April 10, 1857, Lydia Sampson was married to John Lemmons Blakely in Jefferson County by Rev. Joseph Gassner, the local Methodist minister.
Lydia was the daughter of Rev. Thomas and Mary (Grundy) Sampson. She had been born August 20, 1840, in Golzinthney, Cornwall, England, where her father was a miner. The family emigrated to America in 1848 when Lydia was eight years old. After spending several years in Pennsylvania and Maryland, they moved to Iowa in 1854. They settled five miles northeast of Fairfield, where Lydia's father was the Methodist minister.
Lydia and John were blessed with children. Theodore was born April 5, 1858, Preston born April 7, 1860, Ernest born December 31, 1861, Kate born April 8, 1864, Wilber born September 7, 1865, and Roscoe born June 16, 1868.
John and Lydia then moved their family to a farm in Taylor County in 1870, settling near Gravity, north of Bedford, the trip being made in a covered wagon. John farmed his 160 acres and worked closely with the local Baptist Church. Here Vinnie was born June 2, 1870, Percy was born July 28, 1872, and Ellen was born May 16, 1874.
That summer a terrible tragedy occurred. Lydia had washed clothes that day, and after she was through, she put a tub of nearly boiling hot water down to scrub the floors. To her horror, seven-year-old Roscoe came running into the room and fell into the tub. Little Roscoe died the 24th of August. Death and hardship had been constant companions to this young couple and their families, but nothing had prepared John and Lydia for the loss of this dear little boy. And it was said that Lydia was never heard to laugh aloud again. Roscoe was buried on the west side in the Old Lexington Cemetery, north of Bedford, overlooking the gentle rolling Iowa countryside.
April 5, 1877, Theodore turned 19, on the 7th Preston was 17, on the 8th Kate became 13, on the 10th John and Lydia observed their 20th wedding anniversary. May 6th, little Ellen had her third birthday, on the 18th Lydia died, not quite 37 years old, and on the 20th baby Edna had her first birthday! It was a pathetic but staunch little group that stood at the graveside that day as Lydia was laid to rest beside her beloved Roscoe. John always said of Lydia to his children and grandchilren, "She was a fine woman. She gave her life for her family."
Edna Lydia was born May 20, 1876. Shortly after, Lydia's health began to fail. In those days it was called "consumption", and Lydia wasted away.
After Lydi's death, John gave up his pastorate and devoted his time to his children and his farm. Kate, at 13, found most of the responsibility of the household on her shoulders. Her grandmother, Licettee Blakely, and her aunts were a great source of guidance and help. During this time little Edna became sick with spinal meningitis, leaving her quite lame.
John Lemmons Blakely