Fearless Females Challenge: March 13 – Moment of Strength

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

While researching my family history, I uncovered several instances in which female ancestors showed (or must have showed) courage or strength in a difficult situation. There are a couple of instances in which husbands either died or abandoned their wives, leaving them to take care of their children in times in which it was very difficult for a woman to earn a living on their own.

When I think of these situations, I am reminded of the story when my 5th great grandfather, William Leishman (1825-1901), left (possibly abandoned) his wife, Ann (Forsyth) Leishman (1828-1896), in about 1878, about eight years after their arrival in the United States from Scotland. Few details have been uncovered about their apparent separation, though neither filed for divorce or remarried; and both either referred to themselves as still being married or widowed on census records after 1878. With several of her children still under her care, Ann didn’t let the end of a thirty-two year marriage slow her down. She left Ohio by train and arrived in Nebraska, settling first in Boone County. In 1885, Ann received her certificate of U.S. Citizenship in Antelope Co., Nebraska, after which she and her children moved to what is now Box Butte Co., Nebraska. As a citizen, she was now eligible to apply for a homestead, and in that same year she received a patent for 160 acres of land. The farm remained in the family until 1945.

Family of William and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby
Family of William and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby

A more recent difficult situation in which a female ancestor of mine showed courage or strength was when my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), learned that she had inoperable colon cancer. Although she was in pain, she showed so much strength and courage through it all, even encouraging others (such as her husband and children) who were so upset over the news.

Margaret Kernan
Margaret (Lapham) Kernan

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