Funny that Mom’s love-life story starts with Grandma Flora. In about 1974 or so, Jackie and I were staying at Grandma Flora’s house up in Nevada City. Mom and Dad would leave us at Grandma’s house and go to Reno for the weekend. Jackie and I were playing in the extra bedroom. Grandma used to keep a Noah’s Ark, a plastic ark filled with animals for us to play with, as well as all my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy Mystery books. Jackie and I were playing one day, and Jackie found a photo album that was stuck under the bed. Jackie pulled it out and there was a picture of a bride.
She looked at me and I looked at her. It was Mom. She was wearing a bride’s dress and simply looked beautiful. We thought, wow, I’ve never seen this. Jackie opened it up and we found beautiful pictures of all of Mom’s family.
However, the last couple of pictures were shocking.
They weren’t dad. They were pictures of a tall, blond man. We were shocked. Jackie quickly put it away back under the bed. I really was confused. I knew my parents had been married in Las Vegas and that was definitely not my father.
As soon as mom got back to Grandma’s house and we got her alone, Jackie said, “We found something in the bedroom.” Mom went to the bedroom with us and Jackie pulled the album out.
Mom said, “Oh that. I was married before.”
What? Mind blown. Hahaha we were so shocked. But my mother, you have to understand, Momma figured if she didn’t make a big deal out of something, then it wasn’t a big deal. She said, “Oh, it was annulled. That’s like it never happened.”
We had several conversations after that about this marriage and really, lack of a marriage. So, I shall tell this tale.
To start at the beginning, mother had a ton of boyfriends she dated throughout high school. She dated Ramon Erradaberry, her first boyfriend as well as Bud Affeldt and numerous other guys.
After graduating from high school, she went off to a college to become a dental assistant. Her parents moved from the Fresno Area to Stockton, CA in approximately 1948. She lived with her sister Kay until she graduated in 1949.
She briefly lived in San Francisco while at Dental Assistant school then moved to Stockton.
So she met Tim first. They were out cruising and the guy that dad was cruising with knew the girl mom was with. They ended up all in the same car and mom was in the front seat with dad. The car was full of kids. Tim pulled the car over on the side of the road and he kissed Jubie the first night they met. Jubie’s friend shouted “Juuuubbbbbie” because mother had let him kiss her. Jubie fell in love with Tim that night.
Now, I only know vague details on the rest of the story. I asked my mother, “If you met Dad first, how the hell did you marry Ted before you married Dad?”
She said that her parents didn’t like that her boyfriend was a Latin, as Jub would say. So, at some point, she met Ted Kuchenriter.
I know she and Ted were no love match. She said she walked down the aisle knowing that all her parents’ friends were out there and that her father was waiting for her. They had spent a lot of money on her wedding and she couldn’t disappoint them. So, she walked down the aisle, knowing she didn’t love Ted and couldn’t stay married to him. She loved Tim. She said she was doing him a favor, she didn’t love him and they would have only ended up divorced.
She had a pretty wedding and stayed married to Ted “for about two weeks” before she had the marriage annulled. I am not certain how long that time was but she said she never consummated her marriage. He went off to the Korean War and was overseas.
When Jubie had their marriage annulled, Ted came back. She said he was standing in front of her when she told him that she was ending their marriage. She said that if he had a gun in that moment he would’ve shot her, but as it was he took off his wedding ring and threw it at her. She didn’t care. She was in love with Tim and that was what she wanted.
She and Tim threw her wedding ring from her marriage to Ted into the lake.
She went back to Tim and they eloped. They ran away to Las Vegas with their friends Don and Shirley Honeychurch and got married. So she didn’t have the big wedding, lots of flowers, gifts and friends.
On the occasion of their 35th wedding anniversary, my siblings and I threw them the wedding party that they never had. I felt that their celebration was long over-due. Don and Shirley Honeychurch who had already divorced, were both there and it was a great night.
I think the lesson here is great. Your heart knows what it wants. People know, deep down, what they want. Times have changed. I know my mother was desperately afraid of disappointing her parents. Fear is a powerful motivator. But I think love is an even bigger, more powerful motivator. I can honestly say my parents love was real and never wavered. They loved each other until the end of their days. But, Momma puts it best, so I shall let my mother tell you herself.
I have resisted the idea of including my parents in this blog because my blog was for relatives who had passed on, relatives that my children would never get to know. I knew this would be a difficult post. My parents stay alive in my mind and obviously, this post would be much more personal. I watched Prince Harry of England say that he avoided speaking of his mother for years, because he knew it would be painful, he couldn’t bring her back and thus what was the point. His was a point I understood well. He said that he had to talk about her, feel the pain and be okay with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with my mother’s absence but here we go.
It is difficult to speak of my mother without being sad but our relationship was so filled with love. No one loved me like my mother. She made each of her children feel that way. She was not perfect. I am aware of this fact. She was simply good. My mother had a good attitude about life. She was a positive person. As children of Depression Era parents, we knew our parents had experienced struggles and tough times. Their love, however, was and is so encompassing, they only needed each other to be complete. So, to begin at the beginning.
Ruby May Hardin was born on February 9, 1930, to Flora and Charles Hardin. She was born in Borger, Texas and as you can see her listed on the 1930 U.S. Census as two months old and that the complex where they live is inhabited by people who worked, as her father did, for the railroad.
Her mother had named her Ruby May but her father nicknamed her Jubie. That name stuck and she was known as Jubie her whole life. Jubie was the baby of the family and babied by everyone. Her closest sibling was Aunt Jean and Jubie would say that Jeanie would make every chore fun, no matter what the chore. By the time Jubie was six months old, they’d left Texas and moved to New Mexico.
Jubie had blue eyes, alabaster skin, freckles and bright red hair. When she went to school, she was made fun of for her freckles and red hair. The kids in her class called her turkey egg (apparently a turkey egg is speckled, a reference to her freckles). A friend of hers wrote us a letter after she passed and she said my mother had a reputation of being able to beat up any kid in the 6th grade. Momma didn’t take a whole lot of shit.
Life in the early 30’s was difficult and her father thought they could have a better life if they moved to California. Her father drove them to California in his old Touring Dodge.
They moved to California with two other families, the Coates and the McDonalds. They arrived in California in approximately 1933-1934 when Jubie was about 4 years old. She recalled living under the Woodson Bridge in Corning, California as they had no home when they arrived and camped out with lots of other families. Her father had a first cousin, Jack Trapp, living in Cottonwood, CA. Jubie wasn’t raised with a lot of family close by, so the Trapp family was the only family they had in California. Jack Trapp’s sister-in-law, Cora and Carl Smithers also lived in the area. These became my mother’s family and she played with all of their kids, Onera and Imogene Smithers and Doris Jean and Dorothy Faye Trapp.
They lived in Corning while Jubie was in 1st to 3rd grades then they lived in Yuba City from the time she was in the 4th to 6th grades.
Then they moved to Fresno. They lived at 255 Mariposa Street in Fresno. Then her father wanted to have acreage so they moved to Riverdale and leased 360 acres to farm cotton and alfalfa. They lived there until Jubie was in the 8th grade and her mother managed a frozen food company. Flora decided that her husband wasn’t making a living on the farm so Flora went into town and bought a house. That was the first house they ever owned. They lived in that house from the time Jubie was a freshman in high school until she was a junior. Then her father moved to Stockton in 1947.
My mother used to say she wasn’t fond of cats because she witnessed one being drowned but she did have a lot of animals. Her favorite animal was a sheep she named Lambie pie. Her first boyfriend, Ramon Erradaberry’s parents had a bummer lamb, one raised away from its mother and fed with a bottle. This was when they were living in Riverdale. Her lamb was a very loving animal and it was the first time Flora ever allowed a pet to be in the house. Lambie Pie slept in the kitchen near the free standing stove. They had that lamb for at least two years. Every day, the lamb and her dog would go down to the end of the lane and wait for Jubie to come home from school. One day Jubie went to town with her mother instead of going home after school. Lambie Pie was hit out on the road by a truck. Jubie wouldn’t allow anyone to eat her lamb and thus they took her home and buried her in the yard.
Momma was very close and enjoyed a great relationship with both her parents.
Mother’s closest friend outside of her family was Maybelle Geiger. They did so much together and mother just loved that lady. Later in life, one of the only times my mother left dad at home alone, she went to see Maybelle in Fresno.
Another best friend was Jeanene Christensen and Jubie became friends with her in Yuba City. Here is a cute picture of them together, along with a cute picture of Jubie with Jeanene’s mother, Mrs. Christensen.
Jubie went to school near where she lived. However, when she started high school, her sister Kathleen thought it best that Jubie be sent to a boarding school. Now, if you knew my mother, you knew what a baby she was and I could tell from a mile away that wouldn’t be a great choice for her, but off to boarding school she went. Mother cried every day. She called her mother daily. Finally, after six miserable months at Lodi Academy, a 7th Day Adventist School in Lodi, Mother was allowed to return home. Momma said one day when she was at boarding school, she had kitchen duty. Mother got up and wiped up tables and figured she had to sweep the floor anyway so she wiped the crumbs and tossed them to the floor. Her teacher screeched at her that it wasn’t the proper thing to do.
Mother had a wide array of friends and they used to go downtown to the movie theater on Saturdays. You could get in for a nickel and there would be a cartoon, a 15 minute serial, a news reel, then a double feature movie. They would stay there all day. On December 8, 1941 when Jubie was 11 years old, she was listening to the radio and heard the bulletin come on that the United States was entering World War II. She picked up the phone to tell her mother and her mother asked her, “Jubie, are you sure what you heard?” She said she was and it turned out she was correct. The U.S. had entered WWII and life changed again.
They listened to radio programs including the 15 minute mystery called “I love a Mystery” and starred Tony Randle. They listened to Our Miss Brooks and Fibber McGee and Molly. Everyone spent their evenings listening to these programs.
Flora had joined the workforce and thus Jubie was the person who would make dinner for her family. Her mother taught her how to cook and she was a wonderful cook. I could spend a 10 minute diatribe on how wonderful her biscuits were and yet you simply could not appreciate them without having experienced them. She made so many dishes well and she passed those dishes on to her children.. Her potato salad was also heavenly. When I make a dish like that, I always enjoy it just a little bit more when I think, oh Momma would have been really proud of this dish.
When Jubie was 18, her girlfriend Jeanene Christensen and her mother went to visit Jubie and the Hardins. Jubie thought she was all grown up, certainly old enough to do her own thing. She and Jeanene took off for San Francisco. They took Jubie’s car and left a note for Flora and Mrs. Christensen. Needless to say, this episode gave Flora a migraine headache and Mrs. Christensen was very upset. The girls checked into a hotel, walked around town and then went to dinner. They went back to the hotel and spent the night. They really didn’t do anything to be upset about, but Flora was certain they were going to be kidnapped.
Jubie moved to Stockton in 1949 as she stayed in Fresno with Kay and Dick from 1947 to 1949, so she could finish high school. She worked during the summers in the frozen food plant and made enough money to buy her own clothing. Jubie was a responsible person and she babysat for children. She would be paid in silk stockings since they were not sold in stores, but if you were in the army you could buy them in the PX. When they announced that the war was over, everyone in their town went outside and celebrated together. People were kissing people in the street, regardless if you knew them or not. It was a very exciting celebration and they were all just thrilled to death to be alive.
My mother had so many friends. I could build a border wall with the pictures of all of the weddings in which she was a matron. When she was 19, she and her friend Ellen Schneider and Ellen’s boyfriend Ray (he later married Ellen) took his car and drove to Canada. Ellen had been raised by Ukrainian parents in Canada. They had a wonderful time until Ray got sick with trench mouth, a severe gum infection.
Jubie was a joiner. She was in clubs and had a large base of friends.
I will continue my story on my next post. I knew going in, there was a lot of information to cover and I don’t want to overload anyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, we’ve arrived at my mother’s love life and it was an interesting period in her life. I have so many details of her life because after hearing Paul’s grandparent’s tapes of their lives, I decided I would record mother telling her stories. These were stories she had told me my whole life. I wanted to make sure I would get the details correct. I started interviewing my mother and we talked for about 45 minutes before we were interrupted by someone visiting. We turned off the tape and never got to continue it. I am grateful for the information and the chance to hear my Momma tell her stories once again.
John H. Bennett was born on July 4, 1870 in New Harmony, Utah to Nancy M. Taylor and George Bennett. It is important to understand the circumstances under which he was born in order to appreciate who he was. I am not a member of the church of Ladder Day Saints and the only information that I knew was that my mother-law’s family were LDS but didn’t realize that my father in law’s ancestors were, too. John Harvey was Grandpa Bill’s father. We know that Grandpa Bill was born in Canada and retired in Utah.
I did not appreciate how closely his ancestors were tied to the beginnings of the LDS church. It is difficult to tell his story and leave out the church so I will include bits and pieces so we can make sense of his life. My children often say the people who lived a long time ago aren’t our family. However, without those ancestors, my children would not exist. That is huge to me. There is an Ancestry.com card that says “If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”
Okay, lecture over.
John H. Bennett’s story really begins with his parents. His mother Nancy M. Taylor and father George Bennett were born in Leyland, Lancashire, England. His father was born October 10, 1810. They first heard of the Mormon Church after the first missionaries arrived in England and they made plans to join the Saints in Zion. They left England in 1841 to many trials and tribulations. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 10, 1852, five months after the arrival of Brigham Young.
John H. was the fifth child born to his parents. His father had been called to assist in opening a town called New Harmony. While living in a log house with dirt floors, a dirt and straw roof and no windows, John was born. When he was six, the family moved back to Kaysville. Interesting to note that George Bennett had more than one wife. His second wife was Sarah Bennett.
When he was a boy, John was expected to work in the fields and help with the stock. At nine years old, he was left in charge of a large flock of sheep and lived in a camp wagon, moving the heard to greener pastures, as necessary. It was a lonely life for a boy but he accepted the responsibility. He made decisions which he acted upon and was a lesson that he used throughout his life.
