The following is an excerpt from the transcription of an interview between my mother and Ruhama Brown Fagley dated 26 Sep 1984. Ruhama gave a brief history of the Salt and Ely family relationsips.
“My mother was a cousin of Clifford Salt through the Justice family. His mother was Ann Justice and she married Wilshire Salt. My mother’s mother was Elizabeth or Lizzie and she married John Francis Marion Ely. The Ely family had come from England as the Coffin family had. Different parts of England. My mother chummed with Savil Salt who was her age and, being an only child, it was wonderful to have a cousin her age. After Wilshire Salt’s death in his forties [It was in 1864, and he was just 40 years old.], Aunt Ann wanted her children to have a better education so she rented her farm at Salt Air, Ohio, and moved over to New Richmond, Ohio. And her children could have a better education. It was while they were there that, as I recall, my mother said, that Savil went down with a cold of some kind, possibly pneumonia and died.” [The 1880 mortality schedule of the census listed consumption as the cause of death.]
“It was a very hard blow for my mother at that age when she was teaching school and caring for two parents who were neither very well. She was riding horseback four miles to teach the primary grades in Bethel at twenty dollars a month.”
The Salt family and the Ely family both lived in New Richmond during the period of time from about 1864-1873. So Mary Ruhama had the company of her cousins, the Salts, for much of her growing up years. After the Panic of 1873, the large store called Hitch, Ely and Ely in New Richmond, Ohio, went bankrupt. One of the two Ely’s in this partnership was Mary Ruhama Ely’s father, John F.M. Ely. He had a breakdown of some sort as a result (was in poor health) and never was able to work again. John had been a storekeeper in several locations in southwestern Ohio, with the New Richmond store the largest and last. The family moved back to the Bantam area and the Justice farm.
Mary Ruhama had just graduated from the 8th grade, and she went to work as a teacher, at somewhere between 14 and 16 years old. She started out teaching a summer school “with a certificate on the back of which was written grades for a ’3 years Certificate only good six month, too young. Don’t give her a school.’” That was the beginning of “Miss Ruie’s” career as a teacher. For some period of time she was the only wage-earner for her family and she helped care for two invalid parents. Ruie described these days as “strenuous” but she did the best she could and never shirked.
I just got a copy of a history of her family that Ruie started writing on her 67th birthday, a treasure I did not know existed until I found it on my recent trip to Ohio. Thank you to the Batavia branch of the Clermont County Public Library and to the Clermont County Genealogical Society which maintains its collection there. Ruie was a writer for her entire adult life, filling a column of local news about Bantam for the Clermont Sun, for 50 years. She had taught until she married and then had to quit. Women in those days were not allowed to continue to teach once they were married. She did not describe in her memoir how she and her husband met, or their courting, but she did describe their wedding. Mary Ruhama Ely and George Tibbitts Brown were married on the 2nd of June 1885 in the evening in the old brick house she had been born in, the house of her maternal grandparents Savil (called Samuel in the memoir by Ruie for some reason – I have always seen him called Savil) and Ruhama Justice. They were standing in almost the same spot that her parents had stood to be married, in front of the parlor’s old carved mantle, with many friends and family around them.
Ruie and Tib Brown went on to have 5 children, and lived long and productive lives. Here is a picture of them and all the children standing in front of their house. I don’t know exactly when this picture was taken, but the youngest girl (Ruhama) was born in 1901. I’m guessing it might have been a Christmas picture.