Mary Lloyd Jones Philip
The lady to the right was termed "the jolliest of the Aunts" by Maginel Wright Barney in The Valley of the God-Almighty Joneses. Why then, the scowl in the photo? Was it a moment's mood that foisted this image on unimagined generations to come? Was it the length of time early photography demanded of its subjects? Was the day too hot and the dress too confining?
Whatever the cause...this is not the Aunt Mary remembered with such fondness in life and in death by her nieces and nephews, neighbors and siblings.
"Aunt Mary was the jolliest of the Aunts, and the most equable. She laughed easily. I don't remember ever seeing her angry..." Maginel Wright Barney
This second-born daughter of Richard and Mallie married a Scot, James Philip, who became known as "Uncle Philip" to the clan to differentiate him from the family-born "Uncle James" . Aunt Mary and Uncle Philip settled Hilltop together in a house perched on the very top of the hill with a view commanding orchards and pines, fields and flowers. Many a modern Lloyd-Jones reunion picnic has taken place on the Hilltop premises although the old house is gone, burned to the ground by a lightning strike.
What do we know of Mary Lloyd-Jones Philip besides the fact she was born in Llandyssul, Wales in 1836, died at Spring Green in 1903, bore Elsie Mary, Anna Nell and Margaret Lloyd in her youth and was blessed with a happy heart?
A eulogy in a local newspaper proclaimed: "Mother of three daughters, like the women of old she prayed for a man child. The prayer was denied from above, but the strong soul, the religious soul, knows how to answer its own prayers. There were homeless boys in the crowded cities, and several of these Aunt Mary took into her own home, maturing them and training them to manhood..."
"Sonless mother to motherless sons" proclaimed her preacher brother. Perhaps the lad shown in the photo is one such. For Mary was known to be friend to the many, advisor in every other home, the most dependable neighbor and guest. Often she performed the offices of doctor and priest..."
It is odd to think that a woman dead for decades yet lives to teach us by her example. We know that she took the place of "the little Mother" when the strength of Mallie waned. That she and Uncle Philip moved in with the widowed patriarch Richard to aid and care for him in his last years. That daughter Margaret died young, Elsie married Margaret's bereaved husband and raised her child, and Nell taught at Hillside and acted as matron for the young boys domiciled in the West Cottage. It was through the son and step-son of Margaret and Elsie that the Mary line continues to this day.
Mary Lloyd-Jones Philip, "the jolliest of the Aunts", bequeathed the gifts of laughter and compassion to those who knew her and those who now follow. How many lives did she touch? How many lives did she change? What ephemeral legacies have been wafted our way from the lady in the black dress with the dour expression?