Eliza Bone Sylvia Pennie
1872 – 1956
My Great Grandmother Eliza H. Bone was born in Little Compton on July 25, 1872 to Charles and Isabella Taylor Bone and died February 11, 1956 in Little Compton at the age of 83. She was a real turn of the 19th century woman in a simpler time that was loving but, determined to provide for her family needs first no matter the obstacles.
She lived through many troubling times in the world. The terrible World War I, the deadly Spanish Flu in 1918 which killed 25 million people, the Great Depression, and World War II are just to name a few.
Personally, she had to endure the tremendous loss of many loved ones in her life – two husbands in their early 40s, two sisters including one at 21 years old, four brothers of which 3 died as infants, and a daughter who died as an infant, along with her mother and father.
She also saw many great things during her life evolve such as electricity, medicines, airplanes, automobiles, televisions, and telephones, but the most important thing to her was her family and friends. She was very proud of her entire family which included her son Leonard who was a State Senator along with many other accomplishments by her family. Her brother Edward H. Bowen was also a State Assemblyman.
She had three sisters – Isabella Taylor born July 22, 1877, and died in 1954; Jennie who was born January 22, 1882, and died on October 5, 1903, at 21 years old and is buried at the Old Commons Burial Grounds; and Helena Church born April 23, 1887 and died July 17, 1959, and is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River. She had six brothers – Robert born March 10, 1874; Charles born July 5, 1875, and died July 12, 1875 at seven days old; Samuel born July 4, 1876, and died July 12, 1876, at eight days old. The three brothers are buried at the Old Commons Burial Ground. Her other brothers were Samuel H. born on May 21, 1885, and died June 21, 1964, buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Fall River; Edward born on August 2, 1889, and died September 2, 1891 at two years old, buried in Little Compton; and Edward H. born on October 1, 1896, and died October 23, 1977, buried in Little Compton.
Eliza Bone (known as Grammie) married Manuel Sylvia, who was born in the Azores Islands on May 12, 1865, to Samuel and Rose Sylvia. Eliza and Manuel were married and had five children born in Little Compton, three boys and two girls. Manuel L. born on May 7, 1889, and died on June 24, 1952, and is buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Tiverton; Leonard H. born February 22 1891, and died July 21, 1958; Charles born May 17, 1893, and died February 1948 in New Jersey. The two daughters were Eliza H., known as Lilia, born April 25, 1896 and died in 1989, buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Tiverton; and Euphemia born November 1, 1902, and died in 1988, buried in Pawtucket.
Several of their children were born on Taylor’s Lane before they moved to their home that Manuel built on Sakonnet Point Road. Their home on Sakonnet Point Road also had a large barn and shop on the property behind the house.
On July 12, 1908, Eliza’s husband Manuel died of liver cancer at 43 years old and was buried in the family plot at the Hillside Cemetery in Tiverton.
In 1910, in Newport, RI, Eliza (Grammie) married her 2nd husband Frank Pennie who was born in Nova Scotia in 1868. During the same year in 1910, Frank had an at-work accident in Newport and they had to amputate one of his legs. He had to use a peg leg after that. They had two daughters, Katherine born July 3, 1911, and died 1971, buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Tiverton; and Elizabeth who was born in 1912 but did not survive and is buried in the family plot. Frank died December 18, 1912, at 44 years old and is buried in the family plot at Hillside Cemetery in Tiverton.
After the death of Grammie’s second husband Frank she never remarried. She took care of her six children alone by cleaning houses and taking care of other children for Little Compton families for the rest of her life. I remember one family that Grammie worked for was Charlie Almy’s family and another family was on Warrens Point Road. Grammie worked hard to take care of her family after both her husbands died until she got sick in 1955. Her daughters Lilia and Euphemia came down from Pawtucket and lived with her and took care of her until her passing on February 11, 1956.
Grammie always had a large garden in the yard that she would tend to and can vegetables to be available for food during the winter months. Her transportation was her horse and buggy to get around town until the horse died and was buried behind the barn. Years later, she relied on Massie Coaches which ran a bus service from Sakonnet Point through the Commons to Fall River to get to work. I remember the bus would stop in front of the house and blow the horn for her to come out. She was a great friend to all the drivers and on Grammie’s birthday the bus driver would stop and give her a birthday cake, a real treat in those days. At other times some family members who she worked for would come and pick her up in a horse-less carriage (automobile).
After World War II, my mother (who was born in the shop), my brother, and I would spend summers down at Grammie’s ion the shop which was a two-story building attached to the barn. The first floor was two rooms, a living room/kitchen and a bedroom, and the second floor was one big room. When Grammie came home from her workday later in the evening we would go into her home and sit in the parlor with her and talk about the old days.
She would talk about World War II and the military posts in Little Compton. Soldiers would come from the Point into her driveway on the way to Post Headquarters (located on Main Road & Sakonnet Point Road) and she would yell to get off her property or she would call the Town Sergeant.
When I was about seven years old and asked Grammie one night, “Why did you not get married again?” She said, “I was not going to have a 3rd strike against me!”
During Thanksgiving Grammie would bake two pumpkin pies on her kitchen coal stove and bring them all the way up to Pawtucket for a family Thanksgiving dinner.
During weekends, on both Saturday and Sunday, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would come down for the day to visit, have lunch, and play games on the law. They also helped with mowing the lawn and other housekeeping duties. Her son Leonard Sylvia and her daughter Katherine Pennie were always stopping by and checking on her welfare in addition to her brothers Sam Bowen and Ed H. Bowen.
Grammie was a caring person and loved very much by everybody. It was always about family first.
John Morrissey, Great-grandson