When Julia Anne DeVore King was 15 years old, she married her Aunt Ellen’s widower, Dr. William Edward Prescott, who was 35 years older than her.
Julia became stepmother to her three cousins, Julia Annie and Wallace Thomas, who were older than her, and Eustace, who was 6 years old at the time. Julia and William had three girls of their own: Ellen (1903), Ruth (1907), and Edith (1910).
William’s health declined as he aged, his hearing failed, and on 27 March 1916, he passed away from stomach cancer, leaving Julia his large farm and mercantile business. Over the next couple years, Julia continued placing advertisements for crops in the local paper, indicating that she continued running the farm.
Two summers later, Julia married another widower, Henry Townes Medlock. She again became a stepmother, this time to Henry’s young son, Henry Hammond. Julia, and perhaps Henry, continued running the farm for a couple more years before it was broken up and auctioned off in 1920.
After becoming a grandmother, she took in her granddaughter, Barbara, and raised her as her own child. She treated her step-grandchildren as if there wasn’t any step to them. They all called her Gamma. My dad tells of visits to his grandparent’s house where Gamma did most of the talking and then sent them home with mason jars of milk and sandwiches for the 13 mile drive back to Abbeville, South Carolina.
Gamma drove a 1953 Chevy 2-door coupe they called “The Green Machine.” She was a short woman and couldn’t get the car into 2nd gear, so she would just go from 1st to 3rd. When Henry Hammond inherited the car more than 20 years later, 2nd gear no longer existed.
She became a widow for a second time when Henry died 3 December 1963. My dad remembers Gamma latching on to him for the funeral, taking his hand, holding tight until the service was over.
Gamma developed a palsy at some point, but kept in touch with her daughters and Henry Hammond through typed letters, using carbon paper so she only had to type one letter. She was an excellent typist.
Julia died 23 March 1975 in Greenwood, South Carolina. She was buried next to her first husband, just a short walk from her second husband’s grave. She seemed to make the best of the opportunities and trials that life gave to her, leaving a legacy of love and strength for all her descendants, biological and adopted.