Saturday, October 31, 2009

My mother's story

My mom decided to write sort of a condensed autobiography several years ago, and it occurred to me that it might make an interesting read on my blog. It's pretty lengthy; if I end up doing the whole thing, I'll use several entries to share it. So, here's part one of "My Life In The Twentieth Century". I'll leave it in her words, although there are spots where I could edit to make it clearer. I added the pictures that are included.


I was born May twenty-fifth, 1912, on a Friday afternoon about 5 P.M., I was told. I have seen a lot of history unfold, as it's now 1996 and I am 84 years old. I was born at the country home of my parents, Benjamine Harrison and Clara Jane Smith Stevens, six miles west of the little town of Eagleville, Missouri in Harrison County in north Missouri.
An old Doctor Downing delivered me. He drove a one-horse buggy six miles from Brooklyn, Missouri, to be with my mother as she gave birth to her second child. Home delivery was the only method of having children in those days, and my mother always had long and labored childbirths. The doctor usually was there a couple days. My aunt, 1/4 mile away, came to be with Mom for the delivery. My sister, age 2 1/2, was taken to a neighbor's until the baby arrived.

We had an old wood-burning range in the kitchen to cook on and to bake our biscuits and corn bread, molasses cakes and cookies, and those loaves of savory home-made bread. Bakery bread was unheard of. When it was finally available, it wasn't sliced. A few years later, we knew sliced bread, as it was in the stores. Our living room had a square stand table in the middle of the room in summer and the old wood-burning stove sat in the center of the living room in the winter. Our house was a small, square house with four rooms. No closets, pantry or bathroom. We hung our clothes on heavy hooks behind our bedroom doors. The teens and twenties were known for long-sleeved and long-legged underwear and long black stockings. Knit caps and mittens, our mother knit from wool yarn. By 1922, the fifth member of our family of kids came along... seven of us now. We were only 1/4 mile from the old one-room school house, Walnut Grove district #42. We walked in the cold north Missouri wintertime to school. The ones who lived two miles away got to school many times with frozen feet or hands, or even frozen spots on their faces. The teacher would get them up close to the old, big stove and get them all thawed out before she got busy with her day of teaching eight grades in that one room. Also, all subjects.

Oh yes, our family grew. Two beds in one little bedroom, one in the other and a trundle bed that slid under a bed and pulled out at night. We were crowded, so Dad invited an old preacher. We kids thought he was old (likely 40 or 45) but he could do carpenter work real well. He came and stayed for two or three weeks to build an upstairs in our house. He also held a three-week meeting; so he cut, sawed by hand and hammered all day, and at night preached at the old Zion Church of Christ. The old church was only a few yards away, so we always walked to church. Before the Zion Church was old Mount Gilead in the 1900's. When the church had problems and some wanted the organ brought in, the church split. So Zion was built in 1903 by my Grandpa Smith. So Zion Church is where my sister, my three brothers and I were all brought up in the way of a true Christian family. My daddy loved our daily home devotions after a big day of work was done, and our evening meal was over and the dishes washed. We as a family sang two or three songs. As we grew old enough to read, we took turns reading from the Bible. We'd learn verses from that old King James Bible. Today that's the only way I know Bible verses and chapters to quote. At 84, I still hold to my Scriptures as I learned them. To me, the NIV Version is unknown tongue and very misleading.

(to be continued)


  1. Very interesting. I am looking forward to reading the rest of her life story. Helen

  2. Donna, what a treasure your Mom has given you. Thanks for sharing it with us. I'm looking forward to reading about your Mom's life.

  3. What a wonderful treasure your mom left you. Thanks for sharing her thoughts with us today. I'll be waiting to read more. Times have changed so much and it's good to be reminded of the blessings we do have today.

  4. Anonymous11:08 AM

    How wonderful that you're able to share this legacy with family and your readers. Vicki

  5. This is awesome. I can't wait to read more. Thank you Donna :)
    I remember being in school in one room. One teacher taught everything except music and gym. We students didn't move from room to room...the teachers did.

  6. Lindie1:43 PM

    How great your mother did this! I was always asking my mother to write down her stories and she never did. Later I offered to get her a recorder and said I would transcribe. Guess I should have pushed it! She grew up in western Canada near a very interesting group of Indians and would tell us lots of stories but my memory isn't so good about a lot of it!

  7. Well I read this backerds but thats okay. Thanks for sharing.

  8. That is SO beautiful. She had a way with writing didn't she? As I read I actually heard it read to me in an 84-year-old voice. She was a bit older than my mother, but not much. My mom was born in 1923.

  9. Anonymous11:03 AM


  10. I just jumped over from "mostly known as Ma" I love your Mothers's writings. My mother was also born in 1912 and went to heaven in 1988 It is wonderful reading about that time period. My Mother had a lot of stories and saved all letters,cards and newspaper clippings which I still have and enjoy reading.

  11. Donna I am so glad to find you posted these. When I'm working I only get to check in every now and then and I am going to enjoy reading your mother's info and what it was like. And...just b/c it was YOUR Momma will be interesting.


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