Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: Viola Ivanell Wright

I remember going to Kentucky every weekend when I was very little. I don't remember when that became more of a summer vacation trip.
Another weekend that I always remember going to Kentucky was Memorial Day weekend. We always went to my grandparents, James aned Cora Wright Mullins graves. It was the only time I remember that that is why we drove down rather than visiting Granny and Poppy. Oh I know that we would have stayed at Granny's but I don't remember going to any Bentley graves or even any of the time we would have spent with them. Those weekend memories are strictly going to Ma and Pa's graves. I don't remember when we stopped that.

My memory was driving until we came to a big white house that was on the corner beside a single lane dirt road that went up a holler to the graveyard. We would turn in there and drive up a bit and the graveyard was on the left. It was open and beautiful, but there were a few homes here and there so it seemed open but not alone

I never knew either of my grandparents. Everyone a few years older than me at that time was "old" so it did not seem out of order for me that my grandparents had died. What always struck me on those trips was a little grave that was covered by what I always thought of as a little house. Inside was a grave of a little girl named Viola Ivanell Wright. She was born July 31, 1933. She died on January 21, 1940. This little grave protected by that gleaming white structure seemed to me to be someone who must have been very loved and greatly missed by her parents.

Viola Ivanell Wright 1933 -1940

Since she was a Wright I would ask who she was and if she were related to us. I was told she might be, but probably it was another set of Wrights. I would look at the other graves and the nearest to her were Ben and Laura Jane Webb. Down from her grave were more Wrights, Joel Martin and Jane R. Wright, but their birthdates seemed wrong for parents of this child. I always thought her parents must have been alive around this time because her little building was always pristine.

At some point we stopped making those trips for memorial day weekend and we would stay home and have a barbecue. Years later when I was visiting I was driving with my cousin, Kris. I can't remember where we were going, but suddenly I saw that white house on the corner which signaled Ma and Pa's graves. We turned in what was now a paved single lane road and went up the holler and found the graveyard. A trailer was sitting up above the graves. Another was beside it. A drive was on the left beside it with no tresspassing signs posted. The worst was the little white structure over Viola's grave was greatly in need of paint and the roof was leaking. Neighbors to the graves had their chickens roosting on her grave under the leaking roof. I looked to see if there were new graves that might have been her parents, but I found none.

I didn't go back for several years. When I did someone had erected a chain link fence around the graves and put a metal roof on the little structure. I was glad that it was not taken down as it could have been from the disrepair I saw that last visit. The graves seemed tended, but looked out of place among so many trailers and houses. It didn't look anything like it did on those visits as a child.

Last November I went to visit again and I passed the graveyard before I realized where it was. There were so many buildings and trailers around that I totally missed it til I was by it. I turned in a driveway and came back. There isn't any legal place to park. If you park on the road, you block someone from coming or going. The land in front of the graves has a deep gully so you couldn't park there. I remembered that there was a gate to the graveyard at the top of the hill so I went thru the no tresspassing sign and parked at the top. Once I was inside I could see another gate at the bottom of the hill near the road, but it wasn't something I wanted to walk thru from the road because it was overgrown and such.

The graveyard was so different this time. The area above Jesse Wright's grave which had always been so empty was now full of graves, mostly Andersons. I didn't know any of them. I felt like they were interlopers.

I have seen this graveyard referred to as the Broas Wright cemetery, but I didn't know where that came from. I figured I would at least try to find Viola's family. I hated the thought that she was buried there alone.

I did a search and found a death certificate for her. She died of congenital heart disease when she was six years old. Her parents were listed as R. Broas Wright and Minnie Webb.

I started searching for an R. Broas Wright and found one in the WWI draft registration. He was listed as full name Richard Broas Wright. He was single at age 30. He was described as medium build, medium height with blue eyes and dark hair. I saved his record, but decided that he was probably not the one I was looking for since he was single. I did, however, decide to pursue Richard Broas as a name. I found a 1910 census where it said his parents were John and Jane Wright. I started to pass it by since I had no couple like that in my work, but I did have Joel and Jane, so I decided to look at the original record. It was Joel and Jane and Richard B. was listed as one of their children. I looked at the next census in 1920 and he was still single and living with his parents at age 33. Again, I thought there must be another one and I figured I would at least rule him out by checking the 1930 census. Instead I found Broas and Mennie Wright. He was 45, the right age, and it said he first married at age 34. His wife was 29. They were living next door to Ben M. and Laura Jane Webb.

I started going through earlier census records for Ben and Laura and found that they did have a daughter, Minnie. So all this was the right family.

Little Viola is in the grave with her maternal grandparents, Ben & Laura Spangler Webb to her side and her paternal grandparents, Joel Martin and Jane R. Venters Wright at her feet. Above her is her first cousin once removed, Cora Wright Mullins and her great uncle, William Jesse Wright.

Richard Broas and Minnie Webb had five other children before Viola: Paul W., Laura J., Mable D., Raymond S. , and Daniel V. They may have had more after Viola. Mable was born January 12, 1924, but she was not listed in the 1930 census, so she must have died before that time -- maybe at birth since she is not buried near her sister, Viola.

I kept searching and found that Paul was a corporal in the army who earned the Good Conduct medal and three battle stars. He attended Fleming High School and was listed as a Baptist. I found a birth certificate for the same date as Paul's with Minnie Webb listed as the mother, but the name on the certificate was Bennie Wright. I am thinking this was for Ben Webb, his grandfather, but was not the final name they settled on for the child. Paul died in June of 1973 in
Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia.
Paul W. Wright

Searching for the other sons, I found Raymond and Daniel both died in Jackson County, Ohio.
Raymond had gone to school through the 10th grade. He had served in the Army Air Corps. He was a millwright. He died on June 10, 1998. Daniel V. attended school through the 8th grade. He was a farmer. He died at home in Wellston, Jackson County, Ohio.

Now I switched my search for Broas and Minnie to Ohio death certificates. Richard Broas Wright died at his home in Wellston, Jackson County, Ohio on January 30, 1963. Minnie ended up in a long term care facility in Gallia County, Ohio where she died on March 18th, 1977.

I am not sure why these Wrights moved to Jackson County, but other family may have drawn them there. There was another Minnie Wright in the area a few years older than this Minnie Webb Wright. She never married and died at age 75. There may be other family connections which I will find later in my work.

But now I know although Viola's parents and two brothers are buried in Ohio and one brother in Georgia, she sleeps with both sets of grandparents near her.

Viola was my second cousin once removed. She is also a grandchild of the Webbs, Crafts, and Adams family making her related to me through Granny, also.

5/26 7 pm update: Aunt Vera and Uncle Glenn came over. I told her about this article and she said the house that I used as a marker at the main road was where Broas (pronounced Brose) Wright and his wife Minnie lived. She didn't remember what all land he owned, but he had at least that part where the big house was and the land where the cemetery was. So all along I was looking at Broas and Minnie's home as my guide.

No comments:

Post a Comment