23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors
Ancestor #19 – Martha Ellen Rodgers
Martha Ellen Rodgers is my cousin. Her father and my 3rd great grandmother were siblings.
She was born in 1853 in Lauderdale County, Mississippi to James Rodgers and Martha Sanderford Rodgers. She had a five-year-old brother and a two-year-old sister, and two more children would follow. She grew up in a farming community, surrounded by loving grandparents and more than a dozen aunts and uncles, along with their respective spouses and children. Her father and a slave named Bill built the log home she grew up in. Her childhood was ideal.
In 1861, Mississippi seceded from the Union and Civil War broke out. Though she had many uncles go off to fight in the war, her brothers were too young and her father was too old, so they remained safely at home with her.
But all would not remain ideal, as during the fall of 1862, a typhoid epidemic invaded her community, killing her grandparents, many aunts, uncles, and cousins, and both of her parents. Her father died October 12, 1862. Her mother died a few short weeks later.
She was nine.
Her given name was Martha Ellen Rodgers, but she was simply known as Ellen.
She and her siblings were placed in the custody of the eldest male in the family, their uncle Hays Rodgers Jr. (photo with wife Lucinda), but he was off fighting in the war, so she was raise for a time by her aunt Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter (Ancestor #17). When Hays Jr. returned home from the war, he sold his farm and moved to Alabama. Ellen went with him. Her other aunt, Aunt Elizabeth Rodgers (photo with husband George), was also there, and when Aunt Elizabeth died in 1875, Ellen returned to Mississippi.
She stayed in Mississippi for a while with her two sisters, but eventually went to Texas. Her two brothers had moved there years earlier, and I imagine she only went out for visit, though the thought of a young woman traveling alone in the 1800s seems dangerous to me. When she got there, everything changed for her.
When she arrived, she met her brother’s wife’s brother, Sam Houston Meek. She and Sam married in 1885. They had twin sons in 1886 who both died. Then they had a daughter Olive Lee in 1888. When Olive Lee was two, Ellen had another girl in 1890, but the baby girl died, and sadly, Ellen died of complications within the week. She was 37.
My book, AN ORPHAN’S HEART, is her story.