Category Archives: Bedwell

And We Have a Winner !

Today we held the drawing for the prize package winner!  Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas!  Courtesy of, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

In her submission, Jan shared as follows:

One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree.  Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history.  I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information.  The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress.  When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history.  She shared much of her written records with me.  Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children.  Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree.  At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants.  This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when was launched.  I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.

My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather.  My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old.  As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names.  I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us.  Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.

I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research.  The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research.  As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me.  I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.

The latest option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing.  I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere.  Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.

Jan Shaffer
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Jan !!

And to all of you:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !!!!!!
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Bedwell, Odds and Ends


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Always a Smile

I’ve heard it said that a sacrifice without a price is meaningless. Today, I wish to speak to you of a mother’s love and sacrifice for her children. To be sure, our family tree is full of wonderful mothers; however, this one continues to stand out. Olive May Waldie Bedwell – wife of brothers William Franklin Bedwell and James Monroe Bedwell – protected and nourished and bestowed each of her many children (and some that weren’t biologically hers) with love and continued devotion. She sacrificed many things in her life time – and always did so with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.

Olive was one of eight children born to Thomas Harrison Waldie and Josephine A. Wylie on 28 April 1882. She spent her childhood in McLennan County, Texas where she presumably met William Franklin Bedwell. William was the son of Martha Isabell Curbow and the grandson of Tilman P. Curbow. According to granddaughter, Jan Shafer, Olive was in love with William’s younger brother James Monroe Bedwell; however, her parents pressured her into marrying William because they thought that he could provide a better life for her. The couple married in McLennan County on 21 Jan 1901. William and Olive had four children: Evelyn in 1901; Preston Wiley in 1903; William Langston in 1906; and Merrill Fern, 1912. Due to William’s apparent alcoholism this couple eventually divorced – formally sometime around May of 1916. Later, in 1927, William was incarcerated in the Tarrant County jail on a drunk charge where he was murdered by another inmate.

In the meantime, the love of her life, James Monroe Bedwell had married and subsequently lost his wife (Clara) in child-birth – leaving him with two small babies, Homer and Paul Bedwell, to care for. Whether or not Olive and Jim ever “formally” married is not know; however, they began living together in a common law marriage sometime between 1913 and 1915. Olive took Jim’s two babies and raised them as her own. Jim and Olive subsequently had six more children together: Llese Deloris in 1915; Maurine Lillian in 1917; James Madison in 1915; Floy Laverne in 1920; Joy Lavonne in 1920 (twins); and Nana Ruth in 1921. Sadly, James Monroe Bedwell never saw the birth of his youngest child, Nana Ruth.  He died of an unexpected heart attack – he was only 38 years old.

The death of Jim Bedwell must have come as a heavy blow to Olive and the family. Granddaughter Jan states: Olive’s life was a very hard one. Jim worked for the railroad. The family lived within a block of the tracks and after Jim’s death they continued to live there until sometime in the late 50s. Olive worked as a laundry woman washing and ironing for others from her house. The older children helped a little with supporting themselves. As my grandmother aged she earned money by babysitting children (something she had experience with), so you see her house was always full of people. Every year she won the prize at church for having the most children. (She had 14 pregnancies total but some did not go to term). I was told there was an agency that wanted to remove the children from the home because they did not think she could support them. A newspaper picked up the story and there was a huge public support for her to keep them. The children stayed with their mother. I saw this crumbling article once. It had all the kids in the picture standing on the steps of (maybe a church or mission). I have looked for this newspaper article but have no idea what paper or date. My mother told me they never believed in Santa because he couldn’t visit them. She remembered sitting on the floor as a small child with Jimmie and Maurine wrapping a brick with newspaper and taking turns unwrapping it with surprise like it was a package – this story broke my heart and every year I gave my mother a big beautifully wrapped package with a toy inside for the child that Santa forgot.

Just this last weekend, we were able to locate the newspaper article that Jan mentions above.  It was published on 4 July 1926 in The Advocate:

Fort Worth, Tex., July 3. – Twelve children are growing up in the Fort Worth home of Mrs. Olive Bedwell. There is only Mrs. Bedwell to support and care for them. She supports them by taking in washing. They are healthy children, and happy. “Sweet children,” adds Mrs. Bedwell, “and such a comfort to me.” The story of them is an epic of what two hands can do. Nana Ruth is the youngest. She was two some time ago. Nine of the others are Nana Ruth’s brothers and sisters. Two are orphans whom Mrs. Bedwell took to raise.

