Lillian Belle Vining


My Grandmother’s Sister – Belle

ruth on left and sister belle vining
The photo shows my grandmother, Ruth Vining, in about 1918 with her older sister Belle (on the right). Belle’s full name was Lillian Belle Vining.
Belle was born on September 14, 1884, in Kansas City, Missouri. Her father, Henry, was 46 and her mother, Nancy Jane Babcock, was 33. Lillian Belle had seven brothers and eight sisters. Three of those were half-siblings from her mother’s first marriage to Burr Ashlock.
When she was 12 when her youngest sister, Ruth, was born. A month later, their father died of typhus, leaving the family on hard times.
The 1900 U.S. census shows when Belle Vining was 15 years old, the family lived in Independence, Kansas. Before that, they are in Thayer, Neodesha, and Chetopa, Kansas. I don’t know what reasons led them to move around.

Belle’s Marriages

In researching her life, I found she was married 3 times. The first time to Charles Williams, then to Orville Espie Brock, and lastly to Monte Scollins.
Charles and Belle Williams had three children; a daughter, Jesse, and sons Leonard and Francis.
belle marries windy williams

Charles “Windy” Williams and Belle Vining marry in Independence and will live in Neodesha. He is working at Gudge s confectionery store.

In my mother’s notes, she said the family thought Belle had divorced Charles Williams. After sleuthing about I found this November 1907 story.

WILSON COUNTY, Big Hill Murderers Captured.

The bandits who so brutally shot down Otis Taylor and O. J. Brown on the morning of July 16 while all were on a Frisco freight train near the Big Hill station have been caught and are now in jail at Independence. One is a negro named Charles Scott and the other a white man named Williams. The capture of these criminals is due to the vigilance of Sheriff Paxson who has been working continually on the case since the crimes were committed. Scott, the negro, has been in Independence for about six weeks. Three weeks ago this morning Paxon arrested him and he has been in jail ever since.

He has been severely “sweated” and finally divulged the name of his companion and Paxson got a line on him, Williams, nearly a month ago. He was finally run down and arrested in the Glass Mountains of Oklahoma by Paxson Saturday. Paxson rode 40 miles with him to a railroad station and came to Independence reaching there early this morning. Williams confessed the whole story to Paxson and related the details of the murder of tbe two young men who were returning from the Western Kansas harvest fields. According to Williams, he and Scott took the train at Neodesha and held up a number of harvesters on the train between. Neodesha and Oherryvale and after the train left the station here they attempted to take the money belonging to Taylor and Brown who put up a fight and Williams and Scott shot them down, alighted from the train and escaped.

They headed for Independence, passing Cherryvale below the Union Brick Plant. They look a Mo. Pacific train at Independence. Scott went to Little Rock and Williams to Oklahoma and they have been fugitives ever since until their capture as stated above.

Sheriff Paxson will receive $700 reward for the capture of these desperate men. The reward is made up as follows: $400 by the state, $200 by Labette county and $100 by the father ot Otis Taylor. Sheriff Holmes passed through Cherryvale Monday enroute to Independence to get these criminals Warrants charging each with first degree murder will be served on them and they will be given trial in the district court at Oswego. No small measure of credit is due Mr. Paxson for capturing these desperadoes. The crime was committed in Labette county but the officers of that county failed to capture the criminals, this work being done by Paxson and to him belongs the credit of capturing two desperate criminals.

The killing of Taylor and Brown in an attempt to rob them of their hard-earned. money was one of the most wanton murders ever committed in Southeastern Kansas and the penalties should, and no doubt will be, severe. – Cherryvale Republican.

We are informed that the Williams above mentioned as being one of the Big Hill murderers is “Windy” Williams, son of C. P. Williams, who some time ago ran the Frisco restaurant in Neodesha, but who, it is said, now lives at Hanna, Mo. .

A Nov. 20th article yielded a further tidbit of information. I’d wondered if the claim mentioned was the Vining frame/sod house in Woodward County, Oklahoma. A later article said he was apprehended in the Glass Mountain area.
“Windy” is married and has several children. He was living with his family on a claim in Oklahoma when arrested. The negro, Scott, is a well known Independence tough character who has had a police court record there since he was a mere lad. “Windy” got acquainted with the negro while a member of the Salvation Army at Independence. Both Williams and Scott are sure to go to the penitentiary for life.
The newspapers took an interest in the crime and kept providing more details. Here are some excerpts from a Nov. 28th article.
The confessions of both men tell of the cold-blooded crime from a criminal’s standpoint and in the language of a criminal. Not a single detail of the mur der near Cherry vale was left out They told of their start at Neodesha, when Scott proposed that they “ride the deck” of the freight. They tell of -meeting the two men on the train, of the conversation, of the hurriedly laid plot to hold them up and if need be shoot them. They tell of the quarrel and how when Williams was being hard pressed by Brown, he called for Scott , to shoot him.
To see him (Williams) in his cell and hear him talk, the average man would never dream of his having been a murderer and desperado. He has a dissipated look, but his size and attitude would not lead one to believe him a desperate man. Williams jests when the story he is telling is one of horror. He is a criminal and bears all the earmarks. Of the two confessions Williams’ seems to be the more cold-blooded.

The Evening Star Independence, Kansas 20 Nov 1907, Wed • Page 4

Williams was convicted and went to Lansing prison. After five years, his father petitioned for his release. Apparently, that was unsuccessful as he was still there in July of 1914 when he and 3 others escaped from the prison. The men made their escape by crawling through a seventy-yard tunnel into the enclosure of the women’s ward and then over the 40-foot wall with the aid of a rope and grab hook.” The article called him Charles Williams #2, so there were two men of the same name in Lansing at the same time.
I’m still searching for any information on a divorce by his wife. His date and place of death are also unknown.
By 1910, Belle is married to Orville Espie Brock and they have a son, Albert Ernest Brock, born in August. Her three children from the earlier marriage are there as well. Belle and Orville are together it seems until 1918 as she is listed as his contact on his draft registration form.
He is described as a farmer, with brown hair and eyes, tall and having a medium build. They lived in Woodward, Oklahoma.
I don’t have a photo of her second husband, Orville, but do have a picture of baby Albert.
albert brock son of belle vining
By 1930, Orville and Belle are divorced and she is married to her last husband, Frances Montgomery Scollins. They are living on a farm in Woodward, Oklahoma. The children are grown and out of the home.

Lillian Belle and Montgomery Scollins

Belle died July 25, 1960, in Wichita, Kansas at the age of 75. Monte had died 8 years earlier.


  • “Charles “Windy” Williams marries Belle Vining” – Neodesha Register, Neodesha, Kansas, Fri, Nov 07, 1902 · Page 1
  • “Big Hill Murders Captured” – Neodesha Register, Neodesha, Kansas, 22 Nov 1907, Fri • Page 1
  • “Confess Murder” – The Altamont Journal, Altamont, Kansas, 28 Nov 1907, Thu • Page 1
  • Reward Raised after Escape of 4 Men – The Leavenworth Post, Leavenworth, Kansas, 01 Aug 1914, Sat • Page 1

Reunion – 71 Years Ago


Seventy-one years ago in July, the McGhee family gathered for a reunion. Thank goodness, someone labeled the photos or I never would have figured out the people in this photo.

1948 mcghee reunion ruth dora

July 1948 – McGhee family reunion

Even with the names, I’m hard put to match them up. I’ll have to put our Facebook cousins group to work figuring out this one.

The casual pose captures the relaxed camaraderie of siblings and their offspring gathered together.  Boards resting on barrels serve as tables with a checked table cloth to dress them up. The glass pitcher is probably filled with freshly-squeezed lemonade. The plate on the grass appears to have sandwiches on it. I’m sure there was fried chicken, potato salad, and baked beans too.

