Norcutt Montana Homestead Records

Gilbert McEwen Norcutt and Addie Kelly, my paternal great grandparents, moved their family to several locations throughout their marriage. Previous to living in Montana, the family moved from Exeter, Missouri to Goshen, Oregon, stayed a relatively short period, then returned to Missouri by early 1912. The journey took them across the midwestern prairies, over the Rocky Mountains, and through southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. The exact dates are not known but Missouri land records document they were in McDowell, Barry County, Missouri in 1909. The 1910 census (dated 5/2/1910) shows the family living in Goshen, Gilbert was 37 years old and Addie was 36. The children at home were Lucy Olive (14), Ora (13), Lottie (9), Noble (7), Forrest (5), Rachel (3), and Mamie (1 year and 7 months). They left Missouri after Mamie’s birth on 23 Sept 1908 and returned to Cabool, Missouri before Myrl Earl’s birth on January 18, 1912.

In my grandmother Ora’s personal papers, there is a comment that she was about 15 years old when they moved to Montana. On December 10, 1912, she celebrated her 16th birthday. Naomi was born in Geraldine, Chouteau, Montana on October 24, 1914. It seems that the family moved to Montana sometime in 1912 or 1913. They initially settled in the Clear Lake area which is north of Geraldine. A few years  later, Gilbert filed a homestead claim on farmland east of Clear Lake.

Why would Gilbert and Addie leave Missouri and head north to Montana? There must have been a strong, perhaps emotional, reason to move their young family such a long distance. Perhaps they had relatives already established in Montana. Earlier this year, I became acquainted with a Norcutt cousin, Cary, who lives in Montana. His great-grandparents, William H. and Alta Norcutt, moved to Montana in 1910 and established a dairy farm and a creamery near Stanford, Fergus County. William (aka Bill) was one of Gilbert’s older brothers.  It is likely Gilbert and Addie were inspired by Bill and Alta’s success.

Bill was not the only Norcutt sibling to take advantage of the agricultural boom and homesteading opportunities occurring  Montana. Brothers Henry and Spencer and sister, Lucy (wife of William H. Wright) had established homesteads and were farming their lands before Gilbert and family arrived. My great grandparents had the great advantage of immediate family members to support them in establishing a new life in Montana.

It is curious that Gilbert and Addie did not settle closer to the rest of the family. Perhaps there was more homestead land available in Chouteau County or perhaps Gilbert wanted to grow wheat on the vast prairie. His homestead (and my grandparents’) was located about 18 miles north of Geraldine. Travelling today’s roads, Geraldine is about 38 miles NE of Stanford and about 74 miles north of Lewistown. It would not have been an easy trip and likely, not one made on a frequent basis which makes their final location even more interesting.

My grandparents, Ora Norcutt and Arthur Wentworth, were wed in Lewistown on November 8, 1916. Fort Benton would have been a logical choice as a wedding destination as it is only 27 miles NW of Geraldine. My grandfather had no family in Montana but my grandmother had all those family members down in Lewistown. Going to the family likely was the reason for the long trip south.  So far, I have found no record of who attended the wedding but no doubt the Norcutt uncles, aunts, and cousins were present. What a great day that would have been for everyone to be together and celebrate a new beginning.

One more Norcutt family member filed a land patent, Gilbert and Addie’s daughter Lucy Olive Norcutt. Lucy, aka Olive, filed two claims on land adjacent to her sister and brother-in-law’s, Ora and Arthur, farm and across the road from her parents.

Homestead records are available through the General Land Office at the Bureau of Land Management website:  https://glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx. Select “search records”. Using the tables below, you can search by name or Accession number to see the records on file as well as maps showing the locations. It is interesting to see where they were in relationship to each other, sometimes literally next door.

