Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lulu Dollar Eldreth


It is no surprise to anyone who has read my blog that I thought a lot of my great grandmother, Sophia Dollar Friddle.  She was a unique force within our family long after her death.  Mom Friddle, as she was called, had a great deal to do with the person that my mother became, and therefore the person I am today.   However, the woman who helped to shape the woman that my great grandmother was is in her own way shrouded in mystery.

Alexander Monroe Dollar married Sarah E. Pearce (according to their marriage record) on 9 Jun 1887 in Johnson Co., TN.  According to her death certificate, she was born in Washington Co., VA.  My best guess would be in the Abingdon or Damascus area since it is so close in location to Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN which was where Alexander Monroe Dollar lived.  Monroe Dollar had been married to Elizabeth Pennington for around 25 years before her death between 1883-1887.  They had had four children and had moved their family from Ashe Co., NC to Johnson Co., TN sometime after the 1880 census.  Elizabeth probably died sometime after the move to TN and likely died of some sort of illness – as she was probably in her early to mid 40’s.  Sarah or Lulu as she was called was a 19 year old young woman when she married Alexander Monroe Dollar.  He was at least 49 years of age when he married Lulu.  I’ve never been able to find a census record for her before she is recorded with Monroe Dollar in 1900.  I’ve no idea who her parents were or where she was from beyond the mention of her birthplace in her death certificate.  However, it wasn’t unusual for a young woman to marry a much older man – especially in the years following the Civil War in the south. 

Monroe Dollar’s oldest son, John Dula Dollar married Buena Vista Bailey on 21 Apr 1889 in Johnson Co., TN.  She was about 17 years old and by October the following year, she had her first child, Claude Elmer Dollar…daughter Bessie Dozier Margaret Elizabeth Dollar followed 10 months later and the youngest, Sophia was born in January of 1894.  According to Lulu, Sophie (Mom Friddle) was born near midnight and it was a difficult birth.  No one was quite sure if the birth occurred before midnight or after midnight – so Mom Friddle always went by what Lulu had told her.  When Mom Friddle was about 10 weeks old, Buena Vista died at the young age of 21.  At 29 years old, John Dula was left with three children under the age of 4.  The children were left with their step grandmother and grandfather.  At 26 years old, Lulu had the care of three young children including a baby. When John remarried a few years later (1897), he took the older two children to live with him – but left the youngest with her step grandmother.

David Carl Friddle & Sophia Vestelle Friddle - 22 Dec 1908 - Johnson Co., TN
Lulu was the only mother that my great grandmother ever knew.  There are things that I know that she did well…but she didn’t prepare her granddaughter too well in the female arts.  When she was 14, Mom Friddle married, ill prepared for being wife and mother.  She didn’t know how to cook, clean, or sew.  As my Grandma Cappy said – Mom Friddle grew up like “topsy!”  For all her faults, Lulu did give Mom Friddle the affection, love, and care that a child needed.  When Monroe Dollar died in 1908 – John was making noises about bringing Mom Friddle to live with he and his second wife, Cleopatria Gentry.  Lulu informed her granddaughter that all she would be doing is washing diapers and taking care of her younger siblings…and strongly encouraged her to marry to escape that fate.  (That is a another story for another time. )  So, after Mom Friddle married, Lulu herself married a widower a few months later.  She deeded the house to her daughter in law (Sarah Margaret Simmons Dollar – wife of Roby Dollar) and left for Ashe Co., NC to live with her new husband, William Eldreth. 

Once again, Lulu married a much older man.  William Eldreth was nearly 20 years older than she.  William died in 1924 and once again, Lulu was left as a widow.  She is recorded with a grandson on the 1930 census and he is listed as the informant on her death record. 

Mom Friddle went back to Tennessee and North Carolina to visit family.  A great deal of time was spent with her sister, Bessie, in Ashe Co., NC.  In addition, Mom Friddle spent a lot time visiting the step grandmother who raised her.  When Lulu died in 1955, it must have been a big blow to Mom Friddle.  She had lost her beloved husband in January of that year – and now the woman who raised her.  The step grandmother was the only mother that Mom Friddle ever knew.  Even though – I’ve never found who her family was, where she grew up or what shaped her life, Lulu has always been someone that I wanted to know more about because she was very important to my great grandmother – and therefor important to me!