Grandmother Fidella Mae Pendleton-Gray

Today is November 28, 2013....Thanksgiving day.

When I woke I wondered, what grandmother Fidella may have cooked on this special day after marrying grandfather William Theodore Gray, October 22, 1897 in Vancleve, MO?
I wonder.....If this transpired?

Grandfather either raised a turkey, killed it by chopping off it's head or perhaps he purchased one from a neighboring farmer.  I know not.

Or, this being their first year, possibly they road in a buckboard to grandfather's father Charles C Gray and stepmother Martha Ann PICKERING-Gray's home in Crocker, Pulaski County, Missouri Off Hi-way 42. 4 miles away.  Charles and second wife Martha recently married on July 4th, 1897 in Pulaski County, MO where my great-step mother made a sumptuous feast?  No, certainly not, just too far to travel.

However, we can probably assume the 4-month pregnant Fidella wanted to travel almost 20-miles away to Fidella's parents home in Boone, Maries County, MO.  Her father's name is Zachariah `Zac' Pendleton and mother's name is Catherine `Cas' Burd-Pendleton.  Without a written record and the weather more than likely like ours today - a mere 22° this a.m. or in the vicinity - she and grandfather Theodore stayed home or perhaps visited with nearby neighbors.

A trip of 30-miles via horse and buggy/carriage took almost a full day.  The trip was well before state hi-ways were approved on November 11, 1926 and paved roads came along to Vienna after 1942.  Most roads were mere dirt and some gravel.  Too harrowing of a trip for a new mother-to-be.

I was told often, his mother Fidella, was a real good cook, by dad.  And he was told that via his father.

If grandfather and grandmother entertained this special day, then the day before or so, he and or Fidella had to either pluck the feathers or heat up a vat of scalding water, lower the turkey into it, test it every so often to see if it was ready for the feathers to slide off, something he did when butchering hogs.

Perhaps Fidella made the turkey and neighbors came to their home.  (I'll have to see if I can locate a Vienna, MO Gazette paper from 1897.  These small community newspapers mentioned all the goings on of who visited who.  I love perusing them when I have time.)

I just found this interesting article from a town not far from Vienna, MO. 

So what else would have graced their table this day? 

One might have seen nestled and surrounding a big fat turkey roast....potatoes - mashed/sliced or baked, gravy, green beans, winter squash, corn on the cob, corn bread or biscuits, pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie or sweat potato pie and perhaps the proverbial stuffing.  Of course, this list is a simple Midwestern food list.  Many all over the United States have their own rendition of various foods that tease their senses and tickle their tummies, to be sure.

I will add recipes from times past and more information of my grandmother and `things' that went on during her lifespan.....but now I must scurry about to finish our Holiday meal as it's 10:30 a.m.!  Yum....the turkey's been in the oven since 6 a.m. now wafting my beautiful home and teasing my senses!  Off to work!

Just a note.....I began this page to tribute a lady, sadly I was never to physically know.  However, through my father - her son, William Victor Gray, I've come to know and love my dear grandmother Fidella.

It's a difficult task to rebirth my grandmother since she died long before I was ever thought of.  Even my father William Victor Gray knew her but a few precious years - from his birth October 29, 1921 till her death in Jefferson City, MO, April 17, 1927.  (I wish vintage photographs showed happier ladies....but then....they worked from sun-up to sun-down.  A tiring existence, to be sure!)

(Dad age 14) Dad spoke so lovingly of her many kindnesses and how so often during her last years, first in Vienna, MO at the large farm of 160 acres to Jefferson City, MO, how many ladies stopped by to chat.  With these chats he noted the loving kindness Fidella bestowed upon these friends and family members.  The `batch' picture with Grandfather William Theodore and son William Victor Gray, down at the Paydown Road farm, Vienna, MO 1935. 

Here I am with my dear father and papa....Victor Gray at Bob Evans, his favorite breakfast haunt.

Well, another month has passed....time moves at alarming speeds, it seems as I've aged!
Darn it!

At any rate, it's now Wednesday, December 25, 2013....yes it's Christmas Day.  Here in Saint Louis, MO the temp is 30 degrees, overcast with no hint of snow, but the promise, so stated the newscaster that we'd have Sun.  I sure hope so as I love the sun.