Gilbert Norcutt and Ada Kelly Biography

Gilbert McEven Norcutt and Ada “Addie” May Kelly were married on September 2, 1894 in Sleepy Eye, Brown County, Minnesota. Their daughter, Ora Norcutt Wentworth, was my paternal grandmother. Gilbert was born on June 9, 1872 in Nodaway, Iowa to Allison Henry Norcutt and Lucy Ann Boyles.  Addie was born in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota on September 24, 1873 to Peter Kelly and Rachel Wylie. They were blessed with ten children: Lucy Olive (1895-1955), Ora (1896-1994), Ella (1899-1900), Lottie (1900-1970), Noble Elias (1901-1927), Forrest S. (1904-1980), Rachel L. (1906-1933), Mamie (1908-1997), Myrl Earl (1912-1977), and Naomi Glenice (1914-1993).

Gilbert grew up in Nodaway and Addie in the Sleepy Eye / Leavenworth, Minnesota area. Although their childhoods were firmly rooted in the area they were born, Gilbert and Addie relocated numerous times during their life together. Their children’s birthplaces gives us an idea of how often and how far they travelled.  Lucy and Ora were born in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Ella, Lottie, Noble,  and Rachel were born in Pleasant Hope, Polk County, Missouri. Forrest was born in Bolivar, Polk County, Missouri (which is only 16 miles from Pleasant Hope). Mamie was born in Exeter, Barry County, Missouri which is 84 miles southeast of Pleasant Hope. Myrl was born in Cabool, Texas County, Missouri and Naomi was born in Geraldine, Montana. They also lived in Goshen, Lane County, Oregon.

Gilbert was a farmer per U.S. Census and Montana Homestead Patent records. However; in Yale College’s 1858 Yearbook, his father’s (Allison Henry Norcutt) biography listed his son as Rev. Gilbert M. who lived in Exeter, Missouri. Thus far I have found no records to support Gilbert being a pastor. He apparently was successful as a farmer. Records indicate that he purchased rather than rented land and he was able to obtain financing in multiple locations.

Addie and Gilbert were willing to take risks, to start over, and what a life they had together. I did not have the pleasure of knowing them or all of my great aunts and uncles but seeing how my grandmother, Ora, approached life gives me a good idea of their values. Grandma Ora was hardworking, devoted to her family, plain spoken, and goal driven. She also was very competitive, especially  baking contests!

Gilbert and Addie made their way to Mapleton, Bourbon County, Timberhill Township, Kansas and spent their final years there. Gilbert passed on February 22, 1930 at age 57. Addie followed her  mother’s example by maintaining the farm after her husband’s death. The 1930 census date was April 3rd.  Addie was widowed, she lived on a farm which she owned, and her occupation was farming. Olive (Lucy), Forest, Rachel, Mamie, Myrl, and Naomi were still living at home with her in 1930.

Addie passed on January 8, 1947 at age 74 in Mapleton. She and Gilbert are laid to rest at Yates Center Cemetery, Woodson County, Kansas in Section B Lot 18.

 

 

 

Addie Kelly Norcutt in Montana

Naomi Norcutt as a child in Montana

Rachel Norcutt with nephew Melvin Wentworth

Forest Norcutt in his chair with his dog

Ora Norcutt Wentworth, niece Juanita Sloan Miller, sister Mamie Norcutt 1985

Gilbert Norcutt’s headstone, Yates Center Cemetery, Kansas

Addie Kelly Norcutt’s headstone, Yates Center Cemetery, Kansas

Mamie Norcutt outside her bedroom window

Addie Kelly Norcutt and 2 unidentified ladies

Daniel Wentworth and Nancy Emery Wentworth Biography

My paternal great grandparents, Daniel Wentworth and Nancy Emery, lived their entire lives within a small area in Carroll County, New Hampshire. Daniel was born in Jackson on March 13, 1857 to Levi Wentworth and Adaline Perkins Wentworth. Nine miles northeast of Jackson in the small town of Bartlett, Nancy Emery was born on April 9, 1866 to Stephen Emery and Margaret Dana. This is a rural area within the White Mountains in the northern third of the state close to the Maine border. Members of both families crossed back and forth over the border so we find the extended families spreading out across the northeast. Daniel and Nancy, however, did not stray far from their hometowns.

Daniel and Nancy married in Jackson on February 1, 1885.  Between 1886 and 1901, ten children were born, four of them died in childhood. My grandfather, Arthur Elbridge was their second born child and first born son. He was named after his mother's Emery ancestors.

