Six generations of women gather for family photo in Kentucky

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 14:16:31-05

LINCOLN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Family portraits are always special, but one photo taken recently is especially remarkable. That's because there are six generations of women pictured.

The women in the photo range from 98 years old to just weeks old. The matriarch is MaeDell Taylor Hawkins, who's from Kings Mountain in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

She's holding her great-great-great granddaughter Zhavia for the first time.

"It's very rare to have six generations," said Gracie Howell, MaeDell's granddaughter. "It's also rare to have all women. So we knew when Zhavia was born we wanted to get a picture with Grandma MaeDell."

Also in the photo are MaeDell's daughter Frances, of Fairborn, Ohio. Gracie lives in Myrtle Beach. Her daughter Jacqueline also lives in South Carolina. Jaisline is the mother of baby Zhavia, and they both live in Somerset, Kentucky.

Gracie told LEX 18 they took the photo while visiting MaeDell in Kentucky. It's a chance to recognize her and the large, loving family she created.

"I think about how blessed we are to still have Grandma around," she said. "She relatively is in good health. She's bedbound, but her mind and her memory is as sharp as a tack. She's held hundreds and hundreds of babies, so it was a special moment."

There are still more babies to add to MaeDell's family. The next baby born will be baby number 623 for their sprawling family. MaeDell had 23 children, including 10 step children.

Gracie says she was a hardworking, strong woman who never complained even when life was tough.

She married her first husband when she was a teenager. Gracie says while her grandfather was away working on the railroad, her grandmother always made sure she had hot meals for her children, even without running water, indoor plumbing, or other modern conveniences.

"She did the best she could with what she had," Gracie said. "She's always just worked hard. We don't ever remember Grandma sitting down, eating. She never took the easy way out of anything. She drew water out of the well. She cooked for all those people on a wood stove."

Gracie's favorite memory with Grandma MaeDell is her tomato preserves. She recently learned to make them like her grandmother did and she took them to her in the nursing home.

It's rare to have six living generations. Guinness World Records say the current record for most living generations in a family is seven.