I feel a kindred spirit from my family to Paul’s family. My family were sheep herders too. Must have been a lot of sheep.
John was a lover of horses and worked with a team and wagon. When he was sixteen, he left Kaysville and went to Hooper, living with his brother George and sister in law Mary Ann. While living there, he met a friend by the name of Adam Russell. They worked together on a horse power threshing machine for three harvest seasons. One time, they went to Ogden the day before Christmas and got a “little teed up.” Now, I will assume that means they were drunk. Ha! He was a fun Mormon. “They returned to Hooper and went to Grandma Parker’s home and she gave them strong coffee so they would be in shape to go to the dance that night. This was when he was courting Lyd”.
Dancing was about the only amusement they had and a dance was held every Friday night. John was a good dancer and very popular on the dance floor. Music consisted of violin, mouth-organ or accordion and sometimes they used a jaws harp and a pitch fork.
John was a lover of sports, too. Adam Russell said of him, “He loved sports and liked to run foot races and horse races and play baseball. He was very popular and liked by everyone. In fact, he was a great leader and everyone respected his opinions.”
It was during this time that he lived in Hooper that he met Eliza Ann Parker. Her gracious charm and kindness to everyone appealed to him and he started dating her for dances, horseback rides and strolls in the evening after church. After a courtship which lasted about two years, they were married in Hooper, Utah. Eliza’s wedding dress was made by Mamie Williams of a tan, silky material.
The night after the wedding, they had a wedding dance (how apropos). Relatives and friends came to the dance to wish the couple well and they danced quadrilles, waltzes and two steps. Eliza’s sister Rye said of them, “They were very much in love and very happy together.”
Isn’t that wonderful? I can’t always say that about my ancestors. Not all were in wedded bliss. But it was apparent these two were in love. So sweet.
After they married, they lived with her mother and John ran the farm for his mother in law. His brother in law Adam Russell (yes, Adam married Eliza’s sister Maria) told John he had a stable that he could have in exchange for a few days work as payment. John and Eliza fixed this up for their first home. Their first baby was a girl they named Nancy.
The summer after they moved in, John and Adam went to Nevada to put up hay for a rancher. Adam said, “We got up one morning and John said to me, “Ad, our baby is dead”. Adam made fun of him a bit for making such a remark but two hours later, the postman came and John’s remark proved to be true. There was a letter from his wife telling him that baby Nancy had died.
About a year before he’d married Eliza, John had driven a herd of cattle from Utah to Canada.
The rolling hills, the fertile soil and lush grasses together with the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the west appealed to him. After they were married, John again thought of moving to Canada. Soon after the birth of their fourth child, Mabel, he asked Eliza if she would move with him and she said she would go anywhere he wanted to go.
They began making plans and started out in a covered wagon with Levi Wheeler. Levi was married to Lovisa, John’s sister. Lovisa was a very dear friend to Eliza. They left in September of 1898 and traveled to Camas, Idaho where they stayed for the winter with relatives. Early the next spring, they set out again over the long weary miles to the Canadian border. After their arrival in Cardston they took up homesteads on land southwest of Kimball.
John arrived in his wagon with his wife, family and $10 in his pocket. They lived in the covered wagon the first year while preparing the virgin sod for planting their crop of wheat.
That summer, they collected enough logs to build a one room home. The nearest center to purchase supplies was 14 miles away so trips were rare. Money was scarce so purchased items were done by exchange.
Soon they moved to the Kimball Valley, closer to a school and church. In June, 1900 their first Canadian child was born, Zelma and 1902 baby Marlin arrived. Then, 1904 was the arrival of baby William George, named for his grandfathers but the tragedy of Eliza’s death arrived as well.
After the death of Eliza, John had a difficult time. She was the love of his life and he was left with six children under the age of 9. Family and friends helped him until he was able to locate a woman to come in and help care for his family. Her name was Jane Powell Empey. She had two daughters from a previous marriage. They eventually married and had six more children.
John goes on to be a leading citizen of his town, well respected and profitable. William George comes to love his step-mother Jane and she treated him very well. That is comforting to me. He really loved her and while a step-parent has a difficult job, to know that Jane was able to come in and care for and love those children of Eliza’s is nice to think about. The fact that Grandpa Bill loved her so much shows her character too.
This is just the beginning of John’s story, but what a great legacy of John and Eliza’s love.
Paul’s Grandfather Bill not only kept written biographies of his ancestors, he also kept numerous photographs. We are so lucky we can weave his words and photographs to give a complex picture of his history. I, for one, am grateful my children will have such a significant amount of knowledge of their ancestors.
Aunt Kay was born on May 1, 1924 in Trinidad, Colorado. Her mother Flora had been pregnant with Kathleen when her son Charles Jr. passed away. Grandma Flora used to say she would walk to the cemetery, two miles a day, and cried the whole way. Aunt Kay must have been very welcome to a mother who had lost a baby. Aunt Kay was the oldest surviving sibling and two years later, Virginia was born. Ruby came along in 1930. This branch of the Hardin family was complete. Kathleen moved with her parents from Colorado to Washington to Texas to New Mexico and finally to California. If I asked my mother a question and she couldn’t remember something, she’d say, “Let’s call Aunt Kay”.
Aunt Kay was the first to go to school and she went to boarding school as a young lady. She loved boarding school. Aunt Kay was a superior student and she excelled at everything. She loved being away at boarding school. I know this because my own mother, at Aunt Kay’s urging, was sent to boarding school too. Lodi Adventist Academy in Lodi, CA. Only my mother didn’t last very long. She would call her mother every night and cry until Grandma Flora finally let Ruby go home.
Mother’s real name is Ruby. Aunt Kay always called mother that. She never called her Jubie, as all of her other family members did.
My mother’s favorite story to tell of Aunt Kay growing up was the time a bird pooped in Aunt Kay’s mouth. Mother used to say Aunt Kay was being sassy one day and had been standing under a tree. Grandpa Hardin said something to her and Aunt Kay looked up with her mouth open, just as the bird pooped. My Mom would laugh every time she told that story.
This is a picture of Aunt Kay at age 14. I love the writing on the back of it. It says, “Imagine you’ll appreciate this picture. It’s sure wonderful, isn’t it? You surely must have been mad!” That makes me laugh. Aunt Kay must have been a fireball as a teenager.
Kathleen met Richard Paulson and began dating him. Grandma Flora used to pick up Uncle Dick and take him to visit Kathleen while she was in college. Dick’s mother, Mary Azadian Paulson, had been born in Bulgaria as her parents were traveling to Italy or France. As I have been researching my entire family, I have found very few “this person immigrated from this country” stories but Mary Azadian Paulson was cool because I found her Naturalization records.
