In honor of Mother’s Day, I share a story that my mother’s mother told me.
Grandmother Glover, my mother’s mother, was 87 years old when I went to live with her. At that time, Grandmother cooked tended the garden, and kept the house cleaned. Many hours each day, she sat in a small rocker and looked out the front door. I sat on the floor leaning against her legs as she shared family stories. The story below is written from Grandmother’s point of view and in her voice.
In Her Voice from the 1800s: Grandmother Glover’s Cyclone Story
Our family lived on a farm in Hunt County in East Texas. From time to time, terrible storms, which we called cyclones, damaged our property. To ensure our safety, my father, Elisha Peter Couch (Feb. 23, 1866 – July 17, 1880) created an underground cellar, which was separate from the main house. In the underground room, we stored jars of fruits and vegetables, which we had prepared over the summer. Candles, blankets, pillows, and other supplies were also stored for emergency needs.
Our mother, Susannah Catherine Newsom Couch (Dec. 19, 1834 – 1869) took care of us and ran the house and garden. On one particularly stormy day, an overpowering wind suddenly struck our house. The sky was black. Trees leaned until they were horizontal to the ground and plants were forced to rub their faces in the dirt by torrential rain and wind. Windows rattled and bursts of rain sounded like rocks hitting the roof.
After securing the animals in the barn our parents rushed all of us children out to the cellar. Nathan, Matthew, and I were the oldest. I helped the youngest child, Robert, whom we called Bob. Our father went first so he could guide all of us into the shelter. Susannah, our mother, came last.
When Mother turned her body to climb down the ladder, we breathed a sigh of relief. All of us were going to be safe. Just as Susannah started her dissent, a wind gust slammed the cellar door onto her arm. As the door crashed, all of us heard her astonished cry. We knew the arm was broken. After daddy helped her complete her climb down, we lit candles and huddled in blankets. In the cold, dimly lit room we listened helplessly to her moans. No one felt like eating. Above us, the storm raged relentlessly. Eventually, Bob, 4 years younger than I, fell asleep in my arms but the rest of us waited for the storm to pass.
After the wind quieted, Daddy loaded Mother into the back of our horse-drawn wagon and carried her to the doctor. Even after the arm was set, our mother continued to have pain. Chores were divided so that all of us helped Mother with her usual work. I will remember that storm until I am an old woman.
Elisha Peter Couch (Feb. 23, 1866 – July 17, 1880)
Susannah Catherine (Kitty) Newsom Couch (Dec. 19, 1834 – 1869).
Mary Cordelia Couch Glover (Grandmother Glover) (Dec. 1, 1861 – Feb. 29, 1952)