Friday, February 23, 2018

52 Ancestors #8: Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr. (1901-1961): A Railroadman

Ancestor Name: Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr., grandfather
DNA Haplogroup: I-M253

Marvin Edward Jennings was born on 15 November 1901 or 1902 (though he used 1901 throughout his life) to 58-year-old Charles Edward Jennings, a Civil War veteran, and his second wife, Effie Beard, in Roanoke, Virginia, likely at their home, 1201 Loudon Avenue, NW. His father co-owned a grocery store located at the corner of Wells Avenue and 12th Street, NW. He was their third child, though his father had seven children, six still living by his first wife. A month after Marvin turned four years old, his mother had another son. She died on 4 May 1906 and her youngest son died five weeks later.

In 1910, Marvin, his father and full siblings lived at 1211 Loudon Avenue, but his father no longer owned the grocery. Instead, he worked as a carpenter for a building contractor. Family lore indicated Charles' partner in the grocery business absconded with the all the money, leaving Charles with no business and no way to support his children who still remained at home.

In 1911 he decided he could no longer care for his children. We learn from the orphanage application Marvin's half brother completed and the correspondence with the Lutheran Orphanage in Salem that his father placed Marvin's brother Leo, with a married half-sister, who lived in Erwin, Tennessee, and his sister with her maternal aunt, Sarah (Beard) Mays, who also lived in Roanoke. Her husband was also a carpenter, so perhaps he got Charles his job after he lost the grocery.

The letter Daniel Jennings wrote Superintendent Crabtree, who ran the orphanage was obtained by my father when he was still actively researching his family history:

Aug. 9th, 1911

Prof. J. T. Crabtree, Supt.,
Lutheran Orphanage
Salem, Va.

Dir Sir:

Referring to our conversation with you on last Monday concerning the admission of my brother into your institute, beg to enclose herewith formal application, his Father being well pleased with the conditions under which he will be admitted, provided, of course, your Board of Trustees consider the application favorably.

Concerning Marvin, would say his is of amiable disposition, easily controlled, and a bright and studious child. He has been attending the Roanoke public school since old enough, and has successfully passed all examinations which places him in the second "A", Primary grade at the beginning of the next school term.

You will note from application sheet that he has had most of the diseases of children, but his general health is good; his slight lameness is not a deformity, but due to the effect of measles which he had when quite a small child.[1]

He has one own brother and sister who are minors. His brother, Leo, resides with a half-sister in Tennessee, the sister with her aunt, Mrs. Mays, Roanoke. He has three half brothers residing in Roanoke, one half-sister residing in Roanoke, and, and one half-sister, above mentioned, residing in Erwin, Tenn.

His father is 68 years old, has fairly good health and was for many years engaged in the mercantile business in Roanoke, but for the past four or five years has been a building contractor.

You will also find enclosed herewith letter addressed to you from Hon. H. B. Trout concerning the application form.

The writer is especially anxious that the child be placed under your care, and sincerely trusts that the matter may receive favorable consideration by your Board of Trustees.

Yours very truly,

D. M. Jennings

Lutheran Orphanage Application for Marvin Edward Jennings; personal collection

The orphanages had been established in the 1890s when accidents and diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, and malaria frequently robbed children of their parents. In those post Civil War years, according to one report, the number of orphans grew to "unthinkable levels" and "across Virginia, frightened children roamed the streets and countryside begging for handouts and mercy." The Lutheran Orphanage was originally known as the Lutheran Orphan Home of the South it moved to Salem, Virginia, in 1896, and was housed in an elegant five-story building, formerly the Hotel Salem on College Avenue. This building served as the orphanage until 1927, an imposing 80-room, red-brick structure, almost castle-like in appearance, with its tower, turrets, dormers and arched windows. Rev. John T. Crabtree became the superintendent in 1904. He was a Confederate veteran, former Salem High School principal and Roanoke College professor. He served the orphanage until 1922.

Marvin Edward Jennings at the Lutheran Orphanage, back row fourth from left;
personal collection

In 1916 Marvin's brother, Leo, enlisted in the Army. It's not known whether Marvin ever saw his brother again. Marvin's father died in 1917 at the home of his daughter, Leta Jennings Womack, in Erwin, Tennessee. By 1920 Marvin had been released from the orphanage and lived with his half-brother, Daniel Jennings, who worked as a manager at a wholesale shoe company. Marvin worked as a clerk for Norfolk & Western (N&W) in Roanoke. His duties included calculating the freight rates charged to the railroad's commercial clients. This included figuring weight of the freight, miles traveled and over which railroad company's tracks.

