Strong - McLemore History and Ancestry
First Name:  Last Name: 
[Advanced Search]  [Surnames]



Generations:      Standard    |    Vertical    |    Compact    |    Box    |    Text    |    Ahnentafel    |    Fan Chart    |    Media    |    PDF

Generation: 1

  1. 1.  Living

    Living married Living [Group Sheet]

    1. Living

Generation: 2

  1. 2.  Living

    Living married Living [Group Sheet]

  2. 3.  Living
    1. 1. Living
    2. Living
    3. Living

Generation: 3

  1. 4.  Vessie Eugene McLemoreVessie Eugene McLemore was born 1 Feb 1885, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas (son of John F. "Finn" McLemore and Rutha Triphene White); died 21 Jan 1952, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    Vessie McLemore grew up on his parent's farm in the first precinct of Sabine County. The adjoining farm was owned by his Uncle, Henry Strickland White, Jr. The 1900 census indicates that Vessie, who was 15, could read and write, and that he has attended three months of school that year, as had his brothers Rufus and Earnest.  His daughter Evon has a class picture of Vessie from around this period. Evon said that Vessie didn't have much of a formal education, and probably stopped attending school altogether around this time. Vessie's wife, Nina, told her granddaughter Melinda that he even taught school for a time, however Evon doubts that this was so. The 1940 Federal Census indicates he had graduated from the Seventh Grade. His wife, Nina, had made it through only Six years of schooling.

    When Vessie was 22, he married Nina Fuller,who was 16. On the 1910 Sabine County census they were shown living on a home farm in precinct six, near both Joe Fuller (Nina's father) and John and Jane Fullen (her mother's parents). Nina was shown as being the mother of two children, neither of them living. Nina's first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and her next three babies died shortly after they were born. Her first child lived only 10 weeks. Evon said that Nina and Vessie's baby slept in their bed with them, as was the custom of the time. One morning when they woke up, the baby was dead. Tera Fuller, Nina's sister, reported that Nina always worried that she had somehow accidentally caused the babies death, maybe by rolling over it. Evon conjectured that the baby probably died of SIDS, which her mother had never heard of. The second baby lived only a day. In 1911, they had a third baby which also lived only one day.  The three babies are buried side by side.

    In 1913, Nina and Vessie's son Percy was born. Over the next six years, the McLemore's had three more children, daughter Evon and sons' Earl and Ray. Vessie owned a store in Steep Creek, a sawmill village eight miles south of San Augustine. He also raised cattle. He regularly published a small advertisement in the 1918 Sabine County newspaper, offering a reward for any stray cattle returned to him. His brand was VM on the hip. He later adopted the "Running M" as his brand. Evon remembers her father buying a Brahma Bull, in an effort to improve his herd. Most of the ranchers in Sabine County didn't fence in their cattle, they allowed them to freely roam about to forage for food. Evon remembers people being afraid of the "Brimmer." He wasn't a particularly mean bull, he was just so different from the east texas scrub cattle that everyone raised. Tom McLemore, Evon Tisdale and Melinda Strong had a conversation in November, 2002 with Vance Hargrove that came around to the subject of Vessie's missing cattle. Vance was a neighbor of the McLemore's when they lived in Bronson, and a good friend of Percy's. He said that Vessie asked he and Percy one day to go looking for several cattle that were missing. They found evidence that some of the laborers in the nearby saw mills had been poaching from Vessie's herd. They told Vessie they had found cattle bones in the yards of some of the workers, workers who looked to be half-starved. Vessie said they probably were half-starved, and told the boys not to report their findings to the sheriff.

    A son of Enlow Birdwell relayed a similar story to Tom McLemore in September, 2007, at the funeral of Lynn McLemore. He recalled that Enlow had killed one of Vessie's cows and was taking it home to feed his family. He was caught in the act by Vessie. He confessed to what he had done, and said that he was only doing so because his family had done without for a long time, and were starving. Vessie told him to take the beef home and use it as he intended, but added, "let this be the last one of my cows that you steal." It was. When times became more prosperous, Enlow began raising a small herd of cattle of his own. He went to Vessie to borrow some money to get a start. Vessie gave him one of his checkbooks, and told him to simply use it as he needed, he trusted Enlow and knew together they could keep an accurate accounting of what he borrowed. Enlow often told his family that Vessie was the one who helped him get a start in life, and that he especially valued the trust he showed in him.

    Vessie's older children attended their primary grades in Sabine County, but had to commute to San Augustine for High School. Evon says that during the winter, she and her brothers boarded with the family of Dr. Davis, who lived nearby the school.  In the late 1920s, the family moved to San Augustine. Evon remembers that her mother suffered another devasting miscarriage, which nearly killed her. A few years later, Nina's youngest children were born, son Tommy in 1931 and son Lynn in 1933. They lived in a house Vessie renovated just off Main Street, and had a small home farm. Evon remembers her father first built a garage, and they slept and cooked in this until he had finished with the house. Their home was still standing in 1997. Even the roof  is the same one Vessie laid. It is now the second house on the left, on present day Whitton street. It is a block away from the local elementary school. Tom remembers an indigent Civil War veteran, in his late eighties, who his father took into their home. Tom vividly recalls the stories he told about the war each night at dinner.

    In the December 21, 1939 issue of the San Augustine Tribune, V.E. McLemore offered a $5.00 reward to anyone who found his dun muley cow branded "M" on the left loin. Around 1940, Vessie sold their house in the city, and bought some ranch land several miles outside of town.

    Vessie's brothers and sisters used to say, admiringly, that "Vessie could stand on the corner and make money."  He was an industrious man, with a strong enterpreneurial bent. His first job was working in the sawmills, with his brother, Rufus. But Vessie hated working for others, and saved up enough money to buy a general store in Steep Creek. This was around the time of World War I. It was a rough part of town, and he had both black and white laborers from the sawmills as customers.

    The sheriff was a frequent visitor to the store.  Evon remembers him always having a kind word and a piece of candy for her. He had a reputation for brutality however, and she recalls that he and a brother were eventually sent to jail after being convicted of murder. One day, the sheriff came to the store asking about a particular Negro laborer. Vessie said he hadn't seen him in days. The sheriff asked Vessie to call him the next time this man came in, telling Vessie he intended to kill him. Vessie went home and discussed the sheriff's threat with Nina, worrying about what he should do. In the middle of the night he got dressed, and tracked the man down in his home. He warned him of the sheriff's threat. The man pawned his pocket watch to Vessie, then and there, and used the money to flee town. He succesfully escaped the sheriff and was never heard of again. Vessie later gave the pocket watch to his son Earl. After Earl's death, his children gave this watch to their Uncle Tom, and Tom eventually passed this keepsake down to his eldest daughter, Melinda. It was a brass plated Studebaker watch from the South Bend Watch Company, and widely sold by mail order in the 1920's. These watches were sold on credit, and could be purchased with a down payment of $1. With the onset of the Depression, the company found itself with many delinquent accounts and was forced to close. (

    After the mill near Steep Creek closed, Vessie was also forced to close his store. His family feared that they'd soon be in the poorhouse. But Vessie continued to prosper. He worked as a rancher primarily, leasing and operating land in Pearsall, Garwood and in various sites throughout South and East Texas. He operated up to 20,000 acres at any given time. He also owned and operated a cotton gin and a meat processing plant. He involved his children in all these ventures. He was well known in the community for his willingness to extend credit or make loans to poor families, black or white. Tom McLemore recalls from looking at a lot of the notes he had drawn up that he charged from 6% to 10% compound interest. He was good fried to Will Wade, proprietor of the City Cafe, and W.J. (Wade) McClanahan, Deputy Sherriff of San Augustine.

    Vessie felt a strong committment to provide for his family. Before he died, he built a home for each of his eldest four children, as well as giving them each 50 acres of land. He left his homestead and 400 acre ranch, jointly, to his two youngest sons.

    When Vessie was in his forties, he was gored by a bull on the ranch. The wound was just under his left eye. He suffered from nearly incapacitating headaches for the rest of his life. In 1950, he had several massive strokes, and was unable to function normally after that. His wife nursed him at home until he died from a brain aneurysm in 1952.

