Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Isaac and Sarah

I don't think I've properly introduced you to Isaac Lile and Sarah Caroline Ellis Lile, at least not officially. I've given mention to Sarah, I think, when I told you the story of her brother Ellis Ellis. But Isaac and Sarah deserve to have their story told.

Where shall I begin?

Issac, twin to Jacob, was born December 23, 1836 to John Lyle and his wife Catheren Fry in Pennsylvania. His father died when he was not quite nine and his mother was forced to place several of her ten surviving children with neighbors or relatives. Issac lived with John and Sarah Kunkle in 1850. I've often wondered if Sarah might have been a sister to Catheren, but Pennsylvania records are spotty and I can't assign Sarah to parents, let alone figure out the family structure. John Kunkle was a farmer, but somewhere along the line, Isaac learned to make shoes and boots.  

Catheren remarried in 1847 and had two more children, a son born in 1848 in Pennsylvania and a daughter born in 1849 in Ohio. I can't find hide nor hair of them in the 1850 Census, but I know that Catheren was the head of her own household in 1860.  Two married daughters stayed in Pennsylvania, but most of the other children were living in Ohio or adjacent Michigan by that time. Issac was the exception. (For more on the his Lile siblings, click here.)

He migrated to Washington Territory by wagon train in 1854 when he was 18. He set up shop as a cobbler and boot maker in Walla Walla and was said to have lived in the 16th building constructed in that little frontier town. He was a single man and there were few unmarried women around. He missed his family and had decided by about the early 1860s that he would buck the tide and find a wagon train going east, back to civilization and his kin.

The night before the wagon train was to leave, there was a community-wide dance given as a send off to those who were leaving. Well, as luck would have it, Isaac went to the shindig and danced with a young lady who had recently arrived with her family. Her name was Sarah Caroline Ellis. She was born in Maryland in 1841 and had lived in Iowa for a few years before her widowed mother and several siblings had accompanied the Kennedy Wagon Train to Washington Territory.

Isaac was smitten. Apparently Sarah was too. Isaac's homesickness and his urge to go east were forgotten. They were married on New Year's Eve in 1863, one of the first marriages recorded in the marriage records in Walla Walla county.

Sarah and Isaac Lile had three sons. Levi Townsend Lile was born in December 1864 and died when he was 12 from unknown causes. Their second son, George David Franklin Lile, was born November 25, 1866. He was my great-grandfather, husband of Sarah Emoline Clayton (who was a twin, like George's father).  The third son was Charles Arthur Lile, born November 5, 1868. Charley died unmarried on October 26, 1895. Family legend had it that Charley died from crush injuries to his chest sustained when a wild horse reared so violently that it fell backwards and landed on top of Charley, who had been trying to saddle break it. Pretty dramatic image, no? Death records at the Garfield County courthouse, however, list his cause of death as consumption (tuberculosis). 

Sarah died November 4, 1887, at a relatively young 45 years of age. I don't know her cause of death. There was no obituary published, just a one line condolence note in a column in the weekly paper in Pomeroy, Washington saying that Issac Lile had lost his wife, an early pioneer. Issac eventually moved in with his son George's family on their farm in Garfield County. When George and Emmy sold the farm and moved to Wallowa County, Oregon, Issac accompanied them.

Isaac died on January 31, 1920 in the latter stages of the influenza pandemic of the time. His son George succumbed to complications less than two weeks later.  My mother never knew her great-grandparents Issac and Sarah Ellis Lile, both deceased before she was born, as was her maternal grandfather George Lile. Her maternal grandmother died when she was less than three, so she has no memories of  Sarah "Emmy" Clayton Lile. 

My mother's father, Elmer Miller, remembered both Isaac and George. He was courting Lela at the time her father and grandfather died.  His characterization of Isaac was not particularly flattering. He emphasized, "He was a mean old man."  But Lela's siblings recounted that, in his younger days, he wasn't such a curmudgeon. Isaac had a hand-cranked Victrola and a collection of records and he'd load it in a buggy and provide music for gatherings in the farming communities where they lived. 

For more Sepia Saturday participants, click HERE. Thanks to Alan Burnett for being such a congenial host of this theme day. 

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