Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Rose for Minnie

When I was a kid—maybe eight or nine—my daddy stopped at Bethel Church one day on our way from Roanoke to visit his parents in Union Hall. He wanted to show me the grave of John Reid Martin, my great-great grandfather, a former preacher at the church and the grandson of Brigadier General Joseph Martin.

After looking at Grampa Martin’s grave, we walked around the cemetery and he pointed to other graves. I didn’t really pay much attention. I remember him gesturing to a section of the cemetery where a lot of graves were marked by fieldstones and saying, “Young gal buried there. Ol’ woman kilt her with an ax.”

I guess I thought that “young gal” meant a child. I was at the age of “Hansel and Gretel” and other violent fairy tales (the Grimm versions) wherein kids did get killed, so I didn’t ask much about it. Maybe the girl did something bad. But I kept the story in the back of my mind for over 50 years. I figured I’d never find her grave. I assumed it was one of the unmarked ones.

At the Holland reunion, I told my distant cousin Alise about the little bit I remembered.

“I know who you’re talking about,” she said, “and I can show you her grave.” And she did. Minnie M. McBride, born in 1891, was the “young gal.”

The grave marker wasn ‘t just a fieldstone. It was a real tombstone, at the top of which is engraved a rose—more than a bud, but not in full bloom. After the name and dates is this inscription:

She’s gone to the world’s above
Where saints and angels meet
To realize our Savior’s love
And worship at His feet.

Turns out Alise’s grandmother was familiar with the murderer—a "deranged" old woman whose last name was Mitchell.

Minnie M. McBride, born October 3, 1891, was beautiful and had a boyfriend. The Mitchell woman, in a fit of jealousy, hit Minnie in the back of the head with an ax. Minnie had done nothing bad.

Two stories exist of what happened to the woman. One is that some men held her head under water; another is that she was sent to an insane asylum.

Minnie was murdered on October 3, 1908—her 17th birthday. She was a rose who died before she reached full bloom.

Happy Birthday, Minnie.

UPDATE: More about Minnie's murder here:

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Blogger Debi said...

What an interesting story. All the old tombstones I've seen, I've never seen one with any real artwork carved into it. She must have been really loved. So sad.

6:29 AM  

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