Betty’s Prom – 1947

I’m a little late getting this out, as Prom season is almost over for the year.  For my nieces and nephews – this is Granny (Betty Ellen Taylor Smith Schwartman) ready to attend her high school Prom in 1947.  She and her mother (Amy Ruth Harper Taylor) made the dress.  Look at all the ribbon detail on each of the layers and around the neck & sleeves!

The prom was most likely held in the high school gymnasium, gaily decorated for the occasion.  The prom would have included a dinner, followed by dancing.  I’m sure they danced the night away to the swing and big band tunes of the era — Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, as well as ballads from the “Crooners”, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.  I bet Granny had a grand time!



Land Records Symposium in Beatrice, Nebraska

Mark your calendar for July 12 & 13!  The 2013 Land Records Symposium will be held in Beatrice, Nebraska. This is an on-going collaboration between the Homestead National Monument and Southeast Community College.  Conferences in previous years have been outstanding, and this year’s should prove to be no less, with a line-up of national speakers. Come join the fun!


Tombstone Tuesday – Charles M. and Mary J. (Howell) Smith


Smith Tombstone, Greenwood Cemetery, York, Nebraska – Section J, Lot 62

Charles Marshall Smith1,2,3,4 was born5 on 1 Mar 1851 in Wapello County, Iowa, the son of Charles H. Smith and Sarah Daubenheyer. He died5 on 3 Nov 1927 in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California. He was buried6 in Greenwood Cemetery, York, York County, Nebraska.

Charles married7 Mary Jane Howell, daughter of Matthew Howell and Mary Jane Watkins, on 11 Nov 1870 in Wapello County, Iowa. Mary was born8 on 28 Mar 1851 in Monmouthshire, England. She died9,10 on 10 Oct 1910 in Surprise, Butler County, Nebraska. She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery,York, York County, Nebraska.

1    1880 Federal Census: Nebraska, York Co., McFadden Twp., p. 508, dw. 117, fam. 117.

2    1900 Federal Census: Nebraska, York Co., McFadden Twp., p. 109A, dw. 177, fam. 177.

3  Homestead Application, Applic. # 15993, Final Cert. # 10658.

4  Iowa, Wapello Co.: Land Records, Bk 41, p. 347-350.

5  Certificate of Death.

6  Photo of Gravestones.

7  Iowa, Wapello Co.: Marriage Records, Bk 2, p 65.

8  Nebraska: Certificate of Death.

9    Nebraska: Certificate of Death.

10  Obituary, 20 Oct 1910.


Military Monday – The Smith Boys

Charles, Bob, and George Smith - circa 1946

Charles, Bob, and George Smith – circa 1946


Four of the sons of John A. and Margaret (Neville) Smith of McCool Junction, Nebraska served in the Armed Forces during the World War II era:  Robert E. (1922 – 1995) and James C. (1923 – 1987) served in the U.S. Army Air Forces, George H. (1925 – 1968) served in the U.S. Marine Corps (George also served during the Korean War), and Charles M. (1927 – 1969) served in the U.S. Army.

(Thanks again, Mary Beth Coffey, for the photo)!

Sunday’s Obituary – Mary Jane (Howell) Smith

Grandpa Smith’s mother –

“Mrs. Charles M. Smith.  The funeral services of Mrs. Chas. M. Smith took place Thursday afternoon at the Methodist church.  At 1:30 a brief service was held at the home on Burlington Avenue, conducted by the members of the Royal Neighbors of McCool, assisted by members of the same order from York.  The service at the church was conducted by Rev. A. B. Bennet.  A quartette composed of Miss Clara Graham, Miss Cora Conaway, Messrs. Leonard Childs and Mansfield Hervey, sang several numbers.  Many floral tributes were sent by friends in token of esteem and sympathy.  Interment was made in Greewood cemetery.   Mrs. Smith was born in England and came to America with her parents Mathew and Jane Howell, when she was nine years old.  The family home was first in Ohio and afterward in Wapello County, Iowa and here she was married to Charles M. Smith in 1870.  In 1874 they came to York County, where they have since made their home.  They lived for a number of years on a farm south of McCool.  Several years ago they moved to this city.  Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, all living and residents of Nebraska.  They are, George Smith of Ansley, Mrs. Peterson of Fairmont, Frank Smith of Blake, John Smith of McCool, Mrs. B.T. Price of Thayer, Mrs. Don Severn, who was detained at her home by illness, the sons and daughters were present at the service.  Mrs. Smith is survived by a brother and two sisters.   During her residence of more than 36 years in the county, Mr. and Mrs. Smith have made a wide acquaintance and there are scores of friends who mourn her loss and extend sympathy and mourn her loss with the bereaved family.  Death came suddenly to Mrs. Smith while she was visiting at the home of her daughter Mrs. Severn.”[i]

