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 Female Bios


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Katharine May Vadakin was born in Columbus Ohio on March 26, 1875.  Her father was Ira W. F. Vadakin and her mother was Mary Adeline Burdick Vadakin.  Her mother died during childbirth on March 17, 1880 when Kate was only 5 years old.  Her father was unable to support his family of 5 young children (Lucy, Anna, Kate, Jim and Frank) so he boarded the youngest children at a Columbus orphanage for payment of room and board and went to work in New Orleans.  He became ill there and was hospitalized for a long time, missing some of his payments to the orphanage.  A Columbus family adopted Kate because of this lapse in payments and, when her father returned, he was only able to claim his remaining children who were still at the orphanage.

Kate grew up in the Kessler household, a wealthy German Jewish family with a big dairy.  Unconfirmed family legend says that they intended her to marry their nephew when she was old enough.  Under the Kesslers tutelage, Kate learned to sew, embroider, play piano, and all things cultured (lady-like); they invested a great deal into her education.  Her baptismal certificate shows them giving her the name Emile Katherine Kessler on her confirmation day, April 19, 1889 at Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul's Church in Columbus. 

Around 16-17 years of age, Kate learned her true circumstances and set out to find her own family.  She bribed someone working at the boarding house and relocated her brothers and sisters.  The family was reunited briefly but her father died shortly thereafter.  Kate worked as a domestic in Columbus and also in a Columbus shirt factory where she learned hand tailored shirt making.  Another unconfirmed story tells of Kate and her sister Lucy secretly packing their trunk and taking a train to the Chicago World Fair - completely unheard of behavior for young women of that time (and given the independence of their descendants, it must have been a genetic trait!).

Kate met her husband to be while attending services and social events at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbus, the same church in which they were married on September 16, 1896.  James Monroe Davidson was stationed in Columbus with the US Army.  On May 21, 1903, in Parnassus, Kate and Jim became the proud parents of Ruth Margaret Davidson.  Their first child, David Alexander Davidson, Jr., had died in infancy.  In 1905-1906, they moved to Wyoming where Jim served with the Army at a Cheyenne, Wyoming post when that was primitive frontier land where there were still frequent Indian uprisings.  [additional detail on service history is pending-may alter some of these dates/locations]

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Jim Davidson then brought his new wife back home with him to New Kensington, PA where they settled in the Parnassus area.  He then began a series of diversified occupations, including being a proprietor of his own bicycle repair shop in New Kensington, PA; running a confectionary store in Pittsburgh; making two different moves to Michigan, first to a German Catholic section and later to a French Canadian area; working as a streetcar conductor in the Pittsburgh area, and as a conductor on a shifter in the Pittsburgh Strip produce yards.  Kate’s daughter Ruth recalled living in New York state at one time, but not for long.  She called her parents “rolling stones” because they moved so often, twenty-four times by her recollections. 

Jim, born in Westmoreland County, not far from Parnassus, eventually turned to railroading and was a freight conductor and brakeman on Altoona-Conway runs when he left Pennsylvania Railroad in 1922.  One of Jim’s great-grandsons now safeguards his railroad watch in Tennessee. Kate worked throughout these many moves as a professional seamstress and dressmaker.  One of her favorite items to create was the traditional sunbonnet, several of which have survived and been passed down to great grandchildren. 

Kate and Jim lived in an apartment in the Chapman Dug Store building at 5th Avenue and Lock St. in Tarentum in 1922 when their daughter, Ruth, married her high school sweetheart Henry Thomas “Bud” “Heine” Kimes. 