1948 mcghee reunion1948 mcghee reunion 2

The women are wearing dresses and the men have slacks and long-sleeved shirts. This is probably Kansas and therefore quite hot in July. It was a more formal time and the attire is what was appropriate in that era for a special picnic with the extended family.

Chairs were brought out from the house and impromptu seating concocted as well. Blankets were spread on the ground under the shade of a big tree.

1946 Reunion

Two years earlier, this 1946 reunion photo captures some of the McGhees. Neatly lined up, the names are more readily attachable to individuals. Left to right: Treva Mae Davidson, Viola McGhee (back), Frances McGhee, Nita Cleo Davidson, Melba McGhee (back), Viola Matilda Tower McGhee, Roy McGhee (back), Bertha McGhee.

Treva Mae, Viola, Frances, Nita Cleo, Melba, Viola Matilda, Roy, Bertha; 1946.

1946 McGhee Reunion

Although not as candid, it does give us a better view of people’s faces.

Let this be a reminder to us as we gather with family this summer. Take lots of photos and label them with names and dates. Future generations will appreciate your effort.

2000-03-01 gail martin celebration of life 001

1946 McGhee Reunion

Independence Day 1861


My mother, Gail Lee Martin, wrote this story in 2006 for the Our Echo website. We are so lucky that she instilled in us an appreciation of our family’s heritage and that she worked so diligently to research and preserve it. I’ve added some vintage graphics and a newspaper clipping to her written account.

1861 – Our Family’s Patriotic Heritage

Have you ever wondered how the early settlers celebrated the 4th of July in Kansas for the first time after becoming a state? I traced my Mother’s family from Connecticut to Iowa, through Missouri to the Kansas territory in 1859. I always wondered how my great-grandparents, James and Almira Vining, celebrated that special occasion.

The Vining family settled on a small homestead near the Verdigris river three miles east of the tiny community of Madison Centre in April 1857. At that time the family consisted of James and his wife, Almira; their children: Henry, my grandfather, 21; Erastus, 19; Isreal, 15; Charles, 13; James Jr. 11; Franklin, 6 and their only daughter, three-year-old Jane. When Kansas became a state the four older boys had already enlisted to serve in the United States Calvary and were away fighting in the Civil War. With four sons in the service of their country, I’m sure the Vining family attended the patriotic ceremony that was held in their neighborhood that July.

In July 1861 Madison Centre was in Madison County twenty miles south of Emporia. The Emporia News, the only newspaper in that area at that time, reported the following:

Madison Centre, Madison County
Mr. Editor: Early in the day, a number of citizens of this township assembled for the purpose of raising a Union flag, which was accomplished to the satisfaction of all present. The Declaration was then read by John J. Greenhalgh, in a loud, clear distinct tone. He did justice and honor to the memories of the great and good men who made it.” Then the news report went on to tell about the bountiful dinner everyone enjoyed. “The meal was furnished by the ladies of the community including roast mutton, roast and boiled chickens, chicken pies, cakes, tarts and other ’knicknacks’ too numerous to mention.”

How proud I am that my ancestors were there to observe the raising of the first Union flag in Madison Centre, Kansas.

Our family still celebrates July 4th with lots of good home cooked food and a few fireworks, mostly sparklers. For many years we had family picnics at Peter Pan Park in Emporia on the 4th of July. We still remember the lovely rose garden and who could forget the funny antics of the monkeys on Monkey Island?
1948 reunion clipping

In 1948, the Martin family reunion was delayed until July 18th.

My husband’s grandmother, Marie Joy, always made a big heavy crock full of “thick fruit salad” because invariably the weather was hot and we didn’t have ice available on almost every corner as we do now. Grandma Joy would use twice the amount of Jell-O that the recipe called for then added lots of fruit with bananas and marshmallows until it was almost solid. But we loved it! Since we raised our own chickens, we always had big containers of fried chicken with all the pieces including the neck, liver, heart, gizzard, and the coveted wishbone. As a special treat, we sometimes had store-bought “pork & beans.”

