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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mabel Row Wakeman

Mabel Wakeman

     Nancy Mabel Row--my lovely, sweet great aunt Mabel--was born at Greenfield on August 31, 1879. She was the second child and only daughter of George W.E. and Lizzie Row. Less than two months after her birth her mother (and very likely Mabel also) traveled to Rockbridge County to stay with Lizzie's family at Mount Pleasant farm. Lizzie went there to be treated for the neuralgia that had been tormenting her for some time. Her uncle, Dr. James A. McClung, pulled several of her teeth in an effort to treat her chronic pain.

Mabel Row, 1887

     The following year George Row and his family moved into the house he built at Sunshine, the farm he owned next door to Greenfield. As Mabel grew she came to adore her father. In April 1883, as George lay dying of pneumonia, little Mabel was sent to Greenfield to be looked after by her aunt Nan; her brother Houston and Horace stayed with their mother at Sunshine. Lizzie would later write of that time: "Mabel your father loved you dearly and I thought your little heart would break when we came back from the burial. You went through the house calling 'Father' and asked me 'Why God didn't let Father stay until tomorrow when I come and wanted to see him so bad.'"

Monthly Roll of Honor, 1880s

     After her husband's death, the education of her children became the primary focus of Lizzie Row. This she was able to do despite the crushing burden of acting as administratrix of her late husband's estate and managing a 343 acre farm. Tutors were hired at considerable expense, including Maria Marshall of Orange County who was reputed to be the great granddaughter of former Chief Justice John Marshall. Lizzie herself taught at least one session of school for both her children and the children of her neighbors. Classes were also taught at various homes nearby, including the Stephens family, on whose farm was a stop on the narrow gauge railroad that ran from Fredericksburg to Orange. The roll of honor seen above includes the names of Mabel and her brothers.

William Houston's account for Mabel

William Houston's account for Mabel

     Each of Lizzie's children was bright enough, to be sure, but Mabel showed real academic promise. Her widowed mother did all within her power to see that Mabel received the best education possible. When Mabel was twelve years old she was sent to live with her Uncle William Houston and his family at Mount Pleasant farm in Rockbridge. For the school years 1891-3 Mabel attended the New Providence Academy, where Thomas M. Smiley was principal. Reverend G.A. Wilson was the pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church at that time. As seen in the account kept for Mabel by her Uncle Will she lacked for nothing and was well taken care of by her relatives.

Mabel Row, 1890s

     In the late 1890s Mabel attended college in Richmond. She lived with her second cousin, Emma Farish Sisson. I have yet to discover the name of her school as it is nowhere mentioned in the papers I have seen so far. In the photograph of her college class taken about 1899, Mabel is seen sitting on the steps near the center of the image and there is a pink dot on her left shoulder.

College class of Mabel Row, c.1899

     After graduating from college Mabel returned to Sunshine and lived with her mother and brother Horace. Mabel went to work teaching school in the Chancellor district of Spotsylvania County, a position I believe she held until her marriage to Samuel Tilden Wakeman on September 9, 1908.

Samuel Tilden Wakeman

     Sam and Mabel had three children--Samuel Houston (1910-1944), Mary Elizabeth (1911-1998) and Amanda Golladay (1914-2008). Just prior to their marriage Sam Wakeman hired E.S. Bartleson to build a fine house on a 118 acre tract on Brock Road adjacent to Sunshine.

The Wakemans at home on Brock Road, c.1912

     Mabel's husband died in 1936. Her son Sam died tragically in 1944. While working at the sawmill a pulley flew off and struck Sam, killing him. He left behind a widow but no children.

Samuel H. Wakeman

Samuel H. Wakeman

     Both of Mabel's daughters married and moved from Spotsylvania. Elizabeth married A.J. Hergenroeder of Baltimore. Amanda married architect Claude Ritchie and they built a fine house in Remington, Virginia. In her later years Mabel spent much of her time living with Amanda and Claude there.

Elizabeth, Mabel and Amanda

     During the 1950s and 1960s Mabel corresponded frequently with Spotsylvania historian Roger Mansfield. The letters they exchanged during this period survive and contain a wealth of information relating to Spotsylvania history. Roger relied heavily on Mabel for the information he used in writing his monographs "Greenfield" and "Walnut Hill" in 1960.

Mabel to Roger Mansfield 19 October 1958

     Near the end of her life my mother, aunt Nancy and cousin Linda would drive from Spotsylvania to Remington to visit Mabel. She died on April 14, 1974, a month before my college graduation. She is buried at Shady Grove Church.

Mabel Row Wakeman

Shady Grove Cemetery

Shady Grove Cemetery

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Pat, I enjoyed reading about your great-aunt Mabel. I'm sure she would be proud of the way you have honored her memory & legacy.