Longevity–52 Ancestors, Week 3

I am participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. The topic this week is “Longevity.”

I’m talking about my grandmother and her McCullough brothers and sisters this week. (I do have other ancestors than my grandmother and her family and I will talk about them one of these days! They are just the ones who come to mind so far when I see these topics.)

My grandmother had three brothers and six sisters and the majority of them lived 80 or more years. My grandmother (May McCullough) and one of her sisters (Nellie Christina McCullough) were 101 and 102 before they died in 1993. A brother (James Andrew McCullough) and sister (Edna L. McCullough) were 99 and 96 when they died. Two sisters were over 80. This group of brothers and sisters had Longevity!

May-McCullough-Miller
May McCullough Miller signing the book she wrote (taken about 1974 when she was 82 years old)

The above picture of my grandmother shows her signing Golden Memories of the Paulina Area she wrote about the Paulina, Oregon area where she spent a lot of her life helping my grandfather run the general store and running the post office for the little town. She got herself a typewriter and typed the book over several years. She paid to have the book published, but I think the book is amazing!

Her family were all used to working hard. Their father sent them from their home near John Day, Oregon when they were young to go out and work. My grandmother took care of young children, helped one of her sisters cook at a ranch and worked in the house and general store and then married a son in the family. She told me about a baby she took care of whose mother had tuberculosis and was kept away from her baby. However, the mother eventually died as did the baby. I’m amazed my grandmother didn’t get tuberculosis.

My grandmother once told me she did exercises every day. She continued to ride horseback into her 70’s and, of course, cooked and cleaned every day for most of her life. She broke her hip when she was 90 and when she left the hospital she said “Oh, I’ll go into a nursing home now.” That lasted about two hours before she called her son and said, “Please come and pick me up!”

She continued to live by herself in a trailer on my aunt and uncle’s ranch until she died. In the last five or six years of her life she was mostly in a wheel chair and had a woman who came in to help her get up in the morning, cook meals for her and help her get to bed. Everyone on the ranch would stop in and visit at various times during the day and friends and relatives came by, but mostly she managed by herself. My cousins and I used to say she was too ornery to die! She wasn’t always the easiest person to be around and I do think that helped her stay alive.

Who in your family has shown longevity? Was it because they lived to an old age or longevity in a job or some other type of longevity?

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.

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