A few years ago I was visited my Grandma in the rest home where she lived. On her night stand was a photograph that took me by surprise. It was of a woman who looked remarkable like my Grandmother holding my Uncle Don. But, it couldn’t be my Grandma as she was much too young at the time. It was a bit eerie looking at this woman who was clearly not who I thought she was.
I learned that this was her Mother, my Great Grandmother, Margaret (Jones) Jackson, ca 1930. I couldn’t believe it! I had never noticed a resemblance between the two. As she aged, my Grandma looked nothing like her Mother. The woman in the photograph didn’t look my Great Grandmother from the photographs I had seen, but she sure looked like an older version of my Grandma.
I have photographs of her taken about 8 years later and she looks like an old woman. This photograph was taken about 8 years after the one above. It shows my Grandmother, my Great Grandmother, and my Mom
I calculated that my Great Grandmother was about 48 in the first photograph. In the second she is about 55.
I had learned that my Great Grandparents were going through a brutal divorce. In fact, at one point my Great Grandfather decided that no one should get the house and he tried to burn it down! He left my Great Grandmother with two young daughters to raise. Soon after, she’d also be taking care of grandchildren to help one of her daughter’s out as she was going through rough times.
My Great Grandparents were divorced around 1928-1929. So, my Great Grandmother was raising children on her own, without a job, at the start of the Depression. She either lost the house in Oakland or had to give it up early in the 1930s. They moved into an apartment in San Francisco. I have heard that my Grandparents sometimes bought groceries so my Great Grandmother had food in the house.
Her only son was on the outs with the family and her two oldest daughters were married with lives of their own. Both having marital problems of their one. She would have had no one to lean on. I imagine she must have done some work or else how would they have survived?
My Grandma told me that her Mother’s hair turned grey overnight. I think of how hard life became all of a sudden and the the stresses she endured. Then I look at the two photographs, I don’t doubt it!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com