52 Ancestors Week 3: Longevity

This week’s theme made me automatically think of one ancestor: Ellen Louise (Pape) LaValey. My 3rd great-grandmother. She lived to 101 years old!

My favorite picture really showcases this:

From left to right: Ellen (Stalmacher) Langeneck, Ellen Louise (Pape) LaValey, Robert Langeneck holding his son, and Edna (LaValley) Stalmacher

So to make that clearer and in relation to Ellen Louise it is: her granddaughter, herself, her great-grandson holding her great-great grandson, her daughter

Seriously, how cool is that! That picture was taken in 1953 and she didn’t pass away until 1978. I am amazed at such an incredibly long life!

Ellen was born to John Henry Paper and Martha Matilda (Dean) Pape on 30 June 1876 in Michigan. (1)Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018), entry for Ellen Lavaley, 1978, SS no. 365-68-0840. She was the third of four children. Her younger sister, Effie, leaved to be nearly 100 as well! (2)“Effie C. Gratopp,” obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 14 March 1975, p. B9.

Her father, John Pape, was born in Germany and came over around 1865 and did become a naturalized citizen by 1900.Her mother was born about 1855 and maybe in Texas or Michigan. I’ve found some conflicting records on that. (3)1900 U.S. census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Carrollton Township, enumeration district (ED) 30, sheet 18B, dwelling 359, family 368, Henry J Pape; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 739.

Ellen grew up in Michigan and stayed in the state for life (according to records so far). She met William C. LaValey in the 1890s and the two married 26 Aug 1893 in Saginaw County. (4)Saginaw County, Michigan, Marriage Records, vol 4:97, record 4223, William LaValley – Louisa Pape, 26 Aug 1893; image, “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018)

This is a Pape family reunion picture that although has stayed in the family, we only know that John and Martha are center (2nd seated row, the older couple) and Ellen is the seated in the 2nd row, last on the right. She’s holding Edna in her lap which makes this picture likely between 1894-1900.

William and Ellen were together until William’s death in 1962. (5)William LaValley Obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 27 Mar 1962, p. B8. Here is the couple in 1945. This picture graced my parents shelves for my entire life.

My mom talked about her grandma LaValey frequently. She was her namesake after all, plus her many years always made her a bit of a superstar in our family stories.

My mom worked for the newspaper in the 70s and she remembers helping to write up an article on Ellen when she turned 100. She passed away in Feb 1978, only a few months shy of her 102 birthday. (6)Saginaw County, Michigan, death certificate no. 326, Ellen Louise LaValey; Saginaw County Clerk’s Office, Saginaw.

Her obituary states that surviving her were 8 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, 18 great-great grandchildren, and several great-great-great grandchildren. (7)Mrs. Ellen Louise LaValey Obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan) 17 Feb 1978, p. D7. So many descendants!

101 years! From 1876-1978. Let’s just think of everything she saw in her lifetime:

  • New States: Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii
  • Movies: from The Great Train Robbery to Star Wars
  • Music:  From church and folk songs to Woodstock – using a radio or record player
  • Fashion: From long dresses with corsets to 1970’s women in pants and bikinis
  • Technology: Telephone, light bulbs, electricity in the home, indoor plumping, phonograph, the ballpoint pen, the zipper, radio, the vacuum cleaner, TV, penicillin, the first computers, video tape recorders, Sputnik, the moon landing, calculator, video games, home computers
  • The Wild West: Battle of the Little Bighorn, Nez Perce War, The O.K. Corral, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Annie Oakley (I loved her when I was a kid), Oklahoma Land Rush, Wounded Knee Massacre
  • Presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon (and Watergate), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter
  • Race and Immigration: Chinese Exclusion Act, The Dawes Act, Plessy v. Ferguson, Booker T. Washington, the Niagara Movement, NAACP founded by W.E.B. Du Bois, the KKK, Indian Citizenship Act, Detroit race riots, Civil Rights Movement, Brown v. Board, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King Jr., Little Rock
  • Labor Unions: Haymarket Affair,  Homestead Strike, Pullman Strike
  • Social Issues: National American Woman Suffrage Association; Prohibition; 19th Amendment; Roe v. Wade
  • Economic Crisis: Panic of 1893, Panic of 1896, Panic of 1907, Panic of 1910-1911, The Great Depression
  • Wars: Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, Boxer Rebellion, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Transportation: from cars with the Ford Motor Company (especially since it was in Michigan) with the Model T to the cars of the 1970s; airplanes from the Wright brothers to the Boeing 747, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart

I can’t list everything here but my goodness! I had flashbacks of my history classes in high school just looking at the list of things. It’s so much! It definitely makes me wonder what I’ll be able to list of historical events that happened in my lifetime.

Please like & share:

Sources   [ + ]

1. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018), entry for Ellen Lavaley, 1978, SS no. 365-68-0840
2. “Effie C. Gratopp,” obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 14 March 1975, p. B9.
3. 1900 U.S. census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Carrollton Township, enumeration district (ED) 30, sheet 18B, dwelling 359, family 368, Henry J Pape; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 739.
4. Saginaw County, Michigan, Marriage Records, vol 4:97, record 4223, William LaValley – Louisa Pape, 26 Aug 1893; image, “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Jan 2018
5. William LaValley Obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 27 Mar 1962, p. B8.
6. Saginaw County, Michigan, death certificate no. 326, Ellen Louise LaValey; Saginaw County Clerk’s Office, Saginaw.
7. Mrs. Ellen Louise LaValey Obituary, Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan) 17 Feb 1978, p. D7.

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Friday Finds 19 Jan 2018

4 Comments

  1. I love that you have listed all the things that your ancestor would have seen in her 100 years. It makes these historical events more real when we imagine our ancestors among them doesn’t it.

    • Nichelle Barra

      I agree! There are so many technological advances in her lifetime that drastically changed even what just homes looked like. Amazing!

  2. Great post, Nichelle! I also love the list at the end. What a great lens to use as you consider her life. A friend of mine’s mother-in-law lived to be 107. I met her when she was 106. She said it was just too long. Too much had changed and everyone she knew had died except for her son. She also mentioned too many wars. I hope your 3rd great grandmother enjoyed her very long life!

    • Nichelle Barra

      Thanks! From the stories I’ve been told, I believe that was true 🙂

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