John Adam and Lydia Ann Shambaugh Mohler

John Adam Mohler was born March 9, 1810 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. There is some information indicating his parents, John Adam and Anney Irich Mohler, were also born in this beautiful part of western Pennsylvania. John, Sr. was a Lutheran minister and a farmer.

Sometime before 1820, John Adam, Sr. and his family migrated to Ashland County, Ohio. Though it was quite a long journey, history tells us that his family was among many Pennsylvanians who moved to Ashland County in north central Ohio. This was an area of lakes and forests on the dividing bridge, or watershed, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Eventually, farming became the primary industry. John, Sr. was both a minister and a farmer, and a land record dated December 1, 1830 showed he purchased 80 acres of land, transacted April 24, 1820.

As fate would have it, there was another family living in Ashland County which had migrated to Ohio from Pennsylvania whose daughter met and married John Adam Mohler, Jr. The young woman was Lydia Ann Shambaugh and her parents were John Philip and Catherine Walter Shambaugh. She was born May 28, 1816 in Union County, Pennsylvania.

We do not know when or where they met, but after a courtship, John and Lydia married on June 9, 1835 in Richland County, Ohio which is adjacent to Ashland County.

Marriage record for John Adam Mohler and Lydia Ann Shambaugh.
Marriage record for John Adam Mohler and Lydia Ann Shambaugh.

By the time the 1850 United States Federal Census was taken, John and Lydia lived in Hanover, Ashland County, Ohio. In the fifteen years since their marriage, their family had grown by leaps and bounds. As unbelievable as it may seem, they had nine children – Julia Ann (14), Levi (13), Phoebe (12), William Henry (10), George Washington (8), Catherine Clara (6), Jeremiah (4), Mary Ann (2) and John Wesley (1). John Adam was farming.

Sometime between 1850 and 1860, the Mohler family moved to Spring Grove, Warren County in eastern Illinois. I do not know the reasons for their migration but traveling from north central Ohio would not have been an easy journey, particularly with such a large family. By the time they reached Warren County, the population had begun to grow, two reasons being the arrival of the railroad and the proximity to the Mississippi River. Evidently, John Adam was drawn to this area seeking a better life for his family.

The 1860 United States Federal Census reveals the family had continued to grow during the intervening years. Children listed on this census are: Levi (21), William Henry (19), George Washington (17), Jeremiah (13), John Wesley (12), Thomas Jefferson (7), Franklin Pierce (5), Isaac Newton (4), Oliver Cromwell (9/12), Catherine (16) and Mary Ann (13). Both Julia Ann and Phoebe had married. We know that John and Lydia had one other son, Martin Luther, who died shortly after his birth in 1857. Levi’s wife, Martha, and daughter, Roda, are also included in this census record.

No death record or burial location has been found for Lydia, but I think she died sometime between 1860 and 1866, probably in Warren County, Illinois. She would have been in her late 40’s and had given birth to fourteen children.

The lives of John Mohler and his children must have been greatly disrupted by Lydia’s death, and at the same time this occurred, the country became engaged in war. The American Civil War broke out in 1861, and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Mohler’s experienced the agonies of this tragic war. Though John was not in the military, his son Levi was enlisted.

No major battles were fought in Illinois, but it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also, any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Following Lydia’s death, John Adam Mohler married Ida Jane Bellis Voorhees, in about 1866. Like John, she was widowed and had two sons, James and George, and a daughter, Sadie (Sallie) Voorhees. Between 1867 and 1876, they had two more children, Alexander Hamilton and Charles Edwin. Though I was not able to find them on the 1870 census, when the 1880 United States Federal Census was taken Oliver, Sadie, Alexander, Ida and Edwin were listed. The family was located in Logan, Peoria County, Illinois.

John Adam Mohler died October 25, 1894 at home in Hamiliton County, Illinois and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Montebello Township, Hancock, Illinois. His obituary was found in Carthage Gazette, November 2, 1894.

 

A Good Man Gone

John Adam Mohler, native of Washington County, PA, and the son of a Lutheran minister, died near Hamilton, Ill., on last Thursday, aged 84 years, 7 months and 16 days. He has lived in Ashland Co., Ohio, Warren, Fulton, and Peoria counties, Ill. The last six years, he lived near Hamilton. He was married in 1835 to Miss Lydia Shambaugh by whom he had 14 children. One died in infancy, another at the battle of Fort Donnelson, and two daughters after their marriage. Again he was married to Mrs. Ida J. Voorhees, of Peoria county, who bore him 3 children, all of whom, with their mother, are living. Thus he has 13 children living.

In early life he united with the Lutheran church: later with the U.V. and finally, with the Congregational church of Hamilton.

His remains were interred in the Oakwood cemetery on Sabbath morning, funeral services being conducted by Revs. J.H. Rose, of Hamilton, and H.M. Brewer, of this city.

 

John Adam’s obituary mentions he had lived near Hamilton, Illinois the last six years of his life. Both a land plat and the Petition for Letters of Administration by his widow Ida Mohler following his death show he owned land in near Hamilton, Hancock County, Illinois.

The death of a son in the Battle of Fort Donelson near the Tennessee/Kentucky border February 11-16, 1862 is also mentioned in John’s obituary. I have not been able to determine which of his sons this might have been. Levi was enlisted in the military during the Civil War, but I found information of his death June 14, 1909.

In my research of John Adam and Lydia Shambaugh Mohler, two things greatly impressed me – the number of children and the names of their sons. In their twenty-four years of marriage, John and Lydia had fourteen children. John and his second wife, Ida, had three more children. With the exception of Martin Luther, all lived to adulthood. Naming their sons after historical figures appears a phenomenon and begs the questions – why did they do it and how much did they know about these men in history?

When reading accounts of lives of pioneers during 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, I am always astounded by their abilities to confront many difficult circumstances of life – physical, emotional and cultural. Their pioneering spirit drove them to move west in crude wagons over rough roadways. They bought and farmed land to establish a means of livelihood, settling where they could set up households in largely undeveloped areas. Like others, John and Lydia carried out the daily tasks of feeding and clothing their families while participating in community life with other dauntless folks.

I am particularly impressed by the strength of women during those times. Many, like Lydia and Ida, gave birth to numbers of children when medical attention was primitive by today’s standards. The manner in which they attended to the daily, and sometimes tedious, tasks of cooking, sewing, and nurturing of their families in very hard, rustic conditions is unbelievable to us. Paying tribute to these courageous souls seems the right thing to do.

Grave marker for John Adam Mohler.
Grave marker for John Adam Mohler.

                                                 Sources

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.

Ancestry.com. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Carthage Gazette, obituary for John Adam Mohler, November 2, 1894.

Hancock County, Illinois, Petition for Letters of Administration, Estate of John A. Mohler, 24 Nov 1894.

“Historical Sketch of Ashland County,”  http://www.ashlandcounty.org/commissioners/files/history.pdf

Richland County, marriage record, Richland County Clerk’s Office, Mansfield, Ohio.

“Warren County Illinois History,”  http://www.warrencountyil.com/communities/kirkwood/history

 Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2015
John A. & Lydia Mohler FGS John Adam & Lydia Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link)
John A. & Ida Mohler FGS John Adam & Ida Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link)

 

Mary Emma Bowton Mohler

Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.
Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.

Mary Emma Bowton’s life began in Fulton County, Illinois on May 23, 1856. She was the fifth child of William and Rebecca Kirkpatrick Bowton. As we might expect, they were a farming family. When the 1860 United States Federal Census was enumerated the Bowton family was living in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois. Their name was spelled incorrectly as “Boton. Nevertheless, I think this was our Bowton family. William and Rebecca were recorded with their children William (12) John Taylor (8) Hugh Taylor (5) Mary Taylor (3) and Nancy Taylor (1 month) Also listed was a “Farm Hand” by the name of Washington Beadso. (I have not determined where the name “Taylor” originates.) William gave his place of birth as England.

The American Civil War broke out in 1861 and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Bowton’s must have experienced the agonies of this tragic war. William would have been in his early 40’s so it is possible he was enlisted. I found several Civil War military records on Ancestry.com for a William Bowton or Booten. Further research would be required to determine if any of these records were for our William Bowton. The Bowton’s sons would have been too young to serve. Whether or not William was in the military, the Bowton family would have been impacted by the Civil War. Communities and families around the country suffered the brunt of this terrible conflict when all were called on to contribute in some way to the war effort in manpower, goods, services, and lives.

Even though no major battles were fought in Illinois, it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

William, Rebecca and children were still living in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois when the 1870 United States Federal Census was taken. They were recorded with their children – Henry (22) John (18) Mary (13) Nancy (10) Charles (7) and Andrew (5 mo). Note that two more children were born since 1860. However, as I read the census record I also noted that their sons William and Hugh were no longer with them and that a son Henry was listed. It raised two questions in my mind. Where was Henry in 1860 and where were William and Hugh in 1870?

Sometime in the early 1870’s Mary met a young man by the name of Thomas Jefferson Mohler. He was from a farming family in Warren County northwest of Fulton County. More than likely, after they met, there was a period of courtship. There must have been a mutual attraction because they were married on January 27, 1876.

Thomas and Mary remained in Fulton County, Illinois and set up their household on a farm. On January 11, 1877 they had their first child, Floa Rebecca, and on October 11, 1879 a son, Lorain Ellsworth, arrived. This family of four was recorded on the 1880 United States Federal Census.

MOHLER FAMILY MOVES TO NEBRASKA

Since there is no longer an 1890 United States Federal Census, we leap to the 1900 United States Federal Census to find our next record for Thomas and Mary Mohler with their family. In those intervening twenty years they had moved west and were found in York County, Nebraska. Their two oldest children were no longer living with them but their family had definitely grown. Six children are recorded – Charles, Lena, Ethel, Darrel (Dara), David and Ewort (Ewart). Thomas and Mary also had a son named William, born in Illinois in 1885, but evidently he was not residing with them. The last three children were born in Nebraska, so it meant that they moved to York County sometime between 1891 and 1896. The Mohler family was large by any standard of measurement.

Thomas or “Jerry” and Mary settled into life in York County, Nebraska. By the 1910 United States Federal Census their household had grown smaller with only five children residing with them. Their two oldest daughters, Lena and Ethel, were school teachers, and the three sons were working with their father on the farm. By the time the 1920 United States Federal Census was enumerated, the family consisted of Thomas, Mary, Dara, Ewart, and a family friend by the name of Anthony Rivera. In the 1930 census Thomas and Mary had a completely “empty nest.” Undoubtedly there were children and grandchildren near by.

DEPRESSION AND DUST BOWL HIT NEBRASKA

The 1920’s and 1930’s were hard years in America and folks living in the Great Plains experienced more than their share of those difficulties. On the website for Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska there is an article entitled “Who Lived in York County in the 1930’s?” This excerpt gives a bit of insight into how the Mohler family may have endured very tough times.

 The Great Plains region has always been known for unpredictable weather and natural disasters – tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards, floods, drought, summer heat and winter cold. Farming on the Great Plains has always been a battle against the weather. But the weather during the 1930s was far beyond the natural cycle of seasons. The weather during the Dust Bowl days set records that still stand in Nebraska history and still stand out in farmers’ memories.

Farms in the 1930s were diversified, growing a variety of crops in the fields, vegetables in the garden and fruit in the orchard. Small farms usually raised chickens, eggs, hogs, and cattle, as well as keeping horses and mules for work, and sometimes sheep for wool and meat. Some farmers kept bees and harvested the honey. Women baked their own bread.

During the Depression, this self-sufficiency carried over into their social life. One-dish suppers and church potlucks were important ways to have fun and share food. On radio and in women’s magazines, home economists taught women how to stretch their food budget with casseroles and meals like creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles. Chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and creamed chicken on biscuits were popular meals.

The Apetz brothers hunted rabbits to put a more meat on the dinner table. Delbert Apetz says, “We had a brooder house [for chickens]. My uncle and dad, they’d go out rabbit hunting (now this is in the winter time). Be rabbits hanging there, dressed all the way through that and any time you wanted something to eat you’d cut the string on the rabbit and bring it in the house, fry it or cook it and make soup or whatever you want. We ate a lotta, lotta rabbits. But that’s what we had to eat.” Still, it was a constant work to put food on the table, and sometimes the food was covered with dust when the wind blew dust through the cracks in the house.

