I’d put my “I voted today” sticker on her headstone if I lived nearby

So last week I’m scrolling through Facebook minding my own business, watching videos

Susan B. Anthony Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Susan B. Anthony Photo Credit: Wikipedia

of babies and puppies and liking pics from old high school classmates when I come to a complete stop. Posted among the silly and senseless on Facebook was a photo of Susan B. Anthony’s headstone with several “I voted today” stickers on it and a small bouquet of flowers laying at the base.

It was incredibly moving. Tears came to my eyes. It’s very rare that anything on Facebook resonates with me to that extent but this – several women paying their respects on election day to this courageous woman who fought for women’s right to vote was extraordinary.

So I did a little research. I’m ashamed to say I only had a general idea when the suffrage movement occurred and was hazy on which amendment gave women the right to vote and when it passed. The 19th Amendment ratified on August 18, 1920 gave all women who were U.S. citizens the right to vote. In fact the movement started in the mid-1800s and most women who marched, wrote and lobbied for this cause didn’t live to see the passage of this amendment.

Next I took a look at my own family tree. How did the 19th amendment affect my female ancestors? On my maternal side I had a great grandmother, Sudie L. Barron Lowery, (my maternal grandfather’s mother) who was 46 years old in 1920 and my maternal grandmother, Gladys Marshall Lowery, who was 28 years old in 1920. Her mother had already passed by 1920 and my mom was born in 1919.

On my father’s side my paternal female ancestors found a great grandmother, Josephine Geullbert Frueh, (my paternal grandfather’s mother) who was 71 years old in 1920 and the other, Irene Waller Nantz, (my paternal grandmother’s mother) was 48 years old. My paternal grandmother, Flora A. Nantz Frueh was 32 years old in 1920. (I didn’t realize until this moment that my great grandmother was 16 years old when she gave birth to my grandmother. I will double check those dates.)

So what does that mean? My great grandmothers that were alive in 1920 were well into middle age even elderly by the time they got the right to vote. I wonder if it mattered to them? I wonder how they felt about finally being able to express their opinions through voting? Was it a wonderful reality or insignificant? In their view was voting best left to men anyway?

Both my grandmothers were young vital, women at 28 and 32 years old. Were they excited? Almost giddy at the prospect of finally being counted when it came time to elect officials, determine taxes and add laws to our state constitution? Women’s right to vote was a hotly contested topic their entire lifetime. How I wish I knew how they felt when they finally received the right to vote!

Susan B Anthony headstone Photo Credit:  Sarah Jane McPike

Susan B Anthony headstone Photo Credit: Sarah Jane McPike

My final thought here is that there is only one female generation that precedes me who has always been able to vote. Only my mother grew up knowing she could vote when she came of age. Just ONE generation before me!

I am astounded and deeply grateful for the women who came before and worked and lobbied and suffered untold disgrace and hardship to gain for me the right to vote. Thank you Susan B. Anthony and all the suffragettes. I would most certainly put my “I voted today” sticker on your headstone if I lived nearby but better yet maybe I should investigate who the women in my area were that championed women’s right to vote. Then by the time the next election rolls around I’ll be able to thank those who lived near me for such a valuable privilege. Maybe you’ll do the same.

Civil War Saturday – It’s been 150 years

Sometimes the present takes precedence over the past and that’s what happened with this blog post. I intended to write and publish it last Saturday July 19th but my daughter had an out of town, three-day volleyball tournament. We made some fun family memories and a little family history of our own last weekend and this post easily waited one more week. Here’s what I had planned for last Saturday . . .

You know how we love to mark monumental events in our family’s lives like turning 21 or celebrating 50th birthdays and wedding anniversaries? It’s ingrained in our culture to recognize such events. I’m adding one more to my own list of family birthdays and anniversaries. In fact I’m going to honor it for the next year! It’s the 150th anniversary of my great-great grandfather’s involvement in the Civil War.

On July 19, 1864 – 150 years ago my great-great grandfather George W. Lowery was drafted and mustered in to serve with the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry. He reported to Chambersburg, which is Franklin County’s seat and incidently had been burned a year earlier by Confederate forces.

George was a 37 year old man with six children. A laborer, standing 5’9” tall with dark hair and gray eyes, his description fit most men of the era. His enlistment was for three years.

By September 5, 1864 George was at Camp Biddle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Camp Biddle was a piece of land northeast of the army post at Carlisle where Civil War draftees and substitutes received their military training. Camp Biddle had recently opened in April 1864 just a few months before George ended up there.

As I remember the Civil War events in George’s life I know questions will pop up. Like Camp Biddle. I’d overlooked that in the past. Now I’m interested in where and what it was. How long was George there and so on.

You can come along with me on this journey. Where was your Civil War ancestor 150 years ago? Sometimes being very specific helps us narrow our research and produce better results. Less distractions. Researching one single topic like Camp Biddle is not as overwhelming as researching the life and times of my Civil War ancestor! Break his service down into manageable pieces and I bet you’ll accomplish more than you imagined.

So whether you research along with me or check in to see what George was doing 150 years ago I hope this helps you take another look at researching your Civil War ancestor.

