Waller and Montgomery County Stories Generally
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Contact: Nick Wallingford - firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Nick Wallingford
6 August 2008
A month or so ago, I started to learn more about Martha Wallingford...
At that time, I knew very little - she was one of T.G.'s daughters by his first wife Evaline Debell. I knew she'd married someone named Day, and that there had been a couple of children, and that T.G. had worked to get those children a share of their mother's estate early in the 1900s, presumably because Martha and her husband were both dead.
With the help of Arthur Moore, and a lot of census and death certificate fossicing, I've come to a pretty good understanding of this line of our family, and I'm going to try to summarise it all here...
Martha C. Wallingford, mostly known as Mattie, was the first of the Wallingford clan to be born in Texas.
T.G. and Evaline moved from Kentucky to Texas in about December 1855, about a month after his mother Mary Guinn Wallingford Ruggles died on 2 November 1855.
Mattie was born 13 April 1856 - Evaline would have been about 4 months pregnant with her for trip south! The Bible entry makes a point of adding "in Texas", as it would have been pretty significant to the family.
Though there is no real evidence, it seems possible/likely that she was named after T.G.'s only younger sibling, Martha A.E. Wallingford, who had married Patrick Clark before the family had moved to Texas. Martha died about 1853. At some point, and certainly before 1860, Martha and Patrick's child Martha Palmyra Clark had come to live with the Wallingfords in Texas.
Mattie was living in the family in 1860, when they were shown in Hempstead Precinct, Austin County, Texas.
In fact, they were in a place called Retreat at this time. Retreat is (mostly was...) about 6 or 7 miles north of the Fields Store area, up what is now Texas 362.
We don't have anything specific to her in her first few years. There were a heap of births and deaths in her early years - in the 1860s and early 1870s, from the time Mattie was 4 until she turned 17, she had 5 brothers and sisters born, and there were four children dead. Just before she turned 14, her mother Evaline died, too. The ornate pencilled entry of Evaline's death, the only entry presumably in T.G.'s own handwriting, is particularly poignant.
So she was still living in the household for the 1870 census, just a few months after her mother died. The family is shown in Grimes County, using the Coatney Post Office. I've not been able to place Coatney, where they are living, but believe it to still be in that Retreat area. Mattie, at 14, is shown as the oldest child left, "keeping house" for T.G. and 4 younger children. Also in the household is Martha (Palmyra, or "Pally") Clark, T.G.'s 21 year old niece who had come to live with T.G. and Evaline after her own mother, T.G.'s sister Martha, had died in the early 1850's.
We do know that Mattie got married to Robert F. Day on 19 March 1876 - that one is recorded in the Wallingford Bible as well as having been properly registered with the newly established Waller County.
Robert was the son of James W. Day and one of his 3 wives, Rachel Bryson. He was born 7 August 1851 in North Carolina, and came with his father and others in the family (including his brother Bryson, who was about 18 months younger) to Texas probably before 1870. I say 'probably' because I can't find any of them in the 1870 census for sure, though the father James sure seems to be the one in this record - age, birth location match, and it is only a very short distance from T.G. and his family.
Notice on that last census who the next door neighbor for the Day's was - Drury H. Field. Both D.H. Field and James W. Day originally donated the land for what would later be known as the Fields Store Cemetery!
Now comes a slightly confusing set of family connections - typical in this Fields Store area! James' sister Sarah Day, an aunt of Robert who married Mattie Wallingford, was the mother of Lewis Melvin Moore, Sr - who married Mattie's sister Eliza ('Lide'). But wait, there's more... Another of Sarah's children was Martha Euphemia, who married Robert's brother Bryson! So without doubt there are complex relationships between the Wallingfords, the Days and the Moores...
So Mattie and Robert settled down, presumably in this same area close to T.G. and the rest of the family. They had their first child, a boy they named Dudley D., on 5 April 1877. It got recorded into the Wallingford Bible, of course.
This is the first grandchild for T.G., but sadly nothing else is known, not even how long the child lived - no recording of his death was made in the Wallingford Bible. He would have almost certainly been dead before the age of 3, as he is not shown in the 1880 census with Mattie and Robert.
By that 1880 census, Mattie and Robert had their second child, Annie Edna, who had been born 28 November 1878. Notice that two other of T.G.'s children - Robert Thomas and Annie Debelle, are living with Mattie, as well - she may have left home, but that didn't end her taking care of her younger brothers and sisters!
Robert and Mattie's third and last child was Edwin Lee Day, generally known as Lee, who was born 2 January 1881.
lived in Indiana. T.G. had written to Hiram's son John in September 1883, and based on what Hiram wrote to T.G. in February 1884, I believe Mattie - and very likely Robert - both died between September 1883 and July 1884.
They were both dead by July 1884, as that was when T.G. went back up to Kentucky to marry Annie Tucker - and on that trip he arranged for his children to receive a small inheritance from their mother's side of the family. T.G. wasn't able to sort out the matters for Edna and Lee Day, as they were not yet 'of age' to do some of the legal dealings - T.G. worked through those with a lawyer nephew in Kentucky in 1900.
