Beulah Duncan and Damey Ross

Beulah and Damey Ross

I received this photo a few years ago.  It just has “Beulah” written on the back of it.  I asked the person who provided it to see if they could get a higher resolution scan of the photo.  I don’t have one yet, but I can always hope.

There is really only on Beulah Ross in the entire extended family I am aware.  That is Beulah Estell Ross.  She was born 26 March 1908 in Twin Branch, McDowell, West Virginia.  She was born to Robert Leonard Ross (1888-1944) and Minnie Belle Hambrick (1889-abt 1985).  There are many questions about her father Robert.  I have heard stories from West Virginia family that he was running from the law when he visited them in the 1930s.  Which might lead to some explanation on why he is hard to track and records seem to be scant.

We believe Robert and Minnie had 6 children, but only 3 of them have we really been able to find or track.  Beulah Estell Ross is one of those children.  She met and married William Jackson “Jack” Duncan on 20 September 1922 in Burley, Cassia, Idaho.  He was born 26 September 1901 in Clinton, Van Buren, Arkansas.  That would put her at 14 years of age when she married in Burley to Bill, who was 21.

I have written of her grandparents, James & Damey Ross, before.  They lived in and near Paul, Minidoka, Idaho until the late 1920s.  The 1930 census found them in Bend, Deschutes, Oregon.

Looking at the photo, I am guessing Beulah is about 12-14, which puts us in the early 1920s and in southern Idaho.

Beulah and Jack had 4 children that we know.  Jack died 11 July 1977 in Sunnyside, Yakima, Washington.  Beulah remarried to a Kenneth K Marshall.  She then passed away 5 March 2002 in Toppenish, Yakima, Washington.  Jack and Beulah are both buried in Zillah.

Read her obituary here.

I found this note from a 2007 post.  I recorded these notes from a conversation with granddaughter Carol Ann Stone.

“We visited for a few minutes; she told me what she knew of her grandmother, Beulah.  Their story goes something like this.  Robert was an alcoholic and his wife Minnie had some sort of Drug addiction.  All the children were farmed out to others.  Beulah was taken in by her grandparents, my great great grandparents James Thomas Meredith Ross and Damey Catherine Graham.  She was taken and raised near Rupert, Idaho.  But her strict Mormon grandparents was a bit much for her so she was anxious to get out.  That came when she met a Jack or Mack Duncan.  She was 14 and married him.  They moved to Zillah, Washington and lived out the remainder of their days.  He died in the late 70’s and she died in 2002 at about 96 years of age.  They had four children, two of which are deceased.”

The more I looked at the photo, it dawned on me that the lady was her grandmother, Damey Catherine Graham Ross.

Damey Catherine Graham Ross

Here is a photo of James Thomas and Damey Catherine Ross.

James & Damey Ross

Robert, Beulah’s father, is brother to my John “Jack” William Ross.

After I realized that this photograph was another of my Great Great Grandmother, I was pretty excited.  It makes me want to be more diligent in chasing down a better scan of the photo.

Here are a couple of other photos with Beulah and Jack in them.  I don’t know the other individuals.  Some day….

Jack and Beulah Duncan

 

Beulah and Jack Duncan with unknown

 

Beulah’s Son

 

Beulah’s Son Bob

 

Jack and family 1

 

Jack and family 2

 

Jack and Beulah Duncan Family

 

John “Jack” Ross and Beulah Duncan

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John “Jack” William Ross Grave

While we were in San Francisco this summer, I told Amanda the only required stop was my Great Grandpa’s grave in Goldengate National Cemetery in San Bruno, San Mateo, California.  Since the summer went to pot with medical issues for our little girl, I have not posted much of California.  Here is the first of hopefully several.

Goldengate National Cemetery

Goldengate National Cemetery

This is a picture from Jack’s grave looking toward the east.  As you can tell the rows and graves go for a very long distance.  Sources show the cemetery is 161.5 acres with over 145,000 interments.  Jack’s is grave #512.

We showed up as the rain was coming down pretty hard.  We stopped at the office to find out where John “Jack” William Ross could be found within the cemetery.  We obtained a map, directions, and started toward his grave.  It probably only took us about 15 minutes.  Fortunately the rain slowed a bit when we got out of the car.

John William Ross tombstone

John William Ross tombstone

I have written before about Jack.  He was born 2 September 1890 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  You can read at the link about his marriages and life.  He died 13 June 1948 in Livermore Veterans Hospital in Livermore, Alameda, California.  The building he passed away in is still there.  Which brings to life more of the story of my Grandfather, Milo James Ross, told of when he went to visit Jack.  Milo was present when Jack passed away.

Back of John William Ross' grave, #512

Back of John William Ross’ grave, #512

The rain was starting again after we had been there for a few minutes.  I could not help but wonder, am I the only descendant of Jack to visit his grave?  I know Grandpa wasn’t there for his burial and as far as I know never made it back.  Harold is the only other son, and he was pretty negative toward his father, so I doubt he personally made it.  How lonely is that?  Some of Jack’s nephews lived in California, but I doubt they ever paid a visit.  Who knows, but that I suspect I am the only descendant to visit his grave.

20160524_091328

Paul Norwood Jonas Ross at the grave of John “Jack” William Ross at Goldengate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

 

 

Rest well until the Resurrection.

