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…

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Learning about Woodward County, Oklahoma and the Vining Family

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A Book from Gail Lee Martin’s bookshelf (reviewed by her daughter, Virginia Allain): Oklahoma Geological Survey Guide Book XV – Alabaster Cavern and Woodward County.

The University of Oklahoma published this in 1969 with a second printing in 1972. A slim 38 pages, but filled with useful information if you want to know about the geology or history of this area. The pictures are in black and white, but you get some maps, various charts and graphs explaining the geology and photos of the interior of the caves.

In the history section, starting at page 25, it covers the early times with the Indian tribes, then the military presence with the Custer massacre at Washita of over 100 Indians including women and children and the establishment of Fort Supply.

That was followed by ranching and then homesteaders in the land rush of 1893. Sod houses were constructed and hardy families eked out a living and built schools and eventually churches and towns.

In the oversized booklet, it describes a typical sod house as 12 feet by 16 feet with walls made from blocks of sod cut into brick-like shapes. The roof was slightly rounded and made of poles and tar paper and then covered with dirt to hold the tar paper in place.

The settlers would collect dried buffalo chips or cow patties to burn as fuel since wood was scarce. I found it fascinating reading about the early ranchers, then the land rush and homesteaders.

How This Relates to the Family History:

From Gail Martin’s notes: The Vining family came to Woodward County from the Pea Ridge School area which is probably “where the Vinings lived in Wilson County, KS, before moving to Woodward, OK, area when Mother (Ruth Vining McGhee) was 5 years old.” That would have been 1902.

Henry Vining was the son of James and Almira Vining. He was born 17 September 1837 and died 28 July 1897. He married Nancy Jane (Babcock) Ashlock on 30 March 1866. She had 3 children from her first marriage. Mom’s story about Henry’s mother is told in My Pioneering Great Grandmother. That story takes place in the eastern part of Kansas.

More about Woodward County, Oklahoma

There were 2,241 residents in 1894 (right after the land rush). For the next four years, the population kept dropping due to drought, harsh winters, and conflicts with the cattlemen.

The homesteader had to pay for the land in installments plus a filing fee of $15. Then he had to live on that quarter section of land for 5 years, grow crops and make certain improvements to gain title to the land.

The Vining family bought their land from one of the homesteaders who gave up and left.

The photo of the frame house shows Ruth (youngest child on the left) and her family in front of a small home on the Oklahoma prairie. Extending to the right is a dugout or sod house which was probably the original house. Her father, Henry Vining, died six weeks after his youngest daughter was born.

My aunt recently told me this tidbit of family lore: “Mother often slept with covers over her head; she said it was from her childhood years living in a dugout home, and insects scuttled across the ceiling”

My mother wrote a story from Ruth’s childhood that she heard many times. It’s called The Day the Mad Dog Came. This event happened at this location.

Ruth Vining’s older sister Belle Vining lived in Woodward County through the 1930s while married to Orville Espie Brock.

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Here are more pages with Woodward County history.

 

In June of 1955, Albert Vining, his wife Vina, and two of his sisters (Ruth and I think, Bessie) made a trip to visit “the old home place.” My older sister, Susan went with them. At this point, there are only these two photos to remember the road trip. I don’t know if any remnants of the old sod and frame house remained or if they were able to visit any relatives still in the Woodward area.

The first photo is labeled “standing by the well at the old birthplace.” In the second photo, there’s a monument labeled “Rogers” so I’m guessing that they stopped in Claremore, Oklahoma to see the Will Rogers memorial. The link shows a video of what is there now, probably expanded quite a bit over the years.

 

Here are a few things I found online about the area. The map is from 1905 and as you can see the Kansas line forms the upper border of Woodward County. The street scenes are from 1910 and 1920.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Four generation photo – Tower family

 

Some of Our English Roots

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Some months back, I took the Ancestry DNA test. As expected, it showed much of my heritage links back to the British Isles. That part matches what I’m finding as I work on my family tree. Below the chart, I list some of the family lines and where they came from in England.

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Our English Ancestors:

  • Bates family came from Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire
  • Bixby ancestor came from Thorpe Morieux, Suffolk
  • Browning family came from Maldon, Essex
  • Collier family came from Southwark, Surrey
  • Goodale ancestor came from Ipswich, Suffolk
  • King, West, and Pease ancestors came from Great Baddow, Essex
  • Long ancestors came from West Riding, Yorkshire
  • Putnam ancestors came from Tring, Hertfordshire
  • Tower family came from Hingham
  • Vining ancestors came from Wincanton

I found one suggestion that our Joy family changed their name from Joyce in the 1500s when they moved from Ireland to England. I’ll have to search further on that.

