Luther Vining


My great-uncle, Luther Vining was born on November 5, 1889, in Neodesha in Wilson County, Kansas. His father, Henry Vining, was 52 and his mother, Nancy Jane Babcock Vining, was 38. Luther was only 8 years old when his father died, leaving Nancy to raise 10 children by taking in laundry.

In 1900, Luther was 10 years old and they all lived with his 27 year old half-brother, Isaac Ashlock, in Independence, Kansas. By the 1910 census, 20 year old Luther had left home.

Luther Vining in 1912 with horses. (photo belongs to Bob Harlan)

Luther Vining in 1912 with horses. (photo belongs to Bob Harlan)

The photo above shows him in Taney County, Missouri and is dated 1912. The companion photo shows him with an axe making ties such as are used for railroad tracks. It looks like very hard work.

Luther Vining logging in the Ozarks.

Luther Vining logging in the Ozarks.

We next find him in the 1915 South Dakota census. It says he married in 1911 but is now divorced. On 26 October 1915, he married Josephine B Patton and they had four sons and two daughters together between 1917 and 1927.

Luther Vining and his wife, Josephine (Patton)

Luther Vining and his wife, Josephine (Patton)

Later in 1917 or 1918, he registered for the World War I draft at Esmond, Kingsbury, South Dakota. His work is listed as carpenter. The form asks if he has any disability and he wrote in “rupture,” which may have kept him from being called up. His younger brother, Albert, served in the army.

In 1920, Luther Vining was 30 years old and lived in the Patton house in Esmond, South Dakota with his wife, Josephene, 1 son, and Josephine’s 79-year-old father. They ran a pool hall, cafe, cream station. A cream station is where the farmers bring their cream.

The 1930 census shows Luther Vining was 48 years old and lived in Yamhill, Oregon with his wife, Josephine, 3 sons, and 2 daughters. The next year, his wife died, so Luther took the family back to Kansas. The middle son Donald lived for his teen years with Luther’s brother Albert Vining in Tyro, Kansas.

Lucille and Milford (Luther Vining's children)

Lucille and Milford (Luther Vining’s children)

Luther went to Canada to visit his half-brother, Isaac Ashlock. When Isaac died, Luther married his widow, Ora May Keeling in 1945 and they returned to Kansas. Later they divorced. Ora married a third time (Earl Nellis) and lived to the age of 93.

Luther died on August 10, 1948, in Arkansas City, Kansas, at the age of 58.

(photos from the McGhee family archives, shared with me by my cousin Bob)

Here’s Luther’s daughter, Lucile, in 1935. Thanks, Karen, for reminding me of this picture.

Twyla Yeager, Melba and Gail McGhee, Lucile Vining in 1935 in Woodward, Oklahoma.

Twyla Yeager, Melba and Gail McGhee, Lucile Vining in 1935 in Woodward, Oklahoma.

4 thoughts on “Luther Vining

  1. Very well done! That particular branch of Mom’s family is hard to keep straight and this does a fine job of doing just that. There is a photo of his daughters Evelyn and Lucille with mom and her sister Melba (Bob Harlan’s mother) when they lived with the Clarence and Ruth McGhee family in Madison, Kansas, as teenagers after their mother died. Ruth was Luther’s youngest sister.


      • Hmmm, I can’t find it stored on my computer, but the one I’m thinking of is on page 44 of My Flint Hills Childhood, as part of the story “Homemade Love.” The photo doesn’t include Evelyn as I thought it did; it’s cousins Twyla Yeager (May Vining’s youngest daughter), sisters Melba and Gail McGhee, and Lucile Vining (Luther’s daughter). The photo was taken on a 1935 visit to Woodward, Oklahoma, to visit Ruth Vining McGhee’s sister Mae (May?) Vining Yeager and her family. When I was looking for that photo on my computer, I came across another one that I’m pretty sure was taken at the same time–same tree, same house, with 5 of the Vining sisters: Belle, Sylvia (Lauer), May, Lucy, and Ruth. I’ll send you a copy.

        Mom (Gail) writes in My Flint Hills Childhood: “That was the year when my cousins, Evelyn and Lucile Vining, lived with us for awhile.”


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