 

Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra

Edith Gudmunson

Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra, 91, passed away on Monday, 18 July 2016 at her home in Stockton, Missouri, from natural causes related to age.  She was born the first of two children on 21 September 1924 in Logan, Utah, to Melvin Peter and Maude Victoria Wollaston Gudmundson.  She married William Fredrick Andra Jr 13 June 1947 in the Logan Utah LDS Temple.  Together they had six children.  William passed away in 1992.  Edith married Leland Fred Williams 10 March 1999 in Arnica, Missouri.  He predeceased her in 2011.

Edith grew up in Logan at 253 East 3rd South.  She had one sister, Shirley, born in 1928, with who she grew up.

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith

 

Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Her mother passed away in 1931 and the family had to work through those difficult years with just the three of them.  She attended Wilson School and Logan Junior and Senior Schools where she graduated. She played the violin.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 005

Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook

 

Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook

 

Edith Maude Gudmunson 012 Edith Maude Gudmunson 014 Edith Maude Gudmunson 008 Edith Maude Gudmunson 010

She enlisted in the Navy in Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 September 1944 and served until discharge in San Francisco, California, 1 May 1946.  She trained and served as a switchboard operator for the majority of the time of her service.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 015 Edith Maude Gudmunson 016

After her military service, she attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith 002

During this time she met William Andra, who discharged from the Marines 20 June 1946.  I am not aware that he attended Brigham Young University, but I know he was living in Orem and it was likely there that William and Edith met culminating in their marriage in 1947.

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Greg William was born in Preston, Idaho in 1948.  Chad Fredrick was born in Preston in 1949.

Edith

Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad

By 1950, the family was living in Boise for a short time.

Edith in 1951

Edith in 1951

The family then moved back to Logan where Kent Melvin was born in 1954.

Bill and Edith with Marc, chad, and Kent

Edith Maude Gudmunson

The family was living in Midvale by 1955 where Marc David was born.  Then to Salt Lake City in 1956.  Troy Norman was born in Providence in 1960.

Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad and Kent, marc

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

A few years later the family moved to Smithfield.  Todd Nathan was born in Smithfield in 1968.

Greg,Kent and Marc, Chad, Edith, Bill

Greg and Chad and Kent 001

It is in Smithfield that my mother came to know the family, since she was living in Richmond.  Kent and my Mom were close in age and played together.

Larry and Mom both told me stories about William and Edith being very particular about being healthy eaters.  Larry remembers Edith washing every leaf of a head of lettuce before it could be eaten.  William tried to convince Larry of the unhealthy nature of bacon and milk.  Nobody else seemed to care, but it would really get William and Edith upset when people would not come to their way of thinking.  William was also particular about when you ate, not mixing the various parts of your food with other parts.  Larry found much of this amusing.

The Andra family was a fairly tight knit family and held reunions together yearly.  Relationships started to strain in 1965 when William and Edith learned and accepted polygamy leading to their excommunication from the LDS church.  The Andra family relationships started to strain further after attempts to convert William’s parents and some of the siblings to polygamy.  Even while William’s parents were in a nursing home late in life, there were attempts to convert them to polygamy which led to final severing ties.

Bill and Edith with 5 boys

William Andra Jr FamilyBill Edith Children 1981

I don’t know when, but the family after converting to polygamy moved to Santa Clara.  Nobody in the immediate family knows when due to the severance.  After many years in Santa Clara, they then moved to Cedar County, Missouri.

Bill Edith 1981

Bill and Edith Family 1981

Bill and Edith in SLC (2)Todd, Troy, Marc, Kent, Chad, Greg 004

Todd, Edith, and Kent Andra

My first visit to Edith was in 2001.  I was moving to Branson, Missouri for work and before I left Uncle Ross Andra told me Edith lived in Missouri somewhere.  I do not have any memories with William and Edith and did not even know she was still alive.  Ross told me I should stop and visit.  I knew nothing of the divide that had come into the family.

When I stayed the night before entering Missouri in Florence, Kansas, I looked to see what I could find in the phone book.  With a last name like Andra, it wasn’t hard to find who I thought was the right name in Stockton, Missouri.  I called the number and it was Mary Andra, wife of Kent Andra who answered.  She told me I was welcome to stop by and since their shop was a bit off the beaten path, gave me directions.

I arrived later that day and found a long lost number of cousins I never knew existed.  I saw the shop, I met a number of Kent’s children, and then I was taken down to the home to meet more of the family.  When I was introduced to his wife, Tammy, I thought I had already met his wife, Mary, but I assumed I must have misunderstood.  I met more and more children.

Kent sent one of his daughters with me to help me find Edith’s home.  I sat with Edith meeting her for the first time in my memory and chatted for quite a while.  She showed me some family history, told me some sweet stories of my Grandmother Colleen, and various conversations.  Edith did not know Colleen had passed away.  She told me of her new marriage to Leland Williams.  We parted on great terms and went back to Kent’s home, enjoyed some carrot juice, and visited.

In a funny situation, I was enjoying my carrot juice trying to keep the children’s names straight when Mary came into the house.  I sat there talking with Kent, Tammy, and Mary having a good laugh.  I kept wondering how I misunderstood and was unclear on who was Kent’s wife, so I asked.  They stated that both were.  I sat there not comprehending.  I must have looked confused because they just looked at me.  It then dawned on me and I made some comment like, “Well, we are family right?”  I laughed, they laughed, and I think any tension or misunderstanding that may have been there melted away.  That was not something I was expecting that day!

