Eliza “Liza” Baldwin

Eliza “Liza” Baldwin

Virginia, USA
Death 26 Aug 1940
Pax, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA
Burial Long Branch, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 176008124 · View Source
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In a 1939 interview, Eliza “Liza” Baldwin of Pax, Fayette County, W.Va., remembered “as a young woman working as a slave on a farm at Evergreen, Va., near Appomattox court house, and dates most of her anecdotes before or after ‘the surrender.’” The article says she was 105.

“She was working in the fields when ‘soldiers with red stripes on their sleeves went by, going to Richmond to go to the war,’ and recalled that later a band of ‘deserters’ gave her a meal when her master wouldn’t feed her.

“Vehement in her denunciation of her master, she said he ‘whipped me and beat me and wouldn’t feed me; made me work in the field all day and chop wood all night’ but ‘my mistress was good and would slip me something to eat.’

“Asked what she thought of Lincoln’s freeing the slaves, she said, ‘I think he done a good thing to free me so I could have some pleasure.”

The interview was conducted by Bill Harnsbarger, an instructor at Pax high school, during a meeting of the Business and Professional Women’s club.

She was asked about the behavior of girls and the role of women. Mrs. Baldwin said not much had changed regarding girls. “They were too fast then and they’re too fast now, too. Girls always want to be running around when they should be home working.” Girls “used to wear skirts to their ankles, but now they wear them short to show their pretty legs, lapsing into a tale of how she ‘got a grapevine and made herself some hoopskirts’ when they were the fashion among her mistresses.”

“Asked what she thought of girls smoking, she said, ‘they can smoke just what they want to smoke.”

Mrs. Baldwin was also asked about women working. “…she said it was all right if they had to work but was better for them to stay at home.” She worked washing and cooking in other people’s households until she received her “old age pension.”

(“Aunt Liza, 105, ‘Come Off and Forgot’ Her Pipe, But She Tells Girls Few Things,” The Raleigh Register, Beckley, W.Va., Oct. 25, 1939, Page 2.)

An article in 1937 says she wasn’t certain about her age. “But I know I’m over a hundred. And last week I went down in Virginia to see my people and they all told me I was between 100 and 110 years old. I looked for the family Bible, but the children have torn it up.”

Mrs. Baldwin said she married but her husband “became a free man a week later, I’ve never seen him since.”

“She does not remember her parents. They were sold to slave traders when she was only four years old, she says. ‘An’ my children have forgotten me,’ she continued, a little wistful. ‘That’s the way they grow up they forget their parents. I don’t know where they are now.”

The article quoted Mrs. Baldwin as saying “…she lives off relief, and that someone has been kind enough to let her live in a little house along the highway where she has planted vines and flowers under the eaves.” (One of her obituaries says her rent was paid by her grandson Clarence Abbott.)

(Over 100, “Aunt Liza” Just Rests, Waiting For The Lord, The Raleigh Register, Aug. 23, 1937, Page 5.)

The 1930 census has Mrs. Baldwin, 90, born about 1840 in Virginia, living with two grandsons, Herman Marshall 37, born about 1893 in Virginia, and Clarence Abbott, 30, born about 1900 in Virginia. The grandsons were coal miners. (Year: 1930; Census Place: Pax, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: 2531; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0010; Image: 517.0; FHL microfilm: 2342265)

In 1940, Mrs. Baldwin, born in about 1835, is living alone. (Year: 1940; Census Place: Pax, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: T627_4401; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 10-10)

According to newspaper accounts, she died on Aug. 26, 1940, in her Fayette County home “after a four months’ illness. She had been suffering from a kidney ailment and had been bedfast for two months.”

She “had been living alone for many years in a small house near Pax, rented for her by her grandson, Clarence Abbott.”

Funeral services were held at the Long Branch Baptist Church with the Rev. C.H. Clemons of Charleston, W.Va., presiding. Burial was in Long Branch Cemetery.
(‘Aunt Liza’ Dies at 105, The Raleigh Register, Aug. 27, 1940, Page 1.)

A notice in the newspaper under “Pax Activities,” said she was survived by three children, 24 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren.
(Pax Activities, The Raleigh Register, Aug. 29, 1940, Page 11.)

Regarding Mrs. Baldwin’s extended family, here is some information from obituaries and news accounts: Clarence Abbott of Washington, D.C., visits his sister Mrs. Sam (Alta) Stone of Long Branch on his way to visit sister Mrs. Marie Bailey of Detroit. (Pax Activities, The Post-Herald, Beckley, W.Va., Sept 22, 1965, Page 10.) The obituary of Cassie Abbott Booker in 1960 lists her mother, Mrs. Priscilla Abbott, and brothers Clarence and George. (Mrs. Cassie Booker, The Raleigh Register, Beckley, June 23, 1960, Page 2.)

If you have additional information or want copies of the articles, please contact me.

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  • Created by: E.M. Smith
  • Added: 4 Feb 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 176008124
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Eliza “Liza” Baldwin (unknown–26 Aug 1940), Find A Grave Memorial no. 176008124, citing Long Branch Cemetery, Long Branch, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA ; Maintained by E.M. Smith (contributor 47134804) .