The current fervor of the immigrant coming to the U.S. today really raises my ire. I believe we, as Americans, need to stop thinking of them as “immigrants” and remember that they are people. Not everyone is out to harm us. Okay, I’m off my soap box. However, Mary Azadian Paulson was a family woman. She was married to “Garabed B.” George Paulson who was born on March 29th, 1888 in Bardijag, Turkey. Their ethnicity was Armenian. They came into the US via New York and ended up in Los Angeles. Their children, Vivian Paulson Surabian and Richard were born in Dianuba, CA, just outside Fresno, California. George Paulson was a cabinet maker in a cabinet shop, by trade.
Uncle Dick served in the U.S. Navy for four years from 1942 to 1946. Kathleen Grace and Richard were married on April 1, 1946. They lived in the Fresno area. My mom said that she was in high school when they married and Flora and Charles were moving to Stockton. Ruby didn’t want to leave her high school in Fresno, so she moved in with Kay and Dick so she could finish her schooling.
Dick earned several degrees including a Masters Degree in Speech. He went on to become a College Professor at the Reedley Community College.
Their first child, Cynthia Ann Paulson, was born on September 11, 1947.
While Cindy wasn’t the first grandchild, (she joined her sister Jeannie’s first born, Bobby) Cindy was certainly the first granddaughter and very well loved.
My Aunt Kay was a Ornithologist by heart if not by trade. She took bird watching to a new level. She took many trips, including to Costa Rica, and was absolutely brilliant at naming different bird species. My mother was a little in awe of her bird watching abilities. I, myself, am no student of birds, but do love catching sight of them now and again.
There was a gap between her children on but April 2, 1960 Kevin Paulson was born. This started a second wave of grandchildren in the Hardin family. In short order, Kathleen had Kevin, Jeannie had James in 1960, Ruby had Jackie in 1961, not to be outdone, Kathleen had Kendall and Jeannie had John, both in 1961. Those Hardin sisters had a hell of a run. I was the last grandchild born in 1965.
On August 26, 1969, Cynthia married James Wilkinson. I was asked to be Cindy’s flower girl.
Cindy and Jim have two children, Janene and Matthew. When Janene got married, she asked my daughter, Taylor, to be her flower girl.
As Aunt Kay and my Mom grew older, they became really good friends. I think my mother was a bit in awe of Aunt Kay and mother had a tendency to compare herself to Aunt Kay. Every holiday that we celebrated with Grandma Flora, Aunt Kay’s family always came and Aunt Kay would bring fresh, home-baked rolls. Aunt Kay’s rolls were legendary and we were always relieved when she would arrive. Aunt Kay stayed a member of the Seven Day Adventist Church and her family was raised as vegetarians. I may know of some of my siblings and cousins who would sneak turkey to Kevin and Kendall. After Aunt Kay left the SDA church, she took to buying jewelry. This was a hobby my mother could get behind.
Ruby and Kathleen were able to take a trip to Montreal, Canada together. They were being presented with an award from the Shaklee Corporation that was named after Grandma Flora so they made the trip together to accept it. They had a great time.
They also went together to a Hardin family reunion and were able to travel to Alabama and to visit the home where Charles was raised. Ruby and Kay had so many wonderful times together.
This is what Aunt Kay inscribed on the back of the picture.
Later in life, Ruby took Jackie on a train trip to visit Aunt Kay in Fresno. Kay and Dick picked them up at the train station and they went to a movie and out to lunch. They went back to Aunt Kay’s and she made a meal with Phyllo dough. It was the first time Jackie had ever seen someone use that type of dough and Aunt Kay showed her how delicate it was and how to work quickly with it. That night, Ruby and Kay told stories about Grandma Flora and how it was when they were growing up. Aunt Kay made a wonderful breakfast then they took the train back to Stockton. It was special for Jackie to spend time alone with Momma (family of five, didn’t happen a lot) but this was a trip she will never forget.
I took Taylor as a baby with Momma and Daddy to visit Aunt Kay.
After my mother died, I didn’t get to see Aunt Kay much. She was getting on in age. She had watched her mother and sister Ruby both die from the same dreaded disease, breast cancer. She felt very strongly that, as a preventative measure, she should have both breasts removed. This was a very radical idea when she did it. Now, her foresight was certainly proven correct. I was really longing to see her so in approximately 2005 or 2006, I went with my brother Tim, Paul and I and our girls went to see Aunt Kay. We had a wonderful dinner prepared by Cindy and it was good to just see Aunt Kay. Taylor said later, Aunt Kay’s skin reminded her of her Grandma Jubie. I could certainly appreciate that.
Aunt Kay passed away on April 7th, 2014, one week after her 68th wedding anniversary, one month shy of her 90th birthday. Uncle Dick is still going strong at 95 and says he is planning to live to 100. I won’t be surprised. Taylor and I drove to Half Moon Bay to attend Aunt Kay’s funeral. It was good to be with my cousins and I was so glad I did. My mother would certainly have appreciated that we did that.
Kathleen was the last of the little Hardin family to return home, to each other. I am sure she was well received.
I had completed most of my Grandpa Jacques’ siblings but I did not get an opportunity to complete one for my great-aunt, Aunt Lucy. She was the second to the last Jacques daughter born to Juan N. and Anna Maria L. Jacques (I do tire of trying to figure out how each person in our family spelled Jacques) on January 8, 1897.
Funny how each of Juan N and Anna Maria’s last three children were all born in January…Onofre on January 6th, Lucy on January 8th and Celia on January 23rd.
This is one of my favorite pictures of these two. I estimate this picture was taken in approximately 1915 or so. Their gowns look to be a heavy brocade, probably silk, and detailed. Aunt Lucy has a large cross on a necklace; Aunt Celia has a large round disc.
Blanco, New Mexico was their home. They were brought up on a ranch and everything that goes along with being raised on a ranch.
I love this picture too. These girls were fun, and bad ass!
Lucy met and married Joseph Melaquias Alire on August 12, 1925.
A year later, Herbert Alire was born, followed by Max in 1927, Rudy in 1931, Orlando in 1936, Alfonso in 1937 and finally, a girl, Ana Marie Teresa in 1939
I love doing research. I run across a lot of people who are often researching the same person that I am researching and it is so nice to find gems once in a while. I was doing research on Aunt Lucy and I came across a lady by the name of Esther Acosta. She is married to a man by the name of Jay Alire, one of Aunt Lucy’s grandchildren. She had this one picture of the Alire family and so I was able to take a copy of it. What a great picture.
So Aunt Lucy’s family was in Denver, Colorado. All of her children lived there but she did come to California to visit her sister Celia. My dad took us to visit Great Aunt Celia a lot as we lived in the same town. We saw Aunt Lucy a few times. Her reputation preceded her. A lot of people would say she was grouchy and to be careful around her. However, I can honestly say I never saw her grouchy with anyone and she was very nice to me.
I know Aunt Lucy’s life wasn’t easy and I know I am short on details.
I had started writing a manuscript that took place in New Mexico, so of course my character had two great aunts that lived with her. One was fun loving, the other, a little sour at times but damn it that was so much fun to write. Aunt Lucy probably had a bit of a tougher life than Aunt Celia and on the 120th anniversary of her birth, I , for one, will never forget her. Happy Birthday Aunt Lucy…gone but never forgotten.
