Saturday, March 10, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 10 - Strong Woman

This week's prompt is "Strong Woman" in honor of International Woman's month.

The first person that came to mind is my maternal grandmother.  She was such a strong woman.  I can't imagine living her life - it was so hard but yet she was always so positive and happy.

She was born in 1914 and was the eldest of 7 children.  In those days, the eldest had a LOT of responsibility.  They had to not only do the work on the farm, clean house (if they were a girl), but also had to help raise the younger children.

Here is a very rare picture of her and some of her siblings that was taken in the 1920s. 
That is my grandmother, Jewel Canzada Odom with the white dress and long necklace and her arm around her sister.

 (click to enlarge)

Her family was very poor, as were many people in Geneva, Alabama.  I wish I knew some stories from her childhood but sadly, I do not.

The family later moved to Holmes County, Florida (not far from Geneva, AL).

She married my grandfather, James Josh Mims on 12 Oct 1930, one week before her 16th birthday.  Sadly, one year later, when she was 17, her father died in 1931. 

 (click to enlarge)

She had 6 daughters (and from what I have been told gave birth to 3 other children, who were either stillborn or died shortly after birth).  I can't imagine how hard that was to lose 3 children after you carried them for 9 months. 

She raised her daughters and helped her husband on a large farm.  They had their own farm but before that they were sharecroppers.  She would get up very, very early when it was dark out, would make breakfast for 8 people. She gathered eggs from their hens, she milked the cows and she found a way to feed 8 people even though they had very little money.  They had no electricity, no refridgerator and she cooked everything on a wood stove (which I am sure she probably had chopped the wood herself).

After breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen, she (and the rest of the family who was old enough) would go work in the fields - ALL DAY.  They primarily were cotton growers but of course they grew all sorts of things - peanuts, potatoes, corn, but they could make the most money growing and selling cotton.

Now you have to remember, this was before big tractors and machines like that have now.  It all had to be planted by hand and had to be picked by hand too. Cotton was grown in the summer so it was hot as blue blazes. But she was out there all day picking.

My mom told me a story recently how she can remember my grandma out in the field, picking cotton and she had one sack that she was putting cotton in and she had another sack that she would sit the baby on (her youngest sister) and she would pick and drag the baby along as she went.  She would even be breast feeding while working in the field.  She had to watch 6 girls, make sure the oldest were working, and keep up with them all.

When it was time to plow, she even got behind the plows with the mules and plowed too, right along with grandpa, the strong man.  She did what she had to do.

All of her children were born at home, all natural childbirth - except for one - the youngest was born at a hospital (although still natural childbirth) - that was really the only way to do in those days.  Can you imagine??

After working all day in the hot fields, she would cook supper for all 8 of them and again, she just didn't go down to the grocery store and buy meat - nope, she killed the chicken herself, cleaned it and cooked it.  A lot of times they didn't have meat but she made due with what they had grown or canned.

Of course no electricity or running water in the house meant it wasn't any easy task to do laundry.  She did it though - she would use an washboard, lye soap (that she had made herself) and a big washtub to wash their clothes.  She had to draw the water from the well since the well was the only source of their water. 

Can you imagine washing clothes for 8 people, that had worked all day in the hot sun in the fields using a washboard to get them clean?  She also had to wash sheets and such as that too!   Good golly, and I feel the need to complain when I have to throw in a load of towels while watching the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.

(not my grandma but just added this photo so you get the idea)

On top of it grandma was the most dedicated Christian I know.  She made sure her girls were in church whenever church was happening.  They had to either walk or when they had one, they would go by mule and buggy.  (There is a whole other story I could tell about this mule and buggy and hopefully will get around to telling it sometime).

My grandma was a prayer!!  She fasted and prayed and she said when she did, God answered her prayers.  I know she prayed for me many times - she prayed for all of her 6 children, their husbands and her 18 grandchildren and all her great grandchildren.  She was a praying woman.

The whole time I knew my grandma, I never, NEVER heard her say a mean thing.  She was always sweet, kind and loving and always happy - she was not a complainer and she lived her life with a grateful heart.

My grandma departed this life in 1998, but I know where she went and I also know that I will be reunited with her one day. 
She was such a STRONG WOMAN and  I am so, so proud to be her grand daughter.

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