Wow, I didn’t know what I was getting into the other night. My sister Angie (the one that made the capes) told me about a website that has a bunch of histories from my ancestors. I thought I’d take a quick peek the other night just for fun, and it turned into hours of reading.
I’ve only scratched the surface of all the stories and am almost starting to make sense of who was who’s mother, etc. I’ve mostly read so far about my Grandma Leah’s aunt, Sara Jane Godfrey Evans Holmes. She was born in 1862. She was a seamstress and even quilted until she was 88 years old! Almost every person that wrote about Sara Jane commented that she always had her hands busy sewing or knitting.
From the history I’ve read, I think it’s safe to say she probably sewed the dress she’s wearing in the photo above. She accomplished amazing things through the trials in her life, including being widowed with two young children. I can’t even begin to include everything I want to “flashback” about her in one post (and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t last that long), so today I’m going to start at the beginning.
Here’s an exerpt from her history:
“I was about 12 years old when Father brought home our first sewing machine from the city. I can remember yet how we all crowded around to see it. Oh, it would be nice to use, because all our spare time had been spent in sewing by hand the many things that were needed for the family. I guess you could say we lived between two periods of home production. We didn’t spin or weave our own cloth, nor yet did we buy our clothes readymade.
We were able to buy from the stores the fabrics and some of the yarns we needed so that we could knit and sew. We would knit our own stockings—long ones, too—wool for winter and cotton for summer, not the barelegged ones worn today.
The cotton yarn was quite a little like store cord, but we liked to use colored thread if and when it could be obtained. If we had time, we would knit sox for our brothers, because ours was a large family and Mother was hard put to keep the boys and men in sox.
Sara Jane as a teenager
The use of the new sewing machine was delegated to me. I suppose it was because I seemed more interested in it than others, and probably because I was the oldest girl. Mother cut out the cloth and directed me how to sew it together. From this time on I became a seamstress, and as long as I lived at home or even nearby, I sewed for all the family, even when it branched out into many families.
Not long after the machine was bought Father brought home a whole bolt of striped ticking. “Just the thing,” he said, “for the boys some overalls.” I laugh yet when I picture in my mind those striped pants on all four of my brothers—from the oldest, John, to little Jerry, just a creeper. And they wore those pants I made from that bolt of striped denim for a long, long time.”
I love how she called her little brother a “creeper”. That cracked me up. There are so many more neat (and even sad) stories I’ve read about her that are about sewing that I’ll share later on.