    Although Vessie didn't have much formal education, he was an extremely intelligent man. Tom and Evon remember that he read widely. Vessie's daughter, Evon, was the first of the family to graduate from college. She attended Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, where she received a degree in education. She remembers coming home one weekend from college, and her father asked her to check something he had prepared. He had calculated the compound interest that was due on a loan he had made. She told him she didn't know how to do this. "What am I sending you to college for" he grumbled, "if they can't even teach you to calculate compound interest."

    His obituary was published in the local papers, as well as in the January 23, 1952 issue of the Houston Post.

    Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically

    Census Listings:

    1910 Census
    Texas, Sabine County, Pr 6
    Enumerated 11 May 1910
    SD 2 ED 133 Sheet 32A
    McLemore, Vessie Head M W 24 M1 2 Tx US US Farming Home Farm
    McLemore, Nina Wf F W 18 M1 2 2/0 Tx Ga Tx

    1920 Census
    Texas, Sabine County, JP 6
    Enumerated 2 Jan 1920
    SD 326 ED 173 Sheet 1A
    Bronson Road
    McLemore, Vessie E Head M W 34 M Tx Ga Tx Farmer
    McLemore, Nina O Wf F W 28 M Tx Ark Tx
    McLemore, Percy L Son M W 6 S Tx Tx Tx
    McLemore, Evaughan V Dtr F W 5 S Tx Tx Tx
    McLemore, Earl Son M W 3 3/12 S Tx Tx Tx
    McLemore, Ira Son M W 1 4/12 S Tx Tx Tx

    (Medical):artherio sclerosis, hypertension

    Vessie married Nina Ophelia Fuller 7 Nov 1907, Many, Sabine Parish, Louisiana. Nina (daughter of Joseph Thomas Fuller and Viola "Ola" Fullen) was born 15 Sep 1891, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 8 Jul 1980, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas. [Group Sheet]

  2. 5.  Nina Ophelia FullerNina Ophelia Fuller was born 15 Sep 1891, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas (daughter of Joseph Thomas Fuller and Viola "Ola" Fullen); died 8 Jul 1980, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    Nina Fuller was a striking. She was nearly six feet tall and slender. When she unwound her hair from the bun she usually wore, it cascaded down her back almost to her feet. She enjoyed gardening and quilting, growing most of her own vegetables. She was a thrifty woman. She continued to make her own soap from lye, pine rosin and "fat cracklings" even when she could just as easily purchased a bar at the store.

    Being the oldest daughter, Nina helped her mother daily with the household chores. She remembers that when she was quite young, her parents went to the State Fair in Dallas by horse and buggy. They came home with a washboard and a box of packaged laundry soap. Nina claims they were the first family in Sabine County to have a washboard, and remembers neighbors coming by on wash day just to see how it worked. The 1940 census indicates she had attended school for six years.

    She was a staunch member of the Rosevine Church of God. She truly believed in doing good works, and never turned away anyone in need. Her son Tom remembers that their home was on the "hobo circuit" during the depression.  He often passed men asleep on a spare mattress in their garage on his way to school. She fed everyone who came to their door hungry, and made regular visits to the local nursing home to take food to friends and relatives.

    Nina Sue Wade, who was a backdoor neighbor to the McLemore family when they lived in town, recalls that her mother relied on her more experienced neighbors parenting advice. The Wade family had several young children, mainly very active boys, with Nina being the oldest. Mrs. Wade worked hard to keep her rambuctious children in line, to no avail. Mrs. McLemore advised her to ignore the minor infractions. Nina Sue recalled her mother often quoting a saying Mrs. McLemore told her, "When your children are young, they step on your shoestrings. When they get older, they step on your heartstrings." She would go on to advise her to cherish her children while they were young and full of spirit, because she would miss them sorely when they were grown and on their own.

    Nina McLemore was an independant woman, living alone in a house her brother Lonzo built for her after her husband died. She lived next door to her son Percy, and her grandson's Dental Office was directly behind her home. She was able to live at home and care for herself until she was in her mid 80's, when she went to live with her daughter Evon.

    Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically

    (Medical):cerebral arteriosclerosis


    Nina's mother died six months after Nina's Fifteenth birthday.  As the oldest girl, and second of eight children, all the day to day household tasks of caring for their large family immediately fell to her. To make matters worse, Nina's father had relatives who had moved to the fertile lower Rio Grande Valley to farm. They encouraged him to move down there as well. He had made several trips down to visit them, and to inspect land. Nina was desperately afraid of leaving her beloved east Texas.

    About this same time, Nina met Vessie McLemore met at a church revival. They enjoyed each other's company, and began secretly corresponding with each other. Vessie soon proposed, and in November 1907, they snuck across the river to Many, Louisiana and eloped. Nina had turned sixteen years old not quite two months earlier. Nina told her granddaughter, Melinda, that she and Vessie had only seen each other twice in person before their marriage. A photo exists that appears to be their wedding picture. Vessie is wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and white bow tie, and Nina in a white dress, with a large flower in her hair.

    Witnesses at their wedding were, H. E. White, presumably Henry Ernest White--Vessie's first cousin-- and A. McGown [likely either Albert or Andrew McGown, brothers who lived nearby the young couple in Geneva, Texas].

    The license was filed for record on 14 July 1908 in Volume 3, Page 272 of the Marriage Records of Sabine Parish, Louisiana by W. E. McNuly, clerk, oper J. J. McNuly, Deputy.

    Joe Fuller was not pleased with his daughters elopement. For at least several months after their wedding, the young couple avoided him. Rumors abounded that he might shoot Vessie on sight. Jan Tisdale, another granddaughter, remembers similar stories. Jan said that Nina's younger sisters were especially saddened by the hasty marriage. They lost both their mother and older sister in less than a year.

    Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically

    1. Infant McLemore was born 3 Dec 1908, Sabine County, Texas; died 17 Feb 1909, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    2. Infant McLemore was born 10 Mar 1910, Sabine County, Texas; died 11 Mar 1910, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    3. Infant McLemore was born 25 May 1911, Sabine County, Texas; died 25 May 1911, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    4. Percy Lavell McLemore was born 11 Jan 1913, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas; died 30 Apr 1991, San Augustine County, Texas; was buried , Liberty Hill Cemetery, Bland Lake, San Augustine County, Texas.
    5. Viola Evon McLemore was born 6 Nov 1914, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas; died 18 Oct 2008, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried , Broaddus Cemetery, San Augustine County, Texas.
    6. Vessie Earl McLemore was born 12 Sep 1916, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas; died 30 Apr 1997, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried 2 May 1997, Thomas Cemetery, San Augustine County, Texas.
    7. Ira Ray McLemore was born 1 Dec 1918, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas; died 14 Feb 1991, Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County, Texas; was buried 16 Feb 1991, Liberty Hill Cemetery, Bland Lake, San Augustine County, Texas.
    8. 2. Living
    9. John Lynn McLemore was born 26 Dec 1932, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas; died 13 Sep 2007, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried 16 Sep 2007, Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.

  3. 6.  Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Jr.Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Jr. was born 17 Nov 1899, Jaqua, Cheyenne County, Kansas (son of Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Sr. and Wilhelmina "Minnie" Johanna Friederika Jesse); died 8 Mar 1998, Houston, Harris County, Texas; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.


         Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Jr.  was born in 1899 in a sod hut on the JC Ranch in Jacqua, Kansas. His father, Ben, Sr., had moved to Kansas from Michigan to work for his Uncle at the ranch, and had spent nearly 20 years working as a cowboy. Ben and his three older brothers and sisters were all born on the ranch. In 1901, the family relocated back to Cass City, Michigan, where they purchased a general merchandise store. Ben remembers working at the store as soon as he was old enough to see over the counter. They sold dry goods, groceries, shoes, and crockeries. Ben recalled that the customers just pointed out what they wanted, and it was the clerks job to go gather everything. "We really worked in those days" he said. He remembers making deliveries in a red coaster wagon or by horse and buggy. The horse was named Topsy. Ben said he was the only one of the children who helped his parent's in their store. His other brothers and sisters didn't want to have anything to do with it.

         In High School Ben was a star athlete. He was on the baseball, basketball, football, and track teams--four years each, earning a total of 16 letters. He even set several state track records. He graduated from High School during World War I. Fortunately, the war ended a only a few weeks before he was to report for military duty. He went to Kalamazoo College on a football scholarship. His team were the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Champions (MIAA) in 1919. The MIAA is the Nation's Oldest Collegiate Conference.

