I never would have made it in my ancestor’s world. You see, I am a bit of a wuss. No, seriously, this was my great great grandmother’s life: Her children were born in 1857, 1859, 1860, 1862, 1865, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1875, 1878, 1880 and 1884. So assuming we are looking at her life during the year of 1874, she would:
Get up a 4 am and start the stove, so that she could cook breakfast. She was 5 month’s pregnant with her 11th child, and was probably still nursing number 10. She had three children under 4 years of age, and she had to make sure she prepared enough food for breakfast for the school age children to pack lunches.
After breakfast was made and served, the kids would all be sent out to do chores, and she’d have some alone time with the toddler and the nursing infant, before she had to start her household chores. Their house was a beautiful two story affair and she was blessed to have older girls at home to help, but still cleaning the house and getting ready for the evening meal would have taken all of her day. Had she had time to rest during the day, she would have spent it mending clothes, or preparing for child number eleven. Her day probably ended way after dark, since doing dishes for twelve people, even with the older girls helping would have taken a while, since she had to haul water from a pump, heat it on the stove and then wash the dishes in it.
In between, she would have nursed the infant, and played with the toddlers, and helped teenagers with homework, and made sure they did chores, and settled arguments. She would have baked bread, sewed clothes, ironed, swept, taught children what they needed to know. She probably never had the house to herself. She had to go to the bathroom outside, draw water from a well, had no central heat and air, no running water. She was pregnant for the good part of 11 years. Yes, ladies 11 years! You do the math. Fourteen children, times 9 months is 10.5 years . Add in at least another nine months of nursing per child and she was pregnant or nursing her entire adult life.
Since her husband was a circuit riding minister, she had days where she alone was in charge of running the farm and the household. She bore him fourteen children and died in 1887 at the age of forty~seven. I have no idea what she died of, but based on the fact that her youngest was 3, my guess is she probably died in childbirth with number fifteen.
He would marry two more times. I’ve often wondered about his third wife. She helped him finish raising the last of his twenty two children, none of them hers. On the 1910 census, seven of his children still lived at home. She was apparently a spinster lady, having been born ca 1849. I know very little about her, so I don’t know if she had any children of her own, but none lived with them in 1910. Yup, I can’t even imagine what their lives must have been like.
Addedum: In 08 March 1862, John Abner Carlton joined the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery Regiment at Fort Pillow, TN. He is listed as deserted in December 1862. He and his brother had been sent to the Mississippi Springs Hospital sick. John in August, Benajah in October 1862. When he got better, he was given furlough and apparently he just went home. His regiment was stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi. After his desertion, Vicksburg came under attack and the 1st Tennessee took heavy loses. Whether John A (or his brother Benajah) ever returned to their unit is unclear. John lived until 1911. He was a circuit riding minister, farmer and served on the Pension Board for Rutherford County, TN. He was married 3 times. His second wife had a daughter when they married, giving him a total of 22 children, who all lived to adulthood. His brother Benajah returned to Lauderdale County, TN and lived the rest of his life there. John and Louisa moved to Rutherford county, where his father’s family lived and raised their large family in the Rockvale Community.