I Come From a Long Line of Spinsters


I never knew this woman, but she was my great-grandmother.

My last surviving uncle recently discovered email and decided to hunt me down so he could correspond with me since I’m the only relative that:

a) lives far enough away to make emailing me worth his while; and

b) has email; and

c) is still fluent enough in German to be able to read and write emails

Not that Uncle has much to say for himself, but he has sent me some photos of ancestors I’ve never seen before,  including this one of my great-grandmamma.

She was a nice German woman who refused to marry all the nice German boys her friends and relatives tried to set her up with. She was content to remain a spinster. By the time she was in her late 20s everyone had given her up as a hopeless. (Psst – word is she had a “j.o.b.” !! Shocking!)

Then somehow (no one knows the whole story even though I’ve begged and pleaded for them to find out) she met a swarthy Spaniard and eloped. From as much as anyone knows it was a terribly romantic story.

So right away the great-grandmamma had a lovely daughter who was the spitting image of her who they named Augusta. (Pssst: This may or may not have happened before the elopement).

Then the great-grandmamma got knocked-up became with child again, but the swarthy Spaniard was mysteriously killed. Details are vague. It was a long time ago.

Great-grandmamma (I really must find out her  name. The uncle doesn’t know it and I have no idea how to find it myself.) raised the two girls (Augusta and Louisa) on her own, by herself, with no family to help at all. Because she was disobedient enough to marry a foreigner.

Augusta grew up to have a career in finance and never married and left a bundle of money behind when she died to the delight of her three remaining relatives. Louisa grew up to have a career in the fashion industry (of which Germany is, of course, renown…NOT!)

Anyway, Louisa was a designer of some sort and had also decided to remain single.


she met a dashing soldier and married him at the ripe old age of 32. (That was pretty scandalous even in flapparific Germany.  There was talk that she even spend some time in Berlin, which as you may know was the Sodom and Gomorrah of the free world in the 1920s)

If it wasn’t for the fact that Louisa had developed quite a reputation as a hussy by the time she hit 30, she would have been forever labelled a spinster.

Louisa had 4 kids in rapid succession; one of whom was my Papa. Three boys, one girl. Before the youngest (the email uncle) was out of diapers, Louisa’s husband was killed in the war (WWII), so she raised her kids alone.

Louisa’s poor daughter died when she was only 5 or she would surely have grown up to be a spinster, too.  The 3 boys grew up to have 8 kids between them – only 3 of which were girls.

Granny Louise only ever got to know one of those girls – me before she died.

Another one  of the girls is my cousin B. who is a Lesbierin, which is a form of really dedicated spinsterhood. She has no offspring and I reckon is now beyond the age of contemplating any.

Neither my sister nor I have never married. She has no kids. My brothers all have only male children, so I reckon it’s up to XUP Jr. to either carry on the family spinsterdom or break the trend forever.

Long live spinsters!

PS: I learned a new term recently: “Leather Spinster”. It sounds kinky, but it just means, A heterosexual or asexual woman who is happily unmarried and has no desire to seek a mate.


Some spinster-related links:

Leather Spinster

Spinster Chronicles

Planet Spinster

Spinster War Diaries

37 responses to “I Come From a Long Line of Spinsters

  1. That was an awesome post! You have spinsterhood in your blood – who knew it was genetic? And, now that I’ve gained valuable insight into your history I have so much more to text you about! (Yes, you should be afraid) 😛

  2. What a great story! You know what’s more impressive than their so-called spinsterhood? Raising strong, good peeps on their own. Love it.

  3. Bandobras – I’m sure there are plenty of men out there fathering children who’ve never actually fathered children, too.

    Maven – Everything’s genetic. Anything that goes wrong in your life you can blame on your genes; everything that’s awesome about you, you can take all the credit for yourself. (I’m turning my phone off right now)

    Jazz – It’s never to late to be a born-again spinster, you know.

    Dr. Monkey – Your insights and encouragements are very much appreciated, as always.

    Hannah – It’s very nice and like I said to Jazz, it’s never too late.

    Ellie – I don’t know too much about the great-granny, but my granny Louisa (and her sister) werekick-ass broads – I’m pretty sure they got it from their mum.

  4. haha, this is a great post!

    my mum was a hopeless spinster at age 25, she got married just days before her 26th birthday. she was Catholic, which is why they considered her a spinster at a much younger age – ha!

    now her elder daughter is the only one with offspring (and those she did not bear ’til very late 20’s) – her other daughter (me) is firmly in spinster territory in mid-thirties and her son remains childless (he ain’t ready yet, tho he’s married) as he approaches his 30th birthday this year. his bride is several years younger.

    considering how much work parenting is, i wouldn’t advise anyone to be in a hurry. and i’d sure as hell rather hold out for the right guy, even if it didn’t last, than sign up for 50+ years of ‘you’re good enough – for now’. ‘for now’ has a bad habit of becoming ‘for the rest of our miserable lives’. pffooey!

