The Phenice Family in Nebraska Circa 1935
Here is a really nice old photo of the Phenice family from around 1935. I got this from my cousin Diane Phenice Prejean who shared it with me at the Keys Family Reunion last year. I had never seen the photo before, so was excited to be able to get a digital copy. I recognized most of the people in the photo since I have been collecting old photos of the Phenice family for a few years now.
The oldest person in the group is in the center of this photo. That would be my great great grandfather Samuel Charles Phenice. As you can see, he was a quite elderly man at the time. He was born in 1844 and died in 1939. I estimated that this photo was taken a few years before his death. His wife Cathrine Jane Foster Phenice had died in 1921, leaving Samuel a widower for almost 20 years. Besides having been married for 54 years, Charles and Kate (as they were known back then) had eight children together between 1868 and 1889. Their 6th child named Mollie was born in 1881 and lived less than a year. The others lived to adulthood.
The oldest child was a boy named Chauncey Austin who was born in 1868. I have never seen a photo of him. (I have since found one! Check it out here.) He moved to Colorado and must not have coordinated his visits home with his siblings. If he did visit home. He and his wife Anna Stockton had four children together. Anna May was the oldest girl and she was born in 1869. You can see her in this photo 2nd from the left. May, as she was called, married a man named William Taylor and they had a family that lived in Trenton, Nebraska. That is in the same area that Samuel Phenice homesteaded in the late 1890s. Samuel was close to his daughter’s Taylor family. He was living with a Taylor grandson at the time of the 1930 Census.
The third child was another son named William Emory born in 1871. I’ve never seen a photo of this son either! He lived in Colorado and California. His four children he had with his wife Ethel Hohn were all born in Colorado. The next older son was James Edmund “Edd” who was born in 1872. I think he had an accident when he was young that resulted in him being deaf. He was never married and lived with the family in Beaver City until his death in 1944. He was a handsome young man and I can still recognize him as the man on the far left in this photo.
The fifth child was my great grandfather Harry Clifton, born in 1874. It’s interesting that Charles and Kate had their first five children in just over six years, and then the last three were born over the next fifteen years. The earlier children were born in Pennsylvania mostly, while the latter were born in Nebraska when they were homesteading.
We all know that H. C. left Nebraska in 1898 and came to Louisiana, where he married English immigrant Daisy Keys. He also was known to ride his bicycle across the country to Colorado three times. He rode from Trenton, Nebraska, to Denver. I’m not sure about the details. Surely it happened before he had moved to Louisiana, so it most likely was when he was in his early twenties. He was about sixty years old in this photo and I doubt that he rode his bike from southern Louisiana to get there. He is seen third from the left between his sister May and his father Samuel.
The sixth child was Mollie, who I mentioned earlier. She was born June 12, 1881, in Seward, Nebraska. She died as an infant and was probably buried in that area. Samuel’s father Daniel probably died in the same area. He was alive and living with Samuel and family in Seward during the 1880 Census on June 23, 1880. I assume he died in the Seward area. He wasn’t alive in 1885 when Samuel began homesteading in the Trenton area. So it is likely Daniel and Mollie were buried near each other in Seward.
The seventh child was Lola Myrtle born in 1886 in Seward. I saw her marriage certificate this summer when I went to Beaver City. She was married in 1906 to Frank Cozad and they had six children together. They lived in Alamena, Kansas, which is very close to Beaver City. This photo was most likely taken in Alamena. Samuel lived with his youngest daughters the last few years of his life.
His youngest daughter was Emma Orra born in 1889 in Trenton area. She was married to Charlie Quillen in 1909 in Beaver City, and they had five children together. She lived in Beaver City most of her life, so this photo could be from that area as well. Myrtle is the one standing to the right of her father Samuel. On the other side of her is her younger sister Emma, and I think the man on the far right is Emma’s husband Charlie. At least he looks like other photos of Charlie that I have seen.
I’ve wondered if H. C.’s daughter Myrtle (my maternal grandmother AKA Grandma) knew her aunts and uncles on this side of the family. I know that her younger sister Marguerite only visited the family up in Kansas/Nebraska once. I haven’t seen Grandma in any of the photos from there. I know that she knew her Keys aunts and uncles because they all lived nearby. So the family lost touch because of distance.
But now we are making new connections with our cousins through modern connectivity. DNA testing helps us to identify some of these relations. Social media allows us to keep in touch with them and see some of what they are doing. I’ve always wondered what my family in other parts of the country had for dinner.
And now I know.