Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching up.

This has been an odd week, I have just not felt like sitting at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. But here are a few of the Geneablogger prompts for this week that I've been meaning to address all week.

What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

I come from a very religious family. My mother and both of my grandmothers are/were Mennonite. Three of my great-grandmothers were Mennonite, and one was Baptist. These were women who were in church every Sunday, who cooked for church meals and for members in crisis, who sewed quilts and taught Sunday School. So yes, they served their churches, but not from the pulpit or from the front of the church, but quietly in the background, the way women have served the church for two thousand years.

Here is my grandma Martin with a church sewing group...Grandma is third from the right.

Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

Two of my great-grandmothers lost their mothers at young ages, and had a hard time adjusting both to the deaths and to the step-mothers who came along afterward. I don't have my Family Tree Maker software set up on this computer, so I'll have to come back and add some of the names, dates and ages when I can get to them.

My great-great grandmother Mary Ziegler Lehman died at age 25 giving birth to her third child, who also died. She was buried with the baby in her arms. Here is Mary:

Mary's daughter Anna, my great-grandmother, was very young when this happened, and never really adjusted to her father's re-marrying and having three more children with his new wife. She never had a good relationship with her step-mother.

The only pictures I have of Great-Grandma Anna are from late in her life. Here's a scrapbook page I made, showing my great-grandmother Anna Lehman Martin with her son, my grandpa Ira Martin, her granddaughter (my mother) Lucille Martin Clark, and little old me, her great-granddaughter, at about age three.

My great-grandmother Velma Collins Clark also lost her mother at a young age. Family lore has it that Velma's mother killed herself with poison, overwhelmed and overworked.

Velma resented her new step-mother so much that she moved out to work as a hired girl as soon as she was old enough. This was one of the few jobs available to rural girls then, living with other farm families and providing extra help for other overwhelmed, overworked women with too many kids to take care of. I believe all of my great-grandmothers, and quite a few of my great-great aunts, spent time working as hired girls before marrying.

Velma ended up working for the Clark family, and caught the eye of their son Lewis. They got pregnant, and got married--in that order, I imagine it was quite a scandal--and then lost the baby girl Velma was carrying, either at birth or soon after. They had four sons after that.

Here is Great-Grandma Velma later in life with her husband Lewis and their first grandchild:

Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

My mother worked several different jobs when she was young, including waitress at Howard Johnson's and grocery clerk. She was a stay-at-home mom when I was small, and then worked as a teacher's aide, and then as an aide at a nursing home. At about age 40, she went to school and got her LPN and has been a nurse ever since, working at several different nursing homes.

My grandma Mary Clark was a one-room schoolhouse teacher for several years before and after she was married. When she and my grandpa split up, she ran a nursing home and then became an LPN. She worked at a hospital for years, and then worked at a nursing home for many more years, and didn't retire until she was well past 70.

My grandma Martha Martin never held a job outside the home that I know of, but spent most of her life raising eight kids, which is the hardest job I can think of. I love this picture of Grandma Martin, surrounded with kids, but with a real look of contentment on her face:

Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

My grandma Mary Clark spent fifteen years in an unhappy marriage to my grandpa, scraping by with a very difficult man in a very impoverished life. She finally took it upon herself to leave him, build her own home, go to school, get a nursing degree, and finish raising her five kids on her own. I have tremendous respect for her strength and courage.
Here is Grandma with her hard-earned nurse's cap: