Cecelia Pearl Bryant Wirrig’s oldest daughter was my grandmother, Katherine Clara Wirrig Smith. Katherine was born April 9, 1914 in Piqua, Ohio.
According to my father, Katherine liked to go to dances on the roof top when she was young. That is likely where she met my grandfather, James E. Smith. Unbeknownst to Katherine, James suffered from mental illness. She then suffered from the results of it throughout her married life. My grandfather was in and out of jobs, and at one point served a year in jail for breaking and entering. During that year, Katherine and her children moved in with her parents. Cecelia and William Wirrig, and she started working at the mill sewing underwear.
It was piece-work and she never made a lot of money at it. My sister remembers, “Grandma worked, and walked to work, every day of her life. She worked at a place making less money per hour, even when I was sixteen, than I was making working at the Dairy Queen.”
Grandma loved her grandchildren and she used to like it when we brushed her hair. She was a very religious person and had a lot of religious items in the house. Her house was the old convent across the street from St. Boniface Church in Piqua, Ohio, and there were little holy water containers hanging beside each doorway. She also had little statues of Mary and Jesus scattered about.
She liked to cook a lot and made large family meals on Sundays. She also liked to garden, decorate cakes, sew, knit and crochet. My Grandma Smith taught my father how to crochet to entertain himself once when he was ill as a child. She taught me how to knit.
When she died we found many unfinished needlework projects stashed away in a cupboard. She was crocheting a large afghan for her bed when she died. It had beautiful decorative roses on it and she was very excited about making it. After she died, my mom collected the finished squares, then finished several more, and turned them into a cover for my parents’ bed at home.
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