I have always been one to read the obituaries in the paper. Sometimes, I find that the deceased is someone I know, or that their family is someone that I know. I suppose many people might think it odd that I read the obituaries, but in searching my family tree, I find that they can be a wealth of information into the life of that person. I have been able to clarify children’s names, parents names, and siblings names, just by looking at the obituaries of my ancestors. I have also found out for sure, who their parents and even grandparents were by reading their obituaries. Things like place of birth, and early childhood years and locations are listed there, as well as, careers, hobbies, club memberships, and homestead information, along with place of birth and death, and even burial. It is clearly a wealth of information that, to the genealogist, is pure gold, because so often, information was not well kept. Names were left off, dates, and even who the person was related to. It makes it very difficult to search.
In the case of my 2nd great aunt, Theresa “Tessie” Elizabeth Spencer Davis, I found a wealth of information in her obituary, when I came across it in my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history information. She was born, the seventh child of my 3rd great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer, on October 8, 1864, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her parents had a family of nine children in total. She married William Jonathan Davis on September 29, 1883, in Webster City, Iowa, and in 1888, She and her family became pioneers, when they moved out west to Nebraska. They first moved to Crookston, later to For Robinson, and in 1892, the homesteaded in Pine Creek, where they lived until their retirement, at which time they moved into Rushville, having given the homestead to their children. William preceded Tessie in death in 1925…so many losses to endure.
Life was never easy for Tessie. she lost siblings, as well as, seven of her eleven children before her own death…many of them young. She was the last of her siblings to pass away, and she outlived her husband by almost twenty years. The obituaries of the past listed even more information. Tessie was Methodist, and she belonged to the American Legion Auxiliary. She also belonged to a group called Royal Neighbors…she was a charter member. And she was a Gold Star Mother, but I’m not sure what that was for sure. The thing that stuck out for me the most, however, was that Tessie was a pioneer. The writer of the obituary said that, “In her passing, another pioneer has gone to the great beyond having courageously and triumphantly overcome the hardships, privations, and trials of the early settler that has made it possible for this generation to live the more modern life such as was not known to the pioneer. She was generous and hospitable, never thinking of herself, but often going out of her way to help a friend.” With everything that I learned about my 2nd great aunt, those words were by far the most amazing. They told of who she really was…deep inside. And Tessie Spencer Davis was simply an amazing woman.