Definition of Longevity
b : length of life
At some time during the 1980s, I was visiting with a cousin by phone. Madolyn was somewhat of a legend, a living History and Genealogy of the Williamson and Burnet County, Texas areas. She could pull info out of her memory like you would a computer. It turned out that Madolyn had rescued dozens of documents that were scheduled to be destroyed.
During the course of our conversation, Madolyn told me that she had several marriage licenses that I would be interested in. She named off some aunts and uncles and then mentioned my great-great-grandparents, Eb Smith and Sarah Jane Carroll. Naturally I wanted copies and asked if I paid for the copies, would she be able to make and send them to me. she would send them to me.
When the mail arrived a couple of days later, I was excited to see an envelope from Madolyn. I had never once imagined what I would find in that package. There, among the original marriage licenses of several of my maternal great-great-aunts and uncles, was the handwritten license of Eb & Sarah Jane Smith and a note from Madolyn saying, “I kept this safe until I found the right person to give it to.”
On December 20, 1860, Ebenezer Smith married Sarah Jane Carroll, he was 20, she was 16. They were married for 26 years before she passed away. They had 17 children including a three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets, who were born in 1876. Sarah was preceded in death by seven of her children.
I can’t imagine how difficult their lives were. I’ve often heard people say that “things were different back then” or that “death was just a part of living”.
At 157 years old, this document is the oldest original document I possess. To say it is prized, is an understatement. To me, this simple, piece of paper symbolizes a family, a father born in 1840, a mother born in 1844, a joining together in 1860 that resulted in a family that lived, loved, and died with their youngest daughter in 1967. How many families can claim to have spanned 127 years within the original family unit?
When I think of Sarah and Eb, I always think of how this family treasure came into my hands. From a courthouse in 1860 to a lover of History in the 1900s to a woman who had gazed at the faces of her great-great-grandparents while listening to their granddaughter, my grandmother, tell about their lives. I look at this simple piece of paper and I am reminded of the countless number who have come before me and those who are yet to be born. They are why I travel the road I do, they are why I am who I am. #52ancestors
That which is not written is lost forever…..