After Jim retired from the railroad, in 1922, the couple moved to Harrisville, PA where they owned and ran Davidson’s Barbeque Restaurant for thirty years.  Under their operation, it became one of the most popular eating-places between Pittsburgh and Franklin.  Several Harrisville residents remember Kate with kindness. "I remember Mrs. Davidson as a very pleasant, short little woman with snow white hair.” A nephew shared the following, “I fondly remember them from days when I was a little boy, while on our way to Chautauqua, stopping at their place in Harrisville where Aunt Kate always saw to it that this little boy got a piece of pie, ice cream, and some candy for the rest of the trip.”  The couple sold the restaurant after 22 years of hard work and, in 1960, moved from their home in Harrisville to Natrona Heights, PA to live with their grown daughter Ruth and her husband, “Bud” Kimes and their three cats.

On September 16, 1961, Kate and Jim celebrated their 65th anniversary with an open house.  In the receiving line with them were their son-in-law and daughter; two grown grandchildren, Ruth “Bebe” Keys (Mrs. Ralph Keyes) of Tarentum and Mrs. Lawrence (Joan) Sefton of Springdale, and their great-grandchildren, James, 15; Deborah, 13; and Curt, 9.

At 86, Kate was still making all her own dresses and doing all her daughter's mending.  She was happiest when busy at a whirring sewing machine, or perhaps setting the table, washing dishes, or bustling about the house with numerous other chores.

In 1964, the couple had another celebration when Jim turned 90 on a Sunday and his younger brother “Bert” celebrated his 80th birthday the very next day, Monday.  The birth anniversaries of brothers on consecutive days were unusual in themselves.  Their ages made their birthdays on consecutive dates all the more remarkable.

Kate’s beloved Jim died February 12, 1965.  Kate, also 90, died at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, 1965 in Allegheny Valley Hospital, Natrona Heights, from infirmities of age.  The family has always insisted that she died of a broken heart.    Jim and Kate are both buried in the Prairie Cemetery in Harrisville, PA.  At the time of Kate’s death, only her sister Anna, and her brother Frank were still living. 

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, memorabilia, and service records currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Ruth Margaret Davidson was born on May 21, 1903 in the Parnassus area of New Kensington, PA.  Ruth Margaret was originally named Margaret Ruth in honor of her grandmother - Margaret Daugherty Davidson.  Her name was later changed to Ruth Margaret and she was known simply as Ruth.  She told the story of how she was so small at birth (3 lbs. 14 ounces) that doctor left that day, figuring she wouldn't live.  A woman who lived across the street came and lit the oven, opened the door, kept her in a box on the open door, and used the warmth to keep her comfortable.  The neighbor made a sugar ball and fed Ruth drops of sugar water through the night.  Ruth was blue and so very tiny but when the doctor came back the next morning he was amazed that she'd made it through the night. 

Ruth suffered from typhoid fever when she was 7-8 years old.   She was very sick and her mother always insisted that the fever experience stunted her growth. 

Ruth grew up as an only child.  Her older brother, David Alexander Davidson, Jr., had died in infancy.  Ruth and her parents moved frequently from Pennsylvania to Michigan (twice) and to New York State before returning to Pennsylvania.  Ruth met her husband-to be when they were "making eyes across study hall” as students at Tarentum High School in Tarentum, PA.  She and Henry Thomas aka “Bud” or “Heine” Kimes graduated as members of the class of 1922.  Bud was a standout on the school football and baseball team and is remembered “as pound for pound the most aggressive smashing defensive end and offensive pass snagger in valley scholastic history.  When he captained the Tarentum HS team of 1921 he weighted all of about 128 pounds.  He was a great catcher, too, and clutch hitter in scholastic and sandlot baseball.” When the class celebrated their 35th reunion in 1957, Ruth was honored as one of the first two in their class to marry in recognition of their August 26, 1922 wedding date (in Wellsburg, West Virginia).

During their married life, Bud and Ruth had two children – Ruth “Bebe” who married Ralph Keys and Joan who married Lawrence Russell Sefton. 

Ruth was one of four women to ever serve on the Tarentum School Board of Directors, and in her twelfth year on the board, she was elected as the first woman president.  Unfortunately, she had to endure unkind gossip and speculation when she traveled with the men of the board to attend out of town meetings and conventions.

