Bunnell’s Sadie Strickland, ‘Real Daughter’ of Confederate soldier, dies at 100

Staff writer
September 13, 2010

The only thing bigger than her true Southern belle, Dolly Parton-like hairdo was her heart, friends and family said.

Sadie Strickland, 100, died in her Bunnell home shortly before midnight Friday with family and hospice care workers at her side.

"It was something to know Sadie," said Margaret Whitaker — one of Strickland’s few contemporaries at 97 years old and a friend of 33 years. "She always helped people who needed. She was true blue."

Strickland, a member of the prominent Flagler County family, was one of 28 "Real Daughters" — a surviving daughter of a Confederate soldier. With her death, Florida’s number drops to five and North Carolina tops the list of 10 states in the number of women who carry on the legacy, said United Daughters of the Confederacy spokeswoman Gail Crosby.

"They are the direct link to all this history," she said by phone from Richmond, Va. "I love Flagler County best of all Florida, and a lot of it is because of her. We have lost so much when we lose one of these special ladies."

William Mitchell Stone, her father, was 67 years old when Strickland was born (in Pine Grove, Ga.) on Oct. 27, 1909. She shared memories of her father with Crosby.

"Many of the fathers (of the Real Daughters) were older when they were born," Crosby said. "But she had so many memories of him — following behind him as he worked their small farm."

Strickland married young, said her grandson Marvin Clegg. She and her late husband, Marcus, had their first child when she was 15. They moved from West Florida to Flagler County in 1927.

At one time, the couple owned 30,000 acres, said her son Junior, and made their wealth harvesting turpentine to sell to the Army and Navy during World War II. They also had timber and cattle operations. Numerous roadway easements to widen U.S. 1 and install telephone poles were donated for the betterment of the county, he said.

"Mother Sadie," as family members call her, was left to manage the vast property holdings. They extended from east of Old Kings Roads to the west along County Road 304 toward Haw Creek, and from the southern Flagler areas served by Strickland Road and Durrance Lane as far north as Gopher Ridge near Hastings and Moutrie Creek near St. Augustine.

"She never had a childhood — she was still young when her husband was killed by poachers," Clegg said. "I think, because of that, she had a childlike wonder about Christmas."

She refused to allow her caregivers to take down her tree or put away her decorations this year, he said. Strickland grew up in an era when an orange was considered a holiday gift and in her later life, like a little girl, adored getting a pretty doll.

"She had a great sense of humor," Clegg said. "On Christmas, we’d always do skits making fun of each other. She let me do one — Mother Sadie and her rules of the road. She loved big cars and had a pink T-bird followed by a string of Cadillacs. The first of her rules was that the biggest car always has the right of way."

Strickland also made no bones about stopping talk from loved ones when they’d hint her days might be coming to an end.

"It was just this week and caregivers were standing a little too close and said something about when the end comes," Clegg retold the story his brother shared with him. "And she said, ‘Yoo hoo,’ — that’s what she did to get your attention — ‘Yoo hoo. I’m not gone, yet.’ "

Strickland is survived by five children, all living in Flagler County — Christine Deal, Wilda Hargett, Odell Clegg, M.C. Strickland Jr., and Marvin Strickland — as well as 16 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home is in charge.

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