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Friday, March 18, 2016

True Grit in Old Woodstock

Woodstock's  John W. Edwards and Amanda Chandler Edwards, at their home on Arnold Mill Road, circa 1894.

The woman, Amanda Chandler Edwards, in the photo appears too tired to gaze into the camera. Perhaps her fatigue that day resulted from overwork and the emotional ups and downs she suffered for a stretch of years. Nevertheless, she persevered.

As a young woman, Amanda's husband died, leaving her with two little boys and heartbreak enough to fill her teacup with tears, I imagine. At the time, the  small family lived just south of the county line, near Trickum Road. The demands of an 80-acre farm required Amanda's wisdom and a lot of her energy. With her remaining strength, she taught school, sold eggs and butter and reared her fatherless sons. Her challenges mounted. One day, Walter, her six-year-old son, played with other children near a well and fell down the 60-foot drop. Claude, older brother by two years, relates in his memoir that the area was sparsely populated, then, but miraculously a local man happened to walk down the road. He brought the boy to safety. (In the photo, that's Claude on the left and Walter on the right, three years after the incident). Amanda must have sprouted a few gray hairs, on that near-disaster day. Time passed. After seven years of wearing out herself with responsibilities, her life took a turn for the better.

So you must be wondering about that man in the photo, the one displaying an empty sleeve. John Edwards, a Woodstock man, lost his arm in the Civil War, during the battle for Atlanta. After the war, he didn't waste time bemoaning his loss at a time when earning a living was physically challenging. Although right-handed, he taught himself to record data with his left. Capable with numbers, obviously trustworthy, he was elected tax collector three times. His 1906 obituary describes him as a "Christian gentleman" and "broad in his views, yet strong in his convictions and generous to a fault." 

John (56) and Amanda (39) married in 1894 and produced a baby girl, Eva (in photo). The couple sold Amanda's farm and bought another on Arnold Mill Road. Claude and Walter grew up to be fine young men. Eva also flourished and married. Claude taught school, established a store with a partner and served as mayor of Woodstock at one time. Walter preferred to work the farm. Claude married in 1910. His wife died a few weeks after childbirth due to complications. 

Amanda, nearing her sixties and alone again--John Edwards passed away several years earlier--stepped in to help raise the baby, Maye, until Claude later remarried. The child grew up and became a teacher and popular pianist in Cherokee County. Years later, Maye described her grandmother as a devoted Christian who even managed to read her Bible while she churned butter. 

Amanda lived to be 93. It's evident where she got her true grit.