[i] Obituary, York Daily News-Times, 20 Oct 1910 (microfilm), Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NE.

February Family History Writing Challenge

Margaret Marie (Neville) Conroy Smith

Margaret Marie (Neville) Conroy Smith

For the month of February, I am joining the Family History Writing Challenge.  I am committing to 28 days of writing in the form of my blog.  I got a head start last week, and the response from my siblings and cousins has been overwhelming.  I have finally found a way to share the genealogy information I have gathered over the past 20+ years that doesn’t make people’s eyes glaze over and quickly exit the room :-).

During this month, look forward to more information on my Smith line, back to the immigrant, John Smith, who came from England in the late 1600’s.  I will also be sharing tidbits and stories of many of the collateral lines as well.  On my mom’s side of the family, I plan to share more of Grandma Taylor’s stories, and some of her mother, Virginia Coate Harper’s, poetry too.

The picture for today was graciously shared by my cousin, Mary Beth (Smith) Coffey. Thanks, MB!

The Death of John Neville

“Mr. John Neville, for more than twenty years an honored resident of York county and MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAfor the past four years residing upon Mr. Haggard’s farm two and a half miles north of Wahoo, was struck by an Elkhorn passenger train at a grade crossing beside the farm on which he lived, on Monday afternoon and almost instantly killed.  The terrible news reached his hosts of friends in York on Monday evening and carried consternation and grief into many a York county home before midnight.                                                                                            

The facts of the accident which resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Neville as developed at the inquest are as follows:

He was assisting a neighbor near his home in hauling some corn to a feeding ranch across the railroad track and had taken a load over after dinner and was returning for another and was approaching the track just as the passenger train due at 2:40 was approaching the crossing.  Another man hauling corn to the same place was approaching the track from the east and says that Mr. Neville was standing in his wagon driving the team which was traveling at a trot; that he came to the track with his head held down as though he was thinking or in a deep study; that he continued in this position without looking up or looking to either side until he came upon the track.  Just as the team got squarely upon the track the train came from the south running at a speed of thirty-five miles an hour or more and struck the wagon between the front and hind wheels smashing they wagon to kindling wood and throwing the unfortunate man as high as forty feet, falling upon his head and shoulders upon the frozen ground some distance from the track.  The train was stopped and he was picked up and taken back to Wahoo and the best medical aid in the city was immediately called in.  The surgeons found that he was suffering from concussion of the brain and despite all efforts to save his life he expired in about two hours after being struck.

The deceased was married over twenty years ago, his wife being formerly Miss Anna Morgan of West Blue, who survives him together with nine children ranging from three to nineteen years of age.  His aged mother now living in this city as well as four brothers in York county and three sisters mourn his tragic end.

The remains were taken to the Catholic church at Wahoo yesterday morning where the first funeral services were held and then brought to York accompanied by the stricken family and a number of friends and arrived here last night.  The funeral was held in this city at St. Joseph’s Catholic church at 9:30 this morning attended by a great concourse of people from nearly every part of the county, and he was laid to eternal rest in the Catholic cemetery.  

The coroner’s jury found the facts as stated above and made the following additional finding: ‘We further find from the evidence given and the lay of the ground where the accident occurred that had due caution been observed by all concerned this accident would have been avoided.’ 

