Category Archives: Wilson

Thriller Thursday – Boy Scout Tragedy

Fifty-five years ago this weekend, what should have been a fun Boy Scout camping trip ended in tragedy for 15-year-old Richard Samuels. Richard was my seventh cousin twice removed, a fellow Wilson descendant, and had already experienced more than his fair share of hard times. He was born 25 July 1945 in Ogden, Utah, to Ariel Clifton and Mahala Verne (McFarland) Samuels. The family moved to San Francisco, and then sometime before 1951 Ariel and Verne were divorced.

In May of 1951 35-year-old Ariel suffered burns from a gasoline explosion in his car, dying a week later. According to Ariel’s obituary, he was survived by five sons and a daughter. Unless not all of the children were Verne’s, by 1958 four of them had also died. In August of that year, 43-year-old Verne died after an “extended illness.” Her obituary states she was survived by only two sons, Richard and Clifton.

Thirteen-year-old Richard was then taken in by his mother’s sister Willa and her husband, Lester Rose. He moved with them back to Ogden, possibly to 3376 Gramercy Avenue, a 4-bedroom home that had been built in 1956. The family was certainly living there by July 1961. The Ogden Standard-Examiner of July 4 that year details what happened to Richard in a front-page article just above one noting that Ernest Hemingway, who had died two days earlier, would be buried in the Ketchum, Idaho, public cemetery.

Richard, a student at Ogden High School and a member of the LDS church, had left Ogden at 4 a.m. on Monday, 3 July, with 10 other Explorer Scouts for a camping trip in the Uinta Mountains near Kamas. The trip was intended to last a week but in the end lasted less than twelve hours. The group camped near Buckeye Lake and half the boys left camp to gather firewood. One hundred yards from camp, they cut down a dead lodgepole pine tree. In falling, the tree knocked a limb loose from another tree, and this limb hit Richard on the head. He was taken to the hospital in Kamas but was pronounced dead on arrival from a fractured skull. Dr. John Kumagai stated Richard was most likely killed instantly when the limb struck him. A forest ranger examining the scene later estimated the tree limb weighed “about 100 pounds.” The other Scouts and their leaders returned home after Richard’s death, and Richard was buried Friday, 7 July, in Ogden City Cemetery.

This was not the end of difficult times for poor Clifton, either. Raised not with his brother Richard but in the household of a different aunt and uncle (his father’s sister and brother-in-law), Clifton was the elder by about six years. Less than a year after Richard’s death, in May 1962, it appeared that things might have turned around for the family, as 22-year-old Clifton married 20-year-old “lovely spring bride” Janet Gibbs. Two years later, though, Clifton’s foster father and uncle died at age 58 of a heart ailment. Then in 1967 Clifton and his “lovely spring bride” were divorced, with “mental cruelty” cited as the cause. Exactly what this meant is anyone’s guess, however, as all but two divorces noted in the newspaper with the Samuels’ noted the same cause.

In February 1973, at 28th and Harrison in Ogden, the car Clifton was driving struck another car broadside. Thankfully no one was seriously injured; the 19-year-old driver of the other car was hospitalized in fair condition, and his 17-year-old passenger was treated and released. Clifton, however, was cited for failure to yield and for driving under the influence. We can hope that things did finally turn around for Clifton following this incident. I found him one more time in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, this time in December 1977, purchasing land along with a second wife Kristine.

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Tombstone Tuesday – Knox to King

Pearl Wilson Ramaker

Pearl Ethel Wilson, my 2nd great aunt, was born 18 June 1892 in Creighton, Knox County, Nebraska.  She was the fifth child of six born to Wellington David and Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson. Lucinda died, aged 35, when Pearl was only two years old. Her younger brother, then ten months old, was raised by his maternal aunt, while Pearl is found living with her maternal grandparents in Iowa in 1900.

By 1910 Pearl was 18 and living in Centerville, South Dakota. She was a boarder in the Turner Hotel run by Edward Mudie and his wife Jennie.

