Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z April Challenge: U is for Ursula

This is Day 21 of the A to Z April Challenge.  My theme is women with unusual names although I must cheat now and then or I’ll have a name and no story.

is for Ursula Clarissa Boyd.  My half-second cousin twice removed was the daughter of William Preston Boyd (a.k.a. William H. Jollett) and Hattie Echols Boyd.  She was born March 25, 1887 in Giles County, Virginia.  In 1909, she married John Arthur Hebb in Monroe County, West Virginia. 

They lived most of their married life in Beckley, West Virginia, where Hebb was an electrician for a coal mine.  They raised five sons, most of whom also became coal miners.

The 1940 census for Beckley, West Virginia recorded that “Ersie” had taken back her Boyd surname, suggesting she was divorced.  She was earning a living as a laundress and her sons were still with her.  John Arthur Hebb, meanwhile, had a new family:  a much younger wife and six children, the oldest of whom was 12.

Interesting.  Why?  Because John Arthur was still head of household with “Ersie” and the boys in 1930. (Doing the math….)  Ever in search of the dirt, I then checked for the 12-year old in the 1930 census to see where she was.  What a surprise:  just 11 miles away in Slab Fork, that frisky J.A. Hebb was head of household for his young wife and 2 children too.  Was he leading a double life? 

No wonder Ursula took back the Boyd name.

I Urge you to Unite with Umpteen Users over at A to Z April Challenge  to Uncover some Utterly Unequal blogs.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. She sounds like a strong woman though to bring up five boys on her own - she was better off without him.

  2. Sorry I have neglected you during the Challenge, Wendy. Will aim to read back through some of your earlier posts now that I have recovered and have a computer that works.

    John Arthur sounds have if he was a bit of a rogue; Ersie would have had to be a strong woman to survive.

    1. No apologies necessary! I appreciate the visit.

  3. I admire her strength. I agree with Sally: she didn't need him.

  4. I'd say John Arthur was a bit more than Frisky. Bless her heart, Ursula, perservered, changed her name and washed that man right outta her life.

    My Letter 'U'...UFO Retreat
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

  5. You certainly have a lot of unusual names in your family. I have a Urith in mine but would struggle with most of the letters!

    I am enjoying reading your posts, even if I don't comment on them all.

    1. Thanks Sharon - as you can readily see, I don't have a lot to say about many of these women either.