 When I read an account such as this, it is astounding how people survived under such dreadful circumstances. Mary Mohler can certainly be counted among those women of great strength who worked along side her husband to provide for their family as Mother Nature wreaked havoc during those terrible days of drought and dust storms.

On December 27, 1937 Mary’s husband Thomas Jefferson Mohler died at the age of 86. They had been married sixty-one years. During those years, they had moved from Illinois to the plains of Nebraska and raised a family of nine children. Their life together was probably not ever easy, but I imagine their children and grandchildren brought them a great deal of comfort and joy. It is certainly indicated that the Mohler’s strong religious faith was a basis for their strength during the good and the not-so-good times.

We do not know how Mary spent the final years of her life, but since she had children living in Nebraska and it seems likely they cared for her during that time. She died on May 12, 1945 in Orchard, Antelope County, Nebraska and was buried beside her husband in the Greenwood Cemetery in York County, Nebraska.

mohler-mary-emma-death-certificate-document-2

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.

Fulton County, marriage record, Marriage Record Book, vol. E, p. 35, no.17.

Mary E. Mohler, death certificate no. R4217, State of Nebraska, Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Who Lived in York County in 1930?” Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska,  http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/life_28.html

 Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, “Illinois in the American Civil War,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_in_the_American_Civil_War.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Mary Emma Bowton Pedigree Chart (click link) mary-emma-bowton-pedigree-chart

 

Thomas Jefferson Mohler

Thomas Jefferson and Mary Emma Bowton Mohler
Thomas Jefferson and Mary Emma Bowton Mohler

The Mohler family in America was made up of some folks with very distinguished names, one being our ancestor Thomas Jefferson Mohler. He was born April 14, 1851 in Hanover Township, Ashland County, Ohio and was the tenth child of John Adam and Lydia Ann Mohler. Ashland County, in the north central part of Ohio, is on the dividing ridge, or watershed, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. As you might expect, the primary industry for the settlers in this part of the country was agriculture, with corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, hay and maple sugar being the major crops.

When the 1860 United States Federal Census was enumerated the Mohler family had moved to Spring Grove, Warren County, Illinois and had increased in size with the addition of three more children. Records indicate that they also had another son, Martin Luther, who either died at birth or the same year he was born. The 1860 census records the following fifteen members of the John Mohler household: John A. Mohler, Lydia, Levi, Martha J., Roda A., Wm. H., Geo. W., Jeremiah, John, Thos., J., Franklin P., Isaac N., Oliver, Catharine and Mary. Martha was Levi’s wife and their child was Roda.

Note the complete names the Mohler’s gave their sons – George Washington, Jeremiah, John Wesley, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Pierce, Isaac Newton, Martin Luther, and Oliver Cromwell. Naming their sons after historical figures appears a phenomenon and begs the questions – why did they do it and how much did they know about these men in history?

The American Civil War broke out in 1861 and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Mohler’s must have experienced the agonies of this tragic war. Thomas was small child, but it is likely his older brothers were enlisted. I found enlistment records for several men in Warren County, Illinois by the same names, but more research would be required to verify that the records match Thomas’ brothers.

Though no major battles were fought in Illinois, it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also, any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Unfortunately I have not found the Mohler family on the 1870 United States Federal Census so I have no information about their location, but sometime after the Civil War Thomas met his future wife, Mary Emma Bowton. Evidently her family lived in Fulton County, Illinois which is adjacent to Warren County (southwest). They married on January 27, 1876. Mary was the daughter of William and Rebecca Bowton.

Thomas and Mary remained in Fulton County, Illinois and set up their household on a farm. On January 11, 1877 they had their first child, Flora Rebecca. About two years later on October 11, 1879 a son, Lorain Ellsworth arrived. This family of four was recorded on the 1880 United States Federal Census. On this census record we discover that Mary’s father was from England and her mother from Illinois.

THOMAS MOHLER FAMILY MOVES TO NEBRASKA

Since there is no longer an 1890 United States Federal Census, we leap to the 1900 United States Federal Census to find our next record for Thomas Mohler and his family. In those intervening twenty years they had moved west and were found in York County, Nebraska. Their two oldest children were no longer living with them but their family had definitely grown. Six children are recorded – Charles, Lena, Ethel, Darrel (Dara), David and Ewort (Ewart). We know another son named William was born in 1885 when they were in Illinois, but he was not residing with them. The last three children were born in Nebraska, so this meant they moved to York County sometime between 1891 and 1896. The Thomas and Mary’s family was a large by any standard of measurement.

Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.
Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.

An interesting note – the enumerator’s handwriting was not very decipherable, but it appears Thomas gave his occupation as “Clergyman.” I thought this might be the enumerator’s error or my inability to read the handwriting. However, one of the Mohler’s grandsons named Wes Mohler gave us some interesting information about this.

 You were correct in listing Thomas Jefferson as “Clergyman.” He was a self-educated pastor/preacher and VERY involved with the United Brethren (In Christ) Church (Denomination). You are probably aware of this, but the United Brethren and Evangelical Denominations merged and were called the Evangelical United Brethren Church (Denomination.) In 1968 (?) the EUB merged with the Methodist Church (Denomination) and is today called The UNITED Methodist Church (Denomination.) Thomas Jefferson was actually “licensed” to Preach (on a yearly basis) through the United Brethren Church. We have some documentation that he was a “Circuit Rider” Preacher here in Western Nebraska (Sheridan County – Near Hay Springs, Nebraska.) He was also in South Dakota (farming and preaching or preaching and farming) before the family moved to York, Nebraska.

Thomas or “Jerry” and Mary settled into life in York County, Nebraska. By the 1910 United States Federal Census, their household had grown smaller with only five children residing with them. Their two oldest daughters, Lena and Ethel, were school teachers, and the three sons were working with their father on the farm. By the time the 1920 United States Federal Census was enumerated the family consisted of Thomas, Mary, Dara, Ewart, and a family friend by the name of Anthony Rivera. In the 1930 census Thomas and Mary had a completely “empty nest.” Undoubtedly there were children and grandchildren near by.

LIFE ON THE GREAT PLAINS IS DIFFICULT

The 1920’s and 1930’s were hard years in America and folks living in the Great Plains experienced more than their share of those difficulties. On the website for Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska there is an article entitled “Who Lived in York County in the 1930’s?” This excerpt gives a bit of insight into how the Mohler family may have endured very tough times.

 The Great Plains region has always been known for unpredictable weather and natural disasters – tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards, floods, drought, summer heat and winter cold. Farming on the Great Plains has always been a battle against the weather. But the weather during the 1930s was far beyond the natural cycle of seasons. The weather during the Dust Bowl days set records that still stand in Nebraska history and still stand out in farmers’ memories.

Farms in the 1930s were diversified, growing a variety of crops in the fields, vegetables in the garden and fruit in the orchard. Small farms usually raised chickens, eggs, hogs, and cattle, as well as keeping horses and mules for work, and sometimes sheep for wool and meat. Some farmers kept bees and harvested the honey. Women baked their own bread.

During the Depression, this self-sufficiency carried over into their social life. One-dish suppers and church potlucks were important ways to have fun and share food. On radio and in women’s magazines, home economists taught women how to stretch their food budget with casseroles and meals like creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles. Chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and creamed chicken on biscuits were popular meals.

The Apetz brothers hunted rabbits to put a more meat on the dinner table. Delbert Apetz says, “We had a brooder house [for chickens]. My uncle and dad, they’d go out rabbit hunting (now this is in the winter time). Be rabbits hanging there, dressed all the way through that and any time you wanted something to eat you’d cut the string on the rabbit and bring it in the house, fry it or cook it and make soup or whatever you want. We ate a lotta, lotta rabbits. But that’s what we had to eat.” Still, it was a constant work to put food on the table, and sometimes the food was covered with dust when the wind blew dust through the cracks in the house.

 Thomas Mohler lived out his days in York County, Nebraska. He and Mary moved there with six children between 1891 and 1896 where their family grew, and not only endured, but thrived during some of Nebraska’s darkest days of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Like other courageous pioneers of those days, they exhibited strength and fortitude when they moved into new territories to face the uncertainties of Mother Nature. From this vantage point in year 2011, they appear to have been truly remarkable folk.

Thomas Jefferson Mohler died December 28, 1937 in York County, Nebraska and was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife of sixty-one years – Mary Emma Bowton Mohler.

thomas-mary-mohler-tombstone

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, US: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1880 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2002.

“Historical Sketch of Ashland County,” http://ashlandcounty.org

Fulton County, marriage record, Marriage Record Book, vol. E, p. 35, no.17.

Thomas Mohler death certificate no. H12847, State of Nebraska, Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Who Lived in York County in 1930?” Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska, http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30’s/life_28.html

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, “Illinois in the American Civil War,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_in_the_American_Civil_War.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Thomas Jefferson Mohler Pedigree Chart (click link) thomas-jefferson-mohler-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Thomas Jefferson Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link) thomas-jefferson-mohler-fgs-document

Early Jackson “Jack” Calk

Early Jackson was the first child of Thomas Clayton and Mary Larrimore Calk. Their home at the time was Clarke County, Alabama, which is located in the southwest part of the state with the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers forming its borders. I am somewhat confused about Early Jackson’s exact birth date. His tombstone inscription gives December 8, 1845 as the date, but three census records record 1848 and one records 1846. I am inclined to think the census records may be more on target since information for tombstones was often given by a person who may have been misinformed.

Like many other pioneers the Calk’s were a farming family living a rugged and harsh existence in Clarke County, Alabama. The 1850 United States Federal census records J.J. Calk, age 30; Mary Calk, age 20; Early Calk, age 2; and William Calk, age 0.

CALK FAMILY HEAD TOWARD TEXAS

By the time of the 1860 census was taken the Calk family had left their long time home of Clarke County, Alabama, and was living in Sevier County, Arkansas. Four more children had been born. The family of eight consisted of Thomas, age 40; Mary, age 31; Early Q., age 12; William M., age 9; Thomas B, age 8; Anna E. age 6; Elijah age 4; and Sarah Q., age 1. The census taker or transcriber misspelled the name as “Cork” as well as recording inaccurate initials for Early Jackson and Sarah Jane. Sometime after this census one more daughter named Molly was born before the family left Arkansas.

It is my feeling the Calk’s were on the way to Texas and may have stayed in Arkansas for only a few years. I have not been able to find either Thomas or Early Jackson on an 1870 United States Federal Census, so I cannot back up my suppositions. Perhaps the name is spelled incorrectly, but for some reason they have fallen through the “genealogical cracks.” This will require more research.

Another Calk family researcher by the name of Wayne Calk shared the family lore that while traveling on a wagon train from Arkansas to Texas, Mary Larrimore Calk died. It is possible she died while giving birth. If true, this story gives us an indication of the difficult circumstances our ancestors faced as they traveled into unknown territories seeking a better life. I am amazed at the strength and determination of these men and women.

Wherever the Calks were living during the 1860’s their lives must have been affected by the United States Civil War. Both Arkansas and Texas seceded from the Union in 1861 to join forces with the Confederacy. It was a tumultuous time no matter where you lived. I imagine it would have been a very difficult time to move and settle into a community, not to mention establishing a means of livelihood. Most citizens were called on to assist in the war effort, especially in supplying the military with needed resources. If the Calks were farming, it is likely they had to do their part.

The next time I found any information about Early or his father, Thomas, they are in McLennan County, Texas. Marriage records for both father and son were furnished by family researcher Wayne Calk. Early Jackson married Louisa S. Champion on June 1, 1867, and his father Thomas married Minerva Randolph Fitzgerald on May 25, 1868. Both marriages were in McLennan County. Calk family lore says Early’s wife Louisa died in 1872.

EARLY JACKSON CALK AND WINCY TITSWORTH WED

Early J. Calk is recorded on the 1880 United States Federal Census in Atascosa County, Texas. The census was taken on June 12. It is interesting to note that same day a marriage license was issued in Medina County, Texas for E.J. Calk and Wincy Titsworth. The wedding ceremony was performed by William C. Newton on June 20 in Castroville.

Marriage record for Early Jackson Calk and Wincy Titsworth.
Marriage record for Early Jackson Calk and Wincy Titsworth.

