Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One Woman's Story

As most of you know,  I love Genealogy.  I have been working on my family's history off and on for several years.  Most of this time has been spent putting names and dates on my software program ---trying to get accurate information on births, marriages, deaths,  etc.

On Saturday night,  July 16,   I pulled out a packet of my Family History notes.  I got to reading --and while reading,  I realized something.  I know names and dates of many of my family members that go back many years.  What I don't know --and what I want to know now are their stories,  how they lived,  what they did, etc..   While thinking about these Family Stories,  I realized that I don't really have too much on many of them.

I did find a story about my Great Grandmother,  MARTHA MATILDA CARR.  This is a typical story of what it was like in the mid-1800's  when the Civil War was going on in our country.  Times were rough --and for a young woman like Martha,  life was especially hard.

Martha was born  on November 7, 1849 in New Hope, in what is now West Virginia.  Her father was Robert Carr (1801-1874) and her mother was Sarah Sallie King (1808-1878).  There were FOURTEEN children in the family.  Martha was the 3rd from the youngest. 

I read that the family were loyal Confederates ---so when the boundaries were changed between Virginia and West Virginia,  the family moved to make sure that they were in Virginia.  In 1861,  Civil War broke out in our country.  Martha was only about 12 yrs old.

WELL---during those years,  many members of her family were killed or wounded either in that war or due to that war, so Martha saw her little world just fall apart.  (I cannot imagine going through this.)  All of the boys in the family (except one who was too young) went to war.  Here were some of the deaths or those wounded in her family:
  • -a sister, Nancy Mary, died at age 23
  • -Sarah,  an in-law, died in 1861, at about age 30
  • -Reverend William, an in-law, died in 1861,  at about age 32
  • -John, an in-law, died in 1863 of battle wounds (he was in the infantry), at about age 33
  • -Jane, his wife and a sister to Martha,  died on Oct. 1, 1864, at age 30
  • -Jess Green,  Martha's brother, died in 1863, of a fever following a battle wound, at age 28
  • -Joseph,  another brother of Martha, died in 1864, of battle wounds,  at age 18
Can you believe it:  FOUR men and THREE women in the same family died,  all between the ages of 18 to 33????    But---besides the dead,  three brothers came back from the war.  James Shannon and John were both severely wounded,  and Giles had a mutilated right hand.   While reading this information,  I just sat there with tears in my eyes ---thinking about that family and what they went through.

Martha Matilda got married in 1873 to Daniel Hoge Bruce.   They moved away to a remote and rugged area in VA, which was far from her home --so she didn't get to see her family very often. Daniel taught school --and life was hard for the family (there were 7 children) as they worked to raise family crops and apple trees,  plus canning and meat curing, etc.  It became too difficult, so the family had to give up the farm and move into town--where the children could continue their schooling. Most of the children eventually became school teachers.

Of the 7 children, one was my Grandmother Ida Elizabeth Bruce.  My grandmother (the eldest child of Martha and Daniel) died herself at the age of 30.   Then,  Martha's  husband,  Daniel,  developed a severe disease which they called Creeping Paralysis (probably Parkinson's Disease).  He became helpless himself and had to be fed and tended to like a baby.  Martha also suffered by losing her hearing totally --but she still managed to nurse her husband through all of those long, painful years --with great patience, cheerfulness and love.

I read that this lady was full of self-confidence and great composure which seemed to carry her through some very sad times.   Daniel died in 1915 at the age of 68.   Martha lived a few more years,  dying herself in 1918.

I only have 2 pictures of my Great Grandmother ---both showing a very sad woman.  As I write her story,   I yearn to know more about my family on a personal level.  That is why it is important to get these stories written down for future generations.  If nobody tells the stories,  they won't get told.

I cannot imagine living a life like my Great Grandmother lived.  From what I read,  Martha only lost her composure one time --and that was over something quite insignificant.  After Daniel died,  Martha was heard saying when she saw a new piece of furniture:  "I never had a new piece of furniture in my whole life".   Needless to say,  the family pulled their money together and bought her a beautiful new loveseat.   I guess  that that little statement popped out culminating all of the heartache she had endured her entire life... 

This is only one story --of one brave lady. I am proud to be her Great Granddaughter --and only hope that I show a tiny bit of her fortitude and self-assurance.

