Week 1 – 52 Ancestors 52 Week Blog: Ola Askew McKinley

Edgar & Ola Mckinley

Edgar Thomas and Ola (Askew) McKinley

Week 1: January 4, 2014

Ola Askew McKinley

I’d like to start Week One with my grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley. My grandmother died in 1970, the year I graduated; even though I was eighteen years of age, I never really knew her, except through the many stories my mother has told. Grandmamma began losing her mind, as it was called back then, after her son Leroy was killed in WWII.

Ola married when she was just sixteen; imagine letting your daughter today marry at that young age! That was probably why she always called my grandfather “daddy“. Grandmamma was a hard working woman – I could never do all she did on a daily basis. She was up first every morning to start a fire in the wood stove – and that was for cooking and warmth. If you wanted to be warm, you gathered in the kitchen. In the spring and summer she worked in the field alongside my grandfather. Noon-time brought her back to the kitchen to prepare lunch; she went back to work in the garden after lunch unless it was a wash day- that meant starting a fire under the black kettles to boil water. I’m sure they didn’t change their clothes daily like we do as washing clothes by hand was no easy or fast task.

DSC_0682

Grandaddy’s Prince Albert can. He rolled all his own cigarettes!

In the evening Grandmamma pieced quilts or sewed clothes – all by the light of a lantern. Clothes weren’t bought unless they couldn’t be made like granddaddy’s overalls! Feed and flour sacks were often used as material for sewing and was saved for quilts and clothes, even the undergarments; pattern cloth was printed on the sacks for that very reason. Grandmama treasured her pieces of material, no matter how large or small, she threw nothing out. Even the muslin bags from granddaddy’s Prince Albert tobacco cans were saved – they often became the backings for her quilts. I so wish I could peek inside her basket of treasured cloth and see what treasures she saved.

flower garden quilt (2)

Flower Garden Quilt

wedding ring quilt (2)

The Wedding Ring Quilt – Grandmamma made two of these, one for my mother and one for her son Leroy when he married.

I attribute my craft expertise from Grandmamma, although I can never match her quilting abilities. In as much as I can follow patterns, and can somewhat develop a pattern, she never needed to follow one. She only needed to see the item to copy it, which made her quite the artist. I am fortunate to have two of her favorite quilts today, one being the wedding ring pattern she made my mom when she married and another one known as the flower garden – she loved flowers and that’s probably why she made that one.

blackberry-pie-b

Blackberry Pie – Grandmamma made the best!

My grandmother was known throughout the family as a great cook, and if you were lucky enough to stop on Sunday afternoon around dinner time, and as my mama would say ‘put your feet under her table,” then you were often treated to a dinner of fried chicken, butter beans, black eyed peas, fried cream corn, home made peach pickles, sweet tea and always homemade biscuits. Dessert was often peach or blackberry pie as granddaddy grew both fruits on the farm. To this day my mother says “my mama made the best blackberry pie I ever ate”  – she still wishes for just one more slice!

I’ve enjoyed reminiscing tonight about Grandmamma and
I hope you’ve enjoyed the read from Week One!

© 2014, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Response to Week 1 – 52 Ancestors 52 Week Blog: Ola Askew McKinley

Lyn Smith says: January 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm

  1. Wonderful story, Jeanne. It just so happens your grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley was my great aunt, being the wife of Edgar Thomas McKinley, half brother to my grandfather, Charlie Erle McKinley; both born in Hancock County, Georgia. That is only one way our families are entwined.

    You mention the way our grandparents spent their time and how hard they worked. Papa Erle and Uncle Edgar were raised on a farm, from what I gather it was mostly cotton and all the children worked in the fields when they were old enough. I recall a story Papa used to tell about there being a ghostly experience at the house one day when they were all out in the fields. Papa mentioned his four siblings and it was in his teen years, so I’m presuming Papa was about 15 years old. Possibly Uncle Edgar was out of the house by this time but Papa said it was not the only time they had this experience. Did something like that happen while Uncle Edgar was still at home? Papa said they moved from this house a few years later and another family moved in and later the house was destroyed by fire. Papa had that story told to the local paper some years back and I still have the copy.

    Times were hard in those days and all families did what they could to help each other. Papa did many things in his lifetime, from running a store in Jones County, Georgia to making a living as a carpenter. He eventually began installing storm windows as part of his work. Papa married Grace Marchman, and they had six children, the oldest was my mother – Margret Grace McKinley.

    I don’t recall when Mama and Papa moved to this house on Forsyth Street in Macon, Georgia but I do remember the house and the good times we all had there. The kitchen was separated from the ‘family’ room with this divided window, which had bi-fold doors on it. I called it a family room because it had a dining table, and eventually a TV. There was one big ole comfortable chair for Papa, a counter and a couple of bar stools. The windows were open when family was there so Mama would be able to be in her kitchen and visit at the same time. This was not a small kitchen like you see in most houses today, it was huge. Mama cooked from scratch and no one walked away hungry. She used a pinch of this and a pinch of that, using her favorite wooden spoons and spatulas. In making her biscuits, she had a little metal cookie cutter. but usually used a glass when she wasn’t rolling them in her hand.