Evidently Wincy had previously been married and had a 6 year old son named Levi Carlisle (Carlyle). One undocumented internet source gives the first husband’s name as Bell. However, it is also possible her child was born out of wedlock. I found Wincy and Levi Titsworth (not Bell) on the 1880 United States Federal Census in Atascosa County, Texas, living with the John L. McCaleb family. The record states the relationship as “cousins.” Of course, this could mean they are cousins of John McCaleb or his wife, Elizabeth. As mentioned above, the census was taken a very short time before Early and Wincy married. Evidently, Early adopted Levi because he later uses the name “Calk.”

After their marriage Early and Wincy moved to Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, and it was there they had their first child. A daughter, Ethel Cleora, was born September 19, 1881. Over the next years their family continued to grow. From internet information I retrieved the names of several of their children but not much else. Clementine was born about 1882, followed by Maude in 1884, Helen in 1886, Granvill C. in 1889, and Early Jackson III on January 1, 1894. I have verified that Ethel and Early Jackson III were born in Bonham but have no information about the other children.

When the 1900 United States Federal Census was taken the Calks were in Bonham, Texas. They were recorded as follows. Note the misspelled names. Early J. Call, age 53; Nincy Call, age 45; and Early Call, age 4. Early’s occupation is “Farmer.” I do know that Levi, Ethel, and Clementine married before 1900, but since none of the younger children were listed it makes me wonder if perhaps they were no longer living. If that was the case, they faced a lot of sadness in their married life.

I do have information about four of their children. Levi married Martha Dell Davis; Ethel married George Franklin LeBus (my maternal grandparents); Clementine married John Ervin LeBus, George’s brother; and Early “Earl” Jackson III married Zora Maurice Taylor. Listed below are the children and grandchildren of Early and Wincy Calk.

Levi Carlisle and Martha Dell Davis Calk: Cleora Parilee Calk, Elizabeth “Bessie” Louise Calk, Mildred Bernice Calk, Daisy Dell Calk, William Carlisle Calk and James Ralph Calk.

George Franklin and Ethel Cleora Calk LeBus: Frank Leyburn LeBus, Hazel Annabelle LeBus, Archie Carlisle LeBus, Jack Blackburn LeBus, Irene Clementine LeBus, Roy Henderson LeBus,Laura V. LeBus, George Franklin LeBus, Jr., Ethel Marie LeBus and Donavel Calk LeBus.

John Ervin and Clementine “Clemmie” Calk LeBus: John Ervin LeBus, Jr., Margaret LeBus, Annabel LeBus and Johnnie LeBus.

Early “Earl” Jackson III and Zora M. Taylor Calk: Earl Calk, Jr. and Jesse William Calk.

Sometime after 1900 the Calks moved to Nocona, Montague County, Texas, located in far north Texas. It was there that Early Jackson Calk died at age 58, a young man by today’s standards. His tombstone gives his death date as May 15, 1906 and he is buried in the old Greenbriar Cemetery in Montague County.

calk-early-j-tombstone-calk-e-j

If this narrative about Early Jackson Calk seems rather sketchy, it is because my primary sources of information were from the United States Federal census records. That made “reading between the lines” quite difficult. Nevertheless, I imagine that as a farmer he had a hard life trying to provide for his family, particularly during the years following the Civil War. If there is truth in family lore, he experienced the death of his first wife and several of his children. On a more positive note – he lived to see several of his children marry and have families. Early and Wincy were able to experience being grandparents and that must have been a source of great satisfaction.

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1880 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

“Arkansas in the Civil War,” http://www.civilwarbuff.org

Calk, Wayne, “Personal family fils of Wayne Calk,”  WayneCalk@tds.net

Greenbrier Cemetery, Montague County, Texas, US Cemetery Project,http://www.uscemeteryproj2.com/texas/montague/greenbrier/greenbrier.htm

 Medina County, marriage license no. 13370, Mediina County Clerk’s Office, Medina, Texas.

“Texas in the Civil War,”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas-in-the-American-Civil-War

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011. Updated July 2014.

Early Jackson Calk Pedigree Chart (click link) early-jackson-calk-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Early Jackson Calk Family Group Sheet (click link) early-jackson-calk-fgs-document

 

 

 

Ethel Cleora Calk LeBus

ethel-calk-2

Ethel Cleora Calk

Ethel Cleora Calk would have been amazed had she known about the rich, full life awaiting her in the future. I say this because she was born into a very modest home on September 9, 1881, in the small town of Bonham in northeastern Texas. Her parents were Early Jackson “Jack” and Wincy Titsworth Calk. Both of them had previously been married and Wincy had a 6 year old son, Levi Carlisle. Jack later adopted him.

According to both the 1880 and 1900 U.S. Federal Census records, Jack was a farm laborer. Chances are the Calk family lived a very simple life. I imagine that along with her family, Ethel learned to live modestly and frugally. In the years following Ethel’s birth the Calks had five more children – Clementine “Clemmie” (about 1882); Maude (1884); Helen (1886); Granvill (1889); and Early “Earl” Jackson (1894). I have little information on these siblings. However, it seems possible that Ethel had a lot of experience playing the role of “big sister” and, undoubtedly, was given a great deal of responsibility helping her mother in this busy household.

Sometime before 1899, Ethel met her future husband, George Franklin LeBus. He had moved to Bonham between 1880 and 1899. Family lore tells us that he was an inventive man with an entrepreneurial spirit, so I imagine him being a persuasive suitor. By the time they married, November 5, 1899, George had opened a blacksmith and tool manufacturing shop. I am sure they had hopes of growing a successful business, but little did they know that the door was opening to a life beyond their wildest dreams.

George and Ethel Calk LeBus wedding photograph.
George and Ethel Calk LeBus wedding photograph.

Along with a growing business, George and Ethel started their family with the birth of their first child, Frank Leyburn, born September 9, 1900. During the next few years while continuing to live in Bonham, the family grew larger with the births of two daughters. First, Hazel Annabelle was born January 23, 1902, and then Archie Carlisle, born December 1, 1904.

GEORGE LEBUS MOVES HIS BUSINESS AND GROWING FAMILY

George’s tool manufacturing business continued to grow, and in about 1905 his services were required in Madill, Marshall County, Oklahoma. He felt living here was important enough to move his family. While living there, Ethel gave birth to another son, Jack Blackburn, born April 17, 1906; and a daughter, Irene Clementine, born February 17, 1908.

By 1910 George had opened yet another place of business in Henrietta, Clay County, Texas. On the LeBus International website there is a brief history of the company with a few old photographs. One picture is of workers at the old Henrietta plant. So, as you might expect, George moved his family to this little community in north central Texas.

While living in Henrietta, George and Ethel added two more children to their family. Roy Henderson was born April 10, 1910, and Laura V. was born January 28, 1913. Unfortunately, we have no photographs of the LeBus family at this time of their life together, but I imagine it would have been a grand picture of George, Ethel, and their seven children. However, they are not finished growing yet!

ELECTRA, TEXAS BECOMES HOME FOR MANY YEARS

By 1917 we find the LeBus family in Electra, Wichita County, Texas. It seems that this little town grew somewhat when oil was discovered in 1911 and the Electra Oilfield developed. I believe this to be one of the reasons George wanted to bring his business to the area.

Living in Electra must have agreed with George and Ethel because they lived there for about fifteen years. During that time they would have three more children. George Franklin, Jr. was born May 10, 1917, and Ethel Marie came along August 6, 1919. Their last son, Donavel Calk, was born March 13, 1925. Sadly he died on March 22, 1925. I do not have information about the death of this child, but I think it was a tragic event in the life of this large family.

George and Ethel LeBus with children, circa 1923.
George and Ethel LeBus with children, circa 1923.

By the time of the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, the LeBus family had grown much smaller. George and Ethel are listed with their youngest three children and one servant. As expected, the older children married and had begun families of their own. The LeBus family continued to grow, but this time it was with the addition of grandchildren. Because I am one of those grandchildren, I know that “Pa and Ma” loved their grand-parenting role. Nothing made them happier than being surrounded by their children and grandchildren and hearing of their accomplishments.

Ma LeBus with daughters, Hazel, Archie, Irene, Laura V. and Ethel Marie.
Ma LeBus with daughters, Hazel, Archie, Irene, Laura V. and Ethel Marie.

GEORGE AND ETHEL ON THE MOVE AGAIN

George LeBus knew he had to go where there were business opportunities, so when the East Texas oil boom occurred, the LeBus family moved to Longview to open a machine shop in 1934. This company developed into LeBus International.

In 1938 George and Ethel decided to make yet another move, this time to Wichita Falls, Texas. They found a very large and beautiful home there and the one which became a legend in the family. They called it “The Big House.” In her autobiography, Lucy Ann Nance Croft remembers it this way.

 As I try to recall memories of Ma and Pa LeBus’s home (Mr. and Mrs. George F. LeBus, maternal grandparents) in Wichita Falls, Texas, the word that comes to mind is “palatial.” The house I am referring to was the one I remember visiting as a small child; they called it the Big House. They purchased this thirteen-acre estate in the early 1930s and lived there for about twenty years. Amid my mother’s memorabilia, I found the newspaper clipping from the Wichita Falls Record News about my grandparent’s home.

‘George F. LeBus, who left Electra a few years ago to enter competition in the East Texas oil field at Longview, made his return to this area auspiciously significant when he purchased the baronial home name by which the estate is known to Wichitans, covers an expanse of 13 acres on Harrison Avenue in southwest Wichita Falls. The construction of the home is of brick and reinforced concrete, towering three stories and supplied with 19 rooms and six bathrooms . . . the architecture is English colonial. An ornamental iron fence surrounds the grounds, on which are, in addition to the luxurious home, tennis courts, tea house, greenhouse, rose arbor, rose garden, lily ponds, fountain and a four-car garage over which are comfortable quarters for two servants and laundry room.’ (Wichita Falls Record News)

I recall that even though my grandparents were quite wealthy, lived in a lovely mansion with a high-profile life, and had many children and grandchildren, they were both very loving and caring to each and every one of us. There was a lot of laughter, visiting, and hugging in the Big House. Large family holiday gatherings, lively dinners, reunions, birthdays, and dances in the ballroom in the basement were not unusual in such a large family. As Ma said, “it takes a lot of living in a house to make it home.” My grandparents certainly accomplished that. (Croft, 25-27)

“The Big House” in Wichita Falls, Texas.
George and Ethel with children and spouses at The Big House in Wichita Falls, Texas.
George and Ethel with children and spouses at The Big House in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Ma LeBus loved “The Big House” with all its lovely furnishings and grounds. However, it must have been the glorious good times there that meant the most. It was, indeed, a luxurious environment. Best of all, Pa and Ma loved having family and friends gathered there to enjoy it with them.

As much as Pa and Ma enjoyed their big old house, a time came when they began to consider selling it. Even with servants, it must have required a lot of Pa and Ma to maintain such a property. Perhaps this was one of many reasons to sell “The Big House” and make a move. In about 1946 they made quite a big change after they sold the lovely home. Evidently they vacationed in California and liked it so much, they decided to move there! Some other family members moved there at the same time, so Pa and Ma must have led the way. Some of us recall taking summer trips out to visit them and hearing all the Hollywood stories. They lived there for about one year and I imagine it was a year long holiday for them!

At this time in their life together, Pa and Ma made the decision to move back to Wichita Falls. I suppose they felt it was really “home” to them. Undoubtedly, they had many long time friends there and deep roots in the community. I recall that they were especially involved in the First Christian Church. They built a lovely home on Miramar Street which was both large and comfortable. As always, it was important that their home be a gathering place for family and friends, and this home filled the bill having a spacious living room, dining room, kitchen, guest rooms and lovely yard.

After moving back to Wichita Falls, a very memorable event in the life of the LeBus family was George and Ethel’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration on November 5, 1949. It was, indeed, an evening to remember. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Wichita Daily Times about the event.

Mr. and Mrs. G.F. LeBus, who observed their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday, were honored guests for an elaborate reception held at the Wichita Falls Country Club. More than 500 family, friends, and relatives called between the hours of 7 and 11 o’clock. Hosts and hostesses for the affair were the couple’s eight sons and daughters, each sharing duties with his wife or husband.

