Little is known for sure about the early life or ancestry of Andrew Absalom Jolly. His gravestone gives his birth as March 28, 1821. Family history through Absalom's grandson, Warren Goodyear, gives this story. "Absalom, a leather worker in Ireland, came to South Carolina with his brother David when he was sixteen." Family history through Absalom's granddaughter, Rhoda Jane Williams, gives the following story. "Absalom had a sister Celia, possibly two years older than he. All the history known of their early years was what Celia could remember. She said when she was eight years old their parents were killed in an Indian raid and that surviving neighbors took the children in and raised them." This agrees with information given by Gordon Jolly, another grandson. Gordon remembers asking Absalom about his past and Absalom said he was an orphan and did not remember his parents. But the census of 1900 gives North Carolina as the birthplace of his father and mother. It is believed by the author that possibly the grandfather of Absalom was the one that came from Ireland to South Carolina with his brother and Absalom's parents then died in the raid.
Ship loads of Irishmen and their families came pouring into South Carolina as generous headrights of land, some 100 to 600 acres were given to them. Absalom's hair was red, very light, florid complexion, aquiline features, small in stature, about five feet eight at the most, very wiry build, quick physically and mentally. He had such a keen wit and everybody enjoyed his company. Townspeople came to visit often.
Rhoda Jane Goodyear is thought to be a descendent of Stephen Goodyear of New Haven Connecticut. The history of the Goodyear family says: "Two brothers came from New Haven to Horry County, South Carolina and bought land." At that time it was called Liberty or Craven County. The elder William Goodyear died in 1802 per his estate record at Marion Courthouse and the several deeds regarding his estate lands. Unfortunately, virtually nothing in the way of family relations is given. Goodyear Bay is very near the Little Pee Dee River, on or near lands once owned by William Goodyear Jr., son of William Sr. William Goodyear was born in 1750 and died on January 17, 1801. Records show William moved to Liberty County, County South Carolina from New England. Sometime in 1780 he married Louisa Granger who was born in South Carolina. Their children appear to be: William Goodyear Jr.? c1788-1870, . Elizabeth Goodyear c1794-???), John Goodyear c1798-1870, and Lovett "Love" Goodyear 1789 -1861 who married Elizabeth Barfield. Their children were: a. Rhoda Jane Goodyear b. July 25, 1825, William b. 1826, Elias b.1832, Harman b. l835, and Catherine "Kitsy" b. l837.
The following is a letter from a granddaughter of Rhoda and Absalom. "Rhoda had heavy thick dark hair, straight and quite long, medium complexion, smooth almost olive skin and high cheek bones and blue or gray eyes. She was a very positive person, very stern but loving person, tall, very straight and slender. Rhoda and Absalom Jolly were married on October 27, 1848 in Nichols, Marion County, South Carolina. Rhoda was educated and could read and write. "She was stern with all the grandchildren but we all knew she loved us.
Grandpa was more light hearted, loved to tease the cat and all his men friends enjoyed his off color jokes. He did rule the family with an iron hand when it came to behavior and honesty. He was well respected by every one who knew him. He could not read or write. However Absalom saw to it that his children got the best education that was available. His daughter, Mary read to him and he kept abreast of political and world affairs as long as he lived. He could discuss with any one very intelligently on almost any subject. He was far ahead of his time when it came to farm management, really became quite prosperous after the war between the states was over."
In a conversation with Evelyn [Jolly} Ingram, a granddaughter of App, she told of how a group traveled to Florida. There were more than just App and Rhoda in the group. Evelyn said, "The women and very small children drove the buggy. The men drove the wagons carrying the household goods and farm equipment. Some of the men and boys drove the herd of horses. At night, they would camp wherever they were."
Jane Williams wrote; "William James, Margaret Elizabeth, Marshall and Charles Franklin were born to Absalom and Rhoda while they lived in Nichols, South Carolina. Anyway they loaded the children and their meager possessions on an oxcart and came to the Orange Heights district in Alachua County. It was said the trek took about three months, as the trip was hazardous and App, as he was called, being a shoemaker by trade could ply his trade along the way to make some money. He must have had good advice, as the section they homesteaded was choice property. Some of the best in that part of the state."
"The children had the fair skin, very light complexioned, blue eyes and golden red, except Marshall. Children born to the couple in the log cabin constructed on the land were Louisa, Mary, Andrew, Martha Susan, Amanda, George Washington, and Lillian. The two latter children died as infants."
