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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,