Friday, November 5, 2021

Missed by Moments


Do you ever discover—only too late to do anything about it right now—that the place you're passing by once held significance for your family history?

Too late to reroute plans now, I've just discovered that not only does a location barely half an hour's drive from my overnight stop represent the land farmed by particular members of the town's "pioneer" settlers—Maude Woodworth's parents and paternal grandparents—but that its history is apparently well preserved by the region's own historical society.

Yes, unfortunately, I and my hard-working husband are headed in an entirely different direction and are on a timetable. Rest assured, I've already written yet another "note to self" to contact the Covina Valley Historical Society to see what they might have contained in their collection regarding the Woodworth family. I may have missed by moments the decision point for visiting the Society's archived collection today, but there will be another trip in the future.

It was from one of those obituaries we all wish we could find more of that I gleaned a fairly complete history of Maude Woodworth Bean's parents. After her father's passing in 1928, the Covina Argus published an informative obituary for the "Well Known Valley Pioneer." From that came a straightforward timeline of William C. Woodworth's life.

Maude lost her father on May 22, 1928, when she was thirty years of age. Granted, by then, she was married to Samuel Bean, but she doubtless was still close to her father, with whom she had claimed a fairly close relationship before she left to attend the California School for the Blind in northern California.

At the time of his passing, W. C. Woodworth was sixty years old—a respectable age, given the time period in which he lived. Though his obituary gave no hint of the illness which caused his death, it is doubtful it would have been related to the Marfan Syndrome which later felled two of his grandsons at a much younger age. Still, the obituary mentioned that three of his children predeceased him, a clue to follow next week.

The obituary also revealed that William Woodworth came to California with his parents in 1886, settling on "the ranch on Vincent Street" in Covina which eventually became his responsibility for years, until it became the property of the Reynolds family. Finding a plat map of the region will help bring that picture to life, as "Vincent Street" has undoubtedly undergone massive changes since that bucolic era.

Soon after the Woodworth family moved to California, William returned to his former home in Sioux City, Iowa, to seek the hand of Effie Aurilla Williams in marriage in the fall of 1890. Yet even Sioux City had only been his residence for three years, as the family came there from the former town of Bristol in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, where William was born, twenty five years before his wedding.

As obituaries often do, William's last mention in the Covina newspaper was well endowed with names of surviving family members, as well as giving honor to his by-then deceased parents, Lafayette and Eliza Woodworth. This will give us working orders to help delve further into the question of whether Marfan Syndrome made its appearance in the lines of any of Maude's siblings or ancestors as it had in her own children. We'll take a closer look at the details next week. 



  1. Replies
    1. Don't you love finding stuff like that, Miss Merry? Seems there was an era in which obituaries of local "pioneers"--whether they truly were or not--seemed to include this personal history focus. Of course, the next question was: how accurate was that report? Romanticized family myth or factual detail?


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