Karen has found indications that the Martin family may trace back to France. There will be more work on that line. We know the Rosebaugh line is from Germany. Various invasions of England over the centuries might account for the Scandinavian part of the DNA. Vikings, you know.

Elmer McGhee

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When Elmer Lee MCGHEE was born on February 6, 1910, in Tyro, Kansas, his father, Samuel Newton McGhee, was 34 and his mother, Viola Matilda Tower, was 37. He had seven brothers and two sisters. He died as a child on April 5, 1921, in his hometown.

Here’s the bare bones information from the U.S. Federal Census:
►1910 -Elmer McGhee was less than a year old and lived in Caney, Kansas with his father, mother, 5 brothers, and sister. His siblings are Clarence, Jesse, Roy, Bertha, Lealon, and Loren.
►1920 – Elmer Mcghee was 9 years old and lived in Caney, Kansas with his father, mother, 4 brothers, 2 sisters, and 82-year-old grandfather, Abraham Tower.  Added siblings for Elmer are Austin and Ethel. There was an 18-year-old boarder living with them who worked on the public road.

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The occasion above seems to be a visit from the Texas branch of the Tower family (Alice and daughters, Helen and Willie Bell) to Tyro. Elmer and Austin McGhee are in the front.

Samuel Newton McGhee and son Elmer in Tyro KS

Samuel McGhee holding his son Elmer. Their home in Tyro, Kansas, with the smaller Vining family home in the background.

The background story on Elmer is he and his brother Austin had polio at a very young age. You see Elmer and his father, Samuel Newton McGhee here in front of their home in Tyro.

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Austin McGhee, still in baby dress and his older brother Elmer. Note the step made from a packing box.

The family got a pony so Elmer could go to school. The other children walked to school, but Elmer was too disabled by the polio.

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Elmer and Austin McGhee, Tyro, Kansas.

Here’s the Tyro School picture with Elmer and Austin.

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Elmer and Austin McGhee, Tyro School, guessing it is around 1919 

Elmer and Austin McGhee are in the 2nd row from the blackboard…the 1st two boys in dark shirts.

Elmer McGhee was buried in Robbins Cemetery near Tyro, Kansas. You will find a number of Tower, McGhee, and Vining graves there.

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Bertha writes about the photo of her father Samuel holding Elmer.

George H. and Pearl L. Vining

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George Vining and Pearl Byers wedding photo 1916

George Howard ViningPearl Leona Byers Vining

 

 

 

George graduated from Pittsburg Teachers College with a B. S. in Mathematics and Social Science.

George married Pearl Byers Sept. 28, 1910, both were teachers, and George was also the superintendent of the public high school in Edna, KS.  George and Pearl never had children.

George is the grand uncle of Nancy Henning, and was James M. Vining’s 5th oldest son. He always seemed to be quite prosperous. When Nancy, her mother, Lorene Vining Brown and her sister Shari, would visit them in Chanute, KS, they would stay in their beautiful two-story home. Pearl was such a refined appearing lady.

George was the superintendent of Edna High School when Lorene Vining went there. In his later years after teaching, he sold insurance. At times George and Pearl would rent out portions of their home, as well as, complete living quarters upstairs with a full kitchen.  In the 1940’s George also was part owner of a farm that he shared with his brothers’ Harry and Lawrence.

George taught highschool and was the superintendent

(the photos above are in the collection of Nancy Henning)

George Howard Vining

BIRTH – 17 FEB 1883 Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas, United States

DEATH – 5 DECEMBER 1964 Chanute, Neosho, Kansas, United States

Pearl Leona Byers

BIRTH – 17 NOVEMBER 1890 Kansas

DEATH – 7 OCTOBER 1972 – Chanute, Neosho County, Kansas, USA

 

 

Lester Vining’s Photo – A Comparison

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lester_vining_son_of_francisLester Vining headshot 1900

Just for fun here is a side by side of the unknown picture of a Lester Vining, left,

and a picture of James Vining Jr. and Jane’s 1900 picture of their son Lester, right

Same style of clothing for both.

Heytoto asked to see the rest of the group photo. Here’s the whole family (Nancy Henning’s photo) around 1900.

Fred, Lester. Aaron, George, Harry, cousin Ralph and son Earl (top row) Elnora and Irene (center) Lawrence, James Jr., Sara Jane McFall Lindsley (Jane's mother) and Jane (affectionately known as grandma Jennie)

Fred, Lester. Aaron, George, Harry, cousin Ralph and son Earl (top row) Elnora and Irene (center) Lawrence, James Jr., Sara Jane McFall Lindsley (Jane’s mother) and Jane (affectionately known as grandma Jennie)