Start–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year I plan to participate in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. There is a prompt each week to write about and the idea is to write something about an ancestor (or collateral relative).

This week’s prompt is Start which, of course, makes sense since this is the beginning of a new year! It also makes sense for me since my blog has lapsed a bit and I’m planning a re-start this year.

Start of marriage 100 years ago today

This week I’m talking about my maternal grandparents–Arthur “Lyle” Miller and May McCullough–since they were married one hundred years ago today (6 January 1918 in Prineville, Crook, Oregon). This was the start of their life together as a married couple.

At the time of their marriage they were living in Paulina, Crook, Oregon which was a tiny town in eastern Oregon about 55 miles from Prineville. Paulina had a general store, a school, some houses and that was about it. I don’t think the town is much different today.

I think they had to travel to Prineville to get married since Paulina didn’t have a full-time minister or anyone else to marry them. So they took a horse-drawn stage from Paulina to Prineville on that January day. It had to have been a very cold and long trip. The average daytime January temperatures in that part of Oregon are in the 30’s.

May-McCullough-Lyle-Miller-wedding-photo
6 January 1918, May McCullough and Arthur “Lyle” Miller wedding photo, Prineville, Crook, Oregon
What my Mom told me

The story my mother told was that my grandfather had asked my grandmother to marry him several times, but she didn’t say “yes” right away! My Grandpa’s dad had died two years before and as the oldest son he took over running his mom and dad’s general store even though he was only 19 years old. He took care of his mother and two younger brothers as well as the general store–although my great-grandmother Lillie Chambers Miller did go back to teaching school not too long after her husband died.

How the couple met

In the 1910 census record my Grandma and her older sister Nettie (Nell) were working for my Grandpa’s family. Her older sister was working in the general store and May was working as a house servant so that’s how my grandparents met! By the time they got married I think Nell had a different job and May worked in the general store and was also the postal clerk. The Post Office was in the general store and my Grandma May was the Postmaster until she retired in the early 1940’s.

Grandma’s age

When I was growing up no one really knew my Grandma’s age, but I didn’t really think about it until I was grown and we all finally found out she was four years older than Grandpa! The adults in the family had known she was older than Grandpa, but she’d never say by how much. This must have really bothered her because in the 1910 census her age is listed as 18 years old which is correct. However, in the 1920 census her age is listed as 24 years even though she was 25 in January 1918!

The mother-in-law

I get the feeling that Grandma May and Great-Grandmother Lillie didn’t get along too well. Mom told me that when my grandparents got back home to Paulina my Great-Grandmother Lillie said, “Well, you robbed the cradle.” Maybe that’s when my great-grandmother started teaching school again! According to Mom, Grandma May never forgot that and unfortunately, Grandma May had to care for Great-Grandmother Lillie when she was old. Not a good situation for either of them.

And probably not the best start to a marriage either. However, my grandparents were married for 62 years until my grandfather died in 1980.

History repeats

The odd thing is that I am four years older than my husband, too. (We just had our 36th anniversary). Luckily, his family never said anything about our age difference when we were dating or when we got married. We were both older than my grandparents so that probably helped!

Finding Lillie in the 1930 census

My great-grandmother Lillie CHAMBERS became a widow when her husband John Leland “Lee” MILLER died in 1916 in Paulina, Crook County, Oregon. Her oldest son was 20 and took over running the general store in the tiny town of Paulina.

Her two other sons were 16 and 8 in 1916. She came to Oregon in the 1890’s to teach school and that’s what she did until she married my great-grandfather. After his death she started teaching again and taught in various schools throughout Crook County.

I found Lillie and her two younger sons in the 1920 census still living in Paulina (listed as the Beaver Precinct in the Census¹):

1920 Census
Lillie Miller and her two sons–Eugene and Joe–listed at the bottom. She’s 48 years old, widowed and teaching public school

If you look at the top of the census form Lyle & May Miller are listed. Arthur Lyle MILLER was Lillie’s oldest son. Lyle and May were my grandparents. His occupation is “Retail Merchant–Groceries” and May’s occupation is “Postmistress–Government.” Lyle and May got married in 1918.

I searched for Lillie MILLER in the 1930 census records, but she wasn’t living in Paulina. I knew she didn’t die until the 1950’s and that she stayed in Crook County, Oregon and taught in various schools, but I was unable to find her.

However, one day when I was searching for my grandmother’s brothers and sisters to add to my family tree I found one of my grandmother’s brothers in the 1930 census² (see below) and when I looked down the page there was Lillie! She was boarding in someone’s home and still teaching school. She was still in Crook County, but was living in the Maury area of Crook County.

1930 Census, Maury, Crook, Oregon
Lillie Miller is near the bottom of this page. Listed as a boarder with the Morris family, 59 years old, widowed, teaching public school

The household above the Morris family shows James and Viola McCULLOUGH and their daughter Maxine. James was my Grandma May’s brother.

Finding Lillie in this census record was just chance on my part, but it did remind me to check the rest of the census page to see if there are other people I recognize on the page. And I have found other census records which show two or more families which are ancestors. For example, I found a census record in the 1800’s  which showed two families living next door to each other and I realized that a son and daughter from each family married a few years later. That’s always nice to find…and a good reminder to keep my eyes open!

…………………

Source Info:

¹Year: 1920; Census Place: Beaver, Crook, Oregon; Roll: T625_1491; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 28; Image: 475.

²Year: 1930; Census Place: Maury, Crook, Oregon; Roll: 1939; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0015; Image: 465.0; FHL microfilm: 2341673.

What Lillie Marks CHAMBERS remembered about her extended family

Lillie’s father was William CHAMBERS. Either he or his father was one of four (or maybe six) brothers (Alexander, James, John and William) who left their family home and father (also named William CHAMBERS) in Londonderry, Ireland after some sort of quarrel with him. The brothers came to Ohio.

Her other grandfather–John D. MARKS–lived in Illinois. One of his daughters (Mary) was Lillie’s mother. She died when Lillie was a baby. Lillie remembers that her grandfather loved to tease. She used to ask him what the “D” stood for in his name. He would answer, “Devil, I guess.”

Arthur is a recurring family name–one of Lillie’s brothers was named Arthur and Lillie and Lee MILLER named their oldest son Arthur Lyle MILLER. A family member was named Daniel and called “Black Daniel,” apparently because he was “Black Irish.¹”

¹From what I read about “Black Irish” there’s a lot of debate about where that term comes from. Whether it is describing someone with black hair and eyes and a dark complexion or a derogatory term toward the Irish or some group of Irish people. This term isn’t often used in Ireland. See Irish Central

 

 

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