Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: #10 Lawrence Anderson, What Happened to You?

Terre Haute, late 1800's.
I don't know much about my great great grandfather, Lawrence Anderson.  I'm not even sure what his full name is.   His marriage record lists him as "L. L. Anderson."  Other family trees on Ancestry.com have a "Lorenzo Lawrence Anderson" with corresponding family members, but I have no real proof this is his name.

Lawrence Anderson was born about 1867 in Indiana.  His parents were Orin McClure Anderson and Mary Ann Bushnell.  Lawrence had one brother, Charles D., and three sisters, Sarah Elizabeth, Mary L., and Jennie B.  The family lived in Vigo County, Indiana.  In 1871,  Lawrence's father died.  His mother died less than three years later.   I found Lawrence in the 1880 census, aged 13, living in the household of his  brother Charles and his family in Sullivan County, Indiana.

He married Hannah Elizabeth Scroggins on January 1, 1893 in Shelby County, Illinois.  I have a copy of their marriage certificate; this is actually the only record I have for him other than three censuses.  They had five children: John Orin, Mary Olivia, Charles William, Elsie Ellen, and Harlan Hosea (my great grandfather.)  In the 1900 census, Lawrence was a farm laborer in Vigo County.

Then, something happened in 1903 -- Lawrence disappeared.  I don't know whether he died or just left the family.   In the 1910 census, Hannah was remarried.  She had been married to Charles Sharon for 6 years.  I have tried to find Lawrence's death certificate.  The problem is I'm not sure exactly where or when he died.  I've searched for him unsuccessfully on Findagrave.com.

If you know anything about Lawrence Anderson or have any ideas about how to find out more about him, please leave a comment!

52 Ancestors: #9 Mary Edna Bird, Young Poet

Mary Edna Bird was a great admirer of poetry and even wrote some poems herself.  "Many were the beautiful words that Mary saved from different books and papers.  Often when she found something that she thought was nice, she would come bringing it to her husband or sisters and say, 'Listen to what a beautiful piece I have,' and read it to them." (From her obituary in the Greensburg Standard.)

At the age of 19, Mary composed the following poem in remembrance of her mother, Sarah Lane Bird, who died after childbirth, leaving Mary motherless at two years old. 

She slept.  We stood beside her
My great great grandmother, Mary Edna Bird, c. 1891
And watched her as she lay
With clasped hands on her bosom,
Like children when they pray.

The west was bright with sunset;
We knew that night was near,
And whispered to each other,
"O, would the moon were here!"

Night fell.  The peaceful moonlight  
Came in and kissed her face
So worn with pain and waiting,
Yet full of sweetest grace.

We heard far down the meadow
One lonesome whipporwill,
And with hushed voice we whispered,
"Dear mother sleepeth still."

She slept but ne'r to waken
To earth and sorrow more.
We heard the angels singing
Some song on heaven's far shore.
Mary's poem, in her own handwriting.

We knew the mystic boatman
Had sailed across the sea
And bourn the soul of mother
To God's eternity.

Gone home!  O,  angel mother
Sometimes from heaven's far strand
We hear your dear voice calling.
We see your beckoning hand.

And though between our pathways
There rolls so deep a tide,
We know you love your children 
The same as when you died.

The Bird sisters: Mary (left), Nina (top), and Grace (right.)

Mary Edna Bird was born January 22, 1871 in Decatur County, Indiana to James Harvey Bird and Sarah Ann Lane.  She had two older sisters, Nina and Grace, and six older half siblings: Leonidas, William, Alice, Ida Mae, James, and Martha. 

Mary married Romie Michael Sefton on December 21, 1891.  On October 12, 1893, she gave birth to healthy twin daughters, Mary Ida and Ruth Edna.  Tragically, Mary Edna had a "severe attack of heart disease" and died six hours later, one year to the day after the death of her father. 

After Mary died, her sister Nina stepped into the role of the twins' mother.  Nina and Romie were married in November of 1894.

