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First of all, let me thank Betty (Kzookeeper) for letting me totally lift her beautiful "Dressing Up" layout. She not only graciously let me copy her, she also helped me with several tricky techniques. While not as perfect as the original, I really love this addition to my heritage album. Thanks, Betty!
This is my great-grandmother. While researching my family's history on the Internet, I found that she had a troubling event in her early life that maybe explained my fascination with her sad face in this, my only photo of her. The journaling reads: "Those eyes....careworn, sad, almost defeated. Was it the hardscrabble life of a tenant farmer's wife that caused that look? Was it giving birth to ten babies in twenty-five years? Since I first saw this picture of my great-grandmother, Sarah Ann LaFarlett Williams, I've always wondered about those eyes.
Even in this picture, at approximately fifty years old, Sarah shows traces of the beautiful young girl she must once have been. Born on March 26, 1848, she turned sixteen in 1864 as the Civil War entered its last year. During this period her home, Guntersvile, Alabama, was terrorized by frequent Yankee raids. The town was burned more than once, and many civilians suffered injury at the hands of the Yankee raiders.
According to stories handed down in more than one branch of the family, in December of 1864, Sarah Ann was raped by an unknown Yankee soldier.
What could have been the circumstances of her assault? Was she alone in the barn when the raiding party approached? Was she walking home from town or working alone in the field? After it happened, did she run screaming to her parents, Jeremiah and Priscilla, or did shame and fear keep her silent until she had to tell? What must have been her feelings as she neared her seventeenth birthday with the realization that she was pregnant becoming clearer each day?
Whatever the circumstances, Sarah Ann gave birth to Mary Kate (known as Mollie) LaFarlett on September 20, 1865, without the blessings of any church or civil authority.
Those eyes....what sorrows and regrets lie hidden in their depths?
'The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.'"
St. Jerome


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