September Family Dates



Sarah Vest Monroe (maternal 3rd great-grandmother)
Died – 4 September 1884 • Alton, Crawford County, Indiana

Gail Lee McGhee (maternal)
Born – 13 September 1924 • Eureka, Greenwood County, Kansas

Henry Francis Vining (maternal great-grandfather)
Born – 17 September 1837 • East Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut

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Clyde Owen Martin (paternal)

Born – 24 September 1924 in Greenwood County, Kansas

James M Vining and Almira Buckland (maternal 2nd great-grandparents)
Married – 26 September 1837 • East Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut

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Joseph M Babcock (maternal 3rd great-grandfather)
Died – 28 September 1827 in Edwards, Illinois

Martha Summers
Born – 30 September1796 in North Carolina (paternal 3rd great-grandmother)

Erastus Laban Tower (maternal 2nd great-uncle)

Died – 30 September 1939 • Oriole, Perry County, Indiana

The format is what genealogists use (day month year) and for locations (town, county, state). Paternal and maternal refer to whether it is my father or mother’s side of the family. The relationships are how they are related to me, but other family members like cousins will have to adjust that to fit themselves. For privacy reasons, no living names were included.




Train Tragedy


A train killed my grandmother’s older brother and his wife in 1934. The newspaper gave it a brief note. Two were killed, but the lives of their 10 children were changed forever.

Francis and Lenora Vining killed by train -

Jefferson City Post-Tribune
Jefferson City, Missouri
28 Mar 1934, Wed • Page 1

Here’s the basic story reported in a nearby Missouri newspaper. The accident happened south of Coffeyville, Kansas at Noxie crossing.


Francis H. Vining, 50, and his wife, Lenora, 40, residing west of Noxie, Okla., southwest of here, were killed today when their light truck was struck by a Katy freight train at a crossing near their home.  A neighbor youth, Lloyd “Buster” King, 16, who was riding with the couple suffered a severe scalp wound and painful cuts and bruises. He in a hospital here. His condition is not regarded as dangerous. The Vinings are survived by ten children, ranging in ages from one year to 24 years.

My mother had a more detailed clipping but I’m unsure what newspaper it came from. In that article, it says the couple died instantaneously. The train carried the truck half a mile down the track with the victims flung out along the way.

At first, it was feared they might have had their 11-month-old daughter, Flossie, with them and a search was made for her body. Fortunately, the child had been left at home in the care of an older daughter.

The Vinings had been on their way to Coffeyville with a load of baled hay. Apparently, they failed to see the approaching train as they turned to cross the tracks. The load of hay was flung to the right-of-way near the crossing and parts of the truck were strewn about.

Dale and Flossie Vining

My grandparents came to take home some of the children. My mother, Gail, would have been ten-years-old at the time.

My mother, Gail Lee Martin writes:   “Relatives including my parents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee, took the children for awhile (we had Ray Dean and Melvin Dale).   Sylvia was just married and expecting a child, but she took baby Flossie Ann and Lester.

In 1936 Oscar married and, between them, they kept the family together.”   Lester would have been about four when his parents died; Flossie was less than a year old.

Later, the oldest sister, Sylvia, reunited her siblings and raised them along with 8 children of her own. Her brother Les wrote his memories of growing up after the loss of his parents.

Another of the orphans wrote about that time. Here’s Oscar Vining’s story.

Oscar Vining's memories of Henry Francis and Nora & siblings train wreck

For the benefit of anyone searching Google for Oscar Vining,  here’s a

Transcription of the text in the document

Family History – Francis Henry Vining and Alice Lenora (Nora) Hawkins were married in Kansas and moved to Hasque, Okla (Woodward Co.) no longer a town, where their first three boys were born.

They moved to Caney, Kan. Montgomery Co. 1914 (?) where Sylvia was born. Francis worked in the smelter and brickyard in Caney.

About 1916 they moved to Canary Oil Field 4 1/2 miles south of Tyro, Kans. (1 mile south of Kan., Okla. state line) Washington County Okla. He worked there the rest of his life and the four boys were born there.

In 1929, they purchased a nearby farm, RR1, Wann, Okla. where the family lived. The older boys farmed. Their last two children were born there.

Francis and Lenora were killed in a train truck accident at Knoxie, Okla.(?) obit says Noxie. Oscar was appointed as guardian and all the family except Paul moved to Colo. in 1935, where the family grew up near Ackmen and Pleasant View, Montezuma County. Written by Oscar Vining

We farmed pinto beans in Colo, until 1946, then sold the farm and moved to Tucson, Ariz. where Oscar did carpenter work.