We said our goodbyes knowing that we were still family.  I quite enjoyed my visit.

It was later that week I got a phone call from Edith asking me to not share names, circumstances, or anything else regarding the family because it had caused so much trouble with the rest of the family.  I told her that we were family and it did not bother me and I really did not think it bothered anyone else.

I visited again in 2002.  When Kent passed away in 2003, I thought they were very kind to let me know.

Amanda and I stopped in 2006 on our move from Utah to Virginia.  As we drove to the boonies where they lived, she joked with me that I was going to drop her off out in the middle of nowhere.  We again had a very pleasant visit with Mary, Tammy, and Edith.  Amanda was prepped with the information and quickly found out nobody had multiple heads or horns.  I think it was the boonies that gave her more concern than the polygamy.

I visited again in 2008 driving from Virginia through to Washington for work.  That time Edith had moved to a home nearer to her son Marc.  I stopped to visit Marc and Cheryl and met them for the first time.  Edith also came over to the house and we visited with her.  Here is a photo from that visit.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

I tried to call Edith every other year or so.  Sometimes it was hard to track her down, but I typically found her and was able to call.  The last time I visited with her was when Donald was sick and dying with cancer in the spring of 2016.  I asked Donald if I could let some of the extended family know.  He said yes.  With that, I called Edith and visited with her about Sergene’s passing and Donald’s cancer.  She talked about how the family was distant and she appreciated the updates.  She also indicated that life continues to pass and we all end up dealing with death at some point.  She reminded me of her age and she did not know where she would be next week either.

Now she is gone.

While I know there was quite a bit of angst in the family over the beliefs and separation, but despite all that I am glad I did not know of the polygamy issues and got to know the family as just that, family.  Their position, beliefs, and practices at no point directly affected me in any way.  I am glad I know them!

Aunt Edith, until we meet again.

 

 

Edward William Sharp

I thought I would write about Edward William Sharp today (some also list him as William Edward Sharp, I am not clear which is correct), known to the family as Uncle Ed.  He has a tender, yet thorny, position in the family.

Ed Sharp and Bob (?) 17 February 1949

Ed Sharp and Bob (?) 17 February 1949

Edward William Sharp was born 25 October 1887 in Plain City, Weber, Utah, the seventh child to Milo and Lilly Sharp.  My Great Grandmother, Ethel, was Ed’s younger sister, number 11 in line.  I have written more of Ethel’s marriage to Jack Ross.  Ed Sharp comes into the family line more closely when Ethel died in 1925.  She left behind five children, namely: June, Milo, Paul, Harold, and Earnest.  The four children were taken back to Paul, Minidoka, Idaho in 1925 to be raised by their Ross grandparents, James and Catherine Ross, while Jack got back on his feet.  As winter came and progressed the family struggled.  Earnest passed away the fall of 1925 in Rupert, Idaho.  Jack was gone for unknown reasons and James and Catherine called Ethel’s family to come get the four children.  Starting that winter of 1925-26, Milo Ross was raised by his Uncle Ed.  June went to live with her paternal grandparents, the Streeters in Ogden.  Paul and Harold were raised by Ed’s siblings, Vic Hunt and Del Sharp respectively.  Sadly, Paul fell from a loft in a barn in 1932, broke his arm, and suffered a concussion that would take his life in 1932.

Edward Sharp met and married Lillie Elva East 13 May 1909 in Plain City.  She was born 16 February 1888 in nearby Warren, Weber, Utah.  Together they had 10 children.

Lillie Elva East Sharp

Lillie Elva East Sharp

Edna Louise Sharp born 11 January 1910 in Plain City.

Florence Evelyn Sharp born 30 June 1911 in Plain City.

Marjorie Lillian Sharp born 23 June 1913 in Plain City.

Ethel Sharp born 8 July 1917 in Plain City.

Ethel Sharp and Wayne McCool

Ethel Sharp and Wayne McCool

Elmer George Sharp born 15 June 1919 in Plain City and died 12 November 1923 in Plain City.

Ruby Elaine Sharp born 13 February 1922 in Plain City.

Ruby Sharp

Ruby Sharp

Milo Riley Sharp born 27 November 1927 in Ogden.

Milo Riley Sharp (1924 - 1955)

Milo Riley Sharp (1924 – 1955)

Josephine Sharp born 18 March 1927 in Ogden.

Edward Junior Sharp born 24 January 1930 in Ogden.

Dean Sharp born 28 April 1935 in Ogden.

Lillie Sharp, Gary Blanch, and Dean Sharp

Lillie Sharp, Gary Blanch, and Dean Sharp

Back (l-r): Steven, Reed, Brent; Front: Lorraine, Lois, Dean, Teresa Sharp

Back (l-r): Steven, Reed, Brent; Front: Lorraine, Lois, Dean, Teresa Sharp

As a reminder, Grandpa, Milo Ross, was born in 1921 in Plain City.  He falls right in the middle of the entire family and became one of the siblings.  To tell the difference between Milo Ross and Milo Sharp, I will use their last name.

Milo James Ross

Milo James Ross

Unfortunately, things were not quite that easy.  Ed farmed a nice little farm in Plain City.  He also had some cows, pigs, and other animals.  The family grew up in the Depression with all the anxieties and difficulties that came with it.  Fortunately the farm was mostly paid for and the farm provided for itself and the family.

