Nurture was a recent prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. That prompt immediately made me think of my great-grandparents, Jeremiah Daniel “Dan” THOMAS (1858-1946) and Margaret Ann “Maggie” GRANT THOMAS (1870-1948). Here’s some stories about Dan and Maggie that show why.
In 1886, Dan left Richland County, South Carolina for Chesterfield County, South Carolina to help his sister, Sally, whose husband had died. She had five children under 10 years of age. Dan worked Sally’s farm in Chesterfield County, and helped raise her children even after he and Maggie married and had children of their own. Dan even became the guardian for his nieces and nephews for legal purposes.
One of Sally’s children, Jim T., loved and honored Dan and Maggie as they grew older. Jim T. had a large home in Chesterfield, South Carolina that housed him, his wife, and some boarders. He built a little house for Dan and Maggie behind his own home. The little house was Dan and Maggie’s home when they were elderly.
Dan and Maggie’s house didn’t have a kitchen, though. Jim T didn’t want Maggie to have to cook, so Dan and Maggie’s meals were brought over to them from his house three times a day. Essie, Jim T’s wife, cooked for her boarders anyway, so she just added in more food for Dan and Maggie. Jim T. loved and appreciated Dan and Maggie for their presence in his life.
Not every girl wants to cook and sew
Dan and Maggie had two daughters, Florrie and Aggie. Florrie, my grandmother, was a talented seamstress and cook. She also crocheted and made quilts. She learned all this from Maggie. Aggie, on the other hand, did not care for cooking and sewing. Instead of pushing that on her, Dan and Maggie had Aggie work outside in the garden which Aggie loved. They saw where her strengths were and encouraged her to use and develop them.
Always room for one more…or three more
Dan, Maggie, and the girls moved back to Richland County around 1904. Dan’s brother, Ren, was married and had two daughters, Hallie and Dosia. Ren’s wife left him and the girls when the girls were young. Ren worked on the railroad and couldn’t take care of the girls, so he brought them to Dan and Maggie. The girls lived with Dan and Maggie for several years. They were like little sisters to Florrie and Aggie. Their daddy came to see them as often as he could, and when they were older they went back to live with him.
Dan and Maggie took in at least one other child who needed loving care. Their friends, Duff and Claire MARTIN had a daughter named Ellen. Claire was very sick after Ellen’s birth. Claire asked Dan and Maggie to take Ellen to raise because Claire believed that she herself would die, which she did not long after. Duff was a farmer and wasn’t able to take care of Ellen. Dan and Maggie took Ellen and raised her for a time. I’m sure Maggie had plenty of help from her daughters and nieces. Eventually Ellen went back to live with her daddy and her older siblings. (By the way, Duff Martin was not related to the Martin’s in my family tree.)
I didn’t know Dan and Maggie personally, but I still ‘know’ them from the stories I’ve been told. I know they were kind and generous. They were trusted to take care of children other than their own, and they were loved by many in Chesterfield and Richland Counties.
Who comes to mind when you think about nurturing people in your family? Please comment.
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