Finding Madge – A Granddaughter’s Journey

Vintage Mississippi postcard

 Opening an Etsy shop to sell my vintage collection was a conscious act to de-clutter.  Naming the shop Madge’s Hatbox, after my grandmother, was a loving nod to her years as a milliner.   Then a chance remark by my aunt sent me on a journey in search of a hat shop my grandmother opened in 1917.

After securing funds for millinery supplies and then traveling by herself from Kansas to Scooba, Mississippi to find her fortune, Madge’s courage and drive to succeed continue to be a daily inspiration.

The following is a series of articles chronicling my journey to try to find that hat shop.  Hope you enjoy the ride.

I know I did.

The Journey Begins

And so with this letter, my journey begins.  A journey to rediscover my grandmother’s life as a young woman trying to make it on her own as a milliner. For years I had known that my grandmother Madge worked in the hat trade before her marriage to my grandfather, but never knew any details.  She didn’t talk about that part of her life and I was too young to realize the importance and bravery of her actions given the times.   After my junior year in college, I married and started my own life and put her information in the back of my mind for some other day.   After all, there was plenty of time.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t any more time.  Madge died of the flu within the year.  She was buried in the dress she wore to my wedding.   Read More . . .

Scooba, Mississippi

Madge and Mr. Madge left Atlanta on Friday on our trip to Scooba to find Madge and made it to Birmingham, Alabama by lunch.   Then for several hours, we wound through the rest of the state on two-lane roads until we were over the border and into Scooba.  It was hot and muggy and we could hear thunderstorms in the distance. We made a beeline to the Tubb-May Memorial Library on the campus of East Mississippi Community College to meet the librarians who have been helping me track down my grandmother’s hat shop. Madge was so excited to finally get together with the wonderful folks who have been so generous with their time.  Read More . . .

Chanute Kansas

You might remember a previous post that included a letter from Mrs. Margaret Steely in Chanute Kansas.   My grandmother worked in her millinery shop and Mrs. Steely volunteered to stake Madge $50.00 in materials when she decided to open her own shop in Scooba Mississippi.  

Recently I got a chance to go back to my hometown, Wichita Kansas and while there, my friend Mary and I took a day trip over to Chanute to see what we could find.  Read More . . .

Scooba Update Progress At Last

There is great news to report from Scooba Mississippi.  Read More . . .

Back to Mississippi

Bright and early one Monday morning Madge was back on the road.  A social commitment in Dallas allowed a trip through Mississippi.  The plan: spend a couple of days in Scooba plus do some archival research in Jackson.  It was finally time to try to put the pieces together for my Grandmother Madge’s Hat Shop in Scooba.  Read More . . .

Kemper County, Mississippi

With Miss Thelma’s canned goods safely tucked in the back seat, Sarah and Madge headed off to the big city of DeKalb, the county seat of Kemper County, Mississippi.   Our destination was the Kemper County Historical Museum.  Read More . . .  

The End of the Road

Would the question of Grandmother Madge’s hat shop ever be answered?   I had two more chances to find out.  Read More . . .

1 Comment

  1. I am so glad you found your answers my friend! I know how much fun looking things up on microfiche can be, as I occasionally have to do this as research for our building at the city records dept.

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.