For the last four weeks I’ve written about the tragic young deaths of the Gardner family – Benny in 1920, Walker in 1922, Mattie in 1923, and Baxter in 1933. But before any of their deaths was the one in 1918.
Ella’s early life
Ella GRANT was born 22 September 1864 in Marlboro County, South Carolina. Her parents were Jeremiah GRANT and Anna Jane GRANT. Ella was the 11th of their 12 children. Ella is my 3rd great-aunt, as she is the sister of my 2nd great grandfather, D. B. Grant.
The family lived in Bennettsville in Marlboro County. Annie, as Anna Jane was called, was quite the businesswoman. She bought and sold lots of property in Marlboro and Chesterfield Counties.
Ella marries John
In 1879 when Ella was 14, she married John C. GARDNER (1854-1935). John was a farmhand at the time. In 1880, John and Ella lived in Cheraw, Chesterfield County. Her parents and two of her brothers are on the same census page as Ella and John.
In 1900, John worked as a railroad contractor. The family lived on Lyttleton Street in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Ella kept house and the younger children, while the older ones worked at a cotton mill.
In 1910, the family lived on King Street in Buffalo, Kershaw County, South Carolina. John was a house carpenter now. Ella kept house. Fifteen-year old Walker worked as a laborer for a blacksmith, and Mattie attended school. The other children had their own homes.
The first tragedy
Walker, Ella and John’s son, was in the National Guard when he was called up to go to France in 1918. On April 6th, 1918, John and Ella, along with daughters Bessie and Mattie, traveled to Camp Sevier in Greenville, South Carolina, to visit Walker before he shipped off.
John and Ella’s neighbor, a Mr. FIELD, went along and was driving John and Ella’s Ford. According to The Herald and News of Newberry, South Carolina, there was ‘a bad place in the road and the Ford took to the ditch.’ Here is the newspaper account of the accident:
It was not determined what exactly happened, but it was reported that ‘the car must have been going at a pretty lively rate.’ I have to wonder if the passengers were telling him to slow down before the accident.
This is Mattie’s accident
This is the accident where Mattie was hurt and reported killed by mistake. The retraction the next day said it was Ella that was killed. That was all I knew until this week when I found the long newspaper article about the accident.
More loss and heartache to follow
So much heartache in one day…Walker knows he’s leaving for war and may not come back at all, and then his mother dies on the way to see him off. Who even knows if he was able to attend her funeral. Was he able to see any of his family before he left for France? I don’t know. John loses his wife, and now his son is shipping off maybe never to return. And the other children lose their mother and know they may lose their brother, too.
I’m sure they were all relieved when Walker made it home, and they had a few years peace before Benny died followed soon by Walker and Mattie, and then Baxter a decade later. Poor John, to lose his wife and then three of his children in a five-year period of time.
This is the last of my stories about the Gardner family, at least for now. These five stories have been enough.
Ella Grant Gardner is buried at Mt. Elon Cemetery in Hartsville, Darlington County, along with John and four of their children.
Copyright © 2016 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved