Friday, April 20, 2012

Lemons family of AR shows up as Lemonds on 1900 Census

James L. Lemonds = James Lafayette Lemons
Dacy J. Lemonds = Joyce Jane Lincycomb Lemons (I've seen her name as Joycy)
Amela E. Lemonds = Amelia Elizabeth Lemons (later surnames Ratcliff, then Taylor) was about age 10 at the time of this Census.
Sylvesta Lemonds = Sylvester Lemons

Name: Amela E Lemonds
Residence: Davis & Tennessee Townships, Grant, Arkansas
Birth Date: Sep 1890 Birthplace: Arkansas
Relationship to Head of Household: Daughter
Father: James L Lemonds
Father's Titles & Terms: Father's Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother: Dacy J Lemonds Mother's Titles & Terms: Mother's Birthplace: Missouri
Race or Color (expanded): White
Head-of-household Name: James L Lemonds
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Single
Enumeration District: 0036 Page: 7 Sheet Letter: A Family Number: 103 Reference Number: 31 Film Number: 1240059 Image Number: 00878 Household Gender Age
Parent James L Lemonds M
Parent Dacy J Lemonds F
Mary B Lemonds F
James M Lemonds M
John W Lemonds M
Amela E Lemonds F
Gordon Lemonds M
Sylvesta Lemonds M
Rochester Lemonds M
Cloy Lemonds F
Albert A Lemonds M

Lewis S. Ratcliff on 1880 Census

It's always a question of - is it LEWIS or LOUIS Ratcliff? I've found 2 Census records that show Louis, but the 1880 Census shows Lewis.

Name: Lewis S. Ratcliff
Residence: Manchester, Dallas, Arkansas
Birthdate: 1876
Birthplace: Arkansas, United States
Relationship to Head: Son
Spouse's Name:
Spouse's Birthplace:
Father's Name: Lafayette Ratcliff
Father's Birthplace: Arkansas, United States
Mother's Name: Ann Ratcliff
Mother's Birthplace: Arkansas, United States
Race or Color (Expanded): White
Ethnicity (Standardized): American
Gender: Male
Martial Status: Single
Age (Expanded): 4 years
NARA Film Number: T9-0042
Page: 227
Page Character: B
Entry Number: 6361
Film number: 1254042
Parent Lafayette Ratcliff M 24
Parent Ann Ratcliff F 25
  Lewis S. Ratcliff M 4
Lilly S. Ratcliff F 1
P. E. Robertson F 55

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Marriage of William T. Taylor Sr and Amelia Elizabeth Lemons Ratcliff

When William Thomas Taylor Sr and Amelia Elizabeth ("Bessie") were married, she was listed as Bessie Ratcliff on the marriage record. They were married on the 13th of August, 1926. She was 36 and he was 51.
W.T. lived in Leonard Texas and Bessie was living in Leola Arkansas at the time of their marriage which took place in Grant Arkansas. 

This was the second time she married a man who was some 15 years her senior.  When she married Louis S. Ratcliff, he was 30 and she was only 16.

Taylor, Ratcliff family on 1930 Census

The Ratcliff children are found listed on the 1930 U.S. Census with William T. Taylor. Precinct 3 Fannin, Texas is the place. Mother of Ratcliff children, Amelia E. Taylor is shown to have been born in Arkansas and that Louis S. Ratcliff was also born in Arkansas (even though he is not listed on the Census in 1930 because he was deceased by that time.)

Enumeration district number is 0016.
Sheet Number and Letter: 2B
Line Number: 70
NARA Publication: T626, roll 2331
Film Number: 2342065
Digital Folder Number: 4547954
Image Number: 00099

William T. Taylor is listed as age 54. Amelia Elizabeth is listed here as Bessie A. Taylor, age 39. Son Cliffard Ray Taylor is listed as Cliford and as age 17.  William T ("W.T.") is listed as being age 2. Murl W. Taylor (Merle Wilma) is listed as 1 year old.  Burness is listed as Burniss A. Ratcliff, age 10. James M. Ratcliff is listed as age 5 but he would actually be 6 in 1930. Von Ratcliff is listed as Vaugh E. Ratcliff, age 8.