"The Jolly house is still standing, the old place in East of Orange Heights. This is not the original log cabin but a two-story frame built before the turn of the century. Buried in the family plot in the Melrose Cemetery are: Absalom, Rhoda, Mary Jolly. Rhoda died August 24, 1910 and Absalom died on October 13, 1918. He and Mary were living in Ocala then. App and Rhoda belonged to the Methodist Church and App was instrumental in building the Orange Heights church. It was a spacious and attractive building and at one time boasted a large congregation. I think Frank and my father probably, at least, helped to build it. I know my father built the schoolhouse and the architecture was very much the same. App. always supported whatever preacher they had and he was almost always a guest at his house for Sunday dinner."
"The dinner table at "Grandpa's was at least twelve feet long, there were a dozen hide bottom chairs and a bench the length of the table on the side next to the wall. There was always a crowd on Sunday and the children ate at the second setting so the grown ups could eat in peace. Grandpa allowed no chatter among children at the table. Gigglers were sent outside to calm down.
Grandma had lots of old time flowers, periwinkles, four o'clocks, etc. some of we kids were allowed to pick the four o'clock bloom and make flower chains but left roses and other plants alone. I never knew Amanda but heard some one describe as her hair being very straight and honey colored. The others and App's hair was quite curly."
App was always taking in people to help those who were in trouble. I know my parents were living in the family home when my brother Robert and brother Charles were both born. I think all six of Rhoda's daughters returned to their mother's home to have their babies, at least the first two or so births. App's orange grove survived the l894 freeze to some extent, the grove was completely lost about 1912 or so. This was shortly before he died. He was lively and alert until the end, cutting wood for the kitchen a few days before. He died from stomach cancer they thought.
"One interesting story about Grandpa, he was so very generous, especially to the preachers who preached in Melrose and Orange Heights, Methodist. One preacher Rev. Jones, living in Melrose had borrowed $200.00 dollars from Grandpa and never paid it back. Years later the man was holding a revival meeting in Dunellen and Lang Goodyear met him. (Lang was Louisa's son) He knew about the debt and confronted Preacher Jones, telling him to fork over the $200 or he would get up in the next meeting and tell all. Grandpa got his $200.00 by the next mail.
Rhoda and App raised the family with the highest moral standards. It built over into later generations. All of descendants had faults I am sure, but dishonesty or trickery was never tolerated. Families were much in evidence while they lived at the home place near Orange Heights. The dining table must have been 12 feet long, a long bench next to the wall where children sat and about twelve adults could be seated at one time. Often on Sundays the children waited until the adults finished as there was not room to serve everybody at one time. As a small child I was glad to wait as the second table was not so sedate and we could be a bit more relaxed.
I think I may be able to clear up the mystery about the child Rhoda listed on the census. In checking on the dates and ages of Martha and Mary, I think she was the one my mother remembered as Lillian. Knowing how grandma hated her own name, the child was probably named Rhoda Lillian. I was named for my two grandmothers Rhoda Jane and she made my parents promise not to call me Rhoda. Grandpa called her "Rhody" and she despised the name. I don't think she had a middle name [it was Jane]. My mother could remember Lillian as a baby who was deficient in some way, never able to sit up or talk. Died very young. Then the other infant that died was named George Washington. I have no idea where either baby was buried, probably somewhere on the homestead. Older family members are interred in the Melrose cemetery. The last reunion we had I took many of the cousins and progeny to visit those graves. Also the Waldo cemetery where my parents are buried as are your grandparents.
App's orange grove survived the l894 freeze to some extent, the grove was completely lost about 1912 or so. The pecan grove that is there on the property now was planted by the Parrish Family that I mention in my earlier letter. When Dr. Curtis obtained his property there were some native trees one of which was a very nice thin-shelled nut of excellent quality. He began grafting buds from that tree on seedling stock and developed the strain now known as Curtis Nuts, my special favorite by the way. He taught a Negro man, son of a slave named Elias Bellamy the art of grafting and the Curtis Nut was cultivated all over the region. I remember Bellamy quite well he was about half white and a very fine gentleman. His fore bearers had been slaves of the wealthy Bellamy family of Earleton.
