A Woman of Mystery #52Ancestors

Susannah Van Meter

Susannah Van Meter

My ancestor this week is a mysterious woman to me. Her place in my family tree has question marks all over it. She’s my great great grandmother Susannah Van Meter. Every phase of Susannah’s life seems to have a twist.

Born in Allen County Ohio, 28 August 1833, Susannah was the oldest child of James D. and Mariah Shriver Van Meter. Her parents were among the new settlers to the area and along with the extended family that moved into this part of the state, Susannah had to be one of the first children born in the area.

As her parents worked hard and prospered on their farm Susannah most certainly helped care for the eight younger siblings as they were added to the family. I will never know the contributing circumstances in Susannah’s life but at 27 years old, still unmarried and living with her parents she gives birth to a son.

I can’t begin to imagine the scandal being an unwed mother provoked during this time. James and Mariah were pioneers settlers, pillars of the community, this couldn’t have been easy for anyone involved. Yet to their credit I don’t find they kicked anyone out of their lives.

In 1864 Susannah weds a local widower who has six children. James Hayes Marshall Jr was ten years Susannah’s senior and had lost his wife only nine months earlier. I’m thinking this marriage is one of convenience for both parties. James needs someone to keep house and raise his children. Susannah needs to rip the scarlet letter from her bodice. Continue reading

A Guy You Want to Add to Your Family Tree #52Ancestors

George Marshall, Mary Ellen Williams Marshall, William Lloyd Marshall

George Shriver Marshall, Mary Ellen Williams Marshall, William Lloyd Marshall

My great grandfather George Shriver Marshall seems to be the kind of guy a girl would like to add to her family tree. Let me tell you why.

 

George was born 26 August 1868 to Susannah Van Meter and James Hayes Marshall Jr. Now George had seven half brothers and sisters from his father’s first marriage. Add to that his mother Susannah brought a child into this second marriage before having three other children along with George. This produces a house teeming with kids of all ages.

 

My first thought is that George, the second youngest, would get lost in this menagerie of family but as I research that isn’t the case. Named after a maternal uncle he seemed to have a close tie with his mom and as the years progressed valued his family enormously.

 

As this era would dictate George’s education was complete after the second grade. Maybe he was needed to work on the farm or perhaps once he learned to read and write that was all the education he needed. Whatever the reason he only attended school for two years.

 

As a young man George didn’t go far to find amour. He married a girl from the farm next door. On 31 October 1891 he wed the love of his life Mary Ellen Williams. He and Mary Ellen had three children, Gladys (my grandmother), Freda and William.

 

I find it really interesting that just 8+ years later in the 1900 Federal census George’s mother, Susannah, is living with the young family. In fact she lived with them until early 1908 where a newspaper clipping notes Susannah went to live with a daughter nearby when George’s wife took sick. (I’m surprised George’s mom is living with him to begin with and not with the nearby sister.)

 

Sadly one of the darkest events in my family history took place soon after when George’s wife Mary Ellen died of consumption leaving him to raise their three children alone. That loss seemed to follow George for the rest of his life. He never remarried and once his oldest daughter Gladys married he lived with her and her family the rest of his life. Continue reading

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.

She’s the Culprit! #52Ancestors

Family history - Genealogy research

My great grandmother Mary Ellen Williams (Marshall)

Any of us who refer to ourselves as genealogists or family historians have a favorite ancestor. You know that one person we can’t get enough of. No matter what, we somehow circle back to them whether we’re looking at family pics or at pedigree charts our eyes always seem to find the favorite’s papers or charts. I’m no different. I have three ancestors I’ve spent a good deal of time researching but if asked for my hands down, absolute favorite, numero uno ancestor it has to be Mary Ellen Williams Marshall. It’s her life and story that piqued my genealogy interest. My delving into family history lays at her feet. So who is she?

I have written about her previously here and here and here if you care to read those posts but for this week’s 52 Ancestors I’ll share her with you this way.

Mary Ellen Williams Marshall is my maternal great grandmother. Born September 26, 1871 she was the youngest child of Isaac and Rebecca Holmes Williams. She married George S Marshall in 1891 and had three children. Gladys her oldest is my grandmother. So why the fascination on my part?

George & Mary Ellen Williams Marshall Farm

George & Mary Ellen Williams Marshall Farm

Mary Ellen died at a flourishing age. Consumption claimed her at only 36 years old. She left her husband George with two daughters ages 16 and 12 and a five year old son. Even though he was still a young man at 40 years old, George raised his children alone and then went on to live with his oldest daughter for the rest of his life, never marrying again. Continue reading

It Was Right Under My Nose!!

Family history, genealogy, family tree, Marshall, Williams

Gladys Marshall Lowery’s Autograph Book

You know how sometimes you’re hesitant to tell a story about yourself because you know it makes you look like a goof? Well I thought twice about telling this story but what the heck. Here goes . . .

Recently I’ve seen a couple posts about autograph books. Very cool books indeed and I remembered have my maternal grandmother’s autograph book. My mom gave it to me years and years ago. It’s been safely put away for sometime now. My recent blog readings made me hunt it up.

It took only a few moments to pull out my grandmother’s autograph book. I knew exactly where it was. The cover and pages are in really nice shape, it’s just that the binding is broken. So gently and ever so carefully I turn every page.

My grandmother, Gladys B. Marshall Lowery was born in 1892 in Allen County, Ohio. The earliest message in her book is January 5, 1903. Maybe this album was a Christmas gift. She’d have been 10 years old then and I imagine this was a prized possession.

As I look through the pages some notes are signed “your cousin” with vaguely familiar names.

Nov 29. 1909.
Cousin Gladys,
Love your playmates
Love your toys;
But never never love
the boys.
Your cousin,
Ida Kidd

Later my grandmother wrote Battles after Ida’s last name. Thanks grandma for her married name!!

So I need to check these collateral family members out. Continue reading