We had a pretty slack Census taker. I want to lodge a complaint ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

William Thomas Taylor Sr (1870-1951)

William Thomas Taylor Sr. was my paternal grandmother's second husband, my father's step-father.
He is shown in the following photo in about 1912 with his first wife Georgia [1878-1918] and their children. Georgia died just a couple weeks shy of her 40th birthday. She looks older than 40 in this photo, doesn't she? Life was hard.
William T. Taylor Sr seen at right
I have a photo or two of William Taylor in later life and I did notice his hands looked damaged. I can see from this earlier photo that his hands had been hurt or damaged for some time. He certainly had a rough life. The whole family looks pretty unhappy here, and that's very sad. Maybe they were just having a rough day, as any mom of a large family will tell you, it's not easy by any means to get kids to stay clean for even 5 minutes and in those days those clothes were washed by hand. I'm sure the kids were fidgety and didn't want to stand for the photo either. I'm tired just thinking about what their day was like.

William Thomas Taylor  was born July 15, 1870 in Alabama. he died on the 16th of May in 1951 at age 80 years and 10 months. His father was named Richard Thomas Taylor [1845-1932] and was also from Alabama. His mother's name was Elizabeth Lucy Suggs Taylor [1850-1927].

From many accounts I've heard from good sources that William T. was not the nicest man in the world by any means. And he's not in my family line, so why would I write about him and put his picture here? Well he was not my father's birth father, but he was the father my father knew. So, good or bad, he had a part in making my father the man he was. We also don't know his story. What's the deal with his hands? Clearly he had a rough life, and we need to know his entire story and try not to judge.

Amelia Elizabeth Taylor (1890-1956)

Amelia was my father's mother. Here is the information from her death certificate.

Name: Amelia Elizabeth Taylor
Death Date: 12 Jan 1956
Death Place: Sherman, Grayson, Texas
Gender: Female
Race: W
Death Age: 65 years 4 months 9 days
Estimated Birth Date:
Birth Date: 03 Sep 1890
Birthplace: Ark.
Marital Status: Widowed
Spouse's Name:
Father's Name: L.A. Lemons
Father's Birthplace: Ark.
Mother's Name: Joyce Jane Linscomb
Mother's Birthplace: Ark
Occupation: Housekeeper
Place of Residence: Trenton, Fannin, Texas
Cemetery: Whiterock Cemetery
Burial Place: Fannin Co, Texas
Burial Date: 14 Jan 1956
Additional Relatives: X
Film Number: 2114626
Digital Film Number: 4165505
Image Number: 1454
Reference Number: v X cn 2050

Permelia Key Cook Ratcliff Dunnahoe Pleasant Fite Robertson Dunnahoe

What a long list of surnames!

Gravestone in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Dallas County AR
Birth: Jul. 30, 1823 in Jasper County Georgia, USA
Died:: Nov. 22, 1892 in Dallas County Arkansas, USA

Some sources say Permelia was the daughter of War of 1812 veteran Thomas James Key and Sarah "Sally" Jones Key, both of whom are buried in Holly Springs Cemetery in Dallas County, however this FindAGrave listing for Thomas Key does not list Permelia at all, nor does the page for Sarah (but they otherwise seems so extensive) so I think perhaps there is some confusion. This will need more research. I think what's going on is another KEY who is getting mixed up with this Permelia.

Our Permelia (AKA Parmelia Emaline Key) was the daughter of Thomas B. Watts Key and Sara Jones. She was born on July 30, 1823 in Jasper County Georgia and died on November 22, 1892 in Dallas County Arkansas.

Name variations: Parmelia Emiline Key, Permelia Emiline Key, Parmelia Emaline Key, Parmela Emiline Key, Emalive, etc.

Permelia was married 6 or 7 times to the following men and had at least 10 children.

1. William James Cook
Marriage: 04 Jan 1838, Butts County Georgia
With William, she had the following children:

I. James A. B. (1839-)
II. Tandy Watts (1840-) [She also had a sibling named Tandy Watts]
III. Mary Priscilla (1842-1890) Also buried at Pleasant Hill
IV. Richmond Nolley "Nollie" (1843-1922)
V. Sarah Rebecca (later surnames: Ward, Launius) (1848-1927) Buried at
Mount Olivet Cemetery in Dallas County.
VI. Emily Key

