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…


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


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…


…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…


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!


  1. Sorry about the bug! Hope you feel better soon! We are cleaning like crazy everyday at my school to try and avoid it here. It's been a fast and hard hitting virus. Love this vintage layout and the photos you shared of your family! The pipe relic is amazing! What a great piece of history you hold!

  2. Hi Julie... what a darling story, especially about the pipe, and how you pictured here sitting out on the porch with it!... and what a treasure you have there!... sorry you are sick, I have had the same thing for 8 days now, no fun!... hope you feel better soon!... xoxo Julie Marie

  3. What an amazing piece of family history you have. I enjoyed reading about her. Hope you are feeling better soon and get rid of that nasty bug.


  4. Oh Julie this sweet post really pulled at my heart~strings. How wonderful to your your sweet Matilda as you do and what a darling page you made of her! She sure does should like she was full of life! I LOVE her pretty brown pipe that you are blessed to have! Wow! What a treasure! I hope you are feeling all better now!

    Love you,

  5. What an amazing woman Matilda must have been. Wouldn't you just love to meet her? I know I certainly would.
    All the little details you've managed to gather are amazing. The pictures and of course the pipe are such priceless treasures.
    Both Matilda and her husband Absalom must have been such strong characters to set the high standard of paying their workforce. That can't have been easy. You should feel very proud Julie.
    And not only that she gave birth to sixteen children too ...phewph...they bred them tough in them days!
    I hope you're feeling much better and can enjoy the coming weekend :D

  6. Sorry to hear you have not been well Julie. I hope that you are feeling much, much better and soon! Loved reading about matilda. What a brave and gutsy woman she must have been!! I cannot imagine moving out to the wild wild west as it must have been back then . . . but then again, I suppose it took guts for me to leave all behind and move over to the UK. Not quite as unknown or as dangerous, but a brave move all the same! Perhaps one day my great great grandchildren will look back and see me as a great example too. That is a nice thought! xxoo

  7. bonjour Julie, espère que tu vas mieux, belle histoire et courageuse Mathilda, c'est une histoire merveilleuse de savoir qu'elle s'asseyait dans son rocking chair pour fumer la pipe, je peux me l'imaginer, la carte que tu as faite en scrapbooking est magnifique, j'adore les camées et celui ci est superbe, peux-tu me dire si tu me comprends en français car mon anglais n'est pas très bon
    merci de me faire partager la belle histoire de ta famille,
    bonne journée

    1. Hello, Cecile!

      I DO understand your French! I took years of French in high school and college, so I understand quite a bit.

      I was trying to find your contact information, but I can't, so I hope you see this. Do you have email or a blog where I could reach you? Thank-you for your sweet comments on my posts--I really appreciate them.

      Thanks again, Cecile, and I'll see you next time!


  8. I hope you are getting better fast Julie. This bug seems to be everywhere at once. My daughter and I have both been poorly most of half term. Matilda and her husband both sound like they were amazing people. I love the way you bring your family back to life through your art, you really are gifted!

  9. Hoping you are feeling better soon. What a great treasure you have, both in the pipe and especially in passing down the stories of this incrediable woman. Love all your vintage details!

  10. Ever amazed at your family history..this is a woman I too would want to know more about. I have longed to know how much time went in to their garments. How much of it was hand stitched. How much down time they truly had. Amazing to have even a tiny piece of her still. Hope you are feeling even better tomorrow...smiles...Renee

  11. Glad to read you're feeling a bit better.

    It's wonderful when we have stories of our ancestors from way back, but it does make us wonder and hunger for more.

    I guess life was so tough in those days, smoking was one of the few pleasures they had. xx

  12. Good to hear you're feeling better! What a wonderful story! Tfs!

  13. Hi, what a wonderful story of Matilda your ancestor,great that you have photos, dos'nt want you to know more, it does with me, how they went about their daily lives, what they talked about, things they loved, gosh I could go on forever. Julie xxx

  14. I just love that image of her smoking that pipe.....what a wonderful page! :)

  15. This is an amazing story. I'd love to know every little detail of her life.
    16 kids !!!
    A husband named Absalom (wow)
    the civil war
    a pipe
    I'm in awe of this lady

  16. OMG 16 kids are you kidding me! No wonder she smoked! I think I would have lost my mind after 3!!! I love this post! The stories she could tell, wow. I enjoyed this very much, thanks you so much for sharing. OH i just remembered if you go to my blog, put in the name Buster, you'll see why, when you see it but I bet Buster could have been one of her children! xoxoxoxo-cindy

  17. 16 kids...she'd have her own tv show today!
    Love this page Julie...especially the little pipe!
    Hope you are feeling better!

