Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ada Phillips Swasey Rogers

Birth: Feb 23, 1886 in San Marcos, Hays, Texas, USA
Death: DEC 2 1964 in Houston, Texas
My paternal grandmother.  A woman of strength, leadership, wisdom and healing.  She was a second generation Christian Science Practitioner. She raised 4 sons to adulthood, after losing her first son and then her only daughter as children.  

I first posted about her last year HERE. 

She lived through the no-name tragic hurricane of Galveston in 1900 just five years before she got married.  Her husband was a bit of a card and made her look overly serious when they were socializing, at least from a granddaughter's (mine) point of view.

I don't know what reason her birth was so far from her family home in Galveston since San Marcos is about 200 miles away, and I know of no relatives there.  Her mother Zulieka Phillips Swasey had lost her own mother when she was a young girl, and been raised by two living aunts, Lizzie and Lucy, though both were living in Galveston as far as I know.  Ada did spend her youth in Galveston, so probably didn't spend much time in San Marcos.

Ada Phillips Sawesy says on this photo of herself: "This picture was taken when I was very sick, but later was healed in C.S. (Christian Science) 1888."

This may have been taken at the same time as the following, done by the same studio in Galveston.

When she was 14, the 1900 Census was taken on June 7 in Galveston, and she is listed as part of a household which was headed by her Great Uncle Chauncey Sweet. She and her sister and her parents are listed with their ages.  I've mentioned before how that terrible storm killed about 6000 people in September that year.  

But wait a minute!  The 1900 Census taken on June 12 shows her living with her parents and sister in their own home.  So this whole family got counted twice, and interestingly enough, these were different wards in Galveston.

Galveston was not at all a sleepy little vacation spot at that time.  It was a boom town, with shipping coming through bringing southeast Texas goods from all over the world, and exporting many crops, including cotton.  The train service had also begun in the last few years, thus linking the rest of the west to this port.

Her wedding on  June 6, 1905 was written with detail in the society column of the Galveston Times.  The couple spent their honeymoon in Denver.   She was 19, and her husband George E. Rogers, Sr. was 27.  Mrs. McCall and Mrs. King of Houston attended, aunts of the bride, according to the society write-up.  I haven't figured out exactly who they were, but will be looking for them on her tree.

The first 5 of their children were born in the house my grandfather built, and the youngest was born after they moved to Fort Worth.

1909  July, Elmore age 3, Alexander age 9 months. (NOTE: this same photo has been labeled differently in another source, calling the baby James, and the boy in the background as George, in Fort Worth.)

 Gummy and my father, George Junior or Juney as it was said with the Texas accent.
We called her Gummy.  She probably had lost some of her teeth by the time my oldest cousin was beginning to talk and gave her that name.  I never really noticed, but she did wear dentures many years later.

After about 10-13 years they moved from Fort Worth to San Antonio, where my father and mother went to the same high school.  After they married they moved to Dallas where I was born, and about that time Gummy and Poppy moved to Houston, where they lived the rest of their lives.
I admired Gummy and had a correspondence which was limited mainly by my own youth.  She had a sensible connection in my life, though I can see how my mother would be at odds with her at times.  Early on, according to the photo albums at least, my mother was embraced by the Rogers family even before she and my father became "romantically involved."  This could only be the romance that religion offered my mother, since Gummy was a Christian Science practitioner, and my mother was very interested in learning about it.  Or perhaps it was being around all the young men in my father's family.

But back to Gummy, I moved back to Texas as a young married woman, and visited her after having my first son.  I enjoyed her politics, which were not the same as mine.  She had lost her husband the year I graduated from high school, and I had not been close to him so didn't feel that made any difference in my life.  Of course it made a big difference in her life.  But as a twenty something mother, I wasn't at all aware of end-of-life considerations.

I was glad to have contact with her at the end of her life.  

 My mother and her mother-in-law, with whom she had a love-hate relationship.  Two strong women, but my mother learned a lot from Gummy.  She was the same age as the daughter that the Rogers family lost as a child.  My mother also became enamored with Christian Science which she studied and practiced the rest of her life in almost religious addiction.  I believe she also learned many homemaking skills from Gummy..

A very proud moment for my grandmother, being the second reader (of 2 who lead each Sunday service) for the Christian Science Church in Houston.

 Ada Rogers on right and her sister Stella Swasey Winslow on left.

My grandmother lived to see my first son as a 6-months old baby.  I drove from Corpus Christi and visited her home and we shared Thanksgiving dinner together, and that night she became ill.  I was worried, but had no way to help her, and the baby also demanded my attention. I also  was quite naive' with my own Christian Science up-bringing, so that I knew very little about medical problems and normal treatment for indigestion or anything that most people take for granted.  She continued to moan constantly, but would only take help through prayer and a "practical nurse," who wasn't hired for several days to only give her comfort, no medical care.
As my grandmother declined with an unknown illness, I had to move away from her home and stay with cousins after a night or two without sleep.  I drove back to Corpus Christi again, after going to her house and saying goodbye, for what I hoped was just the end of our visit.  But I had to return with my husband a short time later for her funeral.   She wasn't the first person I loved that died, but it was the first time I went to a viewing.  That was a big mistake, because that body in the coffin didn't have much resemblance to the lively strong woman I loved.

I thought long and hard about whether to include this last chapter of her life here.  But her difficulty letting go of life seemed as much a part of our relationship as our enjoyment of sharing talk about cooking, plants, children and current events.  I remember how much she didn't like Kennedy, who had died just the year before close to Thanksgiving.  I don't remember what she thought of LBJ, but at least he was a Texan.

Gummy had 4 granddaughters around, myself and my sister, and my older two cousins who had lost their father and then their mother remarried.  So Claudette and Sandra virtually lived at my grandparents during some of that time.  After my father and mother moved to St. Louis, there was correspondence, and sharing of photographs, and some rare visits.  I had 4 other cousins who lived in Wisconsin, and have recently made contact with a couple of them, thanks to this new ancestry interest.

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