Ora Norcutt Wentworth and Arthur Wentworth

Arthur Elbridge Wentworth Biography

Arthur Elbridge Wentworth, my paternal grandfather, was born on September 25, 1888 in Jackson, Carroll County, New Hampshire. His parents were Daniel Wentworth and Nancy Emery. He was the second of ten children: Alice (1886-1934), Arthur ((1888-1976), Eugene (1891-1905), Shirley Aldo (male)(1892-1965), Mary (1893-1975), Lillian (1895-1937), Hollis (1897-1897), Rosie (1899-1899), Ellen (1900-1904), and William (1901-1958).

Grandpa was a farmer as were his father, Daniel, and his grandfather, Levi.  The Bartlett/Jackson area is in the White Mountains. Many family dairy farms and small towns were in the lush valleys. Family members lived close by and most of Arthur's immediate family members  never left the general area. He was the exception to the normal path chosen.

He left New Hampshire when he was a young adult because work opportunities were limited. He and a friend rode the trains (hobo style) to Montana. See my post 'Homesteading in Montana' for more about that adventure. In the 1910 census, he was farming in Stanford, Fergus County, Montana.

He married my grandmother, Ora Norcutt, on November 8, 1916 in Lewistown, Fergus, Montana. Three of their children were born in Montana: Melvin Arthur (1917-1985), Glennis Addie (1919-2002), and Deloris Eleanor (1921-2016). My father, Ronald, was born on the way from Montana to the West Coast in Princeton, Idaho (1923-2007). Thelma Lavell (1924-1977) and Velma Loretta (1926) were born in Elma, Grays Harbor County, Washington.

Upon arriving in Grays Harbor County, the family farmed on rented property on Russell Rd in the Chehalis River valley. They moved to a nearby farm on South Bank Road which per the U.S. Census; they rented in 1930 and had purchased by 1940. The dairy farm would remain in the family until the early 1970's. Their children attended grade school at the Fords Prairie school which was about a mile from the farm. The younger children rode on a horse, usually slightly lame, and the older children walked alongside. They all attended high school in Oakville, Washington.

My father, Ronald, returned to the farm after serving four years in the Army and driving a passenger bus for a while. Dad and Grandpa farmed together until 1972.  Grandpa especially loved taking care of the calves and being on a tractor, working the soil, and harvesting the grass crops. When I was quite young, probably in the mid-1960's, he had a massive heart attack. He was told to go home, take it easy, and absolutely no more farming. Grandpa rejected the doctor's advice and he was back feeding calves, driving his tractor, and farming in no time. He retired from dairy farming in 1972.

My family lived on a farm one-half mile from the dairy farm. When my grandparents' farm was sold, a house was built for them on a parcel of land across the road from our farm. They would live in the "little house" for the rest of their lives. After retirement, they remained active members in the Sharon and Pomona Granges, grew a large vegetable garden, and raised chickens.

One of my fondest memories is Grandpa sitting in the kitchen of the old farmhouse as close to the wood stove as possible without his chair . It would be so hot on that side of the large country-style kitchen that I could barely breathe. Grandma would be across the room with the window open year round. During the colder months, it was freezing cold on her half of the room. They were happy as can be. Usually Grandma was cooking or baking and the kitchen smelled good.  I always felt happy and safe in their kitchen.

Another memory is being in the backseat of their 1958 brown and cream Chevrolet sedan with my brother, Art. Grandpa would drive part of the way between the two farms with his hands in the air.  We were amazed that he could drive the car with no hands on the steering wheel. We begged him to drive with no hands all the time. He delighted in accommodating our back seat pleas! Grandpa got into big trouble with Grandma when she found out what was going on. To our great disappointment, Grandpa drove the car like everyone else, both hands on the wheel, from then on. I believe he was as disappointed as we were.

On May 30, 1976, he had a fatal heart attack. Just a couple days prior, most of the family had seen him at my wedding. It was a blessing that so many were able to be with him that day. He worked hard all of his life, took care of his family, and was vibrant and healthy to the end of his life.

The farm on South Bank Rd, Oakville, Grays Harbor County, Washington

Arthur E. Wentworth, kitchen in old farm house

Arthur Wentworth and farm truck, So. Bank Rd. farm

Nora Waller Davis Tippie

Nora Ethel Waller Biography

My maternal grandmother, Nora Ethel Waller, was born on July 23, 1912 in Astoria, Clatsop County, Oregon to James Allen Waller and Daisie Irene Calkins. She grew up in a large family; she had three older half siblings; Lillie May Stevens (1901-1988), Lawrence Llewellen Stevens (1904-1995), and Mary Frances “Tootie” Stevens (1907-2006). Nora was the oldest of her siblings; Verna Elizabeth (1914-1964), Edward Allen (1916-2013), Minerva “Minnie” (1919-2013), Virginia (1923 (living)), Betty Jean (1926-1971), and Lester Orville (1929-2007). Her father worked in the timber mills sharpening the saws. The family moved to Washington, settling along the shores of Lost Lake in Mason County near Shelton.

