Pearl Ethel Wilson, my 2nd great aunt, was born 18 June 1892 in Creighton, Knox County, Nebraska. She was the fifth child of six born to Wellington David and Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson. Lucinda died, aged 35, when Pearl was only two years old. Her younger brother, then ten months old, was raised by his maternal aunt, while Pearl is found living with her maternal grandparents in Iowa in 1900.
By 1910 Pearl was 18 and living in Centerville, South Dakota. She was a boarder in the Turner Hotel run by Edward Mudie and his wife Jennie.
By 1920 Pearl had moved to Hobson, Montana. There, boarding with the family of Floyd McCowan, Pearl was employed as a schoolteacher. About 1921 Pearl married Ray Edward Ramaker. Ray and Pearl had three children, all born in Montana: Mary Jo, Shirley E., and Nancy R. By 1930 the family had moved to Missoula, Montana, where Ray worked as a dentist. The home at 315 Daly Avenue where they lived in 1930 still stands; it was valued at $6500 in 1930 and $5500 in 1940. It was assessed at $165,877 last year. In 1940 Pearl and her daughters were still living in the Daly Avenue home, while Ray was living in Seattle.
By 1946 when their youngest daughter graduated from high school, it appears the entire family had moved to Seattle’s King County. Here, on 18 December 1969, Ray died, followed a decade later by Pearl, on 16 March 1979. Both are buried in Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle’s largest cemetery.
Just in time for Memorial Day, here is Grandpa Lawrence Montgomery‘s 1920 census record. I still haven’t found him (or his father) in 1910, so this is the first record where he appears. In that year he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. His age is listed as 21, which is consistent with the (incorrect) birthdate Grandpa gave when enlisting in 1917. Grandpa was really only 18 in January 1920. Nebraska is listed as the birthplace of Grandpa (which is correct), as well as his parents (which is incorrect). His occupation is “soldier.” Grandpa’s military records give a little more information on his military service, though Grandpa also told some (as yet unsubstantiated) colorful stories about his experiences:
While operating the base movie projector (which his records confirm he did do), hollering at someone who came in to the projector room to put out their cigar, only to have someone tell him he had just yelled at General Pershing
Whatever Grandpa’s role, I’m grateful for his service.
Sometime in the early 1940s Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery wrote to her sister Mildred. The letter is partially lost now but somehow found its way back to Grandma in an envelope addressed to her mother, Sophie (Roberg) Wilson. This is the same envelope that contains a number of recipes from a “Mrs. Dickinson.” Grandma and Grandpa and their children were living in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where Uncle Gene (Alwin Eugene, born in November 1940) was apparently doing his fair share of tumbling and falling. The letter is full of family news and inquiries but touches on the horrors of war. It was also baking day – what I wouldn’t give for Grandma’s bread recipe!
[no postmark, return address, or stamp] Addressed: Mrs. Sophie Wilson, Winner, S.D. 628
[two pages missing; remaining pages labeled “3.” and “4.”]
…radio. I’m sure glad you write for Mamma as I know its hard for her to write. Hope she doesn’t have to work as hard as she did last winter. Yesterday was Pearl’s little girl’s birthday wasent it. I wanted to send her something but I didn’t think of it in time.
Do you still have the girls at your house. Am glad Herman has a new job.
Where did Monte fall from read it in Maude’s card. Alwin has fallen a lot he has a sore eye most of the time lately. I don’t know what’s wrong. He must have hurt it.
Be sure and tell Mamma & Lester hello from us all. Glad Lester likes school so well. What subjects does he take?
The war news is sure terrible. Even thinking about it makes you shiver.
We would like to take a trip up to Denver. Do you know if Clara is still there? Esther didn’t say.
I am baking bread today so must close & get busy. Am afraid it’s too cold in here as I let the fire go down.
With Love & Best Wishes May God bless you all. Blanche, Lawrence & children.
P.S. No we haven’t seen any of Carrolls. There are lots of S.D. cars but 14 or 15 thousand people in Scottsbluff, You seldom see many you know.
[at top of page 4:] I canned around 200 qts so that helps some.
Of my 8 great-grandparents, the only one I ever met was Grandma Wilson: Sophie Christine (Roberg) Wilson. Had she not lived to the age of 97, I might not have met her either. As it was, I only met her once, when I was three. I have dim memories of that meeting, of visiting the nursing home where she lived, and the fact that she gave me a dollar.
Sophie was born November 5, 1881 in Boone County, Nebraska, the daughter of Anders and Agnette (Lien) Roberg, who were both born in Norway. On March 13, 1907 Sophie married Carl Ozro Wilson in Boone County, and they had a total of 10 children: Anders Clarence, Blanche Agnes (my grandma), Ozro Willie, Pearl Jeanette, Clarence Salmer, Woodrow, Mildred Genevieve, Irene Sophie, Maude Lucille, and Lester Laverne.
