Friday, April 15, 2016

The Reubenites, part 5: The Twins

As we carry on constructing the descendants of James Callin, I'll be updating the Page "Project: Revising the CFH" (linked in the "Pages" section on the right, if you're on a desktop). If you're new to the blog, that should help give you some context. Right now, we're looking at the descendants of James Callin's great-granddaughter, Mary Ferguson and her husband, Reuben McNabb. 


The Civil War was three years in the past, and the United States was still putting itself back together. In the spring of that year, the House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson, and the Senate later acquitted him of their charges. On July 28 the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution legally (if not actually) guaranteed African Americans full citizenship and equal protection in the United States due process of law. It was also an election year, which would see Ulysses S. Grant win the White House.

But on 17 October, the family of Reuben McNabb would grow by two as his wife, the former miss Mary Ferguson, gave birth to twins: Marcus Ebenezer and Martha Jane. The twins would have been a year old when their nine-year-old sister, Eliza, died in the fire recorded in the Callin Family History. They would have been very small when their eldest brother, George (the CFH calls him Washington) went back to Indiana to marry. And they were very young when Martha got married.

Martha Jane McNabb was sixteen years old on 26 June 1885 when she married Hiram Warner Sheren (1859-1923). This was a full year before her older sister, Nancy Ellen, was married.

Martha and Hiram had a son the following August, and named him Barnie. In March of 1891, Martha had another son, Robert Ray, but she soon died, and by 1893 Hiram had married Cora May Sanborn (1871-1952). Hiram and Cora had four more sons and three daughters. (Since Martha's two sons were direct descendants of James Callin, I'm only including them in this post. If the family asks me to, I'd be happy to share whatever information I can find about the other siblings.)

     1. Barnie Sheren (1886–1966) started out working as a pressman, operating a printing press for the R Smith Printing Company in Lansing, Michigan. He and Hazel Belle Field (1888–1970) were married 30 October 1909 in Lansing, and in 1910, they were living with her parents on Logan Street.

By 1914 the couple had moved to Hornell, in Steuben county, New York; this is where their daughter was born. Barnie accepted a commission in the 4th Infantry of the New York Guard in 1918, and transferred to the 4th Battalion of the Michigan Army Reserves in 1920. Barnie took a job managing a Standard Oil station, which is where he was in 1924.

Barnie and Hazel divorced in September of 1925. The records don't say precisely what happened, of course, but Hazel married Raymond R Rittgers that same month, according to a Michigan marriage record (which listed her name as Hazel Sheren and indicated her parents' names). This marriage was short-lived, however, as Hazel remarried to James Thomas Prentiss Eddie (or Eddy - records vary) in January 1928.

Barnie married Doris in February of 1926, and they divorced in 1931. He married Edith Morrison (1888–1962) in 1933. In the 1930s, Barnie became a grocer, and he and Edith lived in Lansing until they died in the 1960s.

     a. Thula Irene Sheren (1914–2005) was born in May 1914 in Hornell, New York, and she was named after her aunt (her father's half-sister, who lived from 1904–1987) Thula married Robert Henry Wright (1907–1982) and they had a son and a daughter who are still living. Thula and Robert were both buried in the Lakewood Cemetery in Holland, Ottawa county, Michigan.

     2. Ray Robert Sheren (1891–1960?) is another puzzling individual. Hiram and Cora and four children appear on the 1900 Census. Barnie (age 13) and Ray (age 9) are clearly older than the 7 years that Hiram and Cora had been married at that time. Also, the 1900 Census asks women how many children they have had, and how many are living (to track infant mortality rates); Cora's responses are that she had 3 children, and 2 living, which would be Verda (age 4) and Glenn W.W. (age 9 mos.). This is how I concluded that Ray must have been Martha Jane McNabb's son.

From this point, while I have a few records, they may or not be related to the same Ray Sheren, as the name appears "Ray Robert" or (most often) "Robert Ray" and the birthdate varies. For the sake of this post, I'll assume that they are our "Ray" from the Census.

First, there are World War I and World War II draft cards to consider. The WWI card lists Ray Robert Sheren, born 17 March 1889 in Michigan, residing in Washington DC. The WWII card lists Robert Ray Sheren, born 17 March 1892, residing in Detroit.

The 1940 Census lists a Robert R Sheren, age 47 (so, about 1893), married to Genevieve C. Sheren, age 40, and living in Detroit. Genevieve's 20 year old son, Bruce C. Merritt, is also listed in the household as Robert's stepson. Further research indicates that Genevieve Cornell married Kenneth T. Merritt in 1918, and they had their son Bruce Cornell Merritt in 1920, then divorced in the late 1930s.

Next, there is a Wayne county, Michigan, divorce record for a Robert R and Hazell Sheren. (Detroit is located in Wayne county.) This record is dated 26 April 1937, and says the couple was married 13 August 1929 in Ohio. For all my different searches, I could not find any Census records for 1920 or 1930 that might have stitched this story together, but there are a few U.S. City Directories results that show Robert either by himself or with Hazell or Genevieve in Detroit during their respective marriages.

My best guess from all of this is that Ray moved out of his father's home as soon as he was old enough, went to Detroit, and found work as an assistant chemist (according to a 1910 City Directory). He then found himself in Washington DC during the years of the Great War, and returned to Detroit in the 1920s. I suspect he met and married Hazell while he was living in Detroit, but married her in Ohio for reasons unknown. Then, after their divorce in 1937, he married Genevieve, and while it is hard to say from the evidence whether they stayed married for long, the last trace I see of Robert is from the U.S. Social Security life claim he filed in 1959 (which, incidentally, listed his birthdate as 17 March 1894).

Marcus Ebenezer McNabb lived either at home with his parents, or roomed with one of his brothers until he was thirty years old. He worked as a machinist to support himself. His twin sister and his mother died within a few years of each other (1891 & 1895), and it was only after that he married Sarah Elizabeth McKelvey (1874-1905) on 5 November 1898.

Marcus and Elizabeth had a baby boy in October of 1899 who was stillborn. But the following October, they had a little girl, Thelma Ruth. Another daughter, Dorothy, followed in 1903, but after the birth of their third little girl in 1905, Elizabeth died on 27 April.

I haven't been able to find records that piece together what happened next, but the next appearance of this McNabb family is in 1920, when teenagers Dorothy and Delores appear in the household of their uncle, James M. McNabb.  Marcus himself died in 1937, after being struck by a car. I assume that he must not have remarried, but I can't find them in the 1910 Census to say whether they all stayed together, or if the girls stayed with Marcus's siblings.

     1. Thelma Ruth McNabb (1900–1989) was only five years old when her mother died, and I don't know any more than that about her childhood. She married George Reeder (1893–1938) on 27 October 1921 in Reed City, Osceola county, Michigan. George was a veteran of World War I, enlisted in June of 1918 in Michigan's 85th Division.

The couple had three children, a son and two daughters, before they divorced in 1937. George hanged himself the following year, according to the Michigan Death Records database, and he was buried in Reed City. Thelma had remarried on 28 May 1937, wedding Fred Kenneth Bailey (1898-1952). They two daughters in 1939 and 1942, but divorced in 1947. Fred died a few years later. Thelma married a Mr. Beall, and she was buried under that name in the Fairplains Cemetery in Grand Rapids after her death in 1989.

     a. George Melvin Reeder (1924–1990) enlisted in the Army during World War II, serving from 24 March 1943 until 16 February 1946. I am pretty certain he married and raised a family, but I can find no records or obituary, so I will reach out to whomever I can find in Ancestry and Find-a-Grave to see if they would like to share more information.

     b. Arlene Ellen Reeder (1925–1993) was born on 14 December 1925. She would have been 11 years old when her parents divorced, and 12 when her father died. She married in February 1944, and had three children when she divorced in 1950. As far as I can tell, her first husband and their children are all still living. She remarried a Lester Lee Tritten (1925-2002).

     c. Thelma Elizabeth Reeder (1934–2014) was only four years old when her father died, and her mother was already married to Fred Bailey. She appeared on the 1940 Census as "Thelma Reeder," but when she married Raymond Earl Davis (1933-2001) in 1952, her name appeared as Thelma Elizabeth Bailey. She and Ray had two daughters and a son, who are still living.

(I'll note here that her obituary and some other information I have seen says that Thelma's parents were Herbert and Thelma (McNabb) Crandall; the only information I was able to find in the available records says that a Herbert Crandall died in Michigan in 1939 - which could mean I have some updates to make here in the future.)

     d. Karen Kay Bailey (1939–2010) married twice; both husbands are still living. She had two sons and a daughter, also living, and the Social Security Death Index lists her as Karen Kay Allison.

     e. Marcia Suzanne Bailey (1942-2002) married Gail H. Christensen (1939–2009), and they had a son and a daughter, still living.

     2. Dorothy V McNabb (1902–1994) appeared in the 1920 Census with her sister, Delores, living with their aunt and uncle, James and Helen (Sider) McNabb. Dorothy worked in a factory as a machine operator. In 1930 and 1940, she lived with her cousin, James and Helen's daughter, Mabel McNabb Hyde, with her husband Clarence and their family. In 1940, Dorothy's occupation is listed as a punch press operator. I imagine that with her work experience, Dorothy may have been among the millions of women who ran the factories during World War II. She lived to be 92 years old, and died in Grand Rapids, where she was born.

     3. Delores R McNabb (1905–??) seems to be another McNabb mystery. First, like her aunt Martha, Delores married at the age of 16. Her husband was 26-year-old Edward Manuel Wortinger (1895-1969) on 25 October 1921; they divorced in 1923. I don't know if this is related to the reason they parted, but in 1930, Manuel was serving a sentence in the Upper Peninsula State House of Correction and Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan.

There is some confusion in the records, but I think it's safe to say that Delores married John C. "Jack" Visser (b. 1905) in January 1924, and they were only married for about a year. Then she married Edwin B. Briggs (1898-1950) on 9 November 1925. I don't know what happened from here; Edwin appears in the 1930 Census listed as "single" in his widowed mother's household, and there are no more records to tell me any more about Delores.

Another user on Ancestry lists a son for Delores, a Patrick J. McNabb (1922-1988); but while records do show a man by that name with those birth/death dates, and they list his mother as "Ruth D Wortinger," his father is listed as a Patrick F McNabb. It's plausible that he is Maneul Wortinger's son, and that the person filing the paperwork in 1988 didn't know that, but I will need to keep digging to prove the connection to my satisfaction.

There are at least another dozen people still around in the next generation; and many of them have grown children and grand-children. So perhaps there are more answers to be found.

I hope so!

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