Friday, March 26, 2010

Sepia Saturday...Women of My Heritage

This is a picture of my Maternal Grandmother (Sylvia Grey Pierson) standing on the chair.  She is flanked by her Mother Elizabeth Allely Grey and Father whose first name I do not know.  My Great Grandmother divorced this husband and later married Alonzo Penn.  I never knew this Great Grandfather.  I was fortunate enough to know my Grandmother and Great Grandmother.  My Grandmother followed her Mother's example an after giving birth to eight children, she divorced her husband.  She raised the kids (6 boys and 2 girls) on her own and never remarried.  These were strong women who made their way in a world I can only speculate about.  I am proud to come from such roots.

16 comments:

  1. yes, you should be proud!

    And it's a lovely photograph, too!

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  2. It took a lot of fortitude to divorce and raise a family on her own back then, even more than today. Your grandmother Sylvia had such a sweet face.

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  3. To think that these two women raised so many children single-handed, in those times. They were, indeed, strong.

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  4. Strong women indeed! Divorce wasn't all that common back then and to raise so any children on her own -- the mind boggles!

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  5. Wow, I would think that your grandmother and her mother were trailblazers. Divorce was done so little at the time. Your Great Grandmother doesn't look like the kind of woman one would think of as the type to strike out on her own. Both must have been strong women indeed. I bet their stories are terribly interesting.

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  6. What fortitude it must have taken to take care of all those kids. And for a woman to divorce her husband must have been unusual.

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  7. Do you have any clues as to when Elizabeth and Mr. Grey married? Where? Obviously, when your grandmother was little, they were in or near Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa. What info do you have on Alonzo Penn?

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  8. I have little information on my Great Grandmother. When she and Alonzo (Lonnie) Penn were married they lived in and around Sidney, Fremont County, Iowa. Lonnie had been previously married and had a couple of daughters. Now you have me interested, I really need to try and research this. My Grandmother had only one sister. Her name was Helen Grey. She was younger than my Grandmother and she worked in the government in Washington, D.C. She was married but I will have to check with my brother as to her married name.

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  9. Incredible! With 8 children, your Grandmother divorced her husband! She and her mother were strong women indeed.
    By the way, the man in the picture looks unusually handsome.

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  10. There is one thing about genealogy that I was told a few years ago when I started into it, is that it is addictive. It is so true. The more you find the more your want to find. This SS has been such a great project and has inspired a lot of folks. I love your picture and that chair is beautiful. I have seen many of those in the old photos. blessings
    QMM

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  11. One of my grandmothers was left with 4 children when her husband was killed in an accident. The other grandmother was left by her husband to raise 5 children during the depression. It must have been so much harder in those days when there were almost no social services to help.
    Thanks for your very interesting story.

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  12. Duta - I was very close to my Grandmother and I recall asking her one time why she divorced my Grandfather. She said he was not a responsible man. He gambled and when he lost they would not have food to feed the children. When he won he would buy extravagant things like rugs and so on for her without thinking about the children's needs. My Mother was one of a set of twins. She had one younger brother who would have been a newborn at the time of the divorce since Mom was only about two years old. Not only did Grandmother divorce him, she made him agree to not see his children. I have to say that she was trying to look after the welfare of her children. With so many children and little ones my Grandmother took in laundry to feed them. There were no social programs and really no help other than a bit of food from my Great Grandmother. There were six boys and they all went to war. The youngest brother enlisted when he was 15 by lying about his age. He ended up serving not only in the Navy but once he got out of the Navy re-enlisted in the Submarine Corp. She spent her entire life working hard, cooking in restaurants. I loved her so much and if you look closely at her picture and then look closely at my Granddaughter, Sophia, I think you will see a very strong resemblance.

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  13. I am so impressed with how your grandmothers took care of their families - it had to be so difficult and I really respect them for doing the right thing

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  14. People back then -- especially women -- were usually a lot tougher than they were given credit for being, I've found. Sad to think that so many of the women were dismissed as being "just" housewives or mothers, like those aren't demanding "jobs."

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  15. Strong women for sure, especially considering the times and the size of the families.

    That is a wonderful photo!

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  16. Excellent photograph. I have one very similar to this - young girl standing on chair flanked by parents - which must have been taken about the same date. I suppose photographic fashions were universal.

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