Sunday, March 23, 2014

Emarine Bartram - Mother of Queen Dickerson Franklin

Family lineage:  Emarine Bartram ,2,  Queen Rebecca Dickerson,
 3   Edna Bethel Franklin, Judith Hayward

1857 - 1935


Who was Emarine  Bartram?
Emarine Bartram
  • She was born in West Virginia, a daughter of Rev Lewis Bartram and Eliza Frances Walker
  • It is likely that she was named in memory of a cousin, "Emerine" Osburn, who died at age 5 in the same year of Emarine's birth. 
  • At age 17, she married 19 year old William Vincent Dickerson (an aspiring Baptist preacher), in Greenbriar Creek, West Virginia.
  • She became the mother of 7 children over a period of 18 years.
  • She was widowed at age 36 after a freak accident.
  • She died suddenly at age 78 while visiting family in Indiana and was brought back to West Virginia for burial.
Those are obviously the bare bones of Emarine's life and they don't even partially describe the woman who made such an impact on her large family and all who knew and loved her during her 78 years.


We do know that she was of medium height and slender, with gray eyes and black hair. She had a contagious sense of humor which did not find "off-color" jokes at all funny, and would not allow slang words like “gosh”or “darn” to be used in her presence. Although she had little formal schooling, she was self taught, mostly by reading her Bible and discussing what she had learned in her precious book with family members. She kept up with current events all of her life and passed on her love of learning to  her children, several of whom who became teachers.


Fortunately for family historians, Emarine's youngest daughter, Queen, (my grandmother) who was only 3 when her father died, was a willing source for Violet and Kent Bartram who were compiling the book “Bartram Branches, Genealogy of the Families of West Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania”.  In writing this post, I found Queen's stories which had been re-told in the "Bartram book" were helpful in filling in some of the unknown areas in Emarine's life.


William Vincent Dickerson
After their wedding July 24 1874, the young couple lived with Emarine's parents until they could build their own home nearby.  By the time the 7th child, Henry (aka Harry) was added to the family, it became obvious that their home (which already had two stories) needed to be expanded.  

On July 5, 1894, at age 39, Rev. William Dickerson rode into town to buy some supplies for this construction project. After dividing his purchases so they would ride evenly on a  mule he had borrowed, he tossed the sack across the saddle. This sudden weight startled the mule. It jumped backward, jerking a hitching rack off its posts, which came down on William's head and knocked him out. His brothers, who had seen the accident, took him home and contacted a doctor who believed William couldn't have been hurt very badly so it was assumed he would simply suffer some headaches and painful bruises for a few days. When more drastic symptoms appeared, a more experienced doctor was called – too late. William died 9 days after the accident, leaving Emarine with 7 children ranging from age 1 to 18.  According to Queen's testimony in the"Bartram book", although she was only three at the time, "Father's funeral was preached under 4 huge apple trees.  Someone who had a mill made seats.  I remember them.  They were still there when Grandpa (Lewis Bartram) died in September.  Mother had an awful task. She worked in the fields and house, but was independent".


     Without a doubt, life had to have been very hard on the family after William''s and Lewis' deaths only two months apart.  Stories passed down through the generations told about a strong woman who would always feed anyone who came to the door begging; that she was a very good cook and would do anything she could for her neighbors. It is also documented that after her husband died, she had moved back to the family home and lived there three years until, in 1907, she and most of her children moved to Northwest Arkansas.  In 1915, she answered a plea from her son, Willie, to help care for his three daughters after their mother died during childbirth; and often visited her other children who were, by that time, grown and living in Ohio, Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.

Emarine Dickerson in 1935

      This picture was taken of Emarine as she was waiting for a train to take her to Indiana to live with Queen, whose 2 oldest children were in college and 2 youngest were living at home. A family story told by Queen's youngest son, Carthel, is that while the family was eating Christmas dinner in 1935, Emarine excused herself from the table and said she was going to lay down for awhile.When they went to check on her, they found her dead. The legend also says that her twin sons, Lewis Floyd (aka Floyd) and Hiram Boyd (aka Boyd), both had a strong intuition at the same time that something was very wrong with their mother and although they were hundreds of miles away, drove to the Franklin farm where they discovered  they were too late - their mother had just died.  Her body was taken back to Barbourville, West Virginia to be buried.

     After her death, the gold wedding ring which she had worn from the day of her marriage which was inscribed “From W to E July 24, 1874”, was slipped from her finger by Queen and – when Queen died in 1998 – it passed on to her daughter, Edna and then - upon her death in 2004 -  to her oldest daughter, Judy (who wears it every day with great pride). In keeping with the family tradition, the ring will be passed on to a woman in the next generation of the family when Judy has no more need for it.