Every person who knew John Neville loved him as a brother.  His sterling honesty and integrity commended the respect of everyone and his genial wholesouled good nature made a warm friend of every person with whom he came in contact.  He was a prince among men and countless citizens of both York and Saunders counties will cherish his memory for many a day.  All regret his terrible taking off and tender to the stricken family the most heartfelt sympathy.  He lived a good and exemplary life, and was a kind husband and a dutiful son to one of the best mothers in York county.  What more could be said of him?  While he was taken from his active work of life and plunged before his Maker in almost an instant, we hope that his good works in this world will be rewarded by the welcoming smile of the God he loved and served all his life.  May his soul rest in peace.”[1]

[1] Obituary, York Daily News-Times (microfilm), 8 Jan 1903, p. 1 col. 7, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NE.

The Family of John & Anna (Morgan) Neville

Anna Neville and Family:Back Row - Bill, John, Bess, Frank, JoeFront Row - Loretta, Vera, Anna, Margaret, Catherine.

Anna Neville and Family:
Back Row – Bill, John, Bess, Frank, Joe
Front Row – Loretta, Vera, Anna, Margaret, Catherine.


Now for Grandma Smith’s Irish side of the family.  (Bear with me, I am trying to cut and paste the following information from my genealogy computer program, and it isn’t working very well).  We can thank Aunt Carol Smith for the picture…she gave me a copy several years ago.

 John Neville1 was born on 5 Feb 1847 in Tullamore, Offaly, Ireland. He died2,3,4 on 5 Jan 1903 in York Co., NE.

John married5 Anna Morgan, daughter of William M. Morgan and Rose Etta Smith, on 7 Feb 1882 in York, York Co., Nebraska. Anna was born6 on 27 May 1863 in McLean, Illinois. She died7,8 on 25 May 1925 in York Co., NE. She was buried in St. Joseph’s Cem., York Co., Nebraska.

They had the following children.

i. William Abraham Neville was born on 11 Nov 1882 in Wahoo, Nebraska. He died on 28 Jan 1968.

William married Jane Wallace in Apr 1913. Jane was born on 14 Aug 1882. She died on 25 Jan 1968.

ii. Francis Patrick Neville was born on 17 Mar 1884 in York Co., Nebraska. He died on 9 May 1976.

Francis married Mary Biede on 7 Oct 1914. Mary was born on 10 Aug 1892 in York Co., Nebraska. She died on 4 Oct 1993.

iii. Rose Etta Neville was born on 3 Oct 1885. She died on 21 Aug 1886.

iv. Margaret Marie Neville was born9,10 on 23 Dec 1886 in York Co., Nebraska. She died11 on 29 Feb 1976 in Geneva, Fillmore Co., Nebraska. She was buried in Catholic Cem., Fairmont, Fillmore Co., Nebraska.

Margaret married Mark Leo Conroy on 7 Jan 1907. Mark was born on 24 Feb 1883. He died on 20 Jul 1914. He was buried in Catholic Cem., Fairmont, Fillmore Co., Nebraska.

Margaret also married12,13 John Albert Smith14,15, son of Charles Marshall Smith and Mary Jane Howell, on 24 Nov 1920 in York, York Co., Nebraska. John was born16 on 28 Mar 1879 in McFadden Twp, York Co., Nebraska. He died17,18,19,20 on 28 Feb 1946 in McFadden Twp, York Co., Nebraska. He was buried21 in Greenwood Cem., York, York Co., Nebraska.

v. John Bernard Neville was born on 15 Jan 1889. He died on 14 Apr 1972.

vi. Joseph Lawrence Neville was born on 4 Oct 1891. He died on 21 May 1978.

Joseph married Mary (Molly) O’Meara on 18 Nov 1919. Mary was born on 7 Apr 1891. She died on 2 Jun 1970.

vii. Mary Veronica Neville was born on 10 Nov 1893. She died on 3 Jul 1988.

Mary married Francis Patrick McTygue on 11 Nov 1913. Francis was born on 28 Mar 1886. He died on 4 Oct 1964.

viii. Catherine Ellen Neville was born on 6 Nov 1894. She died on 16 Aug 1988.

