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.