Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fearless Females: Sarah Etta Space McCord

Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has created a series of daily blogging prompts in honor of Women's History Month, which kicked off yesterday, March 1st.

Today's blogging prompt: Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select the photo?

For today's post, I selected a photograph of my great-great- aunt, Sarah Etta Space. Youngest child, and the only daughter, of Zephaniah Allen Space and Margaretta Ann Shankle, Sarah Etta was born 13 May 1853 in New Bethlehem, Clarion county, PA. When she and her brother, Allen, were children, the family immigrated to northern Wisconsin and became one of the pioneer families who settled the village of Jenny, which later became the city of Merrill.

Sarah Etta appears to have been named after her mother's sister, Sarah, and follows a naming pattern with her middle name of Etta. In the Space family, she was always known as Aunt Etta; something that almost derailed a budding genealogist 20+ years ago until I realized Sarah Space and Aunt Etta were one in the same.

This photograph was taken during the time when Sarah and her husband, Myron Hawley McCord were living in Phoenix, Arizonia. Myron, newspaper publisher, lumber baron and politician, had been named as the governer of the Arizona territory. I find it amusing when reading court transcripts that the "First Lady" was known for raising and selling chickens and eggs. Prior to her marriage, Sarah was known for her travels from Jenny to Big Bull Falls (later Wausau), a distance of over 20 miles, to pick up the mail and bring it back to the post office situated in Zeph's hotel, The Eagle House. Sarah Etta made the trip alone on horseback over Indian trails along the Wisconsin River.

I chose this photograph because I see a strong resemblence to my grandfather: the set of the mouth and the auburn hair. By the time this photograph was taken, Sarah's life was not what it appeared to be: there were questions about the legality of the divorce Myron obtained from his first wife, scandal involving Myron's lumber dealings back in Wisconsin, the appointment of Myron as warden in a prison in Arizona and always nearby, Myron's long-time mistress, Mary Emma Winslow.

Sarah Etta died at the age of 50 of a heart ailment. Which isn't surprising.

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