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three miles from Oldenburg, Indiana. She was the second child of Bernard (?) Macke and Hannah Taylor Macke. Her brother Ben was two years old when she was born. Several days after Mary was born her mother developed child bed fever and died. Her father found Katherine (?) [Theresa], a single young woman of good disposition and reputation, who came to care for the two children and keep house for the bereaved man. Two years later the man and woman married and had several more children. Together, they were a close-knit family unit, and, together, they had a productive farm. Macke also ran a cooperage in a small outbuilding on the edge of the farm. Young Ben [Henry] was fifteen when he became bored with the unending labor of farm work, and he tired of the meager monetary return for all his toil. So he solved his own problem by leaving home in secret. The saddened parents waited for word from their wandering son in vain. Many years later came word from San Antonio, Texas, that he was well and working for a railroad. When Mary was a young woman of eighteen or so, she came to Cincinnati to work and here she met Joseph Jansen. After a courtship of several years they married and became the parents of ten children--seven girls and three boys. Mary, Clara, Joseph, Theresa, Katherine, Hannah, Rose, Philomena--died aged 21, Bernard, and Edward--died in early infancy. Mary kept up a close relationship with her parents. She wrote often and visited the farm as often as her busy life permitted. Her children all spent a part of their summer vacations on the farm, thus getting to know well all their uncles, aunts, and cousins who remained in the vicinity of Oldenburg. Bernard [Joseph] Macke died (date unknown) and was mourned by his loving family. His wife stayed in the little house. The farm, at her death, was to go to their son Joe and his wife Kate, and they came with their children, to make their home with their mother. One day Mary received a letter from her brother, Joe. He urged her to come at once. Her mother was dying. There was something on the dying woman's mind and she needed to see Mary at once. Mary left for Oldenburg on the early train the next morning and hurried to the bedside of the woman she knew as Mama. The old woman was failing but held a lucid conversation with her daughter. She told Mary that she, Katherine [Theresa], was really the stepmother and she told Mary the details of Bernard's first marriage. It seems that when Bernard arrived in America from Germany, he found work in Richmond, Virginia, as a gardener for the Taylor family. The Taylors were Methodists and anti-Catholic. When Bernard fell in love with their daughter, Hannah, they refused to consider the match for two reasons--he was beneath Hannah's station in life and, worse, he was a Catholic. The two young people, desperately in love, made plans to elope and Bernard applied to the government for a free homestead in Indiana. When his land grant was approved, they moved in 1845, and left Richmond for Oldenburg, Indiana. Hannah knew she was disinherited. "Your mother was a fine horsewoman," said the old woman. "She loved horses and riding and she had a beautiful riding habit which she brought with her when she married your Papa. She rose almost every day except when she was expecting the two babies. When I came here to care for your Papa and his two children I gathered together all her belongings and packed them in her little trunk. I cleaned her riding habit and packed it away carefully. She owned a beautiful riding crop with a handle of real silver. I packed that away. I also found some personal papers belonging to her. Those papers are in the trunk which has been in the loft all these years. If you read through those papers I'm sure you can reach your relatives in Richmond. Since your brother, Ben, has turned his back on us and has ignored us all these years, I want you tho have your mother's possessions." The dying woman fell into sleep and Mary was left with her world falling down
around her ears. She had such love and respect for her parents, she had enjoyed such a secure home life here on the farm, that she could scarcely believe this was not actually her mother. In the vernacular of the times the word, stepmother, held a connotation of cruelty, hate, contempt. Yet here was a stepmother who had filled her life and the lives of her family with honesty, kindness, love. They buried their mother in the Oldenburg cemetery and Mary went back to Cincinnati. She felt doubly bereaved. She had lost the actual presence of her Mama and at the same time she had lost he physical relationship. For some time, Mary grieved and then slowly began to realize the importance of the little trunk. In her mourning she had completely forgotten her inheritance, lying neglected in the loft of the little farmhouse. She sent word to her brother, Joe, and his wife, Kate, that she was coming for her trunk. When she arrived at her girlhood home her brother seemed uneasy and her sister-in-law seemed defiant. The little trunk was brought into the kitchen and with trembling hands Mary lifted the lid. She turned a questioning look upon her relatives. The trunk was empty. Her brother looked at the floor but Kate took over the conversation, keeping on her face the same defiant look she had been wearing. "What were you expecting?" she asked. "For one thing, I was told my mother left me a riding habit of very good material? Where is it?" "My children were cold so I cut it up to make warm clothing for them," answered Kate. "What about the riding crop with the silver handle? Mama thought it was valuable," was Mary's next question. "You're not the oldest. Your brother, Ben, should inherit anything of value because he is older than you. I sent it to him in San Antonio." "You've given away things of value that really belonged to me. I'll forgive you that. maybe you didn't quite know how I felt. So, now, if you will give me the papers that were in this trunk I'll be on my way and not bother you any more," said Mary. "The papers?" asked Kate. "They were all yellow and faded and raggedy. I didn't think they were worth keeping so I threw them into the fire." The two women stared at each other. Mary's face registered utter disbelief. Kate's face was a study in hostility. Was she so envious of Mary's place in Mama's affection that she used this method as a means of "getting even?" Mary realized the futility of argument. Her things were gone--forever. Deeply hurt, she put on her bonnet and took the next train back to Cincinnati. She never returned to the home of her childhood. It was not here nature to harbor a grudge or to nurture bitterness, but the close affection she felt for her brother was gone. He had stood by and watched while his jealous young wife had destroyed Mary's inheritance. In later years Mary confessed that she had considered the idea that she should employ a private detective to find any possible relatives who might still reside in Richmond. But realizing all the needs of her large brood she felt she could not spend money on such a venture. She resigned herself to the fact that she had been cheated and tried to forget about it. She turned her thoughts instead to the loving care she had received from her parents. When she died in 1928 she was still praying daily for the souls of her parents. An extra prayer of thanks went every day to the Good Lord who had sent her such an affectionate substitute mother.
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