Posts Tagged ‘Grace Foster Seckel’

Aunt Grace and friend

I never met my grandfather’s older sister, even though she lived to be 101 years old. Every time we drove down to Marion, we’d go past her house, but she was never home.

Aunt Grace’s daughter, NJ, has welcomed me with open arms to go through boxes and bins of photos and papers. During my first trip down to visit her, she let me take home several large envelopes, containing various documents so that I could go through them and copy what I wanted. So, I’m definitely thankful for NJ, too!

But Aunt Grace… well, let’s put it this way: were it not for what I found in those envelopes, in Aunt Grace’s own handwriting, I would probably still be trying to figure out what happened to my great grandmother’s siblings. All I had were first names of her two sisters and the names and locations of her two brothers, both of which turned out to be no help in breaking through the brick wall surrounding the identity of their mother. I was at a loss and not sure where to turn, especially because the infamous 1890 census would have likely been the last one either appeared in while still living at home.

So, when I went through the papers in the very last envelope and found detailed information about all of Emma Briggs’ siblings, including names of spouses and children and locations, it’s not surprising that I shed a few tears of gratitude. Aunt Grace started the work on this family history. It’s up to me to carry on where she left off.

Emma Briggs FosterFinally! A birthday! On this date in 1868, my great grandmother, Emma Adelia Briggs was born in Blairs Mills, Pennsylvania (Huntingdon county) to John B. Briggs and… well, more on that later.

Emma, according to the notes of her daughter, Grace Foster Seckel, moved to Marion, Ohio and worked in a dress shop. Eventually, she married Samuel Blocksom Foster. The information I have states they were married on 22 May 1889, but I have yet to find a record that confirms that. As I stated in the post about my grandfather, Emma and Samuel had four children together.

Emma lived to see her 81st birthday and then died two days later on March 13, 1949.

This photo is courtesy of Grace Foster Seckel’s daughter (I will not name living people here without their permission). I think she looks about 15 years old, but I could be wrong. I’d be interested in hearing any other opinions on the subject. Feel free to leave a comment here if you have anything to say.

Emma’s mother is a bit of a mystery and it’s one that I will discuss in multiple future posts. I’ll start this evening by mentioning that the 1870 census shows John B. Briggs living with his wife Adaline and three children, Alfred, Emma (who was 3 at the time) and Thomas, whose age was listed as five months. Remember this fact, because it’s going to show up in another post very soon.

Self-portrait of Howard Eben Foster

Fifty years ago today, a man I never knew left this world too soon. Howard Eben Foster was only fifty years old and his first and only grandchild was just nine months old when he died.

Howard’s parents were Emma Adelia Briggs and Samuel Blocksom Foster. All in all, there were four children: Hattie Corrine, Carl Blocksom, Lulu Grace (or Grace Lulu–she wrote it both ways) and Howard.

I’m told that Howard had no middle name when he was born. He took on Eben as his middle name because it was the name of the doctor who saved his life after he was stricken with scarlet fever. The impact of this becomes even more obvious when one learns that his older sister, Hattie Corrine, died of scarlet fever before Howard was born.

Visiting the cemetery where his parents and oldest sister are buried, it is easy to believe that they never recovered from losing their first born child. It’s also easy to believe that perhaps Howard’s parents tried not to get too close. I’m making a lot of assumptions, of course. But the stories I’ve heard indicate that life wasn’t easy for him.

Those stories of Howard range from shockingly painful to laugh out loud hilarious. One hopes that old wounds might have healed if he’d had the time on this earth to repair them. It saddens me that he never had the chance. But I am also so grateful that those family members manage to view things with a wider lens, so that those hilariously funny stories are willingly shared.

Howard is one of the two biggest reasons that my interest in genealogy has taken hold. It seems only fitting that I should begin this blogging attempt by remembering him today. After all, without him, I wouldn’t be here to write this blog post.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Foster.