I chose Allie Heaslet for no other reason than she had what appears to be an unremarkable life (as well as an awesome name). Allie was born in 1860 in Talladega, Alabama, the daughter of Benjamin Clark Heaslet, Jr. and his second wife, Sarah Emmeline Russell; she was one of 15 children from her father's two marriages. Clark Heaslet was a prosperous farmer and even after the Civil War, when many southerners struggled to get by, he seems to have remained fairly prosperous. Allie's father and several brothers were soldiers for the Confederacy, and her older brother Hugh died at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. In 1870 and 1880, she is living in her father's home, just 19 in 1880, and surely expecting to marry and move into her own household soon.
In 1900 Allie is 40 and now living in her brother Woolsey's home, never having married. Apart from marriage, the opportunities for women to live independently of a relative were slim. I have run across records of some women who were single and worked as teachers or in factory jobs, but many of the single women (old maids in their time), remained with their parents. Most of the ancestors in my tree from that time had little formal education and were probably not qualified for many kinds osf work. I often wonder what they did with their time - there were none of the diversions we have now to consume our days and although just performing daily household chores was more time-consuming than it is now, surely there was a lot of time to fill. I wonder why Allie didn't marry - was she not sought after or did she refuse suitors? Was she caring for a relative who was ill? Woolsey Heaslet was married and had a family, no indication he was in need of someone to take care of him. It's likely that Allie, as a single woman, had nowhere else to go.
In 1909, 49 year old Allie finally married, to Mr W. Thomas Killebrew, a widower with five daughters. Was this a love match or did Mr. Killebrew need help with his children and Allie saw this as the last chance to marry and set up her own household? Whatever brought them together, the marriage only lasted about 10 years . Mr. Killebrew had passed away by 1919 and Allie was sharing a home with his daughter, Lula, who at 39 remained unmarried (she died in 1924). In 1920, Lula and Allie are living together, neither with an occupation.
In 1930, Allie is living with her sister Naomi and her family. She is now 69 years old and still living in the homes of relatives, with only what appears to be a brief period of time in her own home. I have not found Allie in 1940, but when I do, I'm fairly certain she'll be living with a relative who provides a home for an aged woman.
Allie died in June of 1956 at age 96. By then she would have seen the opportunities for women to have changed significantly. I wonder if she ever wished she could have had a different life, one where she was able to make choices and live on her own without being dependent on a relative.
Allie is buried at Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery in Talladega, near her parents, several siblings and her husband.