Saturday, June 18, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party - Edna Ascends the Iron Throne

Time for another round of Genealogy Blog Party!

Elizabeth O'Neal's Blog Party logo, used with permission

For this month's genealogy blog party, we are talking about an ancestor who epitomizes the word "strong," or in Game of Thrones* terminology, is worthy to sit on the Iron Throne - a throne made of 1000 swords and knives and was known to cause injury (or worse) to those that sat on it. Strength could be defined as military achievement, passing through hardships, or surviving an event or situation that others didn't. While I have many ancestors that I look up to as examples of strength, I chose to focus on my great-grandmother, Edna Mae (Craddock) (Harris) Moore. Edna was the oldest child of Ernest Leonard Craddock and Philena Emily "Lena" Beilstein. She was born on August 11, 1911 in Philipsburg, Montana and died December 25, 1996 in Sequim, Washington.

Edna as a baby with her mother Lena (Beilstein) Craddock
Edna went through a lot of trials in her early years, many connected with her family's poverty. Edna's daughter Sally told me the home Edna lived in at one point when she was young was a one room cabin with dirt floors. Edna's mom apparently broke down in tears when she saw it (and I don't think they were tears of joy). I can't imagine the impact of moving into a home so...rustic, if you want to put it that way, and then seeing your own mother crying because of the living conditions there. Later on, Edna's mom made a birthday cake for one of the girls (Edna had 3 sisters) and when it was done she covered it with a towel. When time came to eat it, she took the towel off, only to discover a large rat eating the cake! On another day, her father went shopping for supplies and came home with shoes for the girls, and Edna got two shoes for the same foot. With no other options (apparently returning the shoes wasn't an option), she wore them, though she later said this contributed to feet problems she had later in life.

Some time later the family moved back into a home in Philipsburg, Montana, and Edna joined the school basketball team. One day Edna complained of pain in her stomach. Her mother didn't believe her, and just assumed she didn't want to go to school. The pain was real however, and that night she had an emergency appendectomy. (This reminds me all too well of a similar story in my paternal grandmother Blossom (Wagner) Gibson's family, where her younger brother Charles Wagner complained of pain days after getting hit by a baseball while playing with friends. His parents didn't believe him, also feeling he wanted to skip school. Tragically, he was actually ill and died of tuberculosis).

Edna's parents separated sometime before she was 17, and her mom remarried to Jack White (among others; see my earlier posts on Lena Beilstein for details). Ernest was left with all four girls, and not having enough money to support them, he put them in the Montana State Orphans' Home for several years. Going into the orphanage must have interfered with her education, as the 1940 census reports that Edna only made it to 8th grade in school. Sally said this was because the orphanage put her to work doing laundry, and didn't give her time for school. Her younger sisters fared a little better, Hazel getting one year of high school and Grace two. Else was the only daughter in the family to actually complete high school.

In 1930, Edna married James Harris, son of Frank Harris and Charlotte Scribner. While I don't know too many details of their marriage, I do know that things were pretty rocky for them while they were together. Edna had dental problems in the late 1930s that caused her to have all her teeth pulled. She and Jim got some money together, ostensibly to buy her a set of false teeth. However, one night Jim came home and announced "your teeth are in the driveway." Edna went outside and saw a new car, purchased with the money that would have bought her teeth.

Jim and Edna divorced in the 1940s, Edna was then briefly married to a man named Ed Cole, then Isaac Hays, and then Bill Moore. She and Bill remained married for almost 25 years until Bill's death in 1975. She remained Edna Moore for the rest of her life (that is the name I remember seeing on her mail when we'd come to visit when I was young, and I always wondered why her last name didn't match my grandmother or mother's surnames. If I'd only asked!).

Edna in 1989
Edna had many health and other challenges in her later years. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1967, but radiation therapy sent the cancer into remission. She fell and broke her wrist in her 70s, but the wrist wasn't set properly and didn't heal correctly. She outlived her parents and all three of her sisters, her last surviving sister passing away in 1992. The next year she was diagnosed with another form of cancer, which eventually claimed her life on Christmas Day, 1996.

As with any person's life, you can't really go into all the challenges and struggles they faced in life in just a few paragraphs. Even in this brief overview of her life, I am struck with how many struggles and challenges and setbacks she was dealt. Yet the thing that strikes me the most was that every time I saw her, even in her later years when she could barely move, she was never anything but kind, cheerful, and happy. As a child and teenager, I had no clue about the hard life she had lived, and she showed no evidence of it in the way she acted around me and my siblings. She always greeted me with a hug and a smile, and would tell me to pull up my "britches" if they slouched too low. She really was the strong, silent type - silent in terms of not complaining about or bemoaning her circumstances. She took what she was given and did all she could with it. If there's anyone worthy to be called strong in my family, it's her. That's why I chose great-grandma Edna to sit on the Iron Throne.

*Disclaimer: I've never seen Game of Thrones, and had to Google search the Iron Throne to see what it was. Honestly though, after reviewing my great-grandma Edna's life, I think she'd take that throne, throw a few decorations on it and take a nap in it without blinking.

4 comments:

Teresa Eckford said...

Wow - she sounds amazing!!! No wonder you've nominated her for the Iron Throne! Thanks for sharing - I especially loved the pics :)

Linda Stufflebean said...

I think of life generally being easier in the 20th century when compared to the life of our ancestors, but htere were certainly plenty of hardships in her life. Edna overcame so much. Great nominee for the Iron Throne!

Sue said...

A definite contender for the throne! I love narratives about strong women and she certainly sounds like she had her fair share of difficulties and came out stronger for them!

ScotSue said...

You wrote a very fitting tribute to Edna's tenacity and kindness throughout her tribulations, backed up with your personal reminiscences of a lovely lady.

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