Question of the Week: What is a challenge one of your ancestors faced?

+10 votes

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
reshown by Chris Whitten
My Grandmother Delilah Catherine Jackson - Clanton born 1874, was a pioneer of single parents.  Her husband, my grandfather, left her with 6 little boys to raise, the youngest being my dad at 6 months old.  She moved in with her brother until she could find another way.  She found that other way by negotiating with a neighbor selling his farm.  She begged him to sell her the farm and allow her to pay him each year when the crops came in. Her journey started in 1908 when it was nearly impossible for a woman to survive on her own, not to mention with six little boys to support.   She raised those boys and they were successful in ways that can't ever be explained.  She added more acres to the farm year after year and when she passed away in 1952, the farm was left to the boys and still remains in the family.  My dad and a few of the other boys took a cash amount, but one of the boys chose to remain on the farm and in turn left it to his descendants.  My grandmother has been my inspiration my entire life.  I'm so proud of her.

20 Answers

+9 votes
Good morning Eowyn, hope all is well with you. When I think of ancestor challenges I always think of my GG grandfather Long. He was from the Rockingham County, Virginia area. As the family was of the Brethern faith, and did not believe in war or the Southern cause, he did serve in the Civil War. I did have members of my Kyger line, some serving for the North and some serving for the South. I had discussions about these events with both my G grandmother and my grandfather. It just seemed to me it was one of those issues that was not completely settled in their minds even in the 1960's.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (397k points)
Rodney I also had a GG grandfather Long in the Civil War, so I looked to see if we were cousins and did not find a connection. Thanks for writing about this interesting part of history.
Hi Alexis, thank-you for the comment. I see your Jacob Silas Long, about your 4th GGF, came out of PA. There is an interesting on line book on the Long families of PA. that I will have to look up and send you a link. My Long family was originally in PA., then moved to VA.
ALexis, below is a link to the online Long familes of PA. You may find it interesting.

Thank you Rodney, my Long Family is the family that I spent most of my life with. They are the most interesting also, probably because I got to know so many of them. Thank you for this, as I had never connected them with Pennsylvania.
+10 votes
In the 1830's cholera was everywhere. Many small towns, like where my family lived were hit hard.  It was spread then by water, now with water treatment that isn't the case. But small towns often lost half their population to cholera in a short time. Many cities/counties stopped doing death certificates but just listed in the newspaper who died this week. That was a scary time to live. Most of my people were in Illinois, Kentucky, and around there.
by Alan Jones G2G Crew (500 points)
I think we often forget what a terrible thing it must have been to have to face the chances of contracting cholera, diphtheria, yellow fever and so many more diseases that we do not worry about today. Thanks for reminding us how much more fortunate we are today than many of our ancestors were.

I can't imagine living when such disease were so rampant. What fear they must have felt, for themselves and their loved ones. sad

Yes, my 5th great grandparents both died the same night in a cholera epidemic in Kentucky in 1851. One of their sons had died a week before of the same thing. The epidemic wiped out half the county. Another 5th grgrandfather died of typhus in 1859. My great grandmother lost a child to typhus. She had contracted it and he was a nursing infant, so he got it too. We do take so much for granted.
+12 votes

My ancestor that I know faced a difficult challenge was my Great Aunt Nora Long On Thanksgiving 1921 she was kicked out of the only home she had ever known, a sod house in western Oklahoma. My grandmother, who ran the family because she had married a man who was able to hire on all six of her brothers to work the oil fields, instigated the whole thing. My grandmother also did not like her younger sister around my grandfather. Nora’s father was away staying in town, so Nora, who was only 17,  did not have anyone to stand up for her. She stayed in the barn without a coat until she got so cold and hungry that she had to start walking toward the main road. She managed to hitchhike to Kansas City. In Kansas City she had to depend on the kindness of strangers until she was able to get a job dancing in Vaudeville Shows. This story was told to me by her younger sister, Phoebe. who said that her dad was really mad when he learned about what had happened to Nora. I asked Nora about this, and she told me it was the truth.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (211k points)
edited by Alexis Nelson
She sounds like a strong woman!
That was very brave for a 17 year old girl!
Thank you for your nice comment, Yes E ,  she must have been strong. I only saw her as my sweet aunt that I loved.
Roxana, she told me that she was scared to death, and she also was the one to tell me that she did not have a coat. I have always felt that her mother should have stood up for her. I send what I put on WiKiTree to my cousin, so I sent this to her. My cousin wrote me that this story in our family always makes her very sad.
+9 votes

