Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mabel Linnea Seeber 1905-1980 (52 Ancestors # 12)

This week’s challenge was to write about an ancestor who is a lot like you.  I have to turn it around a bit and write about an ancestor who I have striven to be like!  
My grandmother, Mabel Linnea Seeber (who I called “Nanya”), gave me many gifts…she was full of fun and always laughing. When she and my grandfather took dance lessons, she always practiced her steps with me…I especially remember the cha-cha!  She converted to Catholicism when she married Eddie Murphy, and remained a devout Catholic through-out her life, always sharing her faith with me.  She was an avid reader and allowed me read her copy of To Kill a Mockingbird when it first came out.  That has remained my all-time favorite book since that time! She shared her family stories with me creating in me an early desire to learn more about the family. She was always crafty and made many, many ceramics that she shared with the family and that I cherish today. She was very civic-minded, and although she did not have a high-school education, she was elected and served as Peoria County Treasurer for years back in the 1960’s.  

The best gift that Nanya gave me was unconditional love.  I was the oldest grandchild and she adored me.  I spent one or two weekends a month with my grandparents until I went away to college, and even while in college, I sometimes came home to stay with them.  

Fifteen years ago I became a grandmother for the first time, and I try to live up to the grandmother standard that she set…she was the very best.

Mabel L. Seeber was born in Peoria, Illinois on the 22nd of May in 1905 at 315 Merriman Street to Charles Oscar and Ida Olauson Seeber, immigrants from Sweden.  She was their third child, with a sister Vera who was four years older than she and a brother, Rich, who was two years older than she was. Mabel’s father worked as a laborer and the family had little.  One of the stories that my grandmother would share with me was her memory of going down to the corner tavern at the end of each day to carry home a bucket of beer for her father.

Mabel had another brother, Harry, born two years after she was, and a sister, Hazel, born four years after Mabel was born.  By 1910, her father was listed as a woodworker and the family still lived on Merriman Street in Peoria.  Mabel’s last sibling, Earl, was born in 1913, when Mabel was eight years old.

During the early 1920’s Mabel worked as a clerk at a couple of different stores.  She was listed as a soda dispenser for a drug store in 1927, before she married.  I don’t know how my grandparents met (one of those many questions I regret not asking), but I do know that Mabel eloped with Edward F. Murphy on the 15th of September in 1927 and took a train from Peoria to Pontiac Illinois and were married there by Fr. Edward Kelly.  Mabel’s sister, Hazel, and a friend, Charles Becker, also went and were the witnesses for the marriage.  Fr. Kelly had been a priest in Peoria for a number of years at St. Mark’s Parish, which is where my grandfather’s family attended, so I would guess that he was a friend to the family, had been transferred to Pontiac and that’s why my grandparents went there.  They may have eloped because it was always said that my grandfather’s family felt that he had married “beneath” him…meaning that my grandmother came from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.  My grandfather’s family lived up on the bluff and were well-to-do at that time.  Mabel’s family lived “down below the hill” in the south side of the city.  However, Mabel quickly won the family over, and they were close for all the years left.

Mabel and Eddie quickly became pregnant and their first child, my mother Patricia, was born to them on the 22nd of August in 1928.  Their second child, Edward, was born in 1933.

I don’t know when but I believe that it was sometime in the early 1940’s Mabel became quite ill and was taken to Mayo Clinic where one of her kidneys was removed.  My mother remembered it as a very stressful time and that they were not sure that Mabel would survive.

It doesn’t appear that Mabel worked outside the home until about 1948, when she was listed as the Deputy County Treasurer for Peoria County. She was forty-three years old and, at that time, it was fairly unusual for a woman to have a job with that kind of responsibility.  She went on to become the County Treasurer and I have many memories of going to visit her at the County Courthouse during grade school and high school whenever I was downtown with my friends.  Both of her sisters worked there for her, also. 