Despite technically being blood to Ed, Milo Ross was treated differently than the other children.  Milo Ross was not allowed to eat with the rest of the family.  When the family was done with the meal, then Milo Ross could eat.  Often alone.  Milo Ross was expected to work longer than the rest of the family, into the time while the rest of them ate.  Milo Ross was also expected to arise earlier and get things in order for the day before the rest of the family.  He did not often get to eat with the rest of the family for breakfast and often only got some bread and milk.  He was also given some of the more undesirable jobs around the farm.  For example, it was his job to tend the onions which often left him smelling of them and he found that embarrassing.

L-R: Milo Ross, Josephine Sharp, Howard Hunt, Milo Sharp, Ruby Sharp

L-R: Milo Ross, Josephine Sharp, Howard Hunt, Milo Sharp, Ruby Sharp

Ed also had some drinking issues and had a certain temper.  Of course his family saw the issues that arose as part of the alcohol, but it was Milo Ross who felt it.  He was the one who suffered the wrath of Ed’s drinking bouts at the end of a belt or sometimes worse.  While Milo Ross loved his cousin-siblings, the relationship was not as kindred with Ed.

On Horse l-r: Harold Ross, Howard Hunt, Milo Ross, Josephine Sharp (arm only), Janelle England, Eddie Sharp.  In front l-r: Ruby Sharp, Lucille Maw, and Milo Riley Sharp.

On Horse l-r: Harold Ross, Howard Hunt, Milo Ross, Josephine Sharp (arm only), Janelle England, Eddie Sharp. In front l-r: Ruby Sharp, Lucille Maw, and Milo Riley Sharp.

Ruby Sharp, Lois Robbins, Milo Ross, Milo Sharp

Ruby Sharp, Lois Robbins, Milo Ross, Milo Sharp

Milo Ross was only one year in age from Ruby who he ran around the countryside with.  They were close enough that they would hold hands.  They did quite a bit together.  He was also close to Milo Sharp, but he was still three years behind him in age.  The older siblings, Edna (who went by Louise), Florence, and Ethel were good to him, but were close to each other and did mostly their own thing.  Ed kept Milo Ross busy that he did not get as much time with the younger children but he grew close with Josephine and Edward (known as Eddie in the family).  Dean was young enough that he was around him some, but did not have as close of a relationship.

L-R: Ruby Sharp, Harold Ross, Milo Sharp, Milo Ross, Paul Ross, Ethel Sharp, and Bob Martin.

L-R: Ruby Sharp, Harold Ross, Milo Sharp, Milo Ross, Paul Ross, Ethel Sharp, and Bob Martin.

As I mentioned in the story of Ed’s parents William & Mary Ann Sharp, she also went by Lilly, the Sharp and Stoker families came to Utah as converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A number of issues arose in Plain City and families left the church.  Ed’s parents followed that suit remaining with the Episcopalian faith.  Ed and Lillie did as well, but were not very active.  The Mormons continued to work on bringing the families back to the church.  The Sharp family started to work through Delwin’s family first and the faith spread through Ed’s nieces and nephews and into his own family.  Only one of Ed’s siblings joined the LDS faith while alive, and that was Vic in 1975.

Edward Sharp, Delwin & Vilate Sharp, 13 August 1957

Edward Sharp, Delwin & Violet Sharp, 13 August 1957

Marjorie, Ethel, and Ruby all joined through the waters of baptism on 12 May 1939.  Milo Ross joined 2 July 1939 (only after 18 as Ed would not give consent otherwise).  Louise, Florence, Milo Sharp, Josephine, and Eddie all joined 3 January 1943.  Dean was the last on 31 October 1943, he was not 8 in January to join with the remainder of his siblings.

As soon as Milo was of age, he looked for opportunities to get out.  He eventually married, moved in with his in-laws, and then the impending war took his services abroad.

Milo Ross did not tell only negative about Uncle Ed.  Grandpa regularly told of how he learned to work hard under Uncle Ed.  While somewhat an outsider, Ed kept in contact with the extended family and Grandpa’s position in the family meant he was regularly tending to his Grandmother, Lilly Sharp mentioned above.  While it was his strict duty to clean out his Grandma’s bedpan, keep the kitchen and house wood split and stocked, and whatever else she needed or wanted.  Grandpa relished those moments in her home and with her.

Lillie East Sharp died 4 September 1942 while separated from her husband.  She had started divorce proceedings but died before they completed.  She was buried in Plain City.  Milo Ross remembered her as a beautiful lady who he sometimes told his woes, but she acknowledged the issues but took no steps to resolve them.

Ed died 24 August 1962 in Othello, Adams, Washington.  The family brought him home and buried him in Plain City too.

William E Sharp Obit

James & Damey Ross

I came upon this photo of James & Damey Ross and thought I would share.  It is pixellated and I hope I can get a better copy in the future.  I have an e-mail sent to the person who made it available on FamilySearch.

I have written a bit more on James & Damey at this link.  I even added this photo to that post.  I find it interesting how much resemblance exists between Damey and their daughter Fanny.

I look forward to sharing this photo with Grandpa.  He knew his grandparents pretty well and only lived blocks from them in Paul, Minidoka, Idaho.  After his mother passed away, he lived with them through the winter of 1925-26.  He speaks fondly of them.

