Charles Franklin Jolly was born in Mullins, Marion County, South Carolina in April 1853 and at the age of seven moved with his family to Florida in 1860, just ahead of the Civil War. In the 1870 Census Record of Alachua County, Florida, Frank is listed in his father's household as being eighteen years old and working on the farm. According to Rhoda Jane Williams, a Granddaughter of App (Absalom's nickname), "Frank was unhappy with farm life, he traded his gift of land to Martha for a heavily timbered plot so that he could sell the timber for funds. Then started work as a carpenter. He worked in Gainesville and later moved to Waldo.
When Frank was twenty years old, he married his childhood sweetheart but the marriage didn't last. Not much is known about her or their son. In talking with Evelyn Jolly, his daughter, the conversation went like this: Charles Franklin Jolly "He was married in 1896?" "But he had been married before." "Did he have any children?" "Yes, there was a son. He never could get custody of the child. But once in a while, he would get to see his son. Taught him to be a carpenter and the son worked on the Gainesville Hospital." "Do you don't know his name?" "No. His mother would never let him use the name Jolly because she got a divorce from Jolly and married a Parrish. She raised her son as a Parrish. But we understood from my father that we were never to mix with anyone named Parrish because we were blood kin. Never marry a Parrish." "Do you know her name?" "No, I don't remember what my father's first wife name was. They lived next door to one another. My father lived in Northside or Ozona or somewhere, they lived next door to one another. They grew up together, she was about 18 and he was about twenty when they were married. He didn't get married again until he married my mother. That was a long time." "So they were childhood sweethearts?" "Yes, the first ones were. Frank did not marry again until he married my mother when he was forty years old. Frank's second wife, Hattie Olivia Harris was born the 27th of April 1873 in Wisconsin. She was the daughter of Orville Harris and the granddaughter of Nelson Alonzo Harris. Her Mother died two weeks after she was born. She was raised by her stepmother, Katie, but probably spent a great deal of time with her grandparents."
A letter from my mother, Ella Belle, to my sister gives insight into their life in Waldo during the early Nineteenth Century. It was dated February 11, 1959 and after personal comments: "When I was in my teens I always had a Sunday School Class and since I always lived in the same small town, I knew the parents, children and even the grandparents (who had watched me grow up). My own Grandparents had lived there and I had many relatives. One Uncle was the Doctor, another the druggist, cousins were railroad conductor's, and etc. Everybody was like one big family. My cradle roll Sunday School teacher, Carrie Wilkerson, was also my Mother's first Sunday School Teacher and also yours and Dorris'. I later became Primary Superintendent of the Sunday School, worked my way through the Jr. League of the Methodist Church (now called the Methodist Youth Fellowship M.Y.F.) and became the Superintendent. I also played the Church Organ and later the Piano."
"The entire Community would have picnics, etc. and with other communities. The Town was quite different before the Seaboard Railway Shops moved away. That is where most of the population earned their livelihood. Then the people of working age and their families moved away. Mother was always trying to get Dad to move to Jacksonville where we could have more educational and financial advantages but he owned quite a bit of land and property which he could use to advantage but could not sell to an advantage."
"He was a good farmer and contractor and builder but was forty years old when he married and with a almost free for widows and orphans that he knew and he always kept a lot of work that the family could help with. "On rainy days, he stayed home and we would shell corn for the chickens and other odd jobs. He and the boys raised field corn and other crops, kept a good garden, pigs, chickens, cows, a horse, fruit and nut trees and he could build his own furniture and houses without restriction, cut down his own trees, racked his own wood -- so we did not have rent to pay, no fuel to buy, or many groceries."