In 1949, we moved to Kansas. Oscar had been doing aircraft and aerospace work since 1951. Alta did aircraft work 1951-1959 then became a Licensed Practical Nurse. Norma Jean is a Registered Nurse and is married to a Pastor and piano tuner. Arlene majored in secondary education and teaches Senior High French.

Funny Photos in the Family Album


Do you ever wonder about your ancestors’ personalities? Was great-grandma always serious or did she have a lighter side? I know that my dad loved a good prank as did his brother Howard.

He told us stories of tipping over outhouses on Halloween back in the Good Old Days. Another story was about him and some of his pals coaxing a horse up the stairs of the high school to the principal’s office. I guess it was much harder to get the horse to come back down the steps. This was in the early 1940s.

Dad kept his sense of humor all through his life.

Christmas 1987_Clyde_6

Clyde Martin, fed up with photos – Christmas 1987

Fun in an Earlier Generation

Here are some gag photos from 1918. My mother wrote a note about them. Ruth is her mother and the photos were mailed to her husband. The other two girls are a cousin and Clarence’s younger sister.

Lillian bolte, bertha and ruth funny

The male attire must have been borrowed from brothers but who knows where they got the cigarettes. Smoking was a definite no-no for a young lady in 1918.

In the early 1900s, many photographic postcards were sent to family and friends. Another fad that coincided with this was to make gag photos in costume. Thus some of the postcards show men wearing women’s clothing and women dressed as men.
The photos I have of my ancestors include several of these cross-dressing photo postcards.

Here are a brother and sister who have swapped outfits and posed for the camera. The photo below shows siblings, Ralph  (in the dress) and his sister Willie Belle. On the back, it says, “In a good mood.”

alice tower newton's children

This would be about the same time as the one showing my family in Tyro, Kansas with the three young ladies wearing men’s clothes.

Now, these photos of cross-dressing could be for some theatrical purpose, but I’m guessing it was merely a frolic meant to amuse a friend or cousin. Do you have any of these in your family album?

Frank Martin and the Oklahoma Land Rush


Frank Martin was the brother of my great-grandfather, John Thomas Martin. They grew up in Kansas with their two sisters. There was another brother, Milton, who died young. John Thomas Martin stayed in Kansas all his life but his three siblings migrated west to Oregon in the early 1900s. Here, in Frank’s own words, is the story of his life and details of his participation in the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1893.


Front (L to R) John Thomas Martin and Francis Marion (Frank) Martin, Back (L to R)  Cora Gozena (Grace) Martin Payne and Upha Penina (Effie) Martin Skaggs



The La Grande Observer newspaper (La Grande, Oregon) published his story on 22 June 1932,  Page 27. I’ve added photos to it.

TODAY WE HAVE Frank Martin of Imbler – I was born in Lyon County, Kansas, Oct. 8, 1868. Except for two years in the mercantile business at Avery, Oklahoma, I have spent my life farming. I married Rosella Kennedy when I was 27 years old and we began life together on a farm in Greenwood County, Kansas. If some of our young farmers in this valley could get old Father Time to let them take a try at wresting a living from the Kansas prairie in ’89, I believe they would be pretty well satisfied with their lot here.

We didn’t have to worry about the price of gas, repairs for the tractor or whether Uncle Sam would vote the bonus bill but we did have to kind of study about whether old Dobbin and the shoats would get the benefit of the corn crop or would it be just another year of hopes blasted by hot winds, grasshoppers and chinch bugs.

frank martin with horses at hall farm, Kansas

I apologize for the shadows on this picture. It’s a photo that I took at the Greenwood County Museum in Eureka, Kansas.

Three years after our marriage we decided to try our fortunes in the more fertile soil of Illinois. We arrived there along with the hard times of the nineties and again the outlook was discouraging.

During that year, news came of the great land lottery to be held in the Oklahoma country. The attorney general ruled a lottery would be illegal and President Cleveland ordered that people must run for the claims instead of draw for them. So the 24-year-old boy and his young wife began another trek across the prairies in search of adventure and opportunity and we were among those present on the morning of the 16th of September, 1893.

There are many days of my life of which I recall no single incident but I can still vividly visualize that warm sunny morning and the motley crowd, provided with every form of equipment known at the time on which they hoped to best the others and win a valuable claim. ‘I would like to live that day over again, not as a seeker after land, but as a reader of human faces and hearts. If one had been there with a keen sense of humor and nothing to do but give free rein to it, he would have had enough funny incidents to have chuckled over for a lifetime. But that was serious business and everyone’s nerves were keyed up to high tension, their faces were grim and determined. Of the two incidents that stand out in my memory as the funniest, one was a very fat girl standing up in an old hack, whip in one hand and lines in the other. The team was running at breakneck speed and the hack bouncing in the air. Although it seemed she would surely be thrown at each bound of the hack, she managed to stay with it. She and her father had the same claim in mind and she beat him to it.