I woke this morn thinking about what to write concerning grandmother Fidella and thought of a precious photo I have of her first son and daughter plus another of her first through her fifth child.

The June 13, 1900 Census record states they lived in Boones Township in Maries County, MO near a host of family members.  i.e. Sherman Barnhart and family, John & Arizona Barnhart, Mary & C. Barnhart and a host of their children, Edgar Gray (Theodore's brother) and his wife Bertie and two children, the McGees and another Barnhart.  All these families I've heard stories about.  The McGees later had a daughter named Laurie of which my father Wm. Victor Gray played with often, as a child, while his parents visited hers.
This census record, as many others, mention more of Theodore and Fidella Gray too....First Fidella's information....she was born in Missouri, a wife, a mother of Elzie, a son born March 1898 and a daughter Clora, born, October 1899.  Both her parents Zachariah Pendelton & mother Catherine `Cas' Burd-Pendleton, were born in Missouri as well.  I know she was a housewife and mother.  Then Theodore was born in Missouri, his father (Charles C Gray) was born in Ohio and his mother (Amelia Rothwell) was born in Illinois and that Theodore was a Farmer.
NOTE.....If you hold down the CONTROL button and press shift + you can enlarge any photo, then decrease it's size by pressing shift - on a PC computer.

I want to add information of a letter written by Fidella's fifth child, Tessie Asalee Gray-Cardwell, that depicts some of grandmother Fidella's daily happenings.....but time in knocking at my door.  Now to shower and run off to help my youngest daughter, Ashley Questell at her home in Tower Grove, MO and cook for all my babies i.e. Rachel Nicole Lambert & Richard Caleb Lambert, and Kenneth Blake Questell.  Yes, my census record would note I've married twice.  1st to Richard Harry Lambert 2-5-1972 for 11 1/2 years and 2nd to Kenneth Wayne Questell, 6-16-1985 d. 3-2-1989 for nigh under 4-years.

I'll add the letter from Aunt Tessie soon.....Memory tells me she wrote of grandmother Fidella as having a soprano voice and sang to the Glory of God. my father would say.  I wish I could have heard her precious voice.  But for now, I'll have to pretend I did.  Off to the races!
It's now Friday, December 27, youngest, Ashley, is sick and home with momma....while she sleeps off her Bronchitis, I'll add a few items.
Left, we see dear Aunt Tessie, one of dad's sisters whom he favored since he lived with her a while after their mother died.  She was 14-years his senior and he visited she and husband Ross Cardwell often throughout the years.  Tessie and Ross once lived in Fenton, MO and invited dad and his new family to move closer to them, which he did.  He, mom, Dwayne and moi, Victoria....with Debbie in the `works', moved to a 2-car garage that dad remodeled into a 2 bedroom home.  This was just off Old HI-way 30, now Gravois Road, almost a stones throw from aunt Tessie & uncle Ross.

They (Tessie & Ross) moved from Jefferson City, MO to be close to The Brown Shoe Company where they worked.  Since they had a new car almost every year, they drove in to St. Louis City everyday.

