Thursday, January 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Eva Jane (Mapes) Clark (1900-1988)

I have to begin this journey of telling 52 stories in 52 weeks with my paternal grandmother, Eva Jane. She was one of my favorite people, and is responsible for my interest in everything family.  I knew that the top drawer of her bureau held her most treasured keepsakes, including mementos handed down by her mother. Some of these things have now been handed down to me, and the legacy continues.

I cherish my early memories of sleepovers with Grandma. We shared her little bed in the room she shared with Grandpa, giggling ourselves to sleep. I can still hear the gentle ticking of her Big Ben alarm clock on the dresser next to her bed. 

She took me to visit the neighbors. We walked the woods across the road in the spring, picking jars of wildflowers. 

The Beginning

Grandma came into the world at the beginning of a new century. 
Eva & Leslie Dony Mapes
Eva Jane was born on February 13, 1900 to John D. and Josephine (Fittshur) Mapes, in Forestville, Door County, Wisconsin. Her parents were older when they had her, but she loved the companionship of her older brother Leslie. 

When asked about her earliest memory, she said, "Was a blind man stayed at our Dad used to take anybody in like that. He stayed there for a few days, and my brother, Lesley used to lead him around, all over. So after he left, then he was going to play blind and I was to lead him. We was going to go to my Grandma's across the road.
And I pulled him, and I ducked under the wire fence and pulled him right into it. He opened his eyes in time. He could have cut his throat!"

"That wasn't so bad. Then I remember we had chairs that had the slats going cross-ways. I had stuck my head through one and it went through so nice and easy like that, that I was going to go behind it and crawl into it through the back and sit on the chair...and I got stuck! Leslie run for a hatchet or something- he was going to get me out of there, but I worked and got out."

John & Josephine Mapes family

When Eva was 4, the family moved up the peninsula to the small community of Juddville, "a place I hated! I would have liked to stayed in Forestville, cause there were more things doing." 

Yes, Grandma did love to have a good time, but life wasn't easy for a family trying to eke out a living farming the rocky soil of Door County. Her father was in his late 50's by this time, and didn't like a lot of noise, so Grandma wasn't encouraged to have friends over. 

One night their cabin caught on fire. She ran barefoot to the nearest neighbors for help, but by the time help came, the house was lost. 

Josephine & John, Leslie & Eva Mapes

Eva's life was turned upside down when her brother developed Tuberculosis in his leg, and died at the age of 17. She was left without her beloved companion. Eva graduated from 8th grade, and from then on worked at various jobs to help the family make ends meet.

Juddville School's 8th Grade Class
Eva is the tall girl in the back "with the rag on my head"

Her first job was at the Hotel Resorter's Nook in Fish Creek, where she and the owner's daughter cleaned guest rooms. One day, she admitted, they "stole" a Lemon Meringue pie that was cooling in the window and hid away to enjoy it. 

Eva's next move was to Sturgeon Bay, where her Aunt Jane and cousins lived. She found a job working for Mrs. Wally Lawrence. 

It was about this time that her life took another turn- she met Sanford Clark.

I will continue that part of Grandma's life with next week's blog.


  1. Hi, Judy, and welcome to the world of blogging. I've been blogging for 8 years now, though my blogging is now limited to classic films. My parents and a few other living relatives are uncomfortable with the public-ness of the internet, so I felt the need to delete my genealogy blog within a few weeks of starting it. Instead, I record my family stories in my Word files.

    I do love reading genealogy/ancestry blogs, though, and I wanted to be sure to offer a congratulations to you on your very first blog.

    While I adored both my grandmothers, like you, I was especially close to my paternal grandmother. She was the woman I most wanted to be like when I grew up. Now in my early 50's, I feel that I have become her, and I couldn't be more pleased.

    Happy genealogy blogging to you,

    1. Patti, Thanks so much for your message. I can understand your family's feelings. The longer you are involved in genealogy research, the more stories you find the need to tell. I am happy to have both the incentive to write them, and a place to store them.

  2. That lemon pie story is funny!