I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. One story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories of my life.
I just returned from the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. And I've been thinking a lot about my paternal grandmother, Martha Ada Young. I've included her colorized picture that I wrote about on yesterday's post, but today's post is a letter to this dear grandmother I never had the chance to meet who died ten years before I was born.
Dear Grandma Scifres,
I wish we could sit side by side and chat about what life was like for you when you married Grandpa. He had two almost grown sons, Uncle Henry (19) and Uncle Hez (16). And then there was Aunt Mary (12), Uncle Perry (6) and Aunt Melisia (4). Grandpa's first wife, Sarah Anlin Smith, died in 1895 and you and Grandpa married in 1899. He was 43 years old and you were just 24 years old.
According to a letter I received from cousin Cleo (Aunt Minnie's daughter), Uncle Henry told his dad that these small children needed a mother and if you (Grandpa) are not going to marry, then I will. Apparently, Grandpa heeded his son Henry's advice and married you. But Uncle Henry, who lived until he was 75, remained a lifelong bachelor. He shows up in the household with you and Grandpa in the 1920 and 1930 census records.
I wonder how you and Grandpa met. And how you decided to marry this man who already had five children. And then you went on to have nine children, eight of whom grew to adulthood. At a time when home births were just the way childbirth was done. I'm your son Ellis's youngest daughter and your youngest granddaughter. Somehow I think that you could teach me much about being a strong woman and weathering tough times.
You were married for almost forty-six years! I know those years weren't easy. After the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the family left Texas and moved to Indian Territory. You weathered having three sons serve during World War II (Lee, Ellis, and Elbert) and lived to see all of them return home safely.
Family stories indicate that you were a shy person. Your daughter Minnie says that you didn't like going to town, so she used to go to town with her papa to sell your butter and eggs. There's something I love about knowing they were "your" butter and eggs. Even though you had a limited education, you were good at math and could figure in your head how much your produce would bring in town.
That reminds me of the story my daddy used to tell me. He said you would give him money and ask him to pick out fabric for a new dress. And you were always thrilled with whatever he picked out. So either you were easy to please or my daddy had a good eye for what his mama would like. Maybe a bit of both.
I never once heard my dad refer to any of his siblings as half siblings. They were simply brothers and sisters who shared a fierce love for family, something you must have instilled in them. I'm proud to claim you as my shy, but strong grandmother. I like thinking of you when I'm facing challenges and remembering that you did hard things, and I can too.
All my love,
Andrew T. Scifres
and Martha Ada Young