Always a Smile – Mrs. Bedwell’s husband died several years ago. Since then she has earned $10 to $15 a week by washing and ironing. And though her hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., no visitor to her home finds other than a smile on her face. When her husband died, there was $6 due from his employer. Mrs. Bedwell offered it to a doctor who aided when Nana Ruth came. The doctor refused it, and Mrs. Bedwell spent the $6 for a Bible for the children to read. Every Sunday she takes her flock to Sunday school, along with a dozen other children of the neighborhood. “They like quantity at my church,” Mrs. Bedwell laughs, “and I’m a mighty popular member.” Two of Mrs. Bedwell’s children are old enough to earn a little money for themselves now. Another, a girl, now in high school, has been given a business college scholarship and is ready to study shorthand and typing. “My goodness, what have I to complain of?” this mother asks. “Lots of people ask me how I can be so cheerful. I just don’t have time to get blue.”

Were Seven Others – Somebody gave Mrs. Bedwell an electric washing machine. Once in a while people give her dresses for the children. The Union Gospel Mission of Fort Worth gives $10 of the $25 per month Mrs. Bedwell is paying on the little house in which she and the children live. “We get along beautifully,” Mrs. Bedwell sums up. “We never have been hungry. If people bring us things, I am thankful and accept them as gifts from God, who always will provide.” In addition to her ten living children, Mrs. Bedwell was the mother of seven who died. “I wish they all were with me,” she says, as she tells the striking story of what two hands, simple faith, unfaltering courage, and unwavering love can do.

Olive – you built a wonderful legacy, and here’s to a job well done!


Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Bedwell


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Bedwell Beauties

By the looks of it, Belle (Martha Isabell Curbow Bedwell) passed her striking beauty down through the generations……….and she had plenty of assistance from her daughter-in-law – the lovely Olive.

Olive May Waldie was born 28 April 1882 in Texas – the daughter of Thomas Harrison Waldie and Josephine A. Wyle.  Olive married two of Belle’s sons – first William Franklin Bedwell and later his brother James Monroe Bedwell. 

Olive May Waldie Bedwell - Photo from the collection of Jan Shaffer

On 21 Jan 1901 Olive married William Franklin Bedwell in McLennan County, Texas.  It has been said that William was not Olive’s first choice.  She had her heart set on William’s brother James – her true love.  However, that was not to be – Olive’s parents insisted on the marriage to William because they felt that he had a better prospect of supporting Olive.  My how times have changed!  With the die-cast, James married another – Clara B. Horne – in 1906.  Olive and William Franklin Bedwell had four children:  Evelyn, Preston, William and Merrill. 

The wife of James Bedwell, Clara Horne, died in 1910 leaving James with two small babies to raise, Homer and Paul.  In the meantime, Olive and William Franklin divorced.  You guessed it – Olive got her man!  The couple spent the rest of their lives together raising a very large family.  Olive took James’ two boys and raised them as her own.  They also had:  Lleze, Maurine, James, Floy and Joy (twins) and Nana Ruth.

Granddaughters of Martha Isabell Curbow – Aren’t they lovely?

Maureen Bedwell


Floy Bedwell

Nana Ruth Bedwell



Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Bedwell, Curbow


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Greenwood Cemetery, Waco, McLennan County, Texas

Recently my husband and I made a trip to Hill County, Texas – the cemetery hunt was on!  After a very successful mission to the Covington area, we decided to stop in Waco on the way back to Austin.  I was aware that Lucinda Curbow Lytle and family were laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery as is Martha Isabell Curbow’s second husband, Jonathan Monroe Bedwell.  While I already had photographs of the pertinent grave markers, I wanted to physically stand at Lucinda’s grave and pay her my respects. 

After getting lost a few times, and stumbling upon the much larger and more beautiful Oakwood Cemetery, we finally made our way to Greenwood! Greenwood Cemetery is located a stone’s throw away from busy IH-35 and lies on the southeast corner of Earle Avenue and Price Street in Waco, Texas. The City of Waco established Greenwood Cemetery in 1875, shortly after our Curbow family arrived in McLennan County.  I believe that Greenwood Cemetery was also at one time called “East Waco Cemetery” or “West Waco Cemetery,” depending on which section you were buried in; however, I cannot get a definitive answer on that from local historians.

Map - depicting location of Greenwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas

I felt sad when we walked the cemetery.  I tried to visualize what the cemetery must have looked like in the past; but, I had a hard time doing so.  Even though Greenwood Cemetery has a historical marker designation and is cared for by a cemetery association, in my estimation, it felt stark, forgotten and “unloved.” 

Historical Marker for Greenwood Cemetery, Waco, McLennan County, Texas

 The cemetery has a “white” section which is contained inside a chain-linked fence, and a “black” section which is outside the fenced area.  According to a gentleman that we ran into at the cemetery, the black section has suffered much from vandalism. Overall, the cemetery is bordered by a very underprivileged residential area and the concrete and noise of the freeway.  My husband and I walked the entire cemetery – and we could not find the Lytle plot.  Frustrated – knowing it was there – we were about to give up and just go home.  It took an older gentlemen (also working on his family history) to point out the Lytle plot – which we were practically standing right on top of – situated at the very entrance of the cemetery.  (Okay, so it had been a very long day!)  At one time the plot had been edged by a concrete border – but with the passage of time the concrete has partially sunk into the ground.  There is one marker for Edward and Lucinda; Edward and Belle each have their own marker; and wife Marguerite has one small stone.  It brought comfort to know that the entire family was laid to rest together. 

