Saturday, February 18, 2012

About Matilda

DSC08019_edited-1 {photo of Matilda late in her life…very blurry, but lovely all the same…}

Matilda…I don’t know as much as I’d like to about Matilda, but she’s filled my thoughts for days now…

I do know she was an antebellum Virginia wife and mother.  Her husband was a well-loved country doctor, as well the owner of a large 1600-acre plantation.

Matilda Shepherd Young 11_edited-1 {Matilda in earlier years…none of my photographs of Matilda are very clear—none are originals, but I’m glad I have anything at all…}

The thing I love knowing most is that Matilda and her husband Absalom felt that slavery was wrong in every conceivable way…so they had only paid workers on their plantation, while those all around them were kept going by slave labor.  That’s a wonderful thing to know…

plantation {lovely Virginia plantation photo found online}

I know that she was brave and hardy. Giving birth to sixteen children and raising more than half of them to maturity in those days was no easy task.   She gave birth to her last child—my great-great grandmother, Sarah, during the Civil War…what images that conjures in my mind…more stories for other days…

I know she was quite a seamstress, making all the family clothing and household linen by hand.  Her daughter Sarah wrote,

DSC08018_edited-1 {beautiful cameo image and gilded frame found in Crafty Secrets’ “Creating with Vintage Patterns” CD}

“I can still see mother as she worked over her small spinning wheel.  She spun the thread and then dyed the yarn with herbs she gathered from the woods.  The only linen she purchased was that which went into my father’s shirts.  My father wore tailored suits, but my mother made everything else.  All the sewing was done by hand in her beautiful, precise stitches…”

DSC08025_edited-1 {my page was stitched with Matilda in mind…a good, old-fashioned feather stitch…but my hand skills are not in the same league as Matilda’s, so it’s a machine for me!}

I know that, after her husband’s untimely death shortly after the end of the war, she sold as much as she could, then left her home and all that they had for the far off territory of the Wild, Wild West, and a new life to be forged there…

DSC08019_edited-1

…and I know that Matilda smoked a pipe.  A brown,  glazed clay pipe.

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How do I know such a little detail?  Because it’s one of my most treasured possessions.  Carefully kept for over a hundred years by the women that came after Matilda…still shiny and nearly perfect…

DSC07994_edited-1 {the little, old clay pipe, gently placed in a box for years—was lovingly labeled by Matilda’s great-granddaughter, my great-grandmother, Estella}

Such an odd thing for my family, too, as we are a family of generation after generation of NON-smokers!  It actually tickles me no end to picture this little great-great-great grandmother of mine…

image

…sitting, perhaps back on that Virginia plantation porch so long ago, relaxing with her husband after a long, hard day…crickets chirping, fireflies lighting in and out of their large, ancient oak and sugar maple trees…pipe in hand as they talked into the night…

DSC08015_edited-1 {the newest page for my heritage story album…little snippets of Matilda’s life, just to remind me…}

Matilda…I wish I knew more about you, but maybe I know just a bit more than I thought I did…

Julie

P.S.  Sorry I haven’t visited or posted this week…got bitten by the big, bad flu bug!  Starting to feel better, though!  Hope you’re all staying far, far away from it!