This week I'm going back to the last April blog theme that I missed. The theme was 'prosper'. This one was hard. I didn't have rich ancestors so I had to think a long time about what it can mean to prosper. I thought about telling you a couple of stories about my 2nd great grandfather, William Larkin, who owned a mine in Aurora, Missouri, in 1900 but I didn't feel like I had enough information and facts to do him justice yet so instead I started to think about what the Bible considers prosperous.
Deuteronomy 30:9-10 says, “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
So that got me thinking about children and how the Bible says they are a blessing from God- a “heritage from the Lord”, “a reward”, they are “like arrows in the hand of a warrior”, and “blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them”. (Psalm 127:3-5) Also, grandchildren “are the crown of the aged”. (Proverbs 17:6) There are many verses but these are the first couple that really hit me and helped get me started down this path. So I looked at my father's family and narrowed the list down to the 6 couples who had the most children. Out of those 6 couples, I decided to tell you about Samuel Morris and Emeline Eliza (BELL) WILLIAMS. I hope I can do them justice.
I don't have a lot of information about Samuel's early life. There is some confusion about who his mother really is. In trying to figure it out, I decided finally to look only at men named John Williams who were married in Illinois between the years of 1853 and 1869 because I felt like that narrowed it down pretty well. Well, let me tell you- I “narrowed” it down to 178 (!!!) John Williams' who were married in Illinois between 1853 and 1869. (Are you beginning to understand why it's June and I'm not done with an April blog post??) So rather than make you wait any longer…I'm just presenting you with what I have. They are one of my “brick walls” so I don't have a lot of information but maybe I can tell a little of their story.
SAMUEL MORRIS WILLIAMS
Samuel was born in April, 1864 in Illinois. His dad was John W. WILLIAMS. Prior to writing this blog I believed his mother was Nancy (WALLS) WILLIAMS. However during the course of preparing for this blog, I located another researcher who has information that suggests John was married to someone before he married Nancy. I am still trying to sort it out, as is the other researcher- Annie Blanchard. (As a researcher I try to always prove everything I'm told rather than accept what I'm told without question. If you want to do your own research you are welcome to review Annie Blanchard's post about John Williams at her blog at https://digginggenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/unpuzzling-the-ancestors-part-ii/.) The link takes you to part 2 of a 3-part blog series about John and his last wife, Armazinda.
By the time Samuel was six years old his family had moved to Licking, Texas County, Missouri, where his brother Charles was born in February, 1870. By 1872, Nancy had passed away and John married Armazinda Frances WALLACE. In 1880, the family was still living in Texas County, Missouri, and included Samuel, his dad John and stepmother Armazinda, his brother Charles, and half-siblings Walter, Alice and Edgar. Other siblings born later included Mabel, Frank, Martin, Elizabeth, and Bertie Frances. Throughout his life, Samuel was a farmer.
ELIZA EMELINE BELL
Eliza was born in July of 1871 in Roubidoux, Texas County, Missouri. Her parents were Quincy and Elizabeth (STEPHENSON) BELL. Eliza had 6 known siblings- two half-sisters named Mary and Cordova, and four siblings named John, Surrena, Josephus, and Samuel. Like Samuel's dad, Eliza's dad was married more than once. Eliza's mother was Quincy's last known wife. Whereas Samuel was (as far as I know) the first child, Eliza was the fifth child of her father and the third child of her mother.
SOMETIMES LIFE IS A SERIES OF PLUSES AND MINUSES – GAINS AND LOSSES
On 18 March 1888, Samuel married Eliza Emeline BELL in Roubidoux, Texas County, Missouri. Samuel was 23 years old and Eliza was 16. (NOTE: In the 1930 census, Eliza stated she first married at age 17. However based on date of birth and date of marriage, she had not yet turned 17 when she married Samuel. Memory is a tricky thing sometimes.)
I'm going to present Samuel's and Eliza's life together as a series of gains and losses. Plus signs for the positives (or gains, marked in green) and minus signs for the negatives (or losses, marked in red). I think this is a good way of showing what their life was like up to the crescendo-point in 1905.