Well a new year has arrived. 2017…Here is to good times with family, good days ahead and good stories.
When we left off with Bill and Bea, they were living in Canada and had at last adopted Miriam and had a very fine little family.
Lloyd worked after school during high school, making $25 a month. When they had finished building their home, Lloyd didn’t want Bea to put her old coal stove into the new kitchen that had been built so he gave her $100 toward buying a new stove.
When the time came for Lloyd to go off to college, he was accepted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Bea took in sewing to help pay for Lloyd’s schooling. Finally, on very short funds, Bill sold his violin to help pay for college. Bea cried over that for years but when Lloyd and Maxine were long married, they purchased a new violin to replace it.
Lloyd had been gone to college for a bit when a woman came to see Bea. She didn’t know her but the woman was from Simpson Sears Mail Order Office and she said she had heard of Bea and wanted her to come work at their office.
She and Bill had difficult times in their marriage but the one thing they agreed on was providing an education for their children. She went to work there and Bill was working for the Cahoon Hotel…(spoiler alert, Aunt Miriam married Golden Cahoon).
Bea and Bill had a number of people live with them over the years. This included their dear friend Irene who moved with them from England and was a help to Bea when Bill was off in the army. Irene had a sister by the name of Hilda and she married a gentleman by the name of Haydn and they stayed good friends with Bea and Bill over the years.
In 1953, she and Bill wrote to her parents and asked them to come back and live with them for a year. She and Bill sent tickets to them and they arrived in Christmas. It had been a long time since she had seen her parents. It happened that Lloyd graduated from the University of Utah while they were visiting so they were able to attend. After Lloyd’s graduation, they drove her parents to the Grand Canyon then to Knotts Berry Farm and other places in California before driving Lloyd and Maxine back to Salt Lake. Her parents really enjoyed that vacation and after they left the Grand Canyon, her father said, “We are having a millionaires holiday, mom, and it isn’t costing us a penny.”
They returned with her parents to Salt Lake that August as Lloyd and Maxine were getting married. They were very happy to be at their oldest grandchild’s wedding.
Daughter Miriam also had her first child during that trip so they were here in time to see Wendy born in March of 1954 (sorry to out your age, my dear, hahaha). Bea was the first person to hold Wendy after the doctor. Her parents returned home to England and their life settled into a normal routine once again.
Eventually, Darlene, their youngest, became unhappy in Canada and she went to Salt Lake, lived with Lloyd and Maxine and went to high school there. She went back to Canada but was itching to finish school in Utah. In 1956, Bill got the idea of moving to Salt Lake, too, and was very serious about it. Bea wasn’t keen on starting over. However, she finally told Bill that if he was able to sell their home, she would consider it. She really didn’t believe that would happen. Their home sold in the fall of 1956 and Bill went to Salt Lake first, to look for a job and to get them settled. Bill went to the Board of Education and got a job and purchased a house for them. Bea wasn’t happy and she sure didn’t like that house one bit. Darlene’s friend had gotten permission to move with them to Salt Lake. Bea went back to Canada for a bit, then asked her employer to hold her job for her while she decided if she really wanted to go to Salt Lake. They moved to Salt Lake for good and Bea set out to make that tiny house her home.
Darlene got married in 1959 to Henry Watkins then Bea left that night for England to see her siblings. It had been so many years since she had seen them and missed them terribly. This was the first time she had flown in a plane. She was very nervous but really loved it.
While there, she was able to return to her folks in Northampton, able to see her Aunt Poll who was in a nursing home by this time, saw her Uncle Sid and Aunt Frances and her dear friend Betty Cook Wilson who now lived in Gloucester.
Bea was walking with her parents by the railroad station when she asked her father if he had ever been to Wales, where his family originated. He said he hadn’t. She told him, “Well, today is the day.” She bought them three tickets to Abergavenney, Wales. It was a lovely valley, hilly and so beautiful. Bea asked her father if he knew anything about his family, but he said he only knew that his grandmother was named Phoebe and nothing else.
They found a place to stay for the night then visited the old church of St. Mary. When they arrived at the church, the organist was playing, “Praise My Soul The King of Heaven” and the sun was shinning. Her father said, “Girlie, I wish I could tell you something about my family but I only know that my grandfather, Emanuel Jackson married Phoebe but that was it.” As they stood there looking down the aisle where his grandparents had been married, a book fell open and there on the right side of the book were the names of his grandparents, along with the year they were married and the names of the witnesses to their marriage.
They walked over to Mill Street and found the house that her great-grandparents had lived in and where her grandfather was born. They went up to an old castle which was mostly in ruins. There was a ceremony going on and when she found out it was for a Mr. Jackson and that he was a Freeman of the Borough (Okay, Yvonne again. So, I am unclear on reading Grandma Bea’s words if, in fact, it was a direct relative or not but that is how it goes.)
She finally returned to Salt Lake after the most wonderful trip home. Bill was waiting for her at the bottom of the plane steps. She was glad to be home.
Bill and Bea lived happily in Salt Lake until about 1991 when they moved to Stockton. Lloyd had the annex turned into a room for them as he knew Bill’s health wasn’t great and that he couldn’t have Bea there taking care of Bill alone. Bill died on December 2, 1992. Taylor was just two months old and we all traveled back to Salt Lake for his funeral. Miriam Bennett Cahoon suffered from ALS and had died on August 8, 1973. She is buried in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. Darlene and her family arrived for Grandpa Bennett’s funeral, as did his Canadian grandchildren. A couple of nights after the funeral, Paul and I went with his cousin Rodney, Darlene’s only son, and his wife out for a few hours. My mother in law kept Taylor and Aunt Darlene kept Rodney’s little boy who was about two. Cousin Bill had driven us downtown and when he returned for us, he said, “Boy, your baby has been crying since you left.” I kinda freaked out and said, “My baby?” (Taylor was a good infant and I was so shocked) and he said, “No, theirs.” Turns out poor Darlene’s grandchild didn’t appreciate being left. That Taylor Bennett, however, was a trooper. Good as gold, her Grandma Maxine said.
Grandma Bea moved back to Stockton for good. Her Salt Lake home was sold and she lived with Lloyd and Maxine. My children all got to know her well. I spent many hours with her. One time, I took her and Grandma Maxine (after Lloyd had passed away) to a Thanksgiving dinner in San Francisco at my brother’s home. It was a really great night. I would take her shopping and to lunch and we would talk. She would tell me stories of her life and especially about her baby that she had lost. She still mourned his loss after all that time. In her ancestry book, she pasted a picture of Paul in the place where his picture would have been. She had nothing to remember him by, just his memory.
On December 18, 2005, Beatrice Mary Jackson Bennett, at the age of 96, went home to the people that missed her the most: her husband Bill, her parents Harry and Bea Jackson and her sons Lloyd Bennett, Baby Boy Bennett and her dear daughter Miriam.
