Old Tower Family Photos – an Analysis

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What a pair of cuties. These babies below from a bygone era belong to the Tower branch of our family tree. Fortunately for me, my mother put them in an album and wrote next to the picture.

lorene-underwood-ray-tower

Reuben Tower’s son William Ray Tower on the right. Lorene Underwood, daughter of Ida (McElvaney) and Ras Underwood on the left.

There are several pages of these old studio portraits and a note saying she got them from Bill Tower who had them from W.W. Tower. That was enough to get me oriented. William Warren Tower lived in Tyro KS and was the brother of my great-grandmother, Viola Matilda Tower McGhee.

Hmm, then Bill Tower is my grandfather’s cousin, which would make him a second cousin to my mother, third cousin to me. OK, so now we’ve worked out the source of the photos.

If we had no label, that provenance would be some help in dating and naming the subjects. Don’t assume the ownership of the photos means the people in the photograph are part of that immediate family.

In this case, the two children lived in Oklahoma and the photo was sent to W.W. Tower by his brother, Reuben Tower better known as Shorty. The baby (right side of the photo) is Reuben Tower’s son William Ray Tower, usually called Ray. Don’t be fooled by the dress, as it was standard wear for baby boys of that era. It probably made it much easier to change diapers.

The other infant is a cousin to Ray. The baby girl is Lorene Underwood, daughter of Ida (McElvaney) and Ras Underwood. Ida was Pearl McElvaney’s sister (Shorty’s wife).

We’re lucky to have all that background information about the photo. Now, what can we tell from the photo itself? The wicker chair that the children are sitting on probably is from the 1890s or more recent. The fanciness of the children’s clothing shows the family is in comfortable circumstances and the fact that they can afford a studio portrait indicates that as well. The Tower family in Tyro did not have many photos like that, but I’m finding the Towers in Prague, Oklahoma had quite a few taken.

In the case of these two babies, I have their names and the parent’s names. A quick check on ancestry.com gives Ray’s birthdate as 29 Mar 1910 and Lorene’s as 11 Jun 1910. Ray seems to be sitting up on his own, but someone at the left edge of the picture is holding Lorene in place. I’d guess the photo is towards the end of 1910.

What happened to the children? In October 1911, baby Lorene died. Her parents had 5 children after her and her mother lived to be 94. Little Ray lived to be 82 years of age.

Sometimes vintage photos have the name of a photographer and a town, this one did not. If they are in an album held in place by photo corners, you can check for writing on the back.

glen-and-ray-tower-with-audrey-mitchell

The baby boy at the top of the page is now the older boy in this photo. I’d guess about 8 or 9 years old.

The “VV” refers to Vina Vining (originally Melvina Tower, daughter of William Warren Tower). The baby on the chair is Glenn Bates Tower. He was 8 years younger than his brother William Ray Tower. Audrey Mitchell lived with the Tower family.

Audrey Mitchell lived with the Tower family. The 1920 census shows her in the household when she was 12 years old, so she is 3 years older than Ray. I found a possible family for her in the 1910 census where there is a 4-year-old Andra Mitchell with parents Eva and Zack Mitchell.

The boys are Melvina’s cousins, the children of Reuben (Shorty) Tower.

Shorty (Reuben) and Pearl Tower, the parents of the two boys. (Thanks to Pat Ruble for these photos)

Shorty (Reuben) and Pearl Tower, the parents of the two boys. (Thanks to Pat Ruble for these photos)

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Travels of the Kennedy Family Desk by Karen Kolavalli

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“Awhile back, I did a piece on Squidoo, a writers’ website, telling about a special piece of family history that I am lucky enough to have in my home: it’s a lovely antique cherry wood slant-top desk from the mid-1800’s or earlier. The known history of the desk is that it traveled with my great-great grandfather David Greacen Kennedy, along with his wife and family, from Pennsylvania to Vinland in “Bleeding Kansas” in 1861 by covered wagon. In the piece, I follow the desk as it is handed down through the generations until it was passed on to me in 2002.

I also take the reader along as I explore resources to try to date the desk and discover its origins prior to 1861.

I wrote the piece as part of a “RocketSquid” challenge on the site (The RocketSquid program is a mentoring program for new Squidoo members). It was featured as one of the top lenses (webpages) in the challenge and subsequently earned a Purple Star.”

