Monday, January 15, 2018

Martha Ida Strickland (1880-1929)

Ida Sapp, Salem Taylor County Florida
Martha Ida Strickland Sapp

The year was 1900. A new century had arrived, but one couldn't tell in rural Taylor County Florida. Everything seemed the same. The men either farmed their land, or they worked for a local timber company. The sandy, swampy land wasn't suitable for much farming, but there was timber galore. As the timber was cut down, pines were either replanted, or the land was cleared for homesteading and farming. This was the process that had been going on for the last half century. 

By the mid 1800's, most of the local Native Americans had been driven off of their land in North Florida. This opened up the land for settlement. The United States government was issuing land patents to settlers that could live on and improve their land for a few years. Once this was proved, the land would belong to the settler, free and clear.

Martha Ida Strickland's grandfather, Savage Strickland, was one of these settlers. He officially received his land patent in June of 1859. Savage's son, George Newton Strickland, followed in his father's footsteps and applied for a land patent southwest of the small town of Salem, in Taylor County. The land was rugged, infested with snakes, gators, and mosquitoes. Life was not easy, but as long as there was God, family, and friends; one could be happy and content.

Just a year into the 20th century, tragedy would strike the Strickland's household. At the age of 52, George Newton Strickland passed. He would never see the land, that he had been working on for years, in his name. Two years later, a patent was issued to Nancy, George's widow. The land was officially the Strickland's.

Adjacent to the Strickland's land was a young man named Mathew Sapp. He, too, was trying to receive his own patent. Mathew's family had moved to nearby Lafayette County from Georgia. He and two of his brothers, Irvin and "Tip," had applied for land patents in Taylor County in the area of Salem. Their other brother, Simeon, stayed behind in Lafayette County where he had already proved his land.

Less than two months after the Strickland's received their patent, Mathew and Ida applied for their marriage license. She was 23 and he was 30. Their daughter, Nancy Lorena Sapp, was born the following year.

Believed to be Mathew Sapp, Martha Ida Strickland Sapp
and baby Nancy Lorena Sapp

Life for the Sapp family seemed to be going well. Mathew was farming near his brothers, and Ida had her family nearby. Ida's sister, Georgia, was living with the Sapp's; helping Ida around the house. Ida's nephew, William Russell, was living with them, as well. William was helping Mathew on the farm. In 1909, Ida gave birth to their second child, Lucy Henrietta Sapp; named after her grandmother, Lucy Ann Ammons Sapp. 

William Russell
Misfortune would once again strike the Strickland family in 1915. Ida's older sister Sarah Ann Strickland Russell died on the 12th of March, leaving behind a husband, two sons, and two daughters. Her husband, however, would not last but a year before he succumbed to illness and died on the 18th of May 1916. Their sons, William and George Russell, were adults; but their daughters, Nancy and Annie, were 14 and 7 respectively.

Ida and Mathew would take the girls into their home and raise them as their own. Both girls were roughly the same age as their own daughters. Two months after the Russell girls moved in, a vibrant boy would join the family. Mathew Fletcher Sapp was born on the 11th of July, 1916.

Mathew Fletcher Sapp
When little Fletcher was at the age of 7, his father took ill, and on the 10th of October, 1923; Mathew George Sapp left this Earth and went to be with the Lord at the age of 50. This would not be the only tragedy to strike the Sapp family, however. Four months later, on the 9th of February, 1924; Mathew's older brother, Irvin, passed away. Just two months later, on the 28th of April, their brother Simeon passed away from tuberculosis, en route to a new home in Marion County. Three Sapp brothers had died within six months of each other.

Irvin Sapp was, by the standards of the day, living comfortably financially. He had acquired a fair share of land in the Salem area of Taylor County. He also had some stocks and bonds at the time of his death. Since he had never married, Irvin's estate was left to the heirs of his brother's. Since Simeon had passed not long after Irvin, Simeon's share of the inheritance went to his 4 year old son, S.E. Sapp.

Ida, Lucy, Annie, and Fletcher
Even though Irvin's passing was a tremendous blow to the family, especially after Mathew had passed, it was also a blessing for Ida and her household. She was a widow raising three children. By this time, Nancy Russell and Nancy Lorena Sapp were adults and had moved out to start families of their own. Their portion of Irvin's estate helped sustain them financially for the time being.

Leon Green and Annie Russell
On the 13th of September, 1926; Annie Russell married her longtime friend, Leon Green. Annie's first two pregnancies would tragically result in stillborn births. She would, however give birth to three healthy children: Roger, Chester, and Willie June Green. Leon Green would pass away in 1942, leaving Annie to take care of her three children on her own.

