Scripture Motto

"Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Looking for Nellie Elvira

Who is Nellie Elvira? What happened to her? Where did life take her? Did she live a long happily-ever-after life?

She was born December 23, 1887 to my great-grand aunt who died March 9, 1888. Prior to visiting the local historical society several months ago, I thought my great-grand aunt only had a son, but then I found the daughter’s birth announcement in the archived newspapers. My heart ached as I stood over the lonely grave of my great-grand aunt, but ached even more for this child without an ancestral trail.

I’ve searched for her, but without a name nothing popped up. Last week that piece of information emerged. There it was—there she was—in a letter written to my great-grandfather from her aunt D. J.

Jamesport, MO - Oct. 17, 1889

…I received your letter... Her name is Nellie Elvira and she looks just like her mother. I do not know how long we will keep her. The little boy's name is Guy. he lives with his grandparents in Ohio, but I can't give their address. Mother spent last summer with me, and she talked of going to see you, but her health was so bad that she thought she had better not go. She was nearly crazy over the loss of our sister. I do not know that I can tell any more, only that the children are real smart and sweet little things. Yours, D.J.

She’s alive! Or she was at that time. Where did she go from there? The censuses follow her brother and father back to Ohio and Illinois, but no Nellie. I have found a possibility of her living with a cousin in Ohio, but I’m not 100% certain this is my Nellie.

Yes, she’s become my Nellie, my obsession. I can’t get her off my mind. Where did this little orphan girl go?

My questions began at that lonely gravesite looking over Trenton, Nebraska.
-          Did my great-grandfather’s half-sister die due to complications of the child’s birth, the severity of the 1888 winter, or something else?
-          Was her husband so distraught, he buried his wife of three years without a headstone, and then immediately set out for his homeland with only their 2-year-old son in tow?
-          Did Nellie’s papa feel it would be best to let his grief-stricken mother-in-law, who was present at the birth of his daughter and the death of her own 24-year-old daughter, take his baby girl to D.J.’s Missouri home?
-          Is she the 12-year-old Nellie living with cousins in Ohio?
-        Did she skip rope in the school playground, fuss with her hair, and meet Mr. Right to have babies of her own?

I want her to have a legacy—a happily-ever-after life. I want her life to count for something. 

I may never find out what happened to Nellie Elvira, but I have found Lord. No matter my ancestry, no matter my past, I am blessed and saved. If one day, my want descendants seek to know me, I want them to know me as a passionate seeker of the Lord—as one who found the way to live a happily ever-lasting life.

“You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!”
Jeremiah 29:13 ncv

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