Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mary Jane Randolph Summons...called to Motherhood in Powhatan County

My paternal great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Randolph Summons, according to the 1870 and 1880 census, gave birth to at least eleven children in Spencer, Powhatan, VA.  She and her husband, James “Ditt” Summons, lived most of their lives in the Powhatan County area.  Mary Jane was seen later in the 1900 census as having adopted eight-year-old Ellen Simmons (Summons).  She must have enjoyed motherhood and or simply stepped up to do what was needed in a given situation.

There was probably much activity around the house between the parents and their children.  On the 1870 census, there were seventeen people living at the same address at one time.  I cannot imagine my house being so full; I value my space (would make a sacrifice to move others in if necessary).  Seventeen is a lot of activity!
As many women were probably listed, Mary Jane, was listed as a housekeeper; a role that is important to the family as my great-great-grandfather, Ditt, worked at farming.  I would think that the hard work of farming was passed on to his children; hard work was preparing the children for their future independence.  The many children, as reflected on the various census, were coming (being born) and going (by the next census was old enough to be out of parents’ home into their own).

Most of my great-great-grandparents’ children were part of the first “Great Migration” from 1910 to 1930.  Many of my great aunts and uncles left Powhatan County for Cincinnati, OH and Suffolk, MA.  The one son, Jordan Summons, with his wife Jennie Ross, of Kentucky, moved to Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH a little before 1910.  Some of the other children, Mary J., James, Jr., and a few others moved to Suffolk, MA.  The rest stayed close to home with Ditt and Mary Jane.  Mary Jane outlived Ditt; she was eighty years old by the 1910 census and still living with a few of her kids.

My father’s grandfather, Monroe B. Summons and his brothers Augustus Summons, and William Summons lived in either Powhatan County or Richmond, VA.  That FULL house becomes an empty house, and might I add an empty state.