Monday, March 28, 2011

Some Women On My Tree

As genealogists we encounter many females in our lineages. There are the usual Marys, Sarahs, Anns, and occasionally an odd-ball name such as Submit. It is sad when they have no surname. Taxing all of our knowledge and patience, we try to find a document that identifies them. Maybe a probate file naming her as the daughter of so and so. Maybe a baptismal record naming her parents.

Identified women on my pedigree chart are fascinating. They are attached to a husband, but hopefully they never lost their true identity. They seem to cry out that their stories be told. For some it is easy and for others it is not. If you have stories about your female ancestors, be sure they are written down and passed down.

It is difficult to determine which females in my family touched my life the most. Many stood out as important people. I hope when I have passed that my legend and story will be told and have an impact on my descendants.

Three women who have counted in my life ...

My maternal grandmother was Nanne Jane Lewis Horne (Granny) born in 1889 in North Carolina. I visited my grandparents in their log cabin nestled in the mountains of northeast Tennessee when I was three years old. It was nine years before I saw them again, but yet there was a bond and family tie when I walked into their cabin. Granny married Samuel Stephen Horne (Grandpa Steve) in 1909. Why was she so special? She was a story-teller. When I became interested in genealogy she told me stories which I had to sort through to determine fact from fiction. Granny was a bit taller than Grandpa. Sometimes she towered over him in opinion also. I am told that when he wanted to join the CCC she refused, stood her ground, saying she was a Republican and they would eat turtle before he joined the CCC. When I turned 21 she encouraged me to vote and according to her the best vote would be cast for a Republican. Voting was a big thing for her ... a privilege she had earned and deserved as a woman. I have her butter churn, quilt and the letter she wrote telling me I should vote.

Granny's sister, Aunt Bertha Lewis Mahala, never had children. She was ten years younger than Granny and a teacher. Aunt Bertha was also the keeper of the records. It was the Lewis Family Genealogy Record. She was responsible for the Lewis reunions, staying in touch with family as well as delving into documents for family clues. She was a great influence in my life. Having graduated from Appalachian State College in Boone, North Carolina she had high hopes I would come live with her and attend school there, becoming a teacher. Instead I became a genealogist.

My late husband's great grandmother was a fascinating woman. She inspired me that women can do anything they set their mind and heart to do. Martha Anne Watts was born in 1875 in Missouri. She married and divorced, all within a span of about three years. Two marriages later she married William Henry Zehrung in Box Butte Co., Nebraska. He had three, motherless children. Will and Anne had three children of their own before divorcing. She left with the children in the middle of the night on a train bound for Denver, Colorado. Fending on her own, at times almost destitute, Grandma eventually stood proud and tall as the founder of a hospital in Denver. It was the precursor of a rest home. She was an inventor, nurse and business woman. Another marriage later changed her name to Coulter and ended in divorce. Newspaper accounts portray her as a gutsy woman when she was thrown in jail by the mayor of Denver. Grandma became very wealthy, but eventually lost her money through the unworthy schemes of her son. She died a pauper in the hospital she founded. Even so, she was an opinionated woman who had determination along with strength to do as she pleased.

Many more women are at the top of my list of interesting female ancestors. How many do you have? Have you told their story?

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