James & Damey Ross

James & Damey Ross

Graham – Miles Wedding

William and Lucy Miles are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Elizabeth to William Addison, son of Robert and Edie Graham.  The newly weds were married 27 November 1867 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.

William Addison and Mary Elizabeth Miles Graham about 1918 in West Virginia.

Mary Elizabeth Miles was one of at least four children born to Lucinda H Bailey and William Miles on 10 June 1850 in Pulaski County, Virginia.  William was a farmer in the Pulaski County area on the 1850 Census.  1860 just lists him as a laborer, not a farmer (like his neighbors).  It appears he had a farm on the 1850 Census but not for the 1860 Census.  The 1840 shows four individuals in the house, which confirms what we have, there could have been children who died.  There is a ten year gap between children, which probably shows there were some lost.  Mary Elizabeth is the last child we have any record of, which may not be accurate since her mother would only have been around 38 at the time.  We just know so very little about this family.  We don’t know where her parents were born or even where they died.  It seems her parents moved from Pulaski County to an unknown location.

William Addison Graham was the first of at least nine children born to Edith Booth and Robert A Graham 11 April 1849 in Newbern, Pulaski, Virginia.  The Graham family is a massive Western Virginia (which includes the present West Virginia) family that seems pretty well documented.  Robert was a farmer in Pulaski County.  After Edith passed away, he moved to work in the mines of McDowell County, West Virginia and passed away there.

William and Mary were born and raised in Pulaski County and would remain there until after the turn of the twentieth century when they would relocate to McDowell County in West Virginia.  All the censuses for these years 1850 to 1900 were in an area called Wassie, Highwassie, and now mapped as Hiwassie.  Hiwassie is small enough that information is given relating to the town of Draper, which appears to be the nearest town of worthy notable size.  This family is the opposite of the Miles family (lack of information) in that you have to spend time weeding through all the Graham relatives to make sure you have your right person.

Since there are so many Graham’s in the area, I believe that William and Mary’s family have become commingled with another family, or else Mary was very prolific at bearing children.  I hope someone can provide some more information to clarify this, but from the records as I have been able to make out, William and Mary had SEVENTEEN children.  While not impossible, the chances of that many seem unlikely, especially with some of the dates between the children.  But I will lay it out there and let someone hopefully correct me.

Lucy Bell Graham born 7 April 1870 in Newbern and died in 1917 in Welch, McDowell, West Virginia.  She married a W L Dunford in 1891 and James Matthew “Max” Crowder later.

Andrew John Graham born 17 August 1871 in Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia and died 8 March 1912 in Patterson, Wythe, Virginia.  He married Luemma Adeline Dean in 1892.

John William Graham born in 1872 in Pulaski County.

Damey Catherine Graham born 25 November 1874 in Pulaski and died 3 February 1933 in Marysville, Yuba, California.  She married James Thomas Meredith (also known with the last name of Ross) in 1887.

Robert Graham born 1875 in Pulaski County and died 1884.

James Alexander Graham born 20 August 1875 (a twin?) in Pulaski County.  He married Laura Jane Dean in 1892 and Theodocia Elizabeth Flinchum in 1912.

James Alexander and Theodocia Elizabeth Flinchum Graham

Mary Elizabeth Graham born 31 October 1878 in Pulaski County and died 3 September 1947 in Welch, West Virginia.  She married William Harrison Dean in 1895.

Leander Graham born 25 September 1881 in Hiwassie and died 12 January 1970 in Pulaski County.  He married Florida Gunter in 1902.

Ellen Graham born 20 May 1882 in Pulaski County and died as a child.

Emma Jane Graham born January 1883 in Pulaski County and died as a child.

Baby Boy Graham born 15 August 1883 in Pulaski County.  I assume he died as a child, but have no other record.

Nerva Graham born March 1884 in Hiwassie and died in 1964 or 1965 in McDowell County, West Virginia.  She married Ed Gaultney.

Emmet Dewit Graham born 23 August 1884 (another short period between births, maybe a year off?) in Hiwassie and died in 1945.  He married Mary Agnes Bryant.

John Perry Graham born 9 June 1887 in Draper and died 18 February 1965 in Cucumber, McDowell, West Virginia.  He married Florence Collins.

Richard Graham born 20 February 1889 in Pulaski County.  We don’t know if he lived to maturity or anything else.

Nora Graham born 22 May 1891 in Pulaski and died 22 October 1963 in Welch.  She married Floyd Claude Richardson.

Grayson Thurman Graham born 24 February 1895 in Pulaski County and died 29 September 1981 in Bishop, Tazewell, Virginia.  He married Lora Elizabeth Adams in 1913.

Lora Elizabeth Adams and Grayson Thurman Graham

Between 1900 and 1910 William and Mary moved to Adkin (part of Elbert), McDowell, West Virginia.  I assume the move was to work in the mines as both the 1910 and 1920 censuses show him as a coal miner.

In the 1920 Census the two had Grayson and Perry, and their families, living with them for a total of eleven living in the home.  It was during this time that the picture at the beginning of this post was snapped with these last two photos.

William Addison Graham

Mary Elizabeth Miles Graham

William died 19 December 1921 in Gary, McDowell, West Virginia.  I assume this means he died at work in the mines since he walked to Gary to the mines.  We do not know where he is buried.