2. Samuel Ratcliff
Marriage: 20 Nov 1851, Dallas County Arkansas.
Samuel was born in 1805 (confirmed, he was age 45 in the Census of 1850) in Kershaw County SC died about 1853. Had a Mill called "Old Ratcliff's Place" near Willow in Dallas Co., Ark. Samuel Ratcliff was listed as a farmer in Census records. He was in Mississippi by 1840, and later settled near Willow, in Dallas County AR. Samuel Ratcliff is buried in the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, also known as the Amis or Ratcliff Cemetery, Manning, Dallas County AR.
Children with Samuel Ratcliff were:
I. Marcus LaFayette - perhaps nicknamed "Fate" (1851-)  *From whom my line descends*
II. Narcissa (1852-)
III. Samuel

3. James Ervine Dunnahoe (Middle name also sometimes seen as Irvin) Additional versions of name seen:  James Irving Donoho. Name spelled Donaho in Shelby Co. Texas 1860 census.
Marriage: 20 May 1854
James and Permelia divorced circa 1855-1857

I. Rufus Thomas Jackson "Tom" Dunnahoe (1854-1940) Buried at Cypress Cemetery in Dallas County.
II.. Melvin Dunnahoe (possibly)
See marriage certificate:
Children of Irvin Dunnahoe and Parmelia Emily Key:
   Rufus Thomas Jackson Dunnahoe   b. April 12, 1855
   Melvin Dunnahoe+   b. October 14, 1856, d. October 4, 1904 
In his will dated February 7, 1857 her father, Thomas Key indicated Parmelia was separated from her present husband and provided for her should she remain "separate and apart from her said husband [unfortunately her husband is not mentioned by name but her last name is shown as Donahoe] and in a state or Widowhood, or until her said heirs shall become of age so as to enable them to earn the means for a support education." The will refers to he a Parmelia E. Donahoe indicating she was married and separated (divorced) from Irvin Donahoe by February 7, 1857.
Irvin Dunnahoe (M)
b. circa 1810, #17508
Irvin Dunnahoe was born circa 1810. He married Parmelia Emily Key, daughter of Thomas J. Key and Sarah R. "Sally" Jones, on May 20, 1854 at Dallas County, AR. [Date from a query posted on the Dallas County, AR website, March 15, 1998.]. Irvin Dunnahoe and Parmelia Emily Key were divorced in 1857 at Dallas County, AR.
Children of Irvin Dunnahoe and Parmelia Emily Key:
Rufus Thomas Jackson Dunnahoe   b. April 12, 1855
Melvin Dunnahoe+   b. October 14, 1856, d. October 4, 1904 
52 years old in the Shelby Co. Tex. 1860 census.

4. Jack Pleasant (have also seen as Pleasant Jack)

Marriage: 01 Oct 1856, Dallas County Arkansas.
5. Moses Fite
6. Rev. William R. Robertson
7. James Ervine Dunnahoe (also third husband)

Permelia's Burial: Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Manning, Dallas County, Arkansas, USA

I don't know why the difference in these photos. I think the one below is a "flipped" image of the image above.

And where does the last name ROBERTSON come from, you may ask? Well I haven't found her spouse yet named ROBERTSON, but in the 1880 Census, she's shown as P.E. Robertson, age 55, living with Ann (Porter) and Lafayette Ratcliff in Arkansas. So there must be another marriage we're missing. We're a couple years off for her age, but everthing else seems to match, and the Census takers for this family were notoriously happy-guessers. The Census records her as a Widow who was born in Georgia and that both her parents were born in New York. The Census also shows Lafayette as P.E.'s son.

Known locations of the August L. Herde family

November, 1905: Holton Kansas (this is where Susie Elmira George and August Ludwig Herde were married). They were married at Susie's parent's home. They may not have lived in Holton at the time, but likely nearby.
1910:  Pottawatomie Indian Reservation, Jackson, Kansas
1920: Garfield, Oklahoma

1920 Census Information August L. Herde and Susie E. Herde

On the 1920 Census, August and Susie Herde are living in Garfield, Oklahoma. There is a county called Garfield County in Oklahoma. I'm not clear on whether the city name and the county name were the same.

Doc Renfrow's House - Billings OK

Doc Renfrow's House, Billings Oklahoma

Wikipedia describes this photo as depicting a "Historic building in Billings," and that's true. This is a historic building in Billings Oklahoma, but a little bit behind it is that it was the doctor's house and it was considered the grandest in the town. Doctor Thomas Franklin Renfrow's (known as "Doc Renfrow's house" is the way my mother always referred to it. I'll see if she can give me some stories about the house that I can share with you soon. I am NOT related to the Renfrow family, I just thought this was interesting!