Greenwood Cemetery

Our family members that are laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery are:

William Henry Lytle, confederate soldier;
Lucinda Curbow Lytle, daughter of Tilman P. Curbow;
Belle Sarah Lytle, daughter of William and Lucinda;
William Henry Lytle, Jr., son of William and Lucinda;
Marguerite Logan Lytle, wife of William Henry Lytle, Jr.; and
Jonathon Monroe Bedwell, husband of Martha Isabell Curbow.

If you wish to view any of the above memorials on the Find-a-Grave website, or if you wish to read any other memorials of folks buried at Greenwood, I am attaching the link here. 

This is an excerpt from The Story Tellers…..which says it all for me:  

How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.


Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Bedwell, Cemeteries, Curbow, Lytle


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Martha Isabell Curbow Hodges Bedwell Pressley

Out of all of Tilman Curbow’s children, for some reason, Martha Isabell intrigues me the most.  Martha Isabell Curbow was the youngest daughter of Tilman Curbow and Elizabeth Box.  She was referred to by her family as “Belle” and sometimes “Mattie.”  She was born 22 July 1857 in Mississippi, probably Itawamba County.  Martha can be found with her family in the 1860 and 1870 census records.  The photo below is thought to be a wedding photograph.  The notations on the back of the photo read:  “Grandmother Bedwell, who died in 1940.” 

Martha Isabell Curbow – from the collection of Jan Schaffer

At the tender age of 14 years old, on 7 Aug. 1871, Belle married Charles Hodges in McLennan County, Texas.  In this marriage record she is indexed as “Belle Kerbo.”  Charles Hodges is possibly Charles C. Hodges born 1844 in Arkansas, the son of Walter Clark Hodges and Elizabeth Hines.  To my knowledge, this couple did not have any children. 

A short five years later, on 23 Nov 1876, Belle married Jonathon Monroe Bedwell in McLennan County, Texas.  In this marriage record, Belle is listed as “Mattie Hodges.”  John Bedwell was the son of William Dawson “Doss” Bedwell and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson.  John’s father was a Confederate civil war soldier – a planter before the war – and a prominent citizen of Waco, Texas.  It appears that Belle and Jonathan spent their married lives together in McLennan County, Texas living on the Bedwell Plantation.  Martha and John had four children:  Olivia A. in 1877; Albert in 1879 (lived only 6 years); William Franklin in 1880; and James Monroe in 1882. 

After John’s untimely death in 1883 of meningitis, Belle continued living on the Bedwell family property with her children and her mother-in-law until she married Edward Henry Pressley on 1 Sept 1884.  Edward was the son of Enoch B. Pressley and Mary E. Barrington.  The couple had two children:  Jennie Mae in 1889 and Walter Gordon in 1891.  Belle had a total of six children – four boys and two girls – sadly, she outlived all of her sons. 

By 1900 Belle and her husband (and the two younger children) were living in Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas where they were indexed as “hotel keepers” in the census.  By 1910 the couple is living in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, where they lived out the rest of their lives together. 

The photograph above is courtesy of Pressley researcher Carol Wolfe.

Belle died at the age of 83 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas on 16 Feb 1941.  She is laid to rest in Mission Burial Park.  She shares a headstone with her youngest son.

OBITUARY:  Published San Antonio Light on Sunday, Feb. 16, 1941, Par. 7, Page 3:  PRESSLEY:  Martha Isabel Pressley died at her residence, 134 Belden Street, Feb. 15, 1941, in her eighty-third year.  Survivors, daughters Mrs. Mae Harper and Mrs. Olivia Harrison.  Services Sunday 4 pm from the Chapel of Southside Funeral Home.  Rev. W. P. Carmichael officiating.  Interment, Mission Burial Park.  Direction Southside Funeral Home< 5519 So. Flores Street in Harlandale.

I want to especially thank my friend (and distant cousin) Jan Shaffer for working with me so diligently on the genealogy of Martha Isabell Curbow.  Jan is descended from James Monroe Bedwell and his wife Olive Mae Waldie in a very interesting way.  I’ll write about that in another post!  Without Jan – and her contacts – we wouldn’t know much about Martha and the Bedwells nor would we have these wonderful photographs of Martha.  Jan and I would love to be in touch with other family members – particularly descendants of Olivia Bedwell Harrison; Jennie Mae Pressley Hensley Harper; and Walter Gordon Pressley.

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Posted by on February 5, 2011 in Bedwell, Curbow, Pressley

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