Mabel became a grandmother for the first time in 1949. She had two baby pictures of me up wherever she lived until she died.  I have them displayed in the same frames in my study now, reminding me always of her love.

Around 1955, Mabel and Eddie built their dream home on the Illinois River.  It was a great place for family to gather.  They had several acres and built a huge screened-in gazebo for family and friend gatherings.  They also bought a big pontoon boat that would carry a lot of people.  Holidays were great fun there.

Mabel was always surrounded by family and friends.  As a cousin said, she was the glue of the family, bringing people together.  She seemed to always find the best in people. 

In 1972, Mabel and Eddie moved to Arizona for Eddie’s health.  No one was surprised that some of her siblings went to live there also.  I was newly married and missed her terribly.  However, there were visits back and forth through-out the time she lived there, with them coming home to visit, or I would go out there with my husband, and soon made a couple of visits out there with my first child.  Nanya was thrilled with my having her first great-grandchild.  We were blessed to have her know all three of our children!

Mabel and Eddie were in Arizona for four years until Eddie died in 1976.  Mabel then returned to Peoria to live and be with her children and grandchildren, and, of course, her siblings.  In 1981 she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, had surgery and cheerfully went on with life.  In 1984, Mabel moved to a retirement home and both of her sisters went there, also.  It was always so wonderful to see how close they were to each other.  

Sadly, Mabel’s stomach cancer returned near the end of 1985 and she died on the 26th of January in 1986.  She was cheerful and smiling as she died, just as she lived her life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mary Alice “Allie” Reade 1801-1880 (52 Ancestors #11)

 For the St. Patrick’s Week Challenge I am writing about my great-great-great grandmother Mary Alice “Allie” Reade.  She is as far back as I have been able to go with my Murphy ancestry, and she was one of the first I found when I went searching for Murphy relatives at the local Catholic cemetery in Peoria in about 1995.  Thankfully I went then, because when I returned last year (2014) the tombstone was unreadable.  It saddens me that I don’t know a lot about “Allie”.  She proved to be one of those elusive women who quietly live out their lives.  Yet she must have been a strong women to endure as she did.

Alice was born in 1801 in County KiIkenny, Ireland.  It is not known at this time who Alice’s parents were. Known siblings of Alice were Anne, Bridget, Joan, Daniel and Patrick.

Alice married James H. Murphy on the 23rd of October in 1831 in Kilmacow Parish, County Kilkenny, Ireland.  Alice was thirty years old and James was twenty-eight years old at the time of their marriage. Alice’s sister, Anne Reade, was a witness to the marriage, along with Thomas Holden.  James and Alice had seven children all born in County Kilkenny: Johanna Murphy, born 25 March 1832; James Reade Murphy, born 25 July 1833; Mary Murphy, born around 1837; William Henry Murphy, born in 1838 (my great-great grandfather); Catherine Murphy, born 19 March 1839; Ellen Murphy, born 05 May 1841; and Margaret Murphy, born 8 August 1844.  Alice’s sisters, Bridget and Joan, were godparents for two of Alice’s children.

Sometime in 1848, James and Alice and their seven children (ages four to sixteen) arrived in the United States in New Orleans, and spent a year there.  They then came on to Peoria County, Illinois settling in Kickapoo Township, Peoria County, Illinois.

The 1850 Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois census shows the Murphy family living with the Philander Chase family.  During these times, Philander Chase sponsored families coming over from Ireland.  James Murphy ended up working for him for a number of years, as head gardener and opening up a quarry.

Between 1849 and 1855 some of Alice’s family from Ireland came to the Peoria Illinois area.  Her brother Patrick Reade and his children settled in Peoria, and two of her brother Daniel Reade’s children settled in Peoria. Also, her first cousin, Nicholas Reade Henebery settled in Peoria with his family.  Alice’s family appears to have been close to all of these relatives as they are involved through the years with each other, as witnesses to various sacraments, etc.

