My grandmother, Talitha Cuma Cheney Eggleston died at a young age. At least from my present perspective it seems a very young age. I never had the privilege of knowing her. When I was compiling histories for the Cheney Wilson Family History Book, I realized that she was the only member of that family no one had written about. So I set out, as one who had not known her personally, to write a history of her life. This is taken largely from that account, with some additional photographs.
Early Life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Talitha Cuma Cheney was born May 3, 1893 in South Park, Wyoming. She grew up as on only daughter, with several brothers, all but one older than her. Her parents, Selar Cheney and Mary Alice Wilson, had another daughter Mary Ellen, but she had died as a child in Wilsonville, long before Cuma was born.
Talitha Cuma is sitting on her father Selar’s lap. To the right of her is her grandmother Talitha Cuma Garlic Avery, whom she was named after. Other family members are Howard, David, Mother Mary Alice holding Fleming, and Selar Sylvester and Ralph standing in the back.
Talitha Cuma was named after her grandmother, Talitha Cumi Garlick Avery Cheney, though she went by the name “Cuma”. In some places it was written Cumi or Cumy, though her daughter Alice said she preferred Cuma to Cumy.
Cuma with her brothers Fleming and Howard
At the time Cuma was born, the South Park community consisted mostly of her extended family, so her childhood would have been spent with her brothers and several cousins.
Education was very important to this family. The first school was organized in Jackson Hole in 1896. Cuma was too young to attend when the school first started, but was privileged to have this available from the time she was ready to start school. A 1899 souvenir card of School District No. 37 in Jackson lists 16 pupils with Cumy Cheney listed last, as she was probably the youngest.