Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Fearless Female Betty Dickson Gresham, 1888-1976

This is Mark's maternal grandmother, Betty Dickson Gresham.  Betty was born May 12, 1888, in Texas, probably in Denton County, as her parents, Louis Andrew Dickson (1849-1913) and Sarah C.Wil[l]banks (1857-1920), were living in that county on both the 1880 and 1900 Censuses.  She was the sixth of their nine children.

Betty married Marvin (or Mark) Ellis "M. E." Gresham (1886-1941) on January 9, 1909, in Boliver in Denton County.  They are living in the county on the 1910 Census.  On January 31, 1911, their first child and son, Francis Edward Gresham, Mark's father, was born in Krum in Denton County.

On September 9, 1914, Betty and M.E. had their second child, a daughter, Ophelia Mae.  They also had a third child, an unnamed son, on December 9, 1916, who died the next day and is buried at Krum-Jackson Cemetery in Krum, Texas.

Betty and M. E. continued to live in Krum (through the 1930 and 1940 Censuses) until M. E.'s death in February 1941.  Afterwards, she moved to 318 Ponder in the nearby city of Denton.  However, at that point, both of her children were living in Corpus Christi, Texas, and by 1944, according to city directories, she was living with her son Francis and his family (wife Jewel Moore Gresham and their son Mark) at 2814 Nueces.

Francis served in the Navy during World War II, from April 1944 to August 1945, and was sent to work as a negative engraver and cameraman at the Navy's Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C. His family moved there as well, as Mark's sister Ann was born in Washington, D.C., at the end of 1944.  During this time Betty moved to 440 Tancahua, Apt. 2, according to the 1946 city directory, and worked as a seamstress for John A. Ferris, a menswear store.  Daughter Ophelia and her husband Shelton Verdo Lee (1912-1994), a purchasing agent with Southern Minerals Corporation, lived in the same apartment building.

According to 1948 city directories, Betty was an employee of the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station (where son Francis was a lithographer), and living at 1440 Van Loan Drive.  Ophelia and Shelton lived next door at 1410 Van Loan.  Francis and family were at 3829 Blanco Courts, in the La Armada II housing project, built to accommodate Navy enlisted men and civilian military employees as the Naval Air Station expanded.

I found Betty still living in Corpus Christi through 1960.  According to city directories, she was at 905 and 1/2 Park Avenue in 1955, at 3426 S. Alameda in 1957, and at 1425 Maryland Boulevard, apartment 2, in 1959 and 1960.  While the Navy started moving Francis and family around beginning in January 1949 (first to Florida, then Guam, then Washington state), Ophelia and Shelton were still in Corpus Christi through 1960.

After 1960, it's not clear where Betty (or Ophelia and her family) were living.  I understand that Shelton's work had his family moving around a bit after 1960, and Betty lived with them.  She was living with them in Anchorage, Alaska, when she died in November 1976.  She is buried next to her husband in the Krum-Jackson Cemetery in Krum, Texas.

© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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