- Emma: In Her Own Words — The Background & The Beginning
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Childhood
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Employment
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Elopement & Early Marriage
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Work & Travel
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Bits & Pieces
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Papa
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Grandparents & Relatives
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Mama
- Emma: In Her Own Words — The Flood
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Teaching
- Emma: In Her Own Words — The End
Emma Ewers Taylor Hopkins was my maternal grandmother. If you’ve read my About page, you know that she was responsible for my interest in genealogy, even though that didn’t happen until more than 20 years after she died.
Sometime in the 1970s, my mother bought a fill-in-the-blanks family history books for my youngest sister to give Mamaw for Christmas. In addition to filling out that book, she started writing her life story in a spiral notebook. I looked at both right after she died in 1978 then didn’t think about them again for years. In 2002, I took another look.
Mamaw wasn’t exactly known for being patient (unless her grandchildren were involved and then she was the most patient person on earth). That lack of patience carried over to her work on the family history book. She seemed to write some things as she thought of them so everything isn’t necessarily in the right place, but it is filled with great information. I decided to buy a family tree software program to organize what she’d written. That was all I intended to do. Fourteen years ago. But long before I had things sorted out I was asking questions. And I’m still trying to answer some of them.
While the family history book was mostly names, dates, and places, that spiral notebook was a story. It’s the story of her childhood, school years, and the short time she spent teaching school. It’s the story of the day she and my grandfather eloped, their homes, their jobs, their children, and their grandchildren.
A few bits and pieces from Mamaw’s story have been included in blog posts over the year, but it’s time more of the story was published. This series won’t be a complete transcript of the 54 handwritten pages. For privacy of living family members, most of those references will be omitted. Not that she said anything bad about anyone. She didn’t. Well, unless you count the fact that my mother is still just a little bothered by “She didn’t work anywhere,” a reference about her that really meant she was a stay-at-home Mom and homemaker.
“I was born Emma Ewers Taylor at Mt. Vernon, Kentucky Oct 24, 1900 to John Cook and Emma Jane Taylor.1 I had 2 half sisters, Gracie and Susie and half brother William Robert, older than I. My father was 37 and Mama was 18 when I was born. When I was 5 years old, in 1905 my brother Hartford Conn was born and in 1918 my sister Anna Rose was born.
When I was born we lived in a small house about 1 mile from town but in 1905 we moved to a large, very pretty two story house right in center of the town.
My father was a blacksmith and I stayed at the shop a lot with him. After I got older I would help him put on wagon tires. Mama was a seamstress. She could look in catalogs and make dresses just like the pictures. I was always envied as my dresses were always pretty. She also sewed for others.
When I was 2 yrs old, my father had his leg broken. I cried at night for the light. He whipped me with his hat. This was my first and last whipping and scolding from him in my life.
I started to school when I was 7 yrs old and finished the 3rd grade that year. I was my teacher’s pet. Miss Miranda McKenzie. She got married at the close of school and I was the only guest invited to her wedding besides the family.
This was what they called the free school or county school. My next teacher was Mrs. Mat Bullard. She kept me in at noon one day and Papa took me out of the free school and sent me to Miss Ida Mae Adams who was teaching a pay school. We paid tuition and received private instruction. I went to her for 2 yrs then back to the Mt. Vernon Graded & High School which had improved very much.
I always got along well in school. I finished H.S. at 16. I took 4 yrs Latin – 1 yr French – 2 Algebra – 2 Geometry – Botany – Physics and Chemistry – English – History – Domestic Science or Home Ec as we call it now. I always made A’s in School and was always the youngest in my class.”2
- Emma Jane’s maiden name was Owens. ↩
- Emma Ewers Taylor Hopkins, “Journal,” 1974–1978, Loyall, Harlan County, Kentucky; privately held by Faye Hopkins McCauley, Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, 1978. Spiral notebook in which Emma wrote about her life, in possession of Faye (Emma’s youngest daughter) since her death in 1978. ↩