Monday, May 26, 2014

52 Ancestor's Challenge - Army PFC Jake J. Holcomb, World War II - Week 21

My grandmother, Tennie Belle Holcomb Gibson, had a brother, who we all called "Buck."  He lived next door to my grandparents in a tiny, one-bedroom house in Baldwin Park, California.  He was a quiet, sweet, man who never married, and always wore plaid western-styled shirts and cowboy boots.  He didn't speak much and kept to himself mostly, except for the occasional family gathering.  In conversations, he usually wasn't the one talking, but would reply "yeah, yeah, yeah."  The most I ever heard him speak was sitting with my grandmother and reminiscing about their childhood.  Even then it was my grandmother asking the questions and leading the conversation.  But he usually had a smile on his face, and seemed happy.  This is how I remember him.

It wasn't until I was older, that I found out he had earned a Purple Heart in World War II.  Since it is Memorial Day today, I felt it was appropriate to dedicate this post to him, .

Buck was born Jake Jr. Holcomb on October 29, 1919 near the town of Leuders, in Shackelford County, Texas.  He was the 4th child, and youngest son to Benton Rogers Holcomb and Mamie Estelle Locke Holcomb.  Why was he named Jake Jr. when his father was named Benton?  Well, Benton was often called Jake.  Not sure why Benton was called Jake, but we believe Buck was named after him.  So why did everyone call him Buck you might ask?  Well, I'm not sure about that either, except that it was actually "Roebucks" that they originally called him.  Maybe it was so they wouldn't get him confused with his father.  Why Roebucks?  I have no idea.**

The family lived in Shackelford County, Texas for a few years, before moving to the Tahoka area, just south of Lubbock, Texas.  Buck spent most of his childhood on a farm and worked alongside his family raising cotton.  He attended school until the 5th grade, which is when he began working on the family farm as a farm hand.  According to his Army Separation Qualification Record (we have on hand in his papers), his main occupation was a farm hand on a general farm.  His work summary listed was: "Worked on farm for wages.  Drove tractor to plant, plow and harvest such crops as cotton and small grain.  Tended cows.  Raised poultry for home use." 

Benton Rogers Holcomb and Jake Jr. Holcomb (Buck) in front of the families gas station and general store.
Not sure of the date - probably taken after the war.

Around 1941, Buck's parents purchased a grocery store and gas station.  I believe this was in New Lynn, which was just northeast of Tahoka.  According to U.S. World War II Enlistment Records on, Buck's Civil Occupation was a "Sales Clerk."  On October 29, 1941, a Notice of Selection was sent out to Buck to report for "Induction" on or around November 17, 1941.  According to his enlistment records, he enlisted at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas on November 19, 1941.

Buck's identification card found in his papers
Card from Buck sent back home to his family while he was away at war.
Signed "Roebucks"

According to his Enlisted Record and Report of Separation, Honorable Discharge, Buck served as a PFC in the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry.  He was an Ammunition Bearer, and he "Carried ammunition to troops in front lines.  Loaded and unloaded trucks.  Stacked shells and explosives.  Pre=pared ammunition for instant use."

He saw action in
"Algeria-French Morocco  Tunisia  Sicily  Normandy  Northern France  Rhineland GO 33 WD 45." 
Decorations and Citations earned:
"EAME  Campaign Medal with 6 Bronze Stars  Distinguished Unit Badge with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster  Purple Heart GO 23 Hq 3474 Evac Hosp APO 43 3 Aug 44  Good Conduct Medal  American Defense Service Medal."
The Purple Heart was earned from a small shrapnel wound he obtained, according to a newspaper clipping we have (do not know the name of the paper it was from or the exact date it was printed). 

Buck separated from the Army at Fort Sam Houston on July 1, 1945, and returned to his family home.  I'm not sure what happened next, but I do believe at some point he suffered from a nervous breakdown.  I've heard it was due to his time in the Army.

Buck remained with the family and probably worked in the store and gas station.  His father became sick in the beginning of 1946, and he traveled with him to Ruidoso, New Mexico.  There, Benton was trying to get relief for asthma, and Buck was there to help him.  Unfortunately, Benton passed away unexpectedly on March 11, 1946.

Buck returned to Lynn County, TX and lived with his mother, Mamie, and younger sister, Tennie Belle for another year, until the store was sold and they all moved to California.

Mamie eventually purchased a small property in Baldwin Park, California in the early 50s.  This is where her and Buck lived.  My grandmother, Tennie Belle, and her husband moved in next door to them around 1955.  Buck shared the one-bedroom house with his mother.  She had the bedroom while he slept on the pull-out sofa in the front room.  Mamie passed away in 1972, but before she died, she made my grandmother promise to take care of, and look after Buck.

Buck with his mother, Mamie, holding my mother, Teresa.
I believe they're standing in front of their little house - about 1950.

Buck in his cowboy hat - probably taken in the late 70s early 80s,
In Baldwin Park, CA - My grandparents dog Sandy and our dog Pepper running around him.

Buck remained at his little house until he became sick and had to move to a nursing home.  He passed away on December 6, 2000 at Intercommunity Medical Center in Covina.  His final resting place is at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA.

If you have any questions, or concerns, about the information in this post, please leave me a comment. I'd be happy to answer any questions, or share what information I have on the individuals listed above. Thanks for reading!!

**After my mom read this, she passed on a little information about what she remembers about Buck: "I heard that Mama (that would be Buck mother Mamie) called him Roebuck when she would call him in from playing or working, instead of just Buck she would say it really long like..."RooooooooooBuck!"  Kind of like calling someone who was out in the fields or down the street."  "Also, he loved In-n-Out hamburgers, fries, and Cokes...Had the biggest smile on his face everytime we brought him one."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

52 Ancestor's Challenge - Harmon Augustus Tracy - Week 20

Picture of Harmon Augusta Tracy
Found on, originally posted by tinalawson630
in her tree named Gibson/Stockdale Family Tree
It's another week, and I'm writing yet another post for the challenge brought by Amy Johnson Crow, 52 Ancestor's in 52 WeeksIts colorful ancestors like the one I'm discussing this week, that make this hunt so exciting!!  This week is all about my great, great grandfather Harmon Augustus Tracy.  So many stories about this one, I don't know where to begin!!  I'm lucky that so much is already known, and shared, about this man.  A lot of what I'm writing this week is from all the notes I've collected through the years.  Some from family reunions from years ago, and some from email correspondences with other relatives.  All in all, this is going to serve as a means to put the information all in one place...Finally!

Let's start from the beginning...

Harmon Augustus Tracy was born December 1, 1834 in Connorsville, Fayette County, Indiana.  He was the second son born to Henry Tracy and Julia Content Greer.  Altogether, I believe he had 7 siblings: Mary Elizabeth b.1828 in OH, Henry Lafayette b. 1832 in OH, Lydia b. 1839 in IN, Nancy Jane b. 1841 in IN, Thomas b. 1846 in IN, Harriett b. 1848 in IL, and Millard F. b. 1851 in MO.  Harmon's father was born in either Canada, as many of the censuses state, or he may have been born in New York, as some others researching this line believe.  His mother, Julia was born in Massachusetts.

In 1850 we can see Harmon living with his family in Warren County, Illinois.  On the 1850 Federal Census (found on, it shows a Jonathan Tracy also living with the family.  He shows as 79 years old and born in New Jersey.  It is said this might be Harmon's grandfather living with the family.

Here's where things get interesting...

Marriage record for Harmon Tracy and Anne McAllen
Bourbon Co., Kansas 1859
Recorded in Book A, page 27
found on
Kansas Marriage records index 1855-1869
Harmon marries Anna Rebecca Elifritz sometime in 1859.  Anna is the widow of James McAllen.  She is also a few years older and had a child from her first marriage, named Albert.  You can see the family living in the County of Bourbon in Kansas Territory, on the 1860 Federal Census.  In the household is:
  • Harmon age 26
  • Ann age 29
  • Albert age 8
  • Frederick age 2 months
Harmon and Anna went on to have at least 6 children altogether:
  • Frederick Alexander b.1860 in Des Moines, IA
  • Harmon Oliver b. 1862 Osceda, Warren Co., IL
  • Calvin Minton b. 1865 Lebenon, St. Clair Co., IL
  • William Augustus b. 1867 Des Moines, IA
  • Clara Julia b. 1870 Lebenon, St. Clair Co., IL
  • Martha Ann b. 1873 Patoka, Marion Co., IL
The family seemed to move around quite a bit.  I believe Harmon was a carpenter, so he may have moved to where the work was.

