Monday, October 04, 2010

A little bit of Family Heritage

I've written before about my paternal grandmother, Dorothy Scott. She was born in Michigan in 1904 and died in California in the early 1990s. It was she who willed me the box with many old family photographs I've put up here. Looking among old papers I found a letter she wrote to me as a teenager with many old family details. As a child I felt fairly alienated from my extended family: my mother's parents were long gone and her brothers and their families all lived far from us. My father had been close with neither his own father nor his mother's extended family so we didn't really have frequent visits with relatives. I asked my gramma for some information on my roots, this would have been in the 1970s, and I was lucky enough to receive this letter with all sorts of genealogical details.

The first section was a bit about my father's family. Considering how badly my grandfather treated her I was surprised to read fairly objective facts, though key parts of the narrative ommitted some crucial details. I'll leave all that for a future post on my father's paternal lineage.

The rest of the letter is filled with facts and details. By way of offering up a bit more internet immortality to these long-gone ancestors here's a big portion of my grandmother Dorothy's letter:

"My mother, Eudora Kimble Scott, was the only child (she'd had a baby brother who died in infancy) of Alice Holmes Kimble and Ransom E. Kimble. The Holmes family (my great grand-parents were farmers near Vicksburg, Michigan. As a child I remember older people saying I resembled my great-grandmother whose name was Emily Holmes amd it was for her I named my kitty! Incidentally all the Holmes-Kimbles-Scotts seem to have been quite long-lived. Somewhere I have a photo of my sister Ruth as a baby being held by her (also my) mother surrounded by 6 grandmothers! Let's see these were Grandma Kimble, her mother Emily Holmes and Grandpa Kimble's mother ___ Kimble then Grandma Scott, plus her mother ____ Decker and grandpa Scott's mother ____ Scott.

"Grandpa Ransom Kimble's family were Pennsylvania Dutch who pushed westward and became Michigan farmers just south of the little town of Vicksburg where I grew up. They retired by the time my mother was high school age. They sold the farm, bought property and built their house in Vicksburg. They invested their farm sales money in property in Vicksburg: a couple of stores and houses which brought them income during the remainder of their long lives. Grandpa died in his 70s, Grandma Kimble at 80.

"They lived only 1 1/2 blocks from us as we (my 4 brothers 3 sisters and I) spent many happy hours, days, sometimes at their lake cottage, weeks with them. I remember sitting on my grandpa's lap in front of this big coal stove listening to his tales of their first years in Michigan when much of the country was still forest. He knew many Indians, even one Indian chief (Pottawattamies I think ) all friendly apparently and from whom he learned much lore. My mother Eudora (who was always called Dora and for whom I was named) was born July 19, 1872. She went to high school with my father...

"My paternal grandmother, Maria Decker Scott, was born in 1844 and died in 1932 in Vicksburg. I'm not sure where the Deckers came from, a fairly large family. They lived in Indiana...I once knew her brother Alf Decker who moved to Montana, also his sister Mina who we knew as children. (Emily keeps walking across my papers so the cat hairs are gratis!)

"My grandfather Scott's family came from Yorkshire, England. In fact he may have been born there. William Woodhead Scott b. 1844, died in Vicksburg Michigan in 1918. When he was a child they came west to Ontario, Indiana, where they established prosperous woollen mills. He had brothers and sisters, I think. Young William joined the Union Army during the civil war. He became a captain. (After the war he gathered a lot of regalia: uniforms, swords in sheaths, beaded epaulets and such which we children used to dress up with, swords and all, and parade up and down the block!)

"As his vocation he chose to be a dentist and came with his wife (Maria) and his son, my father Clinton, and his daughters, my Aunt Clara to Vicksburg, which was then just a 4 corners with few buildings to set up what became a very successful practice. They built quite a large house with 'elegant' furnishings and became important as the village grew. He helped (with his hands) to build a church -- congregational -- and my father and aunt helped haul stone for it with their team of spotted ponies. He was quite a student -- self taught -- used to give steriopticon lectures of the Holy Lands for church and civic groups... Always on Memorial Day he led the parade and delivered the address of the day at the cemetary while the hundreds of townspeople including all the town's children trudged along carrying our armloads of flowers to put on veteran's graves.

"My father, Clinton Robert Scott, b. 1870 d. 1937...decided to be a dentist like his father, so went to Ann Arbor was graduated a DDS...They lived first in Schoolcraft Michigan, then Marcellus, where I was born, and then in 1906 moved to Vicksburg where my father practiced for the rest of his life.

She lists her siblings Ruth, Florence, Robert, William W., Lynn, Rollo and Frances. "... Interesting enough (and disappointing to my father) it was his four girls who sought and self-financed college educations. Dad would have paid expenses for the boys (though how he would have done it, I don't know. We had a good home but no money) but the boys weren't so inclined."

Though I've been to Michigan many times I've never been to Vicksburg, or to St. Joseph where she lived with my grandfather Horst after their marriage. I hope the people who live in their houses in Vicksburg today, assuming they're still standing, are nice people. Anyway, I don't believe as the Mormons do that I need to convert my departed ancestors to my own religion, but I do believe in thanking them earnestly for the lives they lived, and the steps they made that allowed my own life to be.

(Calendar at top from the office of Clinton R. Scott, Dentist, Marcellus, Michigan; my great grandfather, showing my grandmother's older siblings Ruth, Robert and Flo; 1899. The caption under the photo reads, "Dr. Scott does all our dental work." Bottom photograph shows my grandmother in 1926, the year before she married my grandfather.)


  1. wowsah! What a treasure trove of information! Everything I know about my family is what I remember from hearing my grandmother, my mother and aunt talking, and what I've gleaned from the massive amount of papers I have. I would love to have had a handwritten family remembrance like this, putting it all in perspective, You're blessed, and I don't mean that in a religious way. The calendar is very cool and that photo is gorgeous!

  2. Thanks Casey. My grandmother was incredibly photogenic. Now that I think of it though, not a single photo of her with my grandfather has survived! That was apparently a divorce from hell.