Their children were Alice M. (1886-1934), Arthur Elbridge (1888-1976), Eugene E. (1891-1905, age 14 years), Shirley Aldo (male) (1892-1975), Mary E. (1893-1975), Lillian Georgiana (1895-1937), Hollis S. (1897-1897, age 25 days, cause: pneumonia), Rosie I. (1899-1899, age 5 months 27 days, unknown cause), Ellen F. (1900-1904, age 4 years 5 months and 13 days, cause: pneumonia ), and William H. (1901-1958). What heartache to lose four children as infants and young children.

Eugene's story is unexpected as he died while an inmate at the State Reform School. There is little personal documentation but there is general information about the justice system and social issues at the time as well as about the school. The State Reform School (renamed the State Industrial School and now know as the Youth Development Center) opened in 1857 and is located in Manchester, 111 miles south of Jackson.  Manchester was already a large city in early 1900's. Eugene was 14 years old when he arrived at the SRS. He had been arrested, charged with a lawfully punishable offense, had a trial before a judge, been found guilty, and sentenced to be held as an inmate until age 21. With good conduct and other assessment, he would have been initially considered for parole at age 16. The top reasons for a boy or girl being an inmate were 1) larceny, 2) stubbornness (uncontrollable),  3) breaking entering, with larceny, and 4) breaking and entering. While some children, especially from the larger cities, were homeless vagrants, most inmates had families. Many children were runaways and it is possible Eugene was a runaway. My grandfather admitted to not getting along with his father , described Daniel as mean spirited, and rarely spoke of his childhood.

Eugene had been at the Reform School only three weeks when he suffered sunstroke and died three days later on July 12, 1905. The inmates had some class time but they also labored. The boys worked the large farm operation and the hosiery mill. The girls were taught to sew and other domestic skills. Conditions would have been very hot in July. Coming from a farming community, Eugene likely was a field laborer. His body was returned to Carroll County and he was buried in the Jackson Village Cemetery.

Daniel worked as a farmer and later as a caretaker or gardener. He seemed to make enough to get by and by 1910, he and Nancy owned their house.

Nancy died on September 9, 1911 due to uterine cancer. She left four children, ages 8 to 17, in the home.  After Nancy's death, the family slowly fell apart and the older kids seemed to be on their own. The two youngest daughters left Jackson and found employment in Concord as a housekeeper for a wealthy family (Mary) and as a cook for a hospital serving women and children (Lillian). Both were live-in situations. Shirley (the oldest at home) married and lived in Hillsborough, NH. The youngest, William, had a difficult time and apparently he go into trouble. My grandparents who were homesteading in Montana were asked to take him and straighten him out but they were newly married and felt he would be better off with other relatives. William was about eight years old when my grandfather left New Hampshire, so at 16 or 17 years of, his oldest brother would have been a stranger. William ended up in Boston, married a Catholic girl, and worked as a chauffeur.

Daniel is missing from the 1920 Federal Census although he appears to be in Jackson. He make three curious voyages to Hamilton, Bermuda in 1914 and 1915 with his brother, George and a solo trip in 1922. These were party cruises on smaller luxury steamships. They were designed to entertain the wealthy socialites along the east coast (including Canada). Drinking was allowed off shore during Prohibition and there was ample alcohol, food, gambling, and entertainment aboard the ships. Hamilton was well known as a party destination. Curious items are 1) how did George and Daniel afford the passage, they were listed as passengers not crew, 2)  how long did they stay in Bermuda and where, and 3) was there a purpose other than self entertainment? Another interesting observation is that while other passengers gave full residence details, Daniel listed his address as Jackson, NH.

Daniel passed on May 13, 1933 in Bartlett, Carroll County, New Hampshire.  Although two of his children and a large extended family lived in either Jackson or Bartlett, he resided with William and Jennie Pittman, former neighbors of Daniel and Nancy.   He was listed as their laborer. He is buried in the Jackson Village Cemetery next to Nancy.

