Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy 173rd Birthday, Margaret Blanche Miller Mendell (1838-1906)!

Wally Cramer's grandmother

Newlywed Margaret sent her husband off to fight in the Civil War (he of the Cramer dining room oval gilt portrait), and her mother and brother survived the Johnstown Flood.  She was locally renowned for her apple pies--so have a slice for our birthday gal!
Margaret's father Phillip ran a hotel in Ligonier, Pennsylvnia, the Old Compass Inn.  She was one of  twelve children in a blended family, her father's first wife having died young.


Teenage Margaret kept company with a young man who drove a fine team of black horses.  Her childhood friend George was in love with her, however, so he borrowed that team and took her riding.  He eventually won her over an they married in 1859.  George enlisted in the Union Army, leaving pregnant Margaret with a two year old and an infant.  We know nothing about how she fared in that time, but having her husband wounded at Gettysburg was undoubtedly traumatic.

The family moved west by train in 1873.  At that point they had seven children under age 11 (three more would be born later).  The Mendells planned to meet up with Margaret's sister's family at St. Louis, and were disappointed not to see them when they boarded their train there.  But after being on the train for some time, the brother-in-law came through their car--they were delighted that the two families would settle new territory together.  In Nebraska, the Mendells built a home and eventually settled an eighty-acre farm.  Due to oil well investments, the family prospered for a time, although the money was subsequently lost in some reinvestments.  George like to buy the latest kitchen gadgets and nice clothes for his wife.  They sent the children to boarding school back in Pennsylvania.

Margaret's obituary informs us that her last words were "I'm glad my children are all grown."  It also tells us that Margaret was a good mother, a splendid cook, and her apple pies were of the best.  She transferred her church membership from Lutheran to the First Methodist Church in Superior Nebraska.  "The deceased was a woman of keen intellect, affable in manner, and possessed with noble purpose.  She was a highly esteemed member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and while she was appreciated by the church, she prized very highly the church of her choice and was ever ready to do for it.  While she loved the banner of the Christ, she also loved the banner of her country, and was true to the principals for which it stands."

Unfortunately famous to my children for her laughable hairstyle, I would give Margaret a nice afternoon at the salon.

1 comment:

  1. My siblings and I love to laugh about that hairdo. I'd give her a new photo shoot after her afternoon at the salon.

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