Sunday, May 25, 2014

52 Ancestors - #21 Georgianna Katherine Ragan - She Loved to Dance

Georgianna Katherine Ragan was born in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri on May 20, 1871. She was the daughter of Mary Elizabeth Daniels (born in Virginia to Eli Daniels and Elizabeth Dawson on January 17, 1833) and George W. Ragan (born in Kentucky in 1832 to Richard and Priscilla Ragan.) She had an older half-brother Thomas and a half-sister Mary Elizabeth who were also cousins because their father was her father George’s late brother Coleman. She also had two older brothers, William Dudley and Alfred Brian or O’Brian, an older sister who Amanda who died sometime between 1870 and 1880, and a younger brother Robert. 

 William Dudley Ragan

Georgianna Katherine was known to my family as Katie but is listed in most records as Annie and used Annie with her family.

George W. Ragan originally came out to the Russian River in the Guerneville area in Sonoma County, California as part of the group that went after Chief Paulina, a renegade war leader of the North Paiutes of Eastern and Central Oregon and the Klamath Basin who refused to move to a reservation from 1859 to 1865.

George W. Ragan then decided to move his family out west in about 1877. They came out to Guerneville on one of the first “choo choo” trains to the area. Robert Ragan was born in California in 1877. Their house was on the steep side of a hill. A part of the roof was against the hillside. They could walk from the hill onto the roof as the goats did. The Ragan kids would slide down the hillside on boards. Annie’s brother Alf thought he could get a better ride on a large scoop shovel. However, when he got started the friction on the shovel against the dirt and the rocks caused so much heat that it fair burnt his little bottom before he could get off the shovel.

They lived there probably a couple of years then moved north by steamer to Union, Columbia County, Oregon where they were living on June 11, 1880 and George was working as a carpenter. George had a business in Lewis County, Washington that made woven leather chair bottoms called “Ragan Chairs.” Annie’s parents moved back and forth from Silver Creek, Washington to Selma, Oregon, to Crescent City, California.

On September 22, 1884 Annie and Robert Ragan were listed as pupils in Miss Cora Peabody’s class at Salkum School. In 1885 they were still living in Silver Creek, Lewis County, Washington. The red-headed Annie was known for her love of dancing.

On October 14, 1888, seventeen year old Georgianna Katherine married William John Tucker who was twenty-six years old at her parents’ home. Their witnesses were William’s neighbor Franklin Harrison Usher and William’s sister Agnes Tucker.

On July 18, 1889 William Henry Tucker their first child was born at Silver Creek. According to my Uncle Arnold, “Henry was a very handsome man, as were all the boys.”

circa 1890-1891
William John Tucker, William Henry, Georgianna Katherine

On January 8, 1892, my grandfather Alva Ashbury Tucker was born at Silver Creek. On April 6, 1894 Harold (both Arnold and Stella had thought he was the oldest and died when he was twelve but that doesn’t fit time wise and others have indicated that Annie said he was two when he died.) He had red hair like his mother.
 circa 1894
William John, Georgianna Katherine
Alva Ashbury, William Henry, Harold

On May 7, 1896 Edwin Monroe Tucker was born at Silver Creek. He was the last of their four children and their fourth son. Their third son Harold died July 26, 1896 at age two and according cemetery records he is buried Salkum Cemetery – but with no headstone. He may have drowned.

I do not know the circumstances but within a few months a number of things happened. Annie had a new baby and then two and a half months later Harold died at age two and then five months later, on December 28, 1896, Annie committed adultery with F.H. Usher at her home (this from the divorce papers that were to follow.) Franklin Harrison Usher lived on the farm next door and was married to Annie’s sister-in-law (William Tucker’s sister Lizzie) who was ill at this time.

When Frank and Annie ran off together on January 21, 1897 they took the baby Edwin Monroe Tucker with them and left Henry (7 years old) and Alvie (5 years old) home alone while William was out working on the farm.

From the February 12, 1897 Chehalis Bee newspaper:

“Two weeks ago THE BEE noted the death of Marion Usher of Cinebar. Saturday, January 30, the aged wife followed the husband, her funeral being held on Monday of last week. The husband was 75 years of age, the wife 70. The disgrace brought upon them by the conduct of their son, Frank H. Usher of Salkum who left the country about three weeks ago with a family scandal at his door, and his previous reputation as a man blighted, is believed to have had much to do with hastening the death of his aged parents. There is a sermon in this sad story that is stronger than words can tell, and the outcome is indeed pathetic.”

