Mildred Springer: A Life of Loss (52 Ancestors #24)

My family and I are fortunate to have a number of family heirlooms.  We owe a debt for those heirlooms to my great grandmother, Mildred Gertrude (Springer) Wiseheart.  She wasn’t quite in the category of a hoarder, but she saved a lot of things.  I think this is because she suffered a lot of loss in her lifetime and holding onto mementos of her loved ones was the best way she knew to keep them with her.  I’m going to write her story as a timeline, to allow for better visualization.  I know how hard it can be to keep a bunch of dates straight in your head.

1892

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1892.

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1892.

Mildred was born on November 20th in New Albany, Indiana to parents Frank and Zerilda Eleanora “Ella” (Rakestraw) Springer.1  She and her mother were both very ill at the time of her birth.2

1893

Frank Springer left for the World’s Fair in Chicago and allegedly did not come back.3  (Mildred received almost monthly correspondence from him between 1904 and 1918, possibly even later, and he did come back for visits periodically).  Ella was extremely ill and was considered to be an invalid.2,4

1894

Mildred was adopted by her grandparents, Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw.4  Just two and a half weeks later, on June 13th, her mother died of consumption.5

1900

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1900.

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1900.

Mildred was living with her grandparents, her Uncle Willie, and her cousins, Charlie and William.6  This seems to have been the normal living arrangement for the family, as Willie was unmarried for most of the time between 1890 and 1910.

1910

Mildred was living with her grandparents and cousins.7  Willie had moved to Illinois.  At some point during the year, Charlie went to live with Willie.

1911

Francis Marion Rakestraw died, leaving Mary Elizabeth, his wife, Mildred Springer (age 18), and William Rakestraw (age 16).8

1918

Mary Elizabeth and Mildred moved to 811 West 8th Street in New Albany, Indiana.9  William moved to Louisville, Kentucky.  Mary Elizabeth and Mildred became friends with Sanford “Sandy” Wiseheart, who lived down the street at 922.  When Sandy went to France to fight, they corresponded.

1920

George William

George William “Willie” Rakestraw and Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1920.

Mildred was still living with Mary Elizabeth on West 8th Street until she and Sandy were married on May 5th.10,11

1921

Mildred gave birth to her first child, Mildred Lorena Wiseheart, on May 9th.12

1923

Mildred gave birth to her second child, Sanford William “Bud” Wiseheart, on May 30th.12

1925

Mildred gave birth to her third child.12

1928

Mildred gave birth to her fourth child.12

1930

Sandy, Mildred and family were living on County Line Road in Clark County, Indiana.12  Mildred gave birth to her fifth child, James Roscoe “Jimmy” Wiseheart, on November 13th.13

1932

Jimmy died of pneumonia on December 12th.13

1934

Mildred gave birth to her sixth child, Mary Katherine Wiseheart, on October 3rd.14

1936

Mary Katherine drowned in the neighbor’s fish pond on July 9th.14

1940

Sandy, Mildred and family were again living at 922 West 8th Street in New Albany, Indiana.15

1944

Mildred had no idea where her father was, or if he was even still living.16

1951

Mildred died on November 3rd of cancer of the gallbladder.1

I’d like to end with what my grandfather, Mildred’s son, said about her:

She had a, I don’t know what you call it, maybe call it a vivid imagination, but she, sometimes at night, she’d take a flashlight and be lookin’ around and she’d say, ‘There’s somebody out there,’ and once a while she’d say, ‘I smell a real strong gag, they’re smoking something.’ And my dad, he’d blow up. I was the only one left at home, the others had all gotten married young and so she was always, like she’d save the last bananer or something and say, ‘Buddy, I saved that for you, that’s the last one.’ And two or three different times she’d say, ‘Buddy, do you think your daddy’s plottin’ against me to have me put away,’ or something. I said, ‘Oh, Mom, he wouldn’t do nothing like that,’ and then I get out walking with him on a job and he’d say, ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to put your mother away.’ I’d say, ‘Oh, Pap, she ain’t that bad,’ and it was like that for three or four years. Course he blamed it on her father, Frank Springer. I think his problem started when his wife Eleanora died. She was twenty-eight. My mother was two years old when her mother died, so Frank Springer became a wanderer. He’d just wander around and people said there was something wrong with him mentally. And she always had that kind of reflection since people find an excuse to say he was mentally unbalanced and they sort of thought that my mom inherited that. It wasn’t really that way.  My mother was an intelligent person and she could draw and was pretty good in artwork and stuff, she just didn’t go anywhere and associate with people.


Sources

1. Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. H-12. p. 10. Microfilm.  Accessed 4 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

2. Springer, Frank. Letter to Ella Springer. 4 Dec. 1892. MS. New Albany, Indiana.

3. Paoli News 22 Nov. 1893: 3. NewspaperArchive.com. Web. 27 Dec. 2014.

4.  New Albany Daily Ledger 26 May 1894, Saturday Evening ed.: 5. Print.column 3.

5.  “Deaths (Obituary).” New Albany Evening Tribune 14 June 1894, Thursday ed.: 4. Print. column 2.

6.  1900 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 9B.

7.  1910 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 14A.

8.  Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. CH-22. p. 17. Microfilm.  Accessed 4 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

9.  Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany for 1919-20. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1919. 297. Print.

10.  1920 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 24 Sep. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 11A.

11.  Floyd County Clerk. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages. Vol. 20. p. 375. Microfilm.  Accessed 12 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

12.  1930 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Silver Creek, Clark, Indiana. p. 14B.

13.  Clark County Health Department.  Clark County, Indiana Death Records. Roll 20, Book 2, p.11.  Microfilm. Jeffersonville Township Public Library.

14.  Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. CH-37. p. 97. Microfilm.  Accessed 25 Jan 2015, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

15.  1940 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 10B.

16.  Wiseheart, Mildred, Letter, 1944.  MS.  New Albany, Indiana.

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