Ruth served seven years as the secretary of the Tarentum office of the Pennsylvania State Clinic.  She was elected to multiple terms as president and secretary of the Allegheny Valley Social Service Bureau.  Her daughters remember well the times she went to assist those in need.  During her nine years in the Tarentum office of the State Health Department, she came to know and sympathize with that unfortunate segment of the community that is afflicted with disease and other hardship.  "I saw a changeover from the old style "basket charity" to a new anonymous approach to helping these people," she said.  "The new trend is so much better, because it saves the receivers from feelings of gratitude and, in some cases, humiliation."

She joined the Woman's Club of Allegheny Valley in 1942 and was elected as their president in 1957.  The newspaper article announcing her election offered the following:

“Good things are said to come in small packages.  If this be true, the Woman's Club of Allegheny Valley can expect a productive year of activity under its newly elected president....Mrs. Thomas Kimes, an attractive, perky brunette who stands 4'11" in her stocking feet and tips the scales at a scant 103 pounds.  These statistics defy the eye, however, since her slim figure and assured manner give her the appearance of greater height.  "She's the type you like to work for," is the way one member describes her quiet, gracious manner.  "Her eyes smile when she talks to you." 

She was a Harrison Township Division leader in the fund drive for the Community Library of Allegheny Valley.  In a newspaper article printed March 20, 1959 the following quote was shared from her presentation to the Tarentum Business & Professional Women's group "even though we don't read a book, we are so dependent upon those who do” She offered a detailed history of the library, its growth, and its current needs and she thanked the women present for their support for the new library. In all, Ruth spent 12 years on the Tarentum Library Board, including service as the president of the board. 

All this, and Ruth always had time for her hobbies.  She liked to work with her hands, finding creative outlet in textile and oil painting and watercolors.  The latter was her favorite medium and landscaping her favorite subject.  "I'm more a craftsman than an artist," she modestly states, but this point is debatable.  Another of her notable artistic areas involved tin cutting.  Christmas tree ornaments, hanging sculptures, wall wreaths, candleholders, and more were made from the lids of cat food cans, tuna fish cans, soup cans, and large restaurant/food service cans that had been snipped and curled and shaped.

Ruth served as president of the Allegheny Valley Artists in 1960 and was active for several years in many of the art shows in the Pittsburgh area, often winning ribbons for her entries. 

Another of her artistic enterprises involved the hand painted blouses that she produced for Horne’s Department Store in Pittsburgh.  She stenciled countless blouses and handkerchiefs to fill the many orders that were placed.  Silk screening was another favorite – on paper and on fabric.   

She made several mosaic tile “paintings” including one large wall piece that is now hanging in her younger daughter’s home in Tennessee.  As a “senior” volunteer at Allegheny Valley Hospital through the Allegheny Valley Hospital Auxiliary, she spent hours of her own time preparing precut kits of felt pieces with the necessary accessories for patients to stitch together to make animals of every shape and color (a precursor to today’s occupational therapy activities). 

About her love of crafts she said, "Because I was an only child and had to be inventive to amuse myself, I acquired the habit.  We moved around a lot, at least 24 times before I was in the fifth grade and finally settled in Tarentum.  I would make little paper dolls or draw pictures for the other children to gain admittance to the group, and I think it's good to have to fight in this way for things.”

 After a long bout of steadily decreasing health, Ruth Margaret Davidson Kimes died at home of cancer on February 9, 1983.  She was buried at Mt. Airy Cemetery in Natrona Heights, PA on February 11, 1983.  Her husband, Bud, succumbed to the effects of dementia on January 16, 1992 in the Westhaven Nursing Home in Apollo, PA.  He is buried near Ruth at Mt. Airy.

