There are countless inspirations for beginning the quest to discover your family’s history. For me, it started with my two grandmothers. My paternal grandmother Adah Young Johnson, the first of my “52 Ancestors” this year, was the keeper of the family stories and the family Bible. In many ways, she was our family’s historian. But it was my maternal grandmother, Della Starkey Ramsey, who inspired my first search.
I never met my Grandma Ramsey. She died when my mom was only 8. She had suffered a miscarriage and developed peritonitis. Though the condition is still serious, today it is much more easily treated. People typically don’t die from it today. She was only 27.
Grandpa remarried about 4 years later. Mom still had contact with the Starkeys (her mom’s family), but she was closer with the Ramseys. Consequently, Mom didn’t grow up with the stories or the heritage from that side of the family. It wasn’t until I started researching that she knew the maiden name of her Grandma Starkey (Della’s mother).
Mom hasn’t told us many stories about her mom. I hope she won’t mind me sharing this one.
The day of the funeral was rainy. Like a typical 8-year-old girl — and one who is trying desperately to find a sense of “normal” when her world has turned upside down — my mom was worried that her brand new hair ribbons would be ruined. Her father gently assured her that if they did, he would buy her some new ones.
I only have one photograph of my grandmother. Though she is in profile, I love how content she seems and how happy my mom looks.
Della Starkey Ramsey was born 4 February 1911 in Perry County, Ohio, the fourth of Edward and Clara (Skinner) Starkey’s eight children. She married Ralph Ramsey in 1929. She died 12 July 1938 in Perry County and is buried at the top of the hill in Olivet Cemetery.