Mary Elizabeth Lee / Identity Found
Flowers for Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth Lee in Nursing Home 1966
Mary Elizabeth Lee, died at age 100 on her birthday almost 50 years ago. Visiting her grave for years I have used her as a focal point to discuss my troubles; knowing she would keep my secrets and making up my own mind about the story of this woman.
In the beginning
In case you didn't read my first story on Mary Elizabeth Lee I will do a short summary.
She was born 1868 and died 1968, living to die on her birthday at 100. I have been visiting her grave for many years and decorating and guessing at what her story might be, being born just three years after the Civil War. She died forty two years ago and is buried beside an Alice Johnson Lee that I assumed could only be her sister-in-law. Well that remained a mystery, quite mysterious;y that I will get to later; but now about Mary Elizabeth.
This newspaper clipping shows her at age 97 getting communion, a new service at this home she was then at, called a portable communion service at Wesley Nursing Center where she was/ This is a Methodist Home in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was survived by only a sister Alice Lee McDougald who is still there in the home when Mary dies, so who I thought was her sister-in-law was actually her sister! Where the Johnson comes in or goes out, I don't know, this is her sister, and that's nice, isn't it? I really should find out something about her, but don't go away yet. Mary Elizabeth was quite the busy bee.
She was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev William D. and Elmira Oxner Lee and graduated Columbia College, being valedictorian and poet of her class.
Her father moved to North Carolina where she spent the greater part of her life. (That came across strange to me because surely by now she didn't have to move because her father did, but who knows, sure I won't find the answer to that.) She taught English, French, Spanish, music and was also active in the Methodist Church work.
She lived with her two sisters, Miss Bertha Lee and Miss Alice Lee until 1947 when at the age of 79 she went into the Methodist Home in Charlotte NC, being one of its first members. It says during her twenty years there she was a friend and help to many others as they joined. (What a lovely way to put it!)
My thoughts are this is a first version of a Christian nursing home, of course, and at this time Alice was not married when Mary went in, they called her Miss Alice Lee. Bertha was never married and there is no grave for her. Alice was only 10 years younger than Mary so she would have had to have married at age 69 or later. Well she is the baby of the family and maybe Bertha has passed away by now being older than Mary so Alice has probably been brought up in a strict religious home. Now she is in a home alone, parents surely passed on, she can do as she pleases.
One of the older homes in the area
Mary Elizabeth Lee
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I was right about them attending the Church there but I still have to find out more about Alice and Bertha, guessing they attended college too and what little time Alice must have had with her husband to be in the Charlotte home with Mary who can say how long? Did some man take advantage so he could get her home? I imagine there was some money with three working women no doubt, all those years. Alice died in 1971 at 97 with a married name (she nearly made it to 100!), but of course the obituary is not about her so I must be snoops and push my luck to find out more. The library room I got this information from is locked to the public but I have friends in educated places. I do hate pushing my luck, but gee wasn’t this a lot to find out about someone born 142 years ago? Three single sisters living alone together and only the youngest marries at an old age. Has she been in love for years? Has her family held her back? I know many women remarry after their husband dies and they are old but who wants an old woman? Who wants an old man? I have to laugh. I’d say most old men just want someone in to wash the clothes and do the cooking and cleaning. But...whatever.
Well if I find out more I will let you know, and I visited Mary Elizabeth today and told her I would get her a beautiful picture of flowers since her picture is here too, like taking them to her funeral. I got the picture in the park right by the graveyard. She was a poet too…what would a strict preachers daughter, a spinster, write about? Can I find journals possibly about her life? Would there be any clues as to why the three sisters never married but then Alice does once Mary Elizabeth leaves home.
What all is in her poetry? I would love to find it and know what she would write about.
Love? I hope I find out.
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