From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Minnie Floretta Wood Cooley Sweat Barkely McBain McBain

Just the facts, ma'am.


This is what I've learned about Minnie Floretta Wood, a half-sister of my husband's grandmother, after a week of intensive research.

Minnie Floretta Wood married several times. Here is a chronological list of her husbands and the dates and places of the marriages:

Unknown Cooley (father of Mabel)
Married abt. 1892
Probably in Indiana

Lorenzo J. Sweat
Married 07 May 1901
Chanute, Neosho County, Kansas

Joseph Barclay
Married 18 Nov 1903
Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan

John H. McBain
Married 31 Dec 1904
Clearfield, Juneau County, Wisconsin

John H. McBain
Married 15 May 1917
Dubuque, Iowa

And here is a timeline of events in Minnie's life, as best I can reconstruct it from census and marriage records.

1874 - 1886
Minnie Floretta Wood was born on May 14, 1874, in Macoupin County, Illinois. She was the first of three children born to William Charles and Hester Adeline (Scott) Wood. William and Hester divorced sometime after 1880, and in 1886, "Mrs. Hester Wood"  married Isaac H. Reed.

1890
The entire collection of 1890 Federal census records, except for a few pages, perished in a 1921 fire, so there's no record of the Reed/Wood family for that decade.

About 1892
Minnie Wood married an Unknown Cooley (father of Mabel) in about 1892, probably in Indiana.

1900
The 1900 census shows Isaac and Hester Reed (Minnie's mother and step-father) living in Stoddard County, Missouri. They had four children together, and their youngest daughter Hester Reed (my husband's grandmother) was 8 years old. An 8-year-old granddaughter, Mabel Cooley, and two of Hester's children from her first marriage, William Wood (21 years old) and Louise Wood Adams (a 23-year-old widow), were also living with the Reeds. Mabel Cooley was Minnie Floretta Wood's daughter.

1901
On 07 May 1901, Minnie married Lorenzo J. Sweat in Chanute, Neosho County, Kansas.\

1903
On 18 Nov 1903, Minnie married Joseph Barclay in Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan.

1904
On 31 Dec. 1904, Minnie married John H. McBain  in Clearfield, Juneau County, Wisconsin.

1905
At the time of the 1905 Wisconsin census, our Minnie ("Florence" McBain) was living with her husband John H. McBain (nickname: "Bert") and her daughter Mable Cooley in Vernon County, Wisconsin.

1910
I did not locate Minnie in the 1910 census. Her latest husband John McBain was recorded in Rockford, Illinois. He had divorced Minnie and was living with his daughter Violet from his first marriage and her husband.

Mabel Cooley (Minnie's daughter, now 17 years old) and her little daughter Christina were also living with John McBain's daughter Violet and her husband. (Violet and Mabel were step-sisters.) Mabel had married John McBain's nephew, Duncan Walter McBain.  Duncan was recorded in the 1910 census as working in Stephenson, Illinois, and living in a boarding house there.

1917
The next record that I found for Minnie was her fifth and, I believe, final marriage. The groom was John H. McBain again, and they were remarried on 15 May 1917 in Dubuque, Iowa.

1920
In the 1920 census, John McBain (married) was living in Vernon County, Illinois, with his sister and brother-in-law.

Meanwhile in the 1920 census, Minnie (married) was living in Rockford, Illinois, with her half-brother Charles Reed, her mother Hester, her daughter Mabel McBain (now divorced), and Mabel's five children (Christine McBain, 12; Lillian McBain, 8; Orville McBain, 6; Glen McBain, 4, and Birdie McBain, 11 months).

Mabel's children are recorded twice in the 1920 census. They're listed with their mother as described above, and they're also listed as residents of the Rockford Home for Children (a certified orphanage, according to documents of the period.) Mabel's ex-husband, Walter McBane, was working as a machinist is Batavia, Illinois.

After 1920
So far, I haven't found any further record of the five McBain children. I don't know what happened to Mabel after 1920. (Note: A descendant of Mable contacted us in Dec 2013. He stated that Mabel married a Morgan and had a second family, including his grandmother, after 1920.) Walter McBane seems to have remained single after the divorce. He died in Aurora, Illinois, in 1967.

In 1930, John McBain was working as a carpenter and boarding with a Jones family in Wilmington, Illinois. He was recorded as being married, but he wasn't living with a wife. He died in.Los Angeles, California, on March 23, 1942.
Find-a-Grave record for Minnie McBain

Minnie Floretta Wood McBain died in Independence, Missouri, on Feb. 28, 1936, at the age of 62,  She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence.

Updated on 20 Sept 2011. Updated on 31 Dec 2013.

3 comments:

Collagemama said...

Yikes. Makes my head hurt!

Genevieve said...

My head hurts, too, Collagemama. I have a few questions that I'd like to ask her:

Was she legally divorced from all those guys?
Who was Mabel's McBain?
Why was Mabel the only child?
And above all, what happened to the five grandchildren?

But you have to look at the times. There weren't any social safety nets in those days. She wasn't well-educated, so she had to do low-paying work (laundress, cleaning lady). The multiple husbands may have been her efforts to better her lot in life.

Genevieve said...

I answered one of my own questions tonight -- Mabel was married to Walter McBain. Updated the post to include that bit of information. I also changed John McBain's burial place.

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(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
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