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    » Show All     «Prev «1 ... 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Next»     » Slide Show

    Maude Pieratt Carpenter Story by Rhonda Jo Blecha Birkey

    A story about Maude Pieratt Carpenter, her family and her life, including a brief history of the Pieratt family of Kentucky.

    Maude Pieratt Carpenter

    Born: November 9, 1882, Morgan County, Kentucky

    Died: December 28, 1949, Chicago, Illinois                             


    I never met my great grandmother so what I am writing was told to me by my mother and grandmother.

    The Pieratt family history begins in the late 1700’s when my fifth generation grandfather, John Pieratt’s father, made his way to Virginia from France during the Revolutionary War.

    Many emigrants began migration from Virginia to the newly formed state of Kentucky.  Among them was John Pieratt.  They were of the Protestant faith, most being of the Christian Church persuasion.

    After the settlers built log cabins and cleared a little ground, they began the erection of a log church which was named the Goodwins Chapel.  The old log structure stood there for nearly a hundred years.  At this chapel the faithful worshiped every Sunday and held prayer services one evening during the week.  They would gather and pray for rain during a drought.  One summer they held services daily for seventy five days, when finally came the great down pour.  It rained until the creeks over flowed their banks, washing away much of the virgin top soil.  These pioneers could take defeat as they were well schooled to hardship and perhaps next year would be kinder to them.

    The John Pieratt family grew and they were politically inclined.  Five of his descendents were elected to the State Legislature and five were State Senators.  My great grandmother’s forefather, mentioned above, won the reputation of having the greatest personality of anyone who ever lived in Morgan County.

    Great Grandmother’s grandfather, Tom Pieratt, was elected high sheriff of the county when he was twenty four years old.  At the expiration of his term, he was elected and served a two year term to the Kentucky Legislature and then was elected State Senator representing five Eastern Kentucky counties.  He died in office at Frankfort.  His remains were hauled by wagon from the nearest railroad point at Rothwell to Ezel for burial.  Word got around somehow (as there were no telephone lines then) that his body would be brought to Ezel.  Everyone along the road was out to watch the funeral procession.  He was buried in the Ezel Cemetery.  The largest monument in the cemetery stands at the head of his grave.  It is an obelisk standing some twelve or fifteen feet high.

    The town of Ezel was named by this Pieratt family.  It is a biblical name taken from a passage of scripture found in the bible, where God asked his disciples to hide behind the stone Ezel.  Hence the name Ezel was selected for the village, the church, and the cemetery.

    These pioneers and early settlers of Eastern Kentucky County worked very hard clearing land a few acres each year.  Many of them died at a very young age.  Diphtheria was prevalent among children.  Doctors and medical aid was practically non-existent.  Great Grandmother Maude had a greatly admired and much loved grandmother who was from Cherokee ancestry.  She taught her family remedies that had been passed down to her through generations.  Methods of treatment of common colds, minor illnesses, first aid, proper diet, among other things she taught them.  This woman lived to be well into her nineties and was a useful mother and grandmother until the end.  She would visit in the home of one of her children long enough to knit warm clothes, weave cloth, and sew garments for every member of the family, before moving on to another one of her children doing the same for them.  One outstanding thought in Maude’s memory was how her grandmother wore nothing next to her skin except white, such as black stockings worn over white.  She was cautious never to step bare foot on the floor, soil, or anything.  She also had long black hair which she brushed one hundred firm stokes with her brush before she could consider her hair well groomed.

    I feel sure Maude Pieratt Carpenter inherited much from her admired grandmother.  Among them were herb teas and the knowledge of how to handle herself in case of an emergency.

    We will begin here on the life of great grandmother Maude, second youngest of the ten children of John Pieratt III and Margaret Nickell Pieratt.  They raised their family in the Tom Branch area, not far from Ezel, Kentucky in very much the same manner as was described by the earlier ancestors’ lives.  The telephone was still unknown, but in illness or death the news got around, everyone from far and near was there to offer their assistance or condolences which ever the case may have been.  When there was a death, two or three top notch carpenters built a casket out of the finest wood, lined with the choicest cloth available.  Men’s clothing was obtainable, but if the deceased was a woman or child, their burial clothes were carefully tailored by the most talented seamstress of the neighborhood.  Food was prepared and brought in abundance for the family to eat; friends would pick and arrange flowers on their way to a home hit with tragedy or sorrow.  By this time there were many cemeteries in their family name, such as the Cox Cemetery, the McKinney Cemetery, the Carpenter, and McGuire Cemetery, etc.   A grave site was selected in the family cemetery, where four to six men would proceed to dig the grave.  The minister was always with the family during their time of need.  In the winter, when the weather was too bad to be out-doors, services were held in the home of the deceased.  There were no funeral homes or morticians.  The deceased was kept in the home with many close friends sitting in silence around the clock until the services were over.  Cost of the funerals in those days was practically nothing.

    Great Grandmother Maude was married to John Wallace Carpenter in 1898 at the age of sixteen, much more mature than a girl of sixteen today.  She and her husband Wallace planned and built a home on a hundred acres they bought adjoining his parents, not far from the log cabin Wallace was born and raised in.  Wallace was the oldest son from a family of eight children of Cudfort and Barbara Ellen McGuire Carpenter.  Wallace had just lost his oldest sister who left and infant daughter, “Lura”.  At the age of sixteen Maude took care of this infant niece until her father remarried two years later.  It was near this time Maude had her first child Ruth, born December 1900.  When Ruth was eight months old, her father Wallace lost his mother Barbara Ellen from measles at the age of forty five leaving five minor sons and a six-year old daughter.  Maude worked very hard keeping her father-in-law and his children together.  She helped them to learn to prepare their food, taught them how to sterilize their milk pails, etc.  She also took over the knitting and sewing for the entire family until one by one the older boys married.  One of her brother-in-laws married Lizia Pieratt, sister of Maude.

    It was a joyful day in June 1904 when Maude gave birth to the first Carpenter grandson.  They were not prepared for such a fast birth.  As soon as Maude started labor, Wallace went via horseback to get a doctor, who was ten miles away.  It was late evening, some cousins had come to stay with her until the doctor arrived, but as Wallace got a short distance from home; the baby was already born.  The cousins panicked, but not the young mother.  She asked that her uncle Will Carpenter, her uncle by marriage, be called.  She was sure he could handle the situation.  That he did.  He assured them he was an old pro at delivering babies in an emergency.  When the proud father returned with the doctor “Forrest” was several hours old.  The doctor was a first cousin of Maude.  The doctor laughed and remarked to Maude, “Why don’t you have your babies during the day time so Wallace and I can get our sleep at night?”

    The Carpenter children grew up fast and were all married except three when Wallace’s father passed away in 1910.

    Maude and Wallace had six children, four girls and two boys when tragedy hit their family.  Ruth, now seventeen, was badly injured when a horse fell with her.  She landed on her right cheek causing partial paralysis and a broken neck.  They waited for hours for the doctor to arrive and all he could tell them was the girl was dying from a broken neck.  The doctor left saying the death rattle has already set in.  Hundreds of relatives and friends stood in silence around the grounds.  Tears were streaming down the faces of many, but not Maude.  Maude being the strong one saw to her daughters’ needs.  She pulled Ruth on her side and with cotton wrapped in swabs, she began removing the thick mucus from her throat.  She did this almost continuously until her breathing became normal.  Maude stayed with her daughter for several days and nights giving her nourishment, a drop at a time, massaging her throat in order to get it down her unconscious daughter.  This brave and courageous woman saved Ruth’s life.  Ruth was able to lead an almost normal life until the age of sixty three.

    A great great aunt lives today and tells of how her first child developed croup.  She sent word for Maude to come quick, but instead her brother Wallace came.  When she saw it was her brother instead of Maude, she panicked.  Wallace told his sister, Ida, to calm herself, as Maude was too ill to come, but had given him orders as to exactly what to do for the child, and that was to feed him pure lard until he could vomit.  They followed Maude’s instructions to the letter pushing lard down the little fellow’s throat until they induced vomiting and up came a croup worm.  Aunt Ida said it was unbelievable! The child was completely cured within an hour.

    Maude delivered many babies when a doctor could not be had.  She was called upon by almost everyone who had an illness.  After telephones were made available she could then give her advice via phone.  She taught her children to do the things they thought they were best suited to do, and she was a busy mother molding the character of each individual child.

    Maude’s husband, Wallace, died in November 1921 at the age of forty four, only three weeks after their youngest son was born.  This left Maude a widow at the age of thirty nine with seven children to finish bringing up alone.  She was now mother and father keeping schooling and religious training uppermost in her mind.  She took all of her family to church every Sunday and taught a Sunday school class besides.  Posture, cleanliness and good grooming were important in her training of her seven children.

    Life on a farm with more girls than boys became a hardship for her.  Maude had a brother living in Chicago who had lost his wife from child birth, leaving him with an infant daughter.  She could raise motherless baby, Genevieve Pieratt, and the older children could work.  She made this move to Chicago in 1925.  Ruth, slightly handicapped, cared for the infant niece, while four of the older children followed their mother’s advice and found work at the occupations they felt most suited for.

    Maude herself went to work at the Henroten Hospital.  She was a cook at the hospital where she prepared many meals for doctors on emergency cases as well for Dr. Carl Meyers, Health Administrator for the City of Chicago and Superintendent of the Cook County Hospital.

    Great grandmother raised seven of her own children, plus two nieces.  She did as much work if not more than a career woman of today with no family.

    This strong brave woman, my great grandmother, is a person from the past, but she offered so much to her family and their families, she will be well remembered for generations to come.


    Rhonda Jo Birkey (Blecha)



    [Note:  The above article was written by Rhonda Jo Blecha-Birkey, originally as a high school project.  I’ve included the article just as it was written.  Some of the background information regarding the Pieratt family is slightly in error, but this is the way the history had been told by our grandmother, Minnie Florence Carpenter-McDaniel.  Some of those minor errors are as follows:

    Our 5th Great Grandfather was Valentine Pieratt.  He is the one who fought in the French Army during the Revolutionary war.  His son was John Pieratt (our 4th Great Grandfather) who came to Morgan County.  The Pieratts may have come through Virginia on their way to Kentucky, but records indicate that Valentine was married in Maryland.  The description of Thomas Pieratt as being one of the greatest personalities and having served as sheriff and later in the legislature was actually Raney Maxey Pieratt, our 1st cousin, 4 times removed (Not Thomas, our 3rd Great Grandfather). 

    Those corrections being made, however, all other stories, names and dates are consistent with our family genealogy and help paint a more complete picture of Maude Pieratt Carpenter.]


    Linked toMaude Ellen PIERATT

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