Turner Hotel - Pearl Wilson Ramaker lived here 1910

By 1920 Pearl had moved to Hobson, Montana.  There, boarding with the family of Floyd McCowan, Pearl was employed as a schoolteacher. About 1921 Pearl married Ray Edward Ramaker. Ray and Pearl had three children, all born in Montana:  Mary Jo, Shirley E., and Nancy R. By 1930 the family had moved to Missoula, Montana, where Ray worked as a dentist. The home at 315 Daly Avenue where they lived in 1930 still stands; it was valued at $6500 in 1930 and $5500 in 1940. It was assessed at $165,877 last year. In 1940 Pearl and her daughters were still living in the Daly Avenue home, while Ray was living in Seattle.

By 1946 when their youngest daughter graduated from high school, it appears the entire family had moved to Seattle’s King County. Here, on 18 December 1969, Ray died, followed a decade later by Pearl, on 16 March 1979. Both are buried in Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle’s largest cemetery.

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Amanuensis Monday – Poor Harold Bridgman

Montgomery Family in Nebraska

Two months before my father was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, his grandmother, Sophie (Roberg) Wilson wrote to Grandma (Blanche) Montgomery from Winner, South Dakota, some 275 miles away. She also forwarded on a letter from another daughter, Maude Lucille, then 18 years old. Both Sophie and Maud express their concerns about the ongoing war, employment and financial difficulties, and, on a lighter note, basketball.

Postmarked February 11, 1942, Winner, South Dakota; Addressed Mrs. L. C. Montgomery, Box 675, Scottsbluff, Nebr; Return address Mrs. Wilson, Winner, S.D.

2-10-1942 Winner, S.D. Lomero [?] St.

Dear Blanche & rest must write a few words

I was so glad to hear from you suppose you got my letter about the same time as I got yours. I’m so sorry that Slim hasen’t got steady work. I know how hard it is to get long & I haven’t lost any time. And I’m always broke from one time to the next check course have Helped Maude quite a little. But must do what I can because can’t leave it all to June: I’m so sorry. I guess Clarence is gone to Rapid City for Examination hope he won’t half to go right away. Wish he would have had time to come down—haven’t saw him since Christmas hope he is feeling better all thise Poor boys that has to go to war—this war is Terrible. We are sure that Hareld Brigeman is Killed. Grandma has not herd since Wake Iland was attacked Oh its so Sad. I will send the last letter Maude wrote. Her letters are so much easier to understand. And I must answer Pearls letter its so long since I got her letter. Poor Pearl won’t be long until she will be going to the Hospetil—if I could only be with you girls for a few days when you need me the most—I would be so glad— but know it’s impossible but sure wish you could go to the Hospital—wouldn’t the county help on the Docter bill. The county sure helps People up here—Pay Docter bills: Pearl will go to the Hospital. Percy Mother will half to keep the children so that is not so Easy Eather. You said you diden’t see how Florence could be confermed. Oh I sure will do all I can for Florence. I have a cream collard dress that could be made over for her. I will see Mrs. Iver Week You send her size and tell me what coller would be allright if it was died [?] and what coller think Mrs. Week will be Kind and do that don’t suppose there would be any boudy down there that would make it over for Florence. I just love to see Florence have chance now because when she geats In to high school it’s much harder. In school Takes all the time for studying will you leat me know what you think about the dress course I relize it takes more than just the dress but will do all I can I sure love to it will be so earley that I don’t amigene they will have white dresses. Well dearest folks hope you can read this scribbling. Must close and get this up to the Post office. Would like to write a lot more but ime won’t permit so best love and good wishes to all and God Bless and Keep you well until we meat again Good by from Mother Lester and Grandma

Write when you find time

[enclosed in same envelope:]

[written at top:] I’m sending Maude’s letter I know you like to read it so by by

Sioux Falls, S.D. Feb. 3, 1942

Dear Mother & all,

Rec’d your letter & money order last nite. Also a letter from Irene and $1, and a letter from Clarence. He was very sorry that he couldn’t help me out, but has to go to Rapid City to be examined the 16th. I’ll send his letter with this, I answered him right back so he would get it. I told him that was O.K. as I knew he had a hard time of it and to be sure and go down and see you before he had to leave. I’ll pay part of what you sent me on my rent but I’ll have to use that dollar Irene sent me for groceries and I thought perhaps I’d better not give her all of that as I’ll need groceries again next week. Don’t worry tho it will come out somehow. Clarence was only getting $25 a month and had to buy license and also that permit to drive which was $2. But if he has to go to the Army I think he’s foolish if he doesn’t sell that car. I sure hope he gets a good location if he has to go. I haven’t heard from Lawrence for over 2 wks. He must be in New Jersey yet tho as he hasn’t sent me his radio and as soon as they go over he’s going to send it to me. I sure wish he’d write. They tell them when they can write now. It’s sure terrible about Harold Bridgman. I’m afraid they torture the boys and starve them to death. A family down here in Sioux Falls got a message from Wake Island, “You may be interested to know your son was taken prisoner at Wake Island.” Wouldn’t that be terrible to get that message and not be able to do anything about it.

It’s about 2:30 and I would be in school today but I guess I’ve got the flu. I’ve such a bad cold and it affects my eyes and neck. It’s so hard to get rid of a cold down here. I feel sort of dizzy when I get up. Mrs. Mellenbrendt called up Roberts & told him I was sick in bed, she also invited me down to dinner and gave me some cough medicine & Listerine. I think I’ll be able to go to school tomorrow so don’t worry, everyone seems to be having bad colds. Lorraine Hight from White River is going to Nettleton College down here she called up the Beauty School and wanted to talk to me so they had her call here. She is coming down at 4:30 to see me. I ran into her one day in Kusge’s [?] store.

I fixed Mrs. Small’s daughter’s hair and her sisters in-law’s hair also awhile back & they wrote up to Witten & told Pearl I did a very nice job. Pearl, I guess told the Long girls, as Romane wrote it to Dorothy McManigal. I fixed Gweny’s [?] hair last Sun. nite.

I sure wish I could see Clarence before he has to leave. They’re really drafting the boys fast around here.

Gee, it’s hot up here in this room but I’ve just got to keep covered up.

Hasn’t the weather been nice. We haven’t had such a bad winter yet but it still takes plenty of fuel tho.

Tell Lester I guess Winner’s B.B. team isn’t doing quite so bad now, I saw in the Argus-Leader where they beat Gregory.

I wonder what the Witten B.B. team is this year.

Excuse the writing I can’t do very good when I’m laying donw.

Write when you can Mother & thanks so much.

Lots of Love

Maude

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Amanuensis Monday – “So I’m Getting Old Now….”

Roy and Martha Anderson

Four years after Pearl Harbor, Martha (Roberg) Anderson mailed a birthday card to her cousin, my grandmother, Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery. Grandma would turn 37 ten days later.

[Postmarked Newman Grove, Nebraska, December 7, 1945; Addressed Mrs. Lawrence Montgomery, Marsing, Idaho. R.#1; 3c postage; birthday card; message written on back]

Dear Blanche. We all wish you a very Happy Birthday. How old are you now? I am 38 years old now. So I’m getting old now. Alfred is 40 years old. Roy is 40. I suppose your kiddies are looking for-ward to Xmas and Santa Claus. My kids are busy planning too. I been busy crocheting for Malinda. She isn’t a bit well. I suppose you heard about Olaf. I suppose she has wrote and told you. All her troubles. Poor Malinda. I sure feel sorry for her. Hope these few lines find you in the best of health. Write soon.

Your cousin
Martha

Martha Ingrid Roberg was born 31 May 1907 in Nebraska, the oldest daughter of Severin and Inga (Nelson) Roberg. One of ten children, she married Roy Anderson on 21 October 1925 and had two children of her own. One of Martha’s brothers was named Olaf, but I’m not sure if this cryptic reference is to him or not, as I can’t seem to identify Malinda or the troubles she was undergoing. Martha died 9 November 1996 and is buried in Newman Grove, Nebraska.

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Thriller Thursday – Winston Churchill

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There is always a thrill in discovering a famous relative. In this case, the relative in question is Winston Churchill – can’t you see the eerie resemblance?! Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, born November 30, 1874 at Blenheim Palace, was my half eighth cousin three times removed. I even visited Blenheim in 1994 while on a semester abroad program during my junior year at Sewanee (The University of the South). This was long before I discovered my familial connection to the Prime Minister through his American mother, Jeanette (Jennie) Jerome. Jeanette’s 6G-grandparents were William Gifford and Elizabeth Grant. William and his wife Patience Russell were my 10G-grandparents (William – Hananiah – William – Joshua – Ann – Joseph Davis – Cornelius – John – Lucinda Blanche – Carl Ozro Wilson – Blanche – Theodore Montgomery – me). Interestingly this means that Winston Churchill was also 6th cousin twice removed to another of my famous relatives: Lizzie Borden.