Catherine married Reuben Clouse on 24 Apr 1920. Reuben was born on 10 Apr 1886. He died on 2 Feb 1966.

ix. Loretta Ann Neville was born on 8 Aug 1896. She died on 15 Jan 1939.

Loretta married Andrew Lawrence Conroy on 2 Sep 1919. Andrew was born on 12 Nov 1884. He died on 2 Jun 1981.

x. James Edward Neville was born on 1 Feb 1899. He died7 on 10 Feb 1899. He was buried in St. Joseph’s Cem., York, York Co., Nebraska.

xi.           Elizabeth Clare Neville was born on 4 May 1900. She died on 3 Jul 1976.

1  Nebraska: Rail Road Land Records, No. 5445, 20 Mar 1874.

2    Nebraska, York Co.: Obituary, p. 1, 8 Jan 1903.

3  Nebraska, Saunders Co.: Obituary, 8 Jan 1903.

4  Photo of Gravestones, 8 Jan 1903.

5  Nebraska, York Co.: Marriages, Bk B, p 54.

6  York County Cemeteries.

7  Photo of Gravestones.

8  Nebraska: Certificate of Death.

9    Social Security Application, Form SS-5.

10  1900 Federal Census, Nebraska: Saunders Co., Center Precinct, ED 125, Sh 6, 18 Jun 1900.

1Nebraska: Certificate of Death.

12  Nebraska, York Co.: Marriages, Bk K, Pg 87.

13  Nebraska, York Co.: Newspaper Clipping, p. 5, 24 Nov 1920.

14  1910 Federal Census: York Co., Nebraska, E.D 201, Sheet ?, Dw 32, Fam 32.

15  1920 Federal Census: York Co., Nebraska, E.D. 215, Sheet 4, Dw 18, Fam 18.

16  Nebraska, York Co.: Obituary, p. 6, col. 3, 1 Mar 1946.

17   Nebraska, York Co.: Obituary, p. 6, col. 3, 1 Mar 1946.

18   Nebraska: Certificate of Death, 1 Mar 1946.

19  Nebraska, York Co.: Probate Record, File #4816, 14 May 1946.

2Nebraska: Certificate of Death, p. 6, col. 3, 1 Mar 1946.

2York County Cemeteries, Vol. 1.



Grandma Smith’s House

Grandma Smith's House

Grandma Smith’s House

Ah…just looking at the picture brings back memories from childhood.  The screen door we ran in and out of constantly, the L-shaped side porch with its potted red geraniums, the long counter Grandma worked at perched on her stool, the worn wooden stairs we played on, the soft, comfy beds crowded into the room.  All of us “Smith Cousins” have many wonderful memories of Grandma’s house before it burned down in 1976.

I’m not sure when the house was built, but I suspect it was built sometime in the late 1800’s by Grandpa Smith’s dad, Charles M. Smith.  The land the house was built on, the “home place”, was purchased from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Co. by Charles M. Smith on 11 Sep 1873[i], being the Northwest quarter of Section 29, Township 9, Range 2 West.  At the time of his purchase, Charles M. Smith resided in Agency City, Wapello County, Iowa.  Shortly after, Charles, and his wife, Mary Jane (Howell), along with several members of her family, made the trek west to settle in York County.  A few years later, in 1877, Charles M. made a Homestead claim for adjoining land lying just to the east (North half of the southwest quarter of Section 28, Township 9, Range 2 West)[ii].  According to the homestead papers, the family resided on the homestead land from 1 Aug 1877 until at least March 1883, which included a sod house, stable, granary, cellar and well.  My guess is that sometime after the homestead was “proved” (they had to live on the land for 5 years), Charles built the house on the land purchased from the railroad…the house we knew as “Grandma’s House”.

[i] Application to Buy Land in Nebraska, Railroad Land Records (microfilm), Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln.

[ii] Charles M. Smith (York County) homestead file, final certificate no. 10658, Lincoln, Nebraska, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.