Dear Aunt Tessie wrote this 2-page letter to an earlier genealogist who created a family book, in 1985, entitled `Missouri Burd's...funny name....but spelled correctly!  The Burd name come's from Fidella's mother's maiden name, which was Catherine `Cas' Burd-Pendleton.  I'm ever so pleased someone took the time to compile the book.  
Just recently, I took the first Missouri Burd edition and an additional bit of information, combined both and added sketches and information of family members from the 1500-1600's plus.  You see, our family is from the line of the Tudor's of Lancaster.  Yes, straight from England and Henry VIII!  Simply amazing, to be sure!
I don't ever wish to make fun of Aunt Tessie's letter, however as a good ole country lady, one can easily note she had a limited `formal' education.  
We note...Fidella was a Christian at Vancleve, MO....had a leakage of the heart and developed a isotope goiter.  (Goiter is a diseased condition resulting from the deficiency of iodine in the diet. This causes swelling of the glands of the neck and weight loss. In an individual affected with goiter, the neck appears swollen.
For treatment of goiter, radioactive isotope of iodine is given to shrink the glands.....(
The letter goes on to state: she weighed her words, very observed, slow to anger, but quick to correct the children if they did wrong.  She would try anything....`there were to do and could almost do anything.'
The letter also states she was educated in Vancleve, MO up till the fourth child was `borned'.  She help `shear' the sheep, spun the yearn, weaved the material and made all the clothes.  (I just recently learned via yet another census record of her grandfather Charles C. Gray, that he owned a host of sheep.  Something my father Victor never I realize that grandmother Fidella certainly had sheep close by, since they all lived in close proximity.)
`After all the children were borned they bought a general store.'  (Almost, Victor was born after they had the Venus Store, sold it to one of their older daughters, Hulda, moved to Clinton, was born there....then they moved back to Venus, took back the store and farmland because aunt Hulda died.)
`The three `oldiest' children at home worked in the store.  They had good luck and became very prosperous in a few years they sold the store and bought a farm in Henry Co., MO.  (Aunt Tessie had the times switched as the records note as does dad's very good memory states that his father did indeed become very prosperous with the Venus Store both before 1919 when they moved to Clinton, MO and after they had my father and moved back to Venus, MO).
Fidella had a beautiful `spirno' (soprano) voice and used it for the Glory of God when she had an `oppurtunity'.
The letter tells a great many things, of which I'll dissect and include what I find via the neighboring newspapers, as I research.

Today is January 6th, 2014....I woke this very-very cold Mid Western morn.....just below St. Louis, MO where I reside.  When I woke at 7 a.m. the temp was a minus 9 degrees.  It's climbed to a considerable temp of minus 2 degrees.  Of course, it's not considerable, but it certainly is cantankerous, to be sure!   

