Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females - My Grandmother Barb

March is Women's History Month and Lisa Alzo over at the Accidental Genealogist blog is hosting 31 blogging prompts for the month of March in order to honor all of the "Fearless Females" in our family trees. Although I will not be following along day by day, I would like to include some tales of my female ancestors, and maybe even one or two still living relatives who have affected my life.

I'd like to start off talking about my Grandmother, Barbara Jo Binns.  She is still living and she is an inspiration to my genealogy and family history goals every day.  Although I don't get to speak to her very often, the letters that we exchange every few weeks or so, tell the tales of a life led by a woman who wanted everything that life had to offer her.  But who knew the responsibilities of what home, family, and work entailed.

Dec 1956 Wedding Photo
Barbara Jo Binns was the second of three daughters born to John and Blanche Binns in the 1930s in the bustling town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Her Father John was a meat cutter and her mother stayed at home with the three girls. When they got old enough and started High School, both John and Blanche went back to school and got teaching degrees.

Barbara married her high school sweetheart, Darrel Smith, who swept her away as a United States Air Force wife.

Before long, she had been to California, Alaska, and Washington, D. C!!! But her heart was back home with her family in Arkansas. Her mother, Blanche, had a stroke in her 50s and Barbara's Dad did the best he could to take care of her while still teaching school.  Barbara returned home with two young children while her husband continued his military career overseas and Stateside.  They divorced but then remarried a few years later. A third child was born and they divorced for good a second time.  

In my last letter, I asked my Grandmother Barb several questions about her two marriages and divorces to my Grandfather.  She said that her family did not judge her; but rather, they supported her decision to remarry. She said she did NOT wear the same wedding gown twice. The second ceremony was in a church but a much smaller affair and much less formal; in fact she did not even wear a wedding gown the second time around and doesn't remember him wearing a tux either. The impression I got was that she had finally settled down into a house with the kids and he wanted to be a part of that, so he asked if he could come home. She believes he just didn't want to move back in with his parents. 

I find it very interesting learning about how people viewed the world and situations back then 50 years ago. It really isn't much different than it is today, I don't think. People fall in and out of love.  They do what they have to do to survive, to take care of their family. I was around when my Grandfather left. I can say that I was pretty heartbroken. But it wasn't until 25 years later that I learned that my Grandparents had been married and divorced not once but TWICE! 

What have you learned from the living recently? 


  1. Very interesting and unusual about the two marriages to one another. It is wonderful that you can still correspond with your Grandma too!

  2. Cheri, I am definitely loving exchanging letters with my grandmother! I have so many questions for her and she has been so great answering them!