Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Janet McKechnie Craig Smiles

Fearless Female Ancestors Series by Lisa Alzo         (1,900th blog post!)

Janet McKechnie by midgefrazel
Janet McKechnie, undated photo, in photo collection of Midge Frazel

Janet McKechnie Craig
...Where sits our sulky sullen dame.
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm...
Robert Burns "Tam o' Shanter" 
as seen in M.C. Beaton's Hamish McBeth's Death of a Valentine, Chapter 9

Janet McKechnie, widow of George Craig,  ruled her family "with an iron fist", my mother-in-law typed in a short family history. But since my mother-in-law was only three years old in 1918 when this grandmother died, I encouraged her to talk to her oldest sibling to find out more. Aunt Jane, born in 1901, was 17 when Janet McKechnie Craig died and so she remembered her well. 

At a family luncheon, my husband's aunt, talked about Janet and told the following story... 

One day, Janet McKechnie Craig took the trolley to visit the home of her only son, James. [James Craig, my mother-in-law's father

She did so because she said he was "neglecting her,  his mother" and she wanted to know why. 

Since James was at work, she confronted her daughter-in-law, Hannah [Hannah Wilde Craig, my mother-in-law's mother] who was home with small children, the oldest being Jane. Jane told us that Janet was stern and unsmiling all of the time, unlike this photograph. 

Janet blamed her daughter-in-law and told her that it was Hannah's fault for the neglect because she had "too many" children. When Hannah retorted with "you should talk to her son about that", Janet became insulted and stormed out onto the street. 

Hannah fearing that her husband would be angry, sent Jane out to bring her grandmother back inside. They patched it up over a cup of tea. 

With research and the typed family history, I have learned that James and Hannah had a baby born and died at 17 days, of suffocation of bedding and may have had another child the next year. By, the time this incident happened, there could have been even more children for Janet to complain about. 

James and Hannah married in 1900, which was far too soon after Janet arrived in 1895 with her son and his two sisters. She expected to be "taken care of". James not only worked in the mill, he took correspondence courses in office work to become a foreman. He was a little busy to deal with the tantrums of his mother. 

What did he do? He let his sisters, Margaret and Janet deal with her. We call them, "The Great Aunts" and my husband does remember them. 

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