Such was the case when I found the records for my great grandaunt, Emma Louisa Burger Drew Mead. Emma married my great granduncle, Charles Henry Drew, the younger brother of my ancestor, David Lewis Drew.
Emma was born on 4 Sep 1852 in Iowa, the daughter of the Reverend James Burger and his wife Nancy Middleton. Like my ancestors, David Lewis and Helen Marr Farrar Drew, both Emma and Charles migrated to California shortly after the gold rush.
Emma was the oldest child in her family. She married Charles on 22 May 1867 in Copperopolis, California at the tender age of 14. Charles was a relatively old man compared to Emma with his age of 22.
The couple had four children before Charles untimely death from pneumonia in 1890 at the early age of 45 leaving Emma a widow at age 38.
Within the space of a few years she had lost two of her children and her husband to illness. All would be hard blows for anyone to handle, but this plucky little lady, didn’t embrace life that way.
Within a year, she married Willard Clinton Mead, a 32-year-old miner from Illinois. He to had migrated to the gold country of California to seek his fortune. The couple never had any children of their own but true to the stories I found about Emma, they brought in ten homeless children who needed a safe harbor and stable environment in their lives.
Emma’s two daughters by Charles married prominent men in the community while their mother focused on people from the other end of the social spectrum by spending the currency of her life, time and effort, assisting those less fortunate than herself.
Her obituary noted her love of those less fortunate individuals in her life:
Mrs. Mead, Covered Wagon Pioneer, Dies At Advanced Age.
Coming to California as a six month old baby by ox team, Mrs. Emma Louise Mead, one of the pioneers who made early California history, died here Thursday after a long illness.
Deceased was 82 years of age, a native of Iowa, but practically her entire life was spent in California. The family settled originally near Copperopolis where they were engaged in farming. When but fifteen years of age deceased was married to Charles Drew, and the young people moved at once to Red Bluff where Drew engaged in mining for many years. the two surviving children are both residents of Oakdale, Mrs. Ed Rodden and Mrs. Maude Gray.
Following Mr. Drew’s death forty years ago, deceased came to Oakdale to make her home and here married Willard Mead. They removed to Stockton where Mrs. Mead became prominent in social work and for her love of children. In all she brought up ten homeless children. Nine years ago, following the death of her husband, Mrs. Mead moved to Yosemite Valley where she made her home until six years ago, at which time she came to Oakdale, residing with her two daughters.
Funeral services for deceased were held at the Oakdale Undertaking Parlors Saturday afternoon, with Rev. H. H. Allen in charge. Interment was made in Copperopolis.
Emma was small of stature but enormous in heart. Thanks for putting the important things first in your life Aunt Emma. A smile always comes to my face when I think of you.