William then filed for divorce from Katie (Annie.) The Sheriff was unable to find Annie to serve her with divorce papers in March 1897 and it was believed that Annie and Frank had left Washington State. Summons by publications was filed and published once a week for four consecutive weeks in the “People’s Advocate” newspaper published in Chehalis, Washington.

The final divorce decree was granted on May 19, 1897 giving William custody of all three children since he was the only fit parent and stating that neither of the parties to this action could contract the marriage relation within a period of six month after this action. On May 21, 1897 notice appeared in ‘The Chehalis Bee’ stating their divorce was granted along with two other couples. Franklin’s wife Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Tucker Usher filed for divorce later than her brother did and it was not granted until the week of October 8, 1897.

Georgianna Katherine Ragan Tucker and Franklin Harrison Usher were married by a Justice of the Peace on October 30, 1897 at Crescent City, Del Norte, California where they were living at the time. Washington State law in 1897 was very specific on the six month waiting period so it probably wasn’t legal but I imagine Annie and Frank never saw their respective divorce papers. The six month waiting period was the time frame set by law for appeal of the decision of the court.

Annie and Frank soon moved up to Columbia City, Columbia, Oregon. Annie and Frank’s first child was Sidney Austin Usher born April 1, 1899 at Columbia City. In 1900 Frank and Annie Usher were still living at Columbia City, Columbia, Oregon with one year old Sidney and four year old Edwin. Frank is working as a day laborer. Edwin did not find out he wasn’t an Usher until he was almost grown up and was very upset about it.

Lola May Usher was born at Mt Pleasant, Cowlitz, Washington or at Yankton, Columbia, Oregon (the latter was the most probable) and she died at six months and is buried at the fence at Yankton Cemetery.

Lily Belle Usher was born in 1902 near Kalama, Cowlitz, Washington. I do know that Frank worked at logging camps in the area. On August 14, 1904 Annie Irene Usher was born at Carrollton (now Carrolls) 3 miles south of Kelso, Cowlitz, Washington. Lily Belle was about 3 and Irene was 2 when they both died at nearly the same time (from it was reported eating pea pods from the garden but possibly it was from eating something poisonous from the yard) and are buried at the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Kelso, Cowlitz, Washington.

Their fifth child and fourth daughter Clara Ella Usher (named after Aunt Ellie Ragan, Annie’s brother Alf’s wife) was born on December 1, 1907 at Houlton, on the Yankton Road, Columbia, Oregon. Houlton is now part of St. Helens, Oregon. They used to catch trains at the old train depot in Houlton. Their means of transportation was by train and by boat. All of the villages along the rivers had landings where the stern wheelers docked and picked up passengers and freight.

In April 1910 they are living on their own farm in Columbia County, Oregon. Annie and Frank’s youngest out of six and second son was George LeRoy Usher who was born on August 4, 1910 also at Houlton, on the Yankton Road, Columbia, Oregon. He lived to be 75 years old. A lot of the information I have on Annie after she left Lewis County, Washington is from George’s daughter Shirley.

In the ‘St. Helens Mist’ newspaper on February 28, 1913 it was reported that Frank Usher had moved his family to their farm for the summer. Frank, his parents and siblings had originally settled in the Mist area of Oregon when they first moved out here from East Plattsmouth, Mills County, Iowa.

In the March 26, 1915 issue of the ‘St. Helens Mist’, Frank and son Sidney had gone to the Dalles, Oregon, where they hoped to remain for some time having obtained employment. Sidney was almost 16 years old. Right after Frank had left town, Annie was informed that his sister was seriously ill in Centralia, Lewis, Washington and not expected to recover. In the July 9, 1915 ‘St. Helens Mist’, Frank and Sidney have just returned from Salem, Oregon where they had spent the past few months working.

In the fall of 1915 when George LeRoy was five years old Clara was seven, Annie and Frank separated. They were living in Houlton at the time. George thought it was because Annie joined a church that frowned on divorced couples marrying and they had a big battle over it. Clara said that wasn’t the reason. Frank did work away from home a lot which posed a problem in the marriage. Frank was also nine years older than Georgianna. When Georgianna divorced Frank she was 44 years old and he was about 53. They were divorced in either St. Helens, Oregon or in Kalama, Washington and they had been married 18 years.