"He provided ways for the boys to earn their own money. Except for the regular chores, he would pay them for hoeing, plowing, gathering crops, and etc., the same price as an outsider. They could do the work or he would hire someone else but he only provide the necessities and if they wanted better clothes etc. they could earn them -- which they did willingly. Chet was always earning money on the outside for he liked to run errands and do selling. He was always lucky at selling out his peaches, parched or boiled peanuts, grapes, etc. at the train and would run home for another basket full. We would watch for him and start filling bags and met him. When we had the railroad shops and a good railroad restaurant, the passenger trains would stop for at least fifteen or twenty minutes for fuel and water and longer if the passengers were in the restaurant."
"Dad also repaired our shoes and so many things. We polished and shined them ourselves. In the City and especially as he was growing older, I guess, he would have had more competition and with everything to buy and rent to pay out of his salary alone ($3.00 per day was tops for a ten or twelve hour day). We might not have fared so well. Also our Doctor and drug bills were small. We always knew the dentist, too, and there was a lot of bartering in those days and we had chickens, eggs, etc. to take to the store in exchange for goods."
"Also, when I was eighteen, I joined my mother's lodge. The Pythian Sisters Crescent Temple No. 1 (the first one in the state of Florida.) which turned over its membership to Gainesville in later years and now Gainesville has the honor of being "No. 1". My mother was a charter member. We could not have a meeting without a quorum (a certain number of members present). The members who could get over to the meeting in Gainesville remained members. The others were finally let out for non-payment of dues."
"Of course, my father was a Knight of Phythias and both of us had joined "on him". He also belonged to the Masons and other lodges. Chet, Gordon, and both grandfathers are and were Masons with upper degrees -- one was a Shriner."
"Neglected to say, I think, that when the seaboard railroad shops were moved, most of the working population and their families moved away. There was no way left in Waldo to earn a good living or hardly a scant one. Bert and Chet both left home at fourteen and Gordon worked in New York and New Jersey some until he got on the railroad (before he was twenty-one which was supposed to be the minimum age). But people did not have to show their birth certificate then. He has his age straighten out now."
"People moved away who could, forty years ago or more. About the only ones who remained were property and landowners whose reimbursement was to use it themselves. In recent years retirees from other states seek small towns like that where people are friendly and they can take part in community life, buy property cheaply, own a car and go to Gainesville and Starke to shop. Pensions don't go far nowadays. The higher cost of living absorbs it so quickly. There they don't have high rents or zone restrictions and can own chickens, animals or have a garden, trees, flowers, etc. of their own and are near a good highway. It is a quiet enough place. There is no attraction there for robbers or prowlers etc. I know few people there anymore except the oldsters who are dying out fast, the ones in the P.O. and at the depot."
"Those jobs and businesses have been passed down to any relatives or friends who want them....I went to school with Merl DeSha and his wife. He is the agent at the depot. I know the operators there and the ladies in the Post office. One is my Mother's neighbor. My cousin, Robert Schenck's children and his wife's relatives (DeSha's) own most of the stores, restaurants, filling station, and etc."
"Most of my closer relatives left there long ago. Gordon's headquarters when he was single was there. Later he went to the shops in Jacksonville and in Miami. Louise Raulerson, Mother's cousin, teaches and Louise owns two or three homes there. She was Marcia's first grade teacher. My folks don't own any property there except Mother's home and that will go to the state at her death because she gets a small income from them (Welfare Department)."
"Dad had no Social Security. It has only been in effect since 1937 and he died in 1933. She has a good burial insurance. Chester has always been good to give her money all his life. Evelyn and Ott did things for her a few years and she lived with me. You see, Dad has been dead over twenty five years and she is now eighty five and..."
This was about the most my Mother ever told us about our family history. I remember a barn that was on the left side of the house in the back yard and as small as children, my sister and I would climb up on the barn roof to look for ripe bananas on the big banana trees that grew right beside it. The limbs would hang over so we could reach them. Of course, this was done when no one would see us as it was dangerous and we were not allowed to climb on high places. The roof was tin, and could be slick at times, as I remember. There was a several large banana trees growing at the back corner.