George and Ethel celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
George and Ethel celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

On the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, George and Ethel were interviewed by Frances Hyland, a reporter for the Wichita Daily Times. Ma LeBus gives us an insight into her full, rich life being married to Pa for all those years.

It’s like a big party all the time,’ says smiling Mrs. G. E. LeBus in describing her family life. And, that’s easy to imagine because now, as Mr. and Mrs. LeBus are completing 50 years of married life, they are surrounded, quite frequently, by most of their eight children, 27 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and the various and sundry ‘in-laws.’

Like all big families, the LeBuses enjoy being together and seldom let a day pass without seeing one another if it’s at all possible. And, all is quite congenial, the mother says, because they have made it an unwritten rule to laugh away any differences that might ariseAs they aged, both Pa and Ma began to have some health issues. Ma may have been frailer, but it was Pa who died first. On December 24, 1956, Ethel lost her beloved husband, George. Even with very good help and health care, along with family to keep her company, life after Pa’s death was difficult for her. After being plagued by Parkinson’s disease during her last years, Ethel LeBus died on October 1, 1960 in Wichita Falls, Texas. Here is an excerpt from her obituary.

Mrs. George F. (Ethel) LeBus,) 79, resident of Wichita Country almost 50 years, died Saturday afternoon at her residence, 2204 Miramar. Funeral services will be held at

2 p.m. Monday at the First Christian Church with Dr. George R. Davis officiating. Burial will be in Crestview Memorial Park under direction of Owens & Brumley Funeral Home.

Survivors include three sons, Roy LeBus, George F. LeBus, Jr., and Frank LeBus; five daughters, Mrs. Hazel Grizzle, Mrs. Paul Bilbrey, Mrs. C.D. Knight, Mrs. Denzel Morrow, and Mrs. Bennett Nance; and one brother, Earl Calk; 34 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren.

Reared in Bonham, where she was born Sept. 9, 1881, Mrs. Ethel LeBus and her late husband were married at the home of her parents in that city Nov. 5, 1899…Always active in community affairs, Mrs. LeBus was one of Electra’s busiest P.T.A. workers, and taught a Sunday School class. In Wichita Falls, she was a conscientious member of the First Christian Church, the Woman’s Forum, and the Garden Club and for a time served as sponsor of the Senior-Junior Forum.

l41-copy

In her autobiography, Lucy Ann Nance Croft remembers her grandmother Ma LeBus.

Ma LeBus was a very affectionate, caring woman who would always reach out to me for a hug and a kiss. Having her family gathered around was extremely important to her. Even though she had servants who helped keep her home in beautiful condition, her house reflected her good taste and style in its design, art, and furnishings. If you were a guest, she was concerned about your comfort and gave you special attention. I think of her as a religious person but not overly pious. She and Pa were interested in their church (Christian Church) and were committed to its work and worship. (Croft, 41)

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

Ethel C. LeBus, death certificate no. 62986,Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Fannin County, marriage certificate no. 103410, vol. L, p. 508, Bonham, Texas.

Heritage Quest Online. 1930 United States Federal Census.

Hyland, Frances, “Mr. and Mrs. George F. LeBus Recall Events in Life Together During Fifty Years Since Marriage,” Wichita Daily Times, November 6, 1949.

LeBus International, Inc. (website), “The LeBus History,” http://www.lebus.us

Wichita Falls Times, obituary for Mrs. George F. (Ethel) LeBus, October 1960.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, “Bonham, Texas,” www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonham

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

Ethel C. Calk Pedigree Chart (click link) ethel-c-calk-pedigree-chart-scan0001

 

 

George Franklin LeBus

George Franklin LeBus
George Franklin LeBus

George Franklin LeBus’ story begins December 14, 1876, in Flora, Clay County, Illinois. He was the second child of John and Lucy Ann “Annie” Leyburn LeBus. George’s father was a blacksmith in this small town in southeastern Illinois. By 1880, John, Annie, and their family were living in Loudon, Tennessee. Perhaps they moved there to be near her siblings. From information on the 1880 United States Federal Census, John (J.A. Lebus), is continuing his trade as a blacksmith.

Unfortunately, I know little about George’s childhood and youth, but sometime between 1880 and 1899, he made his way to Texas and settled in Bonham, Texas. There he met and married Ethel Cleora Calk, November 5, 1899. He was operating a blacksmith and machine shop. Eventually this business developed into the LeBus Rotary Tool Works. Family lore tells us that George was an inventive man with an entrepreneurial spirit. This must have been the case because in the early 1900’s he developed a thriving business manufacturing and selling “specialty tools for the booming west Texas oil fields. Tool pushers and/or owners would see a specific need for a new tool and LeBus would forge the new tools on demand.” (http://www.lebus.us)

George and Ethel Calk LeBus wedding photograph.
George and Ethel Calk LeBus wedding photograph.

On the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, George and Ethel were interviewed by Frances Hyland, a reporter for the Wichita Daily Times. George’s comments add a little color to the story of his arrival in Bonham and his early life there.

A blacksmith by trade, he had chosen Bonham as the scene of his operations because of the horse racing activity there at that time. ‘Did you tell the reporter that I rode the rods into Bonham?’ Mr. LeBus asked his wife with a sly grin. Then, he hastened to explain that ‘Oh, I had money all right, but I didn’t want to waste it on the cushions.’

Thus it was that the thrifty 24 year old blacksmith was financially able to take a bride.

‘I had my trade,’ he says, ‘and as my responsibilities grew I was able to prove my theory that God doesn’t expect anything from us which He does not equip us…He has given us the tools with which to do the job if we are willing to do it.’

While living in Bonham, George and Ethel started their family with the birth of Frank Leyburn, September 9, 1900. Their first son was followed by two daughters, Hazel Annabelle, born January 23, 1902, and Archie Carlisle, born December 1, 1904.

Sometime before 1906, the LeBus family moved to Madill, Oklahoma. Undoubtedly, George’s business required that they move there. While living in Madill, two more babies were born. Jack Blackburn arrived on April 17, 1906, and Irene Clementine was born February 17, 1908. The LeBus clan was growing!

At the time of the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, George, Ethel and their family were living in Henrietta, located in north central Texas. While there, two more children were born. Roy Henderson arrived on April 10, 1910, and Laura V. was born January 18, 1913.

George went where his work was needed and after their move, he opened another tool company in Henrietta. On the LeBus International website there is a brief history of the company with a few old photographs. One picture is of workers at the old Henrietta plant.

By 1917 George and Ethel had moved again, taking their family to Electra, Texas, located in Wichita County about 15 miles northwest of Wichita Falls. This little town grew somewhat after oil was discovered in 1911 and the Electra Oilfield developed. It is likely this was one reason George decided to bring his tool manufacturing business to the area. His machine shop and blacksmith shop later developed into the LeBus Rotary Tool Work and the LeBus Motor Company.

LeBus home in Electra, Texas.
LeBus home in Electra, Texas.

While living in Electra, the LeBus family continued to grow. George Franklin, Jr. was born May 10, 1917, and Ethel Marie arrived on August 6, 1919. They had one more child, Donavel Calk, born March 13, 1925 and died March 22, 1925. I do not have any information about the death this child, but I imagine it was a sad event in the life of George, Ethel and their entire family. Donavel was their last child.

A world event that must have impacted the LeBus family and their community was World War I. Even though George was not drafted into the military service, he was required to register. Like all United States citizens, he must have felt the effects of his country at war. It is possible that his business and the oil industry, too, may have played a part in providing supplies for the war effort. (This is speculation on my part. I have no documentation.) This conflict involved most of the world’s great powers and was centered on Europe. It has gone down in history as one of the largest and most deadly wars with more than 15 million people killed. It was also known as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars.” (George F. LeBus WW I Draft Registration (click link) george-f-lebus-ww-i-draft-registration-scan0001.

The LeBus family lived in Electra for about fifteen years which seemed like a long time for this family to be in one location. George had established a good business and provided very well for his family. Undoubtedly, this large family required a lot of care and attention. On the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, there are fourteen people in the LeBus household, including one daughter-in-law (Frank’s wife, Thelma) and two servants. That was one busy home!

By the time of the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, the LeBus household was much smaller. George and Ethel are listed with three children and one servant. The older children had married and started families of their own. The LeBus family continued to grow but now grandchildren were added into the “fold.” I imagine they enjoyed their new roles as grandparents. They were affectionately called “Pa and Ma” by the little ones.

George and Ethel with family at Electra, Texas home.
George and Ethel with family at Electra, Texas home.

George LeBus knew he had to go where there were business opportunities, so when the East Texas oil boom occurred, the LeBus family moved to Longview to open a machine shop in 1934. This company later developed into LeBus International.

When deep oil was discovered at Kamay in 1938, George decided to move back to Wichita Falls. After turning the LeBus Rotary Tool Works over to some of his children, he entered the oil business.

One interesting note – Frank, the oldest son, was a machinist and became involved in George’s tool manufacturing business at a young age. Eventually, it was Frank who was one of the founders of LeBus International in Longview, Texas.

Upon their return to Wichita Falls, George and Ethel bought a large home on Harrison Street. It was magnificent and became known in the family as the “Big House.” In her autobiography, Lucy Ann Nance Croft shares her memories of this house.

As I try to recall memories of Ma and Pa LeBus’s home (Mr. and Mrs. George F. LeBus, maternal grandparents) in Wichita Falls, Texas, the word that comes to mind is “palatial.” The house I am referring to was the one I remember visiting as a small child; they called it the Big House. They purchased this thirteen-acre estate in the early 1930s and lived there for about twenty years. Amid my mother’s memorabilia, I found the newspaper clipping from the Wichita Falls Record News about my grandparent’s home.

‘George F. LeBus, who left Electra a few years ago to enter competition in the East Texas oil field at Longview, made his return to this area auspiciously significant when he purchased the baronial home name by which the estate is known to Wichitans, covers an expanse of 13 acres on Harrison Avenue in southwest Wichita Falls. The construction of the home is of brick and reinforced concrete, towering three stories and supplied with 19 rooms and six bathrooms . . . the architecture is English colonial. An ornamental iron fence surrounds the grounds, on which are, in addition to the luxurious home, tennis courts, tea house, greenhouse, rose arbor, rose garden, lily ponds, fountain and a four-car garage over which are comfortable quarters for two servants and laundry room.’ (Wichita Falls Record News)

I recall that even though my grandparents were quite wealthy, lived in a lovely mansion with a high-profile life, and had many children and grandchildren, they were both very loving and caring to each and every one of us. There was a lot of laughter, visiting, and hugging in the Big House. Large family holiday gatherings, lively dinners, reunions, birthdays, and dances in the ballroom in the basement were not unusual in such a large family. As Ma said, “it takes a lot of living in a house to make it home.” My grandparents certainly accomplished that. (Croft, 25-27)

“The Big House” in Wichita Falls, Texas.
George and Ethel with children and spouses at The Big House in Wichita Falls, Texas.
George and Ethel with children and spouses at The Big House in Wichita Falls, Texas.

George and Ethel along with their children and grandchildren loved that big home with its beautiful well-tended grounds. Even thought larger groups gathered at holiday times or on special occasions, many enjoyed the times when a few family members or friends gathered around a dinner table or in the den to discuss a myriad of subjects and concerns. I imagine some of those discussions may have become heated as they tried to solve all the world’s problems! Many in the LeBus family were known to be opinionated and outspoken!

Both George and Ethel gave their time and resources to the communities in which they lived. His obituary in the Wichita Falls Times had this to say.

A firm believer in the theory, ‘God doesn’t expect anything from us for which He does not equip us,’ LeBus gave freely of his time and money in an effort to prepare youthful citizens of the area for productive careers. In 1953, LeBus and his wife established a perennial scholarship fund amounting to approximately $6000 annually at Midwestern University. The fund provided for eight scholarships annually – four for men and four for women. In addition to establishing the scholarship fund, LeBus has contributed heavily in the past to Midwestern University building programs.

In 1945 George LeBus wrote and published a small book entitled, Think It Over. I am amazed at his eloquence and depth of expression. His intent in sharing his thoughts is found in an excerpt from The Author’s Preface.

But time is valuable and life is short and one does not have the opportunity to say all he thinks and to explain all the implications. However, upon extended requests, I pick up my pen to add clarity to the bits of philosophy that have made my life happy and triumphant. I do so with humility but with definite conviction; I do so trusting that this little book may contribute something worthwhile to the world. (Page vii)

The book concludes with some LeBus Proverbs. They are quite revealing of the man.

