Chester Jackson Family

Chester Eliphalet Jackson's and Eliza Frances Keys's family is one half of the immediate ancestors of Bion and Wilma Bates, therefore one fourth the immediate-plus-one ancestors of Emily Josephine Bates.  Here is the graphic:

Chester and Eliza individually, and their respective forebears, are discussed in the following sections. 

Here are the brief stories, documents and correspondence relating to the family of Chester, Eliza and their three daughters, Myra, Wilma (until her marriage to Bion Bates) and Beulah.

Chester and Eliza (she was always called "Lizzie" by relatives) met in Racine, Wisconsin, sometime in 1878-80 (the year might be as early as 1878, since that year is more consistent with Lizzie's two-year residence in Bloomington, Illinois, followed by five years teaching in Cleveland, before going to visit relatives in Racine and meeting Chester there (as mentioned in Lizzie's biography), and consistent with mentions in William Hornaday's 1876-79 letters).  Chester married Lizzie on April 15, 1881, in Holley, NY (here's their wedding invitation). 

Lizzie recorded what they received as wedding gifts (and her notes are passed to us):
  • Father [Horatio Nelson Keys] - $10 [$223 in today's dollars]

  • Alma [Keys] - 2 steel engravings

  • Dan, Dodd & Kittie [Keys] - 1/2 doz. tablespoons & 1/2 doz. teaspoons - solid

  • Phy - 1/2 doz. teaspoons solid

  • Fitch [Harwood] - 1 doz chairs

  • Hattie - Point lace piece

  • Mrs. Harwood - 2 towels

  • Aunt Columbia - Waiter napkin

  • Cora & Byron [Morgan] - Vase

  • Ori & Robert [McCargo?] - Card receiver

  • Jen & Luther [Hurd?] - 2 napkin rings

  • Ed Beebe - 1 gold thimble

  • Selden [Beebe?] - photo

  • Nell Pennel - pitcher

  • Hattie & Nancy F. - Poems

  • Uncle Lewis [Ferry?]- $2.50

  • Flora W [(Beebe) Webster?] - 2 towels

  • Mary Hatch - 1/2 doz. fruit knives

  • Clara Bowman [Beebe] - handkerchief

  • Henry Buell

  • Hornaday - Lamp & plume

  • Addie Beebe - 1/2 doz teaspoons

  • Aunt Nancy - Berry spoon

  • Ada Piper - shopping bag

  • Edith Piper- fan

  • Gussie Barr - Lace scarf

  • Mrs. Lloyd - tablecoth

  • Miss Reardon &c - toilet set

  • Emma Gibbs - 1 doz fruit plates

  • Carnahan - Shakespeare

  • Chester - Opera glasses

  • Lizzie Boalt - carved box

  • Mrs. Dougall - lamp

(I now hold the gold thimble noted above.)

Chester had already assumed duties as U.S. Consul to Antigua, so Lizzie joined him in returning there, where she bore them three daughters, Myra (1882), Wilma (1884) and Beulah (1885).  We have only a single photo of any of the girls as infants, this of Myra, possibly taken in Antigua:

We do have an attractive portrait of the three young children together, although no indication of the year or where it was taken.  At the time they still lived in Antigua, which would seem to limit the possibilities to that island or to Orleans County, New York, in which Holley is situated and Lizzie vacationed from the tropical heat of Antigua.

The record strongly suggests that during their ten years in Antigua (1881-91), Lizzie returned three times to her home in Holley, New York.  On two of the trips she had child portraits taken of daughters Myra:

and Wilma:

(We conclude at least two trips since the girls were born two years apart yet seem very similar in age in the two photos.)

And finally this photo of Beulah, taken September 1888, although location is unknown (Antigua or Holley, NY):

Chester and Lizzie must have had a fairly busy social life in Antigua, both in and out of the consular residence; we know that Chester even played cricket on at least one occasion.  They were friends with the local Anglican bishop Charles James Branch and his wife, and were invited on at least one occasion to dine with the upper-most level of Antiguan aristocracy (an undated newspaper clipping):

His Excellency Viscount Gormanston [I believe Jenico William Joseph Preston, governor of Antigua 1885-88] and Vicountess Gormanston entertained at dinner on Wednesday evening the 2nd instant the following guests:  Bishop and Miss Westerby, Archdeacon and Mrs. Clark, Consul Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Tibbitts, Rev. S.E. Branch and Miss Dobridge.