  18. Oh my heavens, 16 kids, yikes!!! What an interesting and awesome story, great post!

    Sorry you were under the weather, hope you are better!

  19. Oh my, that VINTAGE PIPE! If my dear father was still alive, he would have loved to smoke on that! Dearest, your vintage world is remarkable. You not only showcase beautiful things, you breath a story into them. Thank you.

    Enjoy your weekend! Anita

  20. Hi Julie,
    I hope you're over the flu by now...such a nasty thing to go through. I LOVE family history and my goodness you have a LOT of very interesting information on your family! Matlida sounds like quite the woman with having 16 children and all the spinning and hand sewing and I imagine canning etc...along with the pipe smoking LOL! It wasn't that uncommon in those days for women to smoke pipes but when you look at her photo's I just can't picture it. You're very fortunate to have had a family who kept all this information. I too have information on my family...most especially my Gr Gr Gr Gr Great Grandfather who was an explorer, surveyor and map maker for the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1700's. He had received his education in London and sailed to Canada and explored most of the prairie provinces. He married an Swampy Cree Indian who's 'white' name was Mary and they had 14 children. My oldest daughter and I had the privilege of going to England and seeing where Peter Fidler was born and even saw the home he and his family had lived in and the home he had built for his mother and the graves of his grandparents dating back to the 1600's. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing your family history with us! Maura :)

  21. Women had a lot of kids in those days as I have noted by the genealogy charts I have on my family. They had kids until menopause and then they stopped usually dying around that time as we didn't live very long then like we do now. My parents both came from a family of 9. Very sweet you still have that pipe.

  22. Oh noooo Julie! Hope you are feeling a bit better now. Lots of fluids for you (if you can keep them down!) Haven't seen much flu here on the East coast...but know the "flu fairy" is never too far away that she can't reach us too! Your "waltzing" Matilda sounds like quite a character! Love the clay pipe too. Fabulous stories of old.

  23. You had me
    Seriously, what a
    great name!
    And the picture of
    Virginia made me
    smile, as we used
    to drive by fields
    with those same
    type of hay bales
    every day when we
    lived there....

    Hope you are feeling
    MUCH better, Julie!

    xx Suzanne

  24. What a great story about Matilda. And how funny you have that pipe! What a strange thing for a "lady" of that time. HOPE YOU ARE FEELING BETTER! There seems to be a lot of that naasty bug going around. HUGS! Charlene

  25. I really like your blog:)Great pics and som much inspiration...I wish you a lovely week.
    LOVE Maria at

  26. bonjour Julie, très joli arrière-plan de ton blog, j'aime beaucoup la mosaïque, j'esssaie de t'écrire un peu en anglais
    bonne journée
    Your blog is very beautiful with the changes that you made

  27. Hope you are feeling better. This post about Matilda is wonderful. To have something of hers is so special. She truly was a remarkable woman to have given birth so many times. My kids think I am really something now that they are having children of their own because I had 8. It is one of my great rewards to have them think it is remarkable. I hear at least twice a week, "mom how in the world did you do it?" That is great! Love and hugs to you my friend!

  28. What a wonderful story Julie. Hope your feeling better.
    Hugs~~~ Daphne

  29. Hi Julie,

    You don't know me but Absalom McDonald Young is my Great x4 Grandfather, making Matilda my Great x4 Grandmother. I was doing a search online for Absalom and happened across your page. What a precious token her pipe must be to you, oh what I’d give.

    If you are interested in reading more about Matilda and Absalom there is a lot of information (as well as photos) in a published book about the Young Family. If you’re interested here is the link... is quite a large book, 500+ pages. If you don't trust the link or it doesn't work you can search for it at, search “books” for Absalom M Young the
    Author is: Folk, Dorothy Marie Young.

    If you want you can contact me via email at amberkyATcomcastDOTnet (me trying to put my email address in "code", if you will) after you've had a chance to read up more on Matilda and Absalom. I'd be interested in knowing how you are related to her. And can share my connection as well. Anywho, I hope to hear from you.

    Warm Regards,
    Amber K. Young

    (I don't know how to leave this comment except as anonymous, I hope you don't disregard)

    1. I am also on Facebook. You can find me using my email address.