There are two pictures today.  The one above is of Martha Matilda Carr Bruce, my Great Grandmother. The one below shows the family of my Great Grandparents.  From left to right:  First row:  daughter Lula Margaret,  my Grandmother Ida Elizabeth,  my mother Edith Marguerite-in front of her mother,  Great Grandfather Daniel,  Great Grandmother Matilda;  2nd row: daughter Flora;  daughter Rosa;  Son Robert; daughter Alice;  and daughter, Hattie.



Have a great day---and remember to write down the stories of your loved ones... Their stories,  no matter how sad,  need to be told.  These stories also help us in today's world appreciate our lives much more.  They also should help us to quit complaining about what we don't have ---and be thankful for what we do.

Hugs,

48 comments:

Mildred said...

Thank you for sharing these photos and stories Betsy. We often fail to remember the sacrifice of our family members before us.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I can't even begin to imagine how hard life was for these people.I'm sure stories like this could be told about many of these people with a few different twists thrown in.I believe they had more inner strength than most have today.

June said...

What I don't know --and what I want to know now are their stories, how they lived, what they did, etc.
*******************
That's the rub of looking into one's genealogy. You do start wondering about what they were really like.
You're lucky to know as much as you do about your forebears!

Harriet said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing with us.

Pam said...

I love learning about things like this. My husband has done lots of research on his family. I can't get past my great grandmother arriving off the boat from Lithuania.

Sandra said...

i care nothing about genalogy but i do love old family photos. the family all looks so unhappy as they all did in the old photos' and i have often wondered why they took the first photos with no smiles. your mother is the tiny little girl if i am reading right and she looks very unhappy. have you ever found why no one smiled back in those days?

Arkansas Patti said...

Just thinking about child birth with no pain meds is daunting enough. Early life in the US was not the "good old days."
It is not just your grandparents pictures but all I have seen of the older generation(our local news paper prints some each week). You never see anyone smiling.
What a different generation we are where smiles are almost manditory for pictures unless it is a mug shot.
I wonder what took the lives of those women during the Civil War.

Beth said...

What a fascinating, moving, and poignant story, Betsy! Especially touching to hear that the family pooled their money to buy Martha a new loveseat---I know that must have meant a great deal to her. She did have a very hard life---what a strong woman she was! Thank you for sharing Martha's story.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Thanks for sharing her story - so interesting! What part of Virginia was she in?

HalfCrazy said...

I love Genealogy too and thank you for sharing this story.

When you started writing about the civil war, tears started to well up in my eyes. You might think I'm overreacting but I'm really not, haha! I just get all emotional about wars, especially the American Civil War in the 1800s. It's just that I read Gone With The Wind and it was just so real.

One thing that I notice about these old pictures is that they were never ever smiling. It's like it was forbidden or inapproriate or something. Like that picture was taken just so for the sake of having it. I see it in the old pictures of my relatives all the time.

HalfCrazy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amy @ Life in Pink Hi-Tops said...

My great-grandmother and great aunt compiled much of my family's history. I have one diary and some letters that were written by family members of old. My grandfather recorded (tape recorded) many of the family stories to pass onto the generations.

From the Kitchen said...

Wonderful family post today. Life was hard back then but losing that many from one family seems unbearable. Have you ever seen a photograph from that era where the subjects look happy? Are smiling?

Best,
Bonnie

Dorothy said...

Thanks for sharing this story and pictures. The ladies had on such fancy looking dresses in that last picture!

reanaclaire said...

I wish I could trace back my roots too.. reminds me of the book titled Roots... that was the very first thick book i read...

camp and cottage living said...

Thanks, Betsy, for sharing your family history with us.
Your great grandmother was , in deed, a strong woman.
One of the things that struck me was that so many died in their 30s. It's just so hard to imagine today anyone dying so young. But it wasn't at all that uncommon then. Their lives were so much harder than any of us could imagine.
It is important to perserve our lifes story. I do well when I'm working away from home to keep records, but find I don't bother with everyday life at home!

TexWisGirl said...

such a harsh life to endure back then...

Busy Bee Suz said...

Betsy,
She really did endure a lot of hardships in her life! I can't believe you were able to find out SO much information about her....that really is a treasure.
Love the photos; I don't think ANYONE smiled way back when for photos.
Have a great day!

Lucy said...