I woke, yet again, wondering what my grandmother Fidella may have done on such a cold, snow filled day.  Did she stay indoors as I am today?  Did she darn socks or mend clothing or make new clothes on this type of a day?  I know not.  Did she still have `her' chores outside?  Dress in boots perhaps worn from the summer and fall and yet those were all she had?  I do know this....grandfather Theodore Gray owned his own general store near Vienna, MO called the Venus store.  I also know that they were very well off, so perhaps grandmother had new shoes when she wished.  I know that grandfather was a very kind man and would not withhold anything from grandmother nor the children.  Yes, they all had to work, but he made a very handsome living, which meant he could take care of them properly.  Unlike the story I read below......

~~~As I researched, I came upon a story of a Farm Wife from 1900~~~ 

When America entered the twentieth century, almost half of its population lived on a farm (compared with approximately one percent in the year 2000). It was a hard life. There was little industrialization to help with the chores and no electricity to illuminate the darkness. The majority of farms were family-run, providing subsistence and hopefully an income through the sale of any surplus."I am not a practical woman." 

The following description of farm life was written at the turn of the twentieth century by an anonymous woman who had secret aspirations to be a writer. At the time she wrote this she was in her early 30s and had been married about 14 years. She and her husband, whom she describes as "innocent of book-learning," have two children. In addition to providing insight into life on a farm, she reveals a much different attitude towards the marital role of women than we have today:
"I have been a farmer's wife in one of the States of the Middle West for thirteen years, and everybody knows that the farmer's wife must of a necessity be a very practical woman, if she would be a successful one.
I am not a practical woman and consequently have been accounted a failure by practical friends and especially by my husband, who is wholly practical.
We are told that the mating of people of opposite natures promotes intellectuality in the offspring; but I think that happy homes are of more consequence than extreme precocity of children. However, I believe that people who are thinking of mating do not even consider whether it is to be the one or the other.
We do know that when people of opposite tastes get married there's a discordant note runs through their entire married life. It’s only a question of which one has the stronger will in determining which tastes shall predom­inate.
In our case my husband has the stronger will; he is innocent of book learning, is a natural hustler who believes that the only way to make an honest living lies in digging it out of the ground, so to speak, and being a farmer, he finds plenty of digging to do; he has an inherited tendency to be miserly, loves money for its own sake rather than for its purchasing power, and when he has it in his possession he is loath to part with it, even for the most necessary articles, and prefers to eschew hired help in every possible instance that what he does make may be his very own.
No man can run a farm without some one to help him, and in this case I have always been called upon and expected to help do anything that a man would be expected to do; I began this when we were first married, when there were few household duties and no reasonable excuse for refusing to help.
I was reared on a farm, was healthy and strong, was ambitious, and the work was not disagreeable, and having no children for the first six years of married life, the habit of going whenever asked to became firmly fixed, and he had no thought of hiring a man to help him, since I could do anything for which he needed help.
. . . I was an apt student at school and before I was eighteen I had earned a teacher's certificate of the second grade and would gladly have remained in school a few more years, but I had, unwittingly, agreed to marry the man who is now my husband, and though I begged to be released, his will was so much stronger that I was unable to free myself without wounding a loving heart, and could not find it in my nature to do so.
. . . Later, when I was married, I borrowed everything I could find in the line of novels and stories, and read them by stealth still, for my husband thought it a willful waste of time to read anything and that it showed a lack of love for him if I would rather read than to talk to him when I had a few moments of leisure, and, in order to avoid giving offense and still gratify my desire, I would only read when he was not at the house, thereby greatly curtailing my already too limited reading hours.
. . . It is only during the last three years that I have had the news to read, for my husband is so very penurious that he would never consent to subscribing for papers of any kind and that old habit of avoiding that which would give offense was so fixed that I did not dare to break it.
. . . This is a vague, general idea of how I spend my time; my work is so varied that it would be difficult, indeed, to describe a typical day's work.
Any bright morning in the latter part of May I am out of bed at four o'clock; next, after I have dressed and combed my hair, I start a fire in the kitchen stove, and while the stove is getting hot I go to my flower garden and gather a choice, half-blown rose and a spray of bride's wreath, and arrange them in my hair, and sweep the floors and then cook breakfast.
While the other members of the family are eating breakfast I strain away the morning's milk (for my husband milks the cows while I get breakfast), and fill my husband's dinner pail, for he will go to work on our other farm for the day.
By this time it is half-past five o'clock, my husband is gone to his work, and the stock loudly pleading to be turned into the pastures. The younger cattle, a half-dozen steers, are left in the pasture at night, and I now drive the two cows, a half-quarter mile and turn them in with the others, come back, and then there's a horse in the barn that be­longs in a field where there is no water, which I take to a spring quite a distance from the barn; bring it back and turn it into a field with the sheep, a dozen in number, which are housed at night.
The young calves are then turned out into the warm sunshine, and the stock hogs, which are kept in a pen, are clamoring for feed, and I carry a pailful of swill to them, and hasten to the house and turn out the chickens and put out feed and water for them, and it is, perhaps, 6.30 A..M.