He who expects little things in life will only find little things…He who gets dollars in his eye and six o’clock on his brain is an unhappy man…A man is nothing more or less than what he thinks…The best formula for failure is, ‘Don’t put your heart in your work’…If you are a Son of God then act like one…He who worships his ancestors is half dead already…A machineless machine is as intelligent as a loveless faith…Just as the beach is near the sea; so brotherhood is near God…If you don’t want to get well then don’t go to work; idleness will kill you…Give people the flowers while they are alive so they can enjoy them…You cannot solve life’s problems with hate just as you cannot put a square in a round hole.

The time came when Pa and Ma LeBus decided to sell the Big House. I do not know the reasons, but perhaps they reached a time and age when they wanted a change of lifestyle. That change came in about 1946 and it was a big one. After vacationing in California, they decided to move there. Other family members moved out west at the same time, so Pa and Ma either led the way or followed the family pack. Chances are they led the way! Some of us have memories of taking summer trips out to visit and join them in seeing the sights and basking on the beach. There were tales of them meeting some movie stars, but of course, it is possible the stories were embroidered a bit! Nevertheless, George and Ethel enjoyed their time in California for about one year and then decided to head back “home” to Texas.

Ethel and George LeBus
Ethel and George LeBus

Both Pa and Ma were beginning to have some health issues and that was probably a consideration in deciding to return to Texas. They built a lovely home on Miramar Street in Wichita Falls. It was a large house but not like the Big House. The architectural style was traditional with many features that made it very manageable and comfortable for an older couple. With its spacious living room, kitchen, and dining room, their home continued to be a gathering place for family and friends.

After a full, rich life, George Franklin “Pa” LeBus died on December 24, 1956, in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was buried in the Garden Section of Crestview Memorial Park. Here is an excerpt from his obituary in the Wichita Falls Times.

One of Wichita Falls leading oil men and civic leaders, George F. LeBus, Sr., 2204 Miramar, died Saturday night in a Wichita Falls hospital following a heart attack suffered early Saturday afternoon.

LeBus, 80, suffered a heart attack at 1:45 p.m. Saturday while in the Petroleum Club in the Kemp Hotel.

A resident of Wichita County for 45 years, LeBus was a retired oil man and machine shop operator, having begun his long and colorful career as a blacksmith in Bonham, Texas.

 George Franklin LeBus

George Franklin LeBus

In her autobiography, Lucy Ann Nance Croft remembers here grandfather, “Pa,” this way:

Pa LeBus was an outgoing, friendly man, but I was told that he was quite dogmatic at times. His favorite subjects of discussion or debate were politics and religion, and I understand he could be very opinionated. Even so, Pa was a loving person. He was small in stature but big in spirit. I think of him as being a “doer,” very energetic and involved. He took great pleasure in people and having his large family gathered to eat, visit, and enjoy each other.

I know very little about how Pa LeBus made his fortune except that it was in the oil equipment business. He was a self-made man, working early in his life as a blacksmith and then developing his company during the oil boom in East Texas. During that time he invented some drilling equipment that was patented and used on every oil-drilling rig. (Croft, 41)

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1880 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancesty.com World War I Draft Registration Card, 1917-1918. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2005.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

Fannin County, marriage certificate no. 103410, vol. L, p. 508, Fannin County Clerk’s Office, Bonham, Texas.

George F. LeBus, death certificate no. 68553, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.

Heritage Quest Online. 1930 United States Federal Census.

Hyland, Frances, “Mr. and Mrs. George F. LeBus Recall Events in Life Together During Fifty Years Since Marriage,” Wichita Daily Times, November 6 1949.

LeBus, George, Think It Over, 1945.

LeBus International, Inc. (website), “The LeBus History,” http://www.lebus.us

Wichita Falls Times, obituary for George F. LeBus, December 30, 1956.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, “World War I,” www.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_WarI

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

George F. LeBus Pedigree Chart (click link) george-f-lebus-pedigree-chart

George F. LeBus Family Group Sheet (clink link) george-franklin-lebus-fgs

 

Archie Carlisle LeBus Nance

Archie Carlisle LeBus
Archie Carlisle LeBus

Archie Carlisle LeBus was born on December 1, 1904, in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas. She was the third child of George and Ethel Calk LeBus, and they named their baby girl after her two uncles, Archie LeBus and Levi Carlisle Calk. Bonham is a small community in Northeastern Texas, one of the oldest towns in the state (settled in 1837). At the time of her birth Archie’s “Papa” owned a machine shop.

Unfortunately, there are few stories to relate about Archie’s childhood except that her father was a man of entrepreneurial spirit and provided well for his family. Her mother was the consummate homemaker and a wonderful example to Archie. It is entirely possible that if her younger brothers or sisters could be asked, they might say that Archie was like a second “mother” to them. Evidently, her early life was a training ground. As her children can attest, as a wife and mother, nothing pleased Archie more than keeping a lovely home, cooking good meals for her husband, Bennett, and nurturing her children and supporting them in their endeavors.

In 1910 the LeBus family was living in Henrietta, Texas, and Archie now had three younger siblings. By 1920 they had moved to Electra, Texas, and George and Ethel had completed their family of nine children – Frank, Hazel, Archie, Jack, Irene, Roy, Laura V., George Franklin “G.F.”, and Ethel Marie.

Neither George nor Ethel LeBus had a great deal of formal education but they must have encouraged Archie’s interest in learning and education. After graduation from Electra High School in 1922, Archie attended Ward Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee (1922-1923) and then later Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas (1923-1924). At both schools she developed a number of wonderful friendships. As those who knew Archie might expect, she remained in contact with some of these friends for many years. Even at the time of her death, several of her friends from school days sent letters of condolence to Archie’s husband and children.

Coed Cutups! (Archie back left)
Coed Cutups! (Archie back left)

Archie met her future husband, Bennett Allen Nance, when they were both seniors in Electra High School in Electra, Texas (1921-1922). After graduation they each went their separate ways for several years but remained in contact.

Bennett Nance gave a wonderful gift to his family when he wrote a short autobiography. In it he shares thoughts about this time in his and Archie’s life together.

 On a trip back to Electra, I was re-acquainted with Archie (we had been corresponding) and I decided I wanted to get married. It was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, to acquire such a priceless pearl. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. We were married on January 1, 1925, in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the First Christian Church. Though nothing was ever said about their eloping, the ceremony must have been very small because Bennett says – her brother, Jack LeBus stood up for us, not mentioning any other people.

We went on our honeymoon in a Model T Ford. After this, we decided to move back to Canyon with my folks. There were three families of us – my father and mother, my brother George and his wife, Lucille, and Archie and myself living in one house.

Mom (Archie) and I were never happy on the ranch in Canyon with my folks, so we went to Electra and I went to work at the LeBus and Friend (L & F) Chevrolet Company selling cars and helping out front at the gas pumps. In the meantime, Papa (Bennett’s father) had sent me word that if I could find a ranch that I liked, he would look into the matter. I began to look around for another location and found an area that intrigued me around Rocksprings down in the Hill Country of Texas. (Bennett Nance)

 In 1926, while Bennett and Archie were still living in Electra, a very sad life event occurred. Their first child was born on September 16 – a baby girl who they named Aileen. Regrettably, we know she died the same day. It must have been devastating for Archie and Bennett to lose their first child. As a mother myself I cannot think of anything more difficult than the loss of a child, no matter the age. There is a record of her death but no information about the cause. My mother, Archie, never shared anything with me about her first pregnancy or this terrible event. It must have been too painful. Fortunately, she did have a large family around to bring her comfort and consolation. Even though early childhood death may have been more common in those days, it does not negate the fact that it was a very sad time in Bennett and Archie’s early life tog

In his autobiography, Bennett Nance writes that his father told him if he found a good ranch he would buy for him. Bennett went looking and found a ranch in central Texas.

 Papa Nance purchased the ranch from the Rudisil’s. It was located on the Divide of the Edwards Plateau where the Frio River started and it became known as the Divide Ranch, 35 miles east of Rocksprings and 65 miles west of Kerrville. Archie and I moved south to take over the operation of this ranch.

In late August, 1927, we had all of our belongings loaded and traveled to the ranch to start our new adventure. I drove a truck and Archie followed in the car. We drove on mostly dirt roads. I can remember driving up to the ranch and going through the gate that was just about 100 yards from the house. The gate was too narrow and I ripped our new bedsprings off the side of the truck. Archie was upset and crying. You must remember this was a real change for her, but she was determined to try and be a good wife and mate.

We started improving the ranch. I was very pleased now being in what I thought was the best place on earth and in a new business. I knew nothing about sheep and goats, although, I had the advantage of being a country boy. The Great Depression was starting, but we were always able to get groceries once a week on credit payable when the mohair or wool sold. (Bennett Nance)

It is a treasure to have Bennett’s recollections of his and Archie’s early life on the Divide Ranch. He does not make big issue of it, but this new lifestyle was a huge change for Archie. She was not a country girl and had grown up surrounded by a large supportive family. Undoubtedly, she had to call on some deep reserves of strength and faith as she adjusted to life on a sheep and goat ranch in a remote area of Texas. It seems to me she rose to the occasion!

More changes occurred in 1929 when Bennett and Archie were expecting a baby. Because Archie needed to be near a doctor and medical attention, they decided to move back to Electra. Having lost their first child, it makes sense that they had some anxiety about this second baby and felt relief knowing she would also have family support there in Electra. Dan Allen was born April 10, 1929. Happily they welcomed their healthy baby boy! After Archie and Dan were strong enough to travel, they moved back to the ranch.

Dan Allen Nance
Dan Allen Nance

On October 25, 1931 Archie gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, Nancy. Again, they had moved near a doctor but this time to Kerrville which was only 65 miles from the ranch. By this time, they had built a new home on the ranch which was more comfortable and suitable for their growing family. I recall hearing about the larger kitchen with both a wood-burning iron stove and a gas stove. Archie probably enjoyed her better equipped kitchen since cooking for her family was something she absolutely loved.

Nancy Nance at 3 years old
Nancy Nance at 3 years old

In his autobiography, Bennett says that by 1935 living in such a remote area presented a “school problem” for Dan and Nancy. To help remedy this they built a small school house and employed a tutor, Miss Dorothy Sikes, from Center Point, Texas to live in and teach the children. However, as the Depression continued to worsen, home schooling worked for only a short time. They decided to rent a house in Kerrville during the fall and winter so that Dan and Nancy could attend school. Bennett commuted back and forth from town to ranch.

Bennett and Archie’s family continued to grow and on February 22, 1937, their baby girl, Lucy Ann, was born at home in Kerrville. (She was named after Bennett’s mother.) Perhaps it was more common at that time to give birth at home, but it must have required some special preparations and, of course, a doctor who made house calls! In her autobiography, Lucy Nance Croft shares some memories her brother Dan had about her birth.

Lucy Ann Nance at 6 months
Lucy Ann Nance at 6 months

The first thing I can remember about you is Mom’s preparations for your being born at home. At the time it was 925 Myrta Street. Of course, that’s in Kerrville. I remember Mom and her friends obtained a hospital bed somewhere. They made up a lot of absorbent pads. They also had a crib and other things around. I can recall the big event but really not in great detail. (Croft, 7)

In the fall of 1938 there was another move for the Nance family. The school situation again presented a problem and the decision was made to rent a home in San Antonio so that Dan and Nancy could attend better schools. This was a longer commute to the ranch for Bennett but it was necessary.

Continuing to search for a solution to the “school problem,” Bennett and Archie decided to purchase a home and move to Wichita Falls, Texas so that Dan and Nancy could attend school there and Archie would be near her family. Bennett continued to commute to the ranch but says that because he had good help he could stay in Wichita Falls for longer periods of time. However, this changed in 1941 with the advent of World War II. He had to do his part in the war effort by raising food, mohair, and wool. This meant spending more time at the ranch and away from his family. With her husband away for periods of time, Archie must have been happy to be near her family during this time of national and world upheaval.

A very happy event occurred on July 25, 1943, when Bennett and Archie added a beautiful little red haired baby boy, Steven Anthony, to the family! Not long after his birth, the family sold their home in Wichita Falls and moved back to Kerrville. They lived at the ranch for about six months while the house at 901 Myrta Street was being remodeled. During that time, Nancy and Lucy attended a one-room school on the Divide while Dan was enrolled at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri.

