I'm considering where she came from.
Samuel Thompson Wallace was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. By the age of eight he was orphaned, and he spent the remainder of his childhood in the household of Mr. Harnish, a farmer. He joined the Union army during the Civil War and, after it ended, relocated to Iowa. He married Mary Catherine Moore, of Maryland. The couple lived in Iowa for 20 years and then moved to western Nebraska. They had 13 children of whom about eight survived to adulthood.
Samuel and Mary Catherine's youngest child was Ethel Rebecca. She was born in 1894 when her mother was 46 years old, and her mother died when Ethel was three weeks old. Within the first few years of Ethel's life she was sent to live with her oldest sister Irene and Irene's husband Ned.
When Ethel was a teenager she eloped with her suitor Myron McNeal. From all accounts these two were deeply in love with each other. They had three children. When the children were 16, 9 and 2, Myron suffered a ruptured appendix and died at age 43. Ethel took to her bed and, nine years later, died of "a broken heart" - or perhaps an overdose of medication. Her daughter Marjorie, then 18, found her body.
Marjorie married a military man. She told her daughter she knew the military would always take care of her. She would be safe.
Marjorie was my mother, orphaned at 18. Ethel was my grandmother who lost her mother at three weeks and was raised by a sibling. Samuel was my great grandfather, orphaned at eight.
I'm curious about these people. Family history on my mother's side is sparse. Next Tuesday Art and I leave on a three-week road trip to the midwest. I'll spend two or three days in Iowa at the historical/genealogical museum in Toledo, the Tama County seat. The volunteers there are expecting me. I'm taking all I know about my great grandparents and hoping I'll learn more. Then I'll spend two or three days in Nebraska at the historical/genealogical museum in Gordon, where my great grandparents lived and where they're buried. The volunteer there is expecting me as well.
When I get home from this road trip, I hope I'll have a fuller understanding of these people in the generations before mine. Three orphans. Maybe no one was supportive, encouraging and loving. Maybe none of them learned how to do that for their own children. May they all rest in peace.