Lifelong writer and former Knoxville Journal contributor Martha Shivvers will celebrate her 99th birthday on Thursday, Feb. 13.
Martha was born Martha Sherwood, the third of eight children fathered by Jonah Wesley. She grew up east of Pershing, on land which her great-grandfather was given after the war. All eight children in her family helped each other, as well as their parents.
She attended the same country school her father had attended. With the intelligence to skip a couple of grades, she earned a teaching certificate from Simpson College after two years.
At the age of 18, she was offered a contract to teach grades kindergarten through eighth for $40 a month at Victory Central School, two miles north of Pershing. In that first year, she had 24 pupils. The next year, she was offered a contract of $45 a month to teach 11 students at North Flagler. She was in class all day for three years.
After the third year, in 1935, she married Woodrow Shivvers. In those days, pregnant or married teachers were not socially acceptable. Communities expected their teachers to be focused on teaching. She had to find another line of work.
Her family life was strong. She and Woodrow had four children together; two sons and two daughters. Woodrow was called to serve his country, but while in the service, he developed spinal meningitis. Martha was called to an Army camp in Arkansas, to aid his recovery. Doctors did not expect him to live long, but he made a full recovery.
Woodrow lived to the age of 91. He passed away in 2002. The couple shared 68 years together.
In 1939, Martha began writing a column for the Journal called “A Farmer’s Wife’s Chatter.” The family moved to town and changed the name to “From Here and There.” Martha also wrote a column for the Marion County News in Pleasantville.