         Ben recalls that one of the games he played was against "the Gipper," who played at the University of Notre Dame. Born in 1895, George Gipp was a varsity athlete at Notre Dame from 1917 to 1920. While planning to pursue a career in baseball, he was convinced by legendary college coach Knute Rockne to play football as well. He led the Fighting Irish to a 27-2-3 record, playing both offense and defense. Several of his records still stand today. Gipp caught a throat infection during one of his final football games at Notre Dame. He died a few weeks later at the age of 25. Just before his death, he told Coach Rockne, "Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys - tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

         After a year of college, Ben returned to Cass City to help his parents with the store. He later went to work at the Nestle plant in Cass City. Nestles food had purchased the plant from Hires Milk company around 1922. This plant had been producing "sweetened" condensed milk in Cass City since 1917, employing from 50-100 persons with most of their output being exported. The plant had been  established at the urging of a group of local businessmen whose objective was to encourage and secure a milk processing plant to give the local farmers, almost all who had a small dairy herd, an easier way to dispose of their milk.

         While working in Cass City, Ben was on the "Ward's Independents" Basketball Team and they were 'Thumb Champions, Michigan' for the 1921-1922 season.

         A mutual friend set Ben up on a blind date with Avis Smith, a schoolteacher in a nearby town. This was in 1924. When he arrived to the boarding house to pick her up, she peeked over the balcony to check him out. She had made arrangements with a friend to watch for her signal. If Ben didn't pass muster, the friend was to inform him Avis was sick in bed. He passed with flying colors, however, and they drove nearly 20 miles for Chinese food.

         Around this same time, Ben enrolled in a dental technician's program in Chicago. He worked his way through school as a waiter at "Child's One Arm Restaurant." The restaurant was named for the tables the diner's each sat at, similar to old fashioned school desks.

         The following article about his studies appeared in the January 8, 1926 issue of the Cass City Chronicle "Ben Benkelman, jr., has completed his studies at the McCarrie School of Mechanical Dentistry at Chicago and is now assisting Dr. P.A. Schenck in the latter's dental parlors where he is gaining practical experience in his chosen work."

         Ben and Avis were married in August, 1926. Seven years later, on December 8, 1933, their only child, Bonnie, was born.

         Despite being born in the midst of the depression, Bonnie remembers an idyllic childhood. By lucky accident, her father withdrew their life savings from the bank the day before the great bank crash. He took out their savings to buy a winter coat and chair. When he returned to redeposit the balance, the banks had all closed. Ben remained steadily employed, running the dental lab for Dr. Pearl Schenck and then Dr. D.E. Rawson. He was employed by them for 42 years. The Benkelman's owned a house in Cass City, and a cabin in Caseville, on Lake Huron. Ben served on the village council for 11 years, and was twice village president (Mayor). He was never too busy for his daughter though. Bonnie remembers her father helping her, along with half the football team, with their math homework throughout high school.

         He was a charter member of the Cass City Gavel Club, and Past Master and Life Member of the Tyler F&AM lodge.

         When Ben was in his thirties, he went on a strict diet due to problems with his gallbladder. He abstained from sugar and fat for nearly 30 years. This, and his love of sports, probably contributed to his longetivity. He was able to play golf into his late eighties, and walked every morning and evening until he was nearly 96.

        Volume 26 of the STIFFLER-BENKELMAN BROADCAST, published on September 5, 1966, reported that Ben retired "after 40 years as a Dental Technician. He and Avis were going to spend the winter in Houston, Texas with their daughter and family."

        When the McLemore's were transferred back to Chicago, Ben and Avis moved onto St. Petersburg, Florida. They lived in a retirement community. They were to fulfill a dream when the visited Hawaii for their 50 wedding anniversary. They also enjoyed a Caribbean Cruise together. Ben had surgery for both kidney cancer and prostate cancer, both of which never reocurred. Avis died in 1981, and Ben lived in Florida for seven more years. After he suffered several minor strokes, he decided to move back to Houston, where the McLemore's had returned. This was around 1988. He lived in a retirement community on his own for several more years.

         Ben's biggest fear was that his mind would deteriorate before his body, and sadly this came to pass. Around 1994, suffering from senile dementia and Alzheimer's, Ben moved into his daughter's home. Here he was to live until he died from complications from pneumonia in early 1998. His daughter, Bonnie, and granddaughters, Melinda and Leigh were at his bedside when he died.

    Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically.

    He was one the family members BonnieMargaret Jacobs personally interviewed when preparing her history of the Benkelman family.

    (Medical):Cerebrovascular disease, chronic renal failure, Alzheimers disease, kidney and prostate cancer in remission

    Benjamin married Avis Augusta Smith 24 Aug 1926, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan. Avis (daughter of William Bertis Smith and Ida Alice Elliott) was born 4 Apr 1901, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan; died 7 Nov 1981, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan. [Group Sheet]

  4. 7.  Avis Augusta SmithAvis Augusta Smith was born 4 Apr 1901, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan (daughter of William Bertis Smith and Ida Alice Elliott); died 7 Nov 1981, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.


    Bert and Ida Smith had a neighbor named Tom Avis, whom they greatly admired. They vowed to name their first child after him, Tom if it was a boy, and Avis if it was a girl. This is how Avis acquired her unusual first name.Thomas Avis was a railroad agent in Odessa. His father was from England.  Her middle name, Augusta, was given to her in rememberance of her grandfather, Augustus Elliott.  LaVonne Bennett found the following "tidbits" related to the Avis family who was so admired by Bert and Ida Smith. In the Thursday, March 12, 1903 edition of the LAKE ODESSA WAVE newspaper, in a column titled 'Local Splinters': "Homer and Lola Avis were at Lansing Saturday, taking music lessons." The IONIA DAILEY STANDARD, dated April 8, 1909 notes that "Miss Lola Avis is home from Olivet College for Easter vacation." Lola and Homer were the children of Tom and Gertrude Avis, according to the 1900 census.

    Avis was an excellent student, and attended Michigan State University, as had her father.  Avis's degree was in Human Ecology (Home Economics). She had also studied chemistry, but said that she was told as a woman that she would not be considered qualified to teach this.

    In a letter Avis wrote to her oldest granddaughter, Melinda McLemore, after Melinda started college in 1978, Avis recounted her own experiences: "I can remember when I graduated--my Latin teacher wanted me to go to Western Michigan or Kalmazoo College in Kalamazoo, and I wanted to go. But my folks wanted me to go to M.S.U at East Lansing, about 12 miles from home. Then I could help in the store on Saturdays.  At the end of the first year, my counselor convinced me that the world was going scientific, and that I should return. I am glad that I did stay with science. But the college was so BIG. 2,000--Ha! I never felt completely at home on that big, sprawling campus." In a later letter she wrote: "The math would frighten me now-as it did when I was a freshman. I loved French. Had a native teacher."

    On June 2, 1925, the following letter was sent to Miss Avis Smith, Cass City, Michigan, from W.W. Warner, Superintendent of Saginaw, East Side, Public Schools:

    My dear Miss Smith:

    Since our interview I have learned from the present outlook at Central Junior High that we are quite likely to have a "Clothing" program in full or in part still unprovided for next year.

    I am inclined to think we can use you to advantage on this program. I am therefore enclosing you an appointment card. This carries a salary of $1475. By properly signing the card and returning it to this office, and you yourself retaining this letter as evidence of your appointment you will have a legal contract. Sincerely yours, W.W. Warner

    The following year, the Board of Education of Saginaw, Michigan once again employed Avis A. Smith as teacher in its public schools "....commencing September 1, 1926, and agrees to pay as wages for such services and work at the rate of $157.50 per month....."

    She was offered a renewal of her contract for the period of September 1, 1927 to July 1, 1928 under the same terms, but at the increased rate of $160 per month. However, she chose to resign at this time, perhaps because of her recent marriage. She received the following letter in response to her resignation:

    Saginaw Public Schools Office of the Superintendent Saginaw, Michigan

    August Twenty Second Nineteen Twenty Seven

    Mrs. Avis Benkelman Box 35 Cass City, Michigan

    Dear Mrs. Benkelman

    This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter resigning your position with us. I shall be glad to present this to the Board at our next meeting and have no doubt they will accept it. We are sorry to lose your from our school system and wish to thank you for your good work done in the past.

