Happy 185th Uncle Oliver!


Evelyn Seymour and Oliver Torry Jenks

On 9 March 1835, in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan, my great great granduncle, Oliver Torry Jenks, was born to Morris and Almira Botsford Jenks.  Uncle Oliver married twice: Marian Murphy (26 December 1858) and Evelyn Roselia Seymour (17 March 1886).

With Aunt Marian, he was the father of Fred Wellington (1859), Morris M. (1862), Nellie Augusta (1864), Charles Edward (1866), and George Elmer (1869).  Aunt Marian passed away on 19 September 1883.

With Aunt Eva, he was the father of four more: Baby (1887-1887), Mary Parker (1887), Seymour Arthur (1888), and Irene May (1893).

Uncle Oliver died 23 April 1901, in Birmingham, Oakland County, Michigan.   Aunt Eva was the Jenks Family historian and captured the following biographical information about her beloved husband:

The Reunions of the Jenks Family of Oakland County, Michigan – 1911-1927, by Evelyn Seymour Jenks, p 228-247


On March 9, 1835, just 90 years ago last March, 1925, the third child and youngest son of Morris and Almira Botsford Jenks – Oliver Torrey Jenks first saw the light of day in the little old log cabin on the brow of the hill near Plum Bottom Creek and the famous ‘Deer Lick” in Southfield Township, Oakland County, Michigan.  And there with his brother, Leman, and sisters, Esther and Minerva, spent all his childhood days.  In 1851, his father built and moved the family into a frame house facing the East, a little to the West and South and across the road from the log house.  At that time, Oliver was a lad of 16 and, I guess, as full of boyish pranks and jokes as they make them, for I have heard him tell of how he hauled a big dead black snake across the road to scare his sister and another time he swiped one of  his mother’s sheets and wrapping himself up in it played ghost for the entertainment of the girls.  As they were coming down the road toward home the ghost suddenly glided out of the dark woods and the girls sprinted screaming for the house.  He also said he was found out in both cases and that the black snake whip done more damage that the dead snake did, and that the ghost was anything but chilly when his mother got through with him.  But, I think, at the most the four young people had many enjoyable times together.  They used to go to parties and the like, and, I am sure, they had a fine time at a dance at the old Lawrence House for all four caught the measles and had cause to remember it for weeks afterward.  At the age of 23, Oliver Torrey Jenks was united in marriage to Miss Marian Murphy, daughter of Harmon and Cordilia Treat Murphy, on December 26, 1858 at the M. E. Parsonage in Franklin, Michigan, Rev R. C. Lanning officiating.  They were attended by the bride’s sister, Miss Almira Murphy, and Mr. Lewis Church Phelps.  The bride was a pretty winsome little lady of about 16, and the happy young couple began house keeping with Father and Mother Jenks and their first child, Fred W. Jenks, was born in the old Jenks Home.  I do not think any of the other children were born there.  But, Morris, the second boy, died when they lived in the home where Steve Wright now lives, but they moved back to the old home and lived there at the time of Father Jenks’ death, February 13, 1878, and I think lived there until Oliver sold out and moved to Birmingham in 1896.


In looking over an old paper of October 13, 1881, I saw an account of the Redford Grange Fair held at Redford and in it I noticed the names of Oliver, Marian, and Nellie Jenks.  First Mrs. Marian Jenks was one of the committee of arrangement, also winner of several blue cards on fancy work as was also Miss Nellie Jenks, while Oliver Jenks won several prizes on apples, grain, and produce.


The only times I met Mrs. Marian Jenks was at Uncle William’s (home of my sister Julia and once at her own home), I was invited to a party at the Sand Hill, as Redford was then called, by Almon Park, a friend and a sort of connection of the Jenks, in the way that his grandfather, Joseph Park’s first wife was Lucy Jenks, sister of Uncle William, Father Jenks, and the rest of Laban Jenks’ children.  But, his second wife,  Eunice Tolman Park was Almon’s grandmother, so to return to my subject, the roads between Birmingham and Southfield were awful.  So, we were to start in the afternoon drive to Oliver Jenks’ and go on to the party with them.  I remember I thought Mrs. Jenks was such a nice little woman.  She set out a lunch for us and was very kind and friendly.  Mr. and Mrs. Jenks, Fred, Charlie, and Nellie went to the party and their two young boys left at home – afterward I found out it was George, their youngest son, and his cousin, Justin Jenks.

I wonder if they remember that time, I do no remember how long ago it was, but think it must have been 1880 or ’81.  Be that as it may, it was the furthest from my thoughts that the next time I sat at Oliver Jenks’ table it would be as his second wife or that as his widow I would be writing this most imperfect history of their early days.  Far better than I know or could say of Mrs. Marian Jenks’ home life or disposition are the Resolutions of Respect from Redford Grange No 367 – P of H, to the memory of Mrs. Marian Jenks who died August 20, 1883.