An excerpt from a letter by Rhoda Jane Williams, "There is a factory here [Jacksonville] that distills the pine oil from pine stumps. The stumps come in by the flat carload. The oil comes from the heart pine and is very aromatic. This factory makes all sorts of things from these oils, perfume, flavoring, etc. They claim that every organic element known can be derived from the pine roots. I remember Uncle Frank telling how he made pine oil by steaming heart pine to supply the family with the oil for use in home remedies." Her "Uncle Frank" was my grandfather.
My Grandfather many times, would take my sister and I with him to a crib house on some land a short distance from the family home. Grandfather owned several acres and grew food for the us to supplement his income. We helped him shuck and shell corn or would just play in the crib house while he worked. He seemed happiest there. I remember evenings by the fireplace and Grandfather reciting a long poem about a man in a black long-tailed coat. I must have been about three or four yeas old as I remember my sister being in a bassinet by the fire. I remember Grandpa Jolly with great affection, I always knew he loved us. He was a kind and gentle man.
The family home was originally owned by Rudolph Lanser, described in the deed as a single man. He must have been related in some way to Katie Harris, Hattie Jolly's stepmother. He died in Waldo and willed his house in January 14, 1914 to Katie Harris. Orville and Katie lived in Wisconsin, but they may have used the house as a summer home for awhile, When they stopped coming down, they had no need for the house, so Katie deeded the property to grandmother Jolly on July 30, 1926. Grandmother and grandfather lived in the house the rest of their lives. My sister and I were born there.
On March 6, 1961, Hattie deeded it to her son, Gordon Jolly, with a life estate for herself, so she could live there until she died and the house would stay in the family. Gordon deeded the house to his sister, Ella Belle Bonciday on March 6, 1961. She lived in it until she was unable to live alone and went to Texas with her daughter. Then the house was sold to someone outside the family. On the following pages are pictures (picture are not included) of the deeds and description of the land plot in Waldo where the house was built and shows the house as it passed from Mr. Lancer to Katie, from Katie Harris to Hattie Jolly, from Hattie to her son, Gordon from Gordon to Ella Belle.
Mr. Lancer had the swamp drained and built this house, on what date is not known to the writer. The porch was closed in later, sometime after Dorris and Marcia were born and this is how it looked until the porch was closed in and day it went out of the family. These I thought it might be of interest to some members of the family and also serve as a permanent record. The deed from Rudolph Lancer to Katie Harris was signed January 10, 1914. That was when the world was a quiet and peaceful place to live but about six or seven months later the whole earth would be engulfed in World War I.
The deed from Katie Harris to Hattie Jolly was dated July 30, 1926. It is not known how long Orville and Katie used the house but Frank and Hattie were living in it before 1924 as I was born there on January 18, 1924. They may have rented it for several years before it was deeded to her.
They lived there for seven years before Frank died on February 22, 1933. It is good that they had a home with no rent to pay as these years were very difficult. A great depression covered America. Many men were out of work, moving here and there in search of just a meager living and most not finding that. So to have a home free and clear, land to grow food to eat gave the Jolly family a better living than most. Frank was a carpenter but work during those years was almost nonexistent. Frank was born before the Civil War and was privileged to see a little of the Old South way of life and what it was like to be a pioneer in a growing land. He was about fifteen or sixteen when the Civil War started. He lived through not only the Civil War but also through the First World War. He died from complications of diabetes and is buried in the Waldo Cemetery.
Grandfather died sixty-three years ago but I can still remember it as clear as if it were yesterday. I can see the coffin in the living room, in the opposite corner from the door. I was nine years old and I loved him so much, he was the first loved one I had lost in death and it was a traumatic experience for me.
After his death, it must have been most comforting to Hattie to have the security of a home, free and clear, to live in. Her sons helped her through these bad years of depression until the Second World War started in December 7, 1941 by which time she had received a small pension. Her son, Bert, moved to Waldo to take care of his mother during the last two years of her life. Hattie lived twenty-eight years after Frank's death and died in March 2, 1961 in a nursing home in Starke, a few miles from Waldo. She is buried beside Frank in Waldo Cemetery.