Steven Anthony Nance
Steven Anthony Nance

When the Nance family moved into their Kerrville home in early 1944, Archie’s days in the country were over. Though their life was in Kerrville, they would go out to the ranch on occasion until it was sold in 1948. It makes me wonder how Archie felt about all of this change – perhaps a mixture of joy, relief, and nostalgia. In her book, Lucy Nance Croft shares some of her memories of life on the Divide Ranch.

  • The ranch house with a large screened in porch.
  • The rocking chairs on the porch and Daddy holding and rocking me.
  • Daddy teaching me to ride my horse, Tom Thumb, a Shetland pony.
  • Having a pet fawn.
  • Sheep shearing time.
  • Mama cooking on the large, wood-burning iron stove.
  • Swimming in a large water tank.
  • Barbecue suppers when the ranchers and their families from the Divide gathered to visit and break bread.
  • Clothes drying on the clothesline.
  • Playing records on a wind-up “Victrola.”
  • Making blanket houses on the porch and being stung by a scorpion!
  • Mama making clabber and butter in a hand-operated churn.
  • Windmills.
  • The rocky countryside and barbed wire fences.

With their family complete, Bennett and Archie began their life in Kerrville and being a part of this Texas Hill Country community became very important to them. As it turned out, 901 Myrta Street was the Nance home for 47 years. During those many years they lived a full, rich life filled with the joys and sorrows of raising their children and then welcoming grandchildren into their lives. To Denise, Ben, Hank, George, Bennett, Leslie, Lyle, Lloyd, Stephanie, and Laura, they were affectionately called “Mom and Pop.” Nothing pleased Mom more than being with her dear grandchildren and spoiling them a bit with her delicious homemade biscuits! I am sure if asked, each of them would have a story about hanging out in her kitchen.

Bennett and Archie with children for Christmas dinner, circa 1965.
Bennett and Archie with children for Christmas dinner, circa 1965.
Bennett and Archie's grandchildren gathered for Christmas dinner at the "children's table."
Bennett and Archie’s grandchildren gathered for Christmas dinner at the “children’s table.”

Later in their life together, Pop and Mom bought a small country house on 60 acres of land near Leakey, Texas. It was a very pretty property adjacent to Rosetta Nance’s home and very near the Frio River. They called it “El Charco.” Perhaps Pop enjoyed this rustic spot more than Mom, but nevertheless, it provided a little “get-away” for them. It is possible that it reminded them a little of their early days living on the Divide ranch.

House at Rio Frio, Texas. - "El Charco"
House at Rio Frio, Texas. – “El Charco”

In her autobiography, Lucy Nance Croft fondly remembers her mother.

Mama loved to cook! We in the family, children and grandchildren alike, will always picture her spending many hours each day in her kitchen. She knew everyone’s favorite foods and delighted in preparing these special dishes for them. Her specialties included homemade biscuits, lemon cake, sweet potato pie, cornbread, chicken and dumplings, and peach preserves—made from Fredericksburg peaches. She loved the study of nutrition and madesure her meals were not only tasty but healthy as well. She said many times “I plan to die healthy”—and she did!

Another activity my mother enjoyed was sewing. She always kept her sewing machine set up and ready for action. She took pride in her appearance—and ours as well. She had a special knack for repairing, altering, and redoing, so that we all had clothes that were stylish and in great shape. Needlepoint was another of her pleasures, particularly if she was making a pillow or decorative item as a gift for a loved one.

Style, not vanity, was certainly one of Mama’s attributes. She had a real sense of style and quality, and it was important to her that it was reflected in her personal appearance. Her wardrobe included lovely clothes, jewelry, shoes, and purses. Many remember her beautiful steel gray hair and lovely skin.

Archie with daughters, Nancy and Lucy.
Archie with daughters, Nancy and Lucy.

Like my dad, Mama spent many afternoon and evening hours reading. She was a devotee of the Science of Mind Magazine that emphasized the importance of a healthy mind and spiritual growth. Of course, she loved home magazines and books about nutrition and health. She appreciated good music and could play a few tunes on the piano. A favorite leisure activity was listening to recordings of religious or popular songs. Unlike Daddy, she really enjoyed television movies and sporting events such as golf and football.

Church activities were of great interest to Mama, particularly when we were growing up. She attended worship and women’s groups and helped on numerous occasions with church-related dinners and parties. In her later years, she and Daddy enjoyed watching Robert Schuler’s television worship service, The Hour of Power, from the Crystal Cathedral in California. She also liked his books on tape. Unfortunately, one of her unrealized dreams was to attend a service in the cathedral.

Mama was basically a serious-minded woman, but she could enjoy a joke or funny story, unless it was on her! Like most of us, criticism, direct or otherwise, was difficult for her. She was a person of great integrity and honesty and was quite moderate in her tastes, religion, and politics. She valued her family, her religious freedom, and her country. She appreciated and respected the natural world and its beauty and fragility. I believe this was demonstrated in the way she adapted to life on the ranch as a young woman and by her loving care of growing things. She spent hours in her beautiful yard, working to make it more attractive and healthy.

Traveling with Daddy and the family was one of her pleasures, and together they enjoyed the beauty of the United States and Canada. I remember her saying she would love to go to Hawaii, but unfortunately they never got there. Flying was not their favorite means of travel, so that may have been one reason the trip never materialized.

Archie and Bennett celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Archie and Bennett celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mama influenced me in so many ways, and as is so often the case, I did not see it until I was an adult. Each of my children has told me that in certain ways I remind them of “Mom,” as she was known to her grandchildren. I consider that a great compliment, especially when I consider her love of the home and family life; her deep spirituality and Christian faith; the importance she placed on education, reading, and study; the significance she placed on good health as demonstrated in her delicious and nutritious food; her desire to please and, to not only do things right, but to do the right thing; the love of people she exhibited in reaching out to others; and her sense of style and beauty shown in how she cared for herself, her home, and her family. And last but not least, her graciousness and gentleness.(Croft, 32-35)

Archie "Mom" Nance
Archie “Mom” Nance

August 5, 1987 was a very sad day for Bennett Nance and his family – his beloved wife Archie died. Every year Bennett and Archie made a trip to the Rio Grande Valley to check out the cotton crop on their farm. While visiting there in early August, she died without warning. Her funeral was held in Kerrville and her burial at the Sunset Cemetery in Mountain Home.

nance-archie-lebus-grave-marker-monday-october-05-2009

Archie LeBus Nance

Our fondest memories of our mother…Being a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother…A love of cooking and entertaining…Her Loving patience…An enjoyment of sewing and needlework…Her love of reading and study of nutrition…Enjoyment of travel with family around the United States…Collector of photographs, antique glassware, and furniture…Her love of inspirational literature and music.

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo, UT,USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.

Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census,[database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Archie Carlisle LeBus, birth certificate no. 59000, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Archie C. Nance, death certificate no. 06859, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistic, Austin, Texas.

“City of Bonham History,” www.cobon.net/history.htm.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections on My Life, 2007.

Kellner, Marjorie, Project Director, Wagons, Ho! A History of Real County, Texas, Curtis Media, Inc., 1995.

Kerrville Daily Times, Obituary for Archie Nance, August 10, 1987.

Nance, Bennett Allen, Autobiography of Bennett Allen Nance: Rancher in Real County, 1927-1948, 1985. n.p.

Wichita County, marriage license no. 12846, Wichita County Clerk’s Office, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Bonham, Texas,” http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonham,_Texas

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

Archie LeBus Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) archie-lebus-nance-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Marie “Mary” Kram Koenning

Mary Kram with sister, Lena.
Mary Kram with sister, Lena.

Fräulein Marie Kram was born in Germany on September 1, 1886. She was the fifth child of Joseph and Anna Margaretha Kram. There is some information that indicates the family lived in Eichenzell, Hesse, which is located in central Germany.

When Marie or “Mary” was two years old, her family joined many other German immigrants and sailed for America. The New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 record Jos., Marg., Wilh., Emil, Carol., and Maria. They departed from Bremen, Germany on August 1, 1888. Southampton, England was also given as a Port of Departure, so they must have stopped there before heading to the United States. They arrived in New York on August 24, 1888. The ship name was “Trave.”

Trave Passenger Ship
Trave Passenger Ship

Unfortunately, we have no diaries or family records that shed light on Joseph and Margaretha’s reasons for leaving Germany and coming to America, but sometime after their arrival, they headed to Texas. It is likely there were other kin that had settled there. By the time the 1900 United States Federal Census is taken, they are living near Shiner in Lavaca County, Texas and they have two more children. Recorded on the census are: Joseph (46) Anna Margaret (40) Anna (20) William (17) Emil (15) Carolina (14) Marie (13) Charles (11) and Ida (8). Joseph’s occupation was “Farmer” and he indicated he owned the land.

Shiner, Lavaca County was in a part of Texas where numbers of German and Czech immigrants settled. This excerpt from an article entitled “Shiner Facts, Figures and History” gives insight into what was occurring around the time the Kram family settled there.

 After 1870 increasing numbers of Central European immigrants began to settle in the county, displacing many of the original American planters. Over the course of the next two decades many of the county’s large land grants were divided into smaller, self-sustaining units; between 1870 and 1880 the number of farms grew from 905 to 1,925, and by 1890 the figure had risen to 3,062. The new immigrants worked without hired labor, relying on the aid of their families, which made production of cotton-and farming in general- much more profitable than it had been previously. As a result, cotton production increased steadily, from 3,528 bales in 1870 to 9,976 bales in 1880; by 1890 the number had risen to 26,842 bales, and in 1900, 38,349 bales came from the gins. During these years production of many other crops increased similarly, including corn, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, honey, sugarcane, and molasses.

The next record we have of Marie is on the 1910 United States Federal Census. She was still living with her family in Lavaca County. Her oldest sister and brother, Anna and William have left but the Kram family had three more children. Recorded are: Joseph (56) Margstha (50) Emil (20 Caroline (24) Marie (23) Ida (18) Herman (14) Josepha (13) Christina (12) and Louise (8). Note that Margaretha was spelled incorrectly.

A young man by the name of Adolph Henry Koenning lived with his family in Lavaca County, and like Mary he lived on a farm. At some point, he and Mary met and there was a mutual attraction. They began courting and married December 19, 1911 in Lavaca County. We have a wedding photograph of them and Mary is in a lovely dress and veil. The marriage record was signed by an Evangelical Lutheran pastor. (His signature is not decipherable.) The record does not indicate if the ceremony was in a church.

Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning Wedding Day, December 19, 1911, Lavaca County, Texas
Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning Wedding Day, December 19, 1911, Lavaca County, Texas

We are not certain if Adolph continued helping on his father’s farm immediately after he and Mary married. Chances are he did. Nevertheless, they did not wait long to start a family. In 1912 they had their first child, Victor, and one year after that Gertrude Kathlena was born on August 17, 1913. Another son, Melvin H., was born September 30, 1915.

Koenning children Gertrude, Victor and Melvin.
Koenning children Gertrude, Victor and Melvin.

Adolph’s World War I Draft Registration Card shows us that he was no longer farming when he recorded the information in 1918. He gave his occupation as “Merchant.” This is only a supposition, but perhaps he felt he could not provide for his wife and three small children by working as a farm laborer.

When the 1920 United States Federal Census was taken the Adolph, Mary, and their three children were living in the town of Taylor in Williamson County. They were residing in a rental home and Adolph recorded his occupation “Auto agent.” History tells us that the years following World War I were difficult for many people in America. We do not know why Adolph and Mary chose to move to this area, but more than likely it was because that is where Adolph found work.

As an adult Adolph and Mary’s daughter, Gertie, shared memories of her youth with her children, L.K. and Cynthia, and many of these memories were about the dire circumstances in which her family lived during the 1920’s. She spoke of how her family “picked up stakes” and moved to California. We know from family data that Mary’s parents, Joe and Margaretha Kram, moved there before 1920, so perhaps having some family out west drew them in that direction. More than anything else it was probably Adolph’s hope for better employment opportunities.