For the sixth time since its organization, our Grange has been visited by the reaper, Death, and our beloved sister, Marian Jenks, has been called to her reward and where as by the death of our sister we have lost one of our most faithful earnest workers, one ever ready in every good work in our order doing with her might what her hands found to do, and Whereas in her death, Brother Jenks has lost a loving companion, the children a wise counselor and affectionate mother, therefore, be it resolved, that while we bow to Him who doeth all things well, that we, the members of Redford Grange, will fondly cherish her memory and extend to our worthy brother and his children our sincere sympathy in their sad bereavement.  Resolved that our Hall shall be draped in mourning for 60 days.  Resolved, that a copy of these resolutions be sent to the family of the deceased and to the Birmingham Eccentric and Wayne County Courier for publication, and that they be entered upon the records of the Grange.


George C. Lawrence.

Mrs. R. M. Wright

Mrs. Anna DuBois



These resolutions certainly show that she was beloved by all, had a lovely character and was sincerely mourned by those bereft by her early death.

On March 17, 1886, just 39 years ago, last March, 1925, the second marriage of Oliver Torrey Jenks took place.  The bride, Evelyn Roselia Seymour, daughter of the late David Miller and Mary Parker Seymour, was attended by her sister, Mrs. Julia Seymour Jenks, wife of the best man, Francis William Jenks, who was a cousin of the groom.  The ceremony was performed by the Rev. J. A. Sharrand at the United Presbyterian Parsonage in Birmingham, Michigan.  The wedding gown was of navy blue cashmere made in the height of 1886 fashion.  A tight fitting Basque with velvet front collar and cuffs.  The dress was lined throughout with cambric, the skirt had a velvet front with a pleating round the whole skirt, a long looped up overskirt was also edged with pleating and worn over a wire bustle.  I give this fashion of that day to compare with that of today, as I am afraid by 1926, if the gowns are made shorter at the top and higher at the bottom with a little more sliced out of the sleeveless armhole, that there would be nothing left to compare – and also that when the grandchildren of Emma Hibner, Mabel Kaiser, and Clara Jenks ask what my wedding dress was they can refer to this.  But, I can tell you that at my wedding there was a lack of fuss and frills and our bridal trip was only to Pontiac where we had our wedding supper at a Hotel and while I was alone in the public parlor a few minutes, a young lady came in and seated herself.  After a while, we began talking and were chatting away when my husband came in.  And he says, “Why Effie, how are you?” and she says,  “How do you do, Uncle Ol,” and then he introduced me as his wife.  There were two rather surprised young ladies, and I think it was the first of my meeting with any of Esther’s family.  Our wedding was on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday were spent at my own home and Uncle William Jenks’ and Saturday we came to Southfield, to Oliver’s home, where he and the boys, Charlie and George, had kept Bachelor’s hall all Winter.  We were met on the porch by Charlie with the announcement that Marian, Nellie’s baby was very, very sick.  The menfolks helped me get supper, and John and Will Hart came over with their violins and gave us a very musical evening, and so ended my first day in Southfield.  The next day, we went to see the sick baby, who recovered and had many little visits with her now grandma, while she lived.  The baby’s mother met the stepmother with a kiss and kind words of  greeting – and she has met her just the same all these long years that have gone by since then.  We have passed many sad hours as well as happy ones together.  For the first year of our marriage ended in bitter sorrow from the death of my mother, Mrs. Mary Parker Seymour, October 2, 1886, of my sister, Julia Seymour Jenks, October 19, 1886, and the only little grandchild, Marian Irene Moore, who passed away December 8, 1886.  The next October brought our first baby who staid with us but 15 days.  Then came Seymour, our only boy, lastly our baby, Irene May.  All these were born at the old Jenks home.  In 1896, just ten years from our wedding day, we moved back to Birmingham into my own little home.  Fred had passed away November 7, 1898.  Nellie and George both in their own homes.  Charlie was at home with us unless employed elsewhere.  The children grew fast, also caught all the diseases going, and I nursed them through the grippe, the mumps, both kind of measles, chicken pox, typhoid fever, and Irene finished up with whooping cough, pleurisy, tonsillitis and having her tonsils out.  In 1898, Oliver was taken sick and four three years his was a life of pain until his sufferings ended in death, April 23, 1901.  Of this I cannot speak, only that through the last of his terrible sickness, I had the help and loving support of all my stepchildren, Nellie and her family staying with me night and day for weeks, and her father could not bear her out of his sight.  He had a great affection for all his children and the memory of the bride of his youth never grew dim while he lived and I loved him the better for it.  And I was glad that her children accepted me more as a sister than a mother for when grown children lose their mother there can be but one mother to them, no matter what or who the stepmother may be. My dear husband. Oliver Torrey Jenks, was the most patient person through his long illness of anyone I ever saw.  His sufferings were terrible, but he bore it all with fortitude and uncomplaining cheerfulness.  He was of a sunny loving disposition and was dearly loved, in his own home, and respected and mourned by hosts of friends.  His death occurred just when his youngest children needed him most, Seymour being 13, and Irene 8 years of age.

