Thursday, April 9, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: H is for Harry



“We need to get together more often and not at a funeral.” How many times have you and a cousin said that? Funerals are much like a family reunion. You can learn a lot about a family just by looking at who showed up. Using my grandparents’ guest books and sympathy cards, I’ll be exploring “Who came to the funeral?

is for Harry B. Jenkins, husband of my maternal grandmother’s cousin Frances Lee Rucker Jenkins. Lee’s father Walter Rucker and Grandma’s father Joseph were brothers. 

Harry was born in 1897 to James and Laura Jenkins. He was “the baby” of the family, the last of six.  Harry grew up on a farm in Page County, Virginia, but he left the farm to work for the railroad in Shenandoah. The shops in town were among the largest and busiest along the Norfolk & Western line. 

In 1930, at the age of 32, Harry was still a single man. Maybe for convenience-sake, he was living in town, boarding with Emma Long and her very single daughter who happened to be just the right age for Harry. I wonder if she had been a romantic interest of his.

A quick glance at the neighborhood enumerated as the “West side of Norfolk and Western Railway” reveals that Harry Jenkins and all his brothers were just doors away from Lee’s sister Beulah and her husband Ernest Baugher. Could Beulah have been the matchmaker for Harry and Lee?

Regardless of whatever Harry’s relationship with the Longs and Baughers had been, he married Lee Rucker May 18, 1935. In the 1940 census, Harry was an electrician’s helper for the railroad; however, he claimed to have not worked at all in 1939. Lee, a saleswoman for a dry goods store, worked all 52 weeks and brought home $260 for the year. 

The two owned their home mortgage-free on Pennsylvania Avenue, valued at $900. Apparently they never moved. Whenever our family visited my cousins in Shenandoah, my grandmother would always point to Lee’s house and say, “That’s where my cousin Lee Jenkins lives.”

Guest book of Orvin Davis 1963  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Harry died the year after my grandfather.  Lee outlived Harry by 33 years, so now I wonder why her name was not in the guest book.  Did she not attend or did she just assume Harry signed her name for her? 

photo courtesy Jan Hensley
Coverstone Cemetery
Shenandoah, Virginia
   

photo courtesy Jan Robinson
Coverstone Cemetery
Shenandoah, Virginia


Hop, hurdle, or hustle to the A to Z April Challenge for Hundreds and Hundreds of posts on the letter H, and that’s no hyperbole!


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

20 comments:

  1. Continuing to enjoy your A to Z Challenge!

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  2. Lovely H post Wendy honouring your ancestors thank you! yes, interesting how we all say at funerals, 'we MUST get together, sometime!'

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  3. Wonderful H post honoring Harry and your ancestors. I have to admit I've always wanted to visit Shenandoah - because my grandmother used to love the song. :) Love your A to Z theme!

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    1. The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful, and the town itself is just a small town now. It was a bustling place before the 1960s. Thanks for visiting.

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  4. hmm, I never thought about Lee's husband. I went to Lee's house with Grandma a couple of times. We sat on Lee's front porch and ate biscuits, honey, butter and jelly. Yes, all that. Lee could make a great biscuit. =) Sorry I never knew Harry.

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    1. The whole time I was researching and writing, I kept hearing, "Don't say nothing 'bout Mizz Jenkins. I loves me some Mizz Jenkins."

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  5. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. Interesting piece on your family. Lee appeared to be the stronger of the two, and it looks like she was the main bread maker at times. I need to return the family research I started in 2000. It's so important for our families. Your site is an inspiration :)
    Inventions by Women A-Z
    Shells–Tales–Sails

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    1. I agree it's important to pass along the stories of our ancestors or surely they will be forgotten. Thanks for visiting.

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  6. I can only think that Lee thought her name was covered along with her husband's in the guest book. How interesting to live in the same house all their days :)

    betty

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  7. stopping by on A to Z. Neat theme and post. Happy I popped by on H day

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    1. I'm happy too. Thanks for reading.

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  8. That is a good question, and one that will probably go unsolved. I know sometimes we've gone places and both hubby and I miss signing in as well.

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    1. Come to think of it, Barry always expects me to sign for him. Now I wonder if ever he signed but didn't sign for me.

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  9. Good for Harry and Lee to have found each other. They sound like solid citizens and personable relatives. Neat that your grandmother pointed out his house and her relationship as cousin. I am usually the one to sign OUR names to a register. If I don't...we weren't there.

    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    Minion for AJ's wHooligans

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    1. I think my grandmother and Lee must have been close cousins who enjoyed one another. I have a vague memory of visiting Lee, but I couldn't pick her out of a lineup.

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  10. I wonder...if the man signs in, does he sign for himself...while when the wife signs in, she signs for both? But assumes, if he had signed first, he would have included her? Sometimes, those assumptions do not line up with reality.

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    1. In my grandfather's register, the couples are usually listed as Mr. & Mrs. But in maybe two instances, the couples signed separately -- maybe they were the progressive modern thinkers.

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