Nancy Melvina Tower Vining


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.


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.



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.



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.



Four generation photo – Tower family



Erastus Clarkston Vining and Wife Elizabeth


An old family photo has many stories to tell. This one was posted by Goldie Vining to Rootsweb.

She identified them as:

Back row, from left: Minnie Essie Boraker Vining; Walter James Vining; Charles Augustus (Fiddlin’ Jake of The Shepherd Of The Hills) Vining; George Boraker; Lena Boraker (Baby); and Cora May Vining Boraker.
Front row, from left: Ica Boraker; Erastus Clarkston Vining (brother of Henry Vining, uncle of Ruth Vining McGhee); Elizabeth Ritzon Vining; and Annie Boraker.

Boraker and Vining Families

Let’s take those names and find more about the family. Here is Erastus C. Vining and his wife Elizabeth and daughter Dora in the 1870 U.S. census for Belmont, Woodson County, Kansas. Since Cora May was born in 1869, it is likely that the census taker recorded her name incorrectly with a D instead of a C.

The U.S. census shows a number of Vining families living close together in Woodson County, Kansas.

The U.S. census shows a number of Vining families living close together in Woodson County, Kansas. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO SEE IT LARGER

Notice in the 1870 census that the first Vining family on the list is Erastus’ father, James Vining, age 58. Under his name are his sons, James, age 21, and Franklin, age 15; and daughter Jennie, age 14.

Next on the list is John Vining, age 37 (no wife); son John, age 12; and daughter Ida, age 4. John would be the son of James Vining and the brother of Erastus. He had a son John Jr. and a daughter Ida with his first wife, Josephine. I’m guessing that she died between 1867 and 1870. Their third daughter is absent here. Possibly the 3-year-old was being taken care of by another family. John married Ellenor J Babcock (called Ellen) in 1871.

The third Vining family in this census is Henry Vining, age 32, and Charles Vining, age 25. These match up with the ages of James Vining’s sons Henry Francis Vining and Charles A. Vining (Erastus’ older and younger brothers).

Clarification of Vining and Boraker Family Relationships

I’d estimate this photo as 1906 based upon the baby in the picture.

Luther Vining


My great-uncle, Luther Vining was born on November 5, 1889, in Neodesha in Wilson County, Kansas. His father, Henry Vining, was 52 and his mother, Nancy Jane Babcock Vining, was 38. Luther was only 8 years old when his father died, leaving Nancy to raise 10 children by taking in laundry.

In 1900, Luther was 10 years old and they all lived with his 27 year old half-brother, Isaac Ashlock, in Independence, Kansas. By the 1910 census, 20 year old Luther had left home.

Luther Vining in 1912 with horses. (photo belongs to Bob Harlan)

Luther Vining in 1912 with horses. (photo belongs to Bob Harlan)

The photo above shows him in Taney County, Missouri and is dated 1912. The companion photo shows him with an axe making ties such as are used for railroad tracks. It looks like very hard work.

Luther Vining logging in the Ozarks.

Luther Vining logging in the Ozarks.

We next find him in the 1915 South Dakota census. It says he married in 1911 but is now divorced. On 26 October 1915, he married Josephine B Patton and they had four sons and two daughters together between 1917 and 1927.

Luther Vining and his wife, Josephine (Patton)

Luther Vining and his wife, Josephine (Patton)

Later in 1917 or 1918, he registered for the World War I draft at Esmond, Kingsbury, South Dakota. His work is listed as carpenter. The form asks if he has any disability and he wrote in “rupture,” which may have kept him from being called up. His younger brother, Albert, served in the army.

In 1920, Luther Vining was 30 years old and lived in the Patton house in Esmond, South Dakota with his wife, Josephene, 1 son, and Josephine’s 79-year-old father. They ran a pool hall, cafe, cream station. A cream station is where the farmers bring their cream.

The 1930 census shows Luther Vining was 48 years old and lived in Yamhill, Oregon with his wife, Josephine, 3 sons, and 2 daughters. The next year, his wife died, so Luther took the family back to Kansas. The middle son Donald lived for his teen years with Luther’s brother Albert Vining in Tyro, Kansas.

