It seems appropriate to begin the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge with the ancestor who first got me into genealogy: my paternal grandmother Adah Young Johnson.
Grandma was born in Reynolds Store, Virginia in 1904, the oldest child of Robert and Clara (Mason) Young. The family moved back to Washington County, Ohio (Robert’s birthplace) sometime before Grandma’s brother Ralph was born in 1907.
Grandma married Stanley Johnson (my Grandpa) 24 June 1922 in Ross County, Ohio. They were married 49 years (until Grandpa’s death in 1971).
She was an awesome grandma. (It sounds cliché, but it happens to be true.) She could cook and she she could sew just about anything (including my mom’s wedding dress). She always had time for her grandchildren. I loved going to her house. We’d play games (Yahtzee was a favorite) and read books. Sometimes I accompanied her to her little Methodist church where she’d help set up for communion. (The smell of Welch’s grape juice brings back memories of her.)
Grandma was one of the kindest people you could ever meet. She truly lived by the motto, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” The closest that any of us can recall her saying something less-than-nice was the time she dropped by our house unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon. Mom and Dad invited her to have dinner with us, and she did. After the meal was finished, Mom said that she was sorry, but she hadn’t fixed any dessert. “But I do have orange sherbet.” To which Grandma replied, “Then you don’t have any dessert.” (We think of her whenever we have orange sherbet!)
Though she probably wouldn’t have called herself one, she was a family historian. She was the keeper of the family Bible, the family photos, and the family stories. I remember going to her house shortly after “Roots” had aired on tv. She pulled out the family Bible and explained to me who all of the people listed on the yellowing pages were.
Not only did she keep the family photos…. She labelled them. Her descendants are still thankful! She also did a series of cassette tapes where she told stories from time she was a little girl until the time she met Grandpa. Yes, she recorded her memoirs! (See, I told you she was an awesome grandma!) Included in there was her recollection of the Flood of 1913 that swept away her house in Marietta, Ohio… and how she once locked her grandfather Mason’s second wife in the outhouse.
Grandma died 22 December 1979. It was ironic that she died then, as Christmas was her favorite time of year. She loved to decorate and cook and make presents for all of the grandkids. All of us went to her house on Christmas evening. How all of the cousins, aunts, and uncles fit into that tiny house, I’ll never know.
Grandma was a dear, sweet lady. She nurtured all 14 of us grandkids with her love and kindness. I shall always be thankful for all that she was and for inspiring me to climb our family tree.
Grandma, I miss you and I love you.