About 1915 the family moved from Nebraska to South Dakota; in 1920 they were enumerated in Cody, Mellette County. By 1930 Sophie and Carl had separated; that year’s census finds Carl living as a boarder in a hotel in Wood, South Dakota, and Sophie and her children in Witten, South Dakota, where she is employed taking in washing. Carl died in 1939, and in 1940 Sophie and those children still left at home are again in Witten, though the information she provided indicates that five years earlier she had been living in rural Tripp County.
Beginning in 1964 Grandma Wilson resided at the Winner Nursing Home in Winner, South Dakota; she suffered from diabetes. She died at McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls on September 24, 1979, a little more than a month shy of her 98th birthday. She was buried September 27 in the Winner Cemetery, near her estranged husband as well as her infant son Woodrow, who had died more than 60 years earlier.
My great-great-grandparents, Anders and Agnette (Lien) Roberg, are buried in the South Branch Cemetery amidst rolling hills outside Newman Grove, Nebraska. Agnette’s half of the tombstone is detailed and written in Norwegian; Anders’s is simpler and lists only his dates of birth and death.
Both Anders and Agnette were born in Norway – Agnette in Biri, Oppland, on November 30, 1844, and and Anders, eleven years later, in Innvik, Sogn og Fjordane. Agnette married a Mr. Martin, and they had a son, Emil, on January 12, 1871. It appears Mr. Martin died, and in May 1878 Agnette and her young son sailed to America, arriving in Winona, Minnesota.
On December 3 of that year Agnette married Anders in Rushford, Minnesota. She was 34 and he was 23. He had emigrated to America in June 1875 along with his brother Arne. In May-June 1879 Anders, Agnette, and Emil traveled to Nebraska by covered wagon. The 1880 census finds the small family in Shell Creek , Boone County, Nebraska, joined now by the first of three children.
All three children were born in Boone County, Nebraska: Severin on February 17, 1880; Sophie Christine (my great-grandmother) on November 5, 1881; and Sena on June 2, 1884. In 1900 and 1910 Anders and Agnette were enumerated in Midland Precinct, Boone County. Agnette died of liver cancer on February 18, 1919. I have yet to find Anders in the 1920 census, but in 1930 and 1940 he was living in Newman Grove. He moved to the Newman Grove “Old Peoples Home” in May 1942 and died of chronic myocarditis on New Year’s Day 1943.
Genealogy puts one in direct connection with times and places long gone. It can be interesting to look back and imagine oneself in a generation other than the current one. Where would I have been in, say, 1900?
None of my grandparents were alive yet in 1900; Grandpa Montgomery would be born the following year. His parents, Charles William and Laura Maud (Walker) Montgomery, were living in Holdrege, Nebraska (Grandpa’s birthplace) that year, with their other six children: Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, Alta, Walter, and John (Ward). Charles was working as a butcher and was 39 years old; Laura, 37. The children were 16, 13, 11, 10, 2, and 7 months old. Charles and Laura had been married for 17 years.
Carl Wilson, father of Grandma Montgomery, turned 15 in 1900. In that year’s census he appears in Lincoln, Nebraska, a boarder and farm laborer in the home of Jonas and Maggie Misler (maybe…the handwriting is difficult to decipher).
It would be seven years before Carl would marry Sophie Roberg. Three years his senior, Sophie was also “working out” in 1900. She can be found in Shell Creek, Nebraska, a housekeeper in the household of Mons Knudson, a 43-year-old widower with six children between the ages of fourteen and two. His mother, 76 years old, lived in the household as well.
Paul Hoffmann, Grandpa Hoffmann’s father, was 22 years old in 1900, the eldest child still living at home on the farm in Fountain Creek, Illinois; he would marry two years later. Paul and his parents, Jacob (age 63) and Christine (age 50), are listed as having emigrated to America in 1883. Christine had given birth to 7 children, of whom 6 were still living. In addition to Paul, those still at home were Andrew, 16; Maggie, 11; Sammie, 8; and Louisa, 6. Paul and Andrew have “farm laborer” listed as their occupation; the other children were attending school.
Paul’s future wife, Emma Slagel, was 20 years old and living at home with her parents in Indian Grove Township, Livingston County, Illinois. Samuel Slagel, then 50, and Mary, 45, had been married for 24 years. Mary had given birth to 4 children, three still living (and all at home): Emma, along with brothers Daniel (22) and Joseph (18). Also living with them was Mary’s niece, Lena Demler, twelve years old.
