Thursday, January 9, 2014

For the Love of Tula


Tula Faucett with Ola 2
Tula (Faucett) Eckles and daughter Ola
She was particular about her appearance, that much I could tell.   Her hair and her clothes revealed an attention to detail as well as a certain degree of refinement. Her pictures stand in sharp contrast to many of the other pictures in my collection, reflecting a woman that not only was selective about what she wore, but appears to have been financially comfortable, at least at the time. But who was she?  There were no dates, only a first name.  I realized as I looked through the scant few pictures within my grandma’s bag, that one thing was for certain, the woman in the pictures had been special to someone in my family.  While the pictures were few, there were more of her than any other single person. The backs of the pictures identified her simply as “Tula.”  There were five pictures in all of Tula, with two pictures of other individuals, identified by their relationship to her. 

In checking my database I realized that while there was more than one known Tula in my ancestry,  there was really only one that fit and made any sense.  Tula H. Faucett was born 11 Sept 1873 in Walker County, Georgia and was a sister to my great grandmother Sarah E. Faucett.  While studying my great grandmother’s family,  I had passed over Tula’s name many times without even pausing to learn anything about her.  Intrigued now by her pictures, I decided it was high time I got to know her.

Unlike so many of those in my family tree, Tula was not hard to find. I was pleased to be able to locate her in census records, marriage records, a cemetery listing and newspaper clippings, which not only helped to tie her to the other people in the pictures, but also confirmed that I had the right Tula.  Thrilled to have both pictures and documents, I was able to piece together at least portions of Tula’s life.

Tula was born to James Merritt Faucett and Elmina Bowers on 11 September 1873 in the rolling wooded hills of Walker County, Georgia,  just across the Tennessee border.   The youngest of seven children,  Tula had three sisters and three brothers. 

Tragedy struck the Faucett family when on August 3, 1876, Tula’s mother, Elmina, died leaving behind her husband, James, with the five children who were still at home. Tula was just 3 years old at the time and I can imagine that her sisters Martha and Sarah took her by the hand and helped her with her many needs in the months following their mother's death.  Tula's older sister, Martha, soon married and moved out of the home, leaving Tula to rely on her sister Sarah, who was my great grandmother.  Although as adults, Tula and Sarah lived in different states, the sisters stayed in touch,  sharing some of their important life events through pictures.  Those pictures remained in my grandmother's suitcase until after her death when they found their way to me.

Tula Faucett and Ola
Tula (Faucett) Eckles and daughter Ola 
James Merritt Faucett and his children joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and migrated along with other members of the church from Georgia to the San Luis Valley in Colorado in the early 1880's.  There he married Mary Elizabeth Kirkus.  The 1885 Census shows James and his wife, Mary, living in Conejos County along with their two year old daughter.  Tula is also living in Conejos County, but in a different household.  Twelve years old and listed as a servant, specifically a cook, Tula is shown living with Lisle Wainwright and his wife Martha. I wish I knew the circumstances and story behind Tula living with another family and working as a cook at such a young age, but while there are likely many possible reasons for it,  I can’t help but wonder if it implies something about the relationship between Tula and her new stepmother.

On 2 February 1896,  Tula married Charles H. Eckles  in Alamosa, Colorado and two years later, on March 6, 1898, their first child, Ola Eckles, was born.  But once again tragedy struck in Tula’s life when her husband Charles passed away  just 15 days after Ola‘s birth.  I sadly realized that the pictures of Tula and Ola reflected not only that of a young wife and mother with  her beloved daughter, but a woman that had already learned much about hardship and loss. I will share more of Tula's pictures and her story in coming posts.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014

6 comments:

  1. What sad circumstances! Perhaps that explains the particular endearing quality between mother and child captured in these two photographs. Each one was all the other one had!

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    1. I agree Jacqi. Such sad circumstances and the pictures do capture that love between mother and daughter.

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  2. It's wonderful that you were able to positively identify who Tula was in these photos. That second photo of Tula holding her daughter is especially precious.

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    1. I really lucked out Jana. Some of my pictures have absolutely nothing written on them and it will take a lot more detective work to figure them out. I agree that that second picture of Tula is especially dear.

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  3. This was so beautifully written! Her story reminds me of similar circumstances that happened to my mother. At about the age of 12, a couple from a neighboring county that was fairly well off fell in need of household help. The wife had several small children and some illness had befell her. They knew my grandmother and about the washing and ironing she did for other people and they knew about my mother and asked my grandmother if my mother could come and live with them and work for them to help out. Although my mother's relationship with her step-father was strained at best, and I'm sure Mother jumped at the chance to get away from him and to make some money-- and lessen the financial burden of another mouth to feed at home, I believe the main reason was that the couple really needed her help. Mom is nonchalant about it like she didn't mind going to help them out though. When my mom was that age, and she is 81 now, 12 years old was well old enough to quit school and work and start thinking about getting married. Just thought I would mention this. Very cool article and very cool pics!

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    1. Thank you so much Karen for sharing this story. It very well could be Tula's experience as well. It helps to think that possibly there was a positive spin to Tula living with another family as a servant/cook.

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