Tribute to Magdalena

This post is my response to Jenny Matlock’s Alphabet Thursday challenge for the letter “M”.

Magdalena, my paternal grandmother, is someone I never knew.

She was born in 1897, married in 1915, and died in 1930 after giving birth to her eleventh child. She died more than 20 years before I was born.

I can’t imagine that the word “luxury” was part of Magdalena’s vocabulary because life on a North Dakota farm in the early part of the 20th century was anything but luxurious. One of my older uncles related how the family first lived in a sod-built house that would, of course, have become sodden with melting snow or hard rain. Another uncle told how their mother would birth a younger sibling out in the fields and then as soon as possible rejoin her husband, older children, and hired help in whatever work needed to be done. Why? because in the harsh world of their era, it was, simply, a matter of survival.

My grandparents were eventually able to build a modest woodframe house for their growing family. That house did have electricity, though I don’t know whether it was built that way or if electrical service was installed later. I do hope it was there from the beginning so that Magdalena would have been able to enjoy at least that simple convenience. Water came from an outdoor well, bathing was likely done in the river near the house, and personal needs were satisfied at a “two-holer” outhouse that was a considerable distance from the house.

Most of Magdalena’s children are gone now, but I recall how very respectful they were when they spoke of their mother. For example, I never heard any of them refer to her except as “Mother”.

Not “mama.” Not “mom.” And certainly not “ma.”

Unfortunately most of her children were very young when she died, so they didn’t have very many memories of her.

Magdalena didn’t have much in the way of material possessions or household conveniences, but I am convinced she was rich in more important ways, especially with the love and respect of her children.

13 thoughts on “Tribute to Magdalena

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #2 Magdalena Wehner Arnold | Tidbits & Treasures

  2. That was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. She would have been a contemporary of my grandmother, who died at 54 – and she was very old at that seemingly young age. Life was hard for those brave women.

  3. What a marvelous tribute to a strong and determined woman. She sounds amazing. I’d like to read more of this story. Do you have other bits written?

    I’ve heard this name again recently as new parents are rediscovering it for their children. It is lovely.

    And so was this post.

    Thank you for sharing.

    A+

  4. I loved this story! It was certainly a hard way of like for people back then. Women who survived came from good stock. That is a wonderful memory to pass down the generations!~Ames

  5. What a lovely tribute…I always think back on these true ‘pioneer’ women with great respect…I would have been one of those who didn’t survive, I am certain!
    Alison xx

  6. I wrote my post about Grandma Moses. She gave birth to 10 children but only 5 of them lived. Life was hard back then, but the strong women, the ones with a purpose, survived. This is a wonderful post.

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