Mary died 16 May 1925 in Elbert, McDowell, West Virginia.  Her death certificate indicates she died of paralysis.  She was buried the next day at the Murphy Cemetery in Elbert.

Meredith – Graham Wedding

William and Mary Graham are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Damey Catherine Graham to James Thomas Ross, son of James Meredith and Nancy Shepherd.  James and Damey were married 9 August 1887 in Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.

I am stepping into a bit of a minefield in writing this biography because there is such a wide variety of opinions on the history of this family.  The stories I have were handed down and cannot be verified.  Some claim to have documents but I have been unable to obtain copies of these documents for various reasons.  These purported documents are family records and the public records I cannot find.  Therefore, hopefully documentation will come forward and this post will be altered as that information presents itself.  Poor Damey, not much conversation is available about her because there is so little controversy.

The picture above is of James Ross Meredith, or I assume he was called that at that time.  James Thomas Meredith was born to Nancy Adeline Shepherd 22 September 1869 in Snowville, Virginia.

In 1951, a few months before his death, James was interviewed by his granddaughter, Donna Beachell.  She indicated his mind was very clear.  He indicated to Donna that he was born out of wedlock and that his real father was James Meredith.  He said he was born in Snowville, Virginia.   He also said this James Meredith adopted him when he was about 4 years old and raised him.  He said the courts gave him the name James Thomas Ross Meredith.

The records of Pulaski County indicate this:

“Order Book 5, page 25
September 2, 1873
On the motion of Anderson Linkous, Overseer of the Poor for High Wassie Township for an order to bind James Ross aged 3 years son of Nancy Ross who has become a county charge and it appearing to the Court that said James Ross is now a county charge.  It is ordered that said Overseer of the Poor bind out according to Law to James Meredith the said James Ross son of Nancy Ross aged 3 years until he attains the age of 21 years and besides teaching him reading, writing and arithmetic said Meredith shall be required to pay the said James Ross upon his attaining the age of 21 years the sum of 100 dollars.”

The courts recognized him as James Ross, probably after his mother’s married name.  I have been unable to locate a birth record for him under either name.

He was almost 5 years old when Nancy Ross went into the poorhouse, or at least when the county gave little James to old James Meredith.  I am not sure why they thought he was 3.  Although some records have him born in 1869, and if this was correct, he was just shy of his 4th birthday.  But I will stick with the birthday that he gave during his life.

The county placed James Ross into the charge of James Meredith until he was 21 years of age.  Unfortunately, nobody seemed to ask when this James Meredith was born.  We also do not know when this old James Meredith died, or if he raised him until he was 21 (and paid the $100).  After James and Damey married, John Phibbs (brother-in-law to Fanny Ross) remembered visiting the family in West Virginia and that James’ mother, Nancy lived with her son and daughter-in-law, James and Damey, for much of the time the family lived in West Virginia.    Apparently Nancy was strong enough to carry in heavy sacks of coal and potatoes by herself.  This probably would have been the turn of the 20th century since they were in West Virginia.  No mention is made of old James Meredith who was the father and supposedly raised him.  Nancy must have kept contact through the years, lived close enough, or even got little James back.   We have so many holes to fill with information that we will likely never have.

Clarita Morgan, a researcher in Pulaski County in the 1970’s wrote to Donna and told her it was not uncommon for ladies to be placed in the poorhouse for having a child out of wedlock.  These women were considered a menace and a burden to the community.  At any rate, Nancy Shepherd Ross lived an especially hard life.  It is hard to put ourselves into their scene or time without many more facts.

When James married Damey, the marriage certificate has J. R. Mearideth.  Yet, when all the children were born, James and Damey gave them each the Ross name (or so it seems).  Damey died under the Ross name and no records indicate she ever went by the Meredith name.  James is listed as a farmer.

When James went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1935, he gave his name as James Thomas Ross born 22 September at Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.  He gave his father as James Thomas Ross and mother as Nancy Shepard.  He also gave his baptismal date as 17 April 1898.  Nothing in any of the records provide any evidence of a James Thomas Ross to be his father, and either the recorder at the Temple put the wrong last name, or James made a mistake because he seems to have clearly known his father was James Meredith (was his father’s middle name really Thomas?).  When Fanny went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1923 she said her parents were James F Ross (misread?) and Damy C Graham.

Now, having said all that, one of the difficulties is that there are tons of James Merediths who lived in Pulaski County, Virginia.  In the 1880 Census, little James Meredith is living with elder James Meredith who was born in 1804 and the family lived in Hiwassie.  It is not uncommon for a 65 year old man to have a child.  However, elder James Meredith has a family of 10 children with his wife.  In that census, only elder and little James are shown as living together.  Elder James’ wife, Sarah (Sallie) Jane Bell Meredith, is “ill” and living with their daughter Sarah Jane Meredith Elkins.  I want to speculate but will not.

For years it was thought that James and Sarah Meredith’s son, James Anderson Meredith, was the father of our James Thomas Meredith.  But this was easily resolved in that James Anderson Meredith died in 1864 in a battle at Lexington, Lexington, Virginia, four or five years before little James Meredith was born.  Others thought that James Meredith, the son of Hugh Meredith Jr elder James Meredith’s brother, was the father.  He is four years older than Nancy and their ages seem more conducive to a relationship.  But, we are unable to track him down and prove anything for certain.  But one thing is sure, elder James Meredith told the census taker in 1880 that little James Meredith was his son.  I guess we have to move forward with that record as the basis for our assumptions.  Would the Uncle (elder James Meredith) of James Meredith (Hugh Jr’s son) ruin his good name by claiming little James Meredith as his own to save the name of his nephew?  I just do not know, but the census gives documentation of a relationship (we all know how terrible the census records are for accuracy other than names of family members and location of living).  (Some of my original research and ruminating on these issues can be found here.)