High flying flags always arouse my patriotism and I see them flying in so many different places. For instance, postage stamps through the years have been one way of showing patriotism for our country. I delight in sending my mail with stamps showing flags or eagles. Every year the postal department issues new designs. I recall one I especially liked. It had the flag flying briskly over the words, “I pledge allegiance …” I guess I thought flags could only fly briskly in Kansas.

Hugh Martin and George Washington


Our family had a legend that was passed down that a Martin ancestor was in some way involved with George Washington. In my childhood years, I pictured this ancestor in the boat as the general crossed the river to attack the British.


In retirement, I started following my mother and grandmother’s trail of bread crumbs back through our family history. I found a mention of Hugh Martin in Kentucky and my sister Karen has been researching him the last couple of years. Since Hugh Martin lived in Kentucky and fought in the militia there during the Revolutionary War, it is unlikely that he was crossing the Delaware River with George Washington. 

karen in ks 2

Sister Karen, retired librarian and avid genealogist.


What she did find was still pretty exciting. There’s a letter in the National Archives from Hugh Martin to George Washington. Apparently, they were corresponding about a treatment for cancer he learned from the Indians. Washington’s mother and sister had cancer. This link has details about Hugh Martin’s discovery.
“Dr. Hugh Martin had allegedly learned the formula for his famous “cancer cure” from the Indians while stationed as a military surgeon at Fort Pitt during the Revolutionary War.”
Here’s part of the letter from Hugh Martin to George Washington:
Acknowledge I was in suspence whether you remembered me or not, as I have grown Considerably Since 79 when I had the honor of being introduced to you, at the time we lay at Middle Brook when your Head Quarters was at Mr Wallaces, But I hope my youth and a want of more Experience will Appologize for my freedom….”

So it was in New Jersey in the Revolutionary War that Hugh Martin and Washington met. Here’s some historical background on this.

After looking at these sources, I’m thinking somehow, it isn’t adding up. I don’t think our Hugh Martin was a doctor. Hugh Martin built a number of handsome houses in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky and was quite a successful man according to histories of that area. But none of those name him as a doctor.

We have evidence that he served in a Kentucky militia, so he’s unlikely to have also been in the 8th Pennsylvania. The DAR database lists Hugh Martin’s service in the Revolutionary War as part of George Rogers Clark’s Illinois expedition in 1778.  This is apparently the picture that I’ll have in my mind now.

March_to_Vincennes clark expedition hugh martin

March to Vincennes – Clark Expedition (public domain picture from Wikipedia)

My Earliest Conclusion Was Wrong


I pulled out another mystery photo from my mother’s boxes. Across the bottom of the photo’s mat was written “Walter Baker”. Aha, I’d seen a Baker on my recent searches so I went in hot pursuit of this Walter Baker.  I found him, born in 1924. I set to work trying to find out more about this 3rd cousin. Frustrated by his parents’ early divorce, the multiple marriages of his mother, and a lack of siblings, I took a closer look at the picture.

It looked like it was from an earlier era, which wouldn’t work for someone born in 1924. There was a photography studio name on the mat but it wasn’t any help to determine the location as the decorative border obscured part of it.

carl, nellie, rosie, walter, baker babcock

The name was penciled on the dark background, so I scanned the photo and brightened it up. To my surprise, I discovered more names on the mat and they seemed to align with the people above and below them. It wasn’t Walter Baker at all, but separate males named Walter and Baker. The back row showed a young boy named Carl and two women named Nellie and Rosie. My first conclusion was totally off-track.

Now the hunt was to find a family on my tree with siblings or cousins that included those five names. Keep in mind that there are over 9,000 people on my tree, so I was prepared for this to be a prolonged search. I started sorting through the 8 people who had Baker as a first, middle, or last name. Checking their dates, then their siblings, narrowed it down to a likely fellow. BINGO, his siblings matched the names on the photo.

The People in the Photo

  • Albert Baker Babcock, born 12 Dec 1878 in Seneca, Newton, Missouri and died 18 Feb 1941.
  • Walter Leroy Babcock, born 26 Nov 1882 in Seneca, Missouri and died 7 Jan 1943 in Fremont, Colorado.
  • Carl Lowell Babcock, born 26 Jan 1897 in Stroud, Lincoln, Oklahoma and died 23 Sep 1963 in Watsonville, Santa Cruz, California
  • Nellie May Babcock, born 12 Jan 1888 in Missouri and died 1963.
  • Rosa Babcock, born about 1877 in Kansas and died 3 Sep 1960 in Watonga, Blaine County, Oklahoma.

I’d researched another photo a while ago that had Carl Babcock in it with his parents. At that time, I didn’t pay much attention to his siblings. Here’s the Babcock’s story.

Elias, Carl, Ida Babcock

Elias, Carl and Ida Babcock (photo from the collection of Gail Lee Martin)

I love the feeling of accomplishment from sleuthing out these names so I can put this photo online with the blog and with Ancestry for other relatives to find. It’s saved now from anyone just tossing it out because they don’t know who the people are and don’t care.

Somewhere, someday, a descendant of one of these Babcocks will search and find this photo. I can imagine their thrill to have their great-great-grandmother or grandfather’s picture.

A Shocking Death – William Stone


It saddened me to find this clipping about my great-grandmother’s younger brother. In genealogy, one sees births, marriages, and deaths but they are just dates on paper until you find the story behind those dates.

My great-grandmother Cordelia Jane Stone was married to John Thomas Martin and they had a young son, Archie. They lived not far from her brother William B. Stone and probably saw him often. What a shock it must have been to hear that he committed suicide.

stone suicide

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 15 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

Here’s the rest of the story,  which I transcribed from The Leader newspaper of Virgil, Kansas (22 Jun 1900, Friday, page 1)

Destroyed By His Own Hand.

Last Friday morning a deep gloom was spread over our community by the startling report that W.E. Stone had committed suicide. The report seemed too awfully shocking to be true, but upon investigation, it was learned to be a fact and not a rumor.

On the evening of June 14th Mr. Stone’s wife was somewhat alarmed at the despondent actions of her husband but being a woman of more than ordinary nerve she did not become very much alarmed and after spending the evening with their neighbor, Mrs. W. L. Evans, returned to her home and retired as usual.

On the morning of the 15th, Mr. Stone arose and went about his morning work as usual for some time, when coming into the house he made inquiry concerning the carbolic acid, Mrs. Stone having anticipated his motives had emptied the poison out. After parlaying some time about the carbolic acid, he next sought the razor, but Mrs. Stone was again too shrewd for her despondent husband and had taken the razor and given it to a Mr. Cooper who was doing some farm work for Mr. Eble and had come to the house to get a mowing scythe.

But Mr. Stone having fully made up his mind could not be so easily thwarted and next sought his revolver, a 38 caliber, which his wife had locked up in the sewing machine drawer. Upon finding the drawer locked, he at once proceeded to break it open, whereupon Mrs. Stone’s courage failed and she started with her two little children to Mr. Evans. She had only gone a short distance when she heard the report of the pistol. Mr. Cooper in the meantime having returned to the field where Mr. Eble was, reported to him what he had observed and Mr. Eble at once started for the house but was only about halfway from where he was working to the house when the fatal shot was fired.

Coroner Dillan was called and after making an investigation, decided not to hold an inquest.

(on the same page of the paper, his obituary was printed)


W.B. Stone was born in Dekalb County, Mo April 5, 1868, and died at his home near Virgil, Kansas June 15, 1900, age 32 years, 2 months, 10 days.

He was converted and joined the Christian church when a boy, and remained a member of that church until he came to Kansas with his parents in 1884. After coming to Kans. He joined the U.B. church.

He was married to Ella Walker Dec. 24, 1891. To them were born three children one of which died in infancy.

Bro. Stone was a kind husband, good neighbor, an honest man and a hard worker. Many think that it was overwork and bad health that caused his untimely death. A.W. Potter

More about This Story

His wife’s full name was Margaret Ellen Walker. Their two children were
Dow Lafayette Stone 1893–1905 and Erick Asiel Stone 1898–1930. Just 5 years later, the eldest son died of typhoid fever at age 12. An earlier news report praised Dow for 3 years of perfect attendance at school.

How the Family Coped

Many times a widow with young children would remarry quickly to have the family taken care of. The news clippings below show that Ella rented out part of her home and also started selling hats from her home. (All bits of news from The Leader, Virgil KS newspaper)

June 1900 – Two weeks after William’s suicide, the Woodmen, a fraternal organization, came to plow the 47 acres of corn. Sixteen volunteers with their teams did the work. I’m sure they made fairly quick work of this job that would have taken William a long time on his own.

widow w.b. stone newspaper clipping (read the rest of the story)

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 29 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

August 1900 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased the house and lot owned by W. F. Osborn. Uncle Frank expects to move out on his farm south of town in a short time.”

Oct 1900 – “Miss Susie Pinon is staying with Mrs. Ella Stone and going to school.” (Rural students often had to board in town to continue their education on the high school level.)

March 1901 – Ella placed an advertisement in the paper, “I’ve just received an invoice of spring hats. Call at my residence, get prices, and see the latest styles.”

ella stone millinary clipping

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 29 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

March 1902 – “Prof Reno and wife have moved into the front part of Mrs. Ella Stone’s house.”

March 1903 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased M.C. Mallicoat’s house. She is having a porch put on the front of the building and a stable built at the back of the lot. W. A. Barnes is doing the carpenter work.”

Mar 1903 – “A. L. Walker moved last Monday into the house lately purchased by Mrs. Ella Stone of M. C. Mallicoat. P. L. Cranmer moved into Mr. Walker’s house.”

ella stone switches houses again

I can’t keep up with all the moving and switching of houses. The Leader Virgil, Kansas 08 Jan 1904, Fri • Page 1

Named After Lorenzo Dow


I’d wondered why my grandfather’s middle name was Lorenzo (Charles Lorenzo Martin).  We weren’t Italian and to my mind, Lorenzo was an Italian name. It didn’t intrigue me enough to search further. Later, as I started working on the family tree, I found his namesake must have been his grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Stone. If you are trying to follow along, that’s my great-great-grandfather who was born in 1833 in Elk Creek, Grayson County, Virginia. 

That name seemed unique enough that Google might find some information on him. Instead, I found hundreds, maybe thousands, of parents had named their child “Lorenzo Dow.” Who was this man that so many people in the early 1800s respected enough to perpetuate his name? I found three people on my family tree who were named after him.

ancestors named Lorenzo Dow

I have a Blair, a Babcock, and a Stone named after Lorenzo Dow. I found so many Lorenzo Dow Babcocks that I must revamp entirely my research on that fellow. Apparently, I mashed a bunch of them together in my zeal as a beginner.

You will notice that all these were born in the early 1800s. Here’s more about this rather odd but dedicated and charismatic man who drew large crowds as he traveled around the country. He preached in churches, schools and out in the open air, converting thousands to the Methodist Church.

lorenzo dow life story

Clipped from the Alexandria Gazette Alexandria, Virginia 28 Jun 1867, Fri • Page 1

There’s a Youtube video that’s quite entertaining and it tells about his style of preaching that drew such crowds. Take a look at your own family tree. Are there any named after Lorenzo Dow on it? Now you know where that originated.

Lorenzo_Dow_by_Lossing-Barrett from Wikipedia

Lorenzo Dow preaching, engraving by Lossing-Barrett, 1856 (Creative Commons – Wikipedia)