Friday, May 22, 2020

Nancy and Iola Bass, Muskogee, Oklahoma 1910's

The writing on the back reads:
Nancy Bass
Iola Bass
Daughter of
Z.H. Bass"

Nancy Jane Skinner was born in Meigs County, Tennessee in 1872 to parents Seaborn and Adaline Skinner. Nancy's father died before she was 7-years-old, leaving her mother to care for five children. In 1880, Nancy's 14-year-old sister Tennessee, her 12-year-old brother Samuel, and her 10-year-old brother Madison all have “farming” listed as their occupation. Nancy and her 5-year-old brother, James, may have been considered too young to work.

In 1900, Nancy is living in Bloomington, Illinois with her brother Samuel and his family. She is 27 and working as a housemaid. Also living in Bloomington at the time is Zephniah H. Bass, a 26-year-old blacksmith living as a boarder. Though they were unmarried and lived separately, Nancy and Zephniah had two daughters together. Their first child, Iola, was born in 1896 in Illinois and their second, Annabel, was born in 1899 in Missouri. The girls went to live with their grandparents, Robert and Millie Bass, along with their uncle Robert, on a farm in Cedar, Missouri. They came back to their parents after Zephniah and Nancy’s marriage in 1901. Zephniah became a successful blacksmith in Bloomington, and in 1903, the Freeman Newspaper noted his partnership with a Mr. Browning, "a wealthy white blacksmith of the city." Their cards read: "Browning & Bass, horseshoeing and plow works, carriage and wagon repairing."

Zephniah Bass's advertisement in the Muskogee Times, 1907
In 1910, the Bass family is living together in Muskogee, Oklahoma, right next door to Nancy’s brother, Madison, and his family. Zephniah has gone from blacksmithing to quickly become a successful veterinary surgeon and dentist. Nancy became a member of the Francis W. Harper Club, an African-American women’s service club named for writer Francis Ellen Watkins Harper. Nancy often hosted club meetings at the Bass home, where the ladies engaged in literary discussion and shared embroidery and crochet work. Iola and Annabel attended Manual Training High School, or M.T.H.S, the first high school in Muskogee for black students. In 1916, Dr. and Mrs. Z.H. Bass invited the entire M.T.H.S. Senior Class to an evening of whist at their home. Iola graduated in June but returned that fall to teach at the high school. She went on to teach at both the Langston and Douglass elementary schools in Muskogee.

In 1927, the Sedalia Democrat announced the marriage of Iola Mae Bass to George Reynolds of Sedalia, Missouri in Chicago, where the couple continued to live after the wedding. George worked there as a bell boy at a hotel while Iola stayed home to be a "homemaker." George and Iola were married 12 years before they divorced in 1939.  Iola married again in 1942, this time to George Winfred Halliburton, a pharmacist and the owner of the Emporia Drug Company. As far as I can tell, Iola never had children.

It was a little harder to follow her sister Annabel's story, which I lost track of after she appeared in the 1922 Muskogee directory as a dressmaker. I did find an Anna Bell Bass who married a Herman Lampkin in Jackson, Missouri in 1929, though the age given on her marriage records is 24. In 1929, Annabel would have been 30.

Dr. Zephniah H. Bass died in 1940 at age 67. Nancy passed seven years later at age 75. Sadly, Iola only outlived her mother by a few years, passing away in 1952 at the age of 55. Iola and her parents are buried together in Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia, Missouri.

If you know who this family may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Ruby Davis, Dallas, Texas 1900's

Ruby Dee Davis was born August 1890 in Italy, Texas, to parents Nancy Fleming and Daniel Davis, a farmer from Tennessee. She was their youngest, with four children having come before her: Effie, Mary Lee, William Thomas, and Daisy. Their grandfather, David Fleming, also lived with the family. By 1910, Ruby and her sister Daisy were the only Davis children left living at home.

Though not labeled, I believe this photo is of Ruby
and her older sister Daisy.
1915 was a complicated year for 22-year-old Ruby. She was married that year to Daniel F. Stellman, who worked on a dairy farm with his twin brother, William. The Stellman brothers were born in Kentucky to German immigrants. On his WWI draft registration card, Daniel is described as having brown eyes and black hair- he is also marked as being "physically unfit," though they don't give any further details.  That same year, in March, Ruby's only brother William died at age 36.  The next year, in 1916, Ruby lost her father to tuberculosis.

In 1920, Daniel was working at Bluff View Dairy Farm as a "milker." Daniel and Ruby had no children and lived together at their home on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas. Also living on Lemmon Avenue at the time was a man named Ed Halbert. Ed eventually moved in with the Stellman's as a lodger while working as a clerk in a phonograph store. Ed must have become close with the Stellmans. On his 1941 draft registration card, Ed listed "Miss Ruby Stellman" as someone who would always know his address. This makes sense considering the addresses given for Ed and Ruby are the same- 6919 Lemmon Avenue. Ed has also given his occupation as being self-employed at a dairy. Photos of Ed and his family were found with these photos of Ruby, and I will tell more of his story in a later post.

Daniel Stellman died in 1948 at age 73 after suffering from "Bright's Disease". By this time, Ruby's sister, Daisy, had moved in with them, perhaps to help out as Daniel's health declined. Daisy had never married and Ruby was now widowed. The two moved into a house together at 6634 Forest Park in Dallas. As far as I can tell, they lived together until Daisy's death in 1969.

Ruby Davis Stellman passed away in February 1978 at age 88.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!