We had been married fifteen years.

Some filled with joy and some with bitter tears.

As by my husband’s side I lived the life

Of one held dear a most beloved wife

Fifteen long years they were of wedded bliss

What were our Crystal gifts, just this

A glass above his marble face for me

For him, a home beyond the Crystal Sea.


The children of Oliver Torrey Jenks and Marian Murphy Jenks, five in number, were Fred Wellington, Morris Murphy, Nellie Augusta, Charles Edward, and George Elmer Jenks.  Fred, the oldest, was born at the old Jenks home, December 19, 1859 and died in Detroit, Michigan, November 7, 1895, aged 35 years.  He left a large circle of friends who deeply mourned his early death.  He was possessed of a kindly, friendly nature that endeared him to all.  He was always ready to respond to every call of distress and to render every assistance in his power in case of sickness and need.  For a number of years, he was an attendant at the Pontiac State Hospital and also at Traverse City.  He was a member of the Masonic Fraternity at that city, and also a member of the Farmington Tent, No. 502, K.O.T. M., a delegation from Farmington Lodge F. and A. M. were present and acted as pall bearers at his funeral which took place November 9, 1895, at his home, the old Jenks homestead, the home where his mother died and where he first saw the light of day.


Morris Murphy, the second son, was born September 29, 1862, died August 21, 1874, at the age of 12 years.  At the time of his death, his parents lived on the farm now owned by Stephen D. Wright.


Nellie Augusta, only daughter of Oliver and Marian Murphy Jenks, was born August 17, 1864 and was married July 2, 1884, to Charles Wesley Moore, son of Abram and Hannah Roberts Moore of Farmington, Michigan.  A little daughter, Marian Irene Moore, was born to them, October 5, 1885.  She was a lovely baby, but passed away December 8, 1886, at the age of 14 months.


Forehead as fair as a lily

Shaded by soft golden curls

Ruby red lips just disclosing

The tiniest whitest of pearls

But, earth was too dear for our baby

With eyes like the blue summer sky

So gently the death angel bore her

To her beautiful home upon high.


On May 31, 1894, another daughter, Elva May Moore, came to cheer their lovely hearts and for years brightened their home until on March 30, 1918, she became the bride of John Wilmer Moore and went to a home of her own – in turn brightened by a lovely little daughter, Marilyn Moore, born January 9, 1924, and who was our reunion baby of August 9, 1924.  Their present home is at 3129 Pingree Ave., Detroit, Michigan.


The pleasant home of Charles and Nellie Jenks Moore has been the scene of many happy gatherings birthday parties, Christmas gatherings, the wedding festivities of her sister Irene May Jenks whose marriage to Joseph A. Jones took place September 25, 1913.  The marriage of their own daughter, Elva May to J. Wilmer Moore, March 30, 1918.  And their own Silver Wedding Day, which I quote entire as it appeared in the Birmingham paper of that date:


Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Moore, formerly of this place, celebrated their 25 anniversary at their home in Pontiac on the evening of July 2, 1909.  Guests were present from Northville, Clarkston, Birmingham, Bloomfield, and Redford.  And a most enjoyable time was had by all.  The house was prettily decorated with flowers and flags.  The presents were numerous, beautiful, and costly.  The bride and groom received many congratulations on their wedding day and youthful appearance.  The bride in her dainty white dress looking except for her silvery hair, nearly as young as she did 25 years ago.  Ice cream and cake were served and very much to the regret of the young ladies, Miss Ida Lee of Northville, captured the ring.  The entertainment consisted of music by Miss Elva Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Slater, and Jay Klump.  A beautiful recitation was given by Mrs. George Jenks of Redford.  Mrs. Hannah Moore, the 80 year old mother of the groom, sang the Bride’s Farewell, as song she sang at her own wedding 50 years ago, and at her sister’s a few years later.  Mrs. Eva Jenks, stepmother of the bride, wrote, read, and presented the bridal couple the following lines:


Silence you know is golden

But speech is silver they say

And that is why I present you

With this little speech today

For this is you silver wedding

One of the happiest times

But – all is not gold that glitters

And all is not silver that shines

Tis so with the five and twenty

Years since your wedding day

It has not been all joy and gladness

As you traveled along life’s way

Your hearts have been filled with sorrow

Your heads have been bowed with woe

For the loss of the dear, dear loved ones

That before us were called to go.

Your fathers with heads crowned with silver

Your brother, beloved by all

And the sunny haired darling – your baby

All have answered the angel’s call

About Pat Shaul

Genealogist / Family Historian; Blog started as a record of my Grandfather's post card collection which ran for 15 months. Then, in June, 2017, I changed over to reporting and commenting on notifications from the ANCESTRY app "We're Related" I then started to provide snippets into ancestor biographies on the dates that were significant anniversaries.
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