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Mable Anna Howell was born Annie May Howell on June 22, 1894 in White River Township, Montague, Muskegon County, Michigan.  She was the daughter of Charles John Howell (born in Germany) and Macy Smith Howell (born in Pennsylvania) and the second of their ten children (Ernest, Mable, Esther, Ralph, Merrill, Carl, Verda, Hazel, Florence, and Warren).  One family story about Macy that has survived indicated that her parents (Mable’s grandparents) Christopher and Fredrika Howell, who had emigrated from Germany to Michigan, refused to take Macy to town with the team to buy a birthday present for her first-born’s first birthday in January 1894.  The farm was near the “mouth” or channel area where the boats went into Lake Michigan.  Macy walked from the farm to the channel, to downtown and back.  She caught pneumonia (note: she would have been approximately 3 months pregnant with Mable) and “darn near died.”  This story has always been used to illustrate her stubborn will and determination.  The Ash women have always exhibited these traits and Macy was credited with setting the standard.

Little is known about Mable’s childhood except that the family lived on a farm and her father owned a slaughterhouse.  She quit school in the 10th grade because she simply had no clothes to wear and she went to work instead.  She worked at a hotel in Montague with the Dennis family. 

On May 11, 1914, Mable married John Warren Ash originally from Hesperia, Michigan.  The two had met at a fireman’s ball in Montague.  The wedding took place in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan and the newlyweds first lived in Allegan where Warren worked for his father and then later Warren farmed in Grand Rapids and Cedar Springs (they lived in a guest house on the farms he worked). 

There were three children born to Mable and Warren – Charles LaVerne (1915), Lura Irene (1916), and Frances Audrey (1922).  The family moved to Otsego in 1925.  Warren and Mable bought the White Kitchen Restaurant in Otsego, which they operated until 1945.   Their pies were known far and wide.  The children all attended and graduated from Otsego High School.  In addition to running the restaurant with her husband and raising her children Mable was an active member of the Eastern Star, Garden Club, Rebekah's and the Lady Elks.

After a long bout with cancer, Mable died at home on Monday, September 28, 1953.  (Otsego, Allegan County, Michigan).  She was buried in the Mountain Home Cemetery in Otsego on Thursday, October 1, 1953.  At the time of her death, she had eight grandchildren; her brothers Ernie, Merrill, Ralph and Warren, and sisters Verda and Florence were still living. 

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Rebecca Nelma Maizland was born on March 15, 1909 in Ekastown, Butler Co., PA.  Becky or Betty (she was known by both nicknames) was the oldest of six children born to Charles Henry Maizland and Louisa Angelina Sandrock Maizland (Becky, Russell, Clifford, Pansy, Loretta and Ray).  The family lived in the country on a farm near Saxonburg in Butler County. Becky would later say, "I was born on a farm near Saxonburg.  There was an abandoned blacksmith's shop near our place and I used to play with the bells.  I loved sleigh bells." 

Becky met her first husband-to-be (Lawrence Henry Sefton) when she was 12 and he was 14.  As she told the story, the Harvey children (Phillip and Mary Hare Harvey’s offspring) invited Becky to come to a children’s day program at Westminster Presbyterian Church.  “Lawrence took a fancy to me and asked if he could walk me home.  I said ‘my goodness, no.  I can go home with the Harvey kids with their brother in a car,’ but he came calling shortly after on his bicycle with his brother Jim who married my sister Pansy.

Helen Elizabeth Miller Osborne (Mrs. Lloyd) shared the following story:

“On a summer evening in 1926, 5 teenagers in an old touring car went for a joy ride.  I (Helen Osborne) was one of them, age 14 going on 15.  I don't know what roads we took but from south side of Butler where I lived, we went in the general direction of Saxonburg.  There weren't many houses but I remember oil wells all along the road, so maybe they were side roads.  Of course, even the main roads weren't so good then.  We were going fast (probably all of 45 or even 50 miles an hour)!  Somewhere along the way we picked up three more young men, or boys as we called them, and one of them was Lawrence Sefton.  We didn't know each other but did know we were second cousins. And if you wonder how we picked up three more passengers when there were already six in the car, you're not remembering about running boards.  We drove miles with the three of them hanging on the running boards.  This was the "roaring twenties" you've heard about and I imagine this was about as wild as any of us ever were despite rumors that would indicate a whole generation of depraved youngsters.  Even then Lawrence was "going with" Betty Maizland.  In fact, they were married less than a year later.”