During the Civil War, Harmon was a private in the Union army.  He enlisted in Company F, Iowa 6th Infantry Regiment on September 9, 1862, and was mustered out July 16, 1864 in Roswell, GA.  According to family, he was injured in the war.  I have a note in my files that says his daughter Grace said "he fell off a bridge while in retreat and broke his back."  Not sure if that is true.

The family can not be found in the 1870 census.  However, on the 1880 Federal Census, you can find Anna living with her, and Harmon's, 6 children.  They are living in Patoka, Marion County, Illinois (found on  Harmon is not showing, but Anna is still listed as married.  There is a Harmon Tracy living N. 15th Street in St. Loui, Missouri.  Same age, same places of birth for him and his parents too.  He is also a carpenter.  But we see a woman named Catherine, age 48, born in Kentucky...and she is listed as his wife!!  Did he get a divorce from Anna??  Many of Harmon's siblings, and his mother were living in St. Louis around the 1870s and 1880s.

Then on June 16, 1886, Harmon is shown marrying a Mrs. Susan Greer in White County, Arkansas (certificate found on!!  What happened to Catherine?  Mrs. Susan Greer is said to be Susan Elizabeth Mary Johnson, widow of Charlie Greer.  Greer???...could he be a relative of his mother's?  Haven't been able to make that connection yet, but still looking.  Susan had a daughter from her first marriage with Charlie, named Ora Leila Greer.  Ora actually goes on to marry Harmon's nephew, Henry Foster Tracy.

Harmon and Susan go on to have a few children as well:
  • Olive Content (also called Bessie Mae) b. 1888
  • Matthew J. Bowlan (also called Bud) b. 1890
  • Mary b.1891, d.1894
Harmon's sister, Harriett was living in Bald Knob, White County, Arkansas in the late 1800s.  Its possible they were nearby.  Harriett was married to Matthew J. Bowlan, which is who I'm guessing Harmon's son Matthew was named after.

It has been said that Susan died sometime around 1893.  This information was given to me from some notes others had taken from Harmon's pension file.  Not long afterward, Harmon marries Martha Jane Ross on November 14, 1896.  Martha is who I'm related through, and she was a divorced woman who already had 4 children with her first husband, John Hopson.  The children were Willie b.1889, Ivy b.1882, Myrtle b.1884, and Lester b.1890.  Harmon and Martha had at least 7 children together:
  • Paul - died in infancy
  • Luke - died in infancy
  • William Mark b. 1897
  • Minnie b. 1899
  • Arbelle, or Orville, b.1902
  • Grace b.1904
  • Byron Earl b. 1906
How many children is that now???  About 16 who were from Harmon, not including the step-children.  Interesting to point out too, Harmon was about 72 years old when his youngest was born!!  Crazy!!

We can find Harmon and Martha living in DeSoto, Jefferson County, MO with their children Olive, Matthew, Mark, Minnie, Willie, Ivy, Myrtle, and Lester, in the 1900 Federal Census (found on

In 1910, the family is still living in DeSoto, and Harmon is still living there with Martha and kids Mark, Minnie, Orville, and Grace...not sure where Byron is (found on

Then after 1910, Harmon left the family to go visit his daughter, Olive, in Arkansas.  He never made it back.  On May 17, 1919 Harmon died in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was supposedly on his daughter Olive's houseboat.  According to the 1920 Federal Census, her husband, William F. Wright, was a "Ferry Boat Owner."  Not sure if that is the same boat our family notes were referring to.

Harmon was buried at the Memphis National Cemetery in Memphis, TN.

Picture found on
After Harmon's death, Harmon's first wife, Anna, tried to obtain his pension as well.  She sent in a certified copy of their marriage certificate from Bourbon County, Kansas stating they were married November 31, 1859.  It seems they probably never got a divorce.

