Photo – Sam McGhee

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My great-grandfather, Samuel Newton McGhee, was born on the 29th of November in 1875 in Perry, Arkansas. He married Viola Matilda Tower in 1895 and they started a family. In 1907, they came to Montgomery County, Kansas to help with Tildy’s mother who had had a stroke.

Over the years, Sam worked for a sawmill marking trees for the logging crew to cut (in Arkansas), then in Kansas he found work with his team of horses, ” helping farmers, grading roads and in the new industry in Kansas–the oil fields. Along with the oil, a new fuel had been discovered, natural gas. Gas lights and gas burners for heating and cooking were a great improvement over wood or kerosene we had been using.” (from daughter, Bertha McGhee’s memories)

They moved to Tyro where Sam took a job as night watchman at a glass factory which made chimneys for lamps and lanterns. He prepared the sand and chemicals for the following day’s run. When the factory moved to Oklahoma, Sam took an extra job hauling ice from an ice plant in Caney to the ice house of a local grocery store and also made home deliveries on a country route offered by the store.

He found work with the Montgomery County road maintenance crew. He also rented some farmland and grew sorghum cane and made molasses in the fall. In 1914, Sam became foreman of Montgomery County road maintenance and did extra hauling with his team for both the grocery store and in the oil fields.

By age 46, he was working in the oil industry in Montgomery County, Kansas. The photo below shows him with two of his sons, Roy and Clarence. the dog’s name is unknown.

Sam McGhee and Sons at Oil Well

Samuel McGhee

Sam McGhee died in an accident at work in October 1922. It was only recently that I uncovered some details of that accident after searching in Newspapers.com.

Sam McGhee crushed oil well accident

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The Coffeyville paper, The Morning News, gave some more information, “Sam McGhee was injured Saturday morning when he was cleaning out a mill on the Harding place, about two miles east of Tyro.”

The Wichita Daily Eagle described the accident this way, “an engine being used in connection with an oil rig near Coffeyville exploded.”

The Independence Daily Reporter clarified the incident, “Mr. McGhee was injured when a machine used for cleaning out oil wells broke on the Harding lease, east of Tyro, last Saturday. He was so seriously injured that no hopes were entertained for his recovery at any time.”

More details emerged in The Morning News which noted, he “died at the Southeast Kansas hospital here Sunday night from injuries received Saturday when a well-drilling rig on which he was working broke, crushing his head and puncturing a lung.”

About two months later, a settlement was suggested (The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 12 Dec 1922, Tue, Page 5).

“Chas. D. Ise of this city, acting as referee in the matter of the compensation of Viola Matilda Mc-Ghee, administratrix of the estate of S. N. McGhee, against the Kansas-Oklahoma Consolidated Oil company, has recommended a payment of $3,200.40. McGhee died recently of injuries sustained in an accident on a lease near Tyro.”

I was curious about whether that was a good offer or not. Here’s a chart showing wages at that time. I also found that average earnings in 1924 were $1,303. So the offer was only equal to a few year’s wages.

“Wages And Hours Of Labor In The Petroleum Industry, 1922. “. Hathitrust.

Sam was survived by his wife Viola Matilda Tower, five sons and two daughters. The sons, Clarence, Roy, Lealon, Austin, and Loren, lived at home, while son Jesse resided at Morgan, Texas. The daughters, Bertha and Ethel, lived at home. Ethel was only 7 years old and Austin just 10. The other children were in their teens or grown. The McGhees had lost a young son, Elmer, just the year before.

Years later, Sam’s daughter Bertha shared her memories with her niece, Gail Lee Martin.

“Papa worked for hire with his team of horses helping farmers, grading roads for Montgomery County and hauling pipe in the new industry in Kansas — the oil fields. My earliest memories are of running to meet him as he came home from work. He would swing me up on the wagon seat to ride the few feet home with him making me feel so special.

At home, Papa loved to play the pump organ and when I would learn a new song at school or Sunday School or Campfire Girls, I would be eager to sing it to papa. Papa had a good tenor voice and sang in the choir at our local Methodist Church. He had learned music in Arkansas when a tuning fork was used to get the pitch and the melody was learned by singing do, re, me’s. So papa could take a piece of music and sing the notes until he had the melody in his head, then he’d set down and play it on the organ by ear – just adding chords for the left hand. 

Often on Sunday afternoon neighbors and friends would come visiting and stand around the organ to sing while papa played. On the back porch, Mama and the boys would make a freezer of ice-cream to be shared after the singing was finished.” 

For more of Bertha McGhee’s memories, visit the Our Echo site to read Sam McGhee, Memories of Hayrick Mound, and From Melbourn, Arkansas to Tyro, Kansas.

Love and Happy Couples

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The topic for the 52 Ancestors Challenge this week was LOVE, so I started searching through the family photo album for examples of happy couples.

Raphael Tuck printed in Saxony

A vintage valentine from my collection. It’s a Raphael Tuck printed in Saxony, after 1866.

Of course, my first discoveries were my own parents and then the grandparents. There’s no wedding picture from my parents’ end-of-WWII marriage at the parsonage, but I do have both sets of grandparents in wedding pictures.

Now, I’m sure that each of these couples went through the rough patches that beset all relationships, but they persevered. Charles Lorenzo Martin and Cora Myrle Joy were married in February 1915 in Madison, Kansas and that marriage lasted 55 years until Ren’s death. They raised eight children through the 1920s, the Great Depression and past World War II when their last child, Charles went away to college at MIT in the 1950s.

My mother’s parents, Clarence Oliver McGhee and Ruth Vining married in July 1917 shortly before he left for the Great War. He survived the horrible warfare in France and returned to work many years for Phillips Petroleum. They raised three daughters. Their  43 years of marriage ended when Ruth died of a heart attack.

My parents, Clyde Owen Martin and Gail Lee McGhee, married in June 1945 and were together for 67 years. Along the way, they raised six children.  My dad had a favorite punchline when people asked what was the secret for a long marriage. He’d say, when we got married, we agreed that whoever asked for divorce had to take the kids.

Not All Succeeded

There were some unsuccessful marriages among my ancestors. My 3rd great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Daggs married Thomas I. Long in pioneer Indiana. Nine children and 38 years later they called it quits with a divorce. Quite unusual in the 1860s.

Here’s the transcription of the divorce papers:
State of Indiana
County of Crawford

Be it remembered that at the Febr’y Term of Crawford Circuit Court, the same being 13th day of February 1866, Before the Hon. William F Parrell, the then sole Judge of the Crawford Circuit Court of Indiana, the following proceedings were herd in the cause of Thomas Long vs. Nancy A Long for Divorce.
And now comes the plaintiff and the Defendant being Thrice solemly Called, Come not but herein make default and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that said defendant has been notified of the pendence Of this suit, more than ten days before the 1st day of the present term of this Court and the Court having heard the evidence and being advised in the premises finds that a divorce ought to be granted herein. It is therefore Considered by the Court that the Bonds of Matrimony heretofore existing between plaintiff and defendant …..

The official divorce is dated 1866, but I noticed that in 1860 Nancy Ann was living with her son-in-law and daughter (Abraham and Nancy Angeline Tower). In 1870, the census seems to show her in the household of Susannah Esrey (Perry County, Indiana), but I haven’t yet figured out how they connect.

It seems that 12 days after the divorce, Thomas Long marries Charlotte Anthony. The 1870 census shows Thomas and Charlotte Long and two children that might be from a previous marriage of Charlotte (Anthony Lydia Long and Waldo Long). Further research might clarify the origin of those two children.

Most Stayed Together

For the most part, I’d say the happy couples outnumber the unhappy ones on my family tree.

Clyde Martin and Gail McGhee

Just friends in high school, Gail and Clyde where happily married for 67 years.

Another McGhee Reunion

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It wasn’t easy for the McGhee siblings to get together with some on the west coast, some in Kansas, and Bertha living in Alaska. Here’s one occasion preserved in a snapshot. I’m labeling it here for the benefit of future generations. I believe the photo was taken in front of Austin’s church in Oregon.

1971 mcghee reunion from bob harlan

The 1971 McGhee reunion (photo from the collection of Bob Harlan)

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The six McGhee brothers and sisters are marked in bold in the list below. The rest are their spouses and children and grandchildren. The extended family is much larger, of course, as many could not travel to the reunion.

  1. Ronda Ayers (Cheryl’s son)
  2. Randy Ayers (Cheryl’s son)
  3. Jeffry Hauser (Melba’s son)
  4. Melba Hauser (Austin’s daughter)
  5. Allen Hauser (Melba’s son)
  6. Tammy Hauser (accidentally labeled as 5)
  7. David Robbs (Neita’s husband)
  8. Neita Robbs (Ethel’s daughter)
  9. Janice Hauser (Melba’s daughter)
  10. Bertha McGhee
  11. Edna
  12. Dan Robbs (Neita’s son)
  13. Dana (Austin’s daughter)
  14. Kerry (Austin’s daughter)
  15. Neita McGhee (Austin’s wife)
  16. Ethel Davidson
  17. Edna McGhee (Clarence’s wife)
  18. Austin McGhee
  19. Nell (Lealon’s wife)
  20. Lealon McGhee
  21. Roy McGhee
  22. Loren McGhee
  23. Cheryl Ayers (Austin’s daughter)
  24. baby? doll? blanket?
  25. Rodney Ayers (Cheryl’s husband)
  26. Frank
  27. Kenneth Robbs (Neita’s son)
  28. Clarence McGhee

 

Tyro Family And Friends

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Playing Croquet – Vintage Photo

This mystery photo was with a batch of family photos from Tyro, Kansas. My mother said these weren’t relatives, so must be friends in Tyro who came to have a game of croquet with our relatives.

Tyro friends playing croquet

The photo is labeled “Tyro friends playing croquet”

I’m guessing the photo is from 1910 to 1917, so before The Great War. They are dressed formally so maybe this was an after-church activity. The young men are wearing newsboy style caps, vests, long-sleeved white shirts, and ties (bow ties and a narrow tie). The McGhee family belonged to the Methodist Church.

In the background of the croquet game is a garden, I think. I’m guessing this might be at the Samuel and Viola Matilda (Tower) McGhee family home. They had a large garden according to their daughter Bertha’s account. She said, “The garden included a strawberry bed, huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries, dewberries, and the orchard had three kinds of peaches, apples, plums, pears as well as the grapes.”

The other option might be at the home of the Vinings, also my ancestors, but I doubt that their yard was this large. Another neighboring family was “the Galliger family with one daughter, Margaret, a little older than me and 3 younger brothers. The three families were soon doing many things together.”

I checked the 1915 Kansas census for Tyro and the 1920 U.S. census for Tyro and don’t see the Galligers listed. It would have been wonderful to look the family up on Ancestry and see if there were any photos of the three younger brothers. No such luck.

Methodist Episcopal Church in Tyro Kansas

Methodist Church in Tyro, Kansas (photo provided by Jack Irwin)

Four Generations of Mothers

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Originally posted on my mother’s blog.

Discovering Mom

Researching family history becomes more meaningful when you can see the faces that go with the names and dates. For Mother’s Day, I pulled together my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. Beyond that, I have just the names and information, but no photos.

I like seeing them all lined up like this. Looks like that high forehead and the nose came down through the generations. I must have gotten my nose and blonde hair from the Martin side, but I do have the forehead.

Here are their names and dates (left to right):

    • Gail Lee McGhee Martin 1924-2013
    • Ruth Vining McGhee 1897-1960
    • Nancy Jane Babcock Vining 1851–1924
    • Ellenor Nancy Jane Wright Babcock 1820–1882

These four women had 36 children and that doesn’t count the miscarriages or ones that died at birth. Nancy Jane remarried not long after her first husband died. In 1873 Kansas, a woman with children didn’t have the…

View original post 88 more words

Nancy Melvina Tower Vining

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As part of the 52 Ancestors Blogging Challenge, I’m featuring my great-aunt Vina. The photo shows her (in a white dress) with Lealon McGhee and an unidentified young woman holding a doll.

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Lealon McGhee and Melvina Tower with an unknown girl holding a doll.

She was born the 8th of August in 1899 in Jet, Missouri and named Nancy Melvina Tower. Her father, William Warren Tower, was 28 and her mother, Margaret Ann Peller (or Pillar), was 25. She had three sisters, Myrtle, Bessie Pearl and Edith and a brother, Charles.

 

Vina_and_Pearl_Tower_edited

Nancy Melvina Tower and her younger sister, Bessie Pearl. Probably ages, 5 and 1.

In 1920, Vina Tower was 20 years old and lived in North Seminole, Oklahoma with her father, mother, and 2 sisters. Her older siblings, Charles and Myrtle, were no longer living with the family.

The highest grade Vina completed in school was 8th grade. High school was not always available in small towns or for country folk.

I presume her mother Margaret died, as her father married a second time to Emma Hill Roberds. Emma was widowed and had two sons (James and Almeda) from her previous marriage. William Warren Tower and Emma had a baby, William Lee Tower February 9, 1925.  He was usually called Billy.

 

Edith_and_Pearl_Tower_OR_sisters_or_half_sisters_of_Aunt_Vina_B

Looks like Bertha McGhee (rear, left). Gail Martin indicated on the back of the photo that it included Edith and Pearl Tower. Could one of these be Vina Tower or Ruth Vining?

In 1925, Melvina Vining was 25 years old and lived in Tyro, Kansas with her husband, Albert. They were newly married. He had served in France during WWI. You can read more about that at this site: Albert Vining in World War I. Albert’s first wife, Edith Flossie Hawkins died in 1923.

 

albert and edith flossie hawkins vining

Albert Vining and his first wife, Edith Hawkins.

 

Five years later, the census shows Melvina Vining was 30 years old and lived in Jefferson, Oklahoma with her husband, Albert, age 36.

Vina Tower Vining and nephew Donald Vining 1944

Vina Vining and nephew, Donald Vining

The next census on April 1, 1940, we find Melvina Vining at age 40 and living in Jefferson, Oklahoma with her husband, Albert.

Also with them was their 18-year-old nephew, Donald Vining. Family lore does not record why he was living with them instead of with his father, Luther Vining. Albert worked for the Canary Oil Company as a pumper and Vina was a homemaker. They never had children of their own.

Albert and Vina Vining 001

Albert and Vina Vining

She was a widow for 33 years after Albert died in Tyro on September 10, 1960.

This is my mother visiting her aunt Vina Vining. We were related both through the Vining and the Tower family. This might be Vina’s birthday. I see a balloon in the picture.

 

2013-01-24 gail martin celebration of life 029

Gail Martin visiting her aunt, Vina Vining in the nursing home.

 

Nancy Melvina (Tower) Vining died on December 17, 1993, in Coffeyville, Kansas, at the age of 94, and was buried there. The Tower family were very long-lived.

Her Tower family line is Nancy Melvina Tower -> William Warren Tower -> Abraham Bates Tower

The photo below shows her grandfather, father, brother and nephew. Abraham Bates Tower with a beard, his son William Warren Tower, holding the child, Billy Tower in overalls and the child is Troy Tower.

 

Seated_Abraham_Bates_Tower_William_Warren_Tower_Troy_Tower_Back_Charles_Tower_edited

Four generation photo – Tower family

 

Minda or Armin or Arminta or Amanda?

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My great-great-grandfather had a step-daughter that has me puzzled. The 1880 census lists her as the 18-year-old step-daughter of William Newton McGhee. The handwriting is hard to read, but it looks like Arminta or Arminda Micheal.

There don’t seem to be any hints on the ancestry site to help me out, so I’ve been poking around in other people’s trees looking for clues. I’ve tried variations on her name and stumbled across a possible husband for her (Lewis Davis). There are lots of Welsh surnames in that area of Arkansas (Davis, Mitchell, Evans, etc.)

Dresses on display at the Eureka, Kansas historical society.

Dresses on display at the Eureka, Kansas historical society.

Mitchell seems to be an earlier name for her mother, Elsie Jane, and possibly the census taker didn’t know how to spell that. Elsie Jane (also called Elsa in one family tree) appears to have a previous marriage as her name was Evans when she married William.

I found two Evans brothers to go with Arminda/Minta and even found Evans as a last name for Arminda on some trees. The brothers are Andrew and John W.

This raises the question of who was Minda’s father? Was it Thomas Evans who seems to be the father of Andrew and John, or was Arminda born out of wedlock before Thomas Evans married Elsie Jane?

As I mix and match the first and last names for her, I’ve found the listings for the husband and the brothers, but none of the trees include documentation like the census or a gravestone.

I wish I could solve the mystery of Arminta/Amanda/Armin/Minda with the last name of Evans/Micheal/Mitchell. She was born around 1862 in Arkansas.

Here’s what Velma Ann Roger’s had in her notes, with some additions of mine in (bold):

Samuel Newton McGhee was the second of three children born to William Newton McGhee and Elsa Jane Mitchell Evans.  Children of Wm. Newton McGhee and Elsa Jane were

1-John McGhee

2-Samuel Newton McGhee

3-Houston McGhee

William Newton McGhee had seven children by a previous marriage.  The first wife’s name is unknown. (I have Matilda E. Booker)

Their Children

1- Fate (Solomon Lafayette McGhee)

2-Lucinda (Lucinda Pearl McGhee)

3-Jane (Zilloh Jane McGhee)

4-Margaret

5-Eveline

6-Victoria (Victoria Isabell McGhee)

7-Matilda (Harriet Matilda McGhee)

8 – (Fidomia)
Elsa Jane, nee Mitchell, Evans had three children by her first marriage. 1- Andrew Evans, 2-Minda Evans (see the story above), 3-John Evans. According to scant information her husband’s name was Thomas Evans.

*An interesting footnote; Andrew Evans married Lucinda McGhee, and John Evans married Matilda McGhee. Brothers married stepsisters.  When Andrew died and Matilda died, John then took Lucinda as his 2nd wife.

What’s Next? I need to do more work on the whole batch of McGhees, Evans and Mitchells in Perry County, Arkansas. There’s a McGhee family cemetery on Find-a-Grave, so I’ll chart out a bunch from there and see if any fill the gaps in our tree.

mcghee martin family tree

mcghee martin family tree

This is still not solved, but my cousin, Allen Hauser, worked on it too in 2018. “I just went through the records for marriages in Arkansas. Perhaps not all of them are recorded, but there is no marriage listed for anyone with the last name of Mitchell that even remotely resembles any of the names we have for her. Perhaps she never married. No telling when she died. Without any census surviving from 1890 and no state census records from Arkansas that I have seen, it could be hard to find what became of her.”

He did find some evidence that Evans was the maiden name for Elsie Jane. That makes the Mitchell surname likely to be Elsie Jane’s first marriage before she married William Newton McGhee.