Clara had started school at Houlton at the McBride School at age seven. In 1916 Sidney joined the navy when he was 17. When Clara was eight they moved to Columbia for a few months. George started school at Columbia but that same year they moved to Kalama, Washington and he attended the old Cloverdale School located three miles out of Kalama. The following year they went to school in Kalama. In early February 1917 Georgianna got a job keeping house for a widower in Kalama, Claud Myers. Annie and the kids slept upstairs which was all open.

Clara and George wore a lot of shoes and clothes handed down to their mother. Clara remembered that the shoes would have a bit of a heel and come down to a narrow pointed toe and would be high tops that would either lace up or button up. The shoes would hurt her feet and toes terribly, but she had to wear them anyway. Clara was determined that her kids would always have NEW shoes with plenty of room for the toes. Frank paid $75 a year to help pay for the kids clothing which is what the court had ordered. When Georgianna got that she usually bought the kids winter clothes and new shoes for the fall. In May she would buy Clara sandals with a T-strap which Clara liked.

On September 24, 1918, Anna Usher wrote Alva a letter while he was stationed at Aviation Camp 2, 866 Aero Squadron at Garden City, Long Island, New York. She was living in Kalama and had just returned from a vacation at the beach. Alva had written her a letter and asked her what she thought of the baby (which would have been my Aunt Stella who was 22 months old.) Anna responded that, “she certainly is a sweet little thing and looks like the little Alva I used to hold so long ago and sometimes spank. And judging from her nice letter Effie is certainly a wife to be proud of and daughter as well – really I love her already and know I shall love her more when I see her and I hope that will soon be. I am going up there just as soon as the busy fall work is done.”

Anna goes on to ask, “Did Edwin send you a picture of his sweetheart. She looks to be a dandy fine girl. They tell me she is a good Christian and that will help Edie to be a better boy as there is a lot in the company one keeps.” Anna closes the letter with, “Now I will just say goodbye come again. Will close with much love from mother to Alva.” She also enclosed a plant clipping for him.

In May of 1919 Clara thinks that Claud Myers sold his ranch, so Annie got the notion to go to Southern Oregon. Annie left Clara (age 11) with some people who lived up the Kalama River and took George, age 8, with her to Aunt Ellie’s and Uncle Alf’s home. The people had begged Annie to leave Clara with them. Clara became very homesick for her mother so they wrote Annie to come get Clara. Clara managed to finish her last week of school and then they met Annie in Portland, Oregon. Clara and Annie then spent the night in Portland with Annie’s eldest son Henry (Clara’s half brother) and Henry’s wife Claire and one year old baby Betty. It took Annie and Clara from early morning to late at night to travel from Portland, Oregon to Grants Pass, Oregon. They spent the night in a hotel and then a friend of Annie’s who owned a jitney service took them out to Alf’s and Ellie’s outside of Selma the next day although he didn’t normally go there. A jitney was an automobile like a Touring car with curtains at the open windows.

The summer of 1919 Georgianna took a job at the Western Hotel on 6th Street in Grants Pass, Oregon as a cook. The kids stayed with Uncle Alf and Aunt Ellie and visited their mother but there wasn’t anything for them to do other than sit on the porch or walk on the hotel grounds or along the street.  Annie worked there a short time and then worked at some other jobs before taking Clara with her to Klamath Falls while George stayed with Alf and Ellie.

Annie sometimes worked in logging camps as a cook to support herself. Part of that time was in Klamath Falls, Oregon as Clara remembered going to school there. Clara and George (or Roy as he was called there) stayed at their Uncle Alf and Aunt Ellie’s house a lot. Frank came to visit in the ‘off’ season pretty regularly (he mainly worked as a logger but did a lot of different work.) He never remarried.

During the 1920 census on January 12th, Annie is living with her older half sister Mary and her husband Harry Christie along with her 12 year old daughter Clara in Klamath Falls, Klamath, Oregon. The January 20, 1920 issue of the Klamath Falls ‘Evening Herald’ related the filing of the marriage certificate with the county clerk by C.C. Harper, Olene (10 miles southeast of Klamath Falls) rancher, and Annie Usher. They had been married on January 17, 1920 by the Rev. E. P. Lawrence. By October 1920 Clara was in the sixth grade and again living with Alf and Ellie Ragan for the school year. Clara then went back to Klamath Falls and her mother.

