Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mary Thompson Bickerstaff

She stands alone in this photograph but she grew up in a family circle of at least 8 siblings, the last one born just months before she left home to marry. She was the mother of 9 children herself, the first born when she was 18, the last born when she was 37. By that time she was already a grandmother. Certainly she was encircled most of her life by children. Alone for a snapshot, but probably not alone very often. In fact, as the mother of 9, I wonder if she might sometimes have wished for a little time alone....

This is Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, my great-grandmother. She was born in New Alexandria, Jefferson County, Ohio, on October 26, 1873, to John and Lydia (Bell) Thompson. She married Edward Jesse Bickerstaff on March 15, 1891, in Steubenville, Ohio.

Her 9 children were William, Emma, John, Daniel, Mary Ellen, Edward Jesse, Andrew, Flora, and Cora. All but Cora were born in Steubenville Township, Jefferson County.

Sometime between 1910 and 1914 Mary and Edward Jesse moved north to Mineral Ridge, Ohio. They lost their 8th child, 1-year-old daughter Flora, in August, 1910. Perhaps that event prompted a move away from the sadness that would have surrounded them. Though their oldest child was already married by the time they moved to the Ridge, he and his wife moved along with them.

Mary is shown at right with her three surviving daughters, from left to right, Mary Ellen, known as Mayme; Cora, the youngest; and Emma, my grandmother.

On September 6, 1940, at the age of 67, Mary passed away at her home in the Ridge. Her death certificate tells me that she had diabetes and died of coronary thrombosis. I was surprised to find her obituary on the front page of The Niles Daily Times.

My mother and my aunt knew Gramma Bickerstaff. I don't remember them describing her personality, though they spoke highly and lovingly of her.

This is a post to honor and remember her. Happy Birthday, Gramma!


  1. as the mother of 6 i know i enjoyed those rare moments of solitude. nice photos. i like the different faces, looks the four women have.

  2. What a great post! I hope you had a great birthday, Grandma!


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