This begs the question of why 27 year old Nancy would have intimate relations with 65 year old and married elder James.  Ms. Morgan above said it was not uncommon for servants living in the home to be taken advantage of by the homeowner.  But we have no evidence that Nancy was a servant in their home.  If he did this and kicked her out, it could account for her being in the poorhouse and his reclaiming the child in court.  But we have nothing to support the notion Ms. Morgan suggests.

Well, if this is not enough to confuse the matter, lets jump back in time before James was born to where Nancy married Harvy D Ross 7 June 1860 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  She married Harvy at 19 years old. On 9 September 1861, Harvy enlisted in Company F, 54th Infantry Regiment Virginia for the Confederacy.  He left for military service and we have few details of when he returned.  She bore James Meredith in 1868 and as far as we know, Harvy had not yet returned from the war.   By 1870 Harvy was back living in Alum Ridge, Floyd, Virginia after the Civil War. We do not know when he left Virginia for the “west”.  William Andrew Ross was born on 10 October 1873 in Snowville.  The birth index for Pulaski County lists William as a bastard, but his death certificate lists Harvy Ross as the father!  (Death certificates are highly unreliable for parental information.)  But why they were not back living together in 1870, we do not know.  He was back in the area and could very well be the father of William.  I just wish we had more information.  He supposedly moved to Tennessee or Kentucky and passed away there, never having anything to do with his son William, if he really is the father.  William was raised by Nancy and was told by her that Harvy was his father.  William never had a memory of meeting his father.

Now that I have given more history of Nancy Adeline Shepherd in this biography of her son and daughter-in-law, we can move on.  Our documentation is weak of who little James Meredith’s father is and where he was until he married Damey.  Although, I should mention that a cousin who claims he is in possession of the journals of James Meredith (or Ross) indicates that he was raised by elder James Meredith to believe that elder James was actually his father.  Well, rephrased, he never had any doubt elder James Meredith was his father.  Therefore, we move forward on that assumption even though I have only hearsay from a cousin (as I cannot get a copy of the book) and an 1880 census record.

Damey Catherine Graham was born 25 November 1874 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia to William and Mary Graham.  William, her father, was a laborer on farms who moved to the mines.  As a miner he moved where the best paying jobs for mining were located.  In Virginia, the family worked in the iron mines.  Damey met James and probably knew him and his family growing up.  Hiwassie appears to be a very small town, even today.  I cannot imagine that James and Damey did not know each other growing up.    The two married in 1887 and began to raise their family.  All four children were born in Virginia.

Robert Leonard Ross was born 25 April 1888 in Draper, Pulaski, Virginia.

John “Jack” William Ross was born 2 September 1890 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about John at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding

Fanny Elizabeth Ross was born 18 November 1893 in Reed Island, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about Fanny at this link: Calvin and Fanny Phibbs

James Thomas Ross was born 19 October 1895 in Radford, Montgomery, Virginia.

Damey chose to be baptized into the LDS faith 27 February 1898 (a few months before James).  Family tradition holds it was in West Virginia but does not seem to hold up with the rest of the story.  James and Damey were supposed to have followed her family to West Virginia to the mines.  James and Damey do not seem to appear on the 1900 Census but Damey’s family were still in Hiwassie on the 15 June 1900.  Damey’s family moved shortly after 1900 to West Virginia to work in the coal mines of McDowell County.  James and Damey (and James’ brother, William) followed and were living in McDowell County, West Virginia for sure in 1906 when Fanny married Calvin Dickerson Phibbs in Welch, McDowell, West Virginia.  The first three children all married in McDowell County.  James Jr returned to Mayberry, Carroll, Virginia in 1913 to marry his wife.  On 10 May 1910, James and Damey were living in Big Creek, McDowell, West Virginia.

James and Damey Ross left Pulaski County about 1913 or 1914 and headed to settle in Rupert, Minidoka, Idaho.  James confirmed his brother a member of the LDS church 26 October 1913, so it had to be after that date.  As mentioned above, Fanny had married Calvin Phibbs and most of the Phibbs family of Virginia had moved out to Rupert in 1912.  The opening of the new farm land in Minidoka and Cassia Counties, a new sugar factory at Burley, Cassia, Idaho, and an economic downturn in McDowell County propelled the move for both families. Robert, John, and James Jr followed later as it does not appear any of the children went with James and Damey when they left.

James & Damey Ross

James & Damey Ross

James and Damey set up house in Rupert for a time probably living with Calvin and Fanny until they could find and afford a suitable place to live.  We do not know exactly where James and Damey lived for much of their time in Idaho because they appear to have rented.  Robert listed his parents as living in Idahome, Cassia, Idaho when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918.  That fall, James and Damey apparently moved to Paul, Minidoka, Idaho to work on the first sugar beet campaign of the newly built sugar factory in Paul.  They remained there until about 1926.  Robert married Rose Sanders (nee Clawson?) in Burley, Cassia, Idaho in 1919.  John met Ethel Sharp Streeter in Paul while visiting his parents in 1919 and married her in early 1920.  James and Damey somehow fail to appear on the 1920 Census, or their names are transcribed incorrectly.  James settled in Vernal, Uintah, Utah and attempted a short move to Rupert in 1922-23 to be closer to family before moving back to Vernal.  Milo Ross, James and Damey’s grandson, remembers his grandparents living on the north side of the tracks in Paul when he lived there 1925-1926.