When author and traveler Poultney Bigelow visited Antigua, not only did Chester apparently help him in his circum-Antiguan canoe trip, but afterwards Bigelow recorded in his diary dining with both Chester and Lizzie. 

Nevertheless, the sub-tropical climate did not agree with Lizzie, so in 1889 or 1890 Chester resigned as Consul and the family returned to Holley, NY (traveling separately).  Lizzie arrived with the three girls in New York City May 9, 1889 (we do not know if this was her final return, or if this was another of the vacations).  The record is inconclusive how long Chester remained in Antigua, fulfilling his consular duties.  We know that he rented temporary quarter for January 1890.

By 1891 they had moved to Ovid, where they lived the rest of their lives.  In 1893 they took the serious step of acquiring property there, which led to the orchards Chester tended the rest of his life.

We know little of their lives in Ovid, 1891-1901 (the year Myra presumably graduated from high school; Wilma was two years older and graduated in 1903).  In fact we know little of the family at all except those graduations, and then as each girl graduated from Michigan State Normal College (the school offering two-year teacher's certificates that was predecessor to today's Eastern Michigan University), in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Wilma in 1905, Myra in 1906 and Beulah in 1907. 

As a family curiosity, my cousin Martha (Smith) Nield has a postcard Wilma inscribed in 1901, recording the phrase, "Eyes tested free at Stone's" 1705 times on the back of a simple postcard (the bottom of the linked-two image shows a portion of the inscription enlarged).  She won a ring with a green stone and pearls.

We also have three lovely portraits, taken of each girl as an older teenager or young adult:




Wilma delivered her class valedictory address upon her 1903 high school graduation.  She matriculated that fall at Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti, Michigan, pursuing a two-year course of studies leading to a "Specializing Diploma" and teacher's certificate.  (Of interest:  her high school Latin studies were specifically mentioned as part of her teacher's qualifications.)  Wilma saved her senior year college yearbook, from which here are four pages.  (Wilma's quote from the Satires of Horace translates:  "There is a mean in all things; and, moreover, certain limits on either side of which right cannot be found.")

While at Michigan Normal she became a close friend of Jessie Lee, who later married Montgomery Webster of Ionia, Michigan.  The two families remained close for decades, and later photos show Jessie's sons with Emily, and in 1935 Emily dated Jessie's son Montgomery Lee Webster while he was a cadet at West Point.

Myra, who had graduated high school two years earlier, matriculated at Michigan Normal perhaps as late as 1903 (see letter noted below), but may also have taken longer to graduate with her own "Specializing Diploma" in 1906.  We have her Diploma, and again a Michigan teacher's certificate.  We have pages from Aurora, the Michigan Normal senior class yearbook.  Personally, I am most tickled by Myra's Michigan Normal experience -- in 1904-06 she played on the Michigan Normal women's basketball team.  I wonder what the rules were then.

We have a wonderful photo of Myra's basketball team (Richard Bates -- her nephew -- says it was printed in Life magazine) -- Myra is third from right:

Chester wrote Myra and Wilma, October 6, 1903, while at Michigan Normal:  "I hopeth thee do not take homesickness to thy several bosoms because it is a silly weakness and groweth not on the Jackson tree on they father's side."

Beulah (also her high school valedictorian) entered Michigan Normal in 1905, getting her diploma in 1907.  This time, however, the certificate was issued for the "domestic science and art" course -- in other words, what we commonly call "Home Ec."  Her Aurora yearbook pages show her, to our eyes amusingly, in uniform.  As will be seen, of the three girls, Beulah did successfully make a career of teaching.

Four years transpired between Wilma's matriculation and Beulah's graduation from Michigan Normal.  The years were 1903-1907.  Reflect for a moment:  can you imagine how unusual it was in the first decade of the 20th century for a family to send all of its daughters for two years of post-secondary education?  That emphasis on college education continued in our family for everyone in the two succeeding generations -- a total of nineteen individuals, many of them with postgraduate degrees as well (the third generation's history is still being written).

(We are told that Chester insisted that each of his girls have some experience away from home, at least trying for a career.)

We have only a single photograph that captures Chester and Lizzie together, this showing Lizzie and Chester seated, with Wilma and Myra (motion-blurred) standing behind:

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