Becky and Lawrence were married on June 10, 1927 in Wellsburg, West Virginia. He was nicknamed "Farmer Sefton" and was called that by almost everyone.  He never said unkind things about anyone.  He was a charter member and at one point served as president of Frazer Township Fire Company.   He worked at the No. 9 shop of the Brackenridge Works of Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. for more than 35 years, many of these spent as an electrician.  He was known to be able to fix just about anything.

Becky was baptized and received into membership at the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Ninth Avenue at Lock Street, Tarentum, PA on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1929.  She was a member of the Sunday School Class No. 7 at First Methodist Church.

Becky and Lawrence had one son, Lawrence Russell.  The following piece appeared in their local paper in July 1931:

‘Mrs. Lawrence Sefton entertained a number of little ones at a party in her home yesterday afternoon honoring her son Lawrence the occasion marking his first birthday.  At 3:30 the little guests were seated and lunch was served the following:  Bobby Kuntz, Coreen and Billie Aretz, Valjean Downey, Chester Wayne and Glen Lloyd, Bobbie Kuhn, Audry and Eugene Rossey, Jean Wise, Harold and Helen Snyder, and little Lawrence.  Lawrence was presented with a number of nice gifts.  Mrs. Sefton was assisted by Mrs. Jennie Nixon and Mrs. Leonard Kuntz.’

Throughout their married life, Becky and Lawrence loved to travel.  Becky’s favorite hobby was collecting bells and she always combined this with their travels.  Her collection, which grew to over 350 bells, received considerable local press from the 1940’s through the 1960’s.  One of the newspaper pieces included this quote:  "I have traveled all over America from California to Virginia, and from New England to Panama, collecting bells.  I have acquired others from friends in India and all over Europe."  A member of the American Bell Association, their travels often included the national conventions.

The following, with only minor variations, was incorporated in almost all of the newspaper articles:  "My most interesting bell was given to me by Mr. Joseph Matta who is employed in the motion picture department at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Pittsburgh.  It is novel in the respect that it is a lead bell, and as you know, lead does not ring," Betty related.  "A die was made and the bell was cast at Westinghouse laboratory.  It was used in a demonstration by freezing it with liquid nitrogen.  At room temperature, the bell has a dull thud, but when frozen to 320 degrees below zero, it has a crystalline ring!"

Becky was well known as an excellent cook, and she always said one of her favorite bells was the old farm dinner bell.  "I always liked to eat and I loved that bell best of all because it's sound always held a promise."  In fact, the largest bell in her collection was the old bell from the Love School in Butler County that weighed over 200 lbs.  The bell was used to call her family to dinner until it was stolen in the 1960’s from her yard.  She grieved for that bell until the day she died.

On Tuesday, October 8, 1957 a newspaper article in The Valley Daily News featured a story about the need for additional women to volunteer as Girl Scout leaders and troop committee members.  The Girl Scout Neighborhood chairmen for the Upper North District of Allegheny County listed included Mrs. Lawrence Sefton of Bakerstown Rd.

Another newspaper clipping showed Mrs. Lawrence Sefton as participating in the opening class of the Red Cross first aid instruction sponsored by East Deer Township, Civil Defense Committee. 

