Jeffersonia Collum; A Hard Life In The 1800's

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a true story, composed from dates, time, culture, names, and documented data.
this story was written Aug 25, 2014

Jeffersonia Collum

A Hard Life In The 1800’s

By Faye Collum Fairley


In the 1800’s it was not uncommon for a girl to get married early in life.  For Jeffersonia Collum, her first marriage was at sweet sixteen.  She married Eugene A Briggs Sr in 1851.  Three years later, she had her first son.  They called him F W.  His bright eyes and mischievous smile kept her entertained through all her days and nights.  Often she wished to have a little girl, but she was very happy with her son.  Her wish came true in 1855.  Cora Augusta with her freckled face and dimples was a blessing indeed to her mom.  As F W was learning about hammers and nails, and puppy dog tails with his dad, her little princess was learning of sugar and spice, with everything nice.


Jeffersonia had reached the ultimate plateau of happiness with her family. Her delight was reflected in all she did.


In Nov of 1861, Jeffersonia realized that she was expecting another child; they hoped for a boy to give his dad’s name.  The child was due in July, so they made themselves busy with preparations for his arrival. Even though it meant much more work to each one in the family, excitement and enthusiasm for a new baby gave them all immeasurable joy. 


 In February, with only 5 months to wait for the birth of her third child; tragedy struck this family with an astronomical force.  Her sweet devoted husband Eugene died.  No explanation was found for his cause of death.  We can only speculate that it might have been a serious injury, sudden illness, or perhaps a heart attack.  At 30 years old, one of these scenarios is probably correct.  There also is the speculation of the civil war.  It ranged from 1861 to 1865.  Many brave men fought and died in the war.


Out of robotic reflex, Jeffersonia managed to carry on with life.  She cared for her 8 year old son F W, and her 7 year old daughter Cora.  Life was hard, but she was expecting a child in only 5 months; she needed all the strength she could find.


In July 1862, her second son was born.  She named him Eugene Alvarez Jr. in honor of his father.  He was handsome like his dad, with a wonderful personality.  Somehow, this gave her newfound strength.F.W. and Cora were special helpers to her.  She began to rebuild their life with extreme caution, but with hope for better days.


Time seemed to go by swiftly with all the work at hand.  Managing two small children is difficult for a single person; to care for 2 small children AND an infant requires a special kind of stamina.  Somehow, the endurance paid off, and the little family was getting ready to celebrate the infant’s first birthday.  Jeffersonia finally felt that she would make it.  She had a little man of 8 who was anxiously waiting for another 5 months to celebrate his big 9th birthday.  Her daughter Cora was an exceptional helper with the baby. They were happy.  Life was good.


July finally arrived; the birthday for little Eugene was memorable.Although they had little money, their love was in great abundance.  This proved for an outstanding celebration of one year with their sweet Eugene Jr.


Little F W now could concentrate totally on the next 5 months.  His anticipation for his birthday was not for the same reason as most children today.  He was not expecting toys, candy, cake and ice cream.  No, his great expectation was just to be “older”.  It was important to him to be old enough to take care of his family.  After all, he was the “man” of the family now.


On Sep 4, 1863, only three months before his 9th birthday, insurmountable heartbreak attacked this family again! Little F W had passed away with no apparent explanation.

Once again, Jeffersonia had to pick up the pieces of her life, and try to connect them with a modicum of normality.  Considering all the loss she had suffered, she felt this would be an impossible goal.


With help from friends and family, “Jeffie” struggled through two years of grief and sadness and reached an area of stability.  The same friends and family introduced her to James W. Hammack Sr.  She married James in 1865.  He was a good stepdad to her two children; Cora was now ten years old, and little Eugene was three.


As their life took on a new direction, it seemed they were finally headed toward contentment and happiness instead of the grief and heartache she had been accustomed to her entire adult life.  “Jeffie” gave birth to six more children.  Her life was finally going in the right direction.


 The 1870 census shows little 8 yr old Eugene with his aunt Miranda Collum Dillard.  The 1870 census also shows little Eugene with his mom and James Hammack.  Considering the fact that these two sisters (Miranda and Jeffersonia) both lived in Madison County MS, probably lived very close together.  I can imagine that the children were back and forth all the time.  I can see the excitement of a little 8 yr old boy as a census taker approaches the house.  The exhilaration of seeing a stranger at their homes would be an open invitation to pointing, giggling, and following the stranger with an unusual interest of gaining attention.


 The next census report was in the spring of 1880.  Eugene was eighteen years old and living alone.  He had not married, and had no children.  He was living in Mississippi.

When Jeffie’s youngest child was three years old, she met with devastation once again. Her eighteen year old Eugene Alvarez Jr. passed away in October of 1880.

Knowing the reason for this tragedy would not diminish the pain and heartache in any way, but no evidence was found anywhere to explain this young man’s death.


In all my research, I have not discovered any of the ancestors with a stronger stamina or more dynamic resilience than Jeffersonia “Jeffie” Collum.  Her impeccable character and control certainly serves as an example for all descendants to follow.

The End


Jeffersonia Collum 1835-1915  daughter of John Collum 1780-1844 and Mary A 1800-1845  spouse 1 Eugene Briggs 1833-1862 children: F W 1854-1863, Eugene Jr 1862-1880,  2 spouse James Hammack 1842-1917 children: Georgia 1866-1940, James Je 1870-death unk, Minnie18771-1952, Lena 1876-1928, and Charles 1872. Death unknown




Submitted: June 19, 2017

© Copyright 2023 faye collum fairley. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


Jane Atkinson

An insightful glimpse into the hardships of living in the 1800s. I have delved into my family's history, the census reports, etc. and found many untimely deaths, unexplained. It's heartbreaking.

Mon, June 19th, 2017 8:19pm


Yes, Jane, it is heartbreaking, but to know the strength of our ancestors, is something I think we all need to know about. I have written approximately 50 such stories about my ancestors. I believe we need to know where we've been before we can know where we're going. Thanks for the reply

Mon, June 19th, 2017 4:04pm

Pam Huston

I can’t believe I found this! This story is about my great grandmother! Her youngest son was my grandfather. My mother was named for her - Jeffie Ann Elizabeth Hammack. I can’t wait to tell my sister about this!

Sun, April 29th, 2018 4:24pm

Pam Huston

My grandfather was Charles Clifton Hammack. He was born in 1878 and died in 1933 or 1934.

Sun, April 29th, 2018 4:46pm

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