Originally posted 12/15/2010
As I went through my genealogy database for December birthdays, I didn’t have a single one for ancestors. I have a living cousin who is very special to me born in December (hi, Paul!!!), but I don’t want to give too much info on the living (unless it’s me), so I turned to marriages in December. There are numerous distant cousins who would be celebrating their anniversaries, but nothing I felt like writing about. So I moved to deaths and scrolled through looking for someone who spoke to me this Wednesday morning.
As my eyes came to Victoria Helen Robbins, I knew I found my gal. She was the first wife of my great grandfather, Cora Edwin Shelton (aka Charles). I’ve told Cora’s story before, but I haven’t delved much into his first family. As I looked at Victoria’s December 5, 1907 date of death in Oakland, Alameda County, CA , I just knew that she’d be the next person I learn more about. I pulled a FTM report for her and suddenly, her story came a bit to life. Or at least the end of her story.
In my version of Family Tree Maker, on the Facts tab, you see birth date, death date, and any other stuff you’ve put in. The Relationship tab, houses information about others. As I’ve learned from telling a story, 5 Dec 1907 is great information. It truly is. But really, can it be more boring? “Victoria Helen Robbins died on 5 Dec 1907 in Oakland, CA.”
Is that fun? Does that make you love Victoria Helen Robbins? Not me. I never loved her.
Until the relationship tab showed me that she had a baby on November 30, 1907. A baby that died that same day. And her 4 days later. Now her death means a bit more.
I know she grew up in Prairie du Chien, WI. And I know my great grandfather was supposedly in WI at the time of his mother’s death in 1906. I don’t know how he ended up in WI, but I’m having to fill in some lines with possibilities- there is an elder Shelton in Prairie du Chen- possibly an aunt or even grandmother of Cora.
I know he was a troublemaker. At the divorce, did Mom say, “John, I can’t handle that boy. You take him.” I know he was with John and his new family in 1880. Did John then say, “Oh my holy hell that boy is trouble!” and send him to live with great aunt Harriot? No idea. He’s not in a census there, but I haven’t looked harder. I just like to guess for awhile and then prove myself entirely wrong.
Anyway, back to our lady of the hour, Victoria. At some point soon before this baby and this death, she traveled from WI to CA. Far from family and friends. I know they had children with them (2 boys and 1 girl). And I know that (as I mentioned) he was known to be quiet, keeping to himself and moody. What a freaking lovely trip that must have been. Plus she was pregnant. Then she had the horror of losing a baby and then her own live.
Now I want to know “my” Victoria better. I want to learn all about her even though she isn’t my own great grandmother. She fits in nicely with my family, so I’m adopting her.
Updated 12/15/2011: In researching Victoria, I found that she and Cora had quite a few children, but most died. Their first is buried next to Victoria's grandmother Sarah Chapman in Milwaukee. Victoria's parents were William Robbins and Jane Ellsworth. They lived in Prairie du Chien until about 1890 and then moved to Milwaukee.After Sarah died, Jane (a widow) left and went to her brother's in California. Jane's brother was Eliphalet Ellsworth, who came to California and had a profitable farm in Napa. Cora, Victoria, and the children went with her. All of them are buried in Napa, California.