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In Their Own Words

April 03, 1888

Journal Entry Bemoaned Financial Condition

In one of her final journal entries, Gertrude Thomas expressed despair at her financial condition [because of years of bad decisions by her husband,they were almost completely bankrupt] - yet she retained pride in her children and grandchildren. She would not write in her journal after August 1889, but instead went on to become a very active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association:

“… I expect I shrink from what is before me. Tomorrow I will be fifty-four years old and I could not obtain credit for fifty dollars. I own land, much of it, and it does not support my family [it was heavily mortgaged]. For three years we have had complete failures on our river lands from high water. There is nothing to be obtained from my mother’s estate. Spring has come and I cannot buy a dress for Cora Lou or Kathleen. A pitiful confession to make to you my journal. I have written so little because I did not like to give expression to such trials for they are trials. Of late I have tried to be submissive. I am going (God willing) to do the duty which lies nearest me. During the last month I have had only one servant. I give out the clothes to be laundried away from home. Cora Lou and I do the house work, that is the bed rooms. I cannot bear to owe a servant money which I cannot pay. Dear Journal I have much to tell you much for which to be grateful. Julian [their youngest son, who would move to Atlanta and establish a successful medical practice, before inviting his parents to come live with him. This allowed them to sell all their property and clear most of their debts.] is north in Christ Hospital, Jersey City Heights. He is House Surgeon I believe that is the position. Turner is in the Insurance business. Jeff is still with the Express Co. Mary Belle is happily married and is a great comfort to me. Cora Lou is all that a fond mother could desire while Kathleen my thirteen year old darling is a perfect treasure. Oh God I thank thee for my children and grandchildren… .”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), p. 443.