Friday, August 3, 2012

Meet Mary Ann

Meet my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee. I grew up listening to her stories of my Irish gg-grandfather, Charles Magee, and her second husband, my German great-grandfather, William Huffman.  Beyond those two names, our family history was mostly a black hole from which we apparently sprang from thin air. At least, that is how it felt to me.  I am just beginning to fill that void with names and locations, and it feels good. It feels good to have a history, no matter how humble.

Mary survived five husbands and only two of her nine children.  She lived through the influenza pandemic in 1918, two World Wars, saw the rise of cars and planes, and she survived the Great Depression. Despite her numerous husbands and children, she was an independent woman long before the so-called women's liberation movement. Though she led a traditional life in that she was always married, raised eight children, and never had an education or career, she mostly did as she pleased and asked no quarter.

Mary told me she was born near Doniphan, Ripley County, Missouri on April 22, 1901, but the county has no record of her birth.  Her parents, Charles and Minnie (Spires) Magee, were recorded in Williams Township, Wayne County, Missouri on the 1900 census.  I have discovered over the years that some of the information she gave me was accurate and some was not so reliable. I'm only just beginning the search and have much research still to do in order to put the pieces of her life, and our family history, together.

Mary died in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri on November 15, 1986, at the age of 85. Even after all these years I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. But, I can still hear her voice. On an old cassette tape from the 1980's, my cousin asked her questions about her life and family. Her voice is just as I remember it, and if I close my eyes and listen, it is almost like she is in the room with me. A priceless treasure.

It has been almost thirty years since I promised her I would tell her story and it is about time that I kept that promise.This blog is dedicated to my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee, to her life and to her story, through generations past and present.