Again, I write about a woman whose blood flows through my veins. This time it is my maternal Great-Grandmother. She was born in Nantucket, Mass., the daughter of Henry Fisher and Maria Chase. She met Clinton Rackett, who was a fisherman from East Marion, Long Island, and moved to that little community in New York state.
I think of what it must have been like to move away from all she knew, to begin a brand new life as a young wife in a new area. There must have been a strong resolve and an even stronger love for the man, to leave everything behind. East Marion might have felt somewhat familiar to her, since both Nantucket and Long Island are surrounded by water, and in those days, many of the men worked the sea as a way of life. The air in both places would have smelled salty, and weather conditions would have been somewhat similar as well.
There are photos that show the home that was built by GrGrandpa Rackett, for his family. I'm not sure when it was built, but it stood fairly early in their marriage. It stood close to the Community church, but across the street on the Main Road. It was taken down many years later, but I never had the chance to see the building. I'm told that GrGramma Rackett kept an immaculate house and yard. Even the outhouse had starched and ironed white curtains hanging in the window! There was a garden, a cherry tree, a picket fenced yard. My Grandmother was married there, in the garden.
Not only was GrGrandmother a woman who took good care of her home and four children, she was also a good business woman, I'm told. Her husband died in the early 1900's, leaving her alone to raise the youngest child, my Grandmother. She took on the his fishing fleet business, keeping it running in fine order. How these female old timers got all the household chores done and ran businesses to support the families, is beyond me.
I was a working woman, but my housekeeping was none too good. I gave up my baking, except for an occasional batch of cookies. I had to let some things go and organize other things when I went to work. But, the women of old couldn't do that. Baking, sewing, laundry, mending, gardening, cooking, canning, cleaning (including beating room sized rugs!), etc. could not be not be overlooked. They didn't have take-out food or frozen, pre-made meals to pop in the oven. They had to do that work. Taking on the bookkeeping, records, payroll and other matters relating to running a fishing fleet was a time consuming endeavor. I don't know how she did it.
GrGrandma's obituary tauts her as a 'pillar of the church'. I know she was a woman of faith, but apparently she was quite involved in the women's ministries of the time. I'm sure that involved meeting the needs of other women, widows and orphans. Besides muscle and determination, she apparently was blessed with a compassionate heart. Perhaps it was her faith that gave her the strength she needed to keep going and to accomplish all that she did.
Our ancestors were not wimps. They were hard workers. They knew there was nobody to do the work but themselves, and they did what was necessary. We could learn much from these family members. They were pretty good examples.
Sometimes it pays to look back so that we know how to move forward.