Euceba Rolston Jones turned the key, locking the front door to the home where she raised her children. The wife of an iron mill worker in Boonton, New Jersey, Euceba spent each evening sweeping the black dust from her floors. But as a recent widow, she felt she needed change. And so, Euceba left the iron mill town and boarded the train to New York, hoping her new life would create the spark of happiness she craved.
Jennie Knowlten wiped the kitchen table clean, placed the last rhubarb pie in the oven and hung her freshly washed laundry on the line. A normal day filled with canning, milking, cooking and cleaning; Jennie untied her apron and brushed the wisp of hair from her eyes. A real pioneer woman, when pioneer meant twelve-hour workdays filled with dirty hands, wrinkled faces and sweat-drenched foreheads. Jennie settled into her chair; a well-earned respite before bed.
March is Women's History Month: a celebration of women and their accomplishments. But the female ancestors in my family were not famous educators, artists or activists. They were wives and widows, yet seemingly built with grit, steadfastness and endurance.
Celebrate the history of the women in your family tree. If like mine, they have been your family's foundation, molding each generation. They were the teachers, mothers and wives that bonded all of us together.
They were all pioneer women; whether they buried husbands in the Civil war; cleaned and cooked for husbands blackened from grimy mills, or hard working household managers, cooking and cleaning from morning until dusk.
Our female ancestor's history is worthy of recognition and we should feel grateful for the roads they paved, making ours easier to travel.
The Library of Congress website has pages dedicated to Women's History Month, providing volumes of articles on women's accomplishments in art, culture, government, military and women's rights.
Celebrate the women in your family tree. Write a book with their stories or gather their recipes for heirloom gifts handed out during family celebrations.
And remember, your ancestor did not have be a great artist, writer or politician to be celebrated; she just had to be herself.
The real pioneer women of history: our female ancestors.
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