The women in my Hendel roots have some colorful history. I can’t thank my Cousin Carol enough for putting this book together. She did the research before it, well, died away. Since she put the family history together, my great great aunt who gave her most of the oral history, my father and his sister have all passed away (and those are just those that I know of). One plus of the digital age? I’m pretty sure family histories will never be lost again. Luckily Carol got a hold of ours, something that could easily have been forgotten if not for her dedication.
Anyway, I’ll start from the ground up.
My Great Great grandma Lucy Ann Martin was married to William G. Mitchell, and they lived outside McMinnville, Tennessee. William was in the Civil War…fighting for the South…eh hem. Until reading the Hendel family history book, I knew of no military connection in my family. At some point William camped near Lucy and his home during the war, and she paid him a visit. 9 months later, my great grandma Willie Ann was born, aptly named in memory of her father; during her pregnancy, Lucy had received word that her husband died during a battle.
Miraculously, in what seems like a scene from a film, 3 months after the war ended William stumbled home wearing rags and covered in lice. Lucy Ann made him strip of his clothes in the yard, and she burned them. They had four more children, and Lucy lived out her final days in a Confederate widow’s Home until 1924.
There isn’t much about my Great Grandma and her husband, but the story of my Grandma America is great.
At 20, America traveled alone to St. Louis in 1904 for the World’s Fair. She lived temporarily with a woman she met on the train, knew no one else, and had no job. She eventually became a housekeeper and cook for a doctor, and met her husband there. Known as “Johnny, the curly red-headed butcher boy,” John Hendel owned Hendel’s Grocers in St. Louis. Also, never had a clue I had red-head genes in my family. The mysteries black and white pictures hold! They married on October 23, 1907.