 

 

 

Daniel Wentworth and his dog

Daniel Wentworth senior years

Nancy Emery Wentworth

Charles Davis and Anna Bristol Biography

Anna L. Bristol and Charles F. Davis were married on November 29, 1884 in Algernon, Custer County, Nebraska by Judge John S. Benjamin. After the wedding, they moved to Ansley, Nebraska where Charles was a farmer.  Their six children were born in Ansley between the years of 1885 and 1898. By 1910, the family had moved across the country to the Key Peninsula in Pierce County, Washington. They established a farm in near Elgin and lived there for the remainder of their lives.  Charles passed on Sept 22, 1936 and Anna passed on December 31, 1937.

My mother, Irene, was born in 1932 to their son Ernest and Nora Waller. Although she was very young when she visited her grandparents, she clearly remembers her grandmother’s turkeys, the pea patch, and a huge apple orchard. The family was loud and boisterous. Her father was especially close to his sister, Margaret. She grew up hearing stories about outrageous pranks they would dreamed up to torment each other and their siblings.

Anna and Charles’ children were: Katherine L. (Kate or Katie) 1885-1964, Chauncey Weston 1887-1948, Ethel Caribel 1889-1955, Frederick Rupert (Fred) 1891-1953, Margaret F. (1894-1982), and my grandfather, Ernest Nathaniel (1898-1965). Their children remained in the general Tacoma area. Fred and Katie did not marry, the rest of the siblings married and raised families.

Katie was born with (in today’s terminology)) a learning disability. Charlie and Anna would care for her at home for most of her life. It appears that she could not care for herself. She is remembered as being sweet natured. Sometime between 1930 and 1935, she was committed to the Western Washington State Hospital in Steilacoom, Pierce County, Washington. It was originally built as a hospital for the insane. In 1915, the word insane was removed from it’s name. It remained a hospital treating those diagnosed with (or possibly in Katie’s case, a perceived) mental condition requiring institutionalization and treatment. Lobotomies were commonly performed at WWSH. My mother remembers her father, Ernest, telling her that Katie had a lobotomy. Katie would live the remainder of her life at the hospital.

Charles Frederick Davis 

Parents:  Chauncey W. Davis (1813 – 1883) and Charity Sparks (1815 – 1894)

Birthdate: May 29, 1857

Birthplace:  Jackson, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania

Spouse:  Anna L. Bristol

Marriage date and place: November 29, 1884  Algernon, Custer County, Nebraska

Occupation:  farmer

Death:  September 22, 1936

Place:  Elgin, Pierce County, Washington

 

Anna L. Bristol

Parents:  Horace W. Bristol (1825 – 1874) and Anna French (1828 – 1858)

Birthdate:  October 1852

Birthplace:  New York state (exact location not known)

Spouse:  Charles Frederick Davis

Marriage date and place: November 29, 1884  Algernon, Custer County, Nebraska

Occupation:  housewife

Death:  December 31, 1937

Place:  Elgin, Pierce County, Washington

 

Anna Bristol and Charles Davis 50th wedding anniversary

Anna and Charlie Davis in their pea patch

Charles Frederick Davis

Bristol sisters Florence (L) and Anna (R) seated

1930 Anna Bristol Davis with Katie, and Nora, Ernie, Kenneth, and Wayne

Charles F. Davis, Anna L. Bristol Davis, Katie Davis

Chauncey W. Davis, Alma Sand Davis and baby Edna

Ethel Caribel Davis and John Hurley

Frederick Davis (L) and Percy Maras in front of record breaking logged tree

Margaret F. Davis

Ernest Nathaniel Davis, merchant marine days

Anna Bristol Davis and visiting Nebraska Bristol Relatives

Ora Norcutt Biography

My paternal grandmother, Ora Norcutt, was born on December 10, 1896 in Sleepy Eye, Brown County, Minnesota to Ada “Addie” May Kelly and Gilbert McEwen Norcutt. She was the second born of ten children: Lucy Olive (1895-1955), Ora (1896-1994), Ella (1899-1900), Lottie (1900-1970), Noble Elias (1901-1927), Forrest Silas (1904-1980), Rachel Lillie (1906-1933), Mamie (1908-1997), Myrl Earl (1912-1977), and Naomi Glenice (1914-1993). Her mother, Addie, was born in Sleepy Eye and many Kelly family members remained in the area. By the time her sister Ella was born, the family had moved to Pleasant Hope, Polk County, Missouri. Her father was a farmer and the family would remain in Pleasant Hope for several years. In 1908, sister Mamie was born in Exeter, Barry County, Missouri which is about 85 miles southwest of Pleasant Hope.