In 1925, James and Damey’s daughter-in-law, Ethel Sharp Ross passed away.  John, their son, sought work and James and Damey took in all four of the children of Ethel.  The baby, Earnest Jackson Ross, died in September in Rupert, where he was being tended by the Phibbs.  By the spring of 1926, James and Damey were impoverished enough that they asked Ethel’s family to come get the children from Paul.  Apparently shortly after, the family moved again.

By 2 April 1930, James and Damey had moved to Bend, Deschutes, Oregon.  Robert apparently lived in the area and Robert’s son, Orson Lee Ross, was also living with James and Damey.  Robert is in Portland but appears to not live there, so this home in Bend may have been Robert’s or James and Damey were tending Orson, who was 9.  Robert later died in Bend in 1944.

Beulah and Damey

Beulah and Damey Ross

James’ journals indicate they lived in Merced, Merced, California for most of the 1930’s.  Damey passed away in Marysville, Yuba, California 3 February 1933 of colon cancer.  Her death notice in Rupert indicates she died after an operation for cancer of the stomach.  She had been in the hospital for five months previous to that.  The obituary also mentions that John lived in Manteca, San Joaquin, California, James in Lapoint, Uintah, Utah, and Robert in Marysville.  Fanny was still living in Rupert.

James returned to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah and on 20 June 1935 he was endowed, saw Damey’s proxy ordinance work was completed, and was sealed to her.

By about 1936, James was back visiting family in the east.  He spoke at a Conference of the LDS church that had met in Grundy County, Tennessee.  James spoke that morning to the assembled crowd.  That same day, James’ nephew, Howard Ross was baptized.  These conferences were a big deal because it was an all day event for James’ brother’s family to travel all the way from Gary, West Virginia to Tennessee, spend the day in meetings, and then go home.  Howard remembers meeting “Uncle Jim” for the first time that day.  Many people enjoyed the sermon he gave and came up to give their commendation to William and Sarah on his fine speech.  William’s wife, Sarah, had to set them right, that it was William’s brother, James who delivered the sermon.  Howard did not hear the sermon because in those days unbaptized children were not allowed into the meetings and even though he was to be baptized that day, he was not baptized yet.

“Uncle Jim” returned with the family to West Virginia and stayed for a couple of weeks.  James was so disappointed that the family did not have a cow for milk that he went out and purchased one for the family while he was there.  When James left, he took and sold the cow too.  The family recalled how rare it was for them to have milk, and it was many years before they would have it again.  James was also noted by the family for his girth and the sheer capacity to each large amounts of food.  Howard thought he must have pushed to near 300 pounds.  Howard also remembers that Uncle Jim was missing a finger and upon asking, James indicated that he had been bit by a spider and that the Dr. took off the finger to save his life because the finger had started to rot.

The story goes that James married while he was visiting the family in West Virginia.  Family history records have James marrying Etta on 6 June 1936 in Snowville, Virginia.  However, later information indicates this was Henrietta Fountain who was born in Sacramento, Sacramento, California and died in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.  How she met James and why they would have married in Virginia does not add up, especially where she was from the west.  A cousin has the marriage in Sacramento which seems much more accurate.  A death certificate at some point will rest the case.  Her full maiden name was Henrietta Fountain and she was a widow of Charles Henry Lowell in 1925.  She died in 1946 according to the memories of Milo Ross and he is accurate.

James and Etta relocated to Lakeport, Lake, California after their marriage.  Lakeport was a town for the wealthy and Ms. Etta must have brought the money into the marriage.  It was here that James applied for Social Security 4 November 1937.  Due to the requirements he use his legal name, James went by James Ross Meredith the remainder of his life.  He began receiving his benefits 6 January 1938.  On 21 April 1938 he received a letter indicating he would have to have been a resident of California 15 years to receive the payments and no further payments were made.

James then married a widow by the name of Nora Brewer.  Her full maiden name was Martha Elnora Cackler and her late husband, Daniel Gordon Brewer, had passed away in 1943.  James and Martha were married in Fresno, Fresno, California 14 July 1947.  She had been born in 1877 in Iowa and died in Fresno in 1974, just short of 100 years old.

James lived until 13 April 1951 when he passed away in Fresno.  He was buried in Belmont Memorial in Fresno.  The last few years of his life, he took back the Meredith name.  Milo Ross, his grandson, indicates this was for Social Security benefits which had to be claimed under the birth name.  Either way, his tombstone reads James R Meredith.  His last letter to Donna Beachell was signed James Ross Meredith.

When he passed away in 1951, he was living at 344 Theta Street in Fresno the home of his widow.  One last thing, apparently while living in Fresno, he served as a Bishop of the LDS church.  We do not know when or where, but several lines of the family were all aware of this.  More information will be needed to share more.  The fact he was called upon to speak at a conference of the church in Tennessee seems to show he held some position but we don’t know anything more.