1860 Census Record Alachua County, Florida Name: Jolly, Absalom; Age: 36; Occupation: Farmer; Value Real Estate: $800.00; Value Personal: $345.00; Birthplace: SC. Rhoda 32; William. 10; Margaret E. 9; Charles F. 7; Louise 5; Marshal 9/12.
William James Jolly - Jim was born in Marion county, South Carolina in 1849. He married Martha (last name unknown) in June of 1870 and they lived next door to his father and mother. The next twenty years are blank with the 1900 Florida census showing his land is now owned by John Curtis, 45 years old, a physician from Maine. They divorced and he moved to Oklahoma Territory where he practiced medicine as long as he lived. Dr. Jolly was a highly trained surgeon. In Oklahoma, he married a widow named Mary, with two children, Dick and Hazel, and they had one son of their own named Charles. He was still seeing patience at the age of eighty seven." He was the President of the American Medical Association for awhile and died at age 98 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1947. He was still seeing patients at age 87.
Margaret Elizabeth Jolly - Margaret Elizabeth was born in 1851 in Nichols, South Carolina. She was married briefly in her teens to one of the farm hands. She later married a man named Cartwright, they had two daughters, Hattie and Ida Belle. Her husband deserted her leaving her with two small children and no support. App offered to take the children to raise as his own so that Mag could go out to work. She worked as housekeeper, nurse for a Mrs. Goodson, a bed ridden invalid. After Mrs. Goodson's death she was married to Mr. Goodson who was much older, when he died he willed her his herd of range cattle and other means that allowed her to build on the property that her father had given her of his section. She was a very successful farmer, doing all the work herself Margaret went to live with Ida in Mullins, S. C. but she died of heart trouble. Ida died of cancer in Gainesville. Jane William's wrote; "Aunt Mag gathered the corn from all the family to take to `mill' every week or two. The gristmill was just out of Melrose and this was an all day trip by horse and wagon. She usually packed a delicious picnic lunch and took me along for company. What wonderful memories I have of her and all the time she devoted to teaching me about animals, birds, and wild flowers. The cattle roamed on the open range and had to be rounded up each evening so the cows could be milked in the morning. She first taught me to milk one of her goats, then the cows. For this my family received milk and butter too."
Charles Franklin Jolly - Charles Franklin Jolly was the third child of Absalom and Rhoda Jolly. He was born in Nichols, 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. His life will be discussed in the next chapter but here are some comments from letters by Jane Williams. "Frank Jolly was unhappy with farm life, He traded his gift of land to Martha for heavily timbered plot so that he could sell the timber for funds. Then started work as a carpenter. He was working in Gainesville where he met Martin Schenck who had come to Florida to avoid the harsh winters in New Jersey because of his health. He took Martin home to visit, thus his meeting Martha who he later married after teaching her in his school until she became 16 years old. Martin built the first public school house in Orange Heights and taught classes there. Frank later worked in Waldo where he met Hattie." "In Frank's later years he became blind. He would somehow find his way the three miles to our house on Alto Lake to spend Sundays with my mother. He was full of all sorts of interesting things and talked a blue streak all day and then would wend his way back home. He was able to distinguish enough light to feel his way along the road and find his way." "Spirits of Turpentine was distilled from the sap of pine trees. It was used as an excellent solvent and in high-grade house paints. It was also used as an anti germicidal for cuts on the farm. Then my mother's cold remedy was castor oil with a few drops of turpentine in a spoon full of castor oil, followed by a steaming hot toddy made from bourbon, sugar and boiling water. With a dose like that, we didn't dare sneeze or sniffle. It must have worked, we recovered quickly. To this day I cannot stand the smell of Bourbon Whisky. Maybe she was a wise woman. Huh???" "The harvesting of sap from the pine was know as the business of Naval Stores. There was a still near our homeplace, The Negro workers would tap each pine of certain size by cutting through the bark to the Cambrian thus: Them hang a cup, the first ones I remember were made of terra cotta like a clay flower pot, later metal cups were used, every week or two these cups would be scraped into a keg shaped container, then into big barrels and taken to the still where it was cooked to condense into spirits with a byproduct of cakes of resin, the stuff baseball pitchers powder their finger with and violinist put on the bows, I always like the smell of the process. Another product of pines is pine oil. Greatly used in other days in cough medicines etc. There is a factory here who distills the pine oil from pine stumps. The stumps come in by the flat carload. This oil comes from what is heart pine. 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 of how he made pine oil by steaming heart pine to supply the family with the oil for use in home remedies."
