Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey Surber with her grandsons (and grandson in law) who were serving in WWII:
Back row: Nathan Massey, Mark McLain, Max McLain.
Front row: Richard Moss (Mim Massey's husband), Grandmother Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey Surber, Joe Massey.
John Massey (also serving in WWII) is missing at time of picture.
Photo courtesy of Lee Massey Ives.
At right: Artha Lee Van Horn. Photo courtesy of Brenda McLain.
Artha Lee Van Horn, third daughter of Mary Ellen (Van Horn) and Austin Ralph Van Horn, was born February 3, 1864, in the beautiful valley of Lost Creek in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Harrison County, West Virginia. She never forgot her idyllic early years, and she vividly pictured the Van Horns as "the family of love" and painted Lost Creek Valley as the most beautiful in the world. There were two older sisters - Dora Columbia (Mrs. Thomas T. Hatfield) and Ella Bird (Mrs. George W. Lott); one younger sister, Flora Gay (Mrs. Val Crane); and the youngest in the family, a brother, Lewis Wardner Van Horn.
In 1875 the Van Horn family migrated to Jackson Center, Ohio, and three years later went on to Kansas to make their permanent home. To Artha Lee the red hills of Kansas were never so beautiful as the beloved hills of memory she had roamed in childhood. Nevertheless for 70 years she lived every day to the fullest as one of the fine pioneers who helped to make Kansas the great state it is today. She trod behind the ox team, fought the grasshoppers, taught school and never found a task she couldn't do well if it would make life better and happier for others.
At right: Joseph P. Massey. Photo courtesy of Lee (Massey) Ives, daughter of Ray Massey, grand-daughter of J.P. Massey.
On April 24, 1889, when Artha Lee was 25, she married Joseph Pierce Massey and came to live on the ranch land that has borne the Massey name since that time. To them were born five children of whom their parents were always justly proud; Ralph Nathan, who preceded his mother in death on January 18, 1944; Joseph Raymond, Lillian Ruth, Ruby Ellen and Robert E. Lee. Tragedy struck their happy home on December 23, 1908, when J. P. Massey was accidentally killed when run over by a train.
At right: John Surber. Photo courtesy of Brenda McLain.
In 1923 Artha Lee Massey married John Surber, who passed away in 1940.
One of the most perfect characters ever created, Artha Lee Surber found God early when at the age of three he had seemed to put His key into her hand. She radiated gracious living until God severed the "golden cord" that bound her to the love ones here on earth. For months she had looked forward to a visit with her 90 year old sister now living in San Antonio, Texas. When her health seemed to warrant the trip, three of her children accompanied her to San Antonio where she enjoyed a wonderful visit with the only other living member of her "family of love," Mrs. Surber departed from this life in San Antonio, Texas, October 4, 1948, when she was aged 84 years, 8 months and one day.
Artha Lee Surber's relatives and close friends fully realized her amazing capabilities. None of them ever doubted that she could have been a great artist; but she chose to spend her artistry for her loved ones, their homes, and her church. Her creed seemed to be like the thought which she liked to quote from "Life's Weaving" by Father Abby:
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me;
I may not choose the pattern,
He knows what that should be.
Mrs. Surber was a devoted member of the Sun City Baptist Church, which she helped to build. At the early age of eight she had been baptized into the Baptist Church of Lost Creek by Elder Burdick, founder of the college at Salem, W. Va. She loved her God, she loved her church, and she loved her family and her country. No grandmother could have been prouder than she was of the five grandson and the grandson-in-law who served their country in World War II. Surviving Mrs. Surber are four children; Ray Massey, Sun City; Mrs. Ruth McLain, Sun City; Mrs. T. J. Murphy, Sun City; Robert E. Massey, Chicago; one sister, Mrs. Dora Hatfield, San Antonio, Tex.; 14 grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; and numerous other relatives and friends.
But Artha Lee Surber will never die. With her increasing quest for things beautiful, her life was a daily inspiration and will continue to live on in the hearts of her descendants and all those whose lives she touched.
Gravestone for Joseph P. and Artha L. Massey, Lake City cemetery, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo by Kim Fowles.
The Lott and Massey families on Ella Lott's 80th birthday party.
Ella is sitting in the front row (light colored dress) and her sister Artha Surber is sitting beside her in the dark dress with white collar.
Photo courtesy of Ronnie Hoagland..
Ella Bird (Van Horn) Lott & Artha Lee (Van Horn) Surber
on Ella's 80th birthday in 1940.
Photo courtesy of Ronnie Hoagland..
Painting by Artha Surber of her family's home in Lost Creek, West Virginia.
Painting courtesy of Brenda McLain..
Message to Kim (Hoagland) Fowles from Nate Massey
I never thought that my generation would be the old folks. Grandma Artha had the right idea -- she would see to it that her clan got together for a meal, picnic or bull session about every two weeks, and the grandkids had to stop by her house everyday for a granny kiss or you was on her hit list and that was not a place to be.
She would sit and glow listening to her 4 kids, Dad (Ralph), Uncle Ray, Aunt Ruth (McLain) and Aunt Ruby (Murphy) spin their yarns and everyone laughing and adding their bit. Uncle Rob and his family would come from Chicago about 1 week every year and the entire week was a shut down on the ranch and at least 4 hours of every day was spent entertaining the big city folks.
Grandma was a very intelligent and a pretty sly and cunning lady and usually had control of everything whether you knew you were being controlled or not.
One of her favorite programs was when they were interviewing preachers for the Baptist church was to have him out for a big Sunday dinner and then challenge him on reciting Bible verses from memory, I think she almost had the Bible memorized.
-- Nate Massey, 14 Aug 2005.
"Ralph's three boys left to right
P.V.T. Ralph Nathan Massey Jr age 18
A.S.N. 375 300 44
Co.D. 78th Inf. Bn
Camp Robert Calif.
David Dean Massey age 12 who like Kent is doing a man's work with a tractor cultivating, disking and plowing and other ranch work.
P.V.T. John Robert Massey, age 20
I have given his address with the picture in uniform. We haven't Ralph N's they sent him right out after he was inducted."
-- Photo caption by Artha Surber in her own handwriting about her grandsons.
Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey Surber with her children:
Joseph Raymond Massey Sr., Ruby Ellen Massey, Lilian Ruth McLain, Artha Lee Surber, Ralph Nathan Massey Sr., Robert E. Lee Massey.
The photo is captioned in Artha's handwriting.
(Ruby Ellen Massey later married Thomas J. Murphy, then Lyle Bullock.)
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
View Larger Image
L-R: Marjorie (McLain) Hunter, Ruth (Massey) McLain, Artha (Van Horn) Massey Surber.
The boy is Barger or Red Hunter, son of Marjorie McLain.
Photo courtesy of Nell (Sisk) McLain.
Hylon Hope (Massey) Howard, grand-daughter of J.P. and Artha Massey.
Joseph P. Massey
Surnames: Douglas, Garrison, Hatfield, Holloway, Lott, Mason, Massey, Merrill, Owen, Parr, Redwine, Sherrod, Shigley & Van Horn.
Ralph Nathan Massey
Surnames: Henry, Massey, McLain, Murphey & Surber.
Kent Meadors Massey, grandson of J.P. and Artha Massey.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
Thanks to Brenda McLain, Lee (Massey) Ives, Ronnie Hoagland and Kim (Hoagland) Fowles for the photos on this page!
This RootsWeb website is being created by Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page was last updated 14 January 2007.