Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Double Whammy For Lydia Warford, March 15, 2020

A woman is like a tea bag -
you never know how strong she is
until she gets in hot water.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

In my last post I told the story of two star-crossed lovers, William and Mary Shepard (my GG Grandparents), who were married just two years when he tragically died in the Civil War in 1862. Civil War widow Mary was left with 2 young sons to raise. Against great odds, she was able to make a good life for herself and her sons even though the path was filled with adversity and hardship. Civil War soldier William Shepard and his wife Mary were not alone in our family history. Others had to endure a similar fate when a young person died unexpectedly and left a surviving spouse. I can think of several instances in my own lifetime:
  • In 1970 my wife Cindy's 23 year old cousin Gloria Eeds Westin died in an accident leaving her young husband Terry.
  • In 1971 my sister Linda Shepard Clark at just 20 years old, died in a car accident leaving her young husband Jerry Clark.
  • In 1992 Manuel Aquiningoc tragically died leaving a baby daughter and a 24 year old pregnant wife, my niece Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc.
Lydia Warford Williams. Before the 20th century there were several instances of young people among our kinfolk who experienced the death of a spouse and had to deal with the hardships of single parenthood. One of the most remarkable is my 4X Great Grandmother Lydia Warford Williams (1782-1829) who was born shortly after the revolutionary war.

Here is my lineage to Lydia Warford Williams:
  • my father Eugene Shepard (1921-2003)
  • his mother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986)
  • her mother Callie Spear Davis (1865-1951)
  • her mother Maggie Williams Spear (1845-1904)
  • her father John Pouty Williams (1806-1898)
  • his mother Lydia Warford Williams (1782-1829)
Lydia Warford Williams' granddaughter
Maggie Williams Spear (left) and
her daughter Callie Spear Davis abt. 1880
When Lydia, the youngest of 8 siblings, was just 2 years old, her father Henry Warford (1741-1784) died in Southern Pennsylvania in the town of Warfordsburg, which was named after Lydia's family. With her father Henry's death, her mother Elizabeth Van Hook Warford became a single parent with the primary responsibility for 8 children between the ages of 2 and 18. The struggle was difficult for their family especially for young Lydia, who only knew her father for two short years of her
life. For the rest of her childhood, Lydia, her siblings and her mother struggled to make do without their father.

At the turn of the 19th century when Lydia was about 18, her family migrated some 500 miles westward from Southern Pennsylvania to the frontier of Shelby County, Kentucky, 30 miles east of Louisville. In 1803 in Kentucky, 21 year old Lydia married neighbor John Williams and with him had a family of her own, including 4 children. In 1813 her husband John Williams died, possibly in the War of 1812, and left her with 4 children under 10 years old.

A Double Whammy. Lydia's father had died in 1784 when she was just 2 years old, and then her husband died in 1813 when she was a 31 year old mother of 4. Not just once, but twice in her life she found herself part of a family where the father-breadwinner died and the sole responsibility for raising the children fell to mom. It was a double whammy for poor Lydia. She was left wondering if she could ever count on the important men in her life. From all that we know she survived her difficult childhood fairly well. And she made the most of her life as a single mother for 13 years after husband John died in 1813.

Pleasant Grove Cemetery near Spencer, Indiana
where several Williams Family members reside
including Lydia Williams' son John Pouty Williams
Not long after her husband John died, Lydia packed up her four kids and left Shelby County, Kentucky. They first traveled 75 or so miles northwest, through Louisville, Kentucky, across the state line, and into Washington County, Indiana, where she and the kids resided in 1820, according to U.S. Census records. Some time later they moved on to Spencer, Indiana, where she and the kids made their home. In 1826, at 44 years old Lydia married an older gentleman named William S. Jones from Putnam County, Indiana just 25 miles north of Spencer. He was an old family friend she had previous known in Kentucky. With him she lived the last few years of her life.

Lydia only lived 47 years. She spent the greater part of her life struggling to overcome the loss of her father first, and then her husband second. She is one more fascinating person in our family tree who overcame great odds. On this "Women's History Month," it is appropriate for us to remember and celebrate the life of a remarkable woman in our family history, Lydia Warford Williams.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

2 comments:

Kim Clark said...

I think my mom and Joan look a lot like grandma Callie

Steve Shepard said...

I think you are correct. Amazing, isn't it?