The 1910 Federal Census shows that the family was living in Goshen, Lane County, Oregon. The family crossed the Rocky Mountains a second time and returned to Missouri. Her brother, Myrl Earl, was born on January 18, 1912 in Cabool, Texas County, Missouri. Per her personal papers, the family settled in the Clear Lake area in Chouteau County, Montana when she was 15 years old. Likely the family were in Montana in 1913. The northern Montana grasslands were being developed to grow wheat via the dry farming method. The transformation of virgin prairie into wheat fields was challenging.  It was a hard life for the entire family.

A young man from New Hampshire, Arthur Elbridge Wentworth, homesteaded 331.26 acres northeast of Geraldine, Montana in 1914. His land was located east of the Norcutts. On November 16, 1916, my grandparents wed in Lewistown, Fergus County, Montana. They lived on the land Grandpa homesteaded. In 1917, her father, Gilbert,  homesteaded land that was only a mile west of the newlyweds. Her sister, Lucy Olive, homesteaded 40 acres adjacent to Arthur and Ora’s land.

Three children were born in Montana; Melvin Arthur (1917-1976), Glennis Addie (1919-2002), Deloris Eleanor (1923-2016). After several years of crop failure, they decided to leave Montana in 1923. They joined a group travelling west in wagons. Their original destination was Oregon but Ora was pregnant with their fourth child so they decided to spend the winter in Princeton, Idaho. My father, Ronald Daniel, was born on September 5, 1923. In the spring of 1924, they joined a group headed to western Washington.

They settled in the Chehalis River valley between the towns of Oakville and Elma in Grays Harbor County. Grandpa returned to his roots of dairy farming. They rented land for a few years before purchasing a farm on South Bank Road. Two more children were born, Thelma Lavell (1924-1977) and Velma Loretta (1926).

Grandma raised chickens and sold eggs to families in town. She always had a large vegetable garden with dahlias lining the edge along the lawn. She harvested the produce, fruits and vegetables, and preserved them. She worked from early morning until after dinner. She never took much time for leisure activities, she always had a list of chores to complete.

She was not shy about putting others to work. I fondly remember sitting under her dining table with ornately carved legs, Murphy’s oil soaked rag in hand, happily polishing the table legs. I would help her with the chickens, gathering eggs, working in the garden, and just being with her. She believed in keeping hands busy, especially the grandchildren’s.

My brother, Art, and I had a name for her which was unique to us. Our maternal grandmother was Nora so as small children, it was confusing to have grandmothers with such similar names. We solved our problem by calling Ora ‘Grandma Up The Road’.  We called her that for a long time before we dropped the geographic reference, then she was simply Grandma.

They were members of the Sharon Grange and always took us kids to the annual Christmas party. We got dressed up and tried to behave ourselves! I remember singing Christmas carols in the main hall and how pretty the hall looked with the Christmas décor. Of course, the punch, cookies, and Santa Claus were big hits with all the kids. The Grange was very important to my grandparents.

After a series of strokes, she moved to a nearby care facility.  It was a small facility with only 39 residents and she received excellent care  The staff would purposely set her place setting wrong and she would correct them every time. Her mind would be clear one time and less clear at other times but she always knew where the fork and knife were suppose to be placed at her place setting.

She passed on July 13, 1994 at age 97 years. She shares a grave site with Grandpa at the Masonic Cemetery in Elma, Washington.

Ronald, Christine, and Ora Norcutt Wentworth, 3 generations, 1956

Ora Norcutt Wentworth and Arthur E. Wentworth golden years together

Ora Norcutt Wentworth, niece Juanita Sloan Miller, sister Mamie Norcutt, 1985

50th wedding anniversary 1966 Sharon Grange Hall, Oakville, Washington

Ora Norcutt Wentworth circa 1980’s

Ora Norcutt Wentworth nursing home 1993

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

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