- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) - Three baby girls, weighing about three pounds each, were born in Baxter County on Feb. 7, 1944, and soon became known as “The Grant Triplets” - Joan, Janie and Judy.

Their parents were the late Daniel Lee Grant and Ruby Sammons Grant, who already had an older daughter, Juanita, 14, and a son L.B., 7.

The triplets planned to gather Friday, on their 70th birthday.

The women know that being triplets is a special way of life, because local media trumpeted the news of their birth and monitored their progress at different ages, said Wesley Simpson, a son of Joan, including their first birthday.

Their names are in the book of local history, and Judy said there is a mention of them on record at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Joan Grant Simpson, Judy Grant Dunn and Jane Grant grew up in the Mallard Point area, east of Mountain Home.

According to The History of Baxter County 1873 to 1973 by Mary Ann Messick, “The girls broke out with the chickenpox when they were only 5 weeks old.”

The book describes the reaction of the public health nurse who had attended Dr. John Guenthner’s delivery of the triplets, Mrs. Mildred Ware: “She bundled them up and took them to Dr. Guenthner who prescribed, ‘a big dose of castor oil.’ ” The account continues, “Despite her dire predictions that it would kill them, she followed the doctor’s orders and the girls were soon on the road to recovery.”

Judy and Jane now live within a few blocks of each other in Mountain Home, and Joan lives in southern Missouri near Gainesville, and comes to Mountain Home each workday to her job at Baxter Healthcare Corp. Judy works in home health care. All three are widowed.

Judy and Joan both married, moved and started to raise their families in other states: Judy in Michigan and Joan in Kansas. Jane married in her mid-30s and has no children.

Wednesday, when the temperature was in the 20s with part of a 4-inch snow on the ground, Joan’s son, Wesley, commented that Judy came back to Arkansas in 2005, “To get away from the snow” in Michigan. “And cold” Judy added.

It was not easy for the three to plan their birthday celebration this year due to the effects from Winter Storm Nika, and details were changing depending on weather conditions for the weekend.

The Mallard Point area was “in the country” when the triplets grew up there - playing outside, always outside, they said. Mallard Point Road was not paved and the land was not a subdivision, as it is now.

The girls walked a mile to meet the Mountain Home school bus. There was no electricity or running water at the Grant family home, but there was mail delivery to the house, they said, and there was an ice box. Joan recalled seeing the ration books that were used during World War II for sugar and gasoline at their home, also.

They humorously disagreed about whether there was home delivery of milk. Judy thought so, but Joan said the milk was cow’s milk and she milked the cow. Jane took no position on this memory, but said she liked to hunt and trap squirrels growing up. Wesley Simpson confirmed that Jane, the smallest, “was the tough one” of the triplets.

“We had strict parents,” they said told The Baxter Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1bwPMdU ). The girls were not allowed to argue or to backtalk them. The family attended the Oakland Church of Christ. The girls said they always played together and went to church together.

Judy and Joan were about 12 when they began working at Shamrock Cafe in Henderson. Up until that time, the triplets dressed alike, but when they began working, “We got to buy our own clothes,” Judy said. They shopped at Mountain Home stores such as Wiseman’s and Trammell’s. Jane started working at the cafe later.

Judy said her favorite age growing up was 16, and Joan said from about 16 to 20. Teens went out in groups in those times, they agreed. Judy graduated from Mountain Home High School in 1963. Soon after, she married, moved to Fort Hood, Texas, and had a son, Don, later joined by a daughter, Christy.

Joan and Jane left school before graduating. Joan’s husband, Robert, worked as a boilermaker and traveled to jobs in Kansas while Joan stayed at home in Chanute, Kan., until their firstborn of four children was school-age. Simpson then bought a farm in Hardenville, Mo., and moved the family there. Robert would leave for job assignments periodically, and Joan cared for their three boys and a girl living on the farm as they attended Gainesville, Mo., schools.

Sitting down together at Joan’s house on Bryant Street in Mountain Home on Wednesday, the triplets remain close, and laugh frequently in conversation.

Triplets are “never alone,” they agreed, and Jane said her sisters were “a big help to me, my best friends.”

Asked what family event was “the most fun,” they said it was the 50th wedding anniversary of their parents, held in 1979.

The reason was because it included so many family members in support of the occasion.

The generation that is following the Grant Triplets has produced no multiple births yet, but their late sister Juanita did have twin grandchildren.

Joan said, “If I could see triplets born in the family, I would like to.”

However, Judy believes now is not the right time.

“The times are too uncertain,” she said.


Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, https://www.baxterbulletin.com

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