Monday, June 5, 2017

A Letter to Her Son

Miriam Ophelia (Lewis) Ross, was my maternal uncle's mother-in-law. Mrs. Ross was known to her friends and family as Ophelia. She was born on 13 October 1901 in Pamlico County, North Carolina, to David Marcus Lewis and Delphia "Delpha" Mae Popperwill. At the time of her birth, Ophelia's father was a farm laborer but by 1910 he rented a farm and worked it on his own account. The family lived at Lowland, a small unincorporated community on the Pamlico Sound and one of the more remote communities in a county that is still rural today. Lowland is three feet above sea level, hence its name.

Miriam Ophelia Lewis and Coolidge Martin Ross;
courtesy of Cathy Brewer

Ophelia married Coolidge Martin Ross on 13 June 1920 in Pamlico County. They had six children and one is still living.  Their youngest daughter, Iva Mae Ross, was born on 11 April 1931, and married my Mom's brother, Herbert Paul Lange, on 4 April, 1952, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Aunt Iva went to live and work after she graduated from high school. Her new husband served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

The daughter of Coolidge and Ophelia's son, Coolidge Martin Ross, Jr., is also interested in her family history and active on Last summer she posted a letter Ophelia wrote to her son, Junior, and that letter wrote about the fatal illness of another uncle. So interesting to learn about this very sad time in our family from another point of view.

Page 1 of a letter from Miriam Ophelia (Lewis) Ross to her son, Coolidge Martin
Ross, Jr.; courtesy of Cathy Brewer


Dear Jr. and Family,

Hope all are well and keeping warm. It's sure cold down here. And has been quite a long time it seems. Try to keep one room warm. Our pump has frozen up twice already. You can imagine how cold it is in our kitchen in the morning. But we are doing fine.

Iva and Paul (this is what Ophelia called my uncle, Herbert) are in Florida. Went last week Paul's sister and her husband were both in the hospital at the same time, But Ruth is back home but not well. That's why they went to help Ruth out. Her husband is still in the hospital as far as I know. Iva said they would be back in about two weeks. That Paul's two sisters was going to take turns to be with Ruth until she is able to take over.

Not any of the children were home at Christmas but came down after. Carol did come up a little while on Christmas evening. You told me before long you were coming to see me. I keep looking for you but didn't see you. Hope you and the family wasn't sick. Have any of you had the flu? Sure hope you don't.

I still have my shingles but don't have any pain now but the itching and burning comes and goes. I will be glad when they clear up. But? How is Andy is he making good in school? Don't seem like he is twenty years old. Tell him hello from us. Have you still got a nice garden? How are Cathy and her family? Doing fine I hope. Hope Frosty and wife are getting along nicely.

Well I guess I'll close for now. Don't know if you can read it all or not but maybe some of it. Say hello to Cathy for me. Write us a line and let us know how all are.

I think of you all,

Love Mother

An explanation of the people mentioned in the letter is warranted.

Ross Family

Ross Family created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Carol Delmer Ross was their eldest child and is mentioned in the letter as stopping by to visit Christmas evening. Coolidge Martin Ross, Jr., who was called Junior by his parents, was the recipient of the letter. He lived in Georgia. And Aunt Iva is Uncle Herbert's wife. Andy, Cathy and Frosty are three of Junior's children.

Lange Family

Lange family tree created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Ruth Lange, married Robert Riffle Meek. It was the second marriage for both of them and Uncle Bob was 20 years her senior. He died of spinal meningitis on 27 January 1981, 15 days after Ophelia wrote the letter transcribed above. Aunt Millie and my Mom, Dorothy, are the two sisters mentioned in the letter. And Uncle Herbert is referred to as Paul in the letter. Herbert, Millie, Mom and their spouses lived in North Carolina. Aunt Ruth moved to New Bern, near where Aunt Millie, Uncle Marvin, and my parents made their home shortly after Uncle Bob's death.

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