Alta Lane was my cousin. Of course, she wasn’t my first cousin but in my family, a cousin is a cousin is a cousin. Anyway, by the time I came along, Alta was a Dixon, Mrs. Walter Dixon, to be exact. Alta liked to write, and she wrote a lot about Comanche County and the surrounding area. Sometimes I agree with what she wrote, and sometimes I do not. I am, however, very thankful for the clues she left behind for me to find.
On June 22, 1934, one of Alta’s writings appeared in the Comanche Chief. It was the story of a woman who simply did her job well and then found herself visiting at the White House! Of course, as is usual, a lot happened between point A and point B.
Mary Peace Spradling, daughter of Wesley Peace and Roby Ann Thompson Peace. came to Proctor, Texas from Limestone County in 1906, and I suppose it could be said that her life was a bit sad, at least to those on the outside looking in. She was married to Dr. Spradling (not sure I’m correct on that spelling), a name even I remember hearing from my grandparents, who lived in Proctor. The doctor served that community for a very long time.
The couple had one child, a son who died at about the age of 13. After her husband’s death, Mary took over the nursing duties of her invalid mother. She also became the private duty nurse of E.B. Ewing, who was blind. Never having seen the face of his nurse, Ewing and Mary were eventually wed for nearly fifteen years before she lost her mother in 1926 and her husband in 1927.
Left on her own and having to support herself, Mary Ewing moved to Fort Worth, where she engaged in nursing for two doctor friends of her first husband. Because they were both “baby doctors” of some repute, Mary found herself in some of the best homes in Fort Worth, taking care of the babies who needed her.
And then, the doctors were called in for another birth, the birth of Mr. and Mrs. Elliott Roosevelt’s child, the child who would become the grandchild of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Of course, when the couple asked about a nurse for the baby, Nurse Ewing was recommended as one of the best.
And that is how Mary Peace Spradlin Ewing came to visit the White House! And a huge thank you goes out to Sheila Kee Poole of Gilmer, Texas for lending us her time and her research skills.