A Great Grandmother

When I hear other people talk about time they spent with their grandparents, I feel deprived. I never met three of my grandparents, and Grandma Grace was somewhat feeble minded by the time I was old enough to know her. It never crossed my mind in the my early years to sit down and ask her questions about her life and her family.

I even failed to get my parents stories.

Now, I humor myself by seeking information through family photos, Internet ancestry sites, and hobnobbing with my brother Mike. He has spent hours and hours searching out distant relatives and constructing a family tree.

Great Grandmother Augusta (Augusta, Grace, Evelyn, Me) is one who intrigues me. I have possession of her personal photo album, which has tin types and some regular photos of her parents, her husbands, and her babies.

Augusta Travis#1
She was born May 16, 1855 somewhere in the state of New York.

Pictures of her as a young woman indicate she had thick and curly dark brown hair.

There doesn't appear to be much family resemblance that trickled down into my siblings or into my children.

Handsome young Chester Philey was her first husband.

He died in 1877 when Augusta was only 22.
Possibly acute appendicitis.

They were married a very short time and had no children. So sad.
chester Philley
castle 1877 Within 5 months she married Franklin Castle in Battle Creek, Michigan.

At first I wondered if she married my great-grandfather in a rebound of grief.

Much older than Augusta, he was also a widower and had lost two of his children. Deaths of spouses and children are common in the family tree search.

His 8-year old daughter, Hattie, needed a mother. ( That was not the case for the two sons who were about the same age as their new step-mother. Both were married and starting families of their own.)

One of Hattie's great grandchildren was gracious in sharing Hattie's diary with us. In it is a little insight into Augusta's personality:

My first acquaintance of my stepmother was one day he took her for a ride out to our old home, and he had a nice patch of onions there , and the first thing she did was to make a beeline for them, and gathered a bunch, then went to Eliza, who was living near, and got some fresh bread and butter and had a feed. I didn't know at that time she was to be my stepmother.

My Father then sold our home and bought a place in town and he run a livery outfit. My stepmother was always very good to me, but of course, she was very young and did things so much different than my Mother, that one day, I told her my Mother wouldn't have done that way, and she thought me sassy so she whipped me. Of course, I didn't think she had a right to do that, so I went right out to the barn and told Father. He just said, " You must mind her and not talk back." But he told her, if I didn't mind, to tell him, and he would see to me. But, we never had any more trouble, and as far as I can remember, he never did whip me.

Augusta gave birth to her first child in June of 1879, my grandmother Grace.

By the time her fourth one arrived in 1885, they were packing up their belongs and following their dreams to Colorado.

Hattie said:

Well, the summer before I was fifteen, my brother wrote, urging my Father to come to Colorado as up the Ute Indian Reservation to be settled and they were each taking a 160 acres joining each other and he could get one joining theirs if he came right away, so as he then had three boys growing, he thought he better get a place. So he sold out. We packed things to ship when we got settled, and we boarded the train bag and baggage, which meant quite a bit, with 4 little kids. So that was the way we left Michigan.

There they were blessed with two more.

My grandmother Grace would have been about 14 in this photo.

Augusta Travis Castle family

One week after Grace turned 16 she wed a man twenty-one years her senior.

There were no young men in Delta Colorado who shared the religious beliefs of the Castle Family.

Single and thirty-seven years old William drifted through the area and visited their little church gathering.

I can't confirm it, but I believe that Augusta took matters into her own hands and arranged Grace's marriage to my grandfather.

Their faces seem to be wearing stunned expressions in the wedding photo.

F C Castle obituary Augusta briefly carried the title of widow once more in Cambridge, Idaho. Her now 71 year old husband was killed in a freak wagon accident. They'd been married for 27 years and their youngest son was fourteen.

Grace's old photo album gifted us with an original copy of the obituary. It appears to have been torn from a newspaper.

Death was handled in a less sterile manner back in 1905. At least in this newspaper.

Augusta shed her tears quickly and headed back to the marriage market.

Rogers She didn't have to search very far this time.

She married George Rogers, the father of her son's wife.

I find it curious how much he resembled the previous husband.

Third time was not the charm for Augusta -- Rogers fell ill within several months, suffered renal failure, and was gone.

She remedied her single status in short order and found the fourth and final husband. Lewis Hedgepeth is the man that my mother mentioned several times when she referred to her "Grandpa and Grandma."

They made a fine looking couple.

I wonder if she bought life insurance.
Augusta Travis & Hedgepath2

My eighty-nine year old third cousin Lucille told me recently that she has vague memories of Augusta as a "crippled-up old woman." Her body was twisted and gnarled by arthritis.

That was probably not too long before Augusta died in 1937 at home in California.

I wish I knew more.

One important thing I do know is that her genes live on... in hundreds of descendants.


cherie said…
ma'am, i am so touched by this. i hope i can trace my roots this far back and tell something about my past, too. thank you.
DesLily said…
wow.. and to think I can't even find my parents roots at all.. nada!
WT said…
Great stuff!
Jenni said…
You know so much about your family history, it's hard to believe you didn't know three of your grandparents. As always, I love hearing your stories.

