A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lessie Nell and Essie Dell

Main Street todayImage via Wikipedia
Main Street Roswell, New Mexico

          In my Tossing It Out posting from yesterday I mentioned that I had relatives in Roswell, New Mexico.  The following is what I know of this part of my family according to what I was told to the best of my recollection.  There may be some inaccuracies and if there are perhaps I will be able to rectify these later.  To my knowledge the information is at least mostly true if not totally true.

          My grandmother was a twin.   Lessie Nell and Essie Dell Wilson were born in 1903 near Morgantown, West Virginia.   In the early 1920s, shortly after the sisters graduated from high school, their family decided to move to Sweet Grass, Montana.  My grandmother chose to stay in West Virginia and marry Paul Hough Trevillian.  Also staying behind and marrying were two other sisters, Flossie Lanoe, and Lovie Ethel.  My grandparents lived in Morgantown until my grandfather died in 1972.  My grandmother remained in Morgantown for several years after that, later moving to Philadelphia to live with one of her daughters--my aunt.

           But this story is about my Great Aunt Essie.  After moving out west she only returned to West Virginia once in about 1935 with her husband and two children.  My mother, who would have been about seven at the time, vaguely recalls the visit, but does not remember how they got there.  She's pretty sure they came by car--probably from Montana--but she can't say for sure.  Other than that the sisters never saw one another again as far as I know.

          I'm not totally sure why they moved, but I would imagine it was for economic reasons.  Perhaps Mr. Wilson was taking advantage of the oil boom that was starting up in Montana in those days.  Essie met Roy, the man who became her husband, after moving to Montana.  I'm pretty sure that Roy ended up in the oil business as he and Essie eventually uprooted their young family first to Wyoming and then finally to Roswell, both places with strong ties to the oil industry.

           I don't know whether they moved to Roswell before or after the alleged UFO crash in 1947 that has brought such fame to the city, but it was probably somewhere around that time when they settled there and lived for the rest of their lives.

          During the eighties when the show I was managing had yearly bookings in Roswell, I would always find some time to visit Aunt Essie.   Her husband Roy had died in 1983, so since I never met him I know my visits started after that year.  My wife, daughter, and I would go to the house where she lived with her son, Roy Jr., who was probably about sixty years old.  We would always be joined by Essie's daughter Phyllis and her husband.

           We'd share stories about the family members in the east and the west who rarely had opportunities to see each other.  Aunt Essie would pull out photo albums to show me a pictorial family history of the side that I rarely heard anyone on the more familiar side of the family discuss.   These were pictures of strangers who had been separated by distance and time.

            It was kind of funny that though Essie Dell and Lessie Nell were twins, they were not identical twins.  They looked nothing alike and behaved in very different manners.  My grandmother Lessie was a tall, thin woman who looked dignified and spoke like an intellectual.   My Aunt Essie was short and had a down-home air about her.  They both had keen senses of humor and were just as sweet as they could be.  If you'd met them you'd never known they were from the same family.

          Visiting Aunt Essie and her family became a yearly event for me and my family.  I don't remember ever going to see the UFO museum in Roswell.  In retrospect I wish I had brought the UFO crash topic up with my relatives to see what their take on the story was and if they had anything to add to what I'd  heard about it.  Folks in Roswell probably find the tourists' focus on UFO aliens a bit amusing, but I'm sure they welcome the influx of dollars spent in the community.

           My last visit to Roswell was in 1988.  My grandmother died not long after I visited Aunt Essie.  That visit would be the last time I would see Essie and her family.  After that final tour we would settle down in Tennessee for a few years.  A second child had been born to us and our oldest was now of school age.  The road life had ended and so had our yearly visits to my various relatives around the country.

             Aunt Essie died in 1993 at age 90.  I would imagine that Roy Jr. and Phyllis still live in Roswell, but I don't keep in touch so I don't know for sure.  It seems like an odd place to end up, but if you've been somewhere for years why move?  It's kind of a shame that I haven't kept in touch.

            Sometimes it happens.  Families move away and drift apart.  It's like branches being cut off a tree and replanted elsewhere to grow new trees.  One family tree is the beginning, but then it turns into a whole bunch of family trees growing all over the country.  Throughout the country I have family that I know about and probably some that I don't even know exist.

           The nice thing about traveling was that I got to see some of those kinfolk sometimes.  The bad thing about not traveling is not traveling, just being at home, missing those family times. But I guess that can be a good thing too.  You just take the good with the bad and then realize that the bad isn't really always all that bad.  Nothing stays the same anyway.