He was transferred to War, West Virginia, deep in coal country and met Alice Muir at a silent movie. She worked as a maid in home and had taken her employer's son to the movies. Since he was too young to read, Alice read the dialogue to him. Marvin went to the picture with some friends and sat nearby. They began "walking out," as dating was then called. Not long afterwards Alice moved back to East St. Louis, Illinois, where her father owned a home. When she learned she was pregnant, she wrote to Marvin, who quit his job, moved to Illinois and married Alice on 13 May 1924 in East St. Louis. Their daughter, Pear Marie, was born on 19 September 1924 in East St. Louis and died in the same city on 30 December of the same year.

After moving to East St. Louis, Marvin worked for the Illinois Central railroad, sometimes called the main line of mid-America, where he again worked as a rate clerk. Marvin and Alice began their marriage living in the home owned by Alice's father, a coal miner and union organizer who was then working in West Virginia. In 1927 they had a son and lived at 8305 State Street in East St. Louis. Their youngest child was born in 1931.

The Marvin Edward Jennings family; personal collection

As the Depression deepened its awful grip on the country, Marvin lost his job with the railroad. He went on relief, as government aid to needy families was then called, mowed lawns, and did whatever work he could find. When their youngest child was still an infant, Alice's aunt Janie and her husband, Herbert Beck, invited Marvin and Alice to Montana, to live on the land they had homesteaded in the 1920s near Roy, in Fergus County. When the train pulled into the station, there were several feet of snow on the ground, Alice was not impressed, and they soon returned to Illinois.

In 1941, Marvin got a job with the federal government and worked for the General Accounting Office (GAO), a legislative branch agency, established in 1921 and responsible for investigating all matters related to public funds and make recommendation for greater efficiency and economy of expenditures. He worked in the Transportation division on railroad matters. The family rented a row house in Washington, DC, before buying a home in the Spout Run area of Arlington County. This was to be their home until Marvin's death.

They also bought a 4-room fishing shack on Carrs Creek, a tidal creek of the Chesapeake Bay in Deale Beach, Maryland. Fishing was one of Marvin's greatest pastimes and he and his family enjoyed many weekends at the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Their son, Ted, bought a fishing boat, which added to his father's enjoyment.

Marvin Edward Jennings, his son (right) and a friend on his son's boat; personal

Marvin was rushed to Northern Virginia Doctors hospital in Arlington County, on 1 May 1961. He died seven hours later of an abdominal aorta aneurysm and was interred at National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Virginia. At the time of his death, I was almost three years old. My memories of Grandpa Jennings are few. Perhaps, the only real one I have is playing the "lighter game." He would stretch out on the sofa after dinner and I would sit on his chest and search his pockets for his lighter. Why this filled me with so much glee I can still remember it, I have no idea. The lighter was always in his shirt pocket.

Marvin Edward Jennings at Beverly Beach Pavillion, Maryland; personal

Like all good railroad men, Grandpa owned a pocket watch. My brother, John, used it during his summer job, driving the tractor for tobacco pickers. It was important to drive the tractor slow enough so they were always picking in front of them and he used the watch to time his speed up and down the rows. My brother, Ted, owns the watch now and we all wish we knew more about it.

My grandfather's pocket watch; photograph by Ted Jennings

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Heirloom."

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr., is Ancestor number  4 on my family tree:

4.0 Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr., born 16 November 1901 in Roanoke, Virginia, to Charles Edward Jennings and second wife, Effie Beard. He was their youngest child, who lived to adulthood. His mother died when he was 5 years old and his 68-year-old father placed him in an orphanage in 1911 while his siblings were placed with other family members. He met Alice Muir in War, West Virginia, when he worked for Norfolk & Western (N&W) railroad. They married on 13 May 1924 in East St. Louis, Illinois, and made their residence there. Marvin worked for the Illinois Central (IC) railroad. He lost his job during the Depression and eventually was offered a job at the General Accounting Office, in Washington, DC. They moved in 1941 and lived in Washington and Arlington County, Virginia. Marvin died on 1 May 1961 at Northern Virginia Doctors' Hospital in Arlington of abdominal aorta aneurysm and was interred at National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Virginia.

4.1 Pearl Marie Jennings born 19 September 1924 in East St. Louis, Illinois; died 30 December 1924 in East St. Louis.

4.2 Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr., born 23 July 1927 in East St. Louis; married Rachel Mildred Lange, daughter of Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, on 5 April 1952 in Arlington, Virginia. She died on 16 October 2006 in South Boston, Virginia. Two children.

4.3 Charles Theodore Jennings, born 14 December 1931 in Centreville, Illinois, married Dorothy Ailein Lange, daughter Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin on 15 November 1957 in Arlington, Virginia. She died on 9 September 2014 in New Bern, North Carolina. Three children.