I LOVE family history. I don't have the patience for digging up people, but love finding written histories that I can add to my collection. Those people we just like us in emotions good and bad, and wants and desires and even idiosyncracies. I've got a photo I'm going to blog about if I ever get cool enough to do it. One of my bloggers - Julie Harward - and I have the same grandfather. He is her great great and my great. Interesting.

Happyone : ) said...

Its great to hear family stories even when they aren't about my family.
I think a lot of times people look sad or mad in the old pictures was because you had to hold very still for a long time and people just got tired of waiting for the picture to be taken! : )

Lynn said...

Betsy, Reading your post, before the end, I thought, "Betsy is like her great grandmother, she has her strength". I cannot imagine living through the Civil War like that or having 7 children in those hard times. Yet, from the little I have learned about you, I see your great strength, your determination and learning about your great grandmother is a wonderful tribute to her and to yourself. Thanks for stopping by the blog. Terry is now using the cane in the house instead of the walker, except in the middle of the night when he could be drowsy. Thank you for asking. Blessings.

Retired English Teacher said...

I agree with your advice. My father spent much time and effort compiling family histories and writing narratives about the family. He left it all to me to continue the work. I hope to someday pick it up and organized it in a format that is more accessible to family members. i.e. digital format.

I too hate to see these stories lost. I loved reading yours.

Rose said...

Oh, Betsy, this was a wonderful read. I always feel so bad for people when I go to a cemetery and see children's graves, and sometimes more than one.

But can't imagine what war does to a family....I always think how wonderful a blessing it is that we don't face war on a daily basis here at home.

Lola said...

Thank you Betsy for this wonderful post. I too feel the same. So many families lost members to untold horrors.
I too have the Carr name in my family history. I can't find out too much about it. But does the name Nancy Carr show up anywhere in your files?

Ms. A said...

The family stories and the people to tell them have pretty much vanished in my family. I, too, wish I knew more.

CottonLady said...

Your post today got me to thinking about my grandparents, all of whom my daughter does not even remember. I do need to sit down and write something to go with the pictures of them that I have before I forget it all!
About the smiling...my grandmother told me one of the big reasons for no smiles was that oral hygiene was so bad. All 4 of my mother's sisters had false teeth by the age of 30 and I don't remember either of her parents without false teeth. Also, it just was not the custom to smile in pictures, having your picture taken was "serious business"! LOL
I do remember all four of my grandparents as being happy and much laughter. They lived through very hard times, but had amazing faith and fortitude.
Thanks for today's post!
Blessings!

Ginny said...

This is a fascinating story! I like it because it is just about ONE woman's story. No wonder she looks so sad. But there is also something else. Did you know that back in those days it took a long time to take a picture. And most people could not hold a smile for that long, that is why almost no one is smiling. I actually lived with my great grandmother, so I got to know her really well. She lived with us for over ten years. also her husband, who was an immigrant from Scotland.

nanny said...

So who wrote down what you read? Aren't you glad they did. I wish I knew more about my ancestors too. It always seems to me that people trace their Dad's family and not their Mom's. I know quiet alot about Dad's family but oh how I would love to know more about my Mom's.
Very interesting post. So sad to lose so many family members. Times were sure hard. We have so much to be thankful for now days!

Fred Alton said...

Betsy, you did a wonderful job telling the story of your great grandmother. I love reading the stories of our American Pioneers, especially those who survived the great tragedy of the "Civil" war and showed compassion and stability to us.

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing tale, I would be real old for this era.We have two family cemeteries and many didn't make it past 50.

I made it past 55 today in a little over four hours biking.I have went on many of these rides, completing 12 and many where i did a dayor two.The first ride we carried all our gear on our bikes. This year we have a huge motorhome and a large trailer.

imac said...

Its always amazing to find out about our rellies back in time. Be it good or be it bad.

Chatty Crone said...

I think you are LUCKY to be able to find a story about her life as detailed as that - I know a lot of dates myself, but don't really know the story of their life - I would have loved that.

LV said...

I did some of this many years ago. I went to a place that has records on computers. I enjoyed it and would get excited when I found a name I recognized.

Susie Swanson said...

Thanks for sharing this story Betsy. I only wish I had listened more while growing up. But a child never thinks about the history lessons they could learn from. Hope you have a nice Wednesday..Susie

Karin said...

Very special story about a very special lady! So glad that someone has written down all you have available here. How sad that so many family members died, what to us nowadays, seems wayyyyyy to young! Your post reminded me that I should make sure my grands write down their special memories with my mother. Everyone of them got to meet her - only the youngest two may not remember. A great project for our long winters! Thanks!