++++ Between 1889 and 1896, they had their first four children- Sarah Ann (Aunt Sadie), Jahu, Hosea (or Hose as Mam always called him), and Ida.
– Then the first in a series of tragedies struck the family. Eliza's mom died in January of 1897.
++ In 1898 and 1899, Samuel and Eliza had Quincy (who sometimes went by Bennie) and Ivy (Aunt Tack).
+/– In 1900, Eliza had another set of twin boys neither of whom survived. This was the second in the series of tragedies for the family.
+ In 1901 my great-grandmother Bessie was born.
– In 1902, Eliza's dad (her last living parent) passed away.
+ In 1903 Eula (Aunt Ule) was born.
– Also in 1903 Samuel's stepmother, Armazinda, passed away. Armazinda was Samuel's stepmother from the time he was 8 years old so surely he felt some loss (if not significant loss) when she passed.
– Then in 1904 Samuel's dad (his last living parent) passed away.
After all of these losses, 1905 was an excruciating year for the already hard-hit family.
+ In February, 1905 Martin (Uncle Mart) was born.
– That same year Samuel was killed by a train somewhere near either Cabool, Texas County, Missouri or Mountain Grove, Texas County, Missouri. Sources conflict about the location of his death and no official records or newspaper articles have ever been found to verify this. There was speculation that it was suicide. Some family members believe perhaps it was suicide and others believe that it definitely was not.
I know that Uncle Mart must surely have kept Eliza going on many days when she didn't want to live anymore. In the space of a decade she had lost both parents, her father-in-law and stepmother, and two children. (Averaging it out, that would be almost one lost loved one PER 1 ½ YEARS!!) I can't even imagine what it would be like to have that many close personal losses in that period of time. Knowing about all of these losses, it makes me think perhaps Samuel might really have committed suicide. Maybe while walking home he had time to think about all of these losses and simply couldn't see a reason for living and in one brief moment while he was feeling hopeless, a train appeared and he saw that as a way out. I don't know. It just makes me wonder.
LIFE KEEPS ROLLING ON
Sometimes we survive even when we don't want to. I'm glad that Eliza made it through this difficult period of her life. In 1908 Eliza married John Charles SNEARY. Everyone I've talked to said he was a good man. He was good to Eliza and good to her children and grandchildren. I love him simply because of this. She needed someone good in her life. After marrying, Eliza and John (who sometimes went by Charles) moved to Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma. In the 1915 Kansas Territorial Census, John and Eliza show up in Iola, Allen County, Kansas. In the household is a 2 year old male child named Rural WILLIAMS. In 1920 the family is living in Commerce, Ottawa County, Oklahoma and Rural is gone. I don't know Rural's relationship to the family- nor do I know anything else about him. If he belonged to Eliza and John, why wasn't his last name SNEARY? I never heard anyone talk of Eliza and John having any children together and Rural came along too late to belong to Samuel. I have not yet found any answers about Rural. I vaguely remember my grandma mentioning a Rural but sadly, I can't remember what she said. When she said his name it sounded more like 'Ruel'.
Eliza would see several of her sons go into the military and be sent into battle during World War I but it appears from records that they all came back home. I hope that she enjoyed many wonderful years with her children and grandchildren.
By 1930, Eliza and John were back in Upton Township, Texas County, Missouri living out their final years together. Eliza passed away there in February of 1934. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Success, Texas County, Missouri. John passed away two years later in August of 1936. John and Eliza were buried next to each other.
Every time I tell you a story about one of our ancestors, I'm always amazed at how much they lived through and yet still were able to make a decent life for themselves. These are the stories I want our children and grandchildren to see. I want them to know that they come from a long line of strong people and good-hearted people. I want them to know that they have it within themselves to overcome whatever struggles they are facing and whatever trouble they find themselves in. I hope this is what they get from the stories about our people. Pass these stories on to them!
Don't forget to check out Becky's blog at http://downintherootcellar.blogspot.com, Theresa's blog at https://recipesfromlena.wordpress.com/, and Rochelle's blog at https://theologyformom.wordpress.com/ for more great reading. 🙂
"Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?" ~ King David
Until next week,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog