Friday, November 16, 2018
The Rest of Her Story: Clara Alice
Perhaps the reason little Myrtle Knapp—the wiggleworm in the photograph from Tuesday's post—used only her middle name was that Clara was both her first name and that of her mother. The matriarch of the William Malphus Knapp family was known as Clara Alice.
The elder Clara was widowed fairly young—she was thirty four at the time—when her husband passed away in 1908. By then, though the family had moved from Kansas to Washington state, they had returned to the midwest, this time to Oklahoma. The widowed Clara Alice Knapp was easily found in that same location in Major County, Oklahoma, by the time of the 1910 census, living with her eight children, along with her father, Samuel Hoover.
Meanwhile, about two hundred miles away, Clara Alice's deceased husband's aunt—thirty one year old Flora Knapp, whose photo we saw yesterday—was by then married to Roy Jones and living in Douglass, Kansas.
The house immediately next door to the Jones' residence was a household with the exact opposite configuration of Clara Alice's situation back in Chester, Oklahoma. This was the home of Mary Banfill, whose widowed son, George, was living with his two teenaged daughters, Vina and Hazel.
While I have yet to find any documentation that Aunt Flora served as a cunning matchmaker, you are welcome to come up with your own guess as to how George Banfill in Kansas met Clara Alice Hoover Knapp in Oklahoma.
It wasn't long after those two 1910 census records were compiled, including the two households separated by nearly two hundred miles, when a couple met at the Major County courthouse in Oklahoma to exchange vows and blend their families. On October 10, 1912, George Banfill and Clara Alice Knapp became husband and wife.
By the time of the next census in 1920, George and Clara Alice had a family comprised of three of her children—Robert, William Milton, and Florence Knapp—plus two children of their own: Harold and Nila Banfill. In the 1920 census, George's two daughters had already moved on, and by the time of the 1930 census—by then, moved back to Douglass, Kansas—the only children remaining in the Banfill household were those George and Clara Alice had in common.
When 1940 arrived, however, the couple had moved far afield of either midwestern state. They now showed up in the Great Valley of California, living next door to their son, Harold, himself a married man with a two year old son of his own. George and Clara Alice apparently remained in that California location for the rest of their lives, for George was buried in the Modesto Pioneer Cemetery in 1947, and Clara Alice followed in 1948.
For those who aren't familiar with this part of California, Modesto is located in Stanislaus County, the county just to the south of the one where I live. Though I found photographs of their families—both the Knapp family and the Banfill family, whom we'll meet next week—up in Sonora, which is a drive away in the foothills, I consider this to be a possible explanation for how pictures of a family from Kansas and Oklahoma might have ended up in California at all.
Best of all, though, I now can say I might have a better idea as to why the Banfills might have held on for so long to the picture of Aunt Flora.
Above: Close-up of Clara Alice Hoover Knapp from a Knapp family photograph taken circa 1898; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.