Thursday, March 8, 2018




52 Ancestors Week 10: Strong Woman


When this prompt was posted my thoughts turned to all the women in my tree. They were all amazingly strong brave women. I cannot imagine how hard their lives must have been. To be in a time where we were considered not much more than property, to be told what to do without a say in the matter. There were many strong women who defied the norm and made a life for themselves. They forged ahead and helped us achieve the freedoms we so enjoy today. We are closer to being equal that we have ever been. We are a force to be reckoned with when united. Helen Reddy says it all in her song “I am Woman” ... “If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman”(1)




One such strong woman was Mary Jane Boggs McTheny  my great, great grandmother. Within days of her birth in 1833 her, Rachel James Boggs died. She and her older brother, Benjamin Silas Boggs, were left in the care of their father Silas I. Boggs. Sillas married Charlotte Pierson on 20 May 1834, within a year of Rachel’s passing. We know nothing about Mary’s early life. We find her living in the home of her grandmother Mary Polly (LeMasters) Boggs in the 1850 Census for Braxton, Virginia, United States. Her brother Benjamin Boggs, father Silas Boggs, his 2nd wife and children are shown living in the house next door. I thought she was there to care for her grandmother but there may have been other reasons.

Between September 10 and September 20,1856 Mary and her husband John McTheny lost 3 children to Scarlet fever. The oldest of which was James Anderson Boggs who was 5y 10m 15d old on September 10, 1856 when he died. Based on this information James was born on October 26, 1850. The death record for James Anderson Boggs (died from Scarlet fever) has the mother listed as Mary Jane Matheny the record does not state a father. The person reporting the death was the Step-Father, John McTheny. 

The children with John McThney were Harriet Elizabeth Matheny Age 3y 1m 1d died on September 10, 1856 and  Samuel L. Watson Matheny Age 1y 1m died on September 20, 1856.

This child born out of wedlock brings to question just what hardships had happened in Mary Janes life. Was this unwed pregnancy why she was living with her grandmother in the 1850 Census. Had her father kicked here out of his home? How hard would it have been for a young mother to be alone and wonder how she was to raise her child.

I can't imagine losing a child let alone three with in ten days of each other. Yet she recovered from all this to go on and raise seven children. She to me is the definition of strength. She was a woman and can do anything. She was strong, she was invincible, she was woman”


For sources and other information please see Mary Jane Boggs McTheny profile on WikiTree.

#52Ancestors




(1) Wikipedia contributors, 'I Am Woman', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 December 2017, 01:34 UTC, <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=I_Am_Woman&oldid=817699514> [accessed 9 March 2018]