My mother and her Sister


Click on the picture to begin a slide show to see details of all four images.

My mother was born on January 4, 1895.  When she died ninety years later, she left behind a box of “Old Keep-sake Cards of Lizzie and Ruth Martin”.

Lizzie and Ruth were sisters, the oldest and youngest daughters of the second wife of Jacob A. Martin.  Lizzie was 12 years old when her youngest sister was born.  My mother was 30 years old and Aunt Lizzie was 42 years old when  I was born.

Ruth was married to a man who was a pastor, an evangelist, and Bible teacher, and who by mutual agreement with his wife was away from home approximately half time in his ministry.  This gave my mother the responsibility of  raising two sons and managing a twenty-five acre truck and poultry farm. So on the day I was born Aunt Lizzie who had no husband to care for moved in with her youngest sister. My only brother who will be  94 on January 14, recalls being in the basement of our home with Aunt Lizzie when I was born in the second floor master bedroom of our house. I dedicate this post to these two sisters who were so important to me in my childhood.

1-image0It appears that all but one of Aunt Lizzie’s cards were removed by the time the box before it came to me. That one remaining card is important to me.  It is her school report card for the 1896-7 school year when she was thirteen or fourteen years old. According to her grades she was an excellent student.

image0-005Lizzie and Ruth’s mother died about two years after my mother’s birth.  I was told that she died while giving birth to a still-born child.  Perhaps her declining health was the reason that Lizzie’s oldest half sister Eleanor, 25 years old and married, assumed the responsibility of a guardian authorized to sign the school report card for her younger sister.

Aunts and uncle

From L to R standing: Martha, Jacob, Ruth, my mother, and Fannie, Seated: Sadie, Eleanor, and Lizzie

I remember visiting Aunt Ellie when I was a child.  She had six children and I remember three of them.   My mother had seven half brothers and sisters by her father’s first wife, Fannie Martin, and  seven full brothers and sisters by his second wife, Fannie Eby.  That means that I had many cousins on the maternal  side of the family. The family continues to have regular family reunions. I think my brother and I have three surviving first cousins of that family.

Aunt Lizzie might be described as the tiniest and the mightiest of the sisters.  If she and my mother were at home alone, she was the one who used the rifle to shoot any invading varmint. She was a seamstress for the sisters of the church.  Her singer sowing machine occupies space in my part of the house.    I’m indebted to Mennonite Church archivists for accurate reporting. Readers who would like to know more about their ancestors, or about the Mennonite Church and its history are invited to click on the preceding link. In the next post I will share more about my mother.

This post might be of general interest to many subscribers.  But it will be of greater interest to the many second and third cousins who survive.  If you know of such please forward the post to them.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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5 Responses to My mother and her Sister

  1. Carroll Lehman says:

    Martin, where does my grandmother, Anna, fit into this picture. I have many fond memories as a small child visiting your farm and enjoying it. Wilmer worked there for a while. Also, one of my favorite pictures is one of Aunt Lizzie, seated, with my two small children standing beside her. I’ll have to try to, electronically, send it to you. While I am here vacationing in Cancun, I hope to resurrect writing my book, “From Sh*t on my Boots to Carnegie Hall”. Love your posts.

    • I wish your grandmother. Anna. was on the picture. I have pleasant memories of spending time with Luke and his younger sisters. Also with your mother when the difference in years didn’t mean so much to us. Lois was a hostess to me when my mother was on her death bed at Menno Haven. She was the one who told me that my mother had died during the night. I rushed over and found her still warm body. I remember standing beside her bed and realizing that it was in “there” that I had begun my life. Our fathers had great competition growing the biggest watermelon.

  2. Wilmer says:

    Good question Carroll. During several summers, when in 7th & 8th grade I think, I worked in the gardens on the truck farm weeding, picking berries, harvesting vegetables and a few times going along to market. I especially enjoyed driving the Farmer Cub once in a while cultivating the garden. I frequently ate lunch at Martin’s. Rachel would eat in the high chair beside me. I have pleasant memories of my time working there. Great Aunt Lizzie was little but strong and a hard worker. Ruth was Great Aunt Ruth through our maternal grandmother as well as Aunt Ruth through having married our father’s brother. She was also a hard worker.

  3. Miriam Burkholder says:

    Enjoyed the post…I am curious where the picture is taken. What homestead (farmhouse) is that in the background?

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