Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – 1925

Mary E. Wilson

Mary E. Wilson

The story of Mary Ellum Wilson continues in her own words. She has written her memories of her childhood in England during the first quarter of the last century.



There was no news of my father’s whereabouts so my Grandmother arranged to have my brothers live with other family members and I lived with her.

So, another phase in my life started. I was now fourteen and my cousin Qweenie lived with my grandparents who had brought her up. She was the pianist for the London Symphony Orchestra. She had never married and she made me feel like Cinderella, as she was very spiteful and resented me living with them. She practiced on the piano daily and my Grandma adored her. Qweenie was the lady. She played the piano and was the one who made my life miserable. I hated her.

My Grandmother ran a little food store from her house and across the street there was a business which chopped wood into “faggots” for burning in fireplaces. They also sold bags of coal. My Grandmother taught me how to prepare food for the workers in the mill.

I still attended school and loved it. I saw my brothers and they seemed very happy with their living arrangements. My mother sent money regularly but would not return to England. I remember she sent money for shoes for me. Grandma used most of the money and bought Qweenie a beautiful pair of high button shoes and I had to wear ugly black ankle shoes bought with what was left of my mother’s money.

My father finally returned to Grantham. Only God knew where he had been all that time. My Grandmother welcomed him like a prodigal son and did not even question him as to where he had been. He did not even ask me how we have managed when he disappeared. My Grandmother put all the blame on my mother for our problems. Uncle Bill came to the store and had a fight with my father about his desertion of us. The after math of the fight was that my Grandma had a stroke and almost died.

My Aunt Sarah Jane came down from London and immediately sent me to live with Aunt Ruth and my cousin, Phyllis. I really loved living with them and they were so kind to me but they all hated my mother over the desertion of her three children. My Aunt Ruth worked in a hospital and with an extra mouth to feed, it must have been hard for her but she never complained. Phyllis was a few years older than I but she was my friend and I could confide in her. I was just beginning to feel a little secure when Aunt Ruth had a man come live with her so I was sent back to my Grandparent’s house to live.

After school I would work in the store. My Grandma had recovered from the stroke but was partially paralyzed from the waist down. She had a couch in the store and I sure got used to ducking because anything I did that displeased her would cause her to throw anything within her reach.

Looking back, I realized how unhealthy it was to have an old lady lying in a food store, who did not trust anyone and was angry all the time. She adored my father and blamed my mother for all his weaknesses and misery.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin reading the reactions to their engagement from those closest to Lad and Marian. This will continue throughout the week.

Judy Guion


16 thoughts on “Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – 1925

  1. Mrs. P says:

    I love her honesty about her relationship with various family members and you can see that despite being abandoned by her mother she still loved her and seems to have an unspoken resentment of others speaking ill of her.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Mrs. P. – Her inner strength and ability to understand what is going on seems far beyond her young age.

      • Mrs. P says:

        I’m glad your sharing this. What a wonderful thing to do for a friend.

        • jaggh53163 says:

          Mrs. P. – My friend approached me with this piece and I’m honored that she wanted me to share her mother’s story. I love telling true stories and this is so very different from the stories of my family. I feel it belongs here to show the wide scope of how the World Wars affected people around the world.

  2. hezabinda says:

    Judy, I am stilled amazed that people are still interested in my Mom’s life in the UK. She was a special lady. Thank you for posting her story

    • jaggh53163 says:

      hezabinda – You can see for yourself by reading all the comments that are posted with each installment. It seems like they are waiting with baited breath for the next installment. Thank you for allowing me to share her story with so many. It is truly remarkable. It is our family traditions and stories that hold us together, binding us tighter than we could ever imagine as a child.

  3. This is such a brilliant Chronicle! Thank you so much!

    • jaggh53163 says:

      buffalotompeabody – Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad you are enjoying it. I am too! Mary Wilson was just the Mother of a good friend – I had no idea what her childhood was like or that she could write so eloquently. I feel her pain and confusion, but also her strength and perseverance. I feel honored to share her story with you.
      I’ve just got to ask – Is Peabody a real name to you? I wonder if we could be related through some distant ancestor. Through my blog, I’ve found a Guion 4th cousin and a Guion 5th cousin (I believe). I don’t know a lot about the Peabodys but it would be interesting to find out.

      • No, I am not really a Peabody.A Childhood chum called me the darndest ornery Buffalo Tom Peabody she ever met… I was and it stuck. 🙂 I’ve been trying to live up to it ever since. Reading your beautiful blog about the Peabody’s makes it an honor as well.

        • jaggh53163 says:

          Thank you. I’m honored to have you as a member of the family from wherever – not even the other side of the blanket !!! I’m glad you’re enjoying the stories.

  4. gpcox says:

    Very tough life for a young girl.

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