Specific dates are unknown but Becky was employed by Liberty Mirror, Brackenridge and later at an area florist shop where she learned several skills that were of great use when it came to fashioning her hand made bells in the adult art ceramics courses she took at Tarentum High School.  "While a student in adult art classes, I've made 40 ceramic bells or more during the last two years," continued Betty.  "These bells have been modeled by hand from clay (not cast in a mold), decorated with flowers and other fancy designs, bisque-baked, then glazed and again fired in a kiln.  Some are hand painted."  Of the over 500 members of the American Bell Association, Becky was one of, if not the only member, to make her own ceramic bells.  She said that when she took several to the New York convention, some were broken on the way there, others were broken during the event from so much handling, and others broke on the trip home.  “They just don’t travel well.”

After Lawrence’s sudden death from a heart attack in July, 1961, Becky continued living in their house on Sefton Road (formerly Bakerstown Rd).  She was at that time a member of Trinity United Methodist Church; the Highland Senior Citizens Center where she went almost daily for the noon luncheon and a card game or two (she was an avid card player for many years); and the auxiliary of the Allegheny Valley Firemen's Association.

She remarried on December 18, 1965.  She and Howard Samuel Stark lived in the house on Sefton Road until he died on Sept. 24, 1966.

Becky sold the house in the late 1960’s and sent her bell collection home with her grandson to Indiana before she moved into an apartment in Tarentum.  From there she moved to an apartment at one of the area high rise seniors complex and then to a basement apartment near the high school in Natrona Heights. 

Complications from her long-time diabetic condition and old age finally caused her death at 2:10 p.m. in the Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA on September 27, 1984.  She was buried Monday, October 01, 1984 at St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery (new section) in Sarver, PA near her husband Lawrence and her son who had died in 1970.  Her survivors included her brother, Ray; two sisters, Loretta and Pansy; her grandson, Lawrence; and two great-grandsons.

The majority of Becky's prized bell collection was sold after her death to the then-current President of the American Bell Association.  Her grandson kept the 8 school bells (one of which is over 250 years old), 5-6 of the oriental brass gongs, one of her few surviving handmade Christmas bells, and the pentatonic dragon bell.  The large group of sleigh bells was sold in 2000 to three different families.  (There were three different types of bells – one type went to each family.) 

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Elsie Lucretia Race was born on July 19, 1894 in Matteson, Cook County, Illinois.  Her parents were Otis L. Race (born in Charbiten Twp, Near Galesburg, Michigan) and Elizabeth A. Kelly (born in Matteson, Illinois).  No one seems to know how her parents met or anything about their young lives.  Elsie’s mother died of unknown causes when her little girl was less than two years old and Elsie was raised by her paternal grandmother “Grandma Ralph”  (Elsie Walcott Race Ralph) in Galesburg, Michigan.

On September 22, 1913, Elsie married John Edward Barnes Blunt Walton.  The following appeared in the local paper:

A very pretty wedding took lace at the Maccabee hall last evening at eight o'clock when Jack Walton, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Walton, of the East Main street Dry Cleaning company and Miss Elsie Race of Galesburg were united in marriage by the Rev. Frank MacGirr of Pewamo, Michigan, an uncle of the groom.   The bride was attended by Miss Ethel Walton, sister of the groom, while Lawrence Kennard acted as best man.  Promptly at eight o'clock and to the strains of Mendelssohn's wedding march, played by Miss Lillian Alexander of Ludington, the bridal party took their place before a beautifully arranged altar, banked with palms and ferns.  The bride was given away by her grandmother Mrs. Elsie Ralph.  The bride's gown was a handsome creation of white satin with a brocaded crepe and the costume was completed with a cluster bouquet of roses.  Her attendant wore a very pretty gown of pink and white satin.  About 150 guests witnessed the ceremony, following which and after a season of congratulations, a delicious two-course luncheon was served, several small tables being prettily arranged in the dining rooms of the hall.  Mr. and Mrs. Walton received many best wishes of a host of friends were showered upon them.  After a brief wedding trip the young people will take up their residence on Surby St., Foster Park.   

