Mothers Day 2024: A Remembrance

                                                                         The Road to Grandpa’s Farm

On January 10th, 1914, my mother was born at home on her parents’ farm north of Parkersburg, West Virginia.  That date happened to be her mother’s 30th birthday.  In the next few years, my grandparents left the farm and moved into town where my mother’s younger siblings were born.  In researching my family’s history, I tried to find the old farmstead using records available at the Wood County Court House.  What I found fascinated me. 

Mother and Child

The photo just above has been scanned from a slide Poppa took in 1950 along the Boulder River in Montana’s Sweet Grass County. I’m guessing from the size of the child and the short sleeves on the mother’s blouse, that this photo was taken in July or August of that year. Of course, if you haven’t already figured it out, the woman is my mother and the infant is me. Poppa took hundreds, maybe thousands of slides in the early 1950s. Of them all, this is my favorite.

The Phelps and Kincheloe Families

Back to what I learned at the Wood County, West Virginia, Courthouse. I already knew that my great-grandmother showed up as a 13-year-old girl living with a 70-year-old couple with a different last name. That was in the 1850 Census, the first to list all household members by name. My great-grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Phelps. The older couple were Jesse and Mary Kincheloe. I have not been able to prove the connection, but I believe the older couple were my great-grandmother’s grandparents.

Both the Phelps and the Kincheloe families figured prominently in Wood County history. I have found many connections between the two families, but nothing that ties Mary Elizabeth directly to Jesse and Mary. However, in the 1860s, after my great-grandparents were married, the older couple deeded land to my great-grandmother—in her married name. Several decades later, she deeded the land to my grandfather. What I found of interest is that a married woman in the mid 19th century would own land in her own name.

No Trespassing

I was not able to find the farm land, just the road leading to it. As I approached the farm, I found many “No Trespassing” signs and heard rifle shots. Not wanting to end up hanging from some barn’s rafters, I beat a strategic retreat, capturing the road with my camera. As the title of this print says, this is “The Road to Grandpa’s Farm.”

For Mothers Day, I have put together two sets of four floral photographs which are available through my Etsy photo shop as digital downloads. This means that you can buy the photographs and immediately download the images to print out yourself, or take to your preferred photo printer and have them printed to a size you like. Both sets are below, with links to my Etsy shop, but note that while I am showing them framed, the frames are not included.
The first set is four different flowers. The azalea and the fuchsia were both in Momma’s garden in Smith River, California. The tulip and the orchid are both from my own home here in Plains.

Floral Prints to Buy and Download

Four floral photographs for digital download

The roses below are all from my garden.

Four Rose Photo Prints for Digital Download

Poppa loved growing roses, and always had them in the yard when we lived in California.  When I was growing up, it was customary to wear a rose in your lapel at church on Mother’s Day.  Before leaving home, Poppa would go out into the yard and clip a white rose for himself and for Momma and a red one for me.  White roses indicated that mother had passed on, while red said she was still alive.  I don’t know if people still do this today, and in any event, roses don’t bloom outdoors in a Montana May.

Historic Andrews Methodist Church
Grafton, West Virginia
The Birthplace of Mother’s Day


This newsletter is dedicated to my mother, Ethel Mae Stephens Spellman 1/10/1914-11/25/2006
To her mother:  Stella Espie McAtee Stephens 1/10/1884-11/21/1953
To Momma’s maternal grandmother: Margaret Ellen Palmer McAtee 1852-1902
To Momma’s paternal grandmother:  Mary Elizabeth Phelps Stephens 11/17/1835-4/22/1916
To the woman I presume was Momma’s paternal great-great grandmother:  Mary Kincheloe
To Poppa’s mother:  Sara Anna Anderson Spellman 1/6/1889-10/7/1924
To his maternal grandmother:  Matilda Jane Board Anderson 5/22/1854-7/24/1930
To his paternal grandmother:  Sarah Rebecca McCauley Spellman 11/22/1854-8/9/1925
To all the wondeful, brave, strong women who preceeded the above in my family tree.

For more of Momma’s story, check this out.
I wish you all a very happy Mother’s Day.   


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