By Crystal Farish
In researching my family history this past year, one photo in particular stood out to me. After I saw this photo, I thought about the woman pictured, my great-great-great-grandmother Clara Estella Foss, all the time. I wanted to know more about her. Clara had a different look about her than my other grandmothers, and I saw something in her eyes that struck a chord. It was like I had known her before. She had beautiful curly hair and bangs. Her face almost looked like she had a different ethnicity compared to all the other faces that looked back at me on our family history charts. There was not much written about her other than basic facts. I started looking for more details of her life.
Discovering I’m Just Like Clara
I contacted the oldest living relative I could find, who also happens to love family history. She not only loves family history, but she actually knew this grandmother! She told me about Clara’s life and her struggles. She told me about her personality.
One of my favorite ways to get to know someone better is to ask about their hobbies—what they like to do in their free time. During this phone conversation with my great-great-aunt Donna, I was sitting in my front room. Donna started to tell me the things Clara liked to do and how she decorated her home. Donna said Clara loved pretty things. She loved working with her hands and creating things. I looked at my home, which I have found joy in decorating. I felt an instant connection with Grandma Clara. She loved stitching and sewing quilts. I too love working with my hands. If I am starting to feel down, I put my energy into creating something, and this creative energy helps me feel better almost immediately. Perhaps she felt the same way when she created.
Donna reported that Clara loved colored glass and had a collection of it. As Donna told me this, I looked over at my china cabinet, completely stacked with beautiful pieces of colored glass. I have been collecting colored glass for years and never knew why I was so drawn to it.
A Woman Who Persevered
Energized, I researched further. I called second cousin whose father (my great-uncle Joe) had done research on Clara’s life, and he told me that Clara thought her second husband and love of her life had abandoned her. Many years later, as Uncle Joe was investigating their lives, he was able to find more information. This husband had gone to work on the railroad. He became ill and was admitted to a hospital, where he died. His information was not recorded correctly—he was listed as single with no next of kin. Clara was never notified and never knew what happened to him.
Life presented other challenges for her as well. She lost one of her two sons way too early. But she persevered. She kept going. I love my great-great-great-grandma Clara Estella Foss. I am proud of her. I am thankful for her perseverance, her creativity, and the talents and gifts I have been blessed with that have been passed down through the generations. This connection is powerful. It gives me hope.
Discover Inspiring Women in Your Family Tree
Are you curious about the women of faith who helped build your heritage? Learn about your relatives who influenced the Relief Society, went on early Church missions, were pioneers, or helped build the Church.
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