Annie suffered from migraine headaches and was a “nitpicky” person. Roy (George) remembered her working in the garden with a wet rag on her head because of the headaches and Clara remembered taking care of her during some very bad ones. Her son Roy said of her, “if you misbehaved she could slap you faster than you could blink.”

In 1923 Clara moved back to Selma and her Aunt and Uncle’s house (Alf never could make a go of ranching and moved a lot.) Clara stayed with them until she got married at age 16 on September 17, 1924.

Sometime in 1923 Annie and Cal (Charles C.) were divorced in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Georgianna then met Ed Coffee in Grants Pass, Oregon. She was working for a crew at the old Glory Mine in Galice then. Georgianna married Ed (Jesse Edwin) Coffee June 3, 1924 in Selma, Josephine, Oregon. They were married for a couple of years. One family impression of Ed was that he was lazy.

Annie’s second child with William, Alva Ashbury Tucker (my grandfather) died on May 27, 1927 when the tugboat he was Chief Engineer on sunk in stormy seas in the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Port Townsend, Washington. He was just 35 years old and left a widow and four young children.

Annie’s eldest son, William Henry Tucker, died November 30, 1927 of appendicitis during surgery in Seattle, King, Washington. He was 38 years old. He left a widow Hilda and a nine year old daughter Betty from his first marriage.

George had asked his dad if he could live with him. Frank told him he could when he turned 18. On March 22, 1928, Annie’s second husband Frank Usher died due to endocarditis while crossing a street at the intersection of 82nd and Sunnyside Road in the Portland area. That August when George turned 18 he instead joined the National Guard and served for two years in Klamath Falls.

After her son Alvie’s death when his children were living at Jackson Prairie, Lewis, Washington, Annie came to visit her grandchildren. Aunt Stella says the following, “Grandma Ragan’s name was Annie, but she was also called Katie, she was a red-headed swinger.” Aunt Stella remembers her as being very stylish and a lot of fun. My Mom remembers Katie teaching them how to dance the Charleston. My Mom also remembers being shocked because when Katie was helping her daughter in law Effa to hang wall paper -- her slip was showing!

In about 1930 when Annie was 59 she married a man by the name of McGuire in Klamath Falls, but they were only married for a short time and after the divorce Annie took back Coffee as a last name. In 1931 Annie’s fourth husband Ed Coffee died in California; in March 1933 her first husband William died at Silver Creek, Washington. In 1935 Annie was living in Klamath Falls, Klamath, Oregon according to the 1940 census.

On October 10, 1939 Sidney Austin Usher, Annie and Frank’s eldest child, died at age 40 of a brain tumor at the Marine Hospital in San Francisco, San Francisco, California. He had been married for more than 20 years but had never had any children.

In 1940 Georgianna is a lodger with the Tuttle family in Apple Valley, Canyon, Idaho. She is a 68 year old widow. Georgianna then spent her final years with Clara and her husband Lew in Selma, Oregon. While living there she liked to have, what she called, tea parties with her grandchildren.

In her final months, Annie went to a rest home in Medford. She was at the Shamrock Nursing Home when she died on November 11, 1943 3:10 a.m. at Medford, Jackson, Oregon at the age of 72 years 5 months and 21 days and was buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Grants Pass, Josephine, Oregon on November 14, 1943. Myocarditis was the immediate cause of death. Her death certificate also stated that she was the widow of Ed Coffee. Only three of her ten children survived her.

May 6, 1979 Edwin died in Seattle, Washington – he would have turned 83 years old the next day. George Roy Usher died December 27, 1985 at age 75. Clara Eller Usher Hammer died February 20, 1988 at Grants Pass, Oregon at age 80.

Great Great Grandparents: George W. Ragan/Mary Elizabeth Daniels
Great Grandparents: Georgianna Katherine Ragan/William John Tucker
Grandparents: Alva Ashbury Tucker/Effa Belle Graves
Parents: Elva Rosalie Tucker/Lionell Burris Mitchell

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