Friday, September 11, 2015

My Grandma's Aunt Becky

My maternal Grandma's father Art McGrath had two sisters, Mary Rebecca and Arminda Ruth.  They were both older than him by 17 and 15 years respectively.  For most kids, their first cousins are their first playmates.  In my Grandma's case, her playmates were more likely her "first cousins once removed", or her first cousins' children who were closer to her same age. 

Born February 12, 1859 in Fulton County, Illinois, Aunt Becky's obituary gives a good account of her early life:
Mary Rebecca McGrath Smith was born in a sod house on a farm near Canton, Fulton County, Illinois, and passed away August 22, 1935, having reached the age of 76 years, 6 months and 10 days. 
At the age of 10 years she moved with her parents to Bradford, Stark County, Illinois and with her parents at the age of 16 years, moved to Henry, Marshal County, Illinois.  
On July 28, 1880, she was united in marriage to William Dixon Smith, at Henry, Marshal County, Illinois, and started house keeping on a farm near Whitefield Corners, Illinois, where they resided until they moved to a farm near Eldorado, Clay County, Nebraska, where they made their home for 35 years living in Stockham since then.  Mr. Smith passed away May 8th 1935.

William Dixon Smith was born October 15, 1854 in New York City.  His father, Edward Smith, was killed by a falling tree while working timber in Canada when William was young.  

Some basic information on the eight children of William and Rebecca:

Elizabeth Jane, born January 16, 1882 in Marshall County, Illinois.  She eloped with Fred Rath in 1900 at age 18.  They had one daughter, moved to Los Angeles, California by 1937 and were divorced by 1940.  She died at 83 years old on August 24, 1965 in Los Angeles and is inurned in the Chapel of the Pines, Fireside Sanitarium.  

Andrew Dixon, born September 14, 1883 in Marshall county.  He married Alvira Averill, who had one son.  He died March 25, 1937 at age 53 and is buried in the Stockham Cemetery.

Clara Ethel, born October 29, 1887, the first child in the family born in Clay County, Nebraska.  She married Harry Harter, had one son and died at the age of 32 in 1927.  She is buried in Stockham.

Gertha Mable, born October 24, 1889, she died on August 3, 1890 and is buried in Stockham.

Laura Arminda, born March 19, 1891, likely named after her aunt Arminda Ruth.  She married George Coats in 1909, and they had five children. She died at age 83 on July 13, 1974.

Alden Earl, born November 20, 1892.  He married Doris Gellatly in 1917, they had two daughters and later divorced.  He died on January 2, 1962 at age 69 and is buried in Stockham.

Albert Arba, born September 29, 1894.  He married Stella Detamore. They didn't have any children.  At age 82 on August 20, 1977 he died and is buried in the Giltner Cemetery.

Cecil Osha, born July 13, 1897.  She married Reynhard Bird in 1916.  They lost one infant son in 1917 and had two more children.  They lived in Los Angeles and later in Olympia, Washington.  She died March 27, 1987 in Aurora, Nebraska.  They are buried in Mills and Mills Memorial Park, Tumwater, Washington.  

Family called her "Aunt Becky", her name in early census records is listed as "Rebecca" and later years as "Mary R.".   Her parents were John McGrath and Rachel Jane Simmons, and I believe she was named after her father's mother, though I only have one document with his mother's first initial to give me that idea.  

In 1935, both W. D. and Mary R. died and were buried in the Stockham Cemetery just southeast of Stockham, Nebraska.  They were survived by six of their children, 11 grandchildren, two great grandchildren, her brother and sister and many nieces and nephews.

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