My father’s mother’s grandmother was Mary Katherine Bryant. She was born September 12, 1869 in Washington County, Kentucky, the fifth of twelve children. She married Ulysses Grant Bryant, February 15, 1885, in Washington County. They subsequently moved to Piqua, Ohio in Miami County, where I was eventually born four generations later.
Mary Katherine’s granddaughter, my great aunt Agnes Wirrig, said her grandmother was illiterate, and that she used a lot of country terms and “Kentucky twang.” Aunt Agnes said, “I’d go to the house and she’d say things that I didn’t understand at all. If she’d want me to get out of the way, she’d say, ‘Tik ere’ (for ‘take care,’ or ‘get out of the way’).” Agnes also said that her grandmother had an old-fashioned way of doing things, and she was a hard worker, but she never seemed to be an overburdened person.
Mary Katherine took her great-grandson, my father, fishing one time. He remembers that they didn’t catch anything, but someone there gave them three large carp. He said that she cleaned them and evidently cooked them, although I think as an adult he didn’t consider carp particularly appetizing. He was about 10 years old at the time. Mary Katherine Martin outlived her husband. She lost the property their home was on after he died because, although I don’t completely understand it, according to my great-uncle Ben they were on old-age pension. She spent her last years going from one of her children’s homes to the next to stay for a while until she died at the age of 78.
The story of needlework in my family, from my father’s side, undoubtedly goes back well beyond the days of Mary Katherine Martin Bryant, but she is the oldest link that I have specific information on through the memories of my father who was about 14 years old when she died, and my great aunt and uncles. She certainly must have taught her daughters how to sew.
I have never seen anything that she might have made.
For other posts in this series see The Stitches We Leave Behind.