Purple Stars are fairy dust. They’re magic. They’re surprises. They’re trophies celebrating authentic, original, fantastic content on Squidoo. They’re given out by our editors and community organizers, whenever they find a lens that makes them smile. You’ll never know when or where a purple star will arrive–but you’ll get a special email if you’re bestowed with one. Squidoo

You can read the entire piece at Hubpages, since the Squidoo site closed down: From Pennsylvania to Kansas: Travels of Our Family Heirloom Desk.

Karen wrote this post a few years ago for a blog she had at the time.

Homer Tower’s Wife

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You might think that genealogy is easy these days. Just go online and find all your ancestors and add them to your family tree. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is.

Admittedly it is easier and faster than in the days when my mom and grandmother visited courthouses and cemeteries to track down relatives. My subscription to ancestry.com is worth every penny in the time it saves me and the names and dates that I’d never find otherwise.

Despite that, finding your roots is a laborious, consuming project. Here’s an example:

I’m tracking the descendants of my great-great-grandfather, Abraham Bates Tower who was born in 1837. Don’t confuse him with the other Abraham Bates Tower who happens to be his uncle and who lived in the same county in Indiana.

One of Abraham’s grandsons is Theodore Homer Tower, son of Erastus Laban Tower. To complicate the search, both Theodore and Erastus went by their middle names. I noted that Homer’s wife was Ilena or maybe Ina Ilena but had no idea on her maiden name.

laban and clarvina tower family

The older couple (center) are identified on Ancestry as most likely Clarvina Viola (Cox) and Erastus Laban Tower. The others are probably children and grandchildren but are not identified.

She is the wife of my 1st cousin 2x removed.

As I added more details for Homer from various census and the marriage record, I found more variations of Ilena’s name. Ilenna, Ilean, Ilene and Ina I. I’ve assembled the evidence here.

►1900 census – Ilenna Parr, age 6, was listed as the granddaughter of Sarah and Ruffus Parr. Also in the household are the couple’s daughters, Ruth Parr age 21 and Lisia Ann Parr. age 12. I’d guess that Ruth Parr was Ilenna’s mother, but she could be the daughter of a brother or sister of Ruth’s. If Ruth is the mother, was she unmarried?

►1910 census – Ilean Riddle, age 16 is living with grandparents, Sarah and Rufus Parr. Also in the household are Ruth Riddle and Luke Riddle, ages 39 and 43. There’s a younger child, Chester Riddle, age 4. My deduction from this is that Ruth is Ilean’s mother and she has married Luke, probably in 1905 or 1906. Chester is Ilean’s half-brother. Maybe/maybe not. Ruth and Luke may have adopted Ilean or just gave his last name for the child to the census taker.

►1914 Marriage Certificate – Ilean Parr and spouse, Homer Tower. Very curious, what happened to the Riddle last name? Ilean’s birthdate is given as 25 January 1893. She is 21.

►1920 census – Ilene Tower, age 25 is listed with husband Theodore H. Tower and daughter Hilda. The neighbor on one side is Erastus Laban Tower, wife and also son, Dorris. This is Homer’s parents and younger brother. Next to them is a family of Riddles.
On the other side in the census is Ruth and Abraham Riddle with Abraham’s mother-in-law, the widowed Sarah Parr. It took some further sleuthing to discover that Luke was the middle name for Abraham, so not a separate person or new spouse for Ruth.

►1930 census – Ina I Tower, age 35 lives with Theodore H Tower and their 15-year-old daughter Hilda Marie. Homer’s widowed mother-in-law, Ruth P. Riddle, age 59 now lives with them. This verifies that Ruth is Ilean’s mother.

►1940 census – Ilean and husband Homer Tower, ages 46 and 47, now live alone. It would take further research to find out what happened to Ruth (probably died) and Hilda (probably married).

I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I spent verifyng Ilean’s name. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure but have listed her on the tree as Ina Ilean Parr Riddle.

Our Almost-Pilgrim Ancestors

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People want to trace their family tree back to the Mayflower so they can claim Pilgrim ancestors. I joke that our ancestors missed the boat and came over a few years later.

In 1620, the Mayflower reached America, and most of us are familiar with the story of the Indians bringing food to the Pilgrims. Some the passengers were Separatists, escaping religious persecution in England.

Our ancestor came 17 years later in 1637. Here’s the start of the story from the Tower Genealogical Society, ” John Tower(1), and his friend Samuel Lincoln emigrated from Old Hingham, England to Boston, Massachusetts, by ship, a voyage that took eleven and one-half weeks. After disembarking in Boston, John and Samuel traveled together by horseback to Hingham, Massachusetts, where they both settled.”

