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Women of Winfield

Women of Winfield


Emerging from the profound; loss of her life partner, Mary Jane Symons found herself adrift in a sea of new possibilities. The substantial estate she inherited was enormous, almost inconceivable for any woman in the 19th century. Yet this fortune was not without its shadows; a clause in her husband's will stated that upon her remarriage or death, all assets would revert to her children. In many ways, her wealth seemed more like a golden cage, rather than a means to freedom.

But Mary Jane was no ordinary widow. Well-educated and fluent in seven languages, she had witnessed the world beyond the confines of Pottsville. As she navigated her grief, she began to envisage a new chapter. Her children – William Charles, Albert, Maude, and Fannie – were her priority. But the specter of loneliness loomed large.

While unqualified to continue her husband William's complex mining operations, Mary Jane embarked on an enterprise uniquely her own: a bakery and coffee shop. Such a venture was audacious, especially for a woman of her status in the late 19th century. But soon, her establishment was renowned for its welcoming ambiance, delectable pastries, and exquisite coffee, becoming a nexus for both locals and travelers.

This venture wasn't just a business for Mary Jane; it was a symbol of her resilience, determination, and enterprising spirit. She transformed her anguish into ambition, crafting a beacon of hope for other women in parallel situations.

Yet as her business flourished, personal tempests were on the horizon. One day, the bustling coffee shop was suddenly hushed, every eye irresistibly drawn to the door. A man, tall and strikingly handsome, with sharp features that suggested both danger and allure, entered. Conversations ceased, replaced by murmurs of intrigue. "A Russian Count," they whispered.

At first, Mary Jane speculated he might have ties to her late husband. But the gravity of protecting her children's inheritance weighed heavily on her, cautioning her against any companionship, and perhaps even love. As the days unfurled, her life seemed poised for yet another twist.

Mary Jane's tale is a mosaic of challenges, tenacity, and the relentless quest for contentment, all set against the backdrop of a time that frequently marginalized women. It serves as a testament to her indomitable spirit.

Coming:  Women of Winfield, Pt 3, (The final chapter)

Stacey Wallace Rehbein ©

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