  5. I don’t know if they have changed since last century when I got married, but we found out my then 24 yr old fiance was a spinster.
    The definition then was an unmarried adult woman.
    If that is the case little xup only has to hold out another 3 years to reach spinsterhood.
    Shouldn’t be too hard if you keep her locked in the closet.

  6. Our families would be so boring without bastards — er, spinsters and their offspring.”
    Spinster” sounds like such an old-fashioned term. Yet, at Little Bro Dan’s wedding in Jamaica in April, Pretty Christine (the bride) was listed on the marriage certificate as being a spinster.
    I guess I am the male equivalent of a spinster, and will comment no further on that and ask that no one else does, either. 🙂
    However, if it’s genetic, I get it from my great-uncle Harold, who never married, but was rumoured to have fathered a child or two, including one who was best friends with one of his nieces, until the niece found out about the deep, dark secret. The revelation came as no surprise to anyone else in the family, who could even see the family resemblance in this surprise cousin.

  7. The fates have had to work their asses off to ensure the existence of your daughter. Obviously she is destined for something really big.

  8. It takes a strong woman to be a spinster. I was pretty sure I was headed there myself until Frenchie came along when I was – gasp! – 30.

  9. AuntieHallie – I don’t know, I don’t really get the whole marriage thing and am always amazed when people actually stick it out for decades and decades.

    Bandobras – The definition varies. Some say it’s an unmarried woman 21 years or older, some say an elderly unmarried woman, some just say an unmarried woman who is past the “normal” marrying age and/or past the marriageable age. Some say a spinster is also, by definition a virgin. Some say a spinster is someone who spins fibre into thread.

    Bob – I think Spinster is a rockin’ term and we should all use it more. Bachelor is boring by comparison — so is the stupid “bachelorette”. Regardless, spinsters and bachelors are one thing — incest is something quite different again.

    Geewits – Oh, that’s good!! I never thought of that. The fates really did have to work hard to get that kid into the world. If I told you the story of her conception you would be even more amazed that she exists. (don’t worry, I won’t)

    Skygirl – I used to have a real fondness for single old ladies when I was a kid — I may have blogged about it before. They were so interesting and crusty and were always willing to talk to me and answer all my stupid questions.

  10. I was totally on my way to spinsterhood but got married 4 days after I turned 30. I can’t tell you how relieved my parents were. Especially, after all the talk when I brought my girlfriend (read: girl and friend) to my brother’s wedding.

    That’s a lot of pressure to put on XUP Jr.!

  11. I think my parents planned for me to be a spinster. I was given the name that, in my family’s history, has only ever been held by spinsters. And I remember my mother talking to me early in my teens about not getting married and not having kids (she never had that talk with my sister, who conveniently went on to get married at 21 and have three children in quick succession). If I were born a few centuries ago, I’d swear I was being prepared to be the dutiful youngest daughter by entering a convent. So suffice it say that no one in my family is at all surprised that I am unmarried and childless at 44.

  12. Lola – Wow! Do you think so? I hope she keeps better track of it than she does her house keys!

    Mo – I was just saying that very thing about it being a lot of pressure for a 16-year-old. Another blogger emailed me suggesting that maybe I run with Geewits idea and do a book about it. I wonder why parents hope so fervently that their children all get married and have children? I don’t mind one way or the other what my daughter chooses as long as she’s happy.

    Louise – Hail fellow spinster. Once upon a time we would have been burned at the stake. Now we just get sad looks at Christmas and Valentines

  13. Good read. Interesting as well.

    What would you call a man which is a heterosexual or asexual man who is happily unmarried and has no desire to seek a mate?

    Leather Arcadian?
    Leather Arcadester?
    Metal spinster

    dunno…juz wonderin!

  14. When I was a teenager, I spent a few days alone with my Ukrainian grandparents in a tiny town in Alberta. Baba showed me their wedding certificate, for some reason, and I was flabbergasted to see that she, at age 17 when she got married, was called a spinster. I had never heard of that word except in a negative “old maid” sense, and I was hysterical with laughter at the thought that a 17-year-old girl could be called a spinster.
    Fast forward to my mid-twenties, and I was getting married myself. And what did my marriage certificate say? Yep, spinster. I wasn’t quite laughing quite so much any more. But I did finally understand what the true meaning of the word is, and that it was never meant to connote anything negative, just gender and marital status.

  15. Dutiful youngest children also were cultivated towards staying home so they could help their parents on the farm and in the house as they aged.