During WWII, my grandfather was picked up in a razzia in Rotterdam.  It's not clear if he was picked in the big razzia of Nov. 10 and 11, 1944, or in one of the many smaller raids that took place.  He was shipped off to a concentration work camp and barely survived.  I suppose he was one of the lucky ones, to have survived.

by Erik Oosterwal G2G6 Mach 4 (48.3k points)
Thank you for putting this on. Glad you grandfather was able to survive.
+10 votes
As Holocaust remembrance day was just a few days ago, I think of my grandmother.  She was Lutheran and had married a Jewish man.  Following Kristallnacht in November 1938, they realized that to survive he needed to go into hiding.  He fled to Holland.  My grandmother then ran the family business on her own, cared for her 5-year-old daughter (my mom), and hustled to find a way out of the country.  She was finally able to locate an American who agreed to be the family's sponsor (required in order to emigrate to America) as long as she guaranteed that they would never ask him for any help.  She then had to secretly prepare to move the family while still running the business.
by Deborah Terrill G2G6 (6.5k points)
I think this is so interesting about needing a sponsor. In 1939 my mother was dating a young Jewish man that escaped. I have two photos of them together, but I have no idea what happened to him after WWII. Thanks for writing about your grandmother, as it had to be a terrible time for her.
Did your grandparents ever get back together again?
Yes they did!!

