In an odd twist of fate, I thought I might share my latest story in search of the family of Theophilus and Martha France. I stumbled on this photograph when scanning the photos of my Great Great Grandmother. She married Herbert Coley, whose sister, Martha Ann, is shown above. This photo was in the collection, likely from Martha France herself, to my Great Great Grandfather Herbert. The photo just had the two names written on the back of the photo.
Since, I have tried to track down the family with little or no success. I will give some of the limited history I know at this point and then close with my latest little find.
Theophilus was born 26 December 1863 in Dudley, Staffordshire, England. He married Martha Ann Coley 4 November 1891 in Logan, Cache, Utah in the Logan LDS Temple. Martha was born 18 August 1860 in Lutley, Worcestershire, England to Stephen and Hannah Maria Rogers Coley.
Theophilus was a musician that took the family to various places chasing performing and music instructions. Mostly in Cache Valley, but also taking in a jaunt to Salina, Sevier, Utah.
Theophilus France, in the middle, nicknamed Foghorn
Born to the family were 5 children.
Ada France born 1 April 1893 in Franklin, Franklin, Idaho and died 14 February 1957 in Caldwell, Canyon, Idaho. She married Henry James Flippence.
Marguerite France born 19 October 1894 in Franklin and died 20 Mar 1936 in Logan. She married George Bright.
Franklin Band, circa 1895, Theophilus France is sitting second from the right, supposedly as the leader
Wilford France born 25 Mar 1897 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah and died 28 August 1986 in Los Angeles County, California. He married Elsie Arvilla Brown.
John France born 22 May 1899 in Lewiston and died 18 June 1953 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. He married Meryln Burton.
Beatrice France born 16 October 1901 in Lewiston and died 14 October 1997 in Salt Lake City. She married Robert Wallace Ekenstam.
From the census records, it appears Martha may have had a son (maybe a brother) named Frank. He appears and then disappears. He may be a cousin who came over from England with Martha and then died, married, or just moved away. I cannot trace him down again, so this is one question I have always wanted to answer. But finding a member of this family has not proved easy.
I knew Theophilus and Martha are buried in the Lewiston Cemetery. Her brother, George, and their parents, Stephen and Hannah, my Great Great Great Grandparents are also buried there. Theophilus died 30 October 1923 in Lewiston. Martha died 18 July 1949 in Parma, Canyon, Idaho.
George Bright and Marguerite Coley had at least 8 children, but only one of them lived to marry. I knew her name was Gennevieve Bright and that she had married a man by the name of Elvon Monson Jensen 22 April 1947. He died in 1990 and trying to track down a lady Monson in Utah or Idaho, especially where she could have remarried, seemed an impossible task. I left it there and tried some of the other lines.
In 2011, I was in my office and visiting with the wife of the other attorney from who I rent office space. I knew Kent was from Preston and in a lull of the conversation asked the name of Kent’s parents. She mentioned Elvon and Gennevieve. I could not tell where, but I knew that Elvon Jensen was in my family history. That night I looked him up and sure enough, there he was. I rent office space in Burley, Idaho from my 3rd cousin, once removed! Kent’s children are my 4th cousins.
It was with some sweet satisfaction that I was able to provide a copy of the photograph of Theophilus and Martha above to him. He had not seen a picture of them before. I asked that he put me in contact with the member of his family who does the family history on the France/Coley line. Maybe I can help bridge some of the divide and flesh out more fully the Coley line in Utah and Idaho.
The picture above of Theophilus and Martha was scanned in 2006. Who knew that I would be providing a photo of ancestors to a line who did not have a photograph. Maybe there will be more such stories in the future with all the photos I have and continue to make available. We can only hope. Here is a photo of Martha later in life, I don’t know how old she was at the time.