    Very sincerely yours,

    Harold Steele Superintendent

    Although she no longer taught, Avis stayed active and involved with education. She and several close friends from a social group for University Women were tireless volunteers. A pet project was the Rawson Memorial Library (endowed by the Dentist her husband worked for). Her support was remembered many years after she had moved away from Cass City. In a letter dated June 10, 1988 to Melinda Strong, acknowledging a donation made to the Rawson Library in memory of her grandparents, Barbara Hutchison, Director noted that "Your grandparents were indeed well known in Cass City and avid supporters of the library. Your grandmother served on the library board in the 1950's and 60's and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the outstanding library service that the community enjoys today. They would have been very pleased with the lovely library that we have now. " She also served as treasurer of the Cass City Chapter of the Michigan State College Alumni Association (Cass City Chronicle, Friday, Feb. 8, 1952, Page twelve, column six, M.S.C. Alumni Dinner.)

    Cass City Chronicle
    March 10, 1939
    Local Happenings, Page Four

    Mrs. B.F. Benkelman, Jr., and Mrs. Grant Patterson were joint hostesses at a dessert bridge Thursday evening in the Benkelman home on Woodland Avenue. Bridge was played at eight tables, honors being won by Mrs. Warren Wood, Mrs. A. Hesburn and Mrs. D.A. Krug.

    Avis and her husband, Ben Benkelman of Cass City, Michigan retired in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she died, November 7, 1981.

    Her obituary, as published in the St. Petersburg newspaper, follows:

    Benkelman, Avis A., 80, of 7901 40th Av. N., died Saturday (Nov. 7, 1981). Born in Lake Odessa, Mich., she came here in 1968 from Cass City, Mich., where she was a school teacher. She was a member of the Seminole United Methodist Church. Survivors include her husband, Benjamin F.; a daughter Bonnie McLemore, Barrington, Ill., and three granddaughters. National Cremation Society.

    Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically


    Per the Certificate of Marriage between Ben F. Benkelman and Avis A. Smith, the couple were joined in marriage at Grand Ledge, County of Eaton, Michigan, on the 24th day of August, A.D. 1926, in the presence of Wm B. Smith and Ida Smith of Grand Ledge (the bride's parents) as witnesses. The clergyman officiating was Ernst R. Lactham, Pastor of the Congregational Church.

    1. 3. Living

Generation: 4

  1. 8.  John F. "Finn" McLemoreJohn F. "Finn" McLemore was born 28 Dec 1853, Decatur County, Georgia (son of John McLemore and Sarah Morgan); died 12 Feb 1924, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    Finn's middle name could have been Fenton (based on a poll tax receipt from Jasper) or Finerel (based on the middle name of his son, Rufus) or Finn, as he was commonly called.

    At the time of the 1880 census, he was widowed, and living in the home of his in-laws with his young daughter.

    He was a farmer. On the 1900 Sabine County census, he is shown in household 22, next to the Henry S. White family, his wife's brother. Household 36 is that of Thomas E. McLemore, his half brother.

    Finn died in at the home of his son, Vessie McLemore. Vessie and Nina had been caring for him. Granddaughter Evon remembers she and some cousins going out into the woods to gather wildflowers for him while her father built a coffin. Her father and his brothers took the coffin by cart to the Gravel Hill cemetery a few days later.

    (Research):Census information:

    1880 Census
    Census Place:Precinct 3, Jasper, Texas
    Source:FHL Film 1255313  National Archives Film T9-1313
    Page 14 Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace
    J.F. MCLEMORE Self M W W 25 Texas Occ: Laborer Fa: AR Mo: GA
    Vilona MCLEMORE Dau F S W 7 M Texas  Fa: Texas Mo: MS
    Frances WIGLEY Self M M W 69 GA Occ: FarmerFa: VA Mo: VA
    Sarah WIGLEY Wife F M W 67 SC Occ: Keeping House Fa: SC Mo: SC
    Martha WIGLEY Dau F S W 31 MS Occ: At HomeFa: GAMo: SC
    Alexander WIGLEY Son M S W 25 Texas Occ: Printer Fa: GA Mo: SC

    1900 Census
    Texas, Sabine County, Pr 1
    Enumerated 5 Jun 1900
    SD 8 ED 68 Sheet 2A Stamped 93
    McLemore, John Head W M Dec 1853 46 M 17 Ga NC NC Farmer
    McLemore, Ruth T Wf W F Dec 1859 40 M 17 7/6 Tx Miss Miss
    McLemore, Vessie E Son W M Feb 1885 15 S Tx Ga Tx Farm Laborer
    McLemore, Rufus F Son W M July 1886 13 S Tx Ga Tx Farm Laborer
    McLemore, Earnest Son W M May 1887 13 S Tx Ga Tx Farm Laborer
    McLemore, Mellie Dtr W F Feb 1891 9 S Tx Ga Tx
    McLemore, Ira Son W M Jan 1896 4 S Tx Ga Tx

    1910 Federal Census
    Texas, Sabine County, JP 1
    Enumerated 16 Apr 1910
    SD 2 ED 131 Sheet 1B
    Milam Road
    McLemore, John F. Head M W 51 M2 26 Ga Ga Ga Farmer
    McLemore, Ruth T Wf F W 50 m1 26 8/7 Tx Ala Miss
    McLemore, Ernest E Son M W 20 S Tx Ga Tx Farmer
    McLemore, Mellie M Dtr F W 19 S Tx Ga Tx
    McLemore, Elvie R Dtr F W 16 S Tx Ga Tx
    McLemore, Ira W Son M W 14 S Tx Ga Tx Laborer Farm
    McLemore, Emma L Dtr F W 9 S Tx Ga Tx

    John married Rutha Triphene White 11 Dec 1883, Sabine County, Texas. Rutha (daughter of Henry Strickland White, Sr and Mary Etta "Polly" Vardeman) was born 27 Dec 1859, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 11 Jun 1939, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas. [Group Sheet]

  2. 9.  Rutha Triphene WhiteRutha Triphene White was born 27 Dec 1859, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas (daughter of Henry Strickland White, Sr and Mary Etta "Polly" Vardeman); died 11 Jun 1939, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    According to her obituary, Ruth White McLemore "slipped in her home in Hemphill, and fractured her left thigh on June 2nd.  She was carried to . . . hospital in Jasper (and then) transferred here to the home of her son, Mr. V.E. McLemore of San Augustine, where she passed away on June 11, 1939. She was born December 27, 1859 at Hemphill. She joined the Baptist church when a young girl and was a faithful Christian worker all of her life. She married to J.F. McLemore on December 13, 1883 and was the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls. Six children survive: namely V. E. McLemore, San Augustine; Earnest and Ira McLemore, Miss Mellie McLemore, and Mrs. Herman Commack of Gravel Hill, and Mrs. Mermon Speights of Hemphill. She is also survived by seventeen grandchildren and three great grandchildren. In addition to relatives, local people attending the funeral were: Mr. and Mrs. T.F. Read, Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Jacks, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Clark, Mr and Mrs W.F. Stephenson, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Burkhalter, Mrs. Rosalie Polly, W.L. Polly, Mr. and Mrs. Rob Horn, Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Mitchell, Mrs. E.M. Boyett, Theo Boyett and others."

    Melinda McLemore Strong has a maroon and white quilt made by Ruth circa 1880. At Ruth's death, the quilt was passed on to her daughter Millie. Millie added a calico border to the quilt edges which had apparently frayed. At Millie's death, the quilt was passed to her older brother, Vessie McLemore. After Vessie and Nina died, Evon McLemore Tisdale used the quilt. She later gave it to her niece, Melinda McLemore Strong.

    (Research):Triphene is a "pseudo-classical" name, often whimsically given to the third child in a family.

    1. 4. Vessie Eugene McLemore was born 1 Feb 1885, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 21 Jan 1952, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    2. Rufus Finerel McLemore was born 11 Jul 1886, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 3 Oct 1912, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    3. Ernest Edward McLemore was born 20 May 1889, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 7 Oct 1963, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    4. Mary Melvine "Mellie" McLemore was born 10 Feb 1891, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 16 Sep 1970, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas.
    5. Rutha Elvie McLemore was born 4 Dec 1893, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 19 Mar 1980, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas.
    6. Ira Henry Strickland White McLemore was born 29 Jan 1896, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 18 Jul 1970, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    7. Henrietta McLemore was born 28 Jan 1899, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 27 Mar 1899, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    8. Emma Lelee McLemore was born 22 Jul 1900, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas; died 12 Dec 1981, Harris County, Texas; was buried , Gravel Hill Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.

