Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: #9 Mary Edna Bird, Young Poet

Mary Edna Bird was a great admirer of poetry and even wrote some poems herself.  "Many were the beautiful words that Mary saved from different books and papers.  Often when she found something that she thought was nice, she would come bringing it to her husband or sisters and say, 'Listen to what a beautiful piece I have,' and read it to them." (From her obituary in the Greensburg Standard.)

At the age of 19, Mary composed the following poem in remembrance of her mother, Sarah Lane Bird, who died after childbirth, leaving Mary motherless at two years old. 

She slept.  We stood beside her
My great great grandmother, Mary Edna Bird, c. 1891
And watched her as she lay
With clasped hands on her bosom,
Like children when they pray.

The west was bright with sunset;
We knew that night was near,
And whispered to each other,
"O, would the moon were here!"

Night fell.  The peaceful moonlight  
Came in and kissed her face
So worn with pain and waiting,
Yet full of sweetest grace.

We heard far down the meadow
One lonesome whipporwill,
And with hushed voice we whispered,
"Dear mother sleepeth still."

She slept but ne'r to waken
To earth and sorrow more.
We heard the angels singing
Some song on heaven's far shore.
Mary's poem, in her own handwriting.

We knew the mystic boatman
Had sailed across the sea
And bourn the soul of mother
To God's eternity.

Gone home!  O,  angel mother
Sometimes from heaven's far strand
We hear your dear voice calling.
We see your beckoning hand.

And though between our pathways
There rolls so deep a tide,
We know you love your children 
The same as when you died.

The Bird sisters: Mary (left), Nina (top), and Grace (right.)

Mary Edna Bird was born January 22, 1871 in Decatur County, Indiana to James Harvey Bird and Sarah Ann Lane.  She had two older sisters, Nina and Grace, and six older half siblings: Leonidas, William, Alice, Ida Mae, James, and Martha. 

Mary married Romie Michael Sefton on December 21, 1891.  On October 12, 1893, she gave birth to healthy twin daughters, Mary Ida and Ruth Edna.  Tragically, Mary Edna had a "severe attack of heart disease" and died six hours later, one year to the day after the death of her father. 

After Mary died, her sister Nina stepped into the role of the twins' mother.  Nina and Romie were married in November of 1894.

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