Saturday, December 28, 2013

Eliza Jane Elder, my fourth great-grandmother

This woman has graced the walls of my grandmother's home for as long as I can remember.  So dark and old, without a seeming smile or cheer, her framed portrait would greet me and almost frighten me as I walked into my grandmother's bedroom when I was younger.  Now I love the fancy neckline on her dress and her ornate and detailed headdress. As I've learned about this woman, her face has softened and her eyes seem full of wisdom, hard work, and trial.

The woman is my great-great grandmother's mother, Eliza Jane Elder Lime. She was born March 1, 1832 near Derby, Perry, Indiana, the daughter of James Samuel Elder and Dortha Ann Johnson. They were devout Catholics and on May 11, 1852, at the age of twenty, the Father of her perish, Augustus Bessonies, married her to  James Lime at her parent's home. James was from Kentucky and had just been honorably released from the Volunteers in the War with Mexico.

The next ten years would be busy bearing and raising six children. It must have been overwhelming when her husband James left to serve in the Civil War in 1862. He served a 3 year term leaving her to  feed and clothe the children alone. Her daughter Susan later told many stories of the hardships they endured. With mail being slow there would be months when the family did not know whether their father and husband was alive or dead. The unknown made life difficult to bear for all of them. Not only this, but Eliza Jane was ill most of her life from child-bearing and poor health. With much of her time spent in bed, most of the housework was done by her daughter, Susan. Susan talked many times about taking care of her mother, caring for the younger children, and doing most of the household chores.

When James finally returned, many of his children did not remember him. His injuries from a gunshot wound to his right leg also prevented him from working on the farm as he had before. At least his presence could be felt supervising the farm and disciplining the children. His wound never fully healed, and for the rest of his life he suffered much pain. His $8.00 a month pension helped ease the burdens placed upon their family.

Four more children were born after James returned. But with the excitement of births also came the disappointment of death. Eliza's father died in the late 1860s. Her mother lived with the family after his death until Eliza and James moved to Bagnel, Miller County, Missouri in the late 1870s. It was here, on the 15 of November 1n 1887 that James passed away from a fatal accident. He and several of his sons were hauling logs.  As they were working the stacked logs began to roll. James, with his bad leg, lost his balance and fell, the logs rolling on top of him and crushing him.  Three years later in 1890 she would lose her son Charles Lime who was only 22, and three years after that another daughter, Mary would die at the age of 28. Finally in 1903 she would see her first born son, William Marion, buried. He was building a hotel in downtown Indianapolis and stepped on a rusty nail. Blood poisoning set in and he died of lockjaw.

The year after James passed away, Eliza moved her family to Henry County, Missouri. She stayed here until her youngest son, Frank, married and later moved to Cherokee County, Kansas. Eliza spent the remaining years of her life in Scammon, Kansas with Frank and his wife, Georgia. She lived to be 87 not withstanding her poor health and her many trials. She died on October 14, 1919 in Scammon and was buried at St. Briggits Catholic Cemetery.

For my grandmother, this picture is more than a decoration on the wall. It's a legacy of love, a reminder of her past, and an acknowledgement of eyes that are still watching over her. She recently said that she has felt like her great-grandmother has looked after her throughout her life, and the presence of her photograph on her wall remains an important part of her home.

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Lest We Forget"

One of the things I love most about family history is the people I meet. Strangers become family overnight, and I feel a bond with them that I never would have expected. Last week, I received a gift from one such woman, Karen. She had found me from my Lime family history blog. We share the same Lime grandparents, five generations back for me and four generations back for her. I had shared a little information with her, most of it not as timely as it should have been, and she graciously shared her book with me.

Her book, "Lest We Forget: A History of the Angel/Evans and Lime/Sims Families", is a beautiful tribute to those that came before her. I've now had it for almost a week and ever since I received it I've found myself pulling it off my bookshelf daily to read and reread it.  It is the first family history book I've read specifically about my family. She did an amazing job weaving together the individual histories of our ancestor's lives with the history of the time and areas where they lived. She also included pictures and excerpts of many records and newspaper clippings that brought my ancestors to life. It was so well organized and engaging that I found myself lost in the pages and desiring to do the same thing for some of my other family lines.

Her book reminded me that our ancestor's narrative, is every bit as important as the records and pictures we find of them. Some of the records she mentioned and the stories she had told I had heard before, but to read in print the information that those records share and the insights we learn from them was fascinating and something I'm going to start developing as I move my family research forward.

I thank her for sending me such a treasure and look forward to referencing it often as I come to learn and understand more about my family.