Friday, August 10, 2012

C is for Clara

My great grandmother, Clara Matilda Illick was 19 years old when she  married Henry McEwen, son of William and Sarah Rasley McEwen  of Richmond,  Pennsylvania on December 25, 1878; a Christmas gift they celebrated for the next  64 years!   The newly weds  made their home  with Henry's parents,  adding an addition onto the farmhouse  that had been the home of Henry's  grandparents, Henry and Jane Ayers Rasley.

Clara was born on September 15, 1859 and grew up in a large family of ten children, being the eighth child  of  Samuel and Henrietta Kressler Illick.  Her given name at birth was Clarrissa Matilda Illick, but she was always known as "Clara".  When I was searching in the attic at the McEwen family farm for research data, I found the Illick family Bible which had belonged to her parents and contained entries for all of the children of Sam and Henrietta Illick.  The place where Great grandmother's name should have been recorded was neatly torn out of the Bible and penciled in its place was the notation "Clara".  Later, in the personal Bible of Clara McEwen, I found that little torn out corner  and was able to make a perfect match to the place of the missing corner in the Illick family Bible. Evidently she did not like her given name and took it upon herself to remove the entry from her father's Bible.  However, she could not throw that special piece of paper away, for she had placed it in her own Bible.

Wm. Homer McEwen and his mother, Clara

Clara Illick McEwen was the mother of two children; the first, born in 1882 only lived a few weeks.  Thirteen years later her second son, William Homer, was born on October 10, 1895.  Clara was 36 years old and Henry was 39 when they finally became parents after 17 years of marriage.  Homer's  birth must have been a joyous occasion indeed for this extended family!

Thank you Mom for giving me the ring Great Grandmother Clara is wearing in this picture of her with baby Homer.  I have always loved it.

She was a devout Methodist, played  the piano and like all the ladies of her time, did piece work quilting.   I remember  the old quilts, well used  and showing their wear,  that  we took to the shore every summer.  In her day quilts were made from  scrapes to be used until they were no more.  And that is just what her family did!

Clara and Henry  on the front porch of the farmhouse with  their son Homer and family.
Here is a 3 generation picture of the McEwen family taken about 1936. In this picture are Henry and Clara, the grandparents; Homer and Eliza, the parents and their children; Lois, seated in front; Homer Jr., seated in front of his father and Howard on his mother's lap.

Clara and Henry were married 64 years when she died on February 20, 1942 at the age of 82.  Henry died August 19, 1946 at the age of 90.  They are buried in the cemetery at the Richmond Methodist Church in Richmond, Pennsylvania. 

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                                             Cynthia H. Smith

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