Monday, April 2, 2012

Thinking About Aunt Grace

Photograph of Grace Meisel Martin and William Lanis Martin - taken in the early 1940s.

Thinking About Aunt Grace
J. Mark Lowe

In anticipation of the release of the 1940 census (, I have been thinking about lots of family members that I would like to review. My parents were not yet married in 1940, so they will still be living at home with their parents. My Dad graduated from College High in 1940, but we will save that story for another day. However, since my Dad was one of the oldest grandchildren of James W. and Clara Martin, his Uncle and Aunts spoiled him tremendously. Even after my Dad moved the family from Kentucky to Middle Tennessee, the family would often surprise us at home with the whole wonderful entourage. What wonderful memories I have.
My Mom and Dad both loved so many of those folks, and encouraged us to know all of our family. One of those Great Aunts was Grace Meisel Martin. She was married to my Dad’s Uncle Lan. His full name was William Lanis Martin and he was named for one of his Uncles. Lan and Grace farmed in the Oakland community of Warren County.
Grace Meisel was born the 12th of August 1909[1]. My Dad (J.W.) was born at the end of August and they always celebrated their birthdays together when possible. She was the oldest daughter of Edward Amel and Nora Ellis Vincent Meisel.[2] They lived in the Bee Springs Community of Edmonson County, Kentucky. Aunt Grace loved her siblings. Her sister, Anna, was often included in Martin family gatherings and she was a wonderful storyteller and great teacher. Her baby brother, Charles, was always funny and a great Christian gentleman. He continued to brighten our Martin Reunions with his laughter, stories and warmth until his passing.
Edward Amel Meisel was also born in Edmonson County, Kentucky.[3] His father, Maximillian A. Meisel was born 1850 in Baden,Germany and migrated to the United States about 1871.[4] Max married Anna E. Couran , 1 Jan 1874 in Boston[5], and the family lived near Boston until 1879 when they moved to Edmonson County, Kentucky.[6] Edward was naturalized in the Federal Court in Boston, Massachusetts on 13 November 1877.[4] The three oldest children of Max and Anna were born in Boston: Augustus Maximillian, Charles Paulus, and Isadora.[7] Their younger children, including Edward A., were born in Edmonson County.[2]
For years, I loved visiting with Aunt Grace. She would always tell me that she grew up in Bee Springs. I still remember the day, my folks drove across the ferry and we visited Bee Springs. Grace Meisel Martin was a lively character, who loved people with all her soul. Our visits to her home after Uncle Lan passed often lasted for hours, with Aunt Grace insisting that we stay long enough to eat. We often left her house with magazines, books or other valued objects – all with a connected story.
After my Dad passed in 1989, I often visited Aunt Grace with my mother, Chris. My Mom told me how Aunt Grace and Uncle Lan had welcomed her into the family. They would often go visit for the weekend when they were young newlyweds. This relationship lasted a lifetime. You could always be assured of a bear hug with Aunt Grace.
On one visit after my Dad passed, Aunt Grace encouraged my Mom to stay busy. She said, “Chris, hon, Nothing can fill that hole that J.W. left, but your heart is big enough to fill with more love. Visit those grandchildren, keep working, and travel.” My Mom certainly heeded the words of Aunt Grace . On that particular day, there was a gift of ‘clean’ romance novels, a bundle of Bible Pathway readers, a few magazines, and a selection from the Avon Bottles. I guess I forgot to mention that Aunt Grace collected Avon bottles. She had them lined up on shelves installed across windows, so the light could glow through them. I selected Pontiac, which still stands on the shelf above by the window. Aunt Grace passed from this life in 1992, but her memory is still strong in our hearts. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren discuss her often and she carry some of her same traits: loving, great storytellers, giving, always funny and great cooks. Thanks Aunt Grace for sharing yourself.
[Aunt Grace has a great-grandson named Max.] Here's just a small part of her family recently.

Keep the Story Alive.

[1] Grave marker and family records
[2] 1910, 1920 Census Records, Death Certificate, Oral History
[3] Oral History, 1900 Census, Death Certificate
[4]Naturalization Record, Federal Court, Boston 13 Nov 1877
[5]1874 Register of Marriages in Boston
[6] 1880 Census
[7] Registers of Birth, Boston, Massachusetts

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