It has been said that men write history but women live it.
In my family, it’s also been the women who were the keepers of family history, the tellers of tales and stories. The saver of old photographs and documents.
Which is why I have this photograph of four generations of women who brought four different families into our lineage. Thank you, Aunt Linda, for saving it. Since they are gone, I have an obligation to tell their stories. Who are they?
Four generations of women
The baby is my grandmother, Shirley Wells Bushnell Apple, who married twice. She died two years ago just before her 86th birthday, so that places the photo at around May or June 1930.
The woman standing in the center is my great-grandmother, Edith Bonesteel Wells. She eventually remarried twice, but had only two children with her first husband—thankfully, one of which survived to adulthood and became my grandmother. I knew her as Great-Grandma Mathews and had no idea her family name Bonesteel was so old, and so crucial to New York and US history…as I will eventually show in another post.
The woman seated to the left is Ethel Fones Bonesteel, my grandmother’s grandmother. She was involved in a family tragedy with my grandmother’s older brother Edward…who I didn’t even know existed until about five years ago. (Another post late will explore this event, which made my family into minor celebrities across the Capital District in the summer of 1940.)
And finally, the woman holding my grandmother is Delphia Freeman Fones, my great-great-great grandmother, born the year after the Civil War ended. It is through her I can trace my lineage back to the so-called Pilgrim Fathers (actually, several lines go back that far, and farther).
Wells. Bonesteel. Fones. Freeman. Welsh, German, Dutch, English.
All direct ancestors, but none Bushnell or Apple, none representing the patrilineal line. But it’s the women who live history, keep history, and make history. I can’t ignore them; I would miss half of who I am, and half of what made my family who we are.
Next up: The Bonesteels/Well tragedy.