Three of Alice’s children married between 1850 and 1860.  Johanna married John Ryan in 1852.  Mary married James Ryan (brother to John) in 1854 and in 1856, James married Julia Henebery (daughter of Nicholas Reade Henebery, and James’ second cousin).

In 1855 James and Alice were listed in Kickapoo, along with one son and two daughters.  Living next door to them was their daughter Johanna and her family.

It seems that the families stayed in Kickapoo in the same places for a few years as they were listed in the 1860 census still next door to each other.  In this census, James and Alice were listed with one son, William, and two daughters, Ellen and Margaret, but also living with them was their daughter Mary and her family.  Johanna and her family were still next door to James and Alice.  James was listed as a farmer.

Over the next ten years the remaining children of James and Alice married: Ellen married Edmond O’Neil in 1861; Catherine married John Dolan and William married Elizabeth Smith, both in 1864; Margaret married Francis Smith (brother to Elizabeth Smith) in 1866.  All of the Alice’s children were married in Peoria County, Illinois.

So by 1866, after thirty-five years of marriage, James and Alice Murphy had an empty household.  By 1869, James was listed as living in Peoria, so he and Alice must have left farming and moved to the city.  By then James was sixty-six years old, and Alice was sixty-eight. In the 1870 Peoria Census James was listed as a City Policeman.  They were living next door to their son James and his family.  James continued to work, and was listed in the 1880 Peoria census as a Policeman for the Depot.  In this census, Alice was listed as “Invalid”.  The census was taken on the 2nd of June in 1880.  Alice died at her son James’ house on the 9th of July of 1880.  She was seventy-nine years old.  Her cause of death was listed as “Dementia and Old Age”.

Obituaries found for Alice included the following:

From the Peoria National Democrat--July 10, 1880:
Murphy-In this city at the residence of her son, James R. Murphy, corner 2nd and Merriman streets, Mrs. Alice Murphy, wife of James H. Murphy, in the 79th year of her age; Funeral will take place from her son's residence Sunday, at 2 o'clock pm.  Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend."

From the Peoria Evening Review-July 9, 1880
"MURPHY-In this city at the residence of her son, James R. Murphy, corner 2nd and Merriman streets, Mrs. Alice Murphy, wife of James H. Murphy, in the 79th year of her age.  Funeral will take place from her son's residence Sunday at 2 o'clock pm.  Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend."

And from Peoria Evening Review-July 12, 1880:
"The funeral of Mrs. James Murphy, which took place on Sunday was attended by a large concourse of people.  The procession of carriages that followed the remains to the grave was nearly a mile long."

I do wonder why there was not a church funeral for Alice.  The family had been devout, active Catholics. She was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois.  She shares a tombstone with granddaughters Alice and Jennie, children of her son James.

 The tombstone reads:
Alice Read Murphy
Alice & Jennie

Her tombstone is next to her son James Reade Murphy. Alice’s husband, James H. Murphy, lived for another ten years and stayed with their daughter Ellen in Crescent City, Illinois. James Murphy died in 1890 in Crescent City, Iroquois County, Illinois.  He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Gilman, Illinois with his daughter Ellen Murphy O'Neill and family.

This always strikes me as so sad that James and Alice were not buried together after all that they had lived through.  Having seven children and moving to a new country, and then having to deal with Alice’s dementia as they settled into older age must have been so difficult.  Surprisingly for the times, none of Alice’s children preceded her in death.  Alice had fifty-seven grandchildren when she died.  Two more were born after her death.  Six of Alice’s children had daughters named “Alice” after her.  She left a large family who thrived through-out the years.

As a side-note: Alice is the first of the Murphy side of the family who I have found with dementia.  It has remained constant through-out the years in the direct line through her son William Murphy and his descendants.  The family always thought it was from the Murphy side of the family, but actually in our case, it appears that it is more likely through the Reade part of the family.