WOMEN OF WINFIELD
MARY JANE'S STORY Pt.1
True tales often resonate more deeply, as they capture the nuances of life, love, and loss. Such is the tale of Mary Jane Ridington Bottrall, a name that echoed through the chronicles of the Women of Winfield.
Let's dive into her tapestry.
To understand Mary Jane, we must rewind to 1840, Cornwall, England. It's the eve of a tale within a tale, featuring William Richards Symons, the first cousin and smitten suitor of Rosina Symons Ridington. Love is never straightforward; William's proposal was denied, but he vowed, "Then I will wait for your daughter.” A staggering pledge when the daughter in question was not yet conceived.
Yet, destiny is a fickle friend. In a hasty turn of events, Rosina married Charles Bottrall that very year. And as for William? His story continued, not in waiting but in carving out his path. A civil engineer by profession, he worked diligently, his status echoing in the 1861 census where he was mentioned as a married man. Although the mysteries of this first union remain buried in the sands of time.
Fast forward to 1864. Mary Jane, Rosina's daughter, now stands as a young woman of intellect, proficient in seven languages. The man from her mother's past, William, true to his word from two decades ago, extends his hand in marriage. Mary Jane, equipped with an enriched education funded by a munificent aunt, accepts. Their life in Pottsville, Pennsylvania reflects a tapestry of affluence, cemented with properties and company holdings.
But every silver cloud has its gray. Out of their twelve children, only a quarter survived to adulthood. Then, tragedy struck in 1888 when William faced a horrific train accident. Though he survived the crash, fate played its cruelest card. During recovery, a fatal infection claimed his life, leaving Mary Jane a wealthy widow, bound by the conditions of his will.
But Mary Jane, though struck by misfortune, was no damsel in distress. A world where women's voices were hushed by societal norms awaited her. Would she crumble or carve a legacy? Only time would tell.
To be continued…
Stacey Wallace Rehbein