Monday, August 5, 2013

Matrilineal Monday ~ Aunt Lukie, Part 2

Aunt Lukie in my
grandparents' wedding photo
I summarized the records I found about my second great aunt, Ruth Lyman (Greeley) Copeland, in last week's post. As you may remember, she married her sister Ethel's husband, Lowell Copeland, after her sister died, becoming not only my second great aunt, but my step-great-grandmother.

My mother has many memories of her step-grandmother, whom she knew as Aunt Lukie, who died when my mother was 40. She is remembered as a somewhat odd and not particularly nice woman.

When my mother was growing up in Pittsburgh, Aunt Lukie would periodically come and visit the family. My maternal grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, was Aunt Lukie's nephew and step-son. After her sister Ethel died, Lukie agreed to come to Princeton (N.J.) and "keep house" for her brother-in-law, my great-grandfather Lowell Copeland. She said it didn't "look good" for them to live together, so they got married.

My great-grandfather, Lowell Copeland, died on Christmas Eve, 1935. Every Christmas after that, Aunt Lukie would write her step-son, my grandfather, a letter. I don't know what was in these letters, but my mother remembers her father saying that "Aunt Lukie drove my father to an early grave."

When Aunt Lukie came to visit, Grandfather would have a golf game... or would go out to weed the garden... or prune the rose bushes... or anything to get out of the house. "He found every excuse in the book to be as far away from Aunt Lukie as possible" as my mother remembers it. He did not like his step-mother and wanted to spend as little time with her as possible. As my mother told me: "Grandfather couldn't stand her."

My mother's maternal grandmother, Marguerite Lysle, whom I have written about before, was born in 1876, and therefore only two years older than Aunt Lukie, born in 1878. (You can see both of them in my grandparents' 1931 wedding photo.) However, after Marguerite had a heart attack in 1952, every time Aunt Lukie would ask about Grandmother's mother, she would ask in such a way that implied that Marguerite was a great deal older, but she was only two years older than Aunt Lukie, which infuriated my grandmother Helen.

My mother remembers Aunt Lukie telling her and her sister when they were young that "You girls don't have to worry about spilling any secrets to me, you talk so fast and you mumble so much I can't understand a word you say."

Aunt Lukie spent her later life in Framingham, Massachusetts, close enough for my mother and her to visit with each other. She died in 1975 at 97 years old.

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