Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Molly Musgrove: There's Something about Mary

Mary Ann Savannah Musgrove

Clinch County
Courthouse sign
The story is Betty Collins fell in love and wed David Musgrove in Clinch County, Georgia, where her father and his mother lived.

We've found no marriage certificate but that's not surprising. The courthouse in Clinch County burned down in 1867, the summer their first child was born.

It's also no surprise her first child was born in Baker County, Georgia. It was common for a new mother to give birth to her first child in her hometown.

Betty's mother, brothers, sisters and family doctor were all there. It was where she was raised.

So, on the 25th of June, 1867, our great, great grandparents, *(see relationship notes) Betty and David Musgrove became parents of Mary Ann Savannah Musgrove.

Baker County sign
Mary Ann was known as Molly. And what is known most about Molly is 'she wasn't quite right'. In fact, she was twice institutionalized at Milledgeville State Hospital.

That she was 'a bit off' is the first thing you'll learn about Molly Musgrove from anyone you ask. Look a bit deeper. She's a complicated and colorful figure.

A 'Fussy' Lady

Molly Musgrove
courtesy David Moore
Great Aunt Louise describes Molly as 'fussy'. She was always walking around, grumbling under her breath. But she was also 'fussy' as in 'picky'.

She was 'fussy' about her clothes. She loved pretty things. She sewed lace and embroidery onto all her dresses. She fancied herself a 'genteel lady', it seems.

She was also 'fussy' over who she would marry. She swore she'd never marry a man who wore coveralls (meaning a farmer).

She 'fussed' over the nieces and nephews she watched. According to one of those nieces, Molly said her life's curse was to raise children of others but never have her own.

A 'Strong -Willed' Woman

Molly Musgrove
courtesy David Moore
My aunt Juanita said whenever someone would talk back or get sassy, family members would accuse them of 'pulling a Molly'.

In her time, women listened and heeded, Molly grumbled and made wise cracks.

When they took her to Milledgeville, she fought so hard it took all three brothers to get her out of the house and into the car, says aunt Louise.

She was committed in 1916 and again in 1917. She's listed on the 1920 federal census as an 'Inmate'  at the Georgia State Sanitarium.

But by the 1930 census, she was living with family and keeping children again.

A 'Motherless Child'

Waycross Journal
On March 29th, 1894, Molly's mother, Betty, died of self-administered strychnine poison. 

Aunt Louise says her grandmother was bitten by a spider, got very sick and took to bed for several months.

She didn't know about the suicide.

The Leverettes might say it was the stress of an unfaithful husband. They might, but they haven't. 

Molly was twenty-seven years old at the time. She probably grumbled.

David Musgrove and Eliza Cox marriage license
She may have fussed three years later when her fifty-year-old widower father married the thirty-year-old Eliza Cox in 1897.

Molly was boarding at her in-law's house next door to the newlyweds on the 1900 federal census.

In 1910 she was counted at both her sister's and her brother's - our great-grandfather, Ed Musgrove's - house.

A 'Crazy Broad'

Thousands of Georgians were shipped to Milledgeville, often with unspecified conditions, or disabilities that did not warrant a classification of mental illness, with little more of a label than “funny.” 
Asylum: Inside Central State Hospital 

James Virgil, Molly, David John
 and Edward Columbus Musgrove
courtesy David Moore
In  1916 forty-eight-year-old Molly's younger brother, James Virgil (JV) Musgrove, brought a 'petition to the Ware County Ordinary asking his sister be declared a 'lunatic'. All three of her brothers signed it.

The court granted their petition.

One year later, February 1917, JV again asked the court to declare her a 'lunatic'. Again, the court complied.

Molly Musgrove
courtesy David Moore
What else could they do with an almost fifty-year-old, grumbling, 'fussy' spinster in the early 1900s?

This time she stayed a 'lunatic' until at least 1920 when she was counted as an 'Inmate' in Milledgeville on the federal census.

She resumed living with relatives and raising their children once she recovered her senses and was released.

She never married; she never lived alone. She died leaving no children. Yet still, she leaves her legacy on our family. Through her comes our family's earliest oral history.

Our First Family Historian

left to right-back:
Phillip, Laura Janet (Musgrove), Katie
and Spencer Wildes
courtesy David Moore
One of the children Molly watched was  her niece, Katie.

Katie Wildes McDonald provided much of the information I have on this branch of the family. ... 
Katie relates that much of her information came to her from her Aunt, Mary Anne Savannah Musgrove, the oldest daughter of "(David) John and Elizabeth Collins.  
Richard Graham Musgrove - American Family Musgrove pages 725 and 734

NoteRelationships are expressed from the perspective of the grandchildren of Willis Edgar and Carrie (known as) Mae (Merritt) Musgrove. 

*Terms of relationship - grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.  - are used here generically to include  relatives such as fourth great grandfathers, great grand uncles, second cousins twice removed, etc.

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