Saturday, February 1, 2014

Great-Aunt Ren

Mary Renoix "Ren" Stewart was born in 1867 in Grant County West Virginia to Fortune Stewart and Rebecca Payne.  She grew up in a very large family.

Ren married William T. Brooks on November 27, 1889.  They were married by Charles Price supposedly at Rebecca Stewart’s home in Moorefield, West Virginia. 

William T. Brooks was born June 14, 1850 to Andrew and Martha Peterson Brooks.  Andrew Brooks was a farm laborer and Martha Peterson Brooks was a domestic servant for W. M. Randolph in 1870. 

Ren and William had four children:
  1. Raymond Augustas Brooks (11/22/1890 - ).  
  2. James L Brooks (07/18/1892 - 04/12/1958).
  3. Pearl Andrew Brooks (02/22/1893 - 08/23/1976) married Jennie Meyers (03/1897 - 08/1978).  
  4. Martha A. Brooks (09/1896 - 10/1986).

Tragically Ren committed suicide at age 30 on July 14, 1897 at her home in Moorefield, West Virginia.  She was buried the very next day.  Her family had indicated that she had hung herself, but research determined that she actually cut her throat and experienced a long agonizing death.

William T. Brooks married Kate Scott Strawder on April 2, 1899 in Hardy County West Virginia.  The couple had three children before they married.  They went on to have large family.  William died July 11, 1943.

From the time I heard of Ren's death as a child I had questions.  After doing this research I have many more.  Why were we led to believe she had hung herself?  Where were her children at the time of the incident?  Had she taken them to her in-laws early the morning of July 14, 1897?  (Hopefully the children were spared seeing the incident.)  Where was William at the time of the incident?  Why was she compelled to take her life?  Surely a toothache would not have been a motive for her suicide.  Why was her name not mentioned in the newspaper article?  

A great-grandson of William T. Brooks and Mary Renoix Stewart says the oral history indicated Ren had been murdered by either William T. Brooks or Kate Scott Strawder who was known to her.  And from information he gathered from his brother some of their cousins, Kate was present when Ren died. 

Ren's children went to live with William's parents Andrew and Martha Peterson Brooks and their Aunt Gertrude "Bertie" Brooks after their mother’s death.  The children even moved to Cumberland with their Aunt Bertie to go to high school.  

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