The Atlanta Constitution
Saturday, January 7, 1933
Sarge Plunkett’s Widow Dies Here
Mrs. Wier Was Inspiration for Many of Husband’s Famous Stories
Mrs. Mary Ida Wier, widely known over the south through the stories written of her by her husband, whose pen name was “Sarge Plunkett,” died Friday afternoon at her residence at 104 Adair street, Decatur, where she had resided for 52 years. She was 78, and had been ill with influenza for three weeks.
Mrs. Wier, the former Mary Ida Britt, of Pike county, Georgia, was married to the late A.M. Wier, for more than 25 years a noted humorist and writer for The Constitution in the days when “Bill Arp,” Joel Chandler Harris, Frank L. Stanton and Henry Grady wrote daily articles.
Many were the stories written by Mr. Wier about his wife, though all of his articles and sketches of life during the War Between the States purported to be of “Sarge Plunkett” and his wife, “Lucy.” They were written in the first person and contained all the dry humor that which made Bill Arp famous, the human interest of a poem by Stanton, and the touch of genius which Joel Chandler Harris gave to his “Uncle Remus” stories.
Born in Pike County
Both Mr. and Mrs. Wier were born in Pike county, and were married shortly after the Civil War, in which “Sarge Plunkett” conceived the idea for his sketches of battles and famous marches. She was devoutly religious and had been a member of the Oakhurst Presbyterian church almost since its foundation. Her many-sided character furnished the material for a multitude of short sketches by her husband.
One particularly humorous piece in which she played the leading part was “Scary Lucy,” a story of the war. In it “Sarge Plunkett” tells how his wife, then living near Jonesboro, went one afternoon to carry corn to the mill near by to be ground into meal. Upon her return she found that a battle was in progress all around her home, and the house itself was directly between the northern and the southern armies. “Scary Lucy” was indeed frightened, but to let to mere armies interfere with her job of getting the meal home in time for supper was far from her mind. She simply ignored the ferocious fighting men, and walked across the line of fire to her cabin. The men of the Blue and Gray were taken by surprise, but their gallantry was not lacking. They quit firing and both armies rested while “Scary Lucy” carried her meal home and prepared the repast for her people.
Provided Much Material
This tale and others showing her character were great material for her husband. Mr. Wier worked as foreman of the weekly division of The Constitution for many years. He was “discovered” by Henry Grady, it was said, when his ability to find “human interest” stories became known. “Sarge” was the author not only of newspaper stories, but of countless poems, each dryly humorous, and of a widely read book, “Old Times in Georgia,” which appeared first in The Constitution and later in book form.
Mrs. Wier was highly interested in her noted husband’s works and encouraged and aided him in every possible way. As “Lucy” she became almost as widely known as “Sarge.” Mr. Wier, who died ten years ago, never signed a single article with his own name, preferring to remain merely the chronicler of the doings of “Sarge” and “Lucy,” good old-fashioned Georgia people, as he called them.
Funeral services for Mrs. Wier will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Oakhurst Presbyterian church, in which she was a leading member. The Rev. C.H. Pritchard will officiate, and interment will be in Hollywood cemetery. A.R. Turner is in charge.
Surviving are three sons, the Rev. W.S. Wier, a teacher in Joe Brown Junior High school, and A.M. and Robert L. Wier, of Birmingham, Ala.; two daughters, Miss Mamie Wier, of Decatur, and Mrs. D.P. Blake, of Concord, and a brother, W.H. Britt, of Sparta. Twenty-three grand-children and nine great-grand-children also survive.
[Transcribed 20 May 2008 Lynn Cunningham]