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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 16—Jane Carter Reed (1824-1907)

Jane Carter, also known sometimes as Janete, was born on December 15, 1824 in southern Kentucky. Her parents John Carter and Mary (Polly) Templeton lived along Harmon’s Creek in Wayne County. Jane had 8 surviving siblings: Susan (b.1815), Shelton (b. 1816), Nancy (b. 1818), Bailey (b. 1820), Thena (b. 1823), Joseph (b. 1827), Elizabeth (b. 1829), and Catharine (b. 1832). Her parents moved the family to Ashmore, Coles County, Illinois in 1829 when Jane was still a small child. Her father lived only a few years after arriving in Illinois, passing away in 1841 when Jane was sixteen.

During Jane’s youth, the Presbyterians held a revival in Ashmore and organized the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Jane joined that church at the age of 18 and remained a member for 65 years. Perhaps she acquired some of her religious devotion from her mother Mary who on April 15, 1856 presented her daughter with a Bible containing the following inscription: Presented to Jane Reed by Mary Carter, her mother. Daughter this I present to you as the gift of God. And I hope you and Family will read and ponder well the truths contained in it.

In some ways this was a strange gift because according to census records, none of Mary’s children could read or write. When Mary died a year after presenting the Bible, Jane inherited $39.57, the equivalent of about $1100 today.

Jane married Caleb Reed in Coles County on February 22, 1844. Together they ran a farm and had a family of eleven children. They knew tragedy as three of their young children passed away: Thomas B. at one year in 1854, Mary at age 8 in 1855, and James at age 2 in 1864. Twenty years later they lost two more children: Emma Jane and George both died in 1886. A few years later, one more child predeceased the parents. Albert died in 1890.

At some point, Jane and Caleb retired from the farm and moved into the town of Ashmore. Their daughter Martha lived nearby, and they visited often. After Caleb died in 1903, Jane lived another couple of years alone. Often after supper, Martha would send her youngest son Hugh Wright over to carry in wood and do other chores for her. He would sometimes spend the night if Jane wished. This went on until he overheard an uncle tell her it was unnecessary to feed Hugh. He promptly left and refused to go back.

Jane spent her last days at the home of Martha and Jim Wright where Martha cared for her. During her final illness no one tried to keep her from knowing that the end was near. She made all her own last arrangements. She asked Mrs. Brown, who lived nearby, to help with her laying out. She wanted the promise that after she was dressed, Mrs. Brown would run her hand beneath her and smooth her dress because “I can’t abide a wrinkle”.

As she breathed her last breaths, she asked her son-in-law Jim Wright and granddaughter Amanda Pearl Wright to sing a hymn. They chose When Our Ships Come Sailing Home. When they thought she was no longer breathing, they stopped, but she roused and commanded them to continue. After a while longer, she died from inanition due to influenza.

After her mother died, Martha wrote this in a letter to one of her daughters: Jane Reed died April 30, 1907 at 15 minutes after 7 o’clock [aged 82 years, 4 months, 15 days]. Her children: Sam, John, Tom, Ida, and Martha were all there. Funeral was at two o’clock May 2, 1907. Her casket cost $130 and the flowers were ten dollars.

Funeral services were held from the family residence, the Rev. Jonathan Williams officiating. She was buried at Ashmore Cemetery next to Caleb.



 

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