The story as I heard it is that Frank Brister was coming over from Ireland on a sailing ship. With him were his wife Lucinda Sullivan and his father. According to one source, they had gone to Ireland to get Lucinda, and the entire village she lived with. They were using money Frank's father earned while fighting in the Texas Revolution.
Lucinda was pregnant, and delivered on the voyage. The baby was named Mary, called Little Mary, supposedly after her mother, who Frank loved with all his heart. Since we know her as Lucinda Sullivan, it is possible her name was Lucinda Mary Sullivan, or Mary Lucinda Sullivan. There is supposed to be a memorial to her in Misssissippi.
Baby Mary lived, but Lucinda died in the childbirth. The ships crew, fearing sharks would attack the ship because of the dead body, wanted to bury her at sea, as was the custom. However, Frank wouldn't allow it, swearing she would receive a proper Christian burial on land. He stayed awake and guarded her body with a shotgun (or a brace of pistols) until landfall, days later. Women travelling with the men talked them into allowing them to care for the baby until they reached port.
The group then proceeded down the Erie canal, then the Mississippi River to Natchez, where the Brister family were in large number. There Frank inquired about someone to care for the child while he went to Texas to claim and settle the land granted him by his father, who received it as partial payment for war service. He was told of Frankie Newman, a teenage girl living with her mother and uncles, who ran a general store. Frankie's father had been a shoemaker with a shop across from the slave market. He had been conscripted into the Confederate Army and never heard from again. She agreed to look after the child, and Frank went on to Texas.
NEW INFORATION suggests the Newmans and Bristers (as well as the Nolens, Frankie's mother's maiden name) had been associated for quite a while, with a number of marriages among the families. There is some indication that Frankie's father Elias Newman actually joined the Confederate Army, along with several Brister men.
After Frank claimed and cleared his land, he returned to Natchez to retrieve his daughter. But in the months of his absence, young Frankie had grown to love the child so much, she wouldn't let her go. So Frank married Frankie and took her back to Texas.
NEW INFORMATION: Atascosa County, Texas marriage records lists W. F. Brister and Frances Newman, so they were actually married in Texas.
The place where the couple settled was wild and isolated, miles from any other settlers, surrounded by thick brush. Life was harsh. Frank was a woodcutter, traveling many miles to work. One day the child was sick and feverish, and Frankie was walking around outside the tent they occupied, trying to comfort the crying child. She heard footfalls, turned, and discovered another young woman standing near, dressed as herself in long skirt and bonnet. She welcomed the visiter, having had little contact with anyone besides her husband for many months. Frankie asked the young woman if she had moved into the area recently, knowing no one lived nearby, and that the path to where the nearest neighbors lived was long and treacherous, over rough terrain. The woman replied that she lived "very far away."
The visitor stroked the baby's cheek, and she seemed to quieten down. She said to Frankie, "You sure love that baby, don't you?" to which Frankie replied "I've had her since not long after her birth, and I love her with all my heart like she was my very own."
After a while darkness was approaching, and the visitor rose to leave. Frankie, carrying the baby, walked beside her up the path. She asked if she could accompany her, so she'd be sure her new friend made it home safely, and so she'd know where the other lived for future visits. The young woman smiled and told Frankie "No, you can't go where I am going." After they walked down the path a hundred yards or so, the pretty young visitor turned to Frankie and said "You can go with me no further. But I will remember what you have done for me, and will help you some day." She then disappeared. Frankie rushed back to the tent, and when her husband returned told him of the strang visit. They took a lantern and retraced the two women's tracks down the path. At the point where Frankie turned around, the second woman's footprints abruptly stopped. The woman's description matched Lucinda's perfectly.
Years later, Frankie's youngest child, my greatgrandfather, lay in his bed dying. My grandmother, a young girl at the time, sat with him, as someone had to be with him always. Her mother worked in the kitchen, preparing for the arrival of her mother-in-law, Frankie. My grandmother looked up as a shadow crossed the window, and saw a woman dressed in long skirts and a bonnet like her grandmother wore. She raced into the kitchen and told her mother, "Granny's here!" Her mother replied that that was impossible, that it was a long way her grandmother had to travel, and that she hadn't had time to get there yet. But the girl insisted, "I saw her on the porch looking in the window, it was her!" Her mother took her outside and they searched, but no one could be found.
Later, when Grandma Frankie arrived, Ruby told her "I thought you came, grandma, I saw you looking in the window." Her grandmother got a peculier look on her face and described a woman. "Yes, that was her!" Frankie smiled and sighed. "Seab will be o.k. now. She has come to help him, and he will be fine." My Great grandfather started recovering that very day and lived to be 95. Lucinda later visited my grandmother again, when one of her own children was deathly ill. She is convinced to this day that the spirit of Lucinda Sullivan looks over the family that cared for her only child.