Friday, March 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #8 Little Mary Catherine Green

Mary Catherine Green, Age: 3 yrs.
Three year-old Mary Catherine Green received a gift from her mother on Christmas Day of 1899.  It was Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland. The light green cover had gilded lettering and dark green vines mingling with red berries. 

Book inscription
Lavanche, Mary's mother, wrote an inscription on the front page of the book.  Underneath her message, a child copied the word "Xmas."  Perhaps it was little Mary who did it.

Mary Catherine Green was born on July 18, 1896 in Rush County, Indiana. She was probably named after her aunt, Mary Catherine Trees.  Mary had one older brother, James Cyrus (my great grandfather).   Her family lived in a big brick house in Manilla, Rush County, Indiana.  On June 15, 1902, Mary died from the measles, just one month before her sixth birthday.  It must have been devastating for her father, who was a doctor.

Mary and her brother, James Cyrus Green.  Don't you love her dress?
Mary's Alice In Wonderland

Several years ago, my grandpa gave Mary's book to me.  A note was written by my grandpa and tucked inside Mary's book:  

 Mary C. Green was "little Mary," daughter of John D. and Lavanche E. Green.  She died when she was about six years of age.  She would have been my Aunt.

I recently read Mary's book.  Many of the pages have scribbles in the margins, and some are torn.  Maybe it wasn't the best idea to use such a tattered copy, but I enjoyed reading it.  I wonder if Mary Catherine liked her Christmas present.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 Milton M. Davis, Vincennes Furniture Merchant

Milton M. Davis, c. 1896
I am here to sell.  You people of Vincennes and neighboring Indiana and Illinois cities who have attended my auctions know that I MEAN BUSINESS when I say "I WILL SELL EVERYTHING TO THE BARE WALLS."  I will be pleased to meet all of my old friends and buyers at the Davis Furniture Company. 

My great-great grandfather Milton M. Davis published these emphatic words in the Vincennes Sun Commercial on September 24, 1935.  For 25 years, he owned and operated the M. M. Davis Furniture Store in Vincennes, Indiana.

Milton was born to Caywood Davis and Sarah Elvira Richardson in Illinois on December 10, 1875.  He had six younger siblings: four brothers (William, Lawrence, Millage, and Paris) and two sisters (Rose and Belle.)  The Davis family lived on a farm in McCleansboro, Hamilton County, Illinois.

On September 28, 1896 he married Hester Florence Latham in McCleansboro.  By 1900, they had rented a farm next to Milton's father.  Hester's mother, Harriett, lived with them for a while.  They had 5 children while they lived in McCleansboro: Edith (1897), Golda (1901), Virgil (1903), Merle (1906), and Mildred (1910).  In the 1910 census, Milton was described as a handyman. 
An advertisement for Milton's furniture store.

Milton's family and his parents crossed the Illinois border into Vincennes, Indiana sometime between 1910 and 1914.  He and his father opened a furniture store together.  On February 25, 1916, Milton and Hester's last 2 children were born -- twins, Paul and Pauline.

After nearly ten years of partnership with his son, Caywood left the furniture business and moved to Connersville, Indiana.  Soon afterwards, Milton made an investment in some land, which turned out to be a mistake.  He was sued by the bank for foreclosure in 1924.  Milton was able to hold on to his furniture business and employed his daughter Goldie as a bookkeeper.

Then the Great Depression hit the nation.  Milton's son Virgil (my great grandfather) was driven to desperate measures and robbed a bank.  He was caught and spent three years in the Southern Illinois Penitentiary.  During that time, Milton took in Virgil's wife, Georgia, and young daughter, Henrietta. 

Milton in front of his store in Vincennes.

Upon his release from prison, Virgil began working as a salesman in his father's store.  Virgil and Goldie took over management of the store when Milton retired in 1935.  Milton still continued to have a hand in the family business.

A fire in 1939 caused severe damage to the building of the Davis furniture store.  The store had to be completely remodeled, but the business recovered from the fire and was still operating in 1954.  I'm not sure when the store finally closed down.