I have not eaten breakfast yet, but that can wait; I make the beds next and straighten things up in the living room, for I dislike to have the early morning caller find my house topsy-turvy. When this is done I go to the kitchen, which also serves as a dining-room, and uncover the table, and take a mouthful of food occasionally as I pass to and fro at my work until my appetite is appeased.
By the time the work is done in the kitchen it is about 7.15 A. M., and the cool morning hours have flown, and no hoeing done in the garden yet, and the children's toilet has to be attended to and churning has to be done.
Finally the children are washed and churning done, and it is eight o'clock, and the sun getting hot, but no matter, weeds die quickly when cut down in the heat of the day, and I use the hoe to a good advantage until the din­ner hour, which is 11.30 A. M. We come in, and I comb my hair, and put fresh flowers in it, and eat a cold dinner, put out feed and water for the chickens; set a hen, perhaps, sweep the floors again; sit down and rest, and read a few moments, and it is nearly one 0' clock, and I sweep the door yard while I am waiting for the clock to strike the hour.
I make and sow a flower bed, dig around some shrubbery, and go back to the garden to hoe until time to do the chores at night, but ere long some hogs come up to the back gate, through the wheat field, and when I go to see what is wrong I find that the cows have torn the fence down, and they, too, are in the wheat field.
With much difficulty I get them back into their own domain and repair the fence. I hoe in the garden till four o'clock; then I go into the house and get supper, and prepare some­thing for the dinner pail to-morrow; when supper is all ready it is set aside, and I pull a few hundred plants of tomato, sweet potato or cabbage for transplanting, set them in a cool, moist place where they will not wilt, and I then go after the horse, water him, and put him in the barn; call the sheep and house them, and go after the cows and milk them, feed the hogs, put down hay for three horses, and put oats and corn in their troughs, and set those plants and come in and fasten up the chickens, and it is dark. By this time it is 8 o'clock P. M.; my husband has come home, and we are eating supper; when we are through eating I make the beds ready, and the children and their father go to bed, and I wash the dishes and get things in shape to get breakfast quickly next morning.
It is now about 9 o'clock P. M., and after a short prayer I retire for the night."
   This eyewitness account appears in: Holt, Hamilton, The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans as Told by Themselves (1906).
To Cite This Article: "Farm Wife, 1900" Eye Witness to History, (2007).

I know grandmother and grandfather and my own father had no electricity until my father was in his twenties and during World War II.  
During grandmother's life till a few years before her death in 1927, she had the privilege of a very large new home that grandfather built in 1923.  This home was built after the family returned from a few years of farming in Clinton, MO.  Clinton was where my father William Victor Gray was born 10-29-1921 and also where grandmother Fidella's parents lived.  During this time grandmother and grandfather's luck, if you will, had waned.  He tried cattle, various grains etc. but during the years of June 1919 till the summer of 1923 droughts began to starve out his 400 head of cattle and lots of grain was ruined due to this and various beetles.  
I know that when the `big house' was built on Paydown Road near Vienna, MO, grandfather and grandmother had a wall phone and the beginning of electricity.  This phone became the entertainment for all neighbors that housed phones.  Many, dad said, actually went out and bought phones, just to listen to the Gray's four eldest children sing harmonious tunes over the wires, each Saturday and Sunday evenings. 
Dad mentioned his brother's Elzie and Evrett and sisters Clora and Tessie sang beautifully.  The phone was a party line. When the masses heard the Gray's ring, they knew to pick up and listen.
But before this time, grandmother and all family members used one of these two hurricane lamps and probably more.  Dad gave me both of these not long before he died Aug 20, 2012.  I'm so thankful he allowed me these gifts.

Today November 27, 2014 another Thanksgiving Day unfolds....
I've moved into a new condo on the top 4th floor (with an elevator) and while sitting at my computer I'm able to view the light layering of snow that fell upon Saint Louis, MO yesterday.  Yes, it's cold today, a mere 31°.

Since writing of grandmother last year I've learned that there was a new moon over Missouri and other midwestern states that began November 24th, 1897.

In 1898 Thanksgiving was also on November 24th.  But this year on March 25th, 1898 (just 5-months after marriage), Fidella and Theodore had a bouncing baby boy whom they named Elzie Rosco Gray.  Elzie became a tall 6' 1" man who created and lost (4) large fortunes according to my father Wm. Victor Gray.  One was a trash hauling business and another a landscaping business.  I know not the other two.  Not only that......but my uncle Elzie married (13) times!  Nope, that's no typo!  After his first wife Mildred Duncan-Gray died March 5, 1932 during her 5th pregnancy .....and after his only daughter Irene died March 29, 1928 of heart failure and another son Delbert Eugene died February 29, 1928 of pneumonia, uncle Elzie seemed to never totally settle down.  He was survived by two sons, Wilburn Byrle and Allen Gray.  Both lived a full life. 

Wilburn Gray was in the Navy and a survivor of Pearl Harbor.  Allen was in the calvary in WWII.

Interesting note....grandmother Fidella must have just gotten pregnant with her second child Clora Dove Gray-Haggerty around Thanksgiving because aunt Clora was born the following year on July 6th, 1899. 

Here it's 10:54 a.m., the sun is peaking out and the turkey's been in the oven since 2 a.m.  Oh, the scent that is wafting my senses!  Yum-yum to be sure! 

Three of my four adult children will be here for the feast at 3:30 p.m. or sooner.  Rachel Nicole Lambert, Kenneth Blake Questell and Ashley Victoria Questell to arrive today.  Richard Caleb Lambert is in LA, California persuing his Screen writting and acting career and will arrive in St. Louis for Christmas.

I'm very thankful for all the years I've had with my beautiful children and all the years the grand Universal energies have kept us sheltered, clothed and fed.   A grand gift none should take for granted.

All the Best!

I'll return with more information of recipes from the late 1800's soon......


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