  3. 10.  Joseph Thomas FullerJoseph Thomas Fuller was born 4 Nov 1869, Malvern, Hot Springs County, Arkansas (son of John Brooks Fuller and Mary A. Watson); died 28 Nov 1950, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    At the time of the 1900 census, he was living between his older brother William and his wife's parents, John and Jane Fullen.

    The following obituary was published regarding the death of Joseph Fuller:

    Funeral services for Joseph Thomas Fuller, 81, were held at the Church of God at Rosevine, Thursday, November 30 at 2:00 o'clock. He died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Grover Eddings, in Rosevine on Tuesday, November 28 at 7:00 pm after a prolonged illness.

    Services were conducted by Rev. C.S. Singleton officiating and assisted by Rev. Clarence Howell. Burial was in the Rosevine cemetery under the direction of the Wyman Roberts Funeral Home.

    Mr. Fuller moved to Texas at the age of two. He was born at Malvern, Arkansas November 4, 1869. He was married to Alice Pointer March 27, 1917. He had been a member of the Church of God for the past 37 years.

    Surviving are: wife, Mrs. Alice Fuller; four daughters: Mrs. V.E. McLemore of San Augustine, Mrs. Grover Eddings of Rosevine. Mrs. O.H. Williams of East Bernard, Mrs. W.D. Cousins of Sarepta, LA; two step daughters Mrs. Denton Kerr of Houston, Mrs. Hamp Woods of San Augustine; three sons L.A. of Hemphill, Herman of Rosevine and J.S. of San Antonio, five step-sons: Enlow Birdwell of San Augustine, Estes Birdwell of Chinquapin, Oscar Birdwell of San Augustine, W.M. Pointer of Big Lake and M.B. Pointer of Corpus Christi;  23 grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, 29 step grandchildren, and seven great-great grandchildren.

    Pallbearers were: Dale Tisdale, Buddy Pointer, Fred Ellison, Elo Finderson, Henry Marshburn and Louis McDonald.

    Census Information:

    1900 Census
    Texas, Sabine County, JP 6
    Enumerated 9 Jun 1900
    SD 8 ED 70 Sheet 6B
    Fuller, Joseph Head W M Sept 1870 29 M 11 Ark Ark Ark Farmer
    Fuller, Ola Wf W F Feb 1874 26 m 11 7/6 Tx Tx Tx
    Fuller, Alonzo Son W M July 1890 9 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Nina Dau W F Nov 1891 8 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Price Son W M Feb 1894 6 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Brooks Son W M Mar 1895 5 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Ethel Dau W F Feb 1897 3 Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Bertha Dau W F Feb 1900 5/12 Tx Ark Tx

    1910 Federal Census
    Texas, Sabine, Precinct No. 6
    Enumerated 11 May 1910 Fred Berryman
    SD 2, ED 122, Stamped 148
    Fuller, Joe T Head M W 40 M2 0 Ark Ga Ga Farming
    Fuller, Blanche Wife F W 28 M2 0 4/4 Tx Tx Tx
    Fuller, Alonzo A Son M W 19 S Tx Ark Tx Farming At home
    Fuller, Price J Son M W 17 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, John B Son M W 15 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Ethel Dtr F W 13 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Bertha Dtr F W 10 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Tera M Dtr F W 8 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Herman Son M W 6 S Tx Ark Tx
    Birdwell, Vertie O Step Dtr F W 5 S Tx Tx Tx
    Birdwell, Oscar E Step Son M W 2 S Tx Tx Tx

    1920 Census
    Texas, Sabine County, Justice Precinct 6
    Enumerated 2 January 1920 by Jesse L. Mosley
    SD 326 ED 173 Sheet 1A
    Fuller, Joseph Hd M W 50 M Ark Ga Ga Farmer
    Fuller, Alice J Wife F W 35 M Tx Tenn Tex
    Fuller, Bertha L Dtr F W 19 S Tx Ark Tx Teacher
    Fuller, Tera M Str F W 12 S Tx Ark Tx
    Fuller, Herman J Son M W 16 Tx Ark Tx Farm Laborer
    Fuller, Jos S Son M W 8 S Tx Akr Tx
    Pointer, Edna A StepDtr F W 18 S Tx Tx Tx
    Pointer, Mannie Stepson M W 8 S Tx Tx Tx

    (Medical):arteriosclerosis, Rheumatoid arhritis

    Joseph married Viola "Ola" Fullen 22 May 1889, Sabine County, Texas. Viola (daughter of John W. Fullen and Jane Allen) was born 29 Feb 1872, Sabine County, Texas; died 1 Mar 1907, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , McMahan's Chapel Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas. [Group Sheet]

  4. 11.  Viola "Ola" Fullen was born 29 Feb 1872, Sabine County, Texas (daughter of John W. Fullen and Jane Allen); died 1 Mar 1907, Sabine County, Texas; was buried , McMahan's Chapel Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.


    Evon Tisdale gave Melinda McLemore Strong a brown dress with black ribbons that had belonged to Viola. It is in very fragile condition.

    Her tombstone is inscribed "Resting in Heaven"


    J.T. Fuller and Viola Fullen were married by S.D. Harp, J.P. Beat No 6, Sabine County, Texas on May 22, 1889. A copy of their marriage certificate was filed on the 8th day of June, 1889 by W.T. Arnold, County Clerk for Sabine County.

    In his "Farm Corner" column (clipping not dated), Joe Combs wrote:  "Recently (I) had the pleasure of meeting Lonzo A. Fuller of Hemphill. He was at the desk of Otis A. Fullen, president of the Security State Bank. The thought occurred that changing the last letter of either name would change the name to either Fuller or Fullen. Being a little curious a few questions were asked, and it developed that Mr. Fuller and Mr. Fullen are related. "Yes," said Mr. Fullen, "we came from the same stock. In fact, Mr. Fuller's great grandfather was also my great grandfather. Right there the Fullers and the Fullens got mixed up in such a way that most of them in the Hemphill region are kinfolk." Mr. Fullen explained further that one of the families often became enamored of one of the other families, and a marriage took place. The fact that only one letter of the alphabet had to be changed to make the bride's name fit that of the groom's may or may not have had its influence upon courtships. Mr. Fuller is a builder in the Hemphill region, and also does some farming. He said that his great grandfather was somewhat of a builder also. He says the first house ever built in Sabine County that had a brick chimney was built by great grandfather Fuller sometime about 1840.  "That old house just wouldn't fall down," says Mr. Fuller, "and fire finally had to get rid of it. And as proof of the quality put in brick chimneys of that day, the old chimney is still standing as a silent reminder of a day that is gone." Note: Since John Fuller didn't move to Sabine County until 1870, it is most likely that it was Lonzo's other great grandfather John/James? Fullen who built the above mentioned house in 1840...proof that those pesky "n's" and "r's" are indeed easily confused.

    Joe and Viola Fuller had eight children before Viola died in 1907. Joe married twice more, to Blanche Birdwell (a widow with children). Blanche and Joe had two children of their own before she died.  Joe's final marriage was to Alice Pointer, also a widow with children, in 1917. He and Alice were married for over 30 years until his death.

    1. Alonzo Alkony Fuller was born 1 Jul 1890, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 20 Dec 1967, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas; was buried , Hemphill City Cemetery, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas.
    2. 5. Nina Ophelia Fuller was born 15 Sep 1891, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 8 Jul 1980, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.
    3. Price Joseph Fuller was born 16 Feb 1893, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 21 Nov 1912, Sabine County, Texas.
    4. Brooks John Fuller was born 1 Mar 1895, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 31 Dec 1918, Sabine County, Texas.
    5. Ethel Arlie Fuller was born 11 Feb 1897, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 12 Aug 1981, Sabine County, Texas.
    6. Bertha Lena Fuller was born 23 Jan 1900, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 3 Apr 1989, Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas.
    7. Tera Mary Fuller was born 13 Jan 1902, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 19 Sep 1988, Waco, McLennan County, Texas; was buried , Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas.
    8. James Herman Fuller was born 17 Dec 1903, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas; died 4 Aug 1970, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas; was buried 6 Aug 1970, Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas.

  5. 12.  Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Sr.Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Sr. was born 24 Sep 1863, Bowmansville, Town of Lancaster, Erie County, New York (son of Johann Adam Benkelman and Anna Catharina Schaufele); died 7 Sep 1952, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.