Some interesting notes I've been given on Harmon are as follows:

From an email to my mother from a distant cousin of ours who had been in contact with another cousin of ours.  He was in contact with Grace, Harmon's daughter.  She was still alive in 2000 and living in DeSoto, MO.  This is a note of what Grace said about her father:
  • "He was short (Grace is less then 5ft. tall).  He was supposed to have been a mormon.  He was injured in the Civil War.  She said "He fell off a bridge while in retreat and broke his back."  He was a member of the Union Army in Iowa.  He played a fife.  He owned a grocery store in DeSoto, MO.  Grace remembers that Harmon left the family when she was about 10 years old.  She said he left the family to "go visit his daughter in Arkansas and never came back."  She said that he "lived on a houseboat."  There was also mention of a sister named "Hattie" that lived in Bald Knob, Arkansas."
Another story I have in my files is one about Harmon and his father-in-law, William Ross (Martha Ross' father - Harmon's last least I think it was his last!):
  • Harmon's father-in-law, William Ross was about 7 years younger then his son-in-law (William Ross was born about 1841).  William also fought in the Civil War, but he was on the Confederate side.  At one point, the two were living in the same household, and it is said "they would use their canes and try to trip each other as the walked by."

If you have any questions, or concerns, about any of the information listed above, please leave a comment. I'd be happy to provide any additional information. Thanks for reading!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

52 Ancestor's Challenge - Minnie T. Tracy - DeSoto, Missouri - Week 19

Week 19 of the 52 Ancestor's Challenge is on my great grandmother, Minnie T. Tracy.  She was the only great grand parent that was still living by the time I was born.  I remember visiting her once when I was a child.  She was very tiny for an adult, I thought.  Of course, I was about 7 years old at the time.

Minnie was born in August 16, 1899 in DeSoto, Jefferson County, Missouri.  She was the daughter of Harmon Augustus Tracy and Martha Jane Ross.  Her parents were both married multiple times, and between them, they had about 20 children.  So Minnie had about 19 siblings!!  According to family, she always stated she had Indian blood in her.  Haven't found the link on her side of the family yet, but still looking. 

In 1900, the family was living in Valle Township, City of DeSoto, Jefferson County, MO (from 1900 Federal Census, page 11 of 61 found on  The household consisted of her father, Harmon, and mother, Martha, 2 of her half siblings from her father's previous marriage, Olive and Matthew, her full sibling Mark, and her half siblings from her mother's previous marriage, Willie, Ivy, Myrtle, and Lester Hopson.

In 1910, the family is still living in the City of DeSoto, living in District 45.  In the house is Harmon, Martha, Mark, Minnie, and 2 more full siblings of Minnie's, Arbelle, and Grace (from 1910 Federal Census, page 4 of 22 found on  There is a third sibling born in 1906, Byron Earl Tracy, but he isn't shown with the family on this census...not sure why?

Frances, Vicki, and Minnie

November 1, 1916, Minnie married William Frank Gibson in DeSoto.  She was just 17 years old.  The couple went on to have 9 children:
  • Ethel Louise (1917-1993)
  • Kenneth Earl (1919-2007)
  • Dorothy Lucille (1921-2004)
  • William Frank (1922-1990)
  • Frances Wilma (1924-1994)
  • Violet Marcella (Vicki) (1927-2011)
  • Louis Marie (1930-2001)
  • Thelma Mildred (1931-1931)
  • Vivian June (1933-1977)

I can't seem to locate the family in the 1920 Federal Census, the family was known for moving around a lot.  According to my notes, every child was born in a different house.  I do know my grandfather, William Frank Jr. (went by the name Bill), was born in DeSoto.  One note I have in my files says the family moved after my grandfather, Bill, was born.  Either way, by 1930, they were definitely living in St. Louis.  According to the 1930 Federal Census, they were living at 1461 Benton Street, St. Louis, Missouri (1930 Federal Census, page 7 of 21 on  William Sr. worked as a shoe maker in a factory.

Sometime before 1937, William Sr. left the family.  He tried to get a divorce from Minnie, but she refused for 7 years.  In that time he had two more children with another woman named Elnora Spencer.  Their divorce was not completed until 1945.  In the 1940 Federal Census, you can find Minnie living with 6 of her children: Bill, Frances, Vicki, Lois, June, and Dorothy, along with Dorothy's husband Nick Marino (1940 Federal Census, page 20 of 36 on  They were living at 1225 Chambers Street, in St. Louis.  There is a Frank Gibson living at 905 Chambers Street, in St. Louis.  If this was William Sr., then he probably wasn't far.
Great Grandma Minnie with 4 of her children.
Left to right: Dorthy, Lois, Bill, Minnie, and Frances.

