Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A to Z April Challenge: B is for Bessie

This is Day 2 of the A to Z April Challenge.


is for Bessie.  Ok, it’s not really an unusual name like I promised yesterday, but her story is unusual and therefore worth the telling.

Bessie E. Merica, my second cousin twice removed on my mother’s side, was the youngest of 8 children born in 1895 to John and Victoria Frazier Merica.  The farming family lived surrounded by other Merica families in the Shenandoah district of Page County in Virginia.  


1900 Page County, Virginia census


By the time Bessie was thirteen, her mother had died and had been replaced by an 18-year old bride and stepmother, Ila Anne Meadows.  It was rather common (at least in my research on my family lines) for a much older widower with a passel of kids to take on a young bride, someone with energy to keep up with the demands of laundry and cooking for a crowd, someone who hadn’t already been dumped on thoughtlessly.   Ila might have seemed more like a big sister than mother. 

1910 Page County, Virginia Federal Census


In 1915, Bessie, age 21, married William Henry Cardin, 22.  One month shy of their first anniversary, young Bessie died despite receiving treatment in the hospital for three weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the Merica ranch, Bessie’s father John and his replacement wife, the young Ila, probably provided quite a bit of comfort to their widowed son-in-law.  So when John died in 1920, it probably surprised no one that the widowed stepmother-in-law and widowed stepson-in-law found comfort in each other.   And if truth be told, age-wise they made more sense together than Ila and John ever did.

So on August 7, 1921, Ila Meadows Merica and William Henry Cardin were united in marriage, a marriage that was a “till death us do part” kind.  William Henry died in 1948. 


William H. Cardin
Jan 6, 1893 - Mar 13, 1948
Photo courtesy Jan Robinson
Ila Merica Cardin
Feb 8, 1890 - Dec 7, 1974
Photo courtesy Jan Robinson


Breeze on by or Barge in at the A to Z April Challenge for a Bounty of Blogs.  Be Brave.

31 comments:

  1. Interesting twists there. They kept it all in the family.

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  2. Poor Bessie but at least Ila and William seemed to have had a good marriage.

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    1. Yes, as creepy as the story sounds at first, that one must have worked out ok.

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  3. Ahh, poor Bessie.

    I think it'd be tough being that 18 yr old step-mom w/the older widower. I wonder how many of those women were pressured/forced into it rather than being there for love.

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    1. I imagine most of them were little more than housekeepers. They apparently had no better offer and if their own father was pressuring them to get married and out of the house, then maybe the only option became a good option.

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  4. Wow that's quite a story. So neat you were able to find the documents.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  5. That's quite the story! It's funny how life works...

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    1. Yep - life has funny little twists.

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  6. What a great story. Well maybe not great for Bessie but at least for Ila and William.

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    1. Yeah, Ila made out, that's for sure!

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  7. Good job following the paper trail that led to the final resting places for John, Bessie Ila, William and their lost, found, lost again and found forever love story. Though the focus of this post is Bessie, I'm thinkin' Ila is the real story here.

    ps...deleted comment had an issue with signature link.
    Sue~CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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    1. You're on to me, Sue. I realize the story is more an Ila story than Bessie, but I needed that "B" for today. LOL

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  8. And Ila outlasted them all! It looks like it was William and Ila all the rest of the way--unless she found another family member to marry and keep the family name =/

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    1. Well, there's a point I hadn't considered, but widows marrying hubby's brother or cousin isn't unheard of.

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  9. That is quite a story! Could you just imagine all the town gossip surrounding this group? Having a blast catching up with you this year, Wendy:)

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    1. Yes, I imagine the church ladies were all abuzz.

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  10. I've enjoyed meeting your A and B! Interesting stories and you have done your work finding them. I'm having trouble getting together a post a week these days. I'd never be able to manage this challenge! I'm going to sit this out, read what I can, and think about next year.

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    1. I confess I have names only for about half the alphabet, and some are not nearly as interesting as my openers, but I'll keep plugging away.

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  11. Can you imagine your step mom is almost your age. Ackkkk!! Can't wait to see tomorrows post.
    Connie
    Checkin' in from the A to Z Challenge
    Peanut Butter and Whine

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    1. Hi Connie. Yeah, that young stepmom had to be strange. I have seen in some families a stepmother 2 years older than a son. I wonder if those stepmothers ever expressed regret over being stuck with some old wrinkled goat when there's a fine strong young buck in the next room.

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  12. Yes, I have heard of that before, in many families. It did make perfect sense for the hard labor the mothers did, besides running after the children! Many folks even those with not so much income had help come in too, often from within the family! As for men marrying younger women, my 2nd hubby (I learned after my first) he is eleven years older then I am!

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    1. That's true. I have some ancestors at age 12 or 14 even listed as housekeepers for neighbors, usually when there is a new baby or plenty of children.

      Eleven years older isn't so bad -- in the Bessie-Ila-William Henry story, Ila was 40 years younger than Bessie's dad, John Merica. In those days, that was old enough to have been her grandfather!

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  13. Aww, I loved this story, especially since the marriage was a death do them part sort.

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  14. Wow! What an interesting turn of events, Wendy! John's children's brother-in-law became their step-father. Hmm....

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  15. Wendy,

    I want to let you know that this post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/04/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-april-5-2013.html

    Have a great weekend!

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  16. Once again girl, you find the best information!

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  17. You may have seen the post I did on Wrote By Rote about my grandmother and her twin sister.
    Their names were Essie and Lessie.

    Lee
    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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  18. Ila was my great grandmother. My grandmother was Lottie Lee Merica and was the daughter of John and Ila.

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    1. Hello Sarah, Thanks for finding this blog and commenting. It's always fun to meet a new distant cousin.

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