The couple had one child, a son, Duane Edward Walton born June 09, 1915 in Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan.  They lived their entire married life at 212 Surby Ave. in Battle Creek.  Given her husband’s entirely British upbringing (he emigrated to the US from Michigan as a young child with his parents and grandparents), they lived a very sedate life.  Jack was a tailor and an enthusiastic member of the Goguac and Gull Lake Yacht Clubs where he made sails and boat covers for many of the other members.  Their home always smelled of his cigars and their yard was filled with a large rose garden, flowering hedges, and other flowers.  Elsie was a life member of the Battle Creek Chapter #355 Order of the Eastern Star (OES) and Calhoun White Shrine of Jerusalem #24.  She collected bone china teacups and thoroughly enjoyed watching the afternoon soap operas on television (if you happened to visit when they were on, conversation took place only during the commercials). 

In late September 1953, the following piece appeared in the Battle Creek newspaper:

"Open House Held for the J. B. Waltons on Wedding Anniversary"

"Mr. and Mrs. J. B. (Jack) Walton of 212 Surby Avenue were complimented to an open house Sunday afternoon and evening given by his brother and wife Mr. and Mrs. Richard G. Walton of 145 Honey Ave.  The occasion marked their 40th wedding anniversary.  Also assisting in receiving the 80 guests were Mr. and Mrs. William G. Walton, parents of the Walton brothers.

Jack Walton and Elsie Race were married in Battle Creek on Sept. 22, 1913 with the Rev. W. MacGirr of Boone, uncle of the groom, performing the ceremony.

They have lived all of their married life here and have one son, Duane, who lives with his wife and daughter on Breezy Bluff, Goguac Lake.

The tea table was centered with a bouquet of ruby and white gladioli with ruby colored numerals "40".  Mrs. G. F. Stapleton had charge of the guest book.  Guests came from Kalamazoo, Dowagiac and Bangor as well as Battle Creek."-----------

Jack died on November 25, 1972.  Living alone in the house on Surby Ave., Elsie was so afraid of someone gaining access to the un-air-conditioned house that she kept all the doors and windows closed.  She was hospitalized due to overheating and dehydration and she died in the hospital on July 28, 1976.  She was buried beside Jack on July 30, 1976 at Memorial Park Cemetery in Battle Creek.  

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Mary Ann Johnson was born on November 06, 1846 in Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire, England. She was the daughter of Edward and Mary Webb Johnson.  As a girl she worked as a dressmaker and later became a trained nurse.  She married Thomas Barnes on October 24, 1886 in England.  The couple had three children:  Eleanor Emma Barnes, Sarah Annie Barnes, and Richard Barnes.  Through the efforts of their son-in-law William G. Walton, Mary Ann and Thomas along with their daughter Annie and her family emigrated from England to Battle Creek, Michigan in the spring of 1907. 

After coming to Battle Creek Thomas and Mary Ann lived in the home at 28 Surby Avenue, with the exception of parts of several summers which they spent in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Pursley of near Paw Paw.

Mary Ann and Thomas celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1916 and their 55th in October 1921.  Thomas died just a few weeks later in November 1921. 

On the occasion of her 90th birthday in November 1936, the following pieces appeared in the local newspaper: 

------------Celebrates 90th Birthday-------------

Mrs. Mary Ann Barnes, 28 Surby Avenue, has had a four-day party, in celebration of her ninetieth natal day, festivities ending Sunday when a dinner was given in her honor at the home, with covers laid for 16.  Birthday cakes and a beautiful large bouquet of white and yellow roses graced the table.  One of the cakes was colorfully decorated with 90 stars.  A big surprise which was arranged for the pleasure of Mrs. Barnes was the arrival of her elder daughter, Mrs. Annie MacGirr of Boone Mich. late Friday afternoon.  Besides Mrs. MacGirr, out-of-town guests were Mr. and Mrs. G. Gilchrist and family of Galesburg; Mr. and Mrs. William Burnett and grandson William Barnett, Jr. of Charlotte.  Music and singing were features of the day.  Saturday was spent with calls from relatives and visiting with Mrs. MacGirr.  Friday open house was held for all friends of the family at the home of the honoree's younger daughter Mrs. William G. Walton where she resides.  About 125 guests called and presented Mrs. Barnes with lovely flowers and gifts.  The rooms were filled with a profusion of chrysanthemums, the large and showy blooms, as well as the baby mums.  Miss Virginia Lee Huff, 48 Orleans Avenue, celebrating her sixteenth birthday, had dinner Thursday with her great-grandmother, having dined together for the last 15 years on their birthdays. 