Hingham Invitation
Hingham Invitation by GoingPlaces

Why did they leave Hingham, England for America? The history page for Hingham says, “Puritan residents of Hingham, led by the former vicar of Hingham, Robert Peck and his associate Peter Hobart, emigrated to the then colony of Massachusetts. Those who left were so prominent in the community that the town was forced to petition Parliament for help, claiming that it had been devastated by the loss.”

The Church of England sought to enforce its practices and those who did not want to follow the government sanctioned religion opted to emigrate. It was not only religion that inspired their travel across the ocean. Samuel Lincoln writes in his early history that a spirit of “adventure and enterprise” motivated the settlers.

John Tower married Margaret Ibrook. They had ten children together. She lived to be 83, and he lived to be almost 93.

You can read more about them and their descendants in this book, available from Amazon in hardback and also as a 99 cent Kindle book.

It’s Grandparents Day

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I’d like to feature my father’s parents, my grandparents, Cora Joy and Lorenzo Martin. It’s National Grandparents Day!

Cora Joy and Lorenzo (Ren) Martin on their wedding day February 27, 1915.

Cora Joy and Lorenzo (Ren) Martin on their wedding day.

When Cora Myrle Joy was born on November 18, 1896, in Baldwin City, Kansas, her father, Henry Alfred Joy, was 22 and her mother, Marie Kennedy, was 31. She married Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin on February 27, 1915, in Madison, Kansas. They had eight children in 24 years. She died on November 16, 1969 at the age of 72, and was buried at Blakely Cemetery.

When Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin was born on May 26, 1891, in Madison, Kansas, his father, John Thomas Martin, was 24 and his mother, Cordelia Jane Stone, was 26. Ren died on March 28, 1968 at the age of 76, and was buried at Blakely Cemetery, Madison, Kansas.

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

 

 

The Two Isaac Ashlocks

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I was delighted to find a new photo on ancestry.com of Isaac Ashlock, my grandmother’s half-brother. It’s always a great discovery to find family photos from the 1800s and someone’s family tree with marriages and children’s names all laid out for you.

Unfortunately the more I collected from the other tree, the more I noticed that something wasn’t right. Finally I had to acknowledge that there were two men with almost identical names and dates and both born in Missouri in the 1870s.

Here’s my effort to sort them out:

►Isaac “Ike” Alonzo Ashlock born 22 December 1872 at Rosehill, Johnson, Missouri, USA. Parents: Burr H Ashlock 1843 – 1873 and Nancy Jane Babcock 1851 – 1924. Nancy Jane is my great-grandmother. Isaac died 11 June 1945 at age 72 in Alberta, Canada. My grandmother, Ruth Vining said her half-brother’s wife was Jennette and after she died, he married Ora. Ora was Jennette’s daughter from a previous marriage, so she was Isaac’s step-daughter. After Isaac died, his brother Luther married Ora later the same year and brought her to Kansas. She later divorced him.

►Isaac Olonzo Ashlock (in some trees showing the same birth and death date and locations and parents as the Isaac above) But cperk69’s tree shows a wife named Winnifred Sarah Guffey 1874 – 1973. Arrbaldwin’s tree has Wineyfred Sarah Guffey married to Isaac Olonzo Ashlock who died 16 Nov 1957. That tree shows Isaac O. Ashlock’s parents as James Henry Ashlock 1837 – 1912 and Margaret Elizabeth Sebring 1840 –. This Isaac was born 22 September 1873 in Adair, Missouri, USA. He is nine months older than the Isaac in my family and died 12 years after our Isaac. This tree looks authentic with a number of photos of Winny and Isaac who it also calls Ilonzo. There’s even a 50th wedding anniversary photo. He lived in Missouri until 1930 the couple shows up in the Washington state census.

So the photos I found are of the second Isaac, not the one in my family tree. Unfortunately a number of trees on ancestry have a mixture of dates, locations, relationships from the two men. I’ll try to get the correct info in place and inform the owners of the other trees so they can correct them.

Here’s a photo of our Isaac Alonzo Ashlock with his sister.

Isaac Ashlock and his sister Sarilda. (photo from the collection of Gail Lee Martin)

Issac Ashlock and his sister Sarilda. (photo from the collection of Gail Lee Martin)

Read more about Isaac Ashlock’s marriages and how he is related to the Vinings.