Posted by: marthabernie | February 5, 2015

Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus, 1844 – 1908

005aThis is a photo of my great grandmother taken about 1890-91.  She was born Rebecca Frances Smith in 1844 to John Wesley and Margaret Clark Smith.  Her mother died at some stage and her father remarried.  He had also been married twice before Margaret Clark, both wives having died in childbirth. They moved from Greene County, Missouri to Phillipsburg in Laclede County, Missouri and became active in the community as well as in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Phillipsburg.  Her father was a founding member and in later years taught school, became one of the local merchants and also served as a county judge.  He also married a fourth time, producing more children.

In 1861, Rebecca (known as Frank or Aunt Frank) married Joseph McMenus and they had a baby boy who died at birth.  Their second and third children were born during the Civil War, Joseph finding time to come home during leaves where he served as a sergeant for the Union Army.  They went on to have ten children, a daughter Sarah who died at age 18 months, and then the last child, another little baby boy, who also died at birth.  In between, they produced five sons and two daughters, the last child being my grandmother, Inez McMenus.

Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus was known far and wide for her cornbread, and I have many of her recipes which I will get around to posting one of these days.  In the meantime, her recipe for “suet pudding” (gingerbread cake) is already posted here, so check the archives.


  1. Sounds like childbirth was almost a death sentence in those days.


    • It was just that…


    • If the mother didn’t die, often the baby did. Even in large families, there were always infant deaths in fairly high numbers. My grandmother had four babies that died out of twelve and one miscarriage in addition to that.

      Liked by 1 person

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