Monday, May 4, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 17

Oh I'm terribly late but trying to catch up!

On this date in 1898, my grandmother was born, the oldest of two girls.  I've been told she was named for her uncle; that two brothers James and Jesse named their children after each other.  As I look over records, I would more think she was named for her aunt, my great grandmother's sister who died at the age of 26 when my great grandmother was 14.  Jessie Almira died 8 months after her mother.  It is hard for me to fathom that my great grandmother lost her mother and sister in such a short span at such a tender age.

My grandmother had red hair like her grandfather.  My mom tells me she wanted to be a teacher like her namesake.  Instead, she married at 18, gave birth to 9 children, raising 7 to adulthood.  Her sister and sister-in-laws only had one or two children. She and her husband lived with her parents until roles were reversed and her parents lived with them.  While my mother and her siblings went to public school, my grandmother had a large burlap cloth tacked on a wall that changed with each month while her children were growing.  She would cut out letters and decorate it for the seasons as a teacher in school would.  Papers and projects from her children would be tacked here as well.  My grandmother was "editor-in-chief" of a family newspaper.  It was a delight to see she had saved some of these in a suitcase with old letters and photos.  Her children were to write stories, poems, draw cartoons or pictures, and submit articles.  It was great reading.

Gramma Jessie had a sweet and gentle disposition.  I never heard her raise her voice and I think my mother will vouch for that as well. She had such a love for children.  As I read through some of her journals written when her husband took a job at a Christian college in New York, she is always having people in for coffee or supper, and very often watching children for other faculty members. In their 70's, she and my grandfather took care of a little girl a few days a week while the little one's  mother worked.

Paul and Jessie with the beginnings of grandchildren.  They would end up with 36!  My oldest brother is the chubby little one on my grandfather's lap.
 Her husband cherished and adored her and when she had her first major heart attack in the 1960's, he took her to Florida and monitored her diet, cooking salt free and giving her plenty of fruit and vegetables.   I remember a few visits we were able to make in the early '70's, the long drive from Massachusetts, pulling into their driveway and seeing my grandfather brushing her hair and braiding it into two braids for the night.   She kept her red hair long and swept up in a bun until she died.  He watched over her so carefully it was a shock that he died first, suddenly in their home in Florida of a heart attack.   She lived six years without him spending her last few with my parents.

She exemplified the love of Jesus Christ.  Self-sacrificing, giving, loving, patient, gentle and kind.  Her heart's desire was that her children and grandchildren would know her Savior and she prayed over them daily.

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