    Is Tom Sawyer for real?

    Leather Spinster and proud of it.

  16. I guess the apple never falls far from the tree. Part of me loves a rebel and hope XUP falls madly in the good long lasting relationship. 😉

  17. Hunter – Nice to see you back in the blog world!! In answer to your question: confirmed bachelor??

    Pinklea – Are you giving up singlehood again, do you think?

    Woodsy – Cool! I’d love some taffy. Did you know that my hometown is St. Catherines?

    Tom – I have no idea.

    Kimberly – That’s pretty much the impression I’ve gotten.

    Becky – Yay for the LSs!! Re: Tom Sawyer – your guess is as good as mine.

    Alison – Right on, sistah!! We should have a convention or something.

    Nat – Right now she wants the same the thing. I hope she gets it, because on the rare occasions that it works out that way and lasts, it really is a good thing.

  18. My great aunts (other side of the family than in the comment above) both married quite late in life. They both preferred to be called “bachelor girls”, rather than spinsters and old maids. It was their way of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, discreetly acknowledging that they probably weren’t virgins.

  19. Bob – Between all the spinsters/bachelor girls, “confirmed bachelors” and incest in your family, it’s a wonder you were ever born at all!! Congratulations

  20. Someone has probably already said this- butI’m too lazy to check back- you get too many comments, you popular girl you. But if you know the town that your grandmother was from you should be able to get the register of her birth which will have her mum’s name on it. The Rathaus should have records.

    I love stuff like that. I have only 1 grandparent left and I am constantly hinting to her that i want to be left all the ancient family photos. I tell you if any other grandchild gets them, I’ll fight them bareknuckled.

  21. And can I just say as far as records are concerned you couldn’t have better genealogy- Germans love to keep records! I believe it’s called Tuchtigkeit!

  22. it’s very cool that you are getting some family history, i love that stuff, i hope you are successful in your investigation.

    i really enjoy there being a name for a happily unmarried woman.

    personally, i think marriage is unnatural aside from the whole carrying on the human race part. if being married were so great why are there so many divorces? typically with that failure rate, you’d think something wasn’t working very well.

  23. As of yet, there are no spinsters in my family. Ours is a long line of hussies who married early. Although, the daughter claims she is NEVER getting married and absolutely hates kids. So maybe there’s hope for us yet.

  24. I didn’t think anybody ever used that old-fashioned term anymore, but it sure is getting a lot of airplay with Susan Boyle being constantly referred to as a spinster.

    I come from a long line of unhappily marrieds, so will be proud to carry the happy spinster label.

  25. MisssyM – Nobody has said anything about geneology in the comments yet. Germans do keep good records, but things did get a tad disheleved during that contretemps back in the 1940s. I have done some checking to hunt down info on grandparents and great grandparents and one of the issues is that the borders seemed to have fluctuated a lot back then, so you don’t know which country the records are being kept in anymore — if there are any records anymore. I always beg old photos when I go to visit or when anyone else goes back to visit or comes here to visit. (old photos and shoes — the Germans make good shoes and for a fraction of the price at which I can buy the same shoes here).

    Leah – We don’t actually need to get married to carry on the human race. Have I ever told you about my favourite societal structure? The Mosuo tribe? They’re matriarchal and have no form of marriage at all. The eldest female of the family is in charge of the household. When a woman turns 15 or so she is considered adult and gets her own room. Then she’s allowed to choose sex partners from the tribe. She invites the guy over, they do the deed and then he’s on his way. The next night she might ask him back or might find someone else. No jealousy. It’s all cool. If she has a baby, it’s raised in the mother’s household. The biological father has nothing to do with it. Men will help raise whatever kids are living in their household. You should check out this tribe. They were voted the most perfect community on earth one year by the UN or something. They’re very peaceful, earth-worshipping people.

    Charlene – How old is your daughter? I always said I’d never get married, too, but my mum never believed me. She still thinks there’s hope. Ha ha ha.

    Violetsky – Yay!! At some point I always manage to ask the married people I know if they had it to do over again would they get married and 99.9% of them instantly say, NO WAY. And these are the people who are “happily married”. I don’t even bother asking the ones on the brink of divorce.

  26. oh my god. that *does* sound like a perfect society. i’ve never heard of it but you can bet your sweet toosh i’ll look it up. you’ve opened my eyes to so many cool things. i keep thinking there’s a cap somewhere, i mean you are only human right? or maybe you are not….. hmmmm oh holy one!

  27. Hey spinster sister, I think you should continue the family spinsterdom ‘cos you already have it in your blood.

    I am definately a Leather Spinster. (Don’t you just love the sound of that word? I do)…