Another year has come and gone. I am looking forward to 2017, researching my ancestors, sharing their stories with everyone, continued writing. This year saw not as many posts as the year before but when my mother-in-law Maxine left us, she left a little hole in my soul. She was the last piece of our lives that we had held onto, that little piece of a parental love. Now, I will continue my stories and hope to bring each person to life, just a little bit, for a brief moment. As always, my editor, Taylor Bennett, has my sincere gratitude for her patience and love and helping me put together my thoughts. This is my last post for 2016 and my first post for 2017 will conclude the Beatrice Mary Jackson Bennett story. Cheers!
Beatrice Mary Jackson met William George Bennett on June 30th 1927 when two missionaries came to her home in England. Brother Bennett was there to meet a missionary who he left Canada with on his mission and was told to meet him at the home of the Jackson Family. William played the violin and Beatrice played the piano. They had that in common and by the time that he left, Bill asked Bea to write to him. They had only seen each other in person three times. They wrote to one another over a one year period. He sent her a ring that he had purchased in England and taken home with him to Canada. He sent for her and on March 31st, 1928 Bea embarked on the S.S. Montcalm for an 8-day trip across the ocean to Canada at the age of 18. She had a wonderful trip.
She disembarked in Canada and went by train to Lethbridge where Bill was to meet her. He wasn’t there. She stayed on the train to Cardston. When she arrived, she was met by a stranger who introduced himself as Ed Wolsey. He told her his wife was in the hospital with a new baby boy. She was Merelda, a sister to Bill. Bill had been given the wrong time that the train was to arrive and he’d missed her. She was in bed when he finally arrived and it was a joyous meeting. They were married a week later, April 19, 1928, her 19th birthday.
They stayed with his parents for a couple of months until they found a third-floor apartment that they dubbed “Seventh Heaven” and they had very happy days there.
After that, Bill wanted them to live on a ranch that his father owned. Bea felt that was a mistake as she was no country girl. Their nearest neighbor was a mile away and they lived on the U.S. border.
Bill’s father wanted them to move to Kimball and take care of his ranch there so they did. Lloyd was born on August 21, 1929. Her parents wanted to come to Canada and she wanted them to come. They thought they would be able to help care for her family while her father looked for a job. It didn’t work out that way. It was 1929 and impossible to find a job anywhere. She wished they had never come because her father never ended up finding a job. Her father decided to take her brother Ray and head back to England. He had nothing to go back to because they had sold everything to get to Canada.
Eventually, Bill had sold enough wheat that they could make a down payment on a little house in Cardston. Times were very difficult. The rest of her family went back to England and the day Bill came home, Bea was sitting at the table with Lloyd on her lap because the electricity had been turned off. They simply had no money. Bill’s father died on July 3, 1933 and they had no one left to turn to. That following April, Bill had walked miles and miles looking for work and couldn’t find a thing. They sold their car to make ends meet. On April 19, 1933 Bill left the house and didn’t wish her a happy birthday or happy anniversary and she cried after he left. He came home early in the afternoon and had earned 75 cents. That was the happiest birthday she had ever had. She said it was funny how love grows when you only have each other and one small boy.
She was seven and a half months pregnant on May 3, 1933 when she became ill. Her second baby was born and lived for less than two short days. No money to bury her poor baby. They wrote to her folks in England and they were told that they could have jobs if they went back to England and so she, Bill and Lloyd, now 4, sold everything they owned then had to catch a ride with a stranger who was traveling to Montreal in a Packard Straight Eight and wanted help driving.
They arrived in England and in short order they both had jobs and were doing much better. She paid her parents for their room and they both recuperated. They had a good life in England, Lloyd started school and they did well until 1938. Bill had continued to want to return to Canada, his home, but they were very happy in England.
In 1938, things were becoming very troubling in England. Hitler had taken over Germany and Jews were being arrested and murdered by the thousands and many had escaped to England with terrible stories.
Bill wanted to take her and Lloyd to Canada. She wrote to a church elder who had been in World War I, and he told her that England would be at war within the year. They left their jobs, gave up everything they had acquired and prepared to leave for Canada. They had purchased tickets for a ship but it kept getting moved from date to date. Finally, they left Liverpool on the Montroyal, which was loaded with people. Two ships went out with two destroyers next to them. The Germans had sunk a ship by the name of Athenia. They were carrying a lot of passengers that had survived that sinking and their stories were tragic. One woman had lost her husband and children on the Athenia. Her child was in the bathtub and she could hear him screaming when the torpedo hit the ship and couldn’t get to him. While they were on board the SS Montroyal, they heard an explosion and their ship rocked from one end to the other. Lloyd was about 10 years old and white as a sheet. They scurried up to the deck with their gas masks. The sirens were screaming and they got into their lifeboats as they had been instructed. They found that a submarine had been following one of the ships and the destroyer next to them had dropped a depth charge and sunk that submarine. Passengers on deck had seen oil raise from the submarine.
They finally made it to Canada and took the train to Cardston and met up again with Bill’s family.
They adopted a baby girl, Darlene, in February of 1940 and they had a happy little family. Bill was working as a Manager of a grocery store when Pearl Harbor was bombed and Bill decided, against Bea’s wishes, to enlist in the Canadian Army. Bea was left with two children at home in Canada.
When Bill returned, he found a job at Will Cooper Transport and they soon adopted Miriam. Bea had gone to Lethbridge with Bill in his truck and when she was returning to Cardston she saw a little girl sitting in the cab of the truck. She asked Bill who she was and he said Miriam Bach, the child of a man who worked for Bill’s father on the ranch. Miriam was nine years old. She asked if she could come and stay with Bill and Bea. They told her yes and they took her home for two weeks but she stayed the entire summer. She acted so hungry and couldn’t get enough to eat. When summer was over, it was time for her to return to her home and she cried and cried so much. The following year, Miriam wanted to come back to Bill and Bea’s home and Bea told her no.
Bea was working part time in a grocery store when she met Alfred Bach, Miriam’s half-brother. He told her that when Miriam had left them the year before, her mother didn’t’ pick her up as promised but Miriam was staying at Bill’s cousin’s home. Her mother had gone away with another man and Miriam was ill and in the hospital.
The following week Bea went with Bill to Calgary and found that Miriam was a very sick little girl. She had been underfed, under clothed and overworked. They went home and a week later Bea called her in the hospital and when Miriam asked if she could return to them, Bea told her that Bill would go and see her father, to see if he would allow them to raise her.
Bill talked her father into letting them keep Miriam and she came with such threadbare clothing, they simply threw everything away and started from scratch. She had suffered in the hospital with yellow jaundice and looked pitiful. Miriam ate and ate and after dinner asked if she could have a peanut butter sandwich. Bea told her she could. Miriam had nightmares when she first came to them. Two weeks later, Bea found out that the other children had been removed from Miriam’s home too. Miriam was afraid she would be returned to her mother but Bea and Bill put in to legally adopt Miriam.
Miriam was a good and loving daughter. She became very good friends with Lloyd and both she and Darlene adored their brother.
So, Bea and Bill went through a lot in their lives. World War I, the Panic, Depression, back to England, World War II, birth of two children, the death of one child, adoptions, a return to Canada and a more settled life. It will take one more post to finish their story, as they lived a very full life.
Paul and I traveled with his parents and grandparents and this picture was taken in North Carolina on that trip. I stayed in the same room with Grandma and Grandpa.
So, in keeping with my “people I knew” theme, I am going to start my Bennett posts with Paul’s Grandma, Beatrice Mary Jackson Bennett. Grandma Bennett was a short, outgoing woman who was always well dressed and who adored me. You can see why I started with her. When I met Paul, she was the first person to really welcome me and always made me feel at home. My mother-in-law Maxine wasn’t too warm to me in the beginning (my sister-in-law raced out to the driveway, just to see if I was “another bimbo with big-boobs” (I wasn’t!)). But Grandma Beatrice, she adored me.
She was always well dressed and my family thought she looked just like the “Queen of England”. She wasn’t the Queen of England, but she was born there. She weighed 12 pounds at birth and her father said, “My gosh, she’s a funny thing.” Her mother’s feelings were hurt because she was so proud of her new baby. They lived at 19 Brook Street in Northampton, England on April 19, 1909. Her father was Harry Jackson and her mother was Beatrice Wardle Jackson. She had four siblings, Evelyn (Eve), Albert (Bert) Raymond (Ray) and Eileen.
My parents really loved her too. She treated my parents very well. Grandma Bea was a very warm and engaging person. She could get hyped up, especially if she thought you might throw the silverware into the trash or if a Christmas gift she purchased for someone was lost in the shuffle and she was frightened someone else might open it in error. But she was always in my corner. One day, right after Paul and I got married, an old girlfriend of his called his parents home, just to say hi to him and check in. Grandma Bea told the girl that he was married now and had no wish to talk to her. Funny, right?
When she was a young child, she remembered The First World War, her father leaving for the war when she was about 7 and her mother would sit by the fire and cry. Before he left, they had experienced their first air raid. Her father had gotten them out of bed and then went next door to collect Mrs. Smith and her children, as their father was already gone in the war. The windows were all covered with dark blinds and they all sat in their home waiting. They heard bombs falling and one fell at a home behind her Aunt Phoebes and people were killed.
She could remember her Grandfather Henry Wardle (1860-1914). He used to walk up to their home every day. That was his daily walk. He would say he was coming to play with the “Childer”. That was a Yorkshire word and he was from Yorkshire. She just loved him and he would play school with her and he was a special person. He would take her down to the store and she always got a little treat and then he’d let her watch the children play on the field in the school nearby. One day he didn’t come and she would ask her mother, “Where is my grandpa, why doesn’t he come anymore, Mum?” and she said her mother would just cry and cry.
When she was about seven, her mother would send her down to the “cue” line to wait to receive food. Her mother would warn her not to let the women push her out of line and that it was very important she get that food because if she didn’t, they might not have any food for the week. Bea would stand there with her sister Eve, who was two years younger than her, holding onto her hand and fighting for their place in line. They would get pounds of potatoes or pounds of carrots.
There was an old wood yard on Broad Street in Northampton where she and her sister Eve would push their baby pram to the yard to pick up wood. There was a German prisoner who was very kind to her and her sister. He had two small daughters at home in Germany so he would fill the carriage as much as he could get into it and then she and Eve would push it back home. The wood cost them sixpence.
She remembered the day the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. They weren’t allowed to go far from home but that day they were free as birds and could go anywhere, so she took her sister Eve to the Market Square alone and people were passing out pennies.
Her family joined the Mormon Church when she was 12 years old. Her father had a best friend who had gone off to America to live in Salt Lake City and he sent two missionaries to their home in London and they were baptized into the LDS church. She said it wasn’t easy to be a Mormon in those days. No one wanted to be friends with them and missionaries were having a rough time too.
She attended St. George’s School for Girls in London. She loved school very much and her best friend was Betty Cook and they were called “the inseparables”.
Bea was very close to her father. He would wake her early in the morning and say, “Girlie, would you like to go for a walk?” They would walk for miles. She could talk to her father and they would sing and pick blue bells.
She had to leave school at the age of 14 and go to work to help her family. She worked in a shoe factory on a special beading machine.
Christmas was a special time for their family and her parents would sit near the fireplace and sing. Her father would make up song lyrics, like “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Beechams Pills are the just the thing. Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild, two for adults and one for a child”. They would laugh and her mother would say, “Harry you fool.”
Her Grandmother Wardle and Aunt Gladys would come for Christmas in a taxi paid for by her father. They would to go her Aunt Frances’ home for Boxing Day then to her Aunt Annie’s home for a treat.
Evelyn Bert and Ray
One time she and her sister Eve had gone to her Aunt Poll’s home, wearing lovely white dresses, new white shoes and socks then decided to play in the water barrel where she kept the soft water to wash her hair then into the chicken coop. Aunt Poll cussed then said, “You young buggers, get out of those clothes.” She washed their dresses, worked on their shoes and socks and sent them home again with a warning to “not tell your parents, you buggers.”
Aunt Poll’s son, Aunt Poll, Lloyd and Bea in about 1934
She met her husband Bill Bennett only three times before she married him. He was on a mission to England when he met her the first time. After that, the corresponded by mail and eventually she traveled on her own to Canada to marry him.
Bea’s story continues when she arrives in Canada to marry Bill but I will continue that on another post. It is a long story and well worth re-telling, well worth remembering. She was a woman who lived through World War I, the boom of the 1920’s, the Great Depression, World War II, a child who lived, those that died and those that came into their lives.
Grandma Bea lived long enough to spend time with my children and to get to know each of them. She really adored Taylor and she, along with Grandma Maxine, took Taylor to lunch every Wednesday at Home Town Buffet. Taylor was allowed to pick her lunch and they would spend several hours together, reading books, playing and just being good to my daughter.
Beatrice was a good Mormon, but she wasn’t such a good Mormon that her husband wasn’t allowed to drink a Coke. But like all good Mormons, she made an incredibly detailed autobiography of her life. She also left a voice recording of her life. Genealogy was very important to her. She spent hours researching and her work meant so much to her. I am not a Mormon nor are these my people but her work means a lot to me, because without those people, my children would not be who they are.
I have to say a big Thank You to my sister-in-law Anita Bennett McBride. Had she not shared all of these items with me, we wouldn’t have such great detailed memories , pictures and a pretty complete history of Beatrice Mary Jackson. Now, all of Bea’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have access to those memories as well.
Charles Jackson Hardin was born on March 5, 1892 in Graysville, Alabama. The fact that Graysville started out being called Gin Town because Graysville had the only cotton gin for miles made me laugh. I guess that is where my grandfather got a taste for alcohol. His father was Alfred Jackson Hardin and his mother was Georgia Tallulah Young.
Charles is on the left. Fun hair, right?
Alfred Hardin had been previously married to a woman by the name of Martha Bivens. Together they had three sons. William Lenox (WL) Hardin, born 1879, Issac Luther Hardin born in 1881 and Samuel Hardin born on 14th of May, 1883. Martha Bivens Hardin died on the 29th of May, 1883, two short weeks after her child’s birth. Samuel died five years later in 1888.
Alfred Hardin married Georgia Tallulah Young in 1891 and she inherited two young boys. Charles Jackson was their first child born a year later in 1892.
Charles’s subsequent siblings were Moses, Esther, Ida, Thelma, Gracie Ann, Tom and Felix, who was called Bryan.
In 1900, the family still lived in Graysville, AL and Alfred working as a farmer. His two oldest sons, WL and Issac were working as farm laborers.
By 1910, they had moved to Massy and Lacon Road in Morgan County, AL and were still running a farm. Charlie was 18 and helping his father on the farm.
I didn’t get to meet my grandfather. I will get to that part shortly. However, in 1977 my parents took me and Jackie on a trip across the US heading to Florida. In Birmingham, AL we stopped and spent the night with my Great Uncle Bryan and Great Aunt Lilly. Uncle Bryan took us out to the cemetery and as we were walking through, Uncle Bryan points to a grave and says, “That’s Charlie’s first wife.” I was shocked. I didn’t know Grandpa had been married before. What do you want to bet that the picture above where it has been cut out from a larger picture included his ex-wife? I can see the slightest hint of a black dress next to his shoulder.
So, Charles Hardin had married a woman by the name of Serepta Viola Wilhite. I had no other information other than that Charlie had been married to her. I assumed she must have died before he married Grandma Flora. Nope. She died in 1976, the year before we visited. I was shocked (it didn’t take a lot to shock me at that point). I found that on the 1920 census, Viola Wilhite was listed as a “widow”. That made me laugh. I thought, hm, history revisionist? Lol. My guess is that Charles was married to her sometime in between 1911-1915. Married and divorced. I don’t have any other information than that.
By June 5, 1917 Charles is living in Covington, Kentucky and working as a Clerk at Adams Exploration Company. He was single when he signed up for the WWI draft. He is listed as having a bad ankle.
On June 21, 1921 Charles Jackson Hardin took a bride, one Flora Mae Burgess. He was 29 years old, Flora just 19 years old. I suspect she was swept off her feet. She had been living in Tulsa, OK working at an office and living as a border in a home. I think she must have longed to have a “real home” and a “real family”, a symptom of having been raised without a mother since the age of eight. They were married on the same day as a race riot had erupted in Tulsa.
Grandpa Hardin was already working for the railroad. He held several jobs with the railroad and they traveled by railroad during their married lives.
One month into their marriage, Flora and Charles were living in the Killmer Apartments in West Tulsa, OK when they received a knock at their door in the middle of the night and Flora was informed that she would be one of 21 heirs to inherit a fortune.
The Tulsa Tribune and my grandparents on the cover
So, although the article makes a big proclamation that my grandparents were to live on Easy Street, that was not to be. Flora’s Grandmother was descended from a Texas family who had owned property where oil was discovered. I can only imagine that it rocked their marriage early. You can see from the article that he was employed as a Switchman for the Frisco road in West Tulsa and Flora was the Credit Manager at Hunt’s Store. To me, the sweetest part of the article is what their dream was…to move to Texas and buy a ranch, raising cattle and hogs. A real country life! But first, they were going to buy a car and drive to Alabama to visit his family.
They do not make it to Easy Street, but they do make it to Texas. Just in time for the Dust Bowl. But first, they moved to Colorado. A year later, in June of 1922, Charles Jackson Hardin Jr. was born. He was a pretty baby and Grandpa Hardin must have been so happy with him.
But his dear little life wasn’t to be, either. Grandma Flora was already pregnant with my Aunt Kay when Junior died at 15 months old. I cannot fathom how hard it would have been to lose their baby, but Grandma Flora used to walk, every day, a mile to the cemetery and a mile home, crying all the way. This had to have had a lasting effect on their marriage and on their home life.
The little family persevered. In the 1920’s he continued working for the railroad. By 1930, they were living in Borger, Texas, had two daughters, Kathleen and Virginia. Flora had their last child, Ruby Mae Hardin on February 9, 1930.
So while they lived from state to state (Virginia was born in Washington State), Charles made several trips to visit his family in Alabama. You can tell from these pictures he must have been very adored in his family and felt very close to them. I think Flora really longed for a large family with lots of people to love.
In the midst of the depression, they were living in New Mexico and had very little to spare. Relatives Jack and Etta Trapp (Jack’s mother, Eugenia and Charles’ mother Lula were sisters) had been told that there were jobs in California as well as food and sunshine. They decided to move together. Etta Trapp’s sister, Cora and Carl Smithers had already moved to California so there was a safe place to land. My mother said her father drove them to California in his Model T.
Upon arrival in California, the family camped underneath the Woodson Bridge in Corning. My mother, while embarrassed that they had been homeless when they arrived, said that everyone was doing that, camping out. She returned to the bridge when she was married and living in the area.
So while Charles never again lived in Alabama or near his family, he found ways to keep them close. His brother Bryan made numerous trips to California and spent vacations and miles on the road with Flora and Charles. They became really close.
Flora and Charles moved to a number of California cities, including Yuba City, Fresno and finally Stockton. They lived on Sierra Nevada, Alpine Avenue and Carpenter Road. My grandfather built the house on Alpine. He also helped build the house on Carpenter Road. Charles worked for several train lines including the Southern Pacific RR, Western Pacific RR, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe RR.
While Charles worked to make a living for his family, there was another side of him that Flora must have had a difficult time with. He liked to drink and he smoked a pipe or cigar. He also liked to hang out at the bar. While Flora was busy going from church to church (always looking for a home), Charles liked to hang out at a bar, watch baseball and have a drink.
Their marriage wasn’t easy and at one point they split up. It makes me sad but I can’t judge either of them. I am sure Flora wasn’t easy to live with and at times Charles wasn’t working. I think it is often a decision to marry in haste that comes home to roost. But those are the facts, you can’t change them.
My mother enjoyed a special relationship with her father. She was the apple of his eye. He was the one that called her Jubie and her name fit. He loved her as greatly as he could and she was devoted to him.
I wish I had known him. I have to be satisfied that my mother always said I had a big heart, just like my Grandpa Hardin and that he would have loved me. I was very close to my Uncle Bryan and my mother used to say if she closed her eyes, listening to Uncle Bryan talk was like listening to Grandpa Hardin. That slow southern drawl must have stayed with him. Hard to miss something you never had, but that is something I missed out on, having a grandfather that I could have been close to.
I think Grandpa Hardin was a genial sort of guy. He was a guy that you could sit and have a drink with and chat about sports. I know my dad liked him. Charles Hardin died of a heart attack on December 29, 1960. Three of the barmaids from the bar that he frequented attended his funeral. That probably didn’t sit well with Flora, but Charles went out loved by all sorts of people.
The Tulsa History Center allowed me to use the page from the Race Riot on their website…to learn more, you can find them here