Monday, October 12, 2009

Remembering Beulah

This is my paternal grandmother, Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle. Isn't she lovely!

I'm celebrating her birthday today because I missed it in September. She was born on September 13, 1888, to Fred and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner in Butler County, Pennsylvania. She was the 11th of 16 children, and the 7th of 10 daughters.

I know so very little about her, and nothing at all about her early years. In fact, I didn't learn her name until I was in high school. I grew up completely unaware of a 2nd set of grandparents. My mom's parents lived down the street from us and they were the only grandparents I knew. You'll understand why after you read more about Beulah.

Her family lived in Butler County, Pennsylvania, most of her life but for a time during her young adult years, they lived in Mercer County. It was there that she met Gust Doyle. I was told that they met when Beulah attended a camp meeting not far from Gust's parents' farm. They married on December 19, 1911. Beulah and Gust were both 23.

Gust and his father, William (also known as Billie -- or Pap to family members) were farmers in Stoneboro. They owned a very large strawberry farm, had milk cows, and grew crops on the land. I don't know who lived where when Beulah and Gust married. Perhaps they lived in the farmhouse and Pap and his wife, Tressa (known to family as Maw), had already moved into town.

On February 27, 1913, my dad, Lee, and his twin sister, Leila, were born. Leila died just 3 days later on March 2. I can't imagine how Beulah must have felt at the loss of one of her wee babes. Devastated, no doubt. But then, just 3 weeks later, Beulah died, too. Her death certificate lists cause of death as "puerpral septicemia", an old medical term that translates to blood poisoning after giving birth. What a sad home, husband, and family! As a youth I overheard a conversation in which someone said that Beulah had gone outside earlier than she should have after giving birth. I don't know that that would have caused blood poisoning but it could have increased her susceptibility during those late winter weeks.

Gust remarried a few years later. Lee grew up in a home where his father loved him and his stepmother didn't. (I once heard Dad indicate that he knew what it was like to live with Cinderella's step-mother.) Gust protected Lee by keeping him nearby as much as possible instead of in the house with his stepmother. Lee worked the farm with his father, helped mine coal, and spent time with his grandparents, Maw and Pap. Gust passed away of colon cancer in October, 1933, when Lee was just 20 years old.

I wonder if Dad grew up not hearing many stories about his mother, and so there were none to pass on. I wonder if his growing up years were so difficult that he didn't want to bring them forward in his memory and share them. And perhaps his memory of his father was just too precious and painful to share.

I wish Gust had shared good memories of his wife, Beulah, with my dad so that he could have shared them with his children. I wish Dad had passed on to us his good memories of Gust. They would have become second-hand memories to us, precious and dear, to help us know those who came before us.

Dad had this beautifully framed photograph of his mother, Beulah, hanging in his and Mom's bedroom. The photograph at the top of this post is a digital image of the framed photograph at the right.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to Geneabloggers!
    You have a lovely site and when I have a bit of free time I'll be back for a longer visit.
    Good luck blogging,
    Evelyn in Montreal


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