    Bonnie-Margaret Jacobs writes that "Ben Benkelman accompanied his parents to Denver in 1880,  where his oldest brother George Adam Benkelman married Mary Barbara Rommel. Ben did not return to Cass City with his parents, choosing to instead try his hand at the ranching business. He went to work for his uncle and brother as a cowboy. The Benkelman ranching operations were on the border between Nebraska and Kansas, near the Colorado state line.

    The Benkelmans shipped many cattle out of Collinsville, Nebraska. On one drive to ship cattle in 1882, they were honored with the removal of the Collinsville sign and the installation of the Benkelman sign. It is still known as Benkelman, Nebraska today. Benkelman Township, in Cheyenne County, Kansas is also named for the family. Cheyenne County was surveyed in 1873-1874 following the signing of an Act by Governor Osborne creating a number on new counties. It was opened for enrollment in 1885. The census at March 1, 1885 gave the population at Cheyenne County at 204, with at least 15 of this number associated with the Benkelman Ranch. A year later, the population was 1256.

    The Benkelman men were industrious and hard working. They were well respected in the community. The biggest challenge they faced were the extremes in weather.

    In September, 1885, the T Wrench Ranch has 15,000 head of cattle. The winter of 1886 was a complete diaster for the Benkelmans. Only 125 head of the 15,000 survived. But the family continued to stay on their feet.

    In 1893-1894, there were 18 months of absolutely no moisture. Feed was scare and had to be shipped in.  All the inhabitants of Cheyenne County were in trouble, and people moved out of it in droves. After this, the ranch was turned over to Ben Benkelman. The rest of the family removed themselves from the ranching business."

    Below are excerpts from letters written by Ben, while he was working as a ranch hand, to a cousin in Cass City, Michigan. The original letters are owned by the family of Ben's grandson, Bob Benkelman, and the transcriptions below were done by Bonnie-Margaret Jacobs.

    8-xx-1880 Republican River, Wallace, Kansas. Branded 3600 head of cattle and will start tomorrow to brand 2500 more for Tony.

    11-5-1880 George went to Denver about three weeks ago for the winter. I'm in the line camp, and it's living like a mole in the ground. Wakened this morning with snow on my bed. Write to me at the new post office in Wano.

    3-17-1881 Haven't seen a girl in four months. There was a dance about 50 miles from here and about 20 of us cowboys went.

    9-22-1881 Wano. Plenty of work here now. Just got back from shipping beef and then go again the first of October.

    1-xx-1882 Wano. Buffalo is getting scarce, but there's still lots of antelope. You come in the fall when we ship beef and then you could go to Chicago with the cattle. More railroads coming through here now. About 30 miles from here is the station called Benkelman. It is the B&M railroad and will go straight from Denver to Chicago.

    6-6-1883 Benkelman. Had a dance at Atwood, Kansas just before I cam here from the ranch. Some girls live 25 miles down river. The mail is 22 miles away, so I go see the girls then pick up the mail on my way back.

    1-5-1884 Went to school one day and teacher said I could come back, but I'm too busy.

    2-3-1884 We're going to a dance on the 22nd, and there will be some girls there. Don't worry because we're not as bad as the Idaho boys.

    3-xx-1884 Soon I have to gather 100 head of cattle which are on the range all winter.

    4-25-1884 There's a dance tonight--the last before we start work. Going South to the Arkansas River this summer for 2 or 3 months. George was here from Denver a few days ago. The cook is setting dinner.

    8-xx-1884 Back from the Arkansas. Have been stopping along the trail where Texas cattle are coming up. I was there to keep them from our range. Aunty is down from Denver, and doing so much talking I can't write. I bought 50 head of yearlings for $15.25 each.

    10--18-1884 Steers worth $30 to $40 a head. There's antelope here and plenty of turkeys but buffalo are scarce. Wages are just fair, $25 to $50 a month. We've got all beef steers shipped now.

    12-xx-1884 Staying alone now with no work except taking care of a few horses and cooking. It's boring here, but I make up for it when I go for the mail--12 miles from here.

    7-8-1884 Building a sod stable 84 x 15. Will have 5,000 head of cattle to brand, and it will take 5 days. On the 4th, I went to Wano and it was no fun so I went on down river 3 miles, but missed the young folks. It was 4 0'clock and I didn't want to miss the fun on the holiday so started for the city of Benkelman which is 20 more miles. Had a big dance, but had to ride 30 miles home the next day. Went to Denver 3 weeks ago. Got there about 8 p.m. and we spent the evening principally on Holiday Street. Guess what they do on Holiday street!

    [Dick Fischbach informed me that:   " Holladay Street (note correct spelling) was the site of early Denver's notorious red light district, replete with crooked gambling dens, cheap saloons, dance halls, cribs and expensive brothels.  Anything cowpunchers wanted was available on Holladay Street.]

    1-xx-1885 All alone this winter, but only have to cook, eat and sleep. I'm burning coal so there is no wood to chop. I have 2 horses to ride. It's 12 miles to the nearest girl.

    4-27-1885 Benkelman. Atwood, Kansas is about 60 miles from here. The area is settling up fast now. Farmers coming every day and taking up land. The cattle will have to leave. The range is getting too small for those large herds. I take care of 120 head of horses. I duck hunt because there's lots of ducks now.

    11-25-1885 Wano. Got back yesterday from Sturgis and had a good time there. So many girls! (Note: Ben married Minnie Jesse of Sturgis on the JC Ranch in 1892).

    1-7-1886 Snow is a foot deep on the level. I'm cooking for the boys now. It's o.k. until warm weather. Wish I'd stayed in school.

    2-9-1886 Two of the boys have started for the Arkansas River to look of cattle that have gone down there. 200 head of horses to feed here every day--about 2 tons a day. That's exercise, and gives me appetite, so I'm at 175 lbs now.

    4-18-1886 Went down to Benkelman last week for 2 days and had a good time. We're moving cattle up west to Colorado. Kansas is getting too thick for cattle now. Some nice, fat gals moving in now.

    1-7-1887 Wallace. Traveling and staying near Wallace. Riding around town to town watching the farmers to keep them from killing our cattle. I'm working for $40 a month and all expenses.

    7-7-1887 We're out on the range with 15-20 men in camp every night. We have a good time singing and playing. Address your next letter to Wallace, Kansas.

    9-12-1888 We're shipping cattle to Chicago. Soon we'll be done then head back to the ranch for the winter. Send your next letter to St. Francis.

    11-xx-1888 Cousin George took the cattle to Chicago this year.

    1-xx-1889 I'm living alone this winter. Burning coal. There's no wood to chop. Went to Wano to help decorate the Christmas tree.

    3-xx-1889 Had a job offer of $35 per month. George and I are making a ditch to water our crops. Intend to keep some cattle and horses. Not as good a county for farming as Cass City. Butter is 8 cents, eggs 6 cents a dozen, potatoes $1.00. No girls! They all know me to well!

    3-5-1889 I'm tired of cowpunching. We had a fun election for county seat. St. Francis won by a 290 majority.

    7-xx-1889 We put up 30 tons of ice. Ice cream every Sunday! Cut 45 acres of alfalfa. I'm thinking of going further west. It's getting too crowded here.

    12-xx-1890 Jacqua. I harvested potatoes and got $1.75 a bushel. Corn is 60 cents a bushel. I have 140 head of hogs and 130 head of cattle.

    Around 1901, Ben relocated back to Cass City, Michigan, where he owned and operated a general store. In was also reported, in the February 18, 1913 issue of the Cass City Chronicle, that he and P.H. Muck had completed arrangements for the purchase of the stock of general merchandise and the leasing of a store building at Colwood from C.D. Andrews.

    Ben closed his store in Cass City in January, 1924. Ben and Minnie summered in Florida, traveling there each year by train. They also built a cottage in Caseville on the lake.

    He was active in the affairs of the community of Cass City, with numerous mentions of his activities in the "Local Happenings" column of the Cass City paper. A few of these are shown below:

    Cass City Chronicle
    December 4, 1908

    Notice to Taxpayers

    I will be at B. F. Benkelman's store Cass City, to collect the taxes of Elkland township on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

    J. A. BENKELMAN, Treas.

    Cass City Chronicle
    January 19, 1917

    B.F. Benkelman was re-elected as secretary to the Cass City Telephone Company.

    Cass City Chronicle
    Local Happenings
    January 26, 1917

    B.F. Benkelman, Edward Pinney and M.B. Auten are among the visitors at the auto show at Detroit.

    Art Peck wrote, in error, that Ben was a Studebaker dealer until 1928 and that he also he worked for E.B. Schwaderer. It was actually Ben's eldest son, Harold, who was the Studebaker dealer and Schwaderer employee.

    Cass City Chronicle
    December 24, 1920

    All the members of the B.F. Benkelman family will be home for Christmas. Miss Mae, a teacher at Sebewaing came Wednesday; Benj. a student at Ypsilanti, came Thursday; Miss Ruth a teacher at Berwyn, Ill., Friday; and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Benkelman of Sandusky Friday.

    Ben Benkelman Senior's obituary appeared in the CASS CITY CHRONICLE on Friday, September 15, 1962:

    Final Rites Held for B.F. Benkelman, Sr.

    Benjamin F. Benkelman, Sr. 88, last of the family of Adam and Christine (sic) Benkelman, died Sunday in his home following a long period of failing health, just shortly before his 89th birthday. Funeral services were held Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Douglas Funeral Home. Rev. S.R. Wurtz of Salem Evangelical U.B. Church officiated and burial was in Elkland Cemetery.

    Mr. Benkelman was born Sept. 24, 1863, in Bowmansville,  N.Y. and came to Michigan at the age of four years with his parents. He was a rancher in Kansas from 1880 to 1901 and operated a general store her from 1901 to 1924.

    He retired from business after selling his store. Among his hobbies were traveling with his wife and fishing.

    He was a director of the Cass City State Bank for 30 years.

    At St. Francis, Kansas, on Dec. 26, 1892, he married Miss Minnie JESSE of Sturgis, Mich., who survives. Also surviving are three daughters, Mrs. E.T. BALL (Ruth) of Pottersville, New Jersey; Mrs. W.J. CARPENTER (Mae) of Farwell, and Mrs. James PEASE (Lois) of La Grange, Ill.; two sons, Harold and Ben, of Cass City; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

    (Research):1900 Census Cheyenne County, Kansas Jacqua Township

    #112-#112 Benkelman, Ben Head W M Sep 1868 M 7 yr Born NY, parents born Germany, R&W, Speaks English, Owns Farm, no mortgage
    Benkelman, Minnie Wife W F Sept 1875 4 Children all living born MI parents Germany, R&W, Speaks English
    Benkelman, Ruth D W F July 1894 Kansas
    Benkelman, May D W F May 1896 Kansas
    Benkelman, Harold S W M Nov 1897 Kansas
    Benkelman, Bengman (sic) S W M Nov 1899 Kansas

    1910 Census, Michigan, Tuscola County, Elkland Twp, ED 113, Cass City Village
    Enumerated 13 Apr 1910
    SD 8, ED 113, Sheet No 5 B

    Benkelman, Benjamin Hd M W 46 M1 17 NY Germany Germany Retail Merchant Groceries
    Benkelman, Mary (sic) Wife F W 44 M1 17 5/5 Kansas Germany Germany
    Benkelman, Ruth Dtr F W 15 Kansas NY Kansas
    Benkelman, Mary Dtr F W 13 Kansas NY Kansas
    Benkelman, Harold SOn M W 12 Kansas NY Kansas
    Benkelman, Benjamin F Son M W 10 S Kansas NY Kansas
    Benkelman, Lois J Dtr F W 5 Mich NY Kansas
    Benkelman, Birtha Niece F W 22 Mich NY Mich Bookkeeper Implement Store

    (Medical):Kidney failure, Senility

    Benjamin married Wilhelmina "Minnie" Johanna Friederika Jesse 26 Dec 1892, St. Francis, Cheyenne County, Kansas. Wilhelmina (daughter of George W. Jesse and Maria Johanna Elisabeth Klevsaat) was born 27 Sep 1865, Sherman Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan; died 18 Jun 1961, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan. [Group Sheet]

  6. 13.  Wilhelmina "Minnie" Johanna Friederika JesseWilhelmina "Minnie" Johanna Friederika Jesse was born 27 Sep 1865, Sherman Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan (daughter of George W. Jesse and Maria Johanna Elisabeth Klevsaat); died 18 Jun 1961, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.


    An undated clipping (circa 1955) from the BAY CITY TIMES about Minnie reads:


    Cass City--Although she will celebrate her 90th birthday anniversary next month, Mrs. B.F. Benkelman, of Cass City (above) is deeply engrossed in a new hobby. She has taken up painting as a pastime and finds it a happy way to keep busy. Like the famed Grandma Moses, Mrs. Benkelman waited a long time to begin painting. She started when she was 87 years old. A busy woman all of her life, Mrs. Benkelman says she finds it hard to just sit still. She balked a little over attempting her first painting but her interest quickened with her first picture and now she is at her easel each morning. She rests in the afternoon. Her hobby resulted because of a present from her daughter, Mrs. J.E. Pease of LaGrange, Ill. Mrs. Pease presented her mother with a painting set which included a canvas blocked off in numbered areas and paints numbered for each section. She delayed getting started but once the project was underway she found it enjoyable. That was two years ago. And it was also her last numbered painting. Since then she has been composing her own pictures and has turned out some 25 canvases. She won't sell a painting but she will give them away. Most have been claimed by her family and friends. She has a few hanging at home.  Her painting she says is entirely for her own enjoyment. Her easel is set up on a card table in her living room and she paints while sitting down. She says she gets her ideas from photographs and magazine pictures. Using the basic idea, she then develops her own picture. She recalls that as a youngster she tried painting but did not pursue it since her folks thought it a waste of time. She also recalls that she liked to draw pictures when she was a school girl. For her paintings she likes outdoor scenes best. Mrs. Benkelman will celebrate her 90th birthday anniversary on Sept. 27. She was born on a farm near Sturgis and lived in Kansas for 10 years before coming to Cass City in 1902. Her husband's parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Adam Benkelman were among the pioneer settlers of Cass City. Her husband, a retired general store operator, died three years ago. Her two sons and three daughters are all planning to be with her for her approaching birthday celebration. They are Mrs. E.T. Ball of Pottersville, N.J.; Mrs. May Carpenter of Farwell; Mrs. Pease; and H.L. Benkelman and B.F. Benkelman, both of Cass City.

    Great granddaughter Melinda McLemore Strong has an 8 by 10 oil painting of a lakeside pasture in her home in San Antonio, Texas. (2003).

    A similar article appeared in the Cass City Chronicle, as follows:

    Cass City Chronicle
    Friday, May 7, 1954
    Volume 49, Number 2
    Page One

    Judging by the amount of beautiful paintings, afghans and other works she turns out, Mrs. Ben Benkelman, Sr., 88, accomplished more than many persons half her age.

    For example, in the last year, Mrs. Benkelman has knitted an intricately designed tablecloth, several small items, painted the picture shown above and another larger picture that is framed and hanges on the wall in her home.

    In addition, she writes regularly each week to her three daughters, Mrs. Ruth Ball, New Jersey, Mrs. Lois Pease, Illinois and Mrs. Mae Carpenter, Michigan.

    She writes and signs all her own checks and keeps continually busy on her varied projects.

    Minnie's obituary, also in the Cass City Chronicle, dated Thursday, June 22, 1961:

    Minnie Benkelman Dies at 95

    Cass City lost one of its eldest citizens June 18 with the death of Mrs. Minnie Benkelman, 95, in Stevens Nursing Home. Mrs. Benkelman had been ill for some time. She was a patient in the nursing home for several weeks.

    She was born Wilhelmina JESSE in Sturgis, Sept. 24, 1865 and married Benjamin F. BENKELMAN in St. Francis, Kansas in 1892. They came to Cass City in 1901, lived at 1454 Maple Street and remained here until their deaths.

    Mr. Benkelman ran a general store until his retirement in 1924. He died in 1952.

    Surviving are three daughters and two sons: Mrs. E.T. BALL (Ruth) of Pottersville, N.J.; Mrs. Wilmot CARPENTER (Mae) of Farwell; Mrs. J.E. PEASE (Lois) of LaGrange, Ill,; Harold and Ben of Cass City. Other survivors are four grandchildren and nine-great grandchildren and one sister, Mrs. Augusta BUCHOLTZ of Sturgis.

    Funeral services were held Wed. at 2 p.m. in the Douglas Funeral Home. Rev. S.R. Wurtz of Salem E.U.B. church, of which Mrs. Benkelman was a long time member, officiated and burial was in Elkland cemetery.