They ended up settling in Oregon. They were given a choice of Pittsburgh, or Portland Oregon.  They knew nothing about either, but some people they met told them that Oregon was more like Germany.  My grandfather's first job was as a dishwasher, my grandmother worked as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant - which cracks me up as she spoke neither English or Chinese.  They soon opened a little grocery store, which they operated until they retired.
+9 votes
My Great Grandmother Mary (Lally) Rodgers lost her husband when he was only 36, leaving her to raise five young boys. Her parents and parents in laws all were in Ireland so she did it on her own. I know it must have been very hard for her but she seems to have done a good job as all five served in World War II.
by C. Bake G2G6 Mach 4 (43.9k points)
Do you know how she managed? It's not as if women in those days could get very good jobs, and with five children, working as a live-in domestic was out of the question.
Hi WL, I do not know, I will call my Dad tomorrow and see if he knows. The 1940 census says weeks worked, 0. I think her husband died of pneumonia my Dad thinks.
+6 votes
A great-grandmother was born out of wedlock in the 1880s, and her mother's husband (not the father, but a step-father) died, leaving the family destitute. The mother had to give her four girls (and a niece who had been left with her) to an orphanage and to cede her parental rights to them. My great-grandmother was taken in a year later as an indentured servant, luckily to a very kind family (there are horror stories about this, so she really lucked out!) It was a rough start to life...but there was a happy ending, and teenage and adult life for her was, while not without its trials, much easier than the rough start.
by W Counsil G2G6 Mach 2 (22.5k points)
How sad! Glad there was a happy ending.
+5 votes
My uncle died in a car accident in 1957 at age 30, leaving my aunt with five children to care for. She was fortunate to remarry a very kind man.
by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 7 (72.5k points)
My uncle died in a car accident leaving his wife with 2 small boys. Sad world.
+8 votes
My wife's GG grandparents, immigrants from Ireland were shipwrecked enroute to San Francisco in the 1860s (coming around Cape Horn). They were rescued separately and each thought the other was dead. Miraculously they ran into each other on the streets of San Francisco two years later.
by Bart Triesch G2G6 Pilot (250k points)
What a wonderful story. It would make a great movie!
Wow, that's amazing! Have to agree with Alexis Nelson - this should be a novel or movie!
+5 votes
When I think of challenges, my great grandmother Cora  comes to mind. Being a mother myself ( one that has buried a child) she was a young girl whe she decided to marry her cousins widower David. He had lost his wife and child and was left with two little girls to raise. Granny Cora married him and they quickly added two more children to their home. Shortly thereafter the lost one of those babies, at birth or shortly after. On the hills of burying her baby Cora had to turn around and burry her husband. She was now left with his two,and their one remaining daughter. All this grief and alone Cora was was taken in by  and quickly married Davids brother. They went on to add at least eight more children. One of them being my Grandfather. They were married 55 years before he passed. and she  was a wonderful Christian wife and mother despite all of her loss.
by Pam Dale G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)
edited by Pam Dale
I think you meant to say "on the heels of burying her baby..."
Thank you, I missed that when I proofread it. Auto correct drives me crazy!
+4 votes
My maternal ancestor, Isaac Johnson Conway, was a Union soldier who fought in the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, 7 December, 1862. He was my mother's grandfather. He was wounded in the battle and given a stipend of $8 a month. He was a sergeant in the Nineteenth Iowa Regiment, company "G".
by Norman Perry G2G3 (3.5k points)
+7 votes
My 3rd great-grandmother on my mother's side was named Sarah Fletcher Barnhill. She and her family were moved on the Trail of Tears. She was 12 years old at the time. She lived to be 88 years old.
+6 votes
A light hearted response... my great grandmother, Ella Bruffet,  loved living in her large, comfortable Kansas City home. Her husband was with the railroad — requiring the family to move to and at the company’s whim. I can only imagine her utter dismay when he was transferred to Petty, Texas— a tiny, rural community about 30 miles east of Paris, Texas near the Oklahoma border. She said she never forgot the feeling of stepping off that train with 5 small children and their trunks... instead of city buildings, early cars, and even electric lights, all she could see was miles of black land cotton fields, cows, a horse drawn buckboard, and about a dozen or so houses scattered about. “Downtown” was the one store with the post office. Being April 1, 1895,  she said it was the worst April Fool’s joke she ever had.
She sounds like she was able to keep her sense of humor about the situation at least!
+5 votes
Coombs-36 - this is my maternal grandmother Cary (Carrie) Coombs who was  born with a club foot.  She had an operation on it early bout always wore two different shoe sizes - a size 7 on one foot and a size 8 or 9 on the other foot.  She married my grandfather in eaarlu 1900's but later left him in the middle of the depression years and returned east to her family.  Times were tough for at the time.  Her older brother paid for her surgery as her father had died when she was a youngster.  Yes she had a rough life but many people did.

There is a couple of pictures on her file at Coombs-36
by E. Lauraine Syrnick G2G6 Mach 9 (95.5k points)
+4 votes
cancer and poverty
by Deborah Lynn Rumble G2G Crew (320 points)
+3 votes

Rights to Vote for all Australian Women

Margaret Jane Irvine (Fisher) Irvine-598, with the support of her Mother McPherson-2732, originally from Scotland, my Great-Great Grandmother, who raised Margaret Irvine and her siblings (one of which was my Great-Grandmother, Christina Irvine/Edwards).

After losing her husband Margaret (McPherson-2732) (married Henry Irvine) in a mining incident in QLD Australia, travelled from Australia to England with her daughter and Grand-children along with friend Vida Goldstein to attend/run the Womens' Suffragette movement in 1911 to obtain Women's right to vote in Australia.....her husband at the time was running as Right Hon Prime Minister of Australia (resided @ Dinsdale St, Port Melbourne then later in East St Kilda) (see stereograph picture on Wikitree profile). 

Margaret McPherson continued the running of a boarding house to support her family after the loss of her husband, her own children young teens at the time of his death.  

