GREAT-AUNT OLIVE, OUR OWN BEATTY BORDER REIVER
By Lois (Griffes) Kortering (L-39)
17 October 2001
After visiting all of the reference websites that are listed on the Beatty Project 2000 Website and learning more about the history of the Border Reivers, I decided to tell the story of my great-aunt Olive. There is no doubt in my mind that she had the attitude and demeanor about which Rev. J. Gordon Beattie wrote in his book entitled BEAT'A': The History of the Oliver Beatties of High Street, Linlithgow, West Lothian Scotland.
Most likely, Olive's attitude and her propensity to fight "Tooth and Nail" was born right in her, and she probably spent her life shouting, "Let's beat everyone in our path." In fact, when I was young, I think I heard her shout "BEAT-'A'" (Probably pronounced "Beet-ay") many times!
Olive Beatty was the ninth-born of the twelve children of Sarah Jane "Jennie" (Haggerty) and John "Clint" Clinton Beatty, who were my maternal great-grandparents. Yes, Jennie and Clint had six sons and six daughters, and all were born in Claybanks Township, Oceana County, Michigan. Most of them were born in the first log cabin house built by their father. My grandmother, Edith Beatty was the fifth-born, and she married another Scottish lad named Winfield McDonald.
A full eight years younger than Grandma Edith, her sister Olive was born May 18, 1897, so by the time Olive was old enough to sow her wild oats, Grandma had four daughters to raise. Possibly, Olive's behavior and personality could be explained away, because she was a Taurus with Gemini rising.
Grandma Edith was a very religious person and did not condone wild behavior, especially on the part of women. Grandma did not think any woman should wear red nail polish or red "Barn Paint" on her lips. However, even though Grandma thought her sister Olive was full of the "Dickens," she could not help but laugh at the antics of Olive and her even younger sister, Frances Mae Beatty "Iny" (Pronounced "Eye-ny") and was two years younger than Olive. Those two sisters sowed their wild oats together, well into their old age, but they sure enjoyed life!
When I was very young, I remember visiting the cottage of Iny and her third husband William Whiter (Pronounced like the color). None of the cottages along the lake had house numbers, but they had names, and on a wooden plaque on the cottage of Iny and Bill was the name "Here'Tiz." My mother's first cousin, Jack Clinton Beatty told me the story, recently, about how the cottage got its name.
As Cousin Jack said, "It seems that Uncle Bill used to
tell a story about a woman who had a dog named 'Tiz.' The woman had a peculiar walk, and she seemed to limp and thrust
her hips forward as she walked. One
day, her little dog 'Tiz' became lost, and the woman walked around the
neighborhood, calling, 'Here'Tiz, here'Tiz!'"
Jack continued, "To really appreciate this, you would have to see Uncle Bill do this walk, calling 'Here Tiz.' It was really a funny thing to behold. Being a boy, I have seen him do it, but he probably would never do it if there were young ladies nearby."
Jack spent summers at the
cottage when he was a boy, and I agree with him, that they were, indeed, a
fun-loving and wonderful group of people.
Great-aunt Olive was always there, too, and I remember that Iny's young
daughter would put on a tap-dancing show, and there was always music and
laughter. Also, I remember the smell of
beer and stale cigar smoke permeating the lakeside cottage, even with all the
windows open and the breeze coming in off Mona Lake.
Great-aunt Olive was married at a very young age to Mr. Wagner, and she loved nice clothes, red nail polish, red lipstick, fancy hats, high heels, dancing, and parties. Oh, and she liked her beer! I can still remember her hearty laugh and how her eyes just sparkled with mischief!
When I was about eleven years old, my mother, who was named Olive, also, had contracted pneumonia. Her aunt Iny and her aunt Olive brought her down to
the cottage, and they set up a bed in the middle of the living room. She stayed there for several days, and her two favorite aunts put hot mustard plasters and onion poultices on her chest. They boiled water and soup on the stove all day long to put some moisture back in the winter air. We kids missed our mom all those days, but her sister was taking care of us at our home. Every Sunday our aunt would take us to the cottage to visit Mom, and after smelling the onions and the mustard, we decided that it was the infectious laughter of the two women, that cured our mother of pneumonia!
Great-aunt Olive married a second time to Lyle E. Porter, but the two fought like cats and dogs! Someone told us, that during one of their separations, Lyle would go over to Olive's house and break all of the dishes in her house. Then, Olive would go over to his house and break all of his dishes. Another time, she broke every window in his house, and he retaliated in the same "Window-for-window" raid-like fashion. I think Lyle's ancestry must have included one of the Border Families!
Our mother told us of another court appearance, during which, both, Olive and Lyle, were sporting black eyes, and Lyle had brought charges against Olive, because she almost bit off his finger! When the judge asked Olive why she bit Lyle's finger, Olive replied, "Your Honor, I bit his finger because he stuck it in my mouth!"
After a few years, Olive and Lyle divorced. Then, Olive and Lyle married each other again! Then, Olive and Lyle divorced AGAIN! They must have married each other again one last time, because they lived happily ever after in Florida before Olive died in 1979 at the age of eighty-two, and I believe that Olive outlived Lyle. They never had children but they had a lot of fun, and they truly loved each other, everyone said.
During one of the times that Olive and Lyle were not getting along too well, she gained the reputation of being "The Portia of Muskegon." I remember the radio soap opera called, "Portia Faces Life," and the main female character grew famous for acting as her own lawyer in the court room, even though she was not an attorney.