Waldo, Alachua County, Florida was a railroad town where tourists came for the pleasant weather and relief from the cold winters of the north. It was in this bustling town that my mother, Ella Belle Jolly, was born on September 18, 1903 to Frank and Hattie Jolly. She grew up in a family of three brothers, one sister and surrounded by a town full of people that were intermarried, her relatives. Her great-grandparents, Alonzo Nelson and Maria Louisa Harris came there in the last part of the century and established a home for the winter and going back to Wisconsin in the summer. Louisa's daughter, Eva Raulerson lived close to the Jolly family with her husband and daughter, Louise Raulerson. Louise was Ella Belle's first grade teacher. The Doctor of the town was her Uncle, the druggist was her Uncle, and so it went… She was related to almost everyone in town if the truth be known.
Hattie Jolly always felt that her stepmother somehow deprived her of her rightful inheritance. She taught her sons to be self-sufficient, to work and make a living for themselves. But the two daughters were taught the social graces Ella Belle could play the piano beautifully, carry a conversation with anyone and her manners were impeccable. Ella Belle was about five foot four inches tall, slim with long bright red hair and light blue eyes.
Ella Belle's father was a farmer in later years but as a young husband he made a living for his family in the carpentry trade. So it was only natural that when Jesse Stoner came to Waldo he went to work for Frank. Jesse was born April 17, 1888 in Fairmount, Georgia. His parents were Andrew Asbury Stoner and Laura Dona Cornelison.. Jesse was a Ladies Man. All the women were charmed by his manner and young girls were dreamy eyed over him. He drew sympathy because of his tragic life that he had overcome. When he was sixteen, on the fourth of July, he stepped out from behind a building just as another young boy shot off a Roman Candle. It hit him in the right eye. His eye was burned so bad that he could not wear a glass eye, the eye grew shut. Some years later another tragic accident took his left leg.
Ella Belle and Jesse were married on March 29, 1923 in Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida. They had had two daughters. Their marriage was a turbulent one at best. Jesse was fifteen years older than Ella Belle and had been married before, she was young, inexperienced and probably a bit of a spoiled brat, The marriage lasted less than five years. They were divorced some time after 1927.
Ella Belle married four more times. The next husband was named Jack Murkerson. The date of their marriage is not known but they were married when her father died in 1932. How long the marriage lasted is also unknown. Her next husband was William Macomber. Bill was a member of the National Guard. His National Guard Unit had been in Key West, Florida on training maneuvers and were returning to Miami when a terrible accident happened. Bill was either driving or a passenger in a tanker truck carrying a load of gasoline. It wrecked and burst into flames. He lost his life in the flames.
Sometime later she married William Adelbert "Smokey" Bonciday. The only child of Andrew and Bertha (Jacobs) Bonciday both were immigrants from Hungary. Smokey was born in Cleveland on September 1, 1908. Nothing is known about his life before his life crossed the path of my mother's. He grew up and received his school education in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a big but gentle man standing over six foot tall and weighed over two hundred pounds with dark brown hair and eyes. He died of a heart attack on Sunday, December 7, 1952. He is buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Waldo, Florida. Some time after Smoky's death Gordon Jolly deeded the Family home to his sister, Ella Belle. Kristopher Knut Sellevold, from Sweden, was Ella Belle's next and last husband. Knut worked as a ship's Captain on naval vessels as well as private cooperation's vessels. When he retired, he and Ella Belle lived in Waldo in the family home. Knut was a kind and gentle man a very good cook Ella Belle continued to live there after his death until she moved to Texas in December 1990. Then in February she had a severe stroke and remained in the nursing home until her death on January 24, 1991.
For additional information, contact Dorris Harrison