[1] According to my grandmother, Marvin Jennings did not become lame from contracting measles but rather polio. One leg was shorter than the other and he wore leg braces the remainder of his life.

1910 US Federal Census, (database and images), FamilySearch, Marvin E Jennings in household of Charles E Jennings, Roanoke Melrose Ward, Roanoke (Independent City), Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 125, sheet 8A, family 128, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982); FHL Microfilm 1375659 (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
1920 US Federal Census, (database and images), Family Search, Marvin E Jennings in household of Daniel M Jiminys, Roanoke Highland War 2, Roanoke (Independent City), Virginia, United States; citing ED 31, sheet 15B, line 64, family 335, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington: DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1912; FHL microfilm 1821912 (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
1930 US Federal Census, (database and images), FamilySearch, Marvin Jennings, East St Louis, St Clair, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 61, sheet 13A, line 35, family 397, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002) roll 557, FHL microfilm 2340292 (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
1940 US Federal Census, (database and images), FamilySearch, Marvin Jennings, Centreville Township, St Clair, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 82-35, sheet 19B, line 74, family 164, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007, RG 29, (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 879 (accessed 18 Feb 2018
Find A Grave Index, (database), FamilySearch, Marvin Edward Jennings, 1961; Burial, Falls Church, Fairfax, Virginia, United States of America, National Memorial Park; citing record ID 17662909, Find a Grave
Draft Registration Card for Virginia, (database and images), Fold3, Marvin Edward Jennings, 16 Nov 1902, Virginia, Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II, NARA, 2012, No. 12-029 (accessed 30 Nov 2017)
Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, (database), FamilySearch, Marvin Jennings in entry for Pear Marie Jennings, 30 Dec 1924; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1493150 (access 27 Dec 2014)
Illinois, St Clair County, Marriage License, No. 11915, Marvin Edward Jennings and Alice Muir, 13 May 1924
International Order of Odd Fellows, Grand Encampment, Washington, DC, 8 Feb 1962
International Order of Odd Fellows, Mount Pleasant Rebekah Lodge No. 9, Resolutions and Memorial on the Death of Brother Marvin Jennings, 18 May 1961
International Order of Odd Fellows, Grand Encampment, Washington, DC, Official Bulletin No. 5, 1 May 1961
Jennings, Alice Muir, Genealogy Notebook, page 10
Jennings, Daniel, Letter and application to Lutheran Orphanage, Salem, Virginia, 12 Aug 1911
Lutheran Orphanage in Salem, Virginia, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
Marvin Edward Jennings (1901-1961), Robert Muir Family Blog (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
My Grandfather and the Orphanage, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 12 Feb 2018)
US City Directories, 1822-1995, (database with images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings, East St Louis, Illinois, 1926 (accessed 3 Jan 2015)
US City Directories, 1822-1995, (database with images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings, East St Louis, Illinois, 1928 (accessed 3 Jan 2015)
US City Directories, 1822-1995, (database with images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings, East St Louis, Illinois, 1930 (accessed 3 Jan 2015)
US World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1942-1947, (database), Ancestry, Marvin Edward Jennings, Arlington, Virginia, United States, National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 387 (accessed 20 Nov 2017)
Virginia Birth Records, 1864-1999, (database and images), Ancestry, Marvin Edward Jennings, Roanoke, Virginia, 1902 (accessed 30 Jun 2016)
Virginia Death Certificate No. 106-285, Marvin E Jennings, Sr., 1961
Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014, (database and images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings, Sr, Arlington, Arlington, VA, 1961 (accessed 30 Jun 2016)
Virginia Marriage Records, 1936-2014, (database and images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings in entry for Marvin Edward Jennings, Jr and Rachel Mildred Lange, 1952 (accessed 30 Jun 2016)
Virginia Marriage Records, 1936-2014, (database and images), Ancestry, Marvin E Jennings in entry for Charles Theodore Jennings and Dorothy Ailein Lange, 1957 (accessed 30 Jun 2016)

Morgan's Rifle Corps Travel North to Saratoga
Charles Edward Jennings (1843-1917): 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment
Morgan's Rifle Corps Established and the Fog of War
Charles Edward Jennings (1843-1917): First to Leave the Farm
Powhatan Perrow Jennings (1812-1858): A Life Cut Short
John W. Jennings (1776-1858): War of 1812 Veteran
Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Last Will and Testament
Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Morgan's Riflemen
Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Beginnings and Endings
Who Was the Original Jennings Immigrant?
Did John W. Jennings, Sr. (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?
Discovering my Local History Center
British Surrender at Saratoga
The Great Jennens Case

No comments:

Post a Comment