---------------Is 90 Today------------------

Mrs. Mary Ann Barnes, who resides with her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. William G. Walton, 28 Surby Avenue, is celebrating her ninetieth birthday today by keeping open house, which will extend through this evening.  Already greetings and gifts have been received by this remarkable English woman who has resided in Battle Creek since 1907 and has won the friendship of a host of citizens.  Mrs. Barnes, a member of the Battle Creek Three-Quarters Club, is the mother of two children, Mrs. Walton and Mrs. MacGirr, widow of the late Rev. Frank MacGirr, Boon, Mich.  Of her 12 grandchildren, nine are living, as are 22 great grand children and one great-great grandchild.  She was born in a small village near Northampton, England and with her husband came to Battle Creek 29 years ago.  His death occurred in 1921, five years after they had observed their golden wedding anniversary.  Mrs. Barnes enjoys wonderful health, retaining her eyesight and hearing and being able to do many little household tasks with perfect ease.  Each Sunday finds her at the radio listening to Sunday sermons, this modern invention being regarded as miraculous by her.            ---------------

Mary Ann died five years later from the effects of senility.  She was a patient in a local hospital at the time of her death – 2:30 p.m. on September 01, 1941.  Her daughters Nellie and Annie survived her, as did nine grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.  Mary Ann was buried next to Thomas at Youngs Cemetery in Battle Creek on September 3rd. 

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)

Eleanor Emma Barnes was born on  July 07, 1872 in Bugbrooke, Northhamptonshire, England.   Very little is known of her childhood in England. 

She married William Guylott Walton  at All Saints Church, Northampton,  England on October 03, 1893.  Realizing that he would be unable to support his wife and their four children (John Barnes Blunt Walton, Ethel Alice Walton, and twins Richard Gylot Walton and Annie Eleanor Walton) in England, William emigrated to the United States on the ship "Virginia" landing in Canada and settled in Battle Creek, Michigan.  He worked as a tailor and saved/sent money to his family in England until they were finally able to join him.  

Nellie and their children arrived in the United States on May 10, 1907 at Detroit via Canadian Pacific (rail) from Quebec.  They had arrived in Quebec on May 7, 1907 from Northampton on the Virginian of the Allan Line Reg. No. 2949637.  It should be noted here that William financed the trip to America not only for his wife and four children, but also for his sister-in-law's family (Sarah Annie Barnes and Frank MacGirr) and later of his mother-in-law and father-in-law Mary Ann Johnson Barnes and Thomas Barnes. 

Nellie was a life member of the Battle Creek Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and a past high priestess and grand chaplain of the White Shrine of Jerusalem.  She was a member of the First Baptist Church. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 1953.  

William, who worked as a tailor all his life, died in Battle Creek on Oct. 26, 1961.  Nellie remained in Battle Creek in their home on Avenue C for a time until she moved to Olivet, Michigan to live with her son Richard and his wife.  Illness forced her move to a nursing home and she was a patient at the Hayes-Green Beach Hospital in Charlotte, Michigan at the time of her death, aged 94, on December 20, 1966.  She and her husband William are buried in Youngs Cemetery in Battle Creek, Michigan.  All four of her children survived her along with nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

(This biography is based on newspaper clippings, birth and death certificates, family memories, obituaries, letters, photographs, and memorabilia currently available.  Should new material improve on the above, revisions will be made accordingly.)