Greetings to all of you from San Diego on this first Saturday of Springtime 2019!
My brother Gary Shepard (right) and I
in Anacortes, Washington,
on his birthday in 2016
The Young Widow Esther Reynolds. In my last blog post I wrote about my 4XG Grandmother Esther Sidwell Reynolds (1791-1874). She was the maternal grandmother of Civil War soldier William Shepard. In 1829, Esther and husband Richard Reynolds were in their 30s and living in Kirkwood, Ohio. Unexpectedly husband Richard died at just 39 years old. Suddenly Esther became a young widow with 5 children under 17 years old with no means of support for her and her family. Obviously she had a monumental struggle on her hands. For 10 years she worked hard to finish raising her children and make ends meet. Then in 1839 at 41 years old she married long time neighbor and friend James Cross Shepard Sr., 23 years her senior. Hannah, his wife of 41 years, had recently died. It seems to have been a marriage of convenience for Esther and James, but most importantly it was an opportunity for Esther to provide her and her children with some stability they might not have otherwise.
Evansville, Indiana grave of soldier
William Shepard (1835-1862) husband of
war widow Mary Sprague Shepard Ragsdale
There are other instances of women in our history who were left in crisis when their husbands unexpectedly died. The following are two others who, like Esther Reynolds before them, had to struggle to get back on their feet after the untimely deaths of their husbands. All these women lived in the 19th century, in a time before Social Service agencies that we take for granted.
Lydia Warford Williams. I have written before in this blog about Lydia Warford Williams (1782-1829), the GG Grandmother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. In 1813 Lydia's 31 year old husband John Williams died (possibly in the War of 1812) leaving her with 4 young children, aged 3, 5, 7, and 9. After 13 years a widow, she married 81 year old William Jones in Putnam, Indiana, a long time friend and widower who was 37 years her senior.
Sam Shannon (with wife Finetta). He was just
5 years old when his widowed mother Peggy
Shannon moved their family of 8 to Arkansas.
These are just some of the inspiring stories of women in our family history who had to fight against incredible odds to survive with their children. Their persistence and perseverance, along with the support of other family, made all the difference between desperate poverty and a thriving family life. They remain an inspiration for all of us who are their descendants.
Do you know of other women in our history whose stories could be added to these? I would be glad to hear from you about them.
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