    Upstairs in this house was a huge room between the bedrooms, that is where her sewing machine was and a table large enough to spread the biggest sheet of material to be cut. Mama was the best seamstress I knew; I learned my sewing skills from her. I don’t believe she ever knitted or crocheted, as I have no memory of it.

    One summer when Uncle Charlie sent his girls down from North Georgia to stay with Mama. Mama took them shopping for patterns and material to make school clothes for the upcoming year. One of the girls voiced that she preferred store bought clothes, and one made her clothes that summer, with Mama’s help, of course – she had the most clothes! A lesson well learned. Store bought is nice but often more expensive; the same holds true today.

    I have a small quilt Mama made one year but hadn’t decided what she would do with it, so she put it away until someone needed it. Happens the heater in our truck went out one day and we were on our way to North Alabama for Christmas. Needlessly to say, I was freezing! Mama gave me the quilt and four paper grocery bags and told me to put two bags together, put my feet in and then put the quilt over my lap. I was warmer than when the heater worked. The things we learn from the older generation if we would but listen!

     

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9 Responses to Week 1 – 52 Ancestors 52 Week Blog: Ola Askew McKinley

  1. Pingback: Week 48: November 29, 2014 – 52 Ancestor 52 Week Blog: Rebecca Ann Mapp (1899-1906) | 52 Week Ancestor Challenge

  2. Lyn Smith says:

    Wonderful story, Jeanne. It just so happens your grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley was my great aunt, being the wife of Edgar Thomas McKinley, half brother to my grandfather, Charlie Erle McKinley; both born in Hancock County, Georgia. That is only one way our families are entwined.

    You mention the way our grandparents spent their time and how hard they worked. Papa Erle and Uncle Edgar were raised on a farm, from what I gather it was mostly cotton and all the children worked in the fields when they were old enough. I recall a story Papa used to tell about there being a ghostly experience at the house one day when they were all out in the fields. Papa mentioned his four siblings and it was in his teen years, so I’m presuming Papa was about 15 years old. Possibly Uncle Edgar was out of the house by this time but Papa said it was not the only time they had this experience. Did something like that happen while Uncle Edgar was still at home? Papa said they moved from this house a few years later and another family moved in and later the house was destroyed by fire. Papa had that story told to the local paper some years back and I still have the copy.

    Times were hard in those days and all families did what they could to help each other. Papa did many things in his lifetime, from running a store in Jones County, Georgia to making a living as a carpenter. He eventually began installing storm windows as part of his work. Papa married Grace Marchman, and they had six children, the oldest was my mother – Margret Grace McKinley.

    I don’t recall when Mama and Papa moved to this house on Forsyth Street in Macon, Georgia but I do remember the house and the good times we all had there. The kitchen was separated from the ‘family’ room with this divided window, which had bi-fold doors on it. I called it a family room because it had a dining table, and eventually a TV. There was one big ole comfortable chair for Papa, a counter and a couple of bar stools. The windows were open when family was there so Mama would be able to be in her kitchen and visit at the same time. This was not a small kitchen like you see in most houses today, it was huge. Mama cooked from scratch and no one walked away hungry. She used a pinch of this and a pinch of that, using her favorite wooden spoons and spatulas. In making her biscuits, she had a little metal cookie cutter. but usually used a glass when she wasn’t rolling them in her hand.

    Upstairs in this house was a huge room between the bedrooms, that is where her sewing machine was and a table large enough to spread the biggest sheet of material to be cut. Mama was the best seamstress I knew; I learned my sewing skills from her. I don’t believe she ever knitted or crocheted, as I have no memory of it.

    One summer when Uncle Charlie sent his girls down from North Georgia to stay with Mama. Mama took them shopping for patterns and material to make school clothes for the upcoming year. One of the girls voiced that she preferred store bought clothes, and one made her clothes that summer, with Mama’s help, of course – she had the most clothes! A lesson well learned. Store bought is nice but often more expensive; the same holds true today.

    I have a small quilt Mama made one year but hadn’t decided what she would do with it, so she put it away until someone needed it. Happens the heater in our truck went out one day and we were on our way to North Alabama for Christmas. Needlessly to say, I was freezing! Mama gave me the quilt and four paper grocery bags and told me to put two bags together, put my feet in and then put the quilt over my lap. I was warmer than when the heater worked. The things we learn from the older generation if we would but listen!

  3. Evelyn thanks for all the family memories – too bad we never knew each other in growing up, but we share our love of family history and we know our McKinley family history will be preserved.

  4. Pingback: A Thank You To My Reader | 52 Week Ancestor Challenge

  5. Pingback: Edgar “Leroy” McKinley: The Boy – The Man – The Soldier | Everyone Has a Story

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  7. Out of curiosity, were your McKinley’s originally from Ireland. I only ask because there are McKinley’s in my husbands family line. I hope to research more one day – his family, my family, and the family that raised my Grandmother. I have a pile of documents from Ireland to review and I’m the closest thing these folks have to carry on their story. My Grandmother was a farm wife too and I’m amazed at all she did. She missed her 100th birthday by a few months and I could never get her to share stories.

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