My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.” I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways.
is for Rebekah. Rebekah Elizabeth Stephenson
Rebekah Stephenson was a college friend of my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan when the two were students at the Harrisonburg Normal School (later Harrisonburg Teachers College, then Madison College, now James Madison University. GO DUKES!)
Rebekah was older than many of her classmates by about six years. Violetta and other girls went to college straight from high school, but Rebekah didn’t. In fact, in 1920, at age 21, she was already a teacher in Wakefield, Virginia. In 1921, she was a student at the State Normal School.
scanned from the School Ma'am 1923
While that seems backwards today, the requirements for becoming a teacher were quite different. In a rural area, someone with an eighth grade education could be appointed teacher. However, I don’t know what Rebekah’s situation was or what she was teaching when she enrolled in college. She was in a two year program, most likely in Home Economics judging by her membership in that club, indicating her desire to either teach or supervise in that special area.
Described in the yearbook as “capable and sensible, broadminded . . . , brilliant . . . ,” it is no wonder Rebekah was voted President of the Senior Class. The added description as “musician for us all” plus the Class Prophecy that she would one day be on a music tour abroad are puzzling since she seemed never to have been in the Glee Club or orchestra.
Whether she went on to teach Home Economics after graduation in 1923 is not known. On October 15, 1925, Rebekah married Charles Baskerville Watkins, Jr., a businessman twenty years her senior.
In 1930, the two were living in Clarksville, Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Bass was a banker and Rebekah was caring for their three-year old son.
By 1935, they were living in South Hill, Virginia, where in 1940 Bass was an accountant. Rebekah was caring for three sons.
In the 1950s, the Watkins were in Richmond where Bass died in 1952. Rebekah died August 30, 1977 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I have to wonder what brought her back to the home of her Alma Mater.
Run right over to the A to Z April Challenge for some roaring good reads.