The site TravelOK says this about the home:
"Unique rock home, famous as "Castle on the Prairie", built in 1901 and was the home and office of pioneer doctor, Thomas F. Renfrow, who took part in the 1893 Cherokee Strip Land Run and settled in Billings in 1899. The two-story rock home features a metal-domed roof, detailed trim and a hexagon-like exterior, along with eight rooms, four rock chimneys, 10-foot ceilings, and massive arched windows with tinted glass. This home has few characteristics of frontier homes built prior to Oklahoma statehood. The home with its unusual Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additional contact number is 580-725-3487. Donations welcomed; admission fee applies for tour groups. Guided tours by appointment only."

On another website, it's mentioned that the house is made of sandstone that was quarried northwest of the town of Billings Oklahoma.

Billings Oklahoma Sod House Photo

The Wichita Archives Special Collections has a photo of a sod house in Billings Oklahoma (Noble County) in 1899. This is an interesting look at how the early settlers of the area created shelter. I would imagine that the people in the photo are all the people who were involved in the accomplishment of building the structure. It sort of looks like it was a class project. Could we gather our friends and neighbors together to create something like this today? I have a feeling that most people today would give up by the time the building got waist-high. Sad to say isn't it? Maybe we can all work to get some of that frontier-can-do-spirit back. In the bottom right, it says that Lantie Porter is the teacher.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jane Herde Best Russell (1922-2012) obituary

Jane Herde Best-Russell, 89, passed from this life on March 12, 2012 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Her funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at the First Christian Church of Stillwater with Reverend Owen Cayton officiating. Burial will follow at Fairlawn cemetery. Strode Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

She was born September 22, 1922 near Macomb, Oklahoma to August L. and Susie (George) Herde. She was the seventh child in a family of eight children. The family moved to Billings soon after her birth. She graduated from Billings High School and attended Northeastern State University and Northern Oklahoma Junior College. World War II took her to Wichita, Kansas where she was employed by the War Manpower Commission. In the fall of 1945, she entered Oklahoma A&M College and worked in the A&M Alumni Office in Old Central. Upon completion of her BS Degree in business in the spring of 1948, she was employed for eight years as an Executive Secretary at Gulf Oil Corporation in Tulsa.

Mutual friends introduced Jane to Ted Best who was teaching in the Broken Arrow High School and they were engaged within six months. She and Ted were married July 13, 1952 in Billings, Oklahoma. While living in Broken Arrow she was a member of the Christian Church, President of the Jaycee Janes, President of American Legion Auxiliary, and a member of Beta Sigma Phi.

Jane and Ted moved to Stillwater in 1956. In Stillwater, she was a member of First Christian Church, American Legion Auxiliary, Child Study Club, Alpha Belles, F.C. E., Phi Mu Alumnae, and Payne County Retired Educators Association, life member of OSU Alumni Association and secretary of the Stillwater Christmas Store charity for fifteen years. She was employed in the office of the Dean, College of Business at OSU from 1976 to 1985, when she retired.

After Ted’s death, Jane married an Oklahoma A&M sweetheart, Charles Clark Russell, on September 3, 2004. Jane loved music and art of all kinds. She was a generous, loving, and caring wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

Survivors include her husband, Charles of the home; daughter, Jan Courtright, and husband, Terry, of Stillwater; son, Alan Best of Tulsa; son, Larry Best, and wife, Gwen, of St. Charles, MO; granddaughter, Erin Courtright Renollet, and husband, Jeremy, of Purcell; Dara Courtright of Stillwater; and Eva Best of St. Charles, MO; grandson, Devin Best of St. Charles, MO; great grandson, Daxon Renollet of Purcell; one sister, Doris Ratcliff of Savannah, Georgia; and a number of nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her parents, August and Susie Herde; brothers, Francis, Victor, Arnold, Edwin and Karl; and one sister, Marie Bryant.

