Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Pinkstaff Sisters

Lawrenceville, Illinois, October 7, 1935
 Redmond Pinkstaff, 81, Tulsa Oklahoma, was found dead in bed Sunday at the farm home of the last of his spinster sisters, Miss Mary Ann Pinkstaff who is critically ill of pneumonia. Pinkstaff came here a week ago to attend the funeral of two other sisters Clara Ann, 70, and Suzy Ann who died of pneumonia contracted while harvesting the clover on a farm they operated alone.She was the victim of her own energy pitching hay on the farm with a heavy cold which turned into pneumonia. 
The fourth sister, who with the others maintained a spinsterhood covenant made in childhood, died 40 years ago. There never was a dearth of suitors for the Pinkstaff girls, but they still valiantly honored the covenant.
The covenant of the four sisters Martha Ann, Suzy Ann, Mary Ann, and Clara Ann, in which they promised each other in their early childhood they would never marry  has been  kept for more than threescore years.
The eldest of the four, Martha Ann died 40 years ago, the first time the bond of sisterhood was to be broken, while the next 17 years were spent by the remaining three in caring for their aged father. He died 23 years ago, and since that time the three operated a 180 acre farm in Russell Township Lawrence County, with unflinching courage of the sturdy German pioneer stock of which they came, performing the work of men in the field. Their relatives and friends alike marveled at their singular achievements.
But Mary Ann, 73, alone remains today to tell the story of their covenant and to look after the acres that have not only been their home and their father's home but the home of their grandfather as well.She recalls the times when one or the other of the four were offered their hand of marriage but all suitors were denied.
Photo taken in 1882
The three-way partnership of the spinsters was managed by the eldest Suzy Ann. Mary Ann was the housekeeper and the doer of chores while Clara Ann was in charge of the farm work. All gave an enthusiastic hand to helping in the major harvest work, however, and it was not uncommon for the three to gather around the home council table decide this or that issue. But it was usually the advice of Suzy Ann that was the guiding force.

The raising of cattle, hogs and horses was profitable years in and out. Corn, wheat and clover were the chief feed crops. Fat cattle, produce and hogs were sold in relatively large numbers on a farm of its size, and a neat profit was nearly always realized. When a sale was made the proceeds would be brought home and there would be an accounting around the fireside, each spinster received her third of the profits. 
Most of the neighbors believe the money earned year after year has been hidden away possibly in gold. Small bank accounts were kept but losses of recent years put fear in their hearts for this manner of safekeeping their money. (More about the Pinkstaff family tomorrow.)