            Next Saturday Susan Kane from thecontemplativecat and Susan Kane, Writer sits down for a fun and  informational chat with me.   I think you'll like this interview a lot.



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12 comments:

Journaling Woman said...

I have memory of a great aunt but I don't remember anything that I can say I have a fond memory of. She was very sick and elderly and would die soon after coming to live with my grandmother.

I should have memories of the other great aunt, but I don't. She lived nearby, was my dad's favorite, was a teacher then a superintendent of schools.

This has nothing to do with that, but my dad is a twin. So I have some insight on the twin relationship.

Also, it's funny to me that when a grandmother dies, family often stop seeing each other.

Interesting post!

Poetry of the Day said...

WV always seems so small to me.

Suze said...

'Sometimes it happens. Families move away and drift apart. It's like branches being cut off a tree and replanted elsewhere to grow new trees.'

I like this very much.

I know that street in the photo. I was there in 1995.

Incidentally, my grandfather was a twin, too. Fraternal, and his brother was far larger and appeared hardier. The midwife advised my great-grandmother to focus on my grandfather's twin. The twin perished but my darker, runtier grandfather survived.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I did much research into my family tree on both sides of my parents and found one long distant relative was a preacher, another on the stage. It was most interesting.
Loved your post Lee most enjoyable to read.

Yvonne.

Arlee Bird said...

Teresa-- Your observation about family members not seeing each other so much after a grandmother (or last remaining grandparent) dies is true in many cases. I've seen the same thing to some extent in my own family. Also, my family split in so many directions far away from one another that it was not practical to see them and they no longer had that gathering place to come together.

Poetry -- Do you mean geographically or in the respect of small minded people? Have you been there? It's a fairly sizable place. Some of the people may be considered to be backward, but there are also a lot of intellectuals there. I think it's kind of a cool place that if you've never visited, you might one day consider it.

Suze -- It's funny the predictions that are made when kids are born and when they are young. People change and things happen.

Yvonne --Genealogy can be quite interesting. I have several relatives that have gone into depth about our family histories and I enjoy hearing about their findings.

Lee

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Lee, I really enjoyed your story. Add an old photo of everybody and you could link it up to Sepia Saturday.

Traveling is a great way to stay in touch, but I am finding that blogging and Facebook are also great ways to keep the family ties alive.

My blog has brought me distance cousins from both sides of my family.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week.

Kathy M.

Ann Best said...

Mormons do genealogy; they write their family stories. I have ancestral stories in my files of my some great-great grandparents. And when I was in my youth, up to age 18, visiting grandparents and cousins was a major part of my life. Now, 99% of them are dead. My mother was born in 1905, two years after your grandmother and aunt! These are the kinds of stories you want to get written down and keep. It takes time but it's worth it. I'm glad I did my mother's history in pictures and text before she died. She had pictures and stories in her files including her honeymoon trip in 1939. I think these things are priceless.

I very much enjoyed reading this post, Lee! And I love that picture of Roswell Main Street. That's the West I sometimes miss from my final home here in Virginia.
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Kelly Robinson said...

Great memories of some great people. Lessie and Essie are some awesome names, too.

I can't help but remember an episode of Futurama that took place in Roswell. A character discovers that the elderly man he meets is actually his own grandson due to some Roswellian mysterious stuff.

How would you feel if Essie and Lessie turned out to be your grand-daughters?!

Healthier And Wealthier said...

I loved reading about your family...nothing like family. The names of the twin sisters are adorable. I think it's so sad though, that some of the sisters didn't get to see each other hardly ever. Sister relationships are just the sweetest and best....far too good to miss.
Sandra

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. great memories and such fun to read .. I've suddenly become more interested in history as a whole .. my Uncle on my father's side did their family trees ... and it's quite a historical set of people - I know little about them .. but I could weave stories about their probable lives.

Then my mother's side too - there's an historical tie in there ..

I do have a set of papers to look at later on - from my mother's first marriage ...

We don't have children - so I can keep any 'stories' I have to a degree fictional as it doesn't matter so much ..

Love your jottings and hope you can remember more .. Cheers Hilary

Tanya Reimer said...

Now that was an interesting story to read! Our families are amazing, because even if that branch is planted elsewhere, we still call them family! We still feel that connection and that desire to get to know them.

Susan Kane said...

What an interesting family history. While it saddens me to think of time and distance breaking the family communication, I think it was common then, and certainly is now.

At least you met with her and looked at those strange old photos!!

I have been going through old photos and putting them in the blanks on the family tree. It is amazing how many people share their genetics with me!

Susan