Wednesday, March 19, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 11 Susie Mae Young 1897-1937

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 11 Susie Mae Young 1897-1937

How I would have liked knowing you in person, Susie Mae Young. I could have called you grandma, grandmother, Nana or maybe granny.  It was not meant to be in this lifetime but maybe in the next.

On my journey, I’ve hunted for you and found: Your birth was 19 December 1897 in Jefferson County, Alabama. You married John Henry Woodard, on July 24, 1913 in Jefferson County, Alabama according to your Alabama Marriage License.   I interviewed our cousin, Henry Ross and our adopted aunt, Bertha Hodge who attended your wedding as six-year old children.  They both remembered your special day.   I forgot to ask why the memory was still in their minds in their senior years of life and they have passed on now.

Your older children remembered you loving flowers and planting them in your garden.  I wonder whether I acquired my love of flowers from you. They recalled you hating West Virginia, the soot and dirt of the Fairmont mining community.  I wonder whether your dislike came after the death of your husband due to black lung in 1932.  You bore him eleven children, seven girls and four boys.  Your youngest child, my mother was born six months after his death and missed the relationship she could have had with both of you.

You moved to Pennsylvania to begin again within a few years of your youngest child’s birth.  The death of your husband left you without a home since you could no longer live in the Coal Mining Company’s house at 26 Franklin Street, Fairmont, WV.  Eli, and his wife, Carrie Woodard, a miner and in some way related to your husband took you in along with your seven minor children.  Somehow and in someway you amazingly made the courageous move to New Kensington with your underage children around 1935.

Your youngest son remembers that you spoke with your eyes and the look clearly communicated approval or disapproval.  He remembers you being a tall woman with a kind firm manner and a religious mother.  Proof is in all of your children’s names coming from the bible and your participation in a Christian camp outside of Pittsburgh.  While I’ve hunted and hunted no picture of you has been found. 

It has been on this journey where I learned you and your husband, John along with your children visited New Kensington, Pennsylvania in 1920 and stayed with John Williams and his family.  Were they related or were you all exploring opportunity to move to New Kensington, PA?  Labor issues were going on in the West Virginia mines and that certainly could be a consideration.  Later I learned there was a John Young born in Alabama same as you that might have been related.  Moving to Pennsylvania with underage children meant being away from the only parents you knew, Matildia (Harris) and George Freeman that lived in Idamay, WV.  You moved, lived on Eighth Street and worked as a domestic in a private home.

Who knew that you would leave your underage children much too soon?  You came down with pneumonia shortly after your move.  According to your son, Bill, who went to get Dr. Harris to attend you, Dr. Harris didn’t come in time to treat you.  During your illness, you designated a middle daughter, Naomi to care for and raise the younger children.  You saw something special in her and were right for she fought to keep her orphaned younger siblings together.  You died on the 6th of January 1937 and are buried at the Union Cemetery in New Kensington, PA.

So while I haven’t uncovered your biological parents or a picture, I know more about you through my journey.  I’ve become the family storyteller and feel compelled to share what I know of you.  The journey continues and think I will call you, Grandma.  You’re more than dates and places and have a place in my heart.

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