Milton died on August 27, 1953 in Vincennes, Indiana, two years after the death of his wife.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 Romie Michael Sefton, "My Favorite Person in the World"

Romie Michael Sefton
One day while visiting my grandfather, I found a large picture stashed behind a cabinet.  When I showed it to him, he said, "Hallelujah!  That's my favorite person in the world!"   The picture (shown at right) was of his Grandpa Sefton. 

Romie Michael Sefton was born November 11, 1868 in Decatur County, Indiana.  His parents were Edward Bebb Sefton and Caroline Kenney Smiley.  Romie had three brothers and two sisters: William (who lived less than a year), Willamina, Henry, Ella, and Edward Jr.

Nina, Ruth, Mary, and Romie Sefton c. 1895
On December 21, 1891, Romie married Mary Edna Bird.  She died October 12, 1893, after giving birth to twin daughters, Mary Ida and Ruth Edna.  It must have been a very difficult time for him.  A year later, he married Mary Edna's older sister, Nina Bird, on November 29, 1894.  She became the twins' mother.

The Indianapolis Star, March 25, 1939
Romie lived in Decatur County his entire life and was a successful farmer.  I have several pictures of him with his farm animals, which included pigs, chickens, cattle, sheep, geese, and draft horses.  One of his cows, Daisy, was so clever that she learned how to feed herself by pulling a rope attached to a feedbox.  He seemed to be very fond and proud of all his animals.

Romie and his draft horses
Romie visiting his daughter Ruth's home

Romie liked to played the fiddle and listen to country music on the radio.  He also enjoyed playing practical jokes.  Here's my grandfather's account of one of Romie's pranks:

At least once each winter Gramp would get me with one of his favorite practical jokes.  On a very cold morning, he would sometimes find a frozen egg.  I remember his coming in the house with the egg basket crooked on his arm, but he would also have something in his hands.  He would say, "Johnny, I have a present for you," and with his hands closed together, he would have me hold out my hands.  Cautioning me to be careful, he would try to transfer the present to my hands.  Of course, he would be sure that it would fall to the floor with a loud thud.  My heart would leap to my mouth as I saw the egg fall.  I knew Mother would be angry because we got the floor dirty.  A solidly frozen egg, however, makes no mess and Gramp once again had his joke on me.

Romie died on August 25, 1949 at the age of 80 and was buried at Shiloh Cemetery in Decatur County.

His house still stands today.  It is located just off of I-74 in Greensburg.  In recent years, a new Honda manufacturing plant and a hotel have sprung up beside the old farmhouse. My family and I visited the house about seven years ago.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #5 Dola M. Worland, Gold Star Mother

Dola and her cousin Ralph Worland, c. 1913

Clyde and Dola with their four youngest children in 1943

In 1943, Dola Worland Holtzlider had the distinction of having four children serving in the armed forces.  She became a Gold Star mother two years later when her 19 year-old son Milburn was shot by a sniper at Iwo Jima. Milburn was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Dola M. Worland was my great grandmother.  She was born July 29, 1897 in Jasper County, Indiana.  Her parents were Lewis Milburn Worland and Rebecca Annabel Fisher.  She had two brothers -- Leonard and Luther. For a while, the small family lived with her grandparents.  Eventually, they moved to their own farm in Shelby County, Indiana.

On August 30, 1916, Dola married Clyde Holtzlider.  They lived in Jennings County, where their first two children, Ellison and Reba,  were born.  Soon after Reba was born, the Holtzliders relocated to Decatur County.  Sadly, in April of 1920, six-month old Reba died from pneumonia.  The couple had six more children:  Garnet, Marian, Milburn, Martha (my grandmother), Fred, and Paul.   

Dola sewed clothing for her own family and as a way to make money.  She liked gardening and planted hollyhocks and peonies in her yard.  She enjoyed cooking.  I have made her banana bread recipe many times.

Dola died on December 27, 1979 in Greensburg, Indiana.