(1) George W. Lowery, Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldier Who Served in Organizations From the State of Pennsylvania compiled 1899-1927, documenting the period 1861-1866, publication no. M554 (Washington: National Archives), fiche 0073.

George Washington Lowery #52 Ancestors

Pvt G W Lowery Co. A 81st Penn Inf

Pvt George W Lowery Co. A 81st Pennsylvania Infantry

This week’s 52 Ancestors post holds a very special place in my genealogy heart. I’m writing about my 2x great grandfather George Washington Lowery. He is the only direct ancestor I can prove fought in the Civil War. He was born 10 January 1828 in Martin, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately I don’t know (yet) who George’s parents are or about any of his siblings. I do know he married Barbara Ann Lowe 7 July 1853 in Waynesboro, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

The part of George’s life my sister and I have concentrated on researching is his Civil War service. He was drafted July 19, 1864 at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was assigned to Co. A, 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry for three years. George was a 37-year-old laborer. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair, he was an average guy, his description was not uncommon for the time.

Serving during the latter part of the war he was a draftee. I suspect my grandfather left his wife and six children a bit reluctantly to answer the call of his country.

After a brief two-month training to make him and the rest of the recruits into soldiers, my great grandfather and his fellow comrades were sent to join their regiment. The 81st Pennsylvania had been mired with the rest of the Second Corps at Petersburg, Virginia, which had been under siege for months which lasted from late 1864 into spring 1865. Continue reading

Charles H Lowery #52 Ancestors

Charles Henry Lowery

Charles H Lowery

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is about my great-grandfather Charles Henry Lowery. Charles is the son of my Civil War veteran George Washington Lowery and Barbara Ann Lowe. Charles was born 2 Sept 1872, in Sandusky County, Ohio. He married Sudie Louisa Barron on 30 Oct 1892 in Henry County, Ohio.

Charles and Sudie had ten children. My grandfather Basil was their third child.

Charles worked on the railroad which caused the family to move from Henry County, Ohio to Allen County, Ohio and finally Lenawee County, Michigan. By the time the family moved to Michigan a couple of the older children had married. My grandfather Basil was one of them. He didn’t make the move to Michigan and stayed in Allen County, Ohio with his young family.

(You might be interested in a quick look back at wife Sudie’s #52 Ancestors post. It tells a tale about Charles and their family life!)

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles was my mother’s paternal grandfather. She would remember how her grandfather Charles boasted of his Ohio grandchildren whenever they made the trip to Michigan for a visit. He’d buy them penny candy and it would be waiting their arrival in a brown paper bag. My mom remembered him fondly.

I know my family attended Lowery family reunions in Michigan way back when. I wish I had been there. I’d love to know all of those stories today.

Charles passed away 13 Mar 1946 in Washtenew County, MI. He was 73 years old.

She Didn’t Shy Away From Hard Tasks #52Ancestors

Gladys R Marshall Lowery

My maternal grandmother – Gladys R Marshall Lowery

It’s time for another week of #52 Ancestors. I debated on who to write about this week and was leaning toward a 3x great grandfather when I came across this picture while uploading photos to my new Flickr account. Isn’t it great?

This is my maternal grandmother Gladys B. Marshall (Lowery). I only have a fuzzy memory of her during the very last part of her life. Nothing to give me a real impression of the person she was but luckily we’re left with an assortment of photos of her throughout her life. Those pics give me a fantastic look at who she was.

A little info to go along with the pics, my grandmother was born 28 November 1892 in Allen County, Ohio. She was the oldest child of George S. Marshall and Mary Ellen Williams.

Gladys R Marshall Lowery

Gladys R Marshall Lowery

Gladys’ mom died of consumption when she was only 15 years old. Gladys took on the running of her family’s household at her mom’s death, including the care of her two younger siblings.

Gladys R Marshall Lowery

My grandmother is second from left with her dad and sister and brother

When Gladys married Basil R Lowery on 12 August 1912 her father George S. Marshall lived with the newlyweds until his death in 1944.

From these photos, those facts and a couple anecdotes I can say she was a strong, take charge woman. It looks like she felt comfortable being herself. From a little hoeing in her Sunday best to trousers for some down and dirty work, my grandmother apparently didn’t shy away from the hard tasks in her life.

Yet there’s that little grin in so many photos that says, “It’s all good”.

Gladys had four children, my mom being her youngest. I remember hearing the story about how my grandma came into town to visit my mom and my older siblings when they were just little kids and ended up ironing my dad’s Sunday shirts – every week. It certainly fits.

Gladys Marshall Lowery and Basil Lowery

Gladys Marshall Lowery and Basil Lowery

There’s also a memory passed down of her hollering to my grandfather Basil, “Base, crank up the machine!” Which is what she always called the automobile parked in front of the house. She wasn’t afraid of “the machine” and my grandfather dutifully cranked it up every time she requested .

I have to think the Women’s Suffrage Movement played a part in the teenage and early married life of Gladys, along with being thrust into the task of raising her siblings. Did society’s events contribute to your leadership ability? Certainly the loss of your mom at such a young age did. How I’d love to ask her about all this and so much more! But for now I’ll settle for these pics and take a few pointers about strength and fortitude from my grandmother, Gladys B. Marshall Lowery.