Elizabeth Hall Adams is probably one of the strongest, most amazing person I will never get to meet on earth. The above is a photocopy of a painted picture, below the pic is what is written on the back of the painting. I believe the Chariton County Historical Society now has the original. For those without superduper eyesight, I will summarize the above and what I have found out about Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was born in Kentucky about 1830. I don't know who her parents were. She married Henry Adams in Henry, Kentucky and moved to Missouri when my 3rd great-grandfather, Charles Adams, was 2 years old. They set up farming and continued having children. Six children were born and thrived and Elizabeth was the backbone, the brains, and the heart of it. The narrative above explains that Henry died during the Civil War in what amounted to a skirmish at Kirksville. Apparently a seven month pregnant Elizabeth begged Henry not to go, but he did. I can see that scene in my head, the anger and fear, the love. He did die shortly afterward, leaving Elizabeth pregnant, with a farm, 5 other children and family, friends, and church. I wonder if he knew? Was it quick or did he have time to think, to worry, to regret? Elizabeth and a neighbor went to try and get the body, but couldn't due to the war making travel unsafe. Later another neighbor brought her some things from his pockets and his horse. I assume he was buried where he died, there is only a small monument to the battle at Kirksville.
Can you imagine? Being pregnant, a farm wife, young children and no man? I can only imagine the pain of losing a husband so young, the fear of the future, the anger and love toward him. There was no social security. No medicaid. No section 8 housing. No jobs for women with children. No counseling for widows of the civil war. Poorhouses and orphanages, yes, but no one wanted to be in those places. Elizabeth stayed on the farm and raised those 6 children, she never remarried. Her children went on to be farmers, judges, shop keepers, wives. Elizabeth did it because if she didn't, she and her children would not survive as a family.
How did she do it? With family, church and friends and harder work than most of us have ever had to know. Her oldest son was 12 years old when his father died. I look at my children and I can't imagine one of them really being a man of the house at 12, but I bet Charles was. He plowed, he planted, he harvested, and so did his siblings and his mother. They sewed clothes, fed chickens and milked cows, they dried tobacco, they knit socks, cut firewood, they scraped by and I bet they ate bread for dinner on more than one occassion. But the point is, Elizabeth and family did do it. They grieved, they loved, they cried, they laughed, they lived, they built this great country..... and because of this we continue to do so.
We forget what makes a hero anymore. Money and power do not make a hero. Touchdowns, home runs, and baskets certainly don't make people heroes. Sacrifice, love, hardwork and doing whatever you have to for your family, that is heroic. And that makes Elizabeth an American hero.