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Title: A Pioneer Woman of Warren County, Indiana
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Nancy Moore was born in 1832 in Independence, Warren County, Indiana where her parents John Moore and Prudence Doty Moore had settled in 1830 after leaving their Butler County, Ohio home. At age 20 she married Benjamin F. Watkins, a widower two decades her senior, and began raising a family. Nancy eventually bore ten children; six survived to adulthood.

Nancy's inner strength and fortitude were greatly challenged in 1862 when her husband, giving his age as 43 years when he was close to 50, joined an Indiana Regiment in Pine Village to support the cause of the North in the Civil War. Nancy had to face alone what must have been the most difficult challenge of her life.

Nancy Moore Watkins is buried in Independence Cemetery where her husband, several of her children, her paretns, and other close Moore family members also rest. (Nancy was widowed in 1883 and married Dr. Job Ogborn. She was therefore known to some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as "Grandma Ogborn".)

Two of Nancy Moore's granchildren, interviewed recently have distinct memories of "Grandma". (Their recollections have greatly helped me, the family historian, to piece together the lives of our pioneering ancestors.)

Lillie Watkins Fenters of Morocco, Indiana, born in 1896, fondly remembers the summer vacations spent at Grandma's house in Greenhill. There were always many grandchildren and great-grandchildren around. One time Lillie and a young cousin, Edythe Watkins of Attica, struggled over possession of a doll. Edythe tried to end the tug-of-war by kicking Lillie. Grandma intervened, told Lillie she was entitled to one return kick, and reminded them that they were from then on expected to share!

Judith Watkins Balser of Lafayette, Indiana was born in 1900, and she recalls that she always looked forward to visiting her grandmother. Janette would join her father, Joseph Martin Watkins, in the horse-and-buggy drive to grandma's. Joseph talked about his early life, and he described Janette a bitter winter in the early 1860's when his mother Nancy set out in waist high snow to seek help for one of her sick children. It was a dangerous trip, but Nancy's determination was great. She found the help she sought, and her child survived. Such memories contributed to the reverence that all family members had for the matriarch.

Janette Balser recalls her last glimpse of her "Grandma" around 1905-1906. Dressed in white nightgown and nightcap, Grandma stood on the porch of the house of her daughter, Elizabeth Watkins Knowles, in Greenhill, Indian and wave goodbye to little Janette as her father pulled away in a horse and buggy. Nancy Moore Watkins Ogborn (she remarried after being widowed in the 1880's), a fine pioneer lady, died in 1906.

(Based on Janette Watkins Balser and my own research)

Nancy Moore Watkins, at age thirty six, was the mother of six children ranging from six months to ten years of age when her husband, Benjamin F. Watkins, told her of his intentions in 1962 to enlist as a volunteer in the Civil War. Nancy was both fearful and angry, according to family history, at the thought of her fifty-year-old husband going off to war and leaving his young family to fend for itself.

Unhappy as she was, Nancy understood the reasons for her husband's wish to enlist. Benjamin, a slightly-built man who had spent most of his fifty years as a farmhand, was undoubtedly persuaded by partriotism as well as the pressure of his enlisting neighbors. There was also the practical consideration of a bounty paid by the state of each volunteer. The state of Indiana, like other states, offered a payment of $100 to encourage volunteers. With the advance of $25, Benjamine could purchase staples to hlep his wife Nancy supplement what she and the children could grow and raise themselves in his absence. (The $75 remainder was promised upon a man's end of service, disability, or death.)

Like countless other women in both the North and the south, Nancy summoned all of her strength to protect and care for her young family. Most of the chores and backbreaking work fell on her and the two oldest boys, John W. Watkins (born 1852) and Joseph Martin (born 1853). In addition to raising crops and small animal, they had to carry water for every need, repair andkeep their handbuilt home dry, chop and store wood for cooking and heating, and ration whatever they could in order to endure the difficult periods. Clothing was constantly patched or cut and resewn to fit the growing children.

When Benjamine Watkins, disabled during the war, returned two years later, he found his wife Nancy and a healthy family to greet him. As he had done his part for the Civil War, so had his wife waged a battle of survival at home in Indiana.

Date: 9/1/1989
Origin: Backward Glances
Author: Lynn Yaghoubian
Record ID: 00000118
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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