You know Lucy from “I Love Lucy”, and you know Lucy from the Peanuts. But I’d like to introduce you to another Lucy. One that is very dear to my heart. Her name is Lucy Steffey Folts.
Lucy is my great great grandmother. She was born in Indiana to Boston “Boss” Steffey and Christina Cubberly in Dec 1870. From what I can tell, she grew up in Indiana with her parents and her brother William James Steffey, who was about 1 year older than her. Sometime between 1870 and 1884, Lucy’s mom died, and in 1884, her daddy remarried. Lucy and William were still very young, and I’m sure it was hard for them to adjust to a new mom in the house. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but in 1888, at just 17 years old, Lucy was in Arkansas, marrying Clark Folts, a man that was 21 years older than herself. I like to think it was a love match, that Lucy was excited about the marriage, and couldn’t wait to start her life. But I don’t know. When I put myself in her place, I don’t believe those would necessarily be my thoughts. Knowing the man I was marrying lived so far from my family, was more than 2ce my age, would lead me to be very nervous of the life I was embarking on. I can only hope that some of those nerves were positive, and she wasn’t heartbroken at the way her life was turning.
Boston stayed in Arkansas for a while with Lucy and Clark. Perhaps to make sure his little girl was going to be ok in her new life. Perhaps they had lived there for a few years, and that’s how Clark and Lucy met to begin with. I can only guess as to how the details fell. Boston had left his son behind to live with friends. A couple months after the wedding, Boston and Lucy got word that William had broke his neck in a tragic accident. Oh how sad Lucy must have been… To know she’d never see her childhood companion again. And she couldn’t just take off and go back home.. she now had a husband and house to take care of.
Over the course of the next couple decades, Lucy gave birth to eight children. She had to bury 5 of those precious babies. James Boston was her first born, born in 1889. I’m sure the apple of her eye. Named after her Daddy and her brother, I know she adored him. From all I can tell, he was a healthy child. When she turned up pregnant just over a year later, I can imagine that she was excited. This time she had a little girl… Eleanor Christina. Named after her mom. I can picture her and little James, dressing the baby in a dress, trying to get her to smile. Eleanor died at 5 months. I can’t imagine the heartache. How she must have cried. I can picture her out doing her morning chores, tears unstoppable. I can see her grabbing her chest, in so much pain, her arms longing for her little girl. It was over 5 years before her next child was born. I can’t help but wonder if Lucy had miscarriages in those years. There’s no way to tell. But baby number 3 came along in 1897. A little boy named after his father. Archie Clark. I can’t help but think that having another baby in the house reminded Lucy of Eleanor. Was she nervous? Did it make her miss her daughter more? Did she and Clark talk about her? What about James? He would have been to young to remember Eleanor. I can imagine when Archie lived past 5 months, Lucy breathed a sigh of relief that she may have not even realized she was holding. Archie died at 7 months of age. In 1899, Lucy gave birth to another son, George Samuel. I can just imagine how scared she was. She had already lost 2 out of 3 children, and along comes another little guy. Could she care for him? George seems healthy enough. But just a couple months later, disaster strikes again. Only this time, it’s a way that I’m sure Lucy isn’t expecting. James Boston dies at 10 years old.
I can’t help but wonder at her reaction. Through all the pain, does she cling to her baby? Or does she begin to grow numb and push him away? Over the next few years comes Charles Henry and Eli Augusta. Then in 1911, John Walker is born. He only lives 6 months. In 1914, Lucy gives birth to a little girl, who she never names. She only lives 1 month. The fact that she doesn’t name her is very telling to me. I don’t know if Lucy ever had any other children. The document I have listing her children was written in 1915. I know that if she did… they didn’t make it either.
It sounds as if life has beaten Lucy down. What was it that propelled her to whip another woman’s child? I can’t help but think deep down, there’s a big bundle of hurt that she took out on a little girl. So easily our pain can turn to anger. I should also mention that around this time her older 2 sons were arrested for toting pistols? They were let go, because of their young age, and promised to be good. But to say the lady was under stress would be an understatement.
I didn’t mention earlier that Clark was considered well off financially. They had the farm, and by the picture we see of Lucy plenty of chores. They had a phone in 1909, Clark was elected Alderman, and they often bought and sold land. But when I look at the picture above, I don’t see a lady that’s led a pampered life. I see heartbreak in each groove of her face. I see hundreds of tears, a heart that’s bled so much it is numb. And I just want to give her a hug.
Lucy died in 1917, just 3 years after she buried her baby girl. Although her death certificate states she died of bronchial pneumonia. I believe she just didn’t have the strength to keep going, and died of a broken heart.