The other incident was of an old Kentuckian who had a little scrawny team of mules and a very heavy covered wagon. He refused to worry or get excited, The thoroughbred horses, noted for their racing ability in his native state, bothered him not at all. The tough little cow ponies, the fast driving-horses, the bicycles, and the marathon runners and champion walkers might as well not exist so far as he cared. Everyone had their own ideas as to the best way to get there and he most decidedly had his.

The start was to be at noon and that forenoon seemed endless. Finally, the mad rush was on. We were running north and the line was visible on both sides for several miles. For a long time, it was very crowded and it seemed all the claims we came to were taken but gradually the crowd thinned and I took my claim about 5 hours after starting!

Afterward, I learned that the old Kentuckian had taken his own good time about getting started had calmly driven out behind the crowd just a mile and a half and staked a very valuable claim which the rest of us in our mad scramble had taken for granted was already claimed. The tough little cow pontes proved tho fastest over that rough ground and easily outdistanced the others including the Kentucky racehorses. The bicycles were the worst failures. There were a few new models with wheels of equal dimensions but most were the old-fashioned big wheelers. I rode a mule.

Cherokee_Strip_Land_Rush,_1893 public domain

Photos in the public domain – Oklahoma Land Rush

This body of land 150 miles long and 57 1/2 miles wide was all taken within a few hours as were the town lots which had been staked off in Carey, Ponca City, Enid, and Round Pond. Within a few hours, those townsites were towns of four to six thousand population. Beat that with your mining towns if you can. There were many feuds over the town lots and some over the claims and fatal shooting scrapes were numerous.

Life was rough and hard on these claims. There were improvements to be built, wells to be drilled and crops planted and little money to do it with. I remember black jack wood being hauled thirty miles and sold for $1.25 – $2.00 a load and it was in 16-inch lengths and split.

I came to Oregon in 1905 settling at Flora. I later moved to Washington and came here in 1913. I have made many moves and been a resident of five states but I like this valley best of all.


My wife died last year. Of the six children born to us, five are living. Edna was born in Kansas and the other five in Oklahoma. Edna, Austin, and Lawrence live here; Hazel lives in San Francisco, Effie in La Grande, and Arthur is a doctor in Enterprise.” 

Sepia Sunday – Old-Time Swimmers


1917 Bathing Suit

It’s fun to see fashions like this bathing suit from the World War I era. My grandparents would have been 20 and 21 in 1917. That was the year they married before my grandfather went off to France for the war.
I wasn’t even sure where they would have gone swimming at that time. Maybe in the river near Tyro, Kansas, the small town where they lived. Maybe there were farm ponds that the locals gathered to swim.
1917 Dressmaking Book_24 swim suit

The graphic is from the book, American Dressmaking Step By Step (in my collection)

At that time, regular clothing for ladies was not showing any of the leg. That makes the bathing costume rather daring attire. It was worn with bloomers (lesson 312 in the dressmaking book).
Clarence and ruth 1918
(My grandparents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee, from our family album)

I inquired in the Tyro, Kansas Facebook group and members shared their family stories and photos from the good old days. Leila Dalke suggested Hamilton’s Pond as a popular place and Jim McGinnis mentioned Yo’s pond and the shale pit.

kathy decoursey's picture - reva and cleon carnes swimming

Swimming hole near Tyro. Kathy Decoursey’s mom Reva (Stewart) Carnes and her brother Cleon Stewart. Her mom was born in 1910 and Cleon in 1906.

Gary Carnes remembered Rex Buster taking a group to Havanna Lake to swim. That was far enough away that they had to go by car. Most likely in 1917, people were swimming someplace close that could be reached on foot or by bicycle. There was no public swimming pool.

Peggy Reed told this story, “after the brick plants were gone the great pit that was left was called the Brickyard Pond. It was a great place for swimming but was considered dangerous! I remember swimming there in my underwear and was spanked when I got home because my wet hair was a dead give- away. This was about 4th or 5th grade. It was located in the northeast part of Tyro. I think it was near the Smothermon’s place.

Gary Carnes added, “there were actually two pits, one was very deep. It was a great place to fish until the then owner stopped all access due to the danger. We kids would still slip in when we could.”

The inspiration photo from the Sepia Saturday blog. Check out the other bloggers who posted on this topic. I’m a day late, so mine is a Sepia Sunday post.