In 1900, Grandma Hoffmann’s father was still using the old German spelling of his name. He appears as “Albert C Schwing,” in Ash Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. Another farming family, his parents were Albert, Sr., age 40, and “Kathrine,” age 38. They had been married for 16 years, and Catherine had given birth to 10 children, all still living, and all still at home: Martha, 15; Charles, 14; Lena, 12; Albert C., 11; Soloma, 9; Joseph, 7; Katey, 6; Anna, 3; Harry, 2; and Paul, 3 months. A further three children would eventually be born to the family.
The final and youngest of these ancestors, Lena Hunkler, was seven years old and living in Washington, Illinois. Her parents, George J. (age 37) and Mary (age 40), had been married for 13 years, and George is listed as a farmer. All five children are at home: Bertha is 13 and listed as Berty (?). Matilda is 11; John G. is 8; “Lenie,” 7; and Hulda, 4. All but Hulda had attended school in the previous year.
Today’s “Friday’s Faces from the Past” may actually be a solvable mystery. Again this one comes from the Montgomery side of the family, from Grandpa and Grandma’s photos. I am pretty sure the baby is one of my uncles – does anyone know for sure? As for the girl holding him, I don’t know, but again I suspect the answers may be within reach since this image is from a much less distant past. So, familial readers – chime in!
When the 1940 census was made available to the public last year, naturally I began scouring its records to find relatives and bridge the gap since 1930’s enumerations. My parents are too young to appear in this census, so my first line of attack was looking for both sets of grandparents.
Finding my paternal grandparents’ record was fairly straightforward because I already knew where they were. They were enumerated in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on April 18, living at 1710 Avenue F. They were paying $8 a month in rent, and the household consisted of Lawrence C., age 38, a common laborer doing farm work and earning $650 the previous year for 45 weeks’ work. The census taker indicated he had attended school until the 10th grade. “Blanch A.,” age 31, had gone through the 8th grade. Both had been born in Nebraska. The following children were also enumerated: Florence M., age 12; Irene D., age 10; Myrtle C., age 7; Morris W., age 6; Marvin L., age 4; William C., age 2; and “DeAnna E.,” age 10 months. Deanna was listed as born in Nebraska; the other children’s birthplace was listed as South Dakota. Real estate records indicate the house at 1710 Avenue F is 868 square feet in size, has two bedrooms, and was built in 1915. On our cross-country trek last summer, Mom and I visited Scottsbluff and looked up the little house.
My maternal grandparents provided a bit more of a mystery. Married in 1938, they had not yet had my mom, their eldest child. I knew Grandma had worked for the Rock Island Arsenal from May 1938-September 1940 and had assumed she and Grandpa were actually living in Rock Island, Illinois. In the early days after the census release before the records were fully indexed, I scoured the Rock Island records to no avail. I even searched records for Boise, Idaho, since I knew Grandpa and Grandma moved there in 1940. Luckily it didn’t take long for indexing to be complete and for me to be able to search for Grandpa and Grandma by name – and there they were, not in Rock Island itself, but in Moline, about four miles east along the Mississippi River.
Apparently one of four couples living in an apartment complex at 1212 7th Avenue, they were paying $30 a month in rent. Joseph Hoffmann, age 32, having completed the 8th grade, is listed as an electric welder at a sheet metal factory. He had earned $820 the previous year but had only worked 24 weeks. Grandma, on the other hand, had worked 52 weeks and earned $1287 as a clerk/typist at the Rock Island Arsenal. She was 23 years old and had completed four years of high school. Grandpa was listed as born in Illinois, Grandma in Indiana.
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Moline…yet.
In helping to clean out Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house in 1998, one of many family history items uncovered was a “family heirloom book” titled Grandma Was Quite a Girl. It consists of questions on a variety of subjects with blanks for the subject to fill in. I suspect someone may have given this to Grandma as a gift. Much of the book is still incomplete, but even the brief notations in Grandma’s handwriting make for a treasured keepsake:
Today is July 5, 1986 and I am 77 years old. I have lived a full, rich life and now I want to tell my family all about it. To begin at the beginning, I was born in Bradish, Nebraska, on December 17 in the year 1908. My parents officially named me Agnetta Blanche.
I Remember My Mother: Mother was then 27 years old and My Father was 23. As a child I remember the house we lived in: In So. Dak. It was a Two room shack with an attic. And I remember a few of the nicknames the family and friends gave me as I grew up: My brother Clarence called me Nancy as he couldn’t say Blanche. And the first chores I had to do: Was milk a cow. I would have loved to work outside but I had to baby sit and do housework.