In 1926, the family was living in Elgin, Pierce County, Washington when her sister Virginia was born. She met Ernest Davis (Ernie) through her older brother, Lawrence. She was 14 years old and Ernie was 28. Her father objected to her dating at age 14 and especially dating a much older man. Her mother helped Nora disobey her father by allowing her to go on double dates with Lawrence and his girlfriend Lillie. Her father withdrew his objections and gave his legal written consent for his daughter to marry Ernie on August 3, 1927 in Bremerton, Washington.

Nora and Ernie were residing in Tacoma, Washington when their son was born on October 27, 1927; they named him Kenneth Ernest. Their second son, Wayne Lewis, was born on June 21, 1929 and my mother, Irene Nora, was born on April 7, 1932.  The family had two houses, the main family home in NE Tacoma which remained in the family until 1965 and a house along the Pacific coast in Moclips, Washington. They went between the homes from 1930 to 1943.

In 1943, due to the increased tensions and military activity along the Pacific coastline, they returned to the safety of the NE Tacoma house. They never returned to the beach house. Both of my grandparents worked at the nearby Tacoma shipyard until the end of the war. After the war, Ernie worked at the shipyard as a longshoreman. Nora went on to work in women’s department stores.

They divorced in approximately 1945. My mother was 13 years old and she went before the family court judge during the custody phase of the proceedings. She was very close to Ernie and chose to live with him and her brothers. Gram Nora lived in the nearby downtown Tacoma. It was a bitter divorce.

Tragedy struck when Wayne was killed in a car accident on March 6, 1954 in Olympia, Washington. He left behind his young wife and his grieving father, mother, and sister. Not being able to locate Kenneth to notify him added to their grief. But even the deep grief of losing Wayne did not mend the bitterness between my grandparents.  Ten years after the divorce, they would not stand next to each other in my parents’ wedding day pictures.

Gram was a talented self-taught seamstress. She worked in the nicer department stores as an alteration seamstress and as a custom milliner. Another talent was her ability to a suit in a storefront window, draft a pattern, and make the latest fashion pieces for herself. Her coordinated outfits consisting of a suit, matching hat, and purse made a beautiful and elegant statement. The inside of the garments were as beautiful finished as the outside. In her free time, she made intricate hand embroidery and needlework pieces.

She found love a second time and married Claude Ernest Tippie (1898-1993) in 1947 when she was 35 years old. Claude was a commercial baker, a proud and active member of the Baker’s Union, and a Shriner. His favorite nickname for my grandmother was “Honeybun”. Claude loved baking bread, playing cards, living in the city, taking care of his Honeybun and his “nip” every afternoon.

After retiring, Gram Nora began baking and decorating custom cakes. She specialized in wedding cakes but made hundreds of cakes for church events, weddings, and birthdays. She had this amazing ability to visual intricate designs and bring them to reality. Capable of working in multiple mediums, she truly was a renaissance artist.

Gram Nora generously shared her talents by teaching anyone who expressed an interest in learning a particular craft. She taught me how to sew at an early age, just as she had taught my mother. I learned couture sewing from her, every detail of the process executed with precision. My mother was a less patient person and taught me short cuts such as skipping basting and pinning. As a result, I have a great foundation of skills and shortcuts which I utilize in sewing and quilting.

She loved visiting our farm for an extended time whenever possible. Claude would indulge her wishes but after a couple of weeks, he would be ready to return to their apartment in the city. She remained a country girl at heart.

They travelled in their retirement years, especially via trains . They often visited relatives during their travels and came to California to visit me several times. Claude enjoyed sampling wines at the local wineries. Gram did not indulge in the wine but she loved the vineyards and the beautiful Californian architecture. Both of them enjoyed exploring the backroads of the California wine country.

In her later years, Gram had health issues. She had a series of strokes which made it necessary for them to move to a nice assisted living facility. She suffered one last stroke and passed away on February 19, 1992. Although in good health, Claude never recovered from losing his “Honeybun” and he joined her in eternity on February 23, 1993.  They are laid to rest in a dual grave in the Tacoma Cemetary.

