Monday, December 29, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #50 Daisy Myrtle Maddox

I don't remember my great-grandmother, Daisy Myrtle Maddox Crispen Hull Votaw O'Neil, who died while I was just a toddler. It was she who passed on the family legends to her daughters, who told them to me. Her wonderful, but unlabelled, collection of old photographs started my journey into the past.

Daisy was born on February 16, 1878, in Morgan County, Illinois. Her parents, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Estella Lake and Joseph Allen "Al" Maddox joined a wagon train within the next couple of years and relocated in Kansas, where three more girls and one boy joined the family. Lizzie was a milliner and trained Daisy in the art of making hats.

In 1893, when Daisy was 15, the last Oklahoma land run enticed her father, who was successful in claiming 160 acres of land not far from Enid, Oklahoma Territory. The family moved into a soddie, a sod house, cut into a hillside, while waiting for Al to build a permanent house.

Daisy was tasked with watching the younger children when her parents went to visit family or to take care of business. One day a rattlesnake hid under a chest of drawers. The children were terrified and poor Daisy had to find a way to kill the snake. I believe she used a shovel after sliding the dresser away. I can't imagine being that brave as a teenager.

Daisy had dark eyes, long black hair and an olive complexion, indicators of her Native American heritage. The blacksmith Clark Earl Crispen who lived a few miles away was enamored of her looks. The 32-year-old Clark wooed the 17-year-old and married her on October 2, 1895, in Enid. Daisy's father had died about six months before and it may be that she was looking for an escape from her mother's home.

Daisy was a farm girl and soon found herself tending the home, working the farm and teaching her city-slicker husband the many things he didn't know about farming. At one point she grew frustrated and walked home to her mother's house. Lizzie told her that she had to lie in the bed she had made and sent her right back home to Clark.

Clark and Daisy had two daughters born on the farm, near Meno: Effie and Esstella. Eventually, Clark decided that farming was not what he wanted to do. He leased his farm to Daisy's brother, Archie, and the family joined his mother in the Lake Michigan resort area near Benton Harbor, Michigan. Clark went to work at one of the many manufacturing facilities in the area. A third daughter, Leona, was born to Daisy and Clark in Van Buren County, Michigan, before the family settled in Benton Harbor.

Template and elements from Oopsie Daisy, ClubScrap

Daisy grew tired of Clark's tendency to put people ahead of financial security for the family. She divorced him in 1921, after the two older girls were married. Over the years, she worked as a milliner and a photographer, as well as making quilts for her family.

In 1922, she married David Antisdel Hull, divorcing him a few years later. She married Argus Joshua Votaw in 1936, and was widowed in 1943. By that time her eldest daughter had moved to California and her youngest to Arizona. She spent time visiting them and finally settled in Arizona with Leona.

In 1945, she advertised:
If you are healthy, white Christian gentleman, alone, unencumbered, not more than 60, looking for a good cook, write Star-Citizen Box 82
Was that a veiled singles ad? A construction boss some 45 miles away responded. The two of them engaged in a romance fueled by letters and bus trips. There was a small problem: he was still married. After his divorce was final, Daisy married Meredith Lewis O'Neil on September 20, 1947, in Lordsburg, New Mexico.

One of the puzzles in my research is who this man really was. He walked away from Daisy after being married only a few months. The family didn't know if he met with foul play or left of his own free will. I only recently learned that he died in 1961 in the Arizona state mental hospital and is buried in a pauper's grave in Mesa. His death certificate shows he had dementia and give no useful information about his past. I can't trace him before 1940 and suspect he had an assumed name. I also wonder if he wandered away due to dementia.

Daisy spent the rest of her life living alone in a small guest house on her daughter's property. She died on December 2, 1957, in Tucson, and was buried at South Lawn Memorial Park. She left behind several quilts, hundreds of photos, a bundle of letters and a handful of old family stories.

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