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Amanuensis Monday – The War News Is Sure Terrible

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Sometime in the early 1940s Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery wrote to her sister Mildred. The letter is partially lost now but somehow found its way back to Grandma in an envelope addressed to her mother, Sophie (Roberg) Wilson. This is the same envelope that contains a number of recipes from a “Mrs. Dickinson.” Grandma and Grandpa and their children were living in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where Uncle Gene (Alwin Eugene, born in November 1940) was apparently doing his fair share of tumbling and falling. The letter is full of family news and inquiries but touches on the horrors of war. It was also baking day – what I wouldn’t give for Grandma’s bread recipe!

[no postmark, return address, or stamp] Addressed: Mrs. Sophie Wilson, Winner, S.D. 628

[two pages missing; remaining pages labeled “3.” and “4.”]

…radio. I’m sure glad you write for Mamma as I know its hard for her to write. Hope she doesn’t have to work as hard as she did last winter. Yesterday was Pearl’s little girl’s birthday wasent it. I wanted to send her something but I didn’t think of it in time.

Do you still have the girls at your house. Am glad Herman has a new job.

Where did Monte fall from read it in Maude’s card. Alwin has fallen a lot he has a sore eye most of the time lately. I don’t know what’s wrong. He must have hurt it.

Be sure and tell Mamma & Lester hello from us all. Glad Lester likes school so well. What subjects does he take?

The war news is sure terrible. Even thinking about it makes you shiver.

We would like to take a trip up to Denver. Do you know if Clara is still there? Esther didn’t say.

I am baking bread today so must close & get busy. Am afraid it’s too cold in here as I let the fire go down.

With Love & Best Wishes May God bless you all. Blanche, Lawrence & children.

P.S. No we haven’t seen any of Carrolls. There are lots of S.D. cars but 14 or 15 thousand people in Scottsbluff, You seldom see many you know.

[at top of page 4:] I canned around 200 qts so that helps some.

Sympathy Saturday – Death by Senility

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Charles Wilson, my 3G-grandfather, was born August 13, 1831 in Louisville, New York, the son of John Wilder Wilson and his (as yet unknown) first wife. By 1850, 18-year-old Charles was living in the household of Charles Willard, an innkeeper.

About 1857 Charles married Lucy Bridges Taylor, also from Louisville. They were enumerated in Louisville in the 1860 census, along with their 1-year-old son, Wellington David (“David W.”) Wilson, who had been born November 27, 1859.

By January 1867 the family had begun its slow progress westward; in that month a second son, Oric Edward, was born in West Union, Iowa. Enumerated in the 1870 census in Madison Township in Buchanan County, (about 33 miles from West Union), the family added another son, Samuel Warner Wilson, on January 6, 1873.

Charles, Lucy, and their two younger sons were still in West Union in 1880, where Charles was working as a butcher; Wellington David, my 2G-grandfather, had married in 1879 and was enumerated in Eden Township (18 miles distant). He continued to migrate in tandem with his parents and brothers, though they never again lived in the same household. By 1885, Charles and family had moved to Knox County, Nebraska; in June of that year they were enumerated in Niobrara Precinct in the 1885 Nebraska State Census. In another 10 years the family had moved some 270 miles north, to Roberts County, South Dakota. There the family was enumerated in 1900 in Long Hollow Township. About a year later Lucy died.

In April 1910 Charles was enumerated in the home of his son Samuel, by now married and with a son of his own. Charles lived only another three months after the census enumeration, dying on July 18. On his death certificate his doctor indicated he had been attending Charles since June 1. Charles was just shy of his 79th birthday, but his cause of death is listed as “senility,” one of many age-related causes found on old death certificates.  At least it wasn’t “decrepitude” or “senile gangrene.”