Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle is known to her family as Maw. She is Pap's wife and my great-grandmother. I could have chosen any day in March to remember her birthday because there seems to be no record of her exact birth date -- just March, 1867 -- so I'm choosing today to honor her.
Maw's parents were John and Catherine (Saylor) Froman. From census records it appears that John was a coalminer in western Pennsylvania. Though I have found no record or other evidence of his death, I believe he died between 1870 and 1872 for two reasons: he's on the 1870 census, but not on the 1880 census; and indexes of Mercer County probate records on film at the FHL show that S. W. Mannheimer was appointed guardian to Tressa and Jacob Froman in December 1872. Tressa was a few months shy of 6 years old at that time. What would life have been like for her, in the 1870's, without a father?
I was told by a family member who knew and loved Maw (other than my father, who never mentioned Maw's personality) that she had an unpleasant disposition. Aunt Tressa said Maw didn't like children and didn't talk about her own childhood or her parents. Could it be that Maw's childhood, like my father's, was difficult, possibly even tragic? Perhaps it was better not to remember and relive hard times -- living through them once is enough to change one's outlook.
Maw took care of my father from the time his mother died when he was a month old until he was about 3, when his widowed father remarried. I suspect that Dad and Maw developed a special bond during those years.
Aunt Tressa wrote that Maw was a beautiful housekeeper, a good seamstress, and that she liked to quilt. My brother has a quilt Maw made for my father. It is a lightweight summer quilt. The quality of the quilting varies. Maybe age and ailment were contributions to the quilt, along with the love I'm sure Maw felt for her grandson, my dad.
Perhaps Maw's disposition changed over time. We know she had palsy and wore a shawl which she used to cover her face when the palsy occurred. What other ailments might she have had as she grew older that could have caused her to be unpleasant? We never know how another feels, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. I'm giving Maw the benefit of the doubt: unpleasant disposition or not, I love and respect her.
Happy Birthday, Maw! I hope you have a wonderful birthday, whichever day in March it is.
This post was created to honor Maw, Tressa (Froman) Doyle, and is being submitted for the "I Smile for the Camera" blog carnival "Give Their Face a Place." Maw has a place in my heart.
Quilt photograph Copyright © 2010 by Eva Doyle.
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.