Minnie remained in Missouri the rest of her life.  In the early 80's she made a trip out to California, which is where I remember visiting her with a bunch of my cousins.  I thought I had a photo of all of us with her, but can't seem to locate it at this time.

In my records and notes, it says according to her daughter Vicki, Minnie added the T as a middle initial because there was another Minnie Gibson living in DeSoto, and the post office kept getting them mixed up. So she added the T in order to get her mail. I'm guessing the T stood for Tracy, but not certain.

Tennie Belle Holcomb Gibson, Minnie Tracy Gibson, and
William Frank Gibson, Jr.
Photo taken at the home of William and Tennie Belle
in Baldwin Park, CA

Minnie passed away April 17, 1982 at the Normandy South Hospital, in Des Peres, St. Louis County, MO.  She was 82 years old.  I have a copy of her obituary.  The date of the paper is April 19, 1982, but not sure which paper it is from.  It reads:

"Minnie Gibson
The funeral for Minnie Gibson, 82, De Soto, will be at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) in a chapel of Mahn Funeral Home, De Soto, with the Rev. James Lillie officiating. Burial will be in De Soto City Cemetery.

Mrs. Gibson died at Normandy Osteopathic Hospital South, Des Peres, on Apr. 17, 1982. She was a daughter of the late Harmon and Martha Jane (Ross) Tracy, born Aug. 16, 1899 at De Soto.

Her husband, was the late William Frank Gibson. They were married at De Soto on Nov. 2, 1916.

She was a resident of Jefferson County all of her life and was a housewife.

Survivors include seven children, Kenneth E. Gibson, De Soto, Dorothy Wood, Hillsboro, Ethel Louise Albers, St. Ann, William Gibson, Jr., Baldwin, Calif., Frances Wilma Durham, Jefferson City, Violet Marcella McManness, Cedar Hill, and Lois Marie Grimett, Anaheim, Calif.; sister, Grace Pilger, St. Louis; 29 grandchildren; 49 great-grandchildren"

According to her death certificate, she was living at 602 S. 2nd Street, DeSoto, Jefferson County, MO. 

Minnie Tracy Gibson
Not sure when or where this was taken, but isn't she cute!!

If you have any questions, or concerns, about the information in this post, please leave me a comment. I'd be happy to answer any questions, or share what information I have on the individuals listed above. Thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

52 Ancestor's Challenge - Week 18 - Augusta Rheinfels - Celle, Germany to Chicago, IL

This weeks post is going to be short.  I don't have much information on this Rheinfels family, or Augusta herself.  Augusta was my 3rd great grandmother on my father's side.  Augusta Rheinfels was the wife of Wilhelm Grote.  They were the parents of my 2nd great grandmother, Caroline Grote Glesener (also known as Lina).  From a cousin of mine, I found their other children were Carl, Gussie, William, and Herman. 

The first record I found of her, was the 1900 Federal Census (found on  She was living with her daughter Lina, and Lina's family, at 454 Cornelia, Town of Lake View, City of Chicago, Illinois.  Augusta is shown as a widow, age 67, born August 1833 in Germany.  It also says she came to the U.S. in 1892, about 4 years after Lina.  Whether she came with Wilhelm, I'm not sure.  However, after a while, I was able to locate Augusta in the "Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1897" on's "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989."  She is listed as the widow of Wilhelm, and living at 585 Larrabee.  Her son Herman is shown as living at the same address in this directory.

I was able to get a copy of Augusta's death certificate.  She died February 8, 1905 at the residence of her daughter, Lina.  She was 69 years, 5 months, and 11 days, which puts her birth date as August 28, 1835.  The record says she was born in Germany, but it doesn't list a town.  Augusta was buried at St. Lucas Cemetery on February 11, 1905.

If you have any questions, or concerns, about any of the information listed above, please leave a comment. I'd be happy to provide any additional information. Thanks for reading!!