Between States had bred alot of hardship and hard feelings
for folks from the South. For many years thereafter it was a lost
culture, a society bent on reconstruction and readjusting. People
at that time often wondered if they would ever "come back"
from the tragic fate befallen them from four years of war and eight
years of rebuilding from the ravages of that war.
Rosie raised her children and supported them
mainly by doing odd jobs around and also for a time by sharecropping.
She was a hard worker. She also received support for the children
from John Wallace. Rosie would send Jessie Dee to see his father
to collect the support money.
It was Jessie Dee who related that his mother was a very strict
woman, so much so that he left home at the age of 16. Her children
had great respect for Rose Pressley who died June 30, 1924 from
cancer, a sign of the struggles and stress in the life of one young
woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders..
Cousin Mackey Hargett
with Patsy and Jeddie, daughters
of Joe Pressley, son of Rosella Pressley and John Wallace.
Patsy and Jeddie are 1st cousins to Vernon Presley and 1st
1x removed to Elvis.