Friday, February 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Mary Ida Sefton and Her 29 Roses

Mary Ida Sefton Green and her roses.

My great-grandmother, Mary Ida Sefton, loved gardening.  She was especially fond of roses.  She carried a huge bouquet of pink Sweetheart roses at her wedding.  At one time, she had 29 different varieties of roses growing in her garden in Decatur County, Indiana.  She even started her own gardening club -- the Give-and-Take Garden Club. 

My grandfather remembers that she always kept a large planter of moss rose in the summer.  This inspired me to plant some last summer and they have become one of my favorite flowers.

Mary Ida and her twin Ruth Edna

Mary Ida and her identical twin sister, Ruth Edna, were born on October 12, 1893 in Decatur County, Indiana.  The twins shared their mother's names: Mary and Edna.  Sadly, their mother, Mary Edna Bird, died only hours after they were born at the age of 22.  Someone was sent in a horse and buggy to a neighboring town in search of a wet nurse; otherwise, the twins wouldn't have survived.  A year later, their father, Romie Sefton, married Mary Edna's sister Nina Bird, and together they raised the little girls.  Ruth and Mary often dressed in matching clothes.

It seems like Mary had a fun childhood.  She grew up on a farm in Greensburg, Indiana.  I have many pictures of her with her sister and their friends.  She had lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.  While in high school, she won a Brownie camera and left behind an album full of snapshots of Decatur County.  In 1904, she went with her family to the World's Fair in St. Louis.  I have souvenir bookmarks that Mary and Ruth bought there.

Mary (on the left) and Ruth wearing matching coats and hats.
Mary's bookmark

Mary Ida Sefton, c. 1912
Mary Ida married James Cyrus Green on June 12, 1916.  They lost their first child, James Sefton Green in 1920.  Their only surviving child, John Richard Green, is my grandfather.  Several times, my grandfather confused his aunt Ruth with his mother.   Even now, he has trouble telling them apart in pictures.

Traveling was something Mary clearly enjoyed.  In the 1930's, she and her husband took a trip by automobile to Mexico, something very uncommon at that time.  The family went on a trip to North Carolina in 1938.

Mary was involved in the Decatur County Republican Committee.  In 1940 she met Mrs. Wendell Wilkie on a campaign in Rushville, Indiana. 

Mary died in 1941, with her twin by her bedside.  My grandpa was only a teenager and was working at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island at the time.  Her death was greatly mourned by her family and her community.

The brick house she and her family lived in still stands today.  I visited the house a few years ago with my grandpa, and he showed me where the rose garden used to be.


  1. What a vivid biography of your great-grandmother! And how awesome to be able to see where the rose garden used to be!

  2. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for starting the challenge!