Jessie “Jess” THOMAS (1843-1932) and his wife, Mary Ann DAVIS THOMAS (1840-1919), had eight children, mostly daughters. Jess was a younger brother of my 2nd great-grandfather, James S. THOMAS (1828-1912) which makes Jess my 3rd great uncle. His children are my first cousins, thrice removed.
As was common in those days, Jess’ daughters all lived at home until they married. But two of the daughters never married.
Laura Ellen THOMAS was born 14 Nov 1874. Her sister, Mary Amy THOMAS, was born 22 Oct 1877. Laura and Amy, as Mary Amy was called, lived at home with their parents and siblings in 1900. Jess was a planter, and the family lived in the Columbia Township of Richland County, South Carolina. He was also a planter in 1880, also in Richland County.
In 1910, the girls were still living with Jess and Mary. Jess was a butcher in a market now, and they rented a house at 116 Gervais Street in Columbia. Laura didn’t work outside the home, but Amy was a saleslady at a dry goods store. According to the census, both girls could read and write. Mary was 70 now; Jess was 67.
Mother passes away
Come 1920, Mary had passed away, and Laura (now 46) had become the ‘lady of the house’ taking over maintaining the household and looking after everyone else including Jess. Jess wasn’t only housing the spinster sisters, but also daughters Corrie and Maud and their families. Amy (now 43) was a fitter in a store. The family rented at 1102 Oak Street in Columbia; two other daughters of Jess, Nannie and Susan, lived close by at 1106 Oak Street with their own families.
In 1930, Jess and the same children and grandchildren from the 1920 census were still renting at 1102 Oak Street. Nannie and Susan and their families continued to reside at 1106 Oak Street. Laura continued on as the manager of the home while Amy now worked as a seamstress at a department store. I’m sure she was thrilled just to have a job during in the Depression.
A close family
Jess passed away in 1932. The close knit family continued to rent the same houses with the same people living in them except that one of Nannie’s children was living with Laura and Amy, or at least she was at their house when the 1940 census taker came by. Laura continued on as the home manager and was named as head of the household on the 1940 census. Amy continued working as a seamstress.
Sometime between 1940 and 1945, Laura and Amy and the crowd moved to 1525 Maple Street in Columbia. On 14 June 1945, Laura passed away suddenly at home from an acute coronary occlusion. She was 70. Her death certificate listed her occupation as housewife. Her family clearly recognized her contributions as the home manager.
The sisters pass away
On 15 May 1951, Amy passed away at home (1525 Maple Street) from Stokes-Adam syndrome, a heart arrhythmia problem she’d suffered with for 10 years. She was 73.
Laura and Amy were both members of Washington Street Methodist Church in Columbia. Both are buried at Elmwood Memorial Gardens in Columbia.
The family sticks together
Other family members continued living together at 1525 Maple Street until at least 1964. I was struck by the closeness of these sisters whether married or unmarried. It looks like they supported each other through good times and bad times. Even though neither Laura nor Amy married and had their own families, they had extended family aplenty so they weren’t alone.
Note: the googlemap pages show a different address in the upper left, but I did enough checking to be sure the houses shown are the right ones.
Copyright © 2016 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved
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