Mary Ethel White
Mary Ethel White was born July 11, 1887 at Leesville, Henry County, Missouri and preferred to be called by her middle name. She was the daughter of Charles White and Sarah Larrimore.
Ethel married John Robert Briggs on March 2, 1904. For more on her married life see the entry on her husband.
Why she preferred Ethel over Mary, I never knew, but to me she was simply always known as Grandma Briggs.
I spent many a summer day with Great Grandma Briggs, and I was always fascinated by her hair. She always wore it in a bun, but when she took it down it would nearly touch the ground. I spent many hours watching her comb it out, braid and and wind it back into her bun, which she then held together with tortoise shell combs.
Grandma was a small woman, frail looking while I knew her. However, she had the strength of her Christian beliefs behind her. When I stayed with her, we'd walk every Sunday morning to church together, which was just a block away. If I happened to be staying there at the right time, she'd send me to Vacation Bible School.
She and Grandad Briggs often took me fishing to one of their favorite fishing holes, she loving the fishing as much as I.
But Grandma always made sure I had chores to do also, which would include feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, working in the garden, or something like shelling peas.
John & Ethel Briggs - 1954
Ethel's brother Albert at right and daughter Helen in back.
Besides the large vegetable garden, Grandma also had a very large flower garden beside the house. Flowers were also planted around the house, on the porches and in widow sills within the house. She loved flowers and her gardens were always very beautiful.
Grandma missed her mother very much, who had died five months before my birth. I often heard her say, "I can't wait until I die." Bewildered, I always asked why. The answer was always the same, "So I can see my Mama in heaven."
She died of cancer November 30, 1961 and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. I never fail to visit the grave site whenever I return to Fort Scott, and although I miss her, I'm also happy that she's now in heaven with her Mama.
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