While there are women like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth who have rightfully earned their place in history, there are others who have become heroes in their own right.
In homes across America, there are many females who have quietly made historical contributions to the family’s and communities they served.
One of Bath County’s guiding lights was Prudence Ann Wilson, born September 8, 1925, to Edgar and Mamie Taylor Wilson. She married her sweetheart, Owens Gulley in the early 1950s.
Mrs. Ann Gulley was a leader, a mover and a shaker. She not only taught her children to be self sufficient, well respected adults, she also greatly influenced many of the neighborhood kids as well.
Mrs. Ann’s wisdom, humor and down-to-earth personality continues to live on in the memories of all those who knew and loved her.
Sharpsburg native Mary Beth Lane said there are three things that come to mind when she thinks of Mrs. Ann; she loved the Lord, her church, her family,friends, a good joke, and she was always the first to arrive with a plate of food during times of sorrow or joy.
Nephews, Bruce and Ben Taylor said she was a strong willed , down-to-earth woman who was always in your corner and many a problem was solved on the front porch swing.
Even after her death in 1998, her three children, Lynn Ray, Lu Ann and Nancy utilize the lessons of life learned from their mother.
Her son Lynn Ray Gulley grew up to be a pediatrician and lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
“No one incident jumps out when I think of my mother's influence on my life but there are four things I learned from her through verbal communication and often by example that continue to be an integral part of my life to this day.
1)- You can be anything you want in life but you have to be willing to work hard. Dreams come true with hard work!
2)- Don't buy anything you can't afford.
3)- All people deserve your respect. I was raised in the late 50's and the 60's in an environment that didn't always respect people who were different.Whether you were black, white, poor, of a different religion or handicapped she taught me to respect everyone and their beliefs. Imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same.
4) It is okay to disagree with someone if you felt you were right.
These four things have served me well for 63 years. They were instilled in my life with love, a lot of patience, and when necessary (which was probably more often than I was willing to admit) the wrath of God and Prudence Ann Gulley,” Lynn said.
Daughters Nancy, w ho works at the Sharpsburg Citizen’s Bank and Lu Ann, Deputy Clerk at the Bath County Circuit Clerk’s Office, both live in the community where they grew up and each said they continued their mother’s wisdom when it came to rearing their own children.
Mrs. Ann believed whole heartily that family, friends and community were the staples of a great life and she lived by that rule.
“Mom was a great teacher when it came to treating people right”, Nancy said. “She was a firm believer that everyone deserved our respect. She loved to laugh and have fun. One thing I remember that was awesome; she was the best scary story teller in Sharpsburg! When I was around 9 or ten years old, all the neighbor kids would gather at nights on our front porch and wait for the supper dishes to be done and for mommy to come out and sit on the porch swing to tell them elaborate stories about fire witches and footprints leading up to houses in the snow and things that the kids would soak up in their minds and we're scared to walk home.One day she got a call from one of the parents asking her not to tell such scary stories because both her boys wouldn't sleep in their beds.Mom was always happy to help out with fun community events. She coordinated the Tom Thumb wedding they had at Bethel one year. She taught Sunday school at the Christian church for years. She along with others did many a float for May Day and was part of the planning crew for the big Sharpsburg high school reunion back in the early 90's.One year we made a Jolly Green Giant float, Bruce Taylor was the giant and I was a big red tomato. She loved helping out at school parties and was always there to help out at chili suppers and PTA fundraisers”, Nancy recalled.
Learning to cook and to watch over your neighbors were a couple of things that come to mind when LuAnn remembers her mother teaching her.
“She was a wonderful cook who was one of the first to take food and lend an ear to a family that had lost a loved one. She made sure Nancy and Lynn and I, knew how to cook. We had to learn to make biscuits from scratch, cut up a chicken and make a pie. She wanted us to be self sufficient, take care of ourselves and not be dependent on anyone else”, LuAnn remembered. “She left us a letter for after she passed and in it she said, "Don't argue over material things. Things wear out, love never wears out." .
She loved people and never met a stranger. She was a girl scout leader with Ms. Elizabeth Reed back in the 1970s. We had a day camp on Marvin Calvert’s farm with a sleepover on the last night.
She drove an old truck out of there and Ms. Elizabeth was sitting on the bed and bounced right out on the ground.
She taught us how to cook over a campfire and we earned lots of badges at that camp.
She was a Sunday school teacher at Sharpsburg Christian church and had so much fun at vacation bible schools. Anywhere she went she had fun. When my son Daniel was in grade school she danced on the stage to the Macarena and all the kids loved it. She and Mary Bruce Wilson went to a fashion show in Lexington and Mary Bruce won a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mommy took her to the show so Mary B took her to Mexico. I drove them to Lexington to meet the group and they kept thinking it was all a big hoax. It ended up being one of the best memories of her life. Mommy was the “Tater town” doctor. She pulled many a tooth, cleaned wounds and was ready to whip a kid into shape if they needed it” LuAnn said.
In addition to being a full time parent, Ann also helped keep the books and answer phone calls for her husband’s business. She also worked as a teller at the Citizen’s Bank of Sharpsburg, and Green Thumb.
Through the memories of her children and grandchildren, the legacy of one of Sharpsburg’s most beloved citizens will live on. Even though Ann Wilson Gulley’s name may not be written in the history books, her contributions continue to serve as a reminder that hard work, self reliance, and the concern for family, and friends will always make for a better society.