Here are a couple of articles that appeared in the Muskegon Chronicle in
Mrs. Olive Porter, of Norton Township, assumed the role of Portia today, as she pleaded her own case before a circuit court jury. She is appealing a justice court conviction on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
The appearance of Mrs. Porter as her own attorney brought considerable comment from court attaches and spectators. It was the first such appearance they recalled in Muskegon County Circuit Court. There have been a few instances of men trying their own cases, but, up to now, no one could recall of a woman acting as her own attorney.
Mrs. Porter was arrested by sheriff's officers September 3 on the Lake Front road. She was convicted in the court of Justice Joseph G. Segar, Muskegon Township, and was ordered to pay a fine of $100 and costs of $63.10.
Mrs. Olive Porter, 48 years old, of Norton Township, did a good job Tuesday, when she assumed the role of her own counsel in a circuit court appeal of a justice court conviction on a charge of driving while intoxicated. The jury found her not guilty.
After winning her own case, like the original Portia, who also was not an attorney, Mrs. Porter pointed out that she was at a distinct disadvantage in the conduct of the trial because she had been out of the city and had not received notice that the case had been called to allow her to obtain witnesses. Other than herself, she had only her husband, L.E. Porter, as a witness.
Her arrest on September 2, followed a family altercation during which she broke 13 windows in the home and smashed the windows in the car. As she was driving away from the home, she was met by sheriff's officers, who pulled their cruiser to the left side of the road, and Mrs. Porter stopped her car. The officers testified that she staggered when she got out of the car. Both, Mr. and Mrs. Porter, testified that she was not intoxicated. Mrs. Porter said she had less than two bottles of beer and that her condition was a result of the family argument.
She is believed to be the first woman ever to plead her own case in Muskegon County Circuit Court.
(From the youngest daughter Hazel, #6, to the eldest daughter Alice, #1)
6) Hazel, 5) Frances 2) Edith and Winfield 1) Alice and Billy
4) Olive, 3) Naomi
6) Hazel Beatty: Born 19 March 1901; married Roy (---); no children, died soon after marriage, Michigan.
5) Frances Mae "Iny" Beatty: Born 27 October 1899; married 1st, Guy Maybus; one daughter; married 2nd, William Wild; married 3rd, William J. Whiter; died (?), Michigan.
4) Olive Beatty: Born 18 May 1897; married 1st, Mr. Wagner; married 2nd, Lyle E. Porter; no children; died 1979, Florida.
3) Naomi "Omi" Beatty: married George or Fred Clark; one daughter Ruth, adopted to another family (?); died at Ruth's birth.
2) Edith Beatty: Born 30 August 1889; married Winfield McDonald; four daughters; died 15 February 1956, Muskegon, Michigan.
1) Alice Beatty: Born 24 June 1887; married Alex (Sanders) Decker (He used his stepfather's name); Billy in picture, who died of Spinal Meningitis and another son, who died young: three daughters; died 15 April 1949, Wisconsin.
LEFT PICTURE MIDDLE PICTURE RIGHT PICTURE
Ernest(5) and Willard(4) Ernest(5) and John(2) Henry(*) and John(2)
1) Clarence Earl Beatty: Born 04 December 1880, Claybanks Township, Oceana County, Michigan; married 1st, Cecelia Adams, one daughter and one son; married 2nd, Hazel Marian Cowles, one son and one daughter; died 18 March 1963.
2) John Clinton Beatty: Born 25 September 1882, Claybanks Township, Oceana County, Michigan; never married; died 18 November 1950; buried 22 November 1950, Norton Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.
3) Arthur Beatty: Born 25 May 1885, Walkerton, St. Joseph County, Indiana; married Louise rice; no children; (It is not known why this one child was born in Walkerton, Indiana, unless they were visiting at the time, and there are no pictures of him.)
4) Williard "Willard" Beatty: Born 11 March 1892 (His daughter, who is still living told me that he was born in 1893, but I have a funeral card, stating that he was born in 1892.); married 1st, Mae Norton, twin sons, both died at birth with the mother: married 2nd, Hazel May Reeves, nine children, twins died at birth, as well as, a daughter who died at 13 months; died 02 December 1970, Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan.
5) Ernest E. Beatty: Born 03 March 1895; married Florence Smith; seven sons, one daughter; died 09 December 1946. (Father of Jack Clinton Beatty of Lineage 39).
6) Asa Merle "Dick" Beatty: Born 06 July 1904; married Gladys (Milton) McIlvane; one son, Larry McIlvane, adopted by Merle "Dick" Beatty. (Great-uncle Merle was another "Fightin' Beatty." As a young man, he was imprisoned for stealing chickens. When he was released, he studied to become a minister, then, he married Gladys, and she became an ordained minister, as well. They were ministers, each in a different Sect, and they argued about religion a lot. They were both kind, loving, humorous people, and I remember them both as sparkly, happy people. As of now, I have no pictures of Merle ("Dick"), but I hope to find some, soon.
(*) Henry Lewis Clements: Born 26 October 1872, Claybanks Township, Oceana County, Michigan, second-born of the ten children of Elizabeth Ann "Liddie" (Beatty) and Edward Martin Clements. Elizabeth and Edward raised eleven children, because she had a three-year-old son by a former marriage at the time that she married Edward Martin Clements. Elizabeth was the sister of John Clinton Beatty, so Henry was a first cousin to the twelve Beatty siblings in this article. Henry married late in life, and his wife's name is not known. He probably never had children.