Monday, June 2, 2014

52 Ancestors: #11 Emma Jane Owens

To say I'm behind in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge from No Story Too Small is an understatement. Most participants are working on post #22 or #23 while I'm writing #11. In four and a half years of blogging, this eleven week "break" is by far the longest between posts. Here's hoping this is the start of getting back on track and back to blogging. I've missed it.
Emmie and Emma

I needed someone easy for this post. Someone I knew well. A subject whose story I could write mostly from memory. My great grandmother, Emma Jane Owens meets that criteria.

When I was six months old, my family moved to Mt. Vernon in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Emmie lived her entire life in Rockcastle County, and we spent the next 16 years living in the same town.

Emmie was born 16 April 1882 in the area of Rockcastle County called Freedom. She was the youngest of Madison Crawford and Cecilia Owens' seven children, truly the baby of the family. 
Emmie, Anna Rose & a friend

Emmie's oldest sister Elizabeth was married two years before she was born and had a son six months older. Sally and George were both married by the time she was five years old. Another sibling died as an infant eight years before she was born. For most of her childhood only her brothers, Wesley and Dave (who were 10 and seven years older), were at home with her and their parents.

Emmie was 17 years old when she married John Cook Taylor on 16 January 1900 at her parents' home in Freedom and gained an instant family. John was 36 years old, had been married twice before and was raising two daughters, Gracie and Susie. The girls were 13 and 10 years old when their father married Emmie, but they had both been under under six when their mother died.

Emmie and John started their marriage in a house on what is now West Main Street in Mt. Vernon, and their daughter (my maternal grandmother), Emma Ewers, was born there on 24 October 1900. Emmie and John lived in seven other locations in and around Mt. Vernon and had two more children. Details about their life together in those locations, John's previous marriages, his children, and their other two children, Hartford Conn and Anna Rose, are included in 52 Ancestors: #7 John Cook Taylor. The remainder of this post is all Emmie Jane — Granny to me.

Emmie & Anna Rose
Granny was an accomplished seamstress and made clothes for her family and others. She could look at a picture of a dress in a catalog and make one just like it. She was also a great cook even though she never owned a cookbook and only had a wood stove. My grandmother had a long list of favorite foods that she made including biscuits, fried chicken, gravy, fried apples, corn bread, and chow chow. She had very few kitchen utensils or even pans, which was the reason she baked big pies in the lard can lid.

No one mentioned the word "step" or "half" in describing relationships in the family. I was a teenager before I really understood that Gracie and Susie were my grandmother's half sisters. They were simply sisters and Susie's children were simply Granny's grandchildren.

Granny and Paw had been married for 53 years when he died in 1953 but there was one thing they never agreed on — politics. He was a staunch Republican; she was an equally staunch Democrat. Most women of her time deferred to their husband on many things, especially politics. Not Granny. Considering she had been married for 20 years by the time women even gained the right to vote it is amazing that she openly disagreed with him.

Sometime in the 1960's Granny got a television. She enjoyed it very much even though she could barely hear by that time. Many times when we stopped by she would be watching TV, and she would always explain to us what was happening in the show she was watching. Her explanation rarely had anything to do with the actual plot but she was perfectly happy and entertained by the stories she made up to go with what she saw.

One of Emmie's
birthday parties
Granny always enjoyed having company and visiting with friends and family. A friend once saw her walking home from the nearby funeral home and stopped to give her a ride. When the friend asked who had died, Granny said she didn't know them. She had gone to the visitation thinking she might see someone she knew from "out in the country" (meaning the Freedom area where she grew up).

A few years before she died, my grandmother decided to throw Granny a big birthday party, which became an annual event. The parties were held at her house. Everyone brought a dish and stayed all afternoon. Guests included children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and their families.

Granny died on 17 March 1968 at the Rockcastle County Hospital in Mt. Vernon, one month before her 86th birthday. She had been in the hospital for several days but between her daughter Emma, daughter-in-law Betty, and several of her grandchildren, she was never alone at the hospital for a minute. She was buried next to Paw in Elmwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon.

Written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge at No Story Too Small

Emma Jane was my great-grandmother through her daughter, Emma Ewers Taylor. 


  1. What a sweet post about Emmie. Her portrait at the beginning of your post is beautiful.

    I was thinking of you the other day, Linda, checked your blog on feedly, and realized you hadn't posted for a while. Glad you're back to it.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I always enjoy and appreciate your comments.