Marshall Jolly - Marshall was born in October of 1859 in Marion County, South Carolina, Probably in Nichols. Marshall looked like his mother who had heavy dark hair, straight and also had her medium complexion and high cheekbones. Marshall liked farming and his holdings were directly across the road from Margaret, good farmland. He did quite well, married Elizabeth Beasely. Their children were: 1. Fred Jolly went to Tampa, Florida, married and lived out their lives but had no children. 2. Delilah Jolly married a contractor, Will McNally, lived in Gainesville and had several children. 3. Troy Jolly went to Tampa, Florida, married and lived out their lives but had no children. 4. Ella Jolly Ella lived at home with her parents for their lifetime. After they died she married Dan Danielson, and they had a daughter that is married and lives in Gainesville. 5. Guy Jolly became a telegraph operator and worked the station for the Seaboard Railroad in Orange Heights until the station closed. He married Emma Bryant Treist, who had two daughters from her first marriage, She and Guy had a son and daughter. He and Emma were divorced, she lived out her life in Jacksonville and her children may still live here. Guy returned to their old home place where he lived the rest of his life. Marshall Jolly family lived across the road from where Margaret had her farm.
Louisa Jolly - Louisa was born in South Carolina about 1855. She was just a very small child when her parents moved to Orange Heights. She lived at home, become a skilled seamstress and owned the first sewing machine in that part of the county.Her first cousin, William Goodyear, came to visit from South Carolina and worked on the farm. She and Will Goodyear married when she was sixteen. William Pinckney Goodyear was born December 22, 1860 in Nichols, South Carolina. He was the son of Elias Goodyear, the brother of Rhoda Goodyear, Louise's mother. Elias Goodyear was born in 1832. He was a farmer just like his father, Lovet Goodyear. He married Mary Ann Ford in 1859 and married a second time to Mary Lupo, date unknown.
After their marriage, William and Louise moved to Nichols and William most likely became a farmer like his father. Later they moved back to Orange Heights, Florida and William went to work for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad as a Section Foreman, lived in Windsor near Gainesville then bought a home in Ocala, Bought more property, raised trotting horses and after retiring from the Railroad and Louisa's death, he took a job at a phosphate mine in Newberry where he had an accident resulting in his death. He died November 15, 1920 and is buried beside Louise in Melrose Cemetery. They had six children:
Andrew Jolly - Andrew Jolly became a Pharmacist and operated a Drug Store in Waldo for as long as he lived. He married Ella Strickland, their children were:
Amanda Jolly - Amanda Jolly is listed on the census record just before App. Amanda, the next youngest met and married a Naval Stores operator, James King, who had lost his wife, their two children being raised by their mother's family. They lived just south about half a mile of Martha's home. The husband, James King, ran a Turpentine Still at the company commissary near the home. Marshall Jolly family across the road from where Margaret had her farm, these less than a quarter mile from us. We were all in daily contact and after Rural mail delivery, the mail boxes were the "back fence" of the gossip exchange among all. Jane Williams wrote; "All of these people, I knew and remember personally. Except for my mother's younger sister, Amanda, who died before I was born. She was married to James King and I did know her children quite well as they lived close to our home and we more or less were very close as we grew up." The Children were: 1. Mable King married Lige Ward, a cousin of her stepmother. 2. Blanch King met the first rural mail carrier for the area, married and they later moved to Detroit, his name was Bryant. 3. Winifred King became a movie projectionist living in Jacksonville. 4. Ruth King remained in the city and became a secretary, later marrying a man named Jernigan. 5. Lester King moved away and did not stay in touch with the family.
Amanda died shortly after Lester's birth of tuberculosis. James King then married Anna Ward, their children were: 6. Leland - Leland, a very nice person, worked for the county, living in Gainesville. 7. Clifford - Clifford was not very dependable, don't know what become of him. 8. Mildred King don't know what become of him or the daughter Mildred 9. Clyde King lives in Jacksonville. 10 & 11. Twin daughters.
After King's retirement they bought a farm just north of Hawthorne and lived out their lives there. Before his retirement he tried running a hotel in Jacksonville. It was not a success.
George Washington Jolly and Rhoda Lillian Jolly both died as infants. Lillian as a baby who was deficient in some way, never able to sit up or talk. Died very young. The babies were buried probably somewhere on the homestead.
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.