Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Friday: One Woman, Three Centuries

I am not sure if my grandmother would have considered herself "preppy" or not.  Probably not.  She was, however, as "classic" as they come.

A tweet by Hopsy, at asked if there was anyone still living who was born before 1900, and, therefore, having lived in three centuries.  I believe there are one or two left.....but I have my own precious three century woman whom I wanted to tell you about today, my grandmother Elizabeth Ragsdale Isbell.

She was born April 19, 1899, on a plantation not far from Columbia, SC. The baby picture I have of her was taken when she was 2 1/2 years old....and it's one of my faves!

Little Elizabeth really liked having her picture taken, and although she was too young to be in school, she informed me in her later years that she begged to be taken to the little schoolhouse with her sister and brother, to be included.  She is the little blonde tyke on the right.  Her brother, Edward, is in the middle (holding an apple), and her older sister, Helen, is lying on her side.

Her family was surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins in Winnsboro, Columbia and the surrounding area, and she always told the funniest stories about living on the plantation, riding around in her little pony cart and causing all kinds of mischief.   She was the baby of the family of six children, and when she was 8 years old, her father moved the family to Greenville.  It was there she went to a woman's prep school and college, and there that she met my grandfather.

The house they moved into in 1907, is the house she returned to as a widow in the 1980's and where she died in April of 2000, just a couple of weeks short of her 101st birthday.

 With Older Daughter (her namesake) circa 1994

The year before she died, at age 100, she and her eldest daughter, "Miss Betty," were participants in the big House and Garden tour.  The garden had aged out, so a few years before, they had it redone, modeling their design on the garden of a friend/acquaintance of theirs from Charleston, the famous Miss Whaley.  I wrote about this tour earlier on The Classic Preppy, and you may click here to read the article. (Double click the newspaper photo to enlarge and read.)

In the last couple of years of my grandmother's life, she had some mini-strokes and slowed down quite a bit....but....she drove until she was 98, had lots of friends of all ages, and loved the Lord.  She had a great all three centuries!


  1. What beautiful memories you must have of her. Three centuries! I'm star-eyed over the picture of her in the lace dress... movie-quality! Gorgeous! Love hearing these family stories.

  2. Such a beautiful lady and driving til she was 98? I am so impressed. I love these stories! (Are you Elizabeth III then - your mama Miss Betty was the second, I'm assuming as Betty is a nickname for Elizabeth.)