    1. Ruth Benkelman was born 26 Jul 1894, St. Francis, Cheyenne County, Kansas; died 31 May 1972, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida.
    2. Florence Mae Benkelman was born 8 May 1896, St. Francis, Cheyenne County, Kansas; died 19 Dec 1989, Stuart, Martin County, Florida; was buried , St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida.
    3. Harold "Sime" Leroy Benkelman was born 27 Nov 1897, St. Francis, Cheyenne County, Kansas; died 8 Apr 1981, Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.
    4. 6. Benjamin Franklin Benkelman, Jr. was born 17 Nov 1899, Jaqua, Cheyenne County, Kansas; died 8 Mar 1998, Houston, Harris County, Texas; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.
    5. Lois Jane Benkelman was born 18 Jan 1905, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan; died 9 Mar 1989, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.

  7. 14.  William Bertis SmithWilliam Bertis Smith was born 20 Jun 1868, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan (son of Benjamin Franklin Smith and Mary Ann Welch); died 24 May 1940, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan; was buried , Lakeside Cemetery, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan.


    According to Avis Smith Benkelman, her father, "William Bert Smith left the Catholic Church when he married. He attended Michigan State University, where he took agricultural courses. He worked as a dairyman in Odessa Township, Michigan. He later owned and operated "Farmer Smith's Dry Goods" in Grand Ledge."

    Bert's residence at the time of this death was 501 Taylor in Grand Ledge.

    The May 31, 1940 edition of the GRAND LEDGE INDEPENDENT printed the following obituary:

    W.B. Smith, One-time Merchant Here, Dies

    William Bert Smith passed away at the family home on Taylor Street, Friday morning after a week's illness. He lacked a month of being 72 years of age, having been born in Odessa Township, near Lake Odessa, June 20, 1868. Surviving are the widow, Ida, and two daughters, Mrs. Ben Benkelman of Cass City and Miss Ilo Smith of Lansing. The body was taken to Peters & Otto Funeral Home where services were held Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev. A.R. Gold officiating. Interment was made in the Lake Odessa Cemetery.  Mr. Smith was well and favorably known in the city, where he had lived for a long time. He conducted a General Store in Grand Ledge for 22 years and was known as "Farmer Smith." After selling that out, he was employed in the highway department of the state for 15 years. He was affiliated with the Odd Fellow and Rebakah organizations and had been active in both for many years.

    And in the June 6, 1940 edition of THE LAKE ODESSA WAVE-TIMES a similar item ran:


    William Bert Smith, a resident of Lake Odessa about 40 years ago, died at his home in Grand Ledge on May 24. He was born in Odessa township on June 20, 1868. He is survived by the widow, Ida, and two daughters, Mrs. Ben Benkelman of Cass City and Miss Ilo Smith in Lansing. The funeral was held on the Sunday following, and interment ws made in Lakeside cemetery here. During the last few years of his residence in Lake Odessa he was in the retail milk business. He conducted a general store in Grand Ledge for 22 years and was known as "Farmer Smith." After selling that business, he was employed in the highway department of the state for 15 years. He was affiliated with the Odd Fellow and Rebekah organizations and had been active in both for many years.

    (Both copies are courtesy of LaVonne Bennett)

    The following Indenture was "made this fifteenth day of December in the year of our Lord 1937 between Avis A. Benkelman and Ilo C. Smith, as their sole and seperate estate of the first part, and William B. Smith and Ida A. Smith, husband and wife of the second part, Witnesseth, That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of One and More Dollars to them in hand paid by the said parties of the second part, the receipt of whereof is hereby confessed and acknowledged, do by these presents grant, bargain, sell, remise, release, and forever Quit-Claim unto the said parties of the second part, and to their heirs and assigns, Forever, all that certain piece or parcel of land situate in the City of Grand Ledge in Ingham County and State of Michigan, known and described as follows: Lot Two (2) of Block Fifty Eight (58) on Lamson's Addition to the City of Grand Ledge, Michigan according to the recorded plat thereof.  Together with all and singular the hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining: to have and to hold the said above described premises to the said parties of the second part, and to their heirs and assigns, to the sole and only proper use, benefit, and behoof, of the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, Forever. In Witness Whereof, the said parties of the first part, have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first written above. Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of Mrs. Carl Plato, J.M. Hoag." It appears that although Bert and Ida transferred their home jointly to their daughters, they continued to live in it, at least until Bert's death in 1940. It is assumed that Avis and Ilo eventually sold their parents home, as neither returned to live in Grand Ledge after graduating from college.


    Census Listings:

    1900 Census Michigan, Ionia County, Odessa Twp 5 June 1900
    Smith, Bert W Head W M June 1868 M 2 yrs  Born Mi, Parents born NY MI Dairyman Rents farm
    Smith, Ida Wife W F Dec 1867 M 2 years, Mother of 0 children born Ohio, parents VA, PA

    1910 Michigan Census, Eaton County, Oneida Township
    Taylor Street
    Elliott, Agustus Head M W 70 M1 49 years Born VA Parents born GB/Irish Occupation Real Estate
    Elliott, Sarah Wife F W 74 M1 49 years Mother of 7 children, 4 living Born PA, both parents PA
    Elliott, Charles M W 41 single Does not read or write
            -161 Smith, William Head M W 42 M1 12 years Born Mi, both parents MI  Occupation: Merchant
    Smith, Ida Alice wife F W 43 M1 12 years, Mother of 2 children
    Smith, Avis A D F W 9 years born MI
    Smith, Ilo D F W 3 years born MI

    1920 Census Michigan, Eaton County, Oneida Township 15 Jan 1920
    501 Taylor Street
    #357-366 Elliott, Augustus E Head M W 81 M Born VA Parents born Ireland (Irish)
    Elliott, Sarah A Wife F W 86 M  Born PA, both parents PA
    #358-367 Smith, William B Son in law M W M Born MI, Father born NY, Mother Canada/English Occupation: Merchant, General Store
    Smith, Ida Alice Dtr F W 53 M
    Smith, Avis A G/D F W 18 years born MI
    Smith, Ilo G/D F W 13 years born MI

    1930 Census Michigan, Eaton, Grand Ledge, ED 16
    501 Taylor Street
    Smith, William B Head O 4500 M W 62 M@31 Mich Mich Mich Sign Dept Mich State Highway Employed Not a Veteran (Owns Radio, Not living on a Farm)
    Smith, Ida A Wife H F W 64 M@32 Ohio Va Pa No Occupation
    Elliot, Charles W Brother in Law M W 62 S Ohio Va Pa No occupation

    William married Ida Alice Elliott 11 May 1898, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan. Ida (daughter of Augustus E. Elliott and Sarah Ann Cramer) was born 13 Dec 1866, Seneca County, Ohio; died 27 Jan 1946, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan; was buried , Lakeside Cemetery, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan. [Group Sheet]

  8. 15.  Ida Alice ElliottIda Alice Elliott was born 13 Dec 1866, Seneca County, Ohio (daughter of Augustus E. Elliott and Sarah Ann Cramer); died 27 Jan 1946, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan; was buried , Lakeside Cemetery, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan.


    THE LAKE ODESSA WAVE, MI, Thursday, January 31, 1946, front page:

    LOCAL NEWS - Mrs. Ida Smith died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Avis Binkelmen (sic) at Cass City, Sunday evening.  She was the widow of W. B. Smith who died four years ago. They were Lake Odessa residents about 40 years ago.  Mrs. John Herbert and Mrs. Albert Hodges of Ionia are sisters of the deceased.  Funeral serives were held at Grand Ledge, Wednesday.  Burial was in Lakeside cemetery here.  Mr. and Mrs. John Herbert, Mrs. Cevilla Souder, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Herbert and Dr. and Mrs. Otis J. Robinson attended the services." (Courtesy of LaVonne Bennett)

    1. 7. Avis Augusta Smith was born 4 Apr 1901, Odessa Township, Ionia County, Michigan; died 7 Nov 1981, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida; was buried , Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan.
    2. Ilo Katherine Smith was born 30 Apr 1906, Grand Ledge, Eaton County, Michigan; died 9 Mar 1974, Tuscon, Pima County, Arizona; was buried 12 Mar 1974, Tmp South Lawn Crematory/Adair Funeral Home, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona.