Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A New Series Dedicated to Baby Grandma

I can't express how much I love this February and The Family History Writing Challenge.  I have never made the time to write my family history in such a meaningful way.

This next set of short stories is dedicated to the life of Baby Grandma.  If you have been reading my blogs, you know that the first stories were dedicated to Big Grandma.  Why such funny nicknames? Big Grandma was my maternal grandmother; tall, busty, and strong.  Baby Grandma looked like a tiny doll next to Big Grandma.  She was my Dad's mother.  She was barely 5 feet...actually, she may not have even been 5 feet tall.  When I knew her, she never weighed over 100 pounds.  She was little in every feature and quite frail and sickly.  She had whiskers and wore her hair in a hair net.

Iness Marie Walls Bowser, aka Baby Grandma

If ever there was a complete opposite in body and spirit to Big Grandma, it was Baby Grandma.

Baby Grandma was born Iness Marie Walls.  She was born on 16 Sept 1907 in Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio.  She was the 5th born child to Alonzo and Chloe Yoakum Walls.  Her mother Chloe was also quite frail.  She apparently never did well during pregnancy, delivery, or post pregnancy.  In fact, she never recovered after the birth of Baby Grandma and died 11 months later.

They carried her body up the hill behind their house and buried her in an unmarked grave near the back of Storms Cemetery.  She was laid near her one week old child who had passed away in 1901.

Lulu, Harvey, and Fred Walls, ca. 1908
For whatever reason, it was decided that Baby Grandma should go and live with her Aunt Francis Clark.  Francis was the sister of Baby Grandma's father Alonzo.  I asked my Aunt Florene why Baby Grandma did not go live with her mother's family.  "They weren't considered descent people is what Grandma Clark always said," was her reply.  The family called Aunt Francis, "Grandma Clark" because she was more of a mother to Baby Grandma.  Grandma Clark and her husband John Clark never had any children of their own, but they raised and cared for several foundlings of the area.

Baby Grandma's older siblings stayed with their father Alonzo.  Oldest brother Fred was 11 years old, sister Lulu was about 9, and Harvey was just 3 years old.  I always wondered why Harvey, who was practically a baby himself, never went to live with Grandma Clark too.

Harvey and baby sister Iness, ca. 1908
Not much is known about the very early years of Baby Grandma, but it might be note worthy to say that she likely was not nurtured and loved on tremendously.  That was not the way of Grandma Clark. Baby Grandma was not known as a loving or affectionate person either.  I remember that when we would go to visit her, Dad would make us hug her, give her a kiss on the cheek, and say, "I love you". One Sunday, I informed my father that I would no longer be doing that because she didn't hug or kiss us or even say "I love you too".  She would just pat our little backs and say "Well".  Dad was quite soft spoken and gentle when he told me that Baby Grandma didn't do those things because no one had ever done them to her as a child.  He told me that I should continue to say, "I love you".

When I was about 11, I remember the one and only time I ever heard her say "I love you too" after I obliged her with my obligatory hug, kiss, and declaration of affection.  I was so surprised, I nearly gasped.  Perhaps she thought she was dying or perhaps she just wanted me to know that she really did love me in her own way.

Never before have I understood more clearly than when I think of her, that all people show love in different ways.

Tomorrow will begin the fun and sometimes sad stories of the life of Baby Grandma.  We will start off with a funny story of the time she got "hung up"!


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