Ann said...

Wonderful story about your great grandmother. My daughter has taken an interest in her family history and has been working on a family tree. I'll have to mention this post to her and suggest that she starts recording stories about various family members

Theanne and Baron said...

So interesting...I've been working on my family genealogy recently, figure when I'm gone there'll be no one to pass the old stories down to my son! I'm probably about a 3rd of the way through collating the material I have. It's one of those things one just has to keep plugging away at...thank goodness for the computer and search engines and Ancestry.Com...without all 3 I would have had no way to find backup for all the things my Mom told me years and years ago.

Shug said...

Hi Betsy...

Enjpyed this story..I find it very interesting. Would love to know more about my family and hopefully I will in the near future...Have a cousin that is really doing a lot of research...

thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Shug

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

It is so wonderful that you were able to find out so much about your great grandmother, Betsy, and that you have photographs of them! Both sets of my great grandparents were foreigners and unfortunately they were so poor they couldn't even read or write, so we know so little about them. I'm sure they would be so proud and amazed by the fact that almost all their great great grandchildren have college educations and Masters degrees! Their children struggled so hard to come to this country and then struggled to make a living in this country working in the mines, but the fruits of their labor paid off!

The Incredible Woody said...

I have always loved listening to the family stories. As a child, I would lay on the floor and listen as my aunts talked and talked and talked. I still love to do that to this day. But my favorite place was the mimosa tree in my grandparent's front yard. My grandparents home had no A/C, of course. So all would gather under the tree to chat. I would climb that tree to listen. Since they didn't know I was there, I learned some juicy stories:)

Lisa RedWillow said...

Oh I sure loved your blog. I did this also and there was a time it hit me too I needed to know more and more, how they lived , what they died from and why my ggg aunt never had children and died so young on her way back to Canada from Denver. I was consummed with her. She had TB , was an artist. Her Dad my gggg Uncle David took photos way back in the 1800 so I do have some very beautiful photos. Its an addiction to find out as much as we can. I sort of let that die when I picked up a camera. Someday I will go back to it. At least I filled in the blanks for my Mom on her native side before she passed away from a flu a few years ago in her early sixties.
Much Love and thanks for taking me back to a time I too did this.
Loved your blog

Lisa RedWillow said...

I so enjoyed all you shared as well. I got to typing away and didnt even say that. Thank you. xox
Hugs

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

This was such an interesting post, Betsy. I can't imagine what your great grandmother went through and how hard she must have worked! And sad that she only lived 3 years after she got her first piece of new furniture! I think Daniel must have had some type of neurological disease. Interesting too that out of 7 children there was only one son! Thanks for sharing this post with us.

SquirrelQueen said...

What an amazing amount of information for your Great Grandmother. I think it is exciting that you know so much about her. I get excited when I find a tidbit on one of my ancestors.

I have yet to find an old photo with someone smiling. Apparently it took so long to take the photos that everyone would get grouchy. :)
Either that or the photographer threatened anyone who dared to smile.

Linda said...

A very interesting post, Betsy. I think the Civil War period of our history must have been one of the most, if not THE most, difficult periods to live through.

Loren said...

I cannot imagine either Betsy! Living with so much death and so much loss would be just awful. She as well as others(in your family) had to be an amazing woman! I can only imagine sitting at her feet and just listening. No doubt, we would be amazed but also be in tears with all she had to endure. Our society is sooo spoiled! I was blessed to know my great grandparents and remember them so fondly. I can remember though when I began to hear some of their childhood stories and was amazed at the difficulty and how they played a role in their parenting. I never saw or experienced anything but LOVE & JOY from them. They were soooo very special to me and to so many others in their community. I would love to have a story of their younger years and how they met. They owned the post office/general store (for years and years) in their small town of Waco Missouri.
I know your children and grand children and let's not forget the great or great great grand children will truly be soooo thankful to you!
Bless you Betsy!

Janie said...

You've managed to learn a lot about your ancestors who lived so long ago.
Genealogy fascinates me, too. I have the dates down, and I'm looking for the stories but so far I haven't come up with much. It's like putting together a puzzle, a little here, a little there. But interesting all the way.

Cicero Sings said...

I love the stories behind the names! Hattie ... don't hear that name anymore. D had a Hattie in his background too.