It was family reunion time last weekend. One “gift” I wasn’t expecting was a box of Aunt Bessie’s research and correspondence from the 60’s thru the 80’s. I’ve been spending this week going through it and a lot of what she had was not commonly known to the rest of the family. There were a couiple of letters that tied in with some of the recent discoveries about the family of Nancy West…These letters are from a descendent of Nancy’s first child, a son from her marriage to John Steven Bishop.
Feb. 7, 1980
Dear Mrs. Ralph Olson
You may be surprised to hear from me. I am Laura Bishop Hallister’s daughter an I wondered if you could tell me some about your Mother’s people.
Before my mother passed away she made a trip to South Texas to visit some of her cousins an Aunts. She called your Mother Aunt Sally. Did you see her when she came down there. They had a large family picnic for her but I’ve forgot some of the things she told me.
My Father + Mother both talked a lot about their kin folks but theres a lot I wish I’d written down. I know her father Steve had 6 half brothers and sisters. An your mother was Sally Delana Cox Boyd who died in 1964. Someone had written my Mother.
Steve Bishop married Melissa Cox an Mother wrote to these girls Evelyn and Ruby off an on for years. Would you know them? Which one of the Cox’s was Melissa married to before?
Did you folks live near my Mothers folks at any time.
I’ve always wished we could have afforded a trip down there but we all have had to work for a living an never had the money to go on such a vacation. I would appreciate any information you have on these family matters I love family history. If you don’t know any of this its alright let me hear from some of you.
Your kin from Montana
Ona Mae Juhl
Mrs. B. R. Juhl
This was the first letter. I really do not think Aunt Bessie would have known much about these kinfolk in Montana. I do not have her reply, but from the second letter it would appear she was unfamiliar with any of this family. Laura Bishop was a child of Steven Bishop and his first wife Johnnie Chamberland. It appears that after Johnnie died Steven Bishop married the widow of his half-brother Henry Cox, Melissa Brown Cox.
The second letter reads like this…
March 5, (1980 from envelope)
Mrs. Ralph Olson
Dear Bessie W so glad to hear from you. I know you didn’t know who I was but was surprised you didn’t know any Bishops. Didn’t you ever see Steve Bishop who married your Aunt Melissa? You didn’t tell me which one of the Cox’s Aunt Melissa was married too first?
My Mother Laura Hallister Bishop visited down in Southern Texas I think it was 1954. A cousin or half cousin took her from Austin or Houston by car down there. She stayed over the weekend an they had a large family picnic in the park. She told me who all these people were at the time but I’ve forgotten. These pictures of Aunt Ellen and Aunt Sally were taken then or sent to her later. I knew she went to see these older Aunts. She had lived near by them as a girl because she spoke of them often.
My parents and grandparents (the Hallisters) came to Montana in 1916 homesteaded and went broke. We three older girls were born in Oklahoma. I had four younger sisters no brothers there are 5 of us girls left two of my sisters Aline 69 yrs Ruby 65 an Myself 67 live here in Billings. My youngest sister 50 lives in Colo. Frieda lives in Salem Oregon. She will be 56 yrs old.
Freida has a daughter an son (4 grandchildren). Ruby had 2 boys an 1 girl She has 9 grandchildren 1 great grandchild. Aline has been a widow for over 25 years an didn’t have children. I have been married 46 years an we never had children either
You must be a lot younger than we are to have teenage children.
Mother had your name an address with others in an old address book. I’ll send these pictures to you. Maybe you know some of them they were ones Mother had taken on that trip to Texas. This old snap shot of Uncle Willie Cox and Aunt Alice is one Mother had among her old pictures. I don’t know who the other woman was. When we were kids growing up we’d look throu the old pictures until I that we knew them all. Mother relate stories about ever one. She and Daddy must have been awful lonesome those first years in Montana. Grandpa Bishop visited here in the summer of 1920 I was 8 yrs old an remember him.
I would hope you keep in touch with me I love to know about the kin.
We haven’t had much winter in Montana about 5 inches of snow has fallen since Sunday but it isn’t cold an unusually mild winter. We need more moisture for crops an range land next summer.
You may keep the pictures or give them to someone who knows as I don’t know any of them.
I know Mother went to or throu Lulu Texas where she saw fields of watermelon grown commercially.
Bye for now
Your Montana kinfolks
Ona Mae Juhl
It looks like I have some additional research to do to tie all of these together with my family…more to follow.