For at least part of her life, Emma Chandler lived by the land.
She could easily have been born into farm life in southern Illinois — I have no idea. But I do know she lived as a wife and mother on a farm at Grays Point, Mo., near the banks of the Mississippi River.
I imagine she worried, as most people would have who lived in the vicinity, about rising floodwaters in the spring. She was aware of the change of seasons, how much rain was needed to make the crops grow and how much would soak them too heavily. She likely canned her own food and put up enough to feed the family during the winter.
She and her husband, Joseph Joel Simpson, farmed in both Illinois and Missouri. He raised crops, notably popcorn, that was sold to the movie theater in Illmo. Some old family records show his logs for the farm, where he marked expenses and receipts.
I have no idea how much Emma was involved in the farm operations, but I imagine she knew a little about hard work. She married at age 23, and raised six children — three boys and three girls.
She was born Oct. 3, 1872, at Grand Tower, Illinois, a small community situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. Census records show she lived there until at least 1900, moving to Missouri by 1910 to be counted there in the census.
My records search has found only census documents, which help fill out a bit of her story.
She and Joseph Joel Simpson were married in 1894; their first child, Aaron Lloyd (my great-grandfather) was born a year later. (His obituary states that the couple married in January 1895 and they moved to Missouri in 1910.)
Her last child, Robert, was born in 1908, making him just 12 years old when his mother died.
Emma died Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1920, at her home. Her obituary stated that she was age 48 years, 2 months and 25 days. Her obituary notice published the following day in the Jimplicute newspaper. In part it reads:
“The deceased was a most excellent woman, kind hearted charitable and loved by all who knew her, and her death caused sadness to many hearts.
The Jimplicute extends sincere sympathy.”
I’ve been unable to find an actual death certificate for Emma Chandler Simpson with the Missouri Archive. I might renew that search again because I’m curious about the cause of death since she was so young.
I’d like to share the story of her life one day with my daughter, Emma, who is named after this relative. And it would be nice to have a bit of back story to go with the photograph that’s been passed down for generations.