We have heard from family lore that life did not get much easier for Adolph and Mary in California. Information gleaned from census records indicates that other Koenning and Kram family members were living in California, so perhaps having a large extended family was a support and comfort during hard times. Nevertheless, life circumstances took a bitter turn when Mary became quite ill and died at the young age of 42 on April 30, 1929 in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California. She was buried in Park View Cemetery in Manteca, San Joaquin County.

Note: The death year differs on Mary’s tombstone and her death certificate – The tombstone reads 1928 and the death certificate states 1929. I opted to use the date on the death certificate. Perhaps the tombstone was placed at a much later time by a relative and the death certificate was not available.

Mary’s son Melvin shared this memory of his mother and might serve as her obituary.

 Even though she was German, she had an Irish temper, mad as a hornet one minute and laughing the next! koenning-mary

 Sources

Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database online] Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census, (database online) Provo UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, (database online) Provo UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census,({database online) Provo UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Koenning, Melvin, Personal Family Recollections.

Lavaca County, marriage record, Lavaca County Clerk’s Office, Hallettsville, Texas.

Mary Koenning, death certificate no. 29-024325, State of California, Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.

“Shiner Facts, Figures and History,” www.shinertx.com/facts.htm.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Mary Kram Pedigree Chart (click link) mary-kram-pedigree-chart-scan0001

 

 

Adolph Henry Koenning

Adolph Henry Koenning
Adolph Henry Koenning

When Adolph Henry Koenning was born in Shiner, Lavaca County, Texas, he was among many first generation German-Americans in this small town in south central Texas. He made his appearance on October 3, 1882 and was the first child of Joachim and Helene Wemken Koenning. Shiner was a ranching and farming community and a draw for German and Czech immigrants in the late 19th Century.

Since the 1890 United States Federal Census is not available, the first time we find a record for Adolph was on the 1900 census. Joachim and Helene had added considerably to their family since his birth in 1882. Beside Adolph, they had six more children. Their name is spelled incorrectly on the census, but I feel certain that Joachem Hoenning (42) was our ancestor. Listed with him are: Helena (39) Aolf (17) Frieda (15) Heinrich (13) Louis (11) Olga (9) Minnie and (8) Rudolph (5). Joachim and his son, Adolph, recorded their occupations as “Farmer” and “Farm laborer” respectively. Even though the other children were in school, it is likely they helped with the farm chores at an early age.

By the time the 1910 United States Federal Census was taken, Adolph was continuing to live with his parents on the family farm and working as a “Farm laborer.” Two of his sisters, Frieda and Olga, were not listed since they had married and begun households of their own. Along with Adolph, the other children listed are Henry A., Louis J., Minnie, Rudolph W., and another son named Walter P., age 9. More than likely life on the family farm for this immigrant family was a hard scrabble one with full participation of all the children.

At some point, Adolph met an attractive German-American girl named Marie or “Mary” Kram. Her parents were Joseph and Anna Margaretha Kram. She and her family emigrated from Germany to America in 1888 when she was only 2 years old. Adolph and Mary courted for a time and married December 19, 1911 in Lavaca County. We have a wedding photograph of them, and Mary wore a lovely dress and veil. The marriage record was signed by an Evangelical Lutheran pastor. (His signature is not legible.) The record does not indicate if the ceremony was in a church.

Marriage record for Adolph Koenning and Mary Kram.
Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning Wedding Day, December 19, 1911, Lavaca County, Texas
Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning Wedding Day, December 19, 1911, Lavaca County, Texas

We are not certain if Adolph continued working on his father’s farm immediately after his marriage. Chances are he did. Nevertheless, they did not wait long to start a family. In 1912 they had their first child, Victor, and one year after that Gertrude Kathlena was born on August 17, 1913. Another son, Melvin H., was born September 30, 1913.

Adolph’s World War I Draft Registration Card shows that he was no longer farming when he recorded the information in 1918. He gives his occupation as “Merchant.” This is only a supposition, but perhaps he could not provide for his wife and three small children by working as a farm laborer. See Adolph Koenning WW I Draft Registration (click link) adolph-koenning-ww-i-draft-card-scan0001.

When the 1920 United States Federal Census was taken the Koenning family was living in the town of Taylor in Williamson County, Texas. They were residing in a rental home and Adolph recorded his occupation “Auto agent.” We do not know why Adolph and Mary chose to move to this area, but more than likely it was because Adolph was able to find work there.

Koenning children (L-R) Melvin, Gertrude and Victor.
Koenning children (L-R) Melvin, Gertrude and Victor.

As an adult Adolph’s daughter, Gertie, shared memories of her youth with her children, L.K. and Cynthia, and many of these memories were about the dire circumstances in which her family lived during the 1920’s. She spoke of how her family “picked up stakes” and moved to California. We know from family data that Adolph’s father-in-law and mother-in-law, Joe and Margaretha Kram, moved there before 1920, so perhaps having some family out west drew them in that direction. However, more than anything else it was probably Adolph’s hope for better employment opportunities.

Unfortunately life did not get much better in California for the Koenning family. It became even more difficult and sad with the death of Mary on April 30, 1929 in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California. This had a terrible impact on Adolph, Vick, Gertie, and Mel.

By 1930, Adolph (46), Gertie (17), and Mel (14) are living in New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas. According to the 1930 United States Federal Census they resided in a rental house on East San Antonio Street. Adolph’s occupation was given as “Salesman” in retail industry, general merchandise.

Evidently they did not live in New Braunfels for any length of time. From Gertrude’s high school transcript we find that she enrolled in Thomas Jefferson High School in May 1930. This high school is located in San Antonio, Texas. The transcript also gave her address as 1924 Magnolia Street, San Antonio and her father’s occupation as “Coffee Salesman.” Adolph and his children must have liked San Antonio because his traveling days were over. He stayed here for the rest of his life.

Adolph with sons, Melvin and Victor.
Adolph with sons, Melvin and Victor.

Family anecdotes are always treasured. Adolph’s son wrote this about his father.

Adolph Henry Koenning was born on a farm near Shiner, Texas. He had reddish-auburn hair and green, hazel eyes that crinkled when he smiled. He loved sports and watched soft ball games every night at San Pedro Park, San Antonio, during the season. He always hid gum in his pockets for the grandchildren to find when he visited.

When asked about his grandfather, Adolph Koenning, L.K. Croft shares these few memories.

Because he was small in stature, we called him ‘Little Granddad.”…He was a man of quiet demeanor…Little Granddad must have cared about his appearance because I recall he always dressed nice – especially when he joined us for Sunday dinner…I remember that he was a carpenter and kept his tools organized and placed on his garage wall…His oldest son, Victor, took Little Granddad ‘under wing.’ In fact, he lived in a small apartment behind Victor’s house.

Cynthia Croft with her "Little Granddad."
Cynthia Croft with her “Little Granddad.”

Adolph Henry Koenning died on November 30, 1948 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. He was buried in Mission Burial Park South.

adolph-h-koenning-gravestone-img_0324

Sources

Adolph H. Koenning, death certificate no. 46011, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Adolph H. Koenning, obituary, San Antonio Express News, November 30, 1948.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census, (database online) Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, (database online) Provo UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census (database online), Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, (database online) Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Croft, Lloyd Koenning, Personal Family Recollections,  lkcroft@gvtc.com

Koenning, Melvin, Personal Family Recollections.

Lavaca County, marriage record, Lavaca County Clerk’s Office, Hallettsville, Texas.

Mary Koenning, death certificate no. 29-024325, State of California, Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.

“Shiner, Lavaca County, Texas, <http://www.txgenweb2.org/txlavaca/shiner.htm>

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft 2011

Adolph H. Koenning Pedigree Chart (click link) adolph-h-koenning-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Adolph H. Koenning Family Group Sheet (click link) adolph-h-koenning-fgs

Gertrude Kathlena Koenning Croft

Gertrude Kathlena Koenning Croft
Gertrude Kathlena Koenning Croft

Gertrude Kathlena Koenning’s story begins August 17, 1913 in the little town of Shiner, Texas, located in Lavaca County. Both of her parents, Adolph Henry and Marie “Mary” Kram Koenning, were of German ancestry. Gertrude or “Gertie” was their second child, born about one year after her brother Victor. After the little burg of Shiner got its start in 1887, it soon became the home of many German and Czech immigrants with farming and ranching the primary industries. Of course, today it is well known for Shiner Bock Beer produced by the K. Spoetzl Brewery.

The Koenning family stayed in Shiner for about 7 more years. During that time they had their third child, Melvin, on September 30, 1915. As a boy, Adolph helped on his father’s farm, but evidently he did not continue in farming. On his World War I Draft Registration Card, he gives his occupation as “Merchant.” This is only a supposition, but perhaps he felt he could not provide for his wife and three small children by working as a farm laborer.

Gertrude with brothers, Victor and Melvin.
Gertrude with brothers, Victor and Melvin.

When the 1920 United States Federal Census was taken, the Koenning family lived in the town of Taylor in Williamson County. They resided in a rental home and Adolph recorded his occupation “Auto agent.” History tells us that the years following World War I were difficult for many people in America. We do not know why Adolph and Mary chose to move to this area, but more than likely, it was because that is where he found work.

As an adult Gertie shared memories of her youth with her children, L.K. and Cynthia, and many of these memories were about the dire circumstances in which her family lived during the 1920’s. She spoke of how her family “picked up stakes” and moved to California. We know from family data that Gertie’s maternal grandparents, Joe and Margaretha Kram, and eight of their children, moved there before 1920. It is likely that having family out west drew them in that direction. More than anything else, I think it was the hope for better employment opportunities.

Unfortunately, life did not get much better in California for the Koenning family. It became even more difficult and sad with the death of Gertie’s mother Mary on April 30, 1929 in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California. This had a terrible impact on Adolph, Vick, Gertie, and Mel. Here are some of Gertie’s recollections of that time and shared by her daughter, Cynthia.

 Mom’s mom (Mary) died of uterine cancer when Mother was only 15. Little granddad (Adolph) was a carpenter who hauled the 3 kids from California to Texas and back to California again several times. Mother did all the cooking and house work. Once she was old enough, she canned spinach in a California factory. She would never eat canned spinach after that!

By 1930 Adolph (46), Gertie (17), and Mel (14) were living in New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas. According to the 1930 United States Federal Census they resided in a rental house on East San Antonio Street. Adolph’s occupation was given as “salesman” in retail industry, general merchandise.

Evidently they did not live in New Braunfels for any length of time. Gertrude enrolled in Thomas Jefferson High School in May 1930. This high school is located in San Antonio, Texas. Her high school transcript shows they received her records from schools in both Modesto, California and New Braunfels, Texas. The transcript also gave her address as 1924 Magnolia Street, San Antonio and her father’s occupation as “coffee salesman.” Gertie graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School on June 1, 1933. Gertie’s daughter, Cynthia, shared this anecdote about her mother during this time.

 During the depression, when she was a student at Jefferson, she was elected cheerleader but had to bow out because they couldn’t afford the uniform. She was a real looker – nick-named “Venus” by one of her boyfriends.

Speaking of boyfriends – it was at Thomas Jefferson High School that she met a very special boy named Lloyd Croft. They began dating, and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.” During the next few years the relationship gradually grew more serious. A year after “Gertie” graduated from Jefferson High School, they married. The ceremony took place on February 9, 1934 at the Austin Street Methodist Church in Seguin, Texas with the Reverend L.J. Rode officiating.

Lloyd and Gertrude Croft
Lloyd and Gertrude Croft

Both Lloyd and Gertie grew up in quite modest homes, so having to eke out a living those first few years of married life was not new to either of them. Gertie’s brother, Mel Koenning, was a photographer with the San Antonio Light newspaper and helped Lloyd get a paper route. For several years he delivered newspapers to residential customers. Gertie worked as a clerk at Woolworth’s. Those were meager times, indeed.

Nevertheless, Lloyd and Gertie had many joy-filled times, too. One very happy occasion was the birth of their son, Lloyd Koenning, on February 12, 1935. They decided to call him by his initials – “L.K.” One time Lloyd told L.K. that his birth was their first wedding anniversary gift!

Lloyd and Gertrude with baby L.K., 1935.
Lloyd and Gertrude with baby L.K., 1935.

In 1937 Lloyd embarked on a new venture, and though he did not know it at the time, his life and fortune were about to change. He and his parents, O.C. and Ethel Croft, founded the Croft Trailer Company at 1423 North Flores Street in San Antonio. Through the next years, the company became quite successful and eased the family’s financial stress.

