|Lottie Alice Britton was born February 10, 1895, youngest
daughter of Sylvenus Freeman Britton and Mary Ellen Yates.
Sylvenus and Mary had 5 children besides Grandma: Arminda, Armida,
William, Allen and Elsie. Her mother died when she was seven and
Sylvenus remarried Elmie Taplin in 1905. Her family were members of the Free Will Baptist Church and she attended the Cady
School, a little one room school house in Spring Lake, Wisconsin.
In 1912, while attending a dance in St. Paul, Grandma met her future husband and my grandfather, Charles William Elftman of Eau Galle, WI. They were married later that year on October 20, 1912 in St. Paul, MN and took up residence in Dunn County, WI.. Their first child, Aaron, died at birth, but they went on to have 8 more: Carol, Fern, Dorothy, Arnold, Lorraine, Gwen, Charles Jr. and my mother, Charlotte, known by everyone as Peg. Grandpa died in 1949 of cancer and Grandma never remarried. She sold the farm in the 1950s and lived with various of her children after that, including my mother and myself along with my brother and sister until she bought a trailer in Elmwood in the trailer park at the end of the main street and moved there.
When I was born in 1957, Grandma was already 62 years old. But she never seemed old to my young eyes. She always wore those flowered housedresses and had those wonderfully soft grandma arms that could smother you with a hug, which she did frequently. And her kitchen always smelled of the most delicious sugar cookies I have ever tasted. She always had a cookie jar full of them and we would sit and dip them in coffee and cream. My older cousins remember her sitting for hours playing the piano and singing to them in the old farm house, long since gone now.
I don't think Grandma ever realized it, but she is one of the reasons I have such a passion for genealogy and history. Every Memorial day we would take her to the Spring Lake and Poplar Hill cemeteries to visit her parents, grandparents and husband's graves and leave flowers and memorials to them. I was young at the time, too young to understand why she did this, but it stuck with me. Now every time I am back there, I go to visit their graves, just to let them know that I remember. I always hoped that I would have our family genealogy more complete to share with her before it was too late, but that didn't happen, so now I pass it on to whoever will listen for her.
In 1968 my family moved to Washington State and Grandma was no longer just 30 minutes away, but 2,000 miles and 2 days, but we always kept in touch. For years Grandma sent each of her grandchildren a card with $2.00 in it. When I was young, it was such a treasure to me, I couldn't wait to get my card from Grandma and knew just how I would spend the money. As I got older, I would smile and call her to thank her for the card and the money, but would tell her to keep the cash, she needed it more than I. But the next year, there would be my card with the $2.00 in it. When I had my own child at 25, I began spending the money to buy her little things. And then one year my card didn't come and I think that is the first time I realized that Grandma was getting old, that she was old, being close to 90 by that time.
She finally moved in with my Uncle Charles and Aunt Gerry in Waukesha and she continued there for several years, but as her memory deteriorated caring for her began to take its toll. So she moved into the Elmwood Heritage Nursing Home in Elmwood. We all thought that if she was back in the town that she had grown up in and spent so much of her life, it would be better for her, and it was in the beginning, but Grandma was slowly losing the battle with time and more and more of her memory faded away.
I got to see her in 1995 when I was back there for her 100th birthday family reunion. It had been over 10 years since I had seen her and I was not prepared for what had happened to her in the intervening years. When I walked into the nursing home and the nurse told her who I was, for just the briefest of moments, I know she knew who I was. But when she looked closer at me, I was a 38 year old woman with the beginnings of gray in her hair and a teenage daughter at her side and the light went out. I was not the grandchild that was there in the past she was living in. I talked with her for a while and told her that I loved her and she said she loved me too, it was the best I could hope for. When I left I cried for the woman that my grandmother had been and never would be again.
For years my head has told me it was time for her to go, that she wanted to go, but my heart always said stay. And as 100 turned into 101 and then 102 and the doctor's said her health was fine, I thought why not 105 or 110, but that was selfish of me and I knew the life she had really wasn't any life at all. She had already outlived all her siblings, a husband, 3 of her grown children and her friends and she needed to go, she wanted to go and I knew her time on this earth was limited. And last night, September 23, 1998, at the age of 103y 7m 13d, at approximately 10:15 pm CDT, my grandmother got her wish and she passed and took with her yet another piece of my childhood. On September 29, 1998 she will be laid to rest beside her husband in the Poplar Hill Cemetery. She left several children, 36 grandchildren, many more great-grandchildren and even some great-great grandchildren. And I will miss her.
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