Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors - #3 Mary Graves Hardesty - An Unconventional Woman


Mary Graves Hardesty was born in Kentucky on February 28, 1840. Her father was Kinzea W. Hardesty of Henry County, Kentucky (1806-1851) and her mother was Mary Sallee (Polly) Dingle (1810-1883). There were thirteen children (eight boys and five girls) in her family. On a journey to Missouri in 1852 her father Kinzea became ill and died. During the early Civil War years the Hardesty brothers decided to move the entire family West rather than fight against the States. They had a long journey by covered wagon and arrived in Honey Lake, California in 1861. Soon after they arrived Mary met John Tucker and they were married on January 21, 1862. The marriage certificate is the only time she is known as Mary Jane instead of Mary Graves.

 Mary Graves Hardesty Tucker
February 28, 1840 to December 10, 1918

In the early days at Silver Creek in Washington Territory, they had only a few neighbors - two white settlers at Mossyrock and one at Salkum. The Indians, the Ike's and the Castama's who lived near the mouth of the Tilton River also became very good friends. The Indian women delivered three of the six children Mary had at Silver Creek and she in turn went to the Indian camp to deliver their children. Mary also was a mid-wife for the white settlers as they moved into the valley. 

Mary was tall, about 5'8", and she commanded the respect of everyone when she spoke. She was kind, practical and abruptly direct. She was also unconventional in that she insisted that Indian Louie, John's hired hand, sit at the table with the rest of the family for meals. The white settlers criticized her for treating the Indians as equals, but she didn't care. If someone was good enough to work along with the Tuckers in the fields than they were good enough to eat at their table.

In addition to the store the family ran out of their home, Mary would also travel to Tumwater (100 mile round trip - two weeks) and Tacoma (160 mile round trip - almost a month) by horse and wagon to sell butter she churned and salt pork that she made. In addition to the 160 acres they homesteaded, John purchased 450 acres from the railroad for $900. He had over one hundred head of cattle and a number of pigs and chickens. They always had wild animals after the cattle so John carried an old "Yager" gun and Mary always took an axe with her. Mary was out looking for some cattle with the dogs one day and found the cattle circled around a newborn calf trying to protect it from a cougar in a tree. Mary picked up the calf and carried it on her back while the cougar followed her. Even though cougars often killed dogs they managed to keep the cougar away from Mary and the calf until they reached the safety of the barn.

Mary and John had eight children who were healthy until their daughter Sarah Ellen died at age 19 of a ruptured appendix in 1886. Her husband John died in 1904. Mary's son Albert Henry (born 1876) died in 1911 of a strangulated hernia leaving a widow and a 4 year old son. Mary died in 1918 after being an invalid for four years. Her sons and daughters took turns taking care of her until her death.


Mary and six of her children on her 74th birthday in 1914 - my great grandfather William John Tucker (1862-1933) is in the back row on the right. The others are Alfred James (1879-1951), Mary Elizabeth (1865-1921), Frederick Rollyn (1882-1958), George Henry (1872-1937), and Agnes J. (1874-1951).

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