 

 

 

Lawrence Stevens and Lillie, unidentified couple, Nora Waller and Ernie Davis circa 1927

Nora in a beautiful outfit

Claude Tippie and Nora Waller Davis on their wedding day 1947

Back Left counterclockwise: Nora, Verna, Daisy, Minnie, Ida (Ed’s wife), Alatha (friend), May, Betty

Nora, Claude, and granddaughter Christine Wentworth, Santa Rosa, CA 1990

Nora Waller Davis Tippie decorating a cake

Nora decorating a cake

Wedding cake made by Nora

Nora in outfit for a Pythian Sisters event

Nora’s portrait

Ernest Nathaniel Davis, Biography

My maternal grandfather, Ernest Nathaniel Davis, was born on January 2, 1898 in Ansley, Nebraska to Anna Bristol and Charles Frederick Davis. He was the youngest of six children;  Katie (1885-1937), Chauncey Weston (1887-1948), Ethel Caribel (1889-1955), Fredrick Rupert (1891-1953), and Margaret (1894-1982). When Ethel married John Hurley on December 26, 1908, the Davis family were living in Elgin, Pierce County, Washington.

Ernest, aka Ernie, applied for a Seamen’s Protection Certificate on Dec 7, 1920 in Seattle, Washington. The certificate served as identification and protected American merchant seamen from impressment while abroad. Even with certificates, American merchant seamen (also referred to as mariners or marines) were seized by other governments. To my knowledge, Ernie did not suffer that fate.

He met my grandmother, Nora Ethel Waller, through her older brother, Lawrence. Nora was 14 years old and her father did not approve of her dating at such a young age and nor did he approve of Ernie who was 28 years old. Her mother conspired with Nora and allowed Nora to disobey her father. Nora and Ernie often double dated with Lawrence and his girlfriend Lillie.

Nora and Ernie were married on August 3, 1927 in Bremerton, Washington. She was 15 years old so her father had to give written consent to the marriage. Nora was seven months pregnant when they wed. Their first child and son, Kenneth Ernest, was born on October 14, 1927 in Tacoma, Washington. Wayne Lewis was born on Jun 21, 1929 and my mother, Irene Nora, was born on April 7, 1932. The family lived in Tacoma and in Moclips, Washington.

Grandpa Ernie worked for the Aloha Mill and Shake Company (known to locals as the Aloha Lumber Co). The mill was founded by R. D. Emerson and W. H. Dole in 1905.  Mr. Dole’s family members (of the Dole Corporation) selected the name for the mill. They made solid cedar surfboards (another link to the Hawaiian family) as well as shakes and timber products. The Aloha Mill and Shake Company provided timbers and shakes for the Yellowstone Lodge at Old Faithful.

Ernie also was a commercial razor clam digger (harvester). The razor clams were so plentiful during the 1930’s that gunny sacks of clams would be dug during a low tide. The clams were sold directly to buyers who resold them to restaurants. I have been told that good money was made by digging clams if one was fast and Ernie had a solid reputation as an successful clam digger.

As tensions rose during WWII along the western and eastern coastlines of the United States, the US Army started preparing for possible attacks along the coast. The town of Moclips was literally taken over by the Army. The residents witnessed training maneuvers along the beach and bunkers being dug in the sand dunes. My mother remembers sitting on the back porch of their house, which was built on the sand dunes, watching the soldiers dig the bunkers and train directly behind their house. Determining that Tacoma was a safer location for their young family, the family moved back to the NE Tacoma house in about 1943.

Back in Tacoma, both Ernie and Nora found work in the shipyards. They divorced a couple of years after returning to Tacoma. Ernie remained in the house and had custody of the three children. Nora lived nearby in downtown Tacoma and saw her children often.

Ernest married Alice Adkins on July 1, 1955. Alice and her teenage daughter, Vickie, lived with him in the NE Tacoma home.  I was born in February, 1956 and my brother was born in December, 1957. We were Ernie’s only grandchildren. My mother said he delighted in us and enjoyed his visits with us. I remember how much fun we had when Grandpa Ernie, Grandma Alice, and Vickie visited.

Ernie suffered a fatal heart attack on January 21, 1965 and was laid to rest in Mountain View Memorial Park, Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington.

 

Nora and Ernie 1927

Alice Adkins Davis, Ernie Davis, baby Christine, Mary Stevens Walko March 1957

Ernest Davis, Alice Adkins Davis, Vickie, Christine Wentworth 1958

Ernest Nathaniel Davis undated picture

Ernie Davis portrait

Ernest Nathaniel Davis obituary