So we have nothing on the death of Mattie. Her death was recorded in the Wallingford Bible. We don't have dates or reasons, and we don't even know for sure where she is buried. It is very likely she was buried in the Fields Store Cemetery, but the grave was either not marked, or the record of the burial was lost over time.
According to records of the Day family compiled by Sarah Day Moore, Robert Franklin died in August 1894. Again, we have no record of cause, or where he was buried.
Edna would have been only about 5 when her mother died. We don't know for certain, but it seems likely she continued to live with one or the other of the families in the area, very likely such as Lide and Melvin Moore, or perhaps even with her father on his own.
She and Lee both appear in the family photo of T.G. and his grandchildren. Based on which children are in their photo and estimates of their ages, I believe this to have been taken about 1897. Edna is just behind T.G., Lee to the right of her wearing a bow tie. So far as I know, that is the only family photo that we have of either Edna or Lee.
In 1900, Edna was living in the household of her aunt Annie and her husband Reuben Boulware, along with their five children.
(Just to keep it all in context, notice that Bessie Campbell, my maternal grandmother-to-be, was a 14 year old girl in the house next door...)
T.G. was paying the taxes on some land owned by Edna and Lee Day in 1900. This was presumably the land he had conveyed to their parents (25 acres in the Subal March Survey) in March 1878.
We don't know exactly when, but probably around 1905 or so Edna married James Nelson, and they began to have children. By 1910, I'm fairly certain that they had moved to Call, in Newton County - over near Jasper, in East Texas. James was a carpenter, and they had two young children Johnie (2) and Ruth (1 1/2). There's a bit of confusion, as the census shows Johnie to be a boy - though all later records have her to be female!
About 1917 the family moved to Houston, where they would remain. By 1920, they had two more daughters and a son, giving them a family of four girls from 12 down to 6 (John Lee, Ruth, Margarite and Sallie, and the only son James who was 4 5/12 at that time. Father James was a carpenter in R.R. Shops - I'm thinking that would be railroad. They were living at 7714 Avenue B South in Houston (just north of Harrisburg Blvd) in a house that they owned, though with a mortgage.
1930 found Edna and James living in Houston, at 7721 Baltimore, with children Johnnie N. (the daughter, now 22), Sallie (16) and James (14). It is unclear where Ruth (who would have been 20) or Margarite (who would have been 19) - they may have died between 1920 and 1930, or they may have gotten married. This house on Baltimore is only a couple of blocks from the one they were in in 1920.
I've nothing more on Edna until her death on 9 October 1948. At that time, she was still living at 7721 Baltimore. She was 69 years old, and her husband James was still alive at this time. She died of myocarditis, an inflamation of the heart muscle. She died at home.
It seems reasonable to believe that Lee was also raised by family members in the Fields Store community like his sister, and probably in the same households. Before he was 20, however, he had moved into Houston, living in a rooming house at 407 Capitol Street - just south of Harrisburg Blvd, beside Eastwood Park. Though he is listed as a day laborer, I think it is possible he was studying architectural drawing at this time - it later became his life's occupation.
1920 involves a bit of guesswork. I had found Edna in 1920 on Avenue B, but had never been able to locate Lee. Then, by chance on an adjoining page, I found the entry for "Edward" Nelson - I'm almost certain it is in fact Edwin Lee (right age, right birth locations for him and his parents, etc). And he is a draftsman in an archetect's office. He is married to a woman named Sada L., 9 years younger than him. They were sharing a house with another couple at 7827 Avenue C South, one block from his sister Edna.
By 1930, Lee was living with a different wife, Nancy L. He was a contract architect, and they were living at 6007 Sherman in a house that they own. Notice that is still very much in the same neighborhood where he as been pretty much since 1900, and his sister Edna since 1917.
Again, as there are no census records for 1930 to the present, I can't say much about that time period...
Lee's wife Nancy Laura died on 17 September 1964. She'd been in the Golden Age Manor Nursing home, in west Houston, though their residence was still given as 219 Bryan St - that same neighborhood... She died of cancer (breast and lung). The information for her death certificate came from Robert Lee Day, who would be their son - though I have no more information on him, really.
Lee Day died at age 85 on 14 December 1966, while he was in the Greenway Nursing Home, at 4702 Almeda-Genoa Boulevard. He died of a heart related disease, and his death certificate information was again supplied by Robert Lee Day. The death certificate again refers to Lee as having been an architect.
Both Arthur Moore, Jr, and I have vague memories of having been taken by our respective fathers, both to see Lee Day in the few years before he died (both our fathers would be first cousins to Lee). Neither of us have anything specfic enough to be able to say about the visit to even be certain of the details.
There must be families coming down from both Edna and Lee. I've had some contact into Edna's family, and apparently there is at least one son of Robert Lee Day in contact with another part of our families, but no real certainty of where the families have ended up.
So Martha C. Wallingford was the first of our Wallingfords to be born in Texas, and she was the mother of T.G.'s first grandchild. She seemed to have a childhood filled with births and deaths of siblings, and then lost her mother before she was 14, leaving her to act as the mother for her brothers and sisters for some years to follow. And then, after having her own small family, she died before she turned 30. Life in Fields Store was hard back then, and Mattie's life seems pretty typical for the time.
I only wish we could know more, or even have a photograph to know what she looked like...