Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Women Who Made Me

In honor of March being Women's History Month, I wanted to write a post on the women I descend from.

my mother, 1978

My mother is a very classy lady, but if you knew where she came from, you wouldn't believe it! Raised in the "holler", she was poor and uneducated, but learned to work hard and was faithful to the Lord.  The youngest of 9 children and with a twin brother, she ran and played in the creeks and in the mountains.  Her father was killed in a coal mining accident when she was 11 years old.  That one tragedy changed the course of her life.  Her mother, wanting to get the older brothers away from coal mining, moved to Ohio.

My father and mother

In Ohio, Mom had more opportunities than ever before.  Having been kept from schooling during her early years, Mom finished only 8th grade and then went into the work force. She was self taught and many a person never knew she was "uneducated".  She was a talented wig stylist and model.  Mom had four daughters.  She encouraged us girls to be good students and expected us to work hard, but above all to live right. There was nothing she thought we couldn't accomplish if we really wanted it.  She was an accomplished seamstress and taught us how to sew. She still hopes one of her 4 girls will take up quilting...which she loves!!
My mother was born to Goldie Mae Witt.  We called her "Big Grandma".  She was considerably bigger than the other grandma that was only 4 ft. 11 inches and weighed about 90 pounds!  (That grandma we loving referred to as "Baby Grandma".)

Big Grandma was a mountain woman.  She was rough and tough, not very educated, but had plenty of good common sense.  She dipped snuff and had no front teeth on the top or the bottom. She cut her fingernails with a butcher knife and washed her mouth out with isopropyl alcohol for a tooth ache.  When we would cry about our legs hurting (due to growing pains), she would run to the metal kitchen cabinets for some horse liniment and rub our bony, litttle legs till the pain went away.

Big Grandma as a young mother and her
first born daughter, Monetta ca. 1935

Big Grandma, Goldie Witt Cole ca. 1988

She could make the best runny eggs you ever tasted, but did no real baking like a typical granny would do.  I suppose that was because she had never had excess money to learn to make culinary treats.  She did can delicious jelly though!  She loved paw-paws more than anything!

Big Grandma was born to Nancy Blevins Witt.  I only have one picture of Nancy and she looks sad.  The picture would have been taken shortly after her husband died.  Nancy's parents were divorced when she was just a baby and she was raised by a single mother.  She was married at 14 years old and out of the 6 children she bore, only 2 lived to adulthood.  Her husband died when she was about 27 years of age.  She never remarried.

Nancy Blevins Witt and her children Goldie and Ethel, ca. 1918
PS...Ethel is a BOY, not a girl!!
Nancy's mother was Elizabeth Eldridge.  Elizabeth was a midwife by profession.  She married "Hen" Blevins when she was 18 years old and had one daughter with him.  They divorced and she did not remarry again until she was 38 years old.  She married a widow man name Enoch Creech. Together, they had a set of twin boys, Elisha and Elijah Creech.  I don't know if it is true, but I heard that Elizabeth was once stabbed in the back (literally) by one of her stepsons.

And lastly, is Elizabeth's mother Nancy.  I haven't been able to prove Nancy's maiden name. Some say she was a "Hoover" and she may have been.  She raised Elizabeth to adulthood before she died the same year Elizabeth married her first husband.  Sadly, Nancy died in March and Elizabeth married in December of that year.  I wonder how much Elizabeth missed her mother when her marriage dissolved so rapidly and all the years that she raised her daughter alone.

Elizabeth's father remarried just 4 days before Elizabeth did.  He married Nancy Pruett.  She has a special place in my heart because she is also a great aunt on another family line.  I have no idea what she was like, but for some reason, I picture her as gentle and kind.  She was 34 years old when she married Elizabeth's father and had never been married before.  She had 2 children, both died as infants.  Their names were Rosa and Carter.

This Nancy would have been there during Elizabeth's divorce and perhaps helped her to raise her daughter.  I remember Big Grandma telling me that her great grandmother was Nancy Pruett, so perhaps the grandkids never knew that Nancy Pruett was actually the stepmother.

That is where my maternal line ends...I know no more.  The mother's in this line had passed through great sadness and trial, but all were and are lovingly talked about.  I hope to take more time this month recording and enjoying the lives of the women in my family tree.

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