Friday, April 18, 2014

Relative of the Day - Frances Virginia Carper

Frances was the 5th child of Sarah Welch and Alfred Carper, who are my 3rd great-grandparents. So Frances was the sister of Martha Elizabeth Carper, my 2nd great-grandmother. Which makes Frances my 3rd great-aunt. Martha was her younger sister. Altogether there were 9 girls and 1 boy in that family, so Frances was the 4th girl born and Martha was the 6th girl born.

I picked Frances because her birthday was April 18, 1837. She was born in Frederick County, Virginia, but died in Philadelphia (4 Jan 1919). She has been dead almost 100 years! She would have been 77 years old 100 years ago today. Can you imagine what Philadelphia was like in 1914? Women did not vote, most people did not have a car, many people did not have telephones (though I'm sure many did by 1919). Most people did not go to college and many never finished high school. Most people DID get their news from the newspaper or word of mouth. Groceries were delivered to your home. Most children were born at home, NOT at the hospital. Abortion was illegal. The KKK was nearing the height of its power. It was NOT a good time to not be white in the U.S. World War I had not started yet so Great Britain was still the greatest country in the world, not the U.S.

But for Frances she would not be noticing the things WE would notice about 1914. When she was born slavery was legal, there had never been a Civil War, or a Mexican-American War or a Spanish War. Native Americans still lived in most parts of the U.S. People rode horses or carriages or walked. They did not ride bicycles. There were many more roads by 1914, and railroads and ferries and canals, bridges and dams. People had electricity in their homes and cooked on stoves, not over a fire or in an outdoor oven. In 1914 the Frontier was Alaska and the West was New Mexico and Arizona. But in 1837 the West was much farther east. Indiana and Illinois and Missouri were the Frontier then, and Texas. Arizona and New Mexico were still part of Mexico. Mexico had only barely become its own country, rather than part of Spain. But in 1914 Mexico was in turmoil, in the midst of the Civil War (just think how many Civil Wars have been fought. I can only think of 4 - that just shows my ignorance - the U.S., England, Mexico, and Spain).

Frances was married Dec 29, 1853 in Washington County, Maryland to John R. Fugitt (I don't know hardly anything about him). They had 5 children- all boys! And she had come from a family of almost all girls. What a change. I only have birth dates for two of them - 1855 and 1865. Imagine, she was raising young children and pregnant during the Civil War, and living in Frederick County they were in the midst of War just about all the time. Even if Confederates held the area many people still suffered as both armies commandeered supplies from the people. Wars were fought in a place, not on a map, so their crops were trampled, cannons were fired near their homes and the roads they needed to travel on. Going hunting in the forest you could encounter a scout or spy from one of the armies. McNeill's raiders were active in the area as well, so there were the regular armies and soldiers, but there were also paramilitary groups. And the people firing guns and cannons that might damage your home or barn or kill your cattle or horses or you were your relatives. Maybe your brother or cousin was in the Confederacy, but you might have a brother who had moved to Ohio or an uncle in Pennsylvania who wore blue.

Back then a woman named Frances often had the nickname Fanny, not something we use nowadays. I think it's rather cute, though. One of Frances' boys died before he was 20 years old. After the War, but during Reconstruction, when penalties were imposed on Southerners. They could not vote and experienced other hardships (of course, nothing compared to the hardship of people who had been enslaved and were now free - but even when your suffering is less than someone else's, you still suffer). Her son Wesley died in 1874, but the year before Frances had to bury his younger brother Augustus, who was only 8. I cannot imagine what strength this woman must have had by the time she saw all the novelties of 1914. I wonder how much a World War matters to someone who has given birth while an army camped in their backyard (no, literally. I read about a church that Union soldiers turned into a stable).

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