Lucille and Milford (Luther Vining's children)

Lucille and Milford (Luther Vining’s children)

Luther went to Canada to visit his half-brother, Isaac Ashlock. When Isaac died, Luther married his widow, Ora May Keeling in 1945 and they returned to Kansas. Later they divorced. Ora married a third time (Earl Nellis) and lived to the age of 93.

Luther died on August 10, 1948, in Arkansas City, Kansas, at the age of 58.

(photos from the McGhee family archives, shared with me by my cousin Bob)

Here’s Luther’s daughter, Lucile, in 1935. Thanks, Karen, for reminding me of this picture.

Twyla Yeager, Melba and Gail McGhee, Lucile Vining in 1935 in Woodward, Oklahoma.

Twyla Yeager, Melba and Gail McGhee, Lucile Vining in 1935 in Woodward, Oklahoma.

The Importance of Labeling Photos – Vining Family


Here’s an old discussion from the MyFamily (Martin/McGhee) site. I think we solved this one.

Karen Kolavalli – Dec 11, 2011
Ginger, I had posted this on Facebook, but only had Ruth identified. You were asking about who the others were. Ruth Vining McGhee in white on the right. Also Mrs. Nancy J. Vining (Ruth’s mother). Not sure who the other woman is. Nancy Vining would have been in her late 60’s when this photo was taken–so she must be the seated woman. Ruth was the youngest of 12 children. Nancy also had 2 older children with her first husband.

Virginia Allain – Dec 11, 2011
I was guessing that the woman on the left was Ruth’s mother and the seated lady could be a grandmother. She looks like she could be 80 or so, but maybe it is Nancy Vining as in those days the late 60s would be fairly old.

Karen Kolavalli – Dec 11, 2011
Mom should be able to clear it up.

Karen Kolavalli – Dec 11, 2011
OK, I’ll speculate one more time and then quit! Ginger, I think you’re right that Ruth is standing next to her mother, Nancy J. Babcock Ashlock Vining. And I believe the seated lady is Ruth’s grandmother, Nancy Jane Wright Babcock.  (UPDATE: Nancy Jane Wright Babcock died in 1880 and this photo is circa 1918.)

Gail Martin – Dec 12, 2011
The other woman standing looks like Mother’s older sister Lucy that married Charles Bolte

Virginia Allain – Dec 12, 2011
OK – then the final line-up would be Lucy Bolte (Ruth’s older sister) on left, Ruth Vining McGhee on right, and their mother, Nancy J. Vining seated.

Lucy Vining Bolte, Mrs. Nancy J. Vining, and Ruth Vining  (photo from WWI sent to Nancy's son Albert Vining in France)

Lucy Vining Bolte, Mrs. Nancy J. Vining, and Ruth Vining (photo from WWI sent to Nancy’s son Albert Vining in France)

Here’s further discussion on this picture in September 2014:

Virginia Allain: Let’s go back one generation. This is CJ’s grandmother, Nancy Jane Babcock Vining in the front. Photo taken in Tyro, KS. She would be my great grandmother.

Cj Garriott: That’s my mother, of course, on the right, in the white dress.

Karen Kolavalli: On the left is Ruth’s sister Lucy Vining Bolte.

Karen Kolavalli: Did your Grandmother Nancy pass away before you were born, Cj Garriott?

Cj Garriott: I think so; Mother was 37 when I came along in 1934, and was youngest of all her siblings

Virginia Allain: Nancy had a hard time, I imagine raising all those children after her husband’s death. In one census, she is working as a laundress which probably means taking in laundry to wash at her home. Very hard work in those days without electricity and with water being carried in from a well in the yard.

Cj Garriott: Thinking about Nancy’s 13th being born June 10, 1897, and her husband died July 28, 1897. No doubt began the laundress work to raise her family!

UPDATE: After reading about the Vining cousins who had a laundry business in Neodesha, Kansas, I’m now wondering if Nancy worked there, rather than taking in washing at her home.

