Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Women's History Month: Picture

Today's instruction from The Accidental Genealogist, Lisa Alzo, is:

March 2 - Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Unfortunately, I have no life photos of my great-great grandmother, Sarah Ann Sunderland McKee Rogers. Sarah married my great-great grandfather Nelson Reed McKee 14 April 1859 in Monticello, White County, Indiana. In 1879, after twenty years of marriage, Nelson McKee took off one night, never to return, as I have related in an earlier blog post. This photo was taken by my cousin Connie, who lives in Wisconsin, and is descended from Nelson Reed McKee and his second wife.

Sarah was faced with whatever financial accommodation she had to make, such as selling Nelson's jewelry and watchmaking business and paying whatever debts may have remained from it, and with raising three children by herself, my 16-year-old great-grandmother Florence Elizabeth and her 14-year-old and 9-year-old brothers. Eventually, Sarah was granted a divorce from Nelson, in absentia, and she remarried on 29 October 1884, to Luke Rogers.

In an essay she wrote not long before her death in 1943, my great-grandmother Florence Elizabeth McKee relates that, not quite 17 years old, she became a schoolteacher in a classic rural one-room schoolhouse, to help support the family. I cannot imagine any 16-year-old girl today (or boy, either, for that matter) becoming a schoolteacher!

Sarah was a strong woman, because her life and times required her to be so. She did what she had to do, as did her daughter, to provide for her children. I just wish I had a life photo of her.

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