Lucy Sapp and Annie Russell

Annie's cousin, Lucy Sapp, married Tom Clyatt Hudson from nearby Chiefland in Levy County on the 29th of December 1927. She would remain in Salem for the rest of her long life raising four children of her own and passing away in 2001. 

Her mother, Ida Strickland Sapp, joined her husband's arms in heaven on the 25th of Jun 1929. Young Mathew Fletcher Sapp was just 13 years old and he had lost both of his parents. He was taken in by his sister, Nancy Lorena Sapp Parker, and raised in Salem. He would go on to enlist in the Army at the dawn of World War II and serve his country proudly. He would proceed to have 4 children between two marriages and would pass away in 1991.

Life in the Taylor County scrub was never easy for the Strickland's and Sapp's, but they made do with what they had. They had their faith and they had each other. They persevered even through hardships and deaths. Though their descendants are dispersed across the country, their roots remain between the palmettos and pines of Salem, Taylor County Florida.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Holidays, a Tragedy, and a Blessing

My grandmother, Zaida Barahona Retana; great grandmother, Angela Retana Rojas;
and great uncle, Walter Barahona Retana

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had great Christmas and New Year celebrations! It has been an interesting holiday break for me. To begin with, Christmas was fantastic! My dad came to visit from Georgia and spent about 2 weeks with us. My kids enjoyed themselves as we had a candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve.  The day after Christmas, I received some great family pictures that I shared in my last blog post. So all in all, it was a joyous holiday for my family.

Every year, my mother takes a trip to Costa Rica in December to visit her family and spend her birthday, Christmas, and New Year's in paradise. This year was no different. On New Years Eve, I received a call from her on Facebook Messenger. In my mind, I imagined she was calling to wish me a happy new year, but I was wrong. Through tears, she proceeded to tell me that her cousin had died in a plane crash. 

Juan Manuel Retana Chinchilla
You may have heard it on the news, as the crash became a headline across various news sources. Mom's cousin, Juan Manuel Retana Chinchilla, was a pilot. The plane he was flying that day was a small single engine Cessna. He was transporting ten American tourists when the plane went down and engulfed in flames shortly after take off. Sadly, there were no survivors. Needless to say, my family was devastated. 

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda
Mom had grown up with Juan and his siblings. They played together as children, lived nearby, and remained in close contact even after some had left the country. My mother proceeded to tell me that Juan was a first cousin of the first female president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda. For a second, I thought I was related to the ex president, but she told me it was only by a marriage. However, Mom met Laura Chinchilla Miranda a few weeks before and had dinner at her cousin Lucy's house.

Since Mom had gone back to the land where she was born, I commissioned her to gather pictures and information on our family. Naturally, after the accident, I didn't want to sound selfish and bring it up by asking if she had found any pictures. I didn't have to ask. 

Yesterday, my Facebook Messenger was flooded with old pictures. Some of my mother as a baby, other's of her father, and there were some even older. There were quite a few that were taken at first communions, including my mother's. I called my mother on Facebook Messenger to ask her about the pictures she had sent and I was able to video chat with my 87 year old grandmother that I haven't seen in about 25 years. Thank you internet!

Lastly, over the holiday break, I started a new hobby. As some of you may have seen from the Kindred Roots Facebook page, I have started colorizing antique photos. Perhaps I will share how I go about adding color to these photos in a future blog post. Let me know in the comments if you would like to see this.

I want to end this post by wishing everyone a happy new year! I truly hope you and your families will be blessed this year! Here are some of the pictures my mother shared with me and a few that I have colored. Enjoy!

My 2nd great grandmother, Eduviges Rojas Castro
My mom, Marielos Salas Barahona
My uncle, Alberto Salas Barahona 

3rd great aunts
Ester and Lola Retana Albarez

My grandfather Luis Alberto Salas

Grandfather Luis Alberto Salas

My mother, Marielos Salas Barahona

First Communion of Mom and Uncle
pictured are: Marielos Salas Barahona, Alberto Salas Barahona
Zaida Barahona Retana, Angela Retana Rojas

3rd great uncle, Rafael Retana Albarez

Great grandmother, Angela Retana Rojas

2nd great aunt, Dora Retana Rojas

2nd great aunt, Carolina Retana Rojas

Luis Alberto Salas

great aunt, Eida Barahona Retana; great grandmother, Angela Retana Rojas; grandmother, Zaida Barahona Retana

Aunt Dorothy Pauline Sapp Canova

Grandmother, Zaida Barahona Retana