Thursday, January 24, 2013

Uncle Elvie's Story: Part 2

Continued from Uncle Elvie's Story: Part 1.

Jimmy, Elvie, & Perry
After the war, Elvie apparently returned home to Hopkins County for at least a visit. A photo of Elvie with brothers Perry and John places him there sometime after the war and before 1922 when Perry died. But Elvie again headed west to work for the railroad. 

By the time the 1920 census was taken on January 20th, Elvie lived in Elmore County, Idaho. He was a yardmaster for Oregon Short Line Railroad and lived on Idaho Avenue in Glenns Ferry in the home of Effie M. Mesinnell. Elvie and another railroad employee, Edward Masterson were lodgers in Mrs. Mesinnell’s home. 

On 24 Dec 1921, Elvie married Harriet E. Massey in Caldwell, Idaho. He lived in the Canyon County, Idaho town of Nampa at the time but still worked as yard master for Oregon Short Line railroad. Harriet also lived in Nampa and taught school. She was born in Illinois about 1890, the daughter of John R. and Mary Ellis. Harriet was a divorced mother of two daughters, Harriett Edna and Maryetta Massey. She’d married Charles F. Massey on 5 Oct 1911 in Jerome County, Idaho but they were divorced before 1920. 

Elvie and Harriet still lived in Nampa a year after their marriage and they made at least one trip together to Kentucky. According to the 22 Dec 1922 edition of the Idaho Statesman, they had stopped to visit Harriet’s parents “while en route from Kentucky to their home in Nampa.” 

Elvie and Harriet moved to Park County, Montana sometime after that. The 1930 census shows them living at 104 N. E. Street in Livingston City. Elvie had changed careers from railroad man to insurance salesman and Harriet was no longer teaching school. Her teenage daughters lived with them. 

They were still in Livingston in 1935 but moved again before 1940 to Spokane, Washington. Elvie and Harriet lived in an apartment building at 2216 W. 1st Street and paid $45 a month rent. Elvie was a supervisor for Health and Accident Insurance Company. Harriet’s daughters, now in their twenties, were not living with them.

It isn't known if Harriet died or they divorced after 1940 but Elvie married Ethel May Powers on 1 August 1948 in Spokane. Ethel was the daughter of Frank Alvord and Katherine Kleckner, was born in 1895 in Washington and grew up in Montana. She married James Powers before 1920, probably in Montana. By 1940, they were divorced and Ethel was living alone in Spokane working as a saleslady in a dress shop. She died on 30 Dec 1948 in Spokane. Her parents and a sister, Mrs. Frankie Shindle of Whitefish, Montana and Elvie were mentioned in her obituary but no children. Ethel was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Spokane. 

Elvie made a trip to Kentucky about 1950 to visit relatives in Hopkins and Muhlenberg Counties. The photo below was taken in Greenville at the home of his niece, Elizabeth McCauley Carver. 
Dick & Rhea Hankins, Garah (Dick's daughter), Lois, Elvie, Kathryn, Vashti, Gladys & Liz
Lois, Kathryn, Vashti, Gladys & Liz were daughters of Elvie & Dick's sister, Verda
Family lore said that Elvie was married seven times. I don’t know if that is true but he was definitely married four times and Bernice Jackson Gamble was his last wife. Elvie and Bernice were married on 1 July 1951 in Spokane. She was the widow of Vernon W. Gamble and the mother of two sons. Bernice and Vernon were married on 27 Aug 1914 in Spokane and he died in Tacoma on 10 Jan 1940. 

Bernice was the daughter of James Jackson and Fannie Sturtevant, born on 28 Feb 1897 in Jewell County, Kansas. She was a music teacher for most of her life and traveled in the summers studying music and languages in France, Italy and Greece. She taught French and Italian classes at the local YMCA. 

At the time of their marriage, Elvie was living in the Palmerston Hotel in Spokane. Bernice lived at E. 3408 17th Street and that is where they lived during their marriage. 

Elvie died on 7 Jun 1959 of acute pulmonary edema and heart disease in El Paso, Texas while Bernice was traveling in Europe. He was 76 years old and still working as an insurance salesman. His obituary from the Spokane Daily Chronicle says he was on a trip but doesn't mention where he'd been other than El Paso. According to his death certificate, Elvie had been hospitalized at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso for three days before his death. His brother, Jimmy, was apparently with him as he provided the personal information for the death certificate. It isn’t known if Jimmy was traveling with Elvie or went to Texas from his home in California after Elvie became ill. 

Elvie was buried on 12 Jun 1959 in Pines Cemetery in Spokane. Bernice died on 20 February 1972 and was buried next to him.
Elvie, Dick & Jimmy Hankins; 1950s; Jimmy's home in Los Angeles area

[Photos courtesy of Sue Morgan London, Bettie Gamblin Hendricks and Faye McCauley.] 


  1. Great research. And, photos! Enjoyed this very much.

    1. Thanks, Carol. It was almost all done online since I didn't know where he might have been at any given time.

  2. Excellent research and write-up Linda!

    In the first photo (when they were young), they look like pretty "snappy" dressers.

    In the 2nd photo, Elvie resembles Jimmy (to me).

  3. This is a lot of research! Elvie must have been very charismatic. No wonder there was a rumor about 7 wives, and it might even have been true. Excellent sleuthing!