Have you seen my Great Grandfather’s cane?I was searching through a closet today and came across my great-grandfather’s cane. It’s odd that I don’t remember how I got the cane. I’m sure my mom gave it to me. It belonged to her grandfather but I don’t remember how it actually came to be mine. Weird. I’m usually very good at that stuff. My great-grandfather, the owner of this cane, George S Marshall is somewhat of an enigma to me. I know very little about him but here’s a little of what I do know.
George was born in 1868 in Allen County, Ohio. He married my great-grandmother Mary Ellen Williams in 1891. They had three children, my grandmother Gladys was the oldest and they lived on a farm that’s only about 20 minutes from me today.
By all accounts life seemed good for the family. They had three children, were farmers and prospered. I have a couple of pictures of George and Mary Ellen in front of their house and on the farm. It was a happy life until 1908 when my great-grandmother died. Consumption was the cause listed on Mary Ellen’s death certificate. It may as well read “Tragic Ending” because George suddenly became a single father of two teenage girls and a small son.
His oldest daughter, Gladys, my grandmother, was thrust into the homemaker role. With two younger siblings I’ll bet she did more than her share of cooking and cleaning and those things that kept the Marshall household running. Somehow I see a heartbroken George just going through the motions of every day living. While Gladys on the other hand had a very strong personality. I’ll bet she kept everyone on task.When Gladys married Basil Lowery in 1912 most would assume she’d head off to her new life with her new husband but that wasn’t the case. Basil moved in with the family on their farm. Eventually the two younger siblings left home and married. Gladys and Basil started their own family and George was a grandpa to the wee ones that blessed the home.
My mother was the youngest child of Gladys and Basil. She remembered George her “granddad” as always being around as she grew up. He wasn’t an overshadowing presence. Just always there. He had a small bedroom off the kitchen and slept in a “three quarter bed”. George smoked a pipe which did prompt a fun memory for my mom.It was the Fourth of July, a beautiful summer’s eve, late in the 1920s. The family was celebrating in the backyard. Granddad was sitting in a straight back kitchen chair they brought from the house for him. Snoopy the family dog was running around playing with the kids. Their dad, Basil had a surprise for the children. He’d bought some fire crackers for the big day and finally the kids could set them off. My mom remembered being only six or seven then and the four kids would grab a fire cracker and light it from Granddad’s pipe! She could remember skipping around her backyard with a lit firecracker in hand before tossing it out in the yard! It’s a wonder granddad or the kids didn’t have one blow up while lighting it!! Those firecrackers are banned today!
Another one of my mom’s memories I’ll need to investigate further. Somewhere along the line Gladys and Basil bought a house “in town”. George still lived with them and had the farm. That’s how they made their living yet Gladys and Basil owned a house in town. Granddad George would walk the railroad tracks to the house in town from the farm. I have no idea the hows and whys of owning the two homes. My mom simply joked they had a summer home and a winter home.
My great-grandfather George S. Marshall never lived by himself after his wife died. In fact when Basil got a job in Marion, Ohio George moved with them and that’s where he died. He passed away in the home of his daughter in 1944.
I’m glad I have these few stories and my great-grandfather’s cane. His is a life worth remembering.