Just as the San Antonio business developed and expanded, Lloyd and Gertie’s family life also blossomed and changed. To their delight Lloyd and Gertie’s became parents again when their daughter Cynthia Elaine was born on October 17, 1940.

Lloyd, Gertrude, L.K. and baby Cynthia, 1940.
Lloyd, Gertrude, L.K. and baby Cynthia, 1940.

During the next years much of Lloyd’s time and energies were consumed by his business while Gertie tended to their home and the needs and interests of L.K. and Cynthia. Normally as children grow and mature, there is an increased involvement in school, church, and community activities, and that was certainly true for the Crofts. Both Lloyd and Gertie did their part in assuring that L.K. and Cynthia lived a full life in a healthy and wholesome home environment.

In her autobiography Lucy Ann Nance Croft wrote about her mother-in-law and the impact she made on her life.

 I have known few people who had as captivating a smile as Mother. Of all her endearing qualities, her smile revealed her scintillating personality and inner-loveliness. She was a loving and lovable woman.

Gertrude and Lloyd Croft
Gertrude and Lloyd Croft

When I joined the Croft family, I immediately felt Mother’s warmth and charm. As a new daughter-in-law, I found it comforting to be so well accepted. For the most part this was because of Mother. Also, I knew that L.K. and his mother had an unusually close mother-son relationship, and for many this might have presented problems. I can honestly say that this was never a threat to me.

Another astounding aspect of Mother’s personality was her openness and honesty. I had come from a reserved family, and sharing feelings was (and still is) difficult for me, so to be around a woman who was comfortable doing that was a new experience. In fact, if I ever envied anything it was her ability to “bear her soul” with such ease.

Like Father, Mother was very outgoing and friendly. With that contagious smile and her sparkling dark eyes, she found that people gravitated to her. I am sure, however, that it was more than her amicable manner that attracted those around her. It had to be her warmth and sensitivity that made everyone feel comfortable, accepted, and safe. She was never intimidating in any way. Family and close friends were most important to her, and she was forever doing considerate things for them. She was particularly thoughtful of other people’s birthdays and anniversaries and loved sending a card or a personal note. I think that there is an art to writing a good letter, and Mother had mastered it. When you received a letter from her, you felt as if she was right there talking to you. Little did she know she was practicing what has almost become a lost art—particularly in this age of e-mail and cell phones.

Looking good was important to Trudy Croft. She was not a vain person, but she worked on maintaining both good health and appearance. Her lovely smile and dark eyes, a slim figure, and her gracefulness contributed to her beauty. But she liked to “help nature out” with her great sense of style and flair in her choice of clothes, the way she wore her hair and applied makeup, and how she carried herself. There was an air of youthfulness and energy about her. A habit she maintained throughout her life was an afternoon nap. Undoubtedly, that daily routine revived her and helped preserve her natural loveliness.

Gertie striking a pose!
Gertie striking a pose!

I suppose we all think that our own mother’s cooking was the best. But when L.K. brags about his mother’s culinary skills, it is definitely the truth. I came to marriage knowing my way around the kitchen, but I learned so much from Mother. Perhaps it was because I knew L.K. had certain favorites and I wanted to learn her little “tricks,” but nevertheless I really enjoyed her sharing ideas and recipes. Her Germanic heritage probably inspired her love of baking. L.K. recalls that two of his favorites were Boston cream pie and her chocolate sheet cake, which is, as they say, “to die for.” Of course, she made all her family’s favorites, but she also enjoyed trying new recipes and always seemed to have one to share. One thing I admired was the way she organized her meals by cooking ahead and freezing certain dishes. She was able to enjoy the fun of a dinner or celebration without a lot of hassle.

Since I have become a grandparent, it has made me think back to the time when our children were born and how much it meant to have the support and love of our parents. During those years, we were not living close to either of our families, so we had to travel to see each other. I realize now how difficult it must have been for them to visit their grandchildren so infrequently. Because of this, Mother gave us a movie camera (this was before the days of video cameras) and encouraged us to document all the children’s ages and stages.

Our daughter, Leslie, was Mother and Father’s first grandchild, and how they adored her. Mother was not the hovering type, nor was she one to give a lot of advice unless asked. In her gentle, quiet manner, she bonded with Leslie, and then later with Lyle and Lloyd. When we would visit, she would have little gifts or treats for each of them. One thing Leslie loved was sitting on the vanity stool beside Grandmother to play “makeup.” Mother gave her a little bottle or would let her powder her face or put on some lipstick. Leslie loved it—and Mother did, too. You would hear them giggling and having a wonderful time.

Mother was born on August 17, 1913, in Shiner, Texas, and was of German heritage. I remember how proud she was of that. There had been only a limited amount of research into her family’s genealogy, but she liked to remind us that one of her ancestors was a German baron. She got a kick out of that. Roots were important to her.

Mother’s early life had been a struggle. She was only fifteen years old when her mother died. As it turned out, she became a surrogate mother for her two brothers, Vic and Mel. It all happened during the Depression of the 1920s, so times were very hard for her family. This impacted her life in many ways. In fact, as a consequence she developed insecurities and emotional problems that she had to deal with her entire life. On the other hand, she also had a great strength of character that was demonstrated in her life as a wife, mother, and friend.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)

It seems to me that how one lives their religion is a real measure of their spirituality. This was made real to me as I shared in Mother’s life. How she treated people and responded to their needs with sincerity and sensitivity, and how she grappled with life and its overwhelming obstacles was unmistakable evidence of a deep faith. Her kind, gentle, unselfish ways made an indelible impression on me. I cherish my memories of this loving, lovable woman. Mother died by her own hand on January 5, 1977. (Croft, 40-42)

Note: Gertrude Koenning Croft was buried in the mausoleum at Mission Park North, San Antonio, Texas.

                                        Sources

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database online], Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

Gertrude Kathlina Koenning, birth certificate no. 9235, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Gertrude Kathlina Croft, death certificate no. 00250, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Gertrude Koenning, student transcription, Jefferson High School, San Antonio Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas.

Guadalupe County, marriage record, Guadalupe County Clerk’s Office, Seguin, Texas.

Mary Koenning, death certificate no. 29-024325, State of California, Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.

“Shiner, Lavaca County, Texas” http://www.txgenweb2.org/txlavaca/shiner.htm

Wood, Cynthia Croft, “Personal Recollections of Croft Family,” clebleuwood@gmail.com

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Gertrude Koenning Pedigree Chart (click link) gertrude-koenning-pedigree-chart-scan0001

 

Ancestry of Archie Carlisle LeBus

George and Ethel LeBus with family at the "Big House" in Wichita Falls, Texas, early 1940's.
George and Ethel LeBus with family at the “Big House” in Wichita Falls, Texas, early 1940’s.

The family name of LeBus is much less common than the Nance surname. The family line that is included in this work is as follows: George Franklin LeBus and Ethel Cleora Calk; John Blackburn LeBus and Lucy Ann Leyburn; and Andrew Morandus LeBus and Margaret Simington.

Fortunately, we have some data on the origin of this LeBus family line. Frank Blackburn LeBus, son of George Franklin and Ethel LeBus, found information that Andrew Morandus LeBus immigrated from the Alsace-Lorraine region of Europe. The information was received in a letter to Frank LeBus from Eugen Hubschwerlen, Burgermeister of Largitzen, France on Februrary 8, 1937.

Related surnames included in this research include: Calk, Daniels, Irving, Larrimore, Leyburn, Simington and Titsworth.

Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2014

Pictured are: (Seated L-R) Hazel LeBus Grizzle, Ethel, George, Ethel Marie LeBus, Archie LeBus Nance. (Standing L-R) Homer Grizzle, Laura V. LeBus Knight, C.D. Knight, Paul Bilbrey, Irene LeBus Bilbrey, Frank LeBus, Genie Cox LeBus, Roy LeBus, Lavina Taylor LeBus, Bennett Nance, Louise Latham LeBus and G.F. LeBus.

 

Ancestry of Gertrude Kathlena Koenning

The great grandparents and grandparents of Gertrude Kathlena Koenning were German immigrants. Both Joachim and Helene Wemken Koenning emigrated from Germany with their families, the Koenning’s in 1873 and the Wemken’s in 1870. Joseph, Anna Klüch Kram and children arrived in the United States in 1888.

As a novice family researcher, I realized early on I would need assistance researching their German ancestry. In 2007, I engaged the services of Suzanne Bettac, a professional genealogist and specialist in the German ancestry research. With the assistance of Suzanne Bettac, other family researchers and my own delving, I have documented four generations of Gertrude’s ancestry. There are certainly areas that need further study, but this book is my “report” on work accomplished, as of 2015.

Using christening records for Joachim, William and Caroline, as well as the naturalization records of two of their sons, John and William, we determined that Johann and Dorothea Könning/Koenning lived in Brandenburg, Germany. Though we have no immigration record, it is believed they departed Germany with their three children from the Port of Bremen and arrived in the Port of Galveston, Texas in 1873. Some family members think they may have arrived at Indianola, Texas.

Note: Due to the hurricane of 1900, there are no passenger lists for the Port of Galveston before 1892. The same is true of Indianola. The town was never rebuilt following a hurricane in August 1886.

Alerd and Caroline Wilhelmine Wemken immigrated to America with their five children on the SS New York, leaving from the port of Bremen and arriving at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana on February 12, 1870.

Joseph and Anna Margaretha Klüch Kram departed from the Port of Bremen and arrived in the Port of New York, August 24, 1888. By 1900, they were living in Lavaca County, Texas.

The focus of this book is Lloyd and Gertrude Koenning Croft; Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning; Joachim “Joe” and Helene Wemken Koenning; and John F. and Dorothea Berger Koenning.

Other surnames include: Berger, Klüch/Kluck, Kram, Stratmann and Wemken.

Variations in the spelling of Koenning include Kenning, Koenig, Koening, Koning and Könning. The meaning of the name is probably a respelling of Dutch Koenning, either from koning “king” or a derivative of Koen, or of German Könning.

The great grandparents and grandparents of Gertrude Kathlena Koenning were German immigrants. Both Joachim and Helene Wemken Koenning emigrated from Germany with their families, the Koenning’s in 1873 and the Wemken’s in 1870. Joseph, Anna Klüch Kram and children arrived in the United States in 1888.

As a novice family researcher, I realized early on I would need assistance researching their German ancestry. In 2007, I engaged the services of Suzanne Bettac, a professional genealogist and specialist in the German ancestry research. With the assistance of Suzanne Bettac, other family researchers and my own delving, I have documented four generations of Gertrude’s ancestry. There are certainly areas that need further study, but this book is my “report” on work accomplished, as of 2015.

Using christening records for Joachim, William and Caroline, as well as the naturalization records of two of their sons, John and William, we determined that Johann and Dorothea Könning/Koenning lived in Brandenburg, Germany. Though we have no immigration record, it is believed they departed Germany with their three children from the Port of Bremen and arrived in the Port of Galveston, Texas in 1873. Some family members think they may have arrived at Indianola, Texas.

Note: Due to the hurricane of 1900, there are no passenger lists for the Port of Galveston before 1892. The same is true of Indianola. The town was never rebuilt following a hurricane in August 1886.

Alerd and Caroline Wilhelmine Wemken immigrated to America with their five children on the SS New York, leaving from the port of Bremen and arriving at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana on February 12, 1870.

Joseph and Anna Margaretha Klüch Kram departed from the Port of Bremen and arrived in the Port of New York, August 24, 1888. By 1900, they were living in Lavaca County, Texas.

The focus of this book is Lloyd and Gertrude Koenning Croft; Adolph and Mary Kram Koenning; Joachim “Joe” and Helene Wemken Koenning; and John F. and Dorothea Berger Koenning.

Other surnames include: Berger, Kluch/Kluck, Kram, Stratmann and Wemken.

Variations in the spelling of Koenning include Kenning, Koenig, Koening, Koning and Könning. The meaning of the name is probably a respelling of Dutch Koening, either from koning “king” or a derivative of Koen, or of German Könning. (www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surnames=koenning)

 

The Koenning, Wemken and Kram families come to America from Germany.
The Koenning, Wemken and Kram families come to America from Germany.