Memorials may be made to First Christian Church, 411 W. Matthews, Stillwater, OK, 74074.
Condolences may be emailed to the family and an online obituary may be viewed by visiting

Funeral service for Jane Herde Best Russell

Sermon for Jane Best Russell Funeral
First Christian Church
Stillwater, OK
Sermon Texts: Genesis 2:18-25
John 10:11-18

Statement of the Gospel: Jesus Christ is our eternal companion – through life and death. In many ways Jane Best Russell was a product of her generation. Being born in the early 1920’s and living through the Great Depression and World War II, those events left their mark on her and her personality. As such, she was very thrifty. She saved everything! Whether it was scratch paper to cross out what was written on it to write a new note, or reusing windowed envelopes and writing addresses above the windows, or serving leftovers for meals on end (even 3 green beans!), and of course being a member of the clean plate club was a must!, she was thrifty. In fact, her family labeled it “Herde Thrifty”.

While it doesn’t make much sense to us in our throw it away, make everything disposable culture, it was a part of what shaped Jane’s generation. When Jane and her sister, Doris, went off to school, they went with one party dress between the two of them (could you imagine trying to tell a college student that they had to share a dress).

Hard work was another marker of her life and her generation. She worked very hard, juggling work, family, and even projects her first husband, Ted, would bring home from work! Growing up on a farm in Billings, OK had prepared her well for hard work!

There were also a couple things that made her unique to her generation. Jane began college and then when the US entered WW II she went to work in Wichita for the War Manpower Commission. However, when many of her contemporaries did not go back to school, she did and finished her degree. In doing so, she postponed marriage until she was 28 and began a family later. She was very much a career woman!

Her relationships have also made her unique. She was married to Ted Best for 50 years when he passed away in 2003. Later on that year she rekindled a romance with Charles Russell (Perhaps to be called Jane Russell? Always concerned about her figure, and always the way her hair looked – even in the hospital. Voted “Best lips” in High School) that had begun back in the 40’s before she met her first husband. They were married in 2004. Her children were grateful for Charles – it is difficult to be alone.

Indeed, in the Genesis text that we heard earlier, we hear the first time God calls something “Not good.” Here is the human being in communion with God and in the garden with everything needed to sustain life. Yet, God observes, “It is not good for the human being to be alone!” In the story, human loneliness becomes the impetus for the shaping and naming of all the animals – which don’t quite do it

for companionship!

So, God divides the human being making male and female – companions to each other. We don’t have to be alone. We are not meant to be alone. It is fundamentally a part of who we are to be in relationship with others! Which is, most often, a joy! What a great thing to be able to share our lives with each other, to be affected by each other, to love and to care and to serve and to experience the care and love and service of others; to share life with each other is a real gift!

It is those relationships that mark Jane’s life, more than her being a product of or unique to her generation. It is her relationship with her first husband Ted that lasted 50 years, her relationship with Charles that paused for more than 50 years…After Ted died, Jane sought advice from Charles about how to cope as Charles had experienced the death of a spouse twice (you don’t stay married to someone for 50 years and not need a little help coping when they are no longer with you). Charles began writing Jane once a week. And Jane would look forward to receiving those letters – almost running out to the mail box checking to see if the letter had come. Then he began calling her every day at 4:00. Jane would get nervous as 4 p.m. would approach if she wasn’t at home. When the call came, she would lay on her bed and talk on the phone and twirl her hair, just like a teenager – giddy with excitement over talking with a boy! [Poem “A Kiss in the Kitchen”]

Her love for her family: She was incredibly protective! Worried about Jan driving to Dallas – Jan has her own children! But she probably didn’t miss a beat when Jan reminded her about a trip Jane took with a bunch of her girlfriends to NYC…when she was 26.

She would continue her care, as the family remembers, by sending random stuff with people as they left the house – stickers, an extra bottle of mustard, $20, or possible a ½ eaten chocolate bar! Just to be able to share something with those she loved; to be able to share life with them! [“Little Hands” Poem about her grandson]

Jesus says, I am the good shepherd, I take care of my sheep. It is Jesus who is companion in life – just as our companions in our life are flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, so God joins us in flesh to walk with us, care for us, even lead us. As we have companions in life to care and share, love and experience, so God shares life with us through Jesus Christ our eternal companion. He is the

Good Shepherd walking with us in life and even through the boundaries of death. Knowing us, caring for us – Knowing Jane and caring for her – as she lived and even now in death. Jesus calls her by name and Jesus calls us by name. It is that relationship that sustains us in life and even in death. That is our hope for Jane and therein lies hope for us as well.