A Moving Story: When The Martins Left South Carolina
A few months ago, I completed the daunting task of prepping my house for sale, selling it, and moving to a rental. Often over the 4+ years it took to get this done, I’ve thought about when my mom, her four siblings, and their parents left South Carolina for Winchester, Virginia.
My grandfather, Joel Daniel MARTIN (1886-1955) was a farmer like many in the 1910’s. His people had been farming the same land in Richland County, South Carolina for at least two generations before him, and he planned to continue on that path. But the federal government ‘bought’ a large portion of land in Richland County that would later become Fort Jackson.
After Fort Jackson
Many families were displaced, and the money they received for the land was paltry. Daniel and some of his relatives left South Carolina for work in other states, mostly Maryland and Virginia.
My mom, Gladys MARTIN HEISER (1921-1999) was about 3 when the family left South Carolina. Her sister, Ruby MARTIN RUHLING (1919-1977), was about 5. Gladys and Ruby’s cousin, Agnes JEFFORDS JACOBS (1920-2021), was sandwich between Gladys and Ruby, making them a stair-stepped trio of girls.
Ruby remembered the day they left, and she her memories to her daughter, Rose GANUS WARD (1941-2015). Ruby said that she and Gladys and Agnes hugged each other and cried. The three little girls were buddies and didn’t want to be separated.
Ruby said that the women were crying, too. She specifically remembered her mother, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN (1894-1979) and her mother’s sister, Aggie THOMAS JEFFORDS (1897-1966) crying. Florrie and Aggie’s parents, Jeremiah Daniel THOMAS (1858-1946) and Margaret GRANT THOMAS (1870-1948) were there, too, to see the family off.
Daniel, Florrie, and their five children loaded into a truck and set off for Winchester, about 460 miles away. No interstates in those days. Two lane roads. They surely didn’t get to Winchester in one day. Where did they sleep? In the truck? In a motel? That, I don’t know.
Wondering and Perhaps-ing
On occasion, I wonder what was going through Daniel and Florrie’s minds besides the immediate task itself. Neither had lived away from family before. I imagine Florrie hugging her sister, Aggie, for the last time before leaving town and both of their hearts breaking. And Florrie hugging her parents, too, not knowing when she would see them again.
I imagine Daniel having to be strong for all of them, even though he was probably heavy-hearted himself.
That was the first of many moves for my mom and her family. Daniel was a tenant farmer, so they moved from farm to farm. From the time they left South Carolina until Daniel died in 1955, Daniel and Florrie moved 20 times. Perhaps it got easier over time.
What stories do you know of your ancestors moving? I hope you’ll share in a comment. 🙂