This generation of Mums have morally supported their daughters and sons-in-law throughout the upbringing of their own children to help with their every success, and still enjoyed yachting in their spare time, gaining rights for Women of today to have many more choices in their future including rights for voters and workers alike.  

My Great-Grandmother, Christina also helped with Accounts books for our Prime Minister!(see Wikitree profile: Fisher-5597) and enjoyed yachting with her husband, a yachting champion (who lead winnings and helped shape the Sydney to Hobart race).

by Karen MacDonald G2G2 (2.2k points)
+5 votes
My great-grandmother Myrtle was about 7 or 8 years old and the oldest of four girls when her parents divorced -- which was quite a scandalous thing in smalltown Alabama in the early 1900s. Her father moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he died in 1908 when he fell off the scaffolding of a building he was painting. Her mother remarried, and a brace of half-brothers were born. According to my great-uncle, who was Myrtle's son, she basically raised her younger siblings. She was only 15 when she married -- ready to raise children, keep house, and eek out a living at such a tender age!

During the Depression, the family decided to move to Louisiana, of which they'd heard favorable things. They loaded all the children up in a tiny vehicle (maybe a Model T?) and moved. The most memorable part was crossing the newly built bridge over the fearsome Mississippi River -- this was probably the Old Vicksburg Bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1930.
by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
+4 votes
My great grandmother married a Cornish copper miner when she was 14 years old. He had just turned 17. A year later she gave birth to their first child, the day after my great grandfather's 18th birthday. Over the following 30 years, they had 23 children. I cannot imagine giving birth 23 times without benefit of so much as an aspirin. I also cannot imagine raising all those children or moving them into a different mining shack almost every year, as collieries closed and the family was forced to relocate.
by Anonymous Davis G2G2 (2k points)
23 children seems too many but back then many had at least 10.  Did you know this woman?  I wonder if they have run a list of the number of children different people had on here??
There's been discussion on the highest recorded number of children born to one woman on G2G before. For what it's worth, I think the alleged record holder (an anonymous Russian peasant woman) with her claimed total of 69, is absurd. Most of those claims are probably fictional. They usually claim a woman had an absurd number of multiple births, which is unlikely to say the least considering these claims come from an era before modern reproductive technology. It was rare for natural triplets to even survive before the last 100 years or so, much less for a woman to produce 15 sets of triplets and ALL of them survive. More probably, I think, some woman had 30-40 and is the real record holder.
And to think I had trouble taking care of 2! lol!
Somehow I missed seeing where this was discussed.  I have heard of women having 20 children, some of which were twin births, but 23 children seems like a lot to me..
My great grandmother died before I was born, but I certainly did know her tenth child, my grandmother, who often repeated the number of children her mother had! There is at least one newspaper article which also mentions it. This is how I identified one of the other children, whose obituary cites this number. BTW, I have identified 19 of the 23. Only 4 more to find. I have no doubts that the number is correct.
+3 votes
My GG Grandmother Sabina Sheppard was jailed for 3 months because my Great Grandmother was born out of wedlock and her birth was concealed. In the 1860 Wales census she is found listed as her Grandparents' daughter, Margaret Sheppard,  age 3 months. When Sabina married David Thomas, Margaret was then baptized Margaret Ann Thomas. It was after the baptism Sabina was imprisioned.
by Lori Harlan G2G6 Mach 1 (13.3k points)
It's so sad to think she was imprisoned for that! :(
+2 votes
My second great grandmother, Nancy Ellen (Rounsavell) Brown Blue (Rounsavell-33) was the mother of seven children when her husband died at age 34 in 1864. They owned a farm and was able to keep up with it. In 1870, she married a man she had to divorce in 1875. She had added another child to her responsibility thru this marriage. When she divorced her 2nd husband, she was able to retain the property (he did try to take it). She was the postmaster for her local office and was able to raise all her children to productive adulthood. She is one of my life's examples.
by MaryAnn Thomas G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)

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