Maggie Jane Clymer was born in rural Richwoods, Missouri, just as the Civil War was ending to John Vanderpool and Ellen Smith Vanderpool. She might have been their only child.
She lived there — a small community founded in 1830 in Washington County — for most of her childhood, likely living on a farm.
She was listed on the 1870 census as living with her parents in Richmond, in northwestern Missouri. I have found little about her parents, except that both were born in Tennessee. How and why they came to Missouri, I can only speculate — perhaps for the rich farmland, perhaps to escape the south during a time of turmoil.
Maggie Jane grew to an adult and moved to Commerce, Missouri, by April 1884 when she married James C. “Jonah” Clymer. She was his second wife; he was nearly twice her age at the time of their marriage. Marriage records list her maiden name as Vanderford, but I believe that to be an error in transcription as a death certificate lists her maiden name as Vanderpool and her father was born in Vanderpool, Tenn.
I have no idea how Maggie Jane and Jonah met and decided to marry. I can’t find much in census records to track her early childhood and young adult life until she married J.C. Clymer. Although he and his first wife had children together, I don’t believe any of the children from his first marriage were still alive when he married Maggie Jane.
The couple had seven children together — Bessie Pearl, James Ferrell, John A. “Logan,” Herman, Mary Hixie, Margaret and Edna. In 1900, census records show her living with her husband, three sons and three daughters in Commerce. (Daughter Edna wasn’t born until 1903.) This picture of the family, taken around 1900, hung in my childhood home so I’ve always felt a strong connection to this group of ancestors.
In addition to raising her own children, Maggie Jane helped to raise my great-grandmother, Amy Ruth Duckworth, the daughter of Bessie, born in 1902. Based on hearing the stories my grandfather used to tell, Mag (Margaret), Hixie, Edna and Ruth (my great-grandmother) were “thick as thieves.”
Maggie lived to be 75 years old, dying in 1939, just three years after her husband and near the end of the Great Depression. Family rumor has it that she was part Cherokee. That information I’ve not been able to track thus far.
Three of her children died before she did — Bessie, Herman and Logan (there’s more to the story there but that’s for another post or three as I dig deeper), which I imagine as times of great loss and grief for her as a mother.
I always got the sense that Maggie Jane was like the glue holding things together in the family, and with seven children, I imagine her days were lively and exhausting more often than not. It strikes me that there were likely great hardships in her life, particularly because of life on the farm and living through the Depression and a World War.
The few pictures I have (she’s shown in the header of this blog with her young family on the farm in Commerce) seen of her show a woman who appears to be determined and driven to survive. Both are characteristics I admire, too.