Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Honoring the Women From Whom I Come....

I can call their names---Martha, Amanda, Harriet, Lily, Pauline.

I can call their names---Lydia, Kitty, Amanda,  Sallie.

I can call their names---Minerva, Nancy, Georgia, Ellen.

These are the women from whom I come.

I can call the names of their sisters---Emily, Paralee.

I can call the names of their sisters---Alice, Violet

I can call the names of their sisters---Susie, Mary, Nancy, Fannie, Hattie, Indiana

I can call the names of their cousins---Bennie, Frances, Etta, Eliza, Lucy

These are the names of the women, some of whom I knew, many about whom I have heard, and some are those whose lives I have studied. I treasure knowing them and sharing the small snippets of their stories.

Many I never met, but I know parts of their stories. Of some I have photos, while there are others whose faces I can only imagine. All are part of me, and on this International Day of Women, I honor them all.

One of my ancestors was a mere child when the stars fell.....

And she told her story:
   "Somebody in the quarters started yellin' in the middle of the night to come out and to look up at the sky. 
    We went outside and there they was a fallin' everywhere! Big stars coming down real close to the ground and just before they hit the ground they would burn up! We was all scared. Some of the folks was screamin', and some was prayin'. We all made so much noise, the white folks came out to see what was happenin'. They looked up and then they got scared, too.
   "But then the white folks started callin' all the slaves together, and for no reason, they started tellin' some of the slaves who their mothers and fathers was, and who they'd been sold to and where they took em. 
    The old folks was so glad to hear where their people went. They made sure we all knew what see, they thought it was Judgement Day."
(-Words of my gr. gr. grandmother Amanda Campbell Young Barr, enslaved as a child, in Maury County Tennessee, when the stars fell in 1833. She told this story to her children and grandchildren throughout her lifetime.-)

Another brave woman grabbed her own freedom when she escaped and made it to the Union line.
(Mary Paralee Young, escaped and made it to Tennessee and lived for almost 2 years in President's Island Contraband Camp, near Memphis, Tennessee)

Another ancestor lived to become a literate woman who later taught small children how to read.

Frances Young, daughter of Amanda Young

One left us too soon--my maternal grandmother died young shortly after the birth of her only child, who would become my mother. She was gone too soon when tuberculosis was sweeping the country.

Maternal Grandmother
Lily Martin, daughter of Harriet Young Martin

Lily's sister Viola helped to raise my mother who was a infant when her mother Lily died. Forever grateful to Aunt Viola for being a kind and strong force in the family.

Great Aunt Viola Martin Wynn

Paternal Grandmother Sarah Ellen Bass was a stable part of my childhood, in Arkansas. From her I learned to enjoy chicken and dumplings, cornbread and buttermilk, poke sallet, and so much more. From her I learned of her life in SW Arkansas at the turn of the 20th century.

Paternal Grandmother
Sarah Ellen Bass Walton 1887-1978

Her mother, my great grandmother Georgia Ann Houston Bass was the matriarch to a large family clan of Bass, Martin, and Dollarhide families of Sevier County Arkansas.

Great grandmother, Georgia Ann Houston Bass

My great grandmother Sallie, from the Choctaw Nation, represents goodness, sweetness and love to me. I still miss her gentle soul. I taste the food she made for me, and still smell the sweet aroma of sassafrass.

Paternal Great Grandmother, Sallie Walton

There is, lastly the one woman who influenced me the most--my dear mother, Pauline. My mother is my heart. From her I learned kindness, gentleness, and the power of a simple smile. Because of her I developed a profound love of books, music and all things beautiful. Her personality and spirit live with me today.

On this day in which all women are honored--International Women's Day, I am grateful for the women who influenced my life. I treasure them, and honor them.

It is often said that women are the culture bearers of the family. From these dear women, I owe so much for it they shaped the cultural framework in which I live and they polished the lens through which I see life, All of them made me who I am. 

May they all rest in peace and from time to time, may they smile upon me, and may I share their wisdom to those that follow.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

This is beautiful. Ase!