Monday, January 21, 2013

Shirlie's Tmeline

Growing up, the only thing that I knew about my Dad’s grandparents was a photograph that sat in my Mom’s den on the shelf.  It was a very simple dual metal frame that had a picture of a man and woman.  The man had a prodigious mustache and nice head of hair and the woman had a rather sad look on her face.  Later I learned that their names that their names were Ulpian Grey Johnson and Shirlie Louisa Pope.  When my parents took my grandmother back east – We found a whole lot more about at least Shirlie Pope’s family.
Ulpian - Date Unknown
Shirlie - Taken abt 1904

As Mom and Dad traveled back east, one of their goals was to stop off in Minnesota and see my Grandpa Frank’s sister, Nan.  She was living in a nursing home and suffering from dementia.  However, when my grandmother walked into the room, she both remembered my grandmother and seemed to enjoy visiting.  I remember meeting Aunt Nan briefly when I was a little girl.  I think Grandpa Frank brought her to Lewiston to see our family when she had come back west for their sister’s funeral (Mary).  My Mom was in the hospital at the time and I was probably about eight years old.  Sadly, my grandfather died several months later.  That visit was probably the last time that my grandmother and Nan had seen each other…so my grandmother was quite anxious to see Nan and visit with her family.  The oldest of Nan’s children had were of a similar age to my father and his older two sisters, so I think the families were fairly close when they still lived back in North Dakota.  One of the things that my parents and grandmother’s visit produced was a collection of letters that had been written between Nan and her grandfather, Winslow Lonsdale Pope.  These proved to be a real revelation.

Mom and I had no idea who Shirlie Pope’s parents were.  Back then, the census records weren’t that readily available, especially the 1900 census.  Shirlie was born on 14 Jul 1881 in Vermont, so she wasn’t in the 1880 census and we had no idea who her parents were or where she was born.  These letters between Nan and her grandfather was a treasure trove of information.  Mom and Dad got copies of these letters and between the three of them, they read them through.  Then they called me on their cell phone and told me a few items that they were able to figure out from the letters.  They now knew that Shirlie’s father was Winslow Lonsdale Pope and that he was married to a woman named Sue and that he had two step daughters.  They also figured out that he lived in Massachusetts.   With this information, they asked me to see what I could find…and so I began my search.

The internet was still pretty basic back in those days but I was still able to post queries on several sites.  Within a few days, I got a reply that told me that Winslow Lonsdale Pope was the son of Francis Pope and Belinda Willey and gave me information that gave me several other generations back.  I called Mom and Dad back and they were just about to Niagra Falls, NY…and had already passed through Vermont and New Hampshire.  They had actually stopped at a historical site that was in tribute to a Charles Pope.  Unfortunately for them – he had no connection.  His family had just arrived a generation before.  Mom and Dad were in the exact area that Shirlie had been born and raised and as they put it, if they had yelled out the door while going through town they might have come across a cousin.

Nancy Lyons Pope - Taken abt 1898
It was exciting to break down that brick wall and learn more details about Shirlie Pope and her family.  It turns out that Winslow Lonsdale Pope first married Martha Rutherford and they had four children and only two of them survived infancy.  Martha became sick one day with severe pains in her stomach and neck and slipped into a coma and died four hours later on 27 Jul 1877.  Winslow didn't remarry until 19 Mar 1881 to Nancy Ann Marie Lyons.  Within a few years, Winslow and his wife travel to Iowa with their small family.  They left Winslow’s son behind because by that time he was a young man and wished to stay behind.  He would have been about 14 or 15 when they left.  They traveled first Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA where Winslow’s daughter Viola died in 1892 of consumption.  By 1900, they are living at Sioux Valley Twp, Jackson Co., MN.  Shirlie is not recorded with her parents in this census (and I've never been able to locate her).  I have thought she must have been working outside the home at this point was recorded in another household as a servant.  In 1902, Winslow and Nancy lose another daughter, this time to diphtheria (Mattie Winnova Pope) in Sioux Valley, Jackson Twp., MN. By 1903, the family is living in McLean Co., ND because Shirlie marries Charles A. White and Winslow has land.  It must have been a very difficult few years that followed Shirlie’s marriage.  She and Charles White had two sons: George b. 9 Jul 1904 and Elmer b. 6 Aug 1906.  While pregnant with Elmer, Shirlie lost her mother Nancy Ann Marie Lyons Pope to consumption on 30 May 1906.  In late April of 1907, Shirlie’s husband was involved in trying to fight a prairie fire when he came home and collapsed and died less than a week later.   Shirlie remarried two years later to my great grandfather and they had five more children, one who died at birth.  Shirlie died just a few years later of pneumonia on 14 Apr 1927.
I have only located Shirlie in one national census – that of 1910 when she was recorded with Ulpian, her two sons and young daughter.  I've never been able to find her in the 1900 census and I've never located the family in 1920 census.  Dad thinks that they were down on the Missouri breaks and thinks that they family was probably never counted.  I've seen her on a state census for North Dakota in 1925.

Shirlie's family - Taken abt 1927 -
L - R- Ulpian,  Nan, Frank
Audrey and Mary up front
I've always thought that Shirlie’s face looked sad in that old photograph.  When you look at the timeline of her life, she faced a lot of tragedy.  She saw one sister fade away with consumption and another died of diphtheria and then lost her mother to consumption not too long after that.  Only a year later, she lost her husband to the effects of smoke.  After her remarriage, I don’t think that life was easy as it was a time of little work and prosperity – but she had to find a way to make it work because she had her two sons and three more children to take care of.  In 1919, she had another child who she lost either at birth or shortly afterwards.  She and Ulpian had one more daughter when she was 41 years old.  Just four years later, she died herself of pneumonia.  There was little information to find about her and by the time Mom and I really started looking – not too many people we could ask.  It took a long time to discover the timeline of Shirlie Pope’s life…and a packet of letters sure helped us unravel her family’s ancestry.

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