Sepia Saturday  - Three Men In Bathing Suits (27 July 2019)

The photo that inspired me to look for our family in bathing suits. Sepia Saturday – Three Men In Bathing Suits (27 July 2019)


Effie’s Mystery Man


A while back, I shared a painting by Effie Skaggs, my great-aunt. That one featured baby Effie sitting on the knee of my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Ellison. It seems that Effie was quite the painter but unfortunately, the family does not know who the subjects are in some of the portraits.

Now, my challenge is to figure out who is the man in this painting.

This painting shows an intense, reasonably young man with dark hair. That hairline might be a help in identifying this mystery ancestor. Another clue is the tie which looks like the style from the 1860s where most of it is hidden by the shirt collar.

painting unknown man by effie martin skaggs

Portrait of unknown ancestor by Effie Martin Skaggs

Let’s round up some possibilities. I’d love for it to be a Martin or an Ellison, but we must also consider Skaggs and Osborn on her husband’s side of the family.

Effie’s husband was:

Henry Talbot Skaggs
BIRTH – 14 SEP 1848 • Indiana
DEATH  – 25 DEC 1920 • Enterprise, Wallowa, Oregon

I’m thinking it may be a generation older than Effie and Henry. So it could be one of these men below. I don’t have any photos of either of them to compare to this painting.

Her father was:

Charles Coleman MARTIN
BIRTH – 26 JANUARY 1831 • Kentucky
DEATH – 16 AUG 1886 • Madison, Greenwood County, Kansas

Her father-in-law was:

Solomon Skaggs
BIRTH – 23 MAY 1822 • Lawrence County, Indiana, USA
DEATH – 21 OCT 1864 • Alton, Madison, Illinois

It could even be an uncle of Effie’s or of her husband, Henry. That gives us these possibilities: Charles Coleman’s brothers are Thomas Claggett Martin, William Allen Martin, James Henry Martin. Solomon Skaggs’ brother was John Wesley Skaggs.

Now, I do have a photo of Thomas Martin but he is older and with a white beard, not easily compared to Effie’s painting. My eye is drawn to his son, Hal Roach Martin, standing behind him. Look at the dark hair and the hairline but with the mustache, it is hard to see his mouth for comparison purposes.

I’m still thinking that Henry/Hal Roach Martin (born in 1855) is the wrong generation for the painting. Consider this, could he be a good representation of what his father looked like twenty years earlier or maybe even his uncle, Charles Coleman Martin?

People in the photo are Martha Ann, Elizabeth J, Henry Roach, Mary E, Laura Belle, front row: Milton T, Thomas Martin (bearded man), wife Mary Margaret Sullivan, Sadie L. photo from Merle Martin, sent to Gail Lee Martin.

H Roach Martin (2)

Looking at them side-by-side, I’m just not sure. The nose, hairline, and maybe even the ears look like a good match, but the subject in the photo has more angular cheekbones. I really would love to attach a name to this painting by Effie. It’s quite possible that it’s my direct ancestor, Charles Coleman Martin.

It would be great if the cousin who has the painting could find the photo that it may be based on and that it might have the name of the person written on the back. One can hope!

Family Dates for July




Henry Alfred Joy (paternal great-grandfather)
Died – 2 July 1937 • Hamilton, Greenwood, Kansas

Eleanor Dunn (paternal 3rd great-grandmother)
Died – 3 July 1850  • Butler County, Pennsylvania

Marie C. Kennedy (paternal great-grandmother)
Died – 6 July  1945 • Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas

Mary “Polly” Bysebe/Byxbe/Bixby (3rd great-grandmother)
Born – 8 July 1799 • Somerset, Pennsylvania

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Thomas Ellison (paternal 3rd great-grandfather)
Born – 10 July 1809 • Madison, Kentucky

Sarah Vest Munroe (maternal 3rd great-grandmother)
Born – 10 July 1811 • Kentucky

Almira H Buckland (maternal 2nd great-grandmother)
Born – 13 July 1813 • Broad Brook, East Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut

Mary “Polly” Bysebe/Byxbe/Bixby (maternal 3rd great-grandmother)
Died – 13 July 1851 • Wabash, Indiana

Clarence Oliver McGhee & Ruth Vining (maternal grandparents)
Married – 14 July 1917 • Tyro, Montgomery, Kansas

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Ezra B Babcock (maternal 2nd great-grandfather)
Died – 15 July 1886 • Piatt, Illinois

John Thomas Martin (paternal great-grandfather)
Died – 27 July 1944 • Madison, Greenwood, Kansas

Henry Francis Vining (maternal great-grandfather)
Died – 28 July 1897 • Chetopa, Wilson, Kansas

The format is what genealogists use (day month year) and for locations (town, county, state). Paternal and maternal refer to whether it is my father or mother’s side of the family. The relationships are how they are related to me, but other family members like cousins will have to adjust that to fit themselves. For privacy reasons, no living names were included.