Week 3 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Longevity – A Long & Winding Road

Definition of Longevity

1  a : a long duration of individual life

    b : length of life

2 : long continuance : permanence, durability 

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.”

Eb & Sarah Smith

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…..

Whispers from the Past…..

Week 2 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Favorite Photo

Sarah Jane Carroll 1844-1885

When I saw what the prompt was for week two, I had a small panic attack. “How in the world am I going to choose a favorite photo?”

Now, normally that might not be a big deal but, having recently added several thousand photos to my collection….. well, you get the problem.

Fortunately, a cousin made this decision fairly easy for me. Recently I received a message asking if I knew who was in a picture she’d come across while scanning lots of family photos to share.  I hate to say that I forgot to answer her, but I did. We were out of town and when we got home first one thing and then another came up. Two weeks later she reminded me about the picture and I determined to stop right then and figure this out. I knew the woman looked familiar but I had never seen this particular photo.

After asking some questions about where she found the photo and if there was anything on the back, the light came on. I immediately pulled up a picture along with the one she was inquiring about and started doing semi transparent overlays.  Perfect match.

Nancy Boultinghouse Carroll Letter
Murder of Daniel Carroll

Sarah Jane Carroll, my maternal great-great-grandmother, was born in 1844 in Scott County, Arkansas to Nancy Boultinghouse and Daniel Carroll, she was the oldest of their four children.  When Sarah Jane was only six, her daddy was murdered in Scott County. She, her momma, and siblings, moved to Williamson County, Texas, following her grandfather and other family members.  At the early age of 16, Sarah Jane married Ebenezer Smith and they had 17 children including three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets. It should come as no surprise that she passed away at the age of 41 when her youngest daughter, Louise, was only two.

For over 55 years, I’ve known her face, I always thought that she had such a serene look about her.  Her portrait and that of her husband, Eb, hung in my grandmother’s home until they were passed to me. It was such a pleasant surprise to find that 50 years after her death, we could finally see her face as she looked shortly before she died.

I had often wondered if after giving birth to 17 children and burying seven of them, she would look old beyond her years, somehow haggard.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the serenity of her youth was still present in her eyes. #52ancestors

Whispers from the Past…..