Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Jennie Belle Lewis

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow who blogs at No Story To Small, I am accepting the challenge to blog about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!  Yep, that means one per week.  I thought I might try to write about people during their birthday month.  January proved to be a challenge.  It seems we don't have that many January birthdays!   But here's a very special one:

Jennie Belle Lewis

Jennie Belle is Phil's paternal grandmother (which means she is his father's mother). She was born in Groton, South Dakota on 16 January 1891.  By the time she was 9, she was living with her parents in Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  Her mother, Carrie Scarvell, was born in Michigan and her father, Edward Merton Lewis, was born in Wisconsin.  So she was a real Midwestern girl.

At some point she moved to Minnesota (I think there were Scarvell relatives there - I need to check that out) where she met and married William Wellington Norton. This was in 1915 (see my earlier post about finding their marriage license).  She spent much of the rest of her life in Flint, Michigan where William taught and served as the orchestra's conductor.

She died on the 24th of September in 1944.  Her son, Clint, was serving in the Army Air Corps at the time and was given leave to fly a plane home to her funeral.  It's fitting that Clint was a military man because Jennie Belle's ancestors served in the Revolutionary War.

There are many things I hope to learn about Jennie Belle and her life. She was an only child and must have led an interesting life in some very out of the way places!  I guess I need to take a road trip to the Dakotas (and Michigan)

Addendum: Doris Norton, Jennie Belle's daughter-in-law, sent more information.  She describes Jennie Belle as "brilliant" with a degree in Latin.  In addition to her degree, she excelled as a cook, was a fine pianist and a witty conversationalist.  She accompanied a choir that her husband, W.W. Norton, conducted.  But the best tribute to her Jennie Belle is that she was kind and died much too young.  Thanks for giving us even more insight into this dynamic woman who was the mother of 5 children (I can so relate to her!).