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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Fisher

In Remembrance of A Remarkable, Ordinary Woman: Sophia Malinda Bodine Evitts

Sophia Malinda Bodine Evitts (L), with granddaughter Lassie Winn (R)

Photo shared by Tom and Linda Ford

"Who can fill a Mother’s place?” This was the admonishment echoed by many during and after the Civil War to young mothers like Sophia, who had lost their husbands during the war. While she might be grieving her loss, her duty as a mother loomed ever-present.

Whoever posed the idea of the woman being the weaker sex probably never met Sophia Malinda Bodine Evitts. I’m guessing this is a woman whose appearance and demeanor drew little attention, … so it would have been easy to miss, but this was one incredibly strong woman. In the eyes of her Native American ancestors, she was a full-blooded Cherokee, yet she was denied what had tragically become a desecrated heritage. She became well-acquainted with grief and loss at too early an age. As a female civilian, she endured and survived all the danger, uncertainty, and volatility the Civil War brought … and there was much. She was widowed at only 23 years of age, and left to raise an infant daughter. She most certainly had to work tirelessly just to keep the two of them fed and clothed.

Through all of these tribulations, she held on.

But to what did she hold to?

Of course there weren’t any alternatives. Life at this time, for most people, was a thing to be endured—one day at a time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; but it must certainly have been, at times, an excruciating thing. The drudgery of her circumstances most definitely were hard on Sophia. She grew exhausted—both mentally and physically.

Yet she would provide her family with the greatest gift: Nurturing the lives of her children; she gave them the care they required, and equipped them with the skills they’d need to survive.

It took most everything she had ... and she was still just getting started!

One shouldn’t pass over that sentiment too quickly, for truly, hers was an investment of blood, sweat, and tears. An investment that is significant and worthy of appreciation, because as she and Frank prepared to leave Tennessee, a crossroads was coming--geographically, but also in life. Opportunity would come calling … her children would have opportunities she herself never had the luxury of dreaming of. All because she held on, one difficult day at a time.

Handwriting of Sophia Malinda Evitts

Her signature on the Widow's Indigent Pension

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