My grandparents were much older than Danny's. I met three of my great grandmothers when I was a little girl, but only really knew one of them much at all. My children only met one of my own grandmothers and never got to know her well. (Actually, in that case it could be a good thing.) A lot of Danny's family got married and had children young, so our children have known all of their great grandparents on that side very well. We have photos of some of the kids with several great great grandparents even, but they all died when our kids were small (or not even born) so none of the kids remembers them well.
Diane said…
I wonder if they made onion sandwiches? I can remember my dad making them- bread, lots of butter, onions thinly sliced, salt & pepper.

I liked this story. It's so interesting to hear about the past. Our heritage is so important.
Coffeypot said…
I like this post, Pam. Just think of their lifestyles back then. Thanks for the post.
Gattina said…
I think that's always like that. When my parents were still there I wasn't interested in family stories and now that they are all gone, I want to know ! I know a little bit just like you ! your Augusta (was that your great grandma ?) married four times, my great grandma was the illegal child of a noble a baron or something, my great great grandma was his mistress. Her daughter married and had 12 children and one of them was my grandma ! Vive la pillule ! (long live the pill) 12 babies today Oh god !
I love your posts like these. And dangee, Augusta was one fertile woman.
Swampy said…
I am ALWAYS so impressed with the research you do on your family. Having just attended a family reunion in Oklahoma, it is even more apparent to me how important this information andn stories are.
Once again you have impressed me immensely Pam. Love your family history stories. I only knew one of my Grandparents and she was not allowed to converse with me that much. Surely you must have a "Book of Remembrance" or something that have all these recordings and historical facts. Keep up the good work.
Peter said…
Like you Pamela, I only knew my Mums mother well, my Dads mother a little and neither of my grandfathers at all.
Loved the story!!!!
Lisa said…
Wonderful, heartwarming post, Pamela. I love the blog. Thank you for sharing!
karisma said…
Wow! I love reading "old letters" from the past. We have a few in our family tree archives, so amazing! I was lucky enough that both my grandmothers regaled me with stories from the past and I have such a lively view of my ancestors.

One lived through war and hardship in Scotland and England and the other, from Australia who although had a hard time raising her 10 children without much to live on, had such a fun filled different life to my other nan! Both had such amazing tales to tell.

Would it not be great if they had all "blogged" as we do! Oh the stories we would read!!!
JanMary said…
I love family history - and this is wonderful with all the details.

You have done a great job gathering all the info.

My grandparents were all alive when I was born, 3 had died before I was 4 and the final granny was very frail and I never really "knew" her when she died when I was 8.

My other grandmother tried to emigrate to US in 1921 from here in N Ireland, but was deported at Ellis Island - I would love to find out more details about that!!!

Thanks for sharing all of this.
VeRonda said…
Wow! I am so excited for you. This is so important and for some, myself included, its so time consuming and overwhelming. So, seeing the end result of hard work is really inspiring.
i love your family stories.

i wish i had as many. mine are a little scattered -- and my grandmother was a notorious fabricator. the story changed every time.

LadyStyx said…
I have scads of old photos here that I have no clue as to the names that go with them and fewer still with stories about the people. One of these days I really need to start digging them up to pass along. I think my brother got a good start so maybe I'll talk with him first.
Karmyn R said…
Geeze - I didn't realize she had been married 4 times....but of course, back then, being a single woman with kids was NOT an easy thing. (it still isn't)
wendy said…
I loved this!

Four times, huh?

Now I don't feel so bad. ha!

I particularly like the onion story.
I love your family history stories!

And great-grandma Augusta was an amazing woman!
storyteller said…
Lovely post. My grandparents died when I was very young so my only memories are photos and stories I heard growing up. I suppose I could learn as you did by doing some research ... and perhaps I shall some day when time permits. Thanks for sharing ;--)
Hugs and blessings,
Shelby said…
very interesting post on family and marriages and more marriages and more.. can't imagine being married that many times.. but, times were different.. disease and what not..


12ontheinside said…
Married 4 times? You'd think she'd learn! ;)
I always find your stories about your family interesting, Pamela.
lisaschaos said…
Pamela, every family needs an historian like you! Your kids and grandkids may not know how lucky they are to have you documenting all these family "secrets"! I wish I knew more about my great-greats and such!
I find this type of story so interesting, even when I don't know anyone involved. It's just so interesting to hear, especially about women, how people lived long ago.

I enjoyed it.
Great history! I so enjoyed reading it! Your old photos are wonderful:)
Intense Guy said…
Beautiful post. I'm fortunate to have known all my grandparents and to have seen them regularly when growing up. My last living grandparent is my 100 and two months old father's dad.

I think you have the 'mother lode' - a personal diary - however and I'm happy that you have that - am happier still you shared it with us.
wendishness said…
Found it! What a great story, just so fascinating learning about previous lives.

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