My Own First Memories: My Dear Grandmother. My Father & Mother & brothers & sisters. My First Day in School: I sure do. I had to walk 2 miles & there were dogs along the way. The teacher pulled my hair. The Games We Played: Baseball, Hide & go seek, Pump pump pull away. My Favorite Teacher: Mildred Irene Kemp she was the best teacher I ever had. My First “Club”: The “Rose Bud Valley Club” for adults & children too.
Favorites in My Memory: My Favorite Color: green & blue. My Favorite Time of the Day: Evening. My Favorite Musical Instrument: Piano & guitar.
My Own Opinions: Peace will never come until: People learn to get along. How to solve the world’s overpopulation problems: Be more kind to everyone & share everything you have.
Babies! Babies! Babies! I keep thinking of the names I would have named the “more babies” if I had had all I ever wanted. Now, for girls, I’d liked to have been “Mother” to such sweet names as: Genevieve, Joleen, Nancy, Jessica, Jenifer, Tosha. And, for boys, I guess I would have changed diapers and put up with their foolishness if I’d given them names like: Robert, Tommy, Lynn.
I Wish, I Wish, I Wish – I Wish I Had: Studied other languages, especially Norwegian, Spanish & French. X Kept my Indian penny collection X Kept my first doll X Kept a real diary, all the years of my life X Kept more pictures of the people and places I knew X Asked my Mother and Father more questions about their lives
And I wish I could talk to one particular person my Mother…just one more time
My Favorite Games & Sports (Marked “1-2-3” as I like ’em) 1 Horseback Riding 2 Fishing 3 Walking. I like to walk now, but my legs aren’t very good.
It was a great century to live in. Depression Years – the Thirties – The crops dried up. The grasshoppers ate all the crops. And my parents lost everything. The Worst Year, I Guess, Was When I: lost my best friend. My Favorite Years Were: 1926
On this Mother’s Day it seemed fitting to take a look at the life of Lucinda Blanche Davis, my great-great-grandmother. A mother of six, she died at age 35 when her youngest child was ten months old. Lucinda was born March 16, 1859 in Allenville, Missouri, the oldest child of John H. and Celia (Murphy) Davis. She appears in the 1860 census in West Union, Iowa:
June 25, 1860 West Union Twp., Fayette, Iowa John Davis 19 M Farmer 50 Do [born in Ohio] Celia Davis 19 F Missouri Lucinda Davis 1 F Do [born in Missouri]
I haven’t located John and Celia’s family in the 1870 census; on August 31, 1879, Lucinda married Wellington David Wilson in Brush Creek, Iowa. Lucinda was twenty years old, and Wellington just shy of that. In 1880 the new family was enumerated in Eden Township, Iowa:
5th June 1880 Eden Twp., Fayette, Iowa Wilson Wm D.W M 21 x [married] Mail Carrier N. York N. York N. York —Blanche L. W F 21 Wife x [married] Illinois Ohio Ill
Wellington and Lucinda’s first child, Maud Ethel, was born May 31, 1881; five more children followed over the next twelve years: Jerry Erving, Carl Ozro (my great-grandfather), Caroline Blanch, Pearl Ethel, and William David. Sometime between the births of Maud and Jerry the family moved to Nebraska; in the 1885 Nebraska status census, the family is enumerated in Niobrara, living next door to Wellington’s father Charles:
June 1 1885 Niobrara Precinct Knox Nebraska Page 2 Enum 467 13 13 Wilson Chas. W M 52 x [married] Farmer New York NY NY —Lucy B W M 48 wife x Keeps house New York NY NY —Eddie W M 19 Son x [single] Iowa NY NY —Samuel W M 12 Son x x [school] Iowa NY NY Barbara Anderson W F 20 x servant 3 Canada Can Can 14 14 Wilson David W M 26 x [married] servant New York NY NY —Lucinda W F 26 wife x keeps house x [can’t read] Missouri O O —Maud W F 5 Daughter x [single] x [school] Iowa NY Mis. [looks almost like Wis.] —Jerry W M 1 Daughter [sic] x x x [can’t read/write] Nebraska NY O [?] Davis Lizzie W F 19 x servant 6 Iowa NY NY
Nine years later, on September 29, 1894, Lucinda died in Bloomfield, Nebraska. Shortly thereafter Baby William David was adopted by Lucinda’s sister Anna and her husband Irwin Hubbard. Around 1895 Wellington David was remarried, to Betsey Olsen; at about this same time he moved from Nebraska to Sisseton, South Dakota. He and Betsey had three children of their own: Beulah, Warner, and Gladys. Wellington died in Sisseton June 17, 1923.