On February 18, 98-year-old MaeDell Taylor Hawkins held her great-great-great-granddaughter for the first time at the nursing home where she lives in Kings Mountain, Kentucky.
A photo posted on social media by Gracie Snow Hewell captured seven-week-old Zhavia Whitaker meeting her great-great-great grandmother. The photo reveals six generations of women from the family. In addition to the pair, the photo contains MaeDell Hawkins’ daughter, Frances Snow; her granddaughter, Gracie Snow Howell; her great-granddaughter, Jacqueline Ledford; and her great-great granddaughter Jasline Wilson. The photo has since gone viral.
MaeDell Hawkins’ granddaughter, Sheryl Blessing (not pictured), took the photo of the family.
According to Fox News, Howell said an “all-female” trip wasn’t intended, but happened as a result of the challenges of scheduling and traveling with families who live in different states. The trip allowed MaeDell Hawkins the opportunity to hold her newest family member and catch up with the rest of the family.
“We spent three hours with her that afternoon,” Howell said. “We had a really good visit.”
MaeDell Hawkins was reportedly born and raised in the state of Kentucky. In 1940 she married her first husband, Bill Taylor. “Grandma was 16 years old when she married my grandpa, Bill,” Howell recalled to WPDE. “He was 50 and a widower with 10 children; his first wife died while giving birth to conjoined twins at home (the babies did not survive either).”
Mrs. Hawkins took on the role of mother for her 10 stepchildren and then went on to have 13 children of her own. Raising such a large family would have been especially difficult without indoor plumbing and other modern conveniences.
“Grandpa worked on the railroad and was gone all week,” said Howell. “With so many mouths to feed, grandma would rise early in the morning, stock the wood stove, go out and gather eggs, grab a couple of chickens (wring their necks and pluck the feathers), fry them up, make biscuits and gravy, and would have breakfast ready before the kids went to school.”
READ: Family with 12 children goes viral on social media: ‘Children are a blessing’
The family reported that Mrs. Hawkins never complained about the lack of conveniences. She did whatever it took so her family never went hungry and always felt loved. Howell recalled, “She would often say, ‘Hard work is what keeps you going’.”
Gracie, MaeDell’s granddaughter, told People that her grandmother, who will be 99 in July, is still “smart as a tack” — and isn’t afraid to “tell you how to take care” of a child.
Guinness World Records reports that the current world record for the family with the most living generations ever was reached in 1989 and was awarded to a New York family who had seven living generations.
Janice Taylor, Mrs. Hawkins’ daughter-in-law, created a family chart tallying up Hawkins’ biological and step-descendants. The research shows she is linked to 623 people. Currently, MaeDell Hawkins has 106 grandchildren, 222 great-grandchildren, 234 great-great-grandchildren and 37 great-great-great-grandchildren combined.
Howell said, “She hopes to meet her third sixth-generation grandchild this summer, as another child, a boy, is on the way. If everything goes well, the baby’s doing well, grandma’s doing well — we’re all going to meet back in June and get another picture.”
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