Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vern and Laura Wilson

Uncle Vern
Vern Wilson was the older brother of our Grandma Maymie.  He was close to our family during my entire youth and I have many fond memories of "Uncle Vern."

William Martin Wilson, more commonly known as Vern Wilson, was the oldest child of Charles and Minnie Wilson.  Vern was born 29 Sep 1903 at Quinlan, Woods, Oklahoma. 
The Wilson family lived a rather nomadic lifestyle, moving around the country in a covered wagon.  They moved from Oklahoma to New Mexico, back to Oklahoma, then to Arkansas, back to Oklahoma, then to Utah and finally to Colorado -- all in a covered wagon.  Below is a picture of Vern and his sister, Maymie, taken about 1912 while they lived in New Mexico.  Vern and Maymie had a close relationship all their lives.

As a teenager living in Southern Utah, Vern had trouble getting along with his father.  One day, Vern saddled up his horse and with two pack horses, and started out for Oklahoma.  A friend by the name of Roy Rutherford rode with him.  Vern rode as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he sold his horses and joined the Navy.

Once when his ship docked in California, Vern had shore leave.  A young girl by the name of Laura Franks was with a group of young women waiting to see all of the sailors. According to one of Vern's sisters-in-law, Laura "grabbed a hold of Vern and never let him go."  
Laura Franks
Vern and Laura were married 5 Dec 1925 in Los Angeles, California.  Laura Ella Franks, the daughter of Carroll Franks and Emma Gipson, was born 28 Jan 1910 in Oklahoma.  Several months after her birth, her family moved to Los Angeles, California, where she grew up. 

Shortly after they married, Vern and Laura moved to Oakland, California. The photo below was taken in 1927 in Oakland.
Vern and Laura Wilson 1927
Vern was in the Navy about 8 years before he got out.  Rumor has it that he just left while on furlough - as in desertion.  In 1930, Vern and Laura were living in Oakland, Alameda County, California.  He reported his occupation as a roofing laborer.  An occupation he would follow most of his life. 
In 1949, Vern owned a company called Valley Roofing in Cortez, Colorado.  In the photo below, Vern is standing in front of his truck, which was parked in front of  Wilson's Grocery store just north of Cortez.  Vern and Laura lived a little further back behind the store.

In about 1949, Vern was trying to get a roofing contract on the Navajo Reservation. He had to prove that he was part Indian, so he had his wife, Laura, type up a pedigree showing his Indian heritage (shown below).  There is NO PROOF that the great-grandma was actually a Choctaw Indian.

Pedigree for Vern Wilson

In 1949, Vern was baptised by a Southern Baptist preacher in Hartman Creek (north of Cortez, CO).  Baptized at the same time were his sister, Maymie, and his nephews, Leroy and Wilber.  They are standing in the creek just prior to being baptized.

Preacher, Leroy, Maymie, Wilber, Vern
Baptised in Hartman Creek, Cortez, CO 
By 1953, Vern and Laura had moved back to California.  Vern worked for Miller Bros Union Pacific  Stockyard in La Puente, California.   The photo shown below was dated December 1963.  Laura wrote on back: "Kinda goofy looking, but pretty natural at that.  If we get a better one will send it to you."

In 1956, Vern then went to work for stables of Mrs. H. C. Morton of Los Angeles, taking care of her thoroughbred horses.  Laura was a taxi driver in the Los Angeles area during this time. In the photo below, Vern and Laura are still living in California -- not sure on the make of the car, but I do know that he owned a "Hudson" at one time.  

Vern and Laura were not able to have children, but are fondly remembered by nieces and nephews.  The last few years of his life were spent living south of Cortez, Colorado.  Vern had heart trouble and was semi-retired.  I remember working on some really big puzzles with him.  He would spread the pieces out on his coffee table and let me help him put them together.

Laura was a go-getter - never one to sit still for very long.  She was the first "Tupperware Lady" I knew.  Laura traveled all over the 4-corners area selling Tupperware at parties.  I can remember helping her pack all her tupperware in the car, so she could leave for a party.

Vern died in his sleep on 22 Oct 1962 and was buried in the Cortez Cemetery.   Laura eventually moved back to California and died 30 Jan 1983 in Torrance, Los Angeles, California.  Her ashes were returned to  be placed beside Vern in the Cortez Cemetery.

Vern & Laura
About 1960

We miss both of you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all of these pictures and writing this story. It brought back many memories of Vern & Laura. They were always so nice to all of us. Vern died way too young - we really missed him. Thanks for the memories!!