Finding Carl and Ida Babcock


My mother had a photo labeled Elias, Carl and Ida Babcock. They appeared to be an older couple with a young boy, all dressed in the garb of the late 1800s. Who were they? Were they the grandparents of the boy? I was curious about how they fit into my family.

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

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

I found Elias on my family tree, actually I found two of them. The Elias Babcock born in 1817 married a Laura, so I went to work on the one born in 1855.

Thanks to, within a short time, I found the 1910 census with an Elias, Carl and Ida Babcock. They were living in Gentry, Arkansas. That rang a bell, as I have Vining ancestors from there also. This was the Elias born in 1855.

Further investigation showed that Elias Jahue Babcock was a younger brother of my great-grandmother, Nancy Jane Babcock (later Ashlock and then Vining). Carl was his son, not his grandson.

Ida, Elias’ wife, was Ida May Brown who lived from 1856 to 1928.

The Vinings and Babcocks are closely related. Ellenor Babcock married John Vining, Nancy Babcock married Henry Francis Vining and Joseph Babcock married Julia Vining.


Confusing Marriages of the Ashlocks and Vinings


It was interesting trying to chart my grandmother’s half-brother Isaac Ashlock on the family tree. Here’s the final results and some notes to help you follow it.

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

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

When Isaac Alonzo “Ike” Ashlock was born on December 22, 1872, in Johnson, Missouri, his father, Burr Ashlock, was 29 and his mother, Nancy Jane Babcock, was 21. He married Jenettie E. Cox and they had three children together between 1912 and 1916 (Nancy Jane, Bessie and Isobell). He then married Ora May Keeling, his stepdaughter, after Jenettie died. Ora and Isaac Ashlock had one daughter (Iris Mae) together in 1940. Isaac died on June 11, 1945, in Athabasca, Canada, at the age of 72.

Chartin the Ashlock - Vining - Keeling marriages

Chartin the Ashlock – Vining – Keeling marriages

Fortunately my grandmother (Ruth Vining McGhee) passed some information to my mother, Gail McGhee Martin so that’s the basis for this. Click on the graphic to see it larger.

Here’s Gail Martin’s note about the marriages: “Uncle Luther Vining (Isaac’s half-brother) went to stay with Uncle Ike in Canada and then Isaac died, June 11 1945, Some time in the last half of 1945 Luther married Ike’s widow, Ora and brought her to Kansas. After their divorce Ora married Earl Nellis in Caney, Ks. Now that all took a lot of research. I corresponded with Ora in the 1980s from Hanover, Ks.”

Further note from Gail Martin: “If that isn’t confusing enough, Jenette’s older daughter, Laura Keeling married my mother’s cousin, Charles Augustus Vining (Fiddlin Jake) in Haskew, OK on Aug. 8 1911.”

Isaac Ashlock in Canada

Isaac Ashlock in Canada

I wish I knew the names of the grandchildren shown with Isaac here and which daughters are their mothers.

Almost Lost Picture of Nancy Jane Vining


Post provided by Karen Kolavalli:

We feel very fortunate to discover this large photograph on canvas of my great-grandmother Nancy Jane Ashlock Babcock Vining. It was in a tumble-down house in rural Madison, Kansas. Demolition was scheduled and before long it would have been gone forever. None of us even knew about this picture. It shows a younger, more vibrant woman than other photos we have of her when she was older.

Nancy Jane Babcock was born in Iowa in 1851, the daughter of  Ellenor Nancy Jane Wright and Ezra B. Babcock. When her husband, Burr Ashlock died, she had three young children to raise. She married Henry Vining in 1874.


The youngest of Nancy’s 12 children was my grandmother, Ruth Vining McGhee. Ruth was just a month old when her father died in 1897. The Widow Vining raised her 2 youngest children, Albert and Ruth, in Tyro, Kansas in the early 1900s.

Picture rescued by Karen Kolavalli and the photo edited by Virginia Allain

Nancy Jane Ashlock Vining (Rescued and framed by Karen Kolavalli)

You can read more about the discovery of this photo on my sister, Karen’s blog. There you see the condition of this family treasure.

(Virginia Allain touched up the photo shown here)