Posted by: marthabernie | September 1, 2015

Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus – 1844 – 1908

004This is a photo of my great grandmother, Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus. Her youngest surviving child was my grandmother, Inez McMenus.  Inez’ older sister had been named after her father’s THREE youngest sisters, Matilda, Hannah and Laura (Matilda Anna Laura McMenus or “Aunt Annie” as we always refer to her, born 1868).  Another daughter was born about 1875 and was named Sarah after her father’s mother, Sarah Selvidge McMenus.  However, Sara died when she was about 18 months old and I don’t know if she had more than one name or not, as it says simply “Sarah McM” on her tiny gravestone in the Union Cemetery.  By the time Inez came along in 1881, they decided to give her just the one name and I have no idea who they named her after, if anyone.  As far as I know, there were no girls named Inez in the family, but she might have been named after a neighbor or friend.  Or maybe her mother (Rebecca Frances McMenus above) just liked the name!

I have posted this photo before along with her recipe for “Suet Pudding” (which is actually a type of very moist gingerbread/cake).  I came across this photo again while hanging the last of the photos this week and what struck me is the detail on the front of her dress and that she wore her tiny little wire glasses in the photo. I have the little wire glasses…they were sent to Aunt Annie after her mother died in 1908 along with a lock of her hair, a piece of the fabric that her black burial dress had been made of, one of her aprons, the rolling pin her husband had hand carved for her when they were first married and other things.  The photo was taken about 1900 when she would have been 56 years old.  She died in 1908 at the age of only 64.   Look at all those pleats on the front of the dress!   I wonder who spent hours doing all of them by hand?  She might have done it herself.  When she died, her daughters-in-law sat up all night making a dress to bury her in.  Without embalming, burials usually took place very quickly and the funeral service was sometimes held a day or two later (after the circuit preacher got to town).  I don’t know what the timing of “Aunt Frank’s” funeral service and burial was, but the next edition of the Conway Record Newspaper had a big obituary about her.  She was referred to as an “Old Settler” because she had come to Missouri with her father, John Wesley Smith, and mother, Margaret Clark, in the early 1850’s.  Her mother died shortly thereafter, and her father married again, this time to Fidelia Mariah Wait.  Fidelia was a schoolteacher  and taught many of the children of Rebecca Frances after she married Joseph McMenus and started a family.  It wasn’t until the 1990’s that we discovered Fidelia was not the biological mother of Rebecca and her sisters.

Anyway, here is the photo again with the foregoing information.


  1. How interesting – I love it that you have this ‘little wire glasses’ She was only 56 when this photo was taken – my goodness how times have changed when you look at your average 56 year old today. Lovely post and I’m loving the cookery book. I actually used to make suet pudding when I lived in the UK )it is too heavy for the French!) but mine was a savoury pudding filled with steak and mushrooms – I might resurrect it for the blog when winter arrives.(but I really need guiness to cook the steak in……


    • Yes, they aged a lot faster back then…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: