Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 27 - Martha Jane Rhea

Martha Jane McCollum died on March 22, 1929 in Sneedville, Tennessee at the age of 81. She didn’t change the world or save humanity. She was a simple, country woman who raised 9 children, 8 of them to maturity. She survived the murder of her husband and lived through all the years her father was absent.

She worked hard to make sure her family was well taken care of. By the standards of the day, she was wealthy in terms of land. She was an astute business person and increased her holdings. She was generous with what she had.

In the letters to my grandparents, she was not above bribing them to come back. However, when she talked about the people around her, she was never critical or gossipy. She reported the facts with no censure.

Her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews speak kindly of her. I am still in the process of transcribing letters sent to me by a 2nd cousin. They were written by one of her nieces and she talks a little about her aunt Jane. Her Aunt Jane is mentioned with affection, especially when she talks about the trouble she got into with Victor and the switches her mom and Aunt Jane always had on hand.



My grandfather was a kind man. Sheldon tells us that his grandfather, Victor, was a good grandpa. These are the children she raised. Education was important to Jane. Her children could all read and write. In small communities in the Appalachian Mountains, education was not always a goal, survival was.

She loved her grandchildren and when she was talking about Jewelle, there was affection and humor. I don’t have a picture of her smiling but it appears in the tone of the letter.


I am never going to know this woman as I would like but have a pretty good idea who she was. Someday, I believe she and I will meet and have a lot to talk about.

1 comment:

  1. So awesome. I definitely have some relatives I'm looking forward to meeting one day--especially the quiet ones who worked hard and sacrificed for the rising generation.

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