Against the Odds

1

While researching information about blogs, I came across an old genealogy blog challenge for 2015 by Amy Johnson Crow.    Her blog challenges caught my attention, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try even though I am about 16 months late!

When I think of someone who made it when everything was stacked against her, I automatically think of my grandmother, Elva Marie Allen.  Although her life was not an easy one, she never complained, and she always had a smile on her sweet face. 

She was born on July 10, 1908 in Independence, Kansas to Anna (Annie) Strassburg and William Franklin Bryant.  In 1910, according to the United States Federal Census, my grandmother lived in Gunnison, Colorado with her mother who was divorced at that time.  She also lived with her grandfather, William (Wilhelm) Strassburg and his wife, Mary Shay who came from Canada.  Annie’s mother died in Montgomery County, Kansas on January 28, 1898.  Annie died around 1912-1914.  No information has been discovered of her death or where she was buried.

For a time, Elva lived with her grandfather, William Strassburg.  Her father abandoned her at a young age, and later in life when she discovered that he was living in Fresno, California, she contacted him, but he denied that he ever had a daughter. While she was young, she often lived with relatives or other families.   At one time, she lived in Montrose, Colorado with Mrs. Belle Freeman.  While living in Montrose, she attended a parade and saw Chipeta, who was the wife of Chief Ouray of the Utes.  She was excited to witness such a historical event.

As a woman, she had a homestead in Colorado, for she still had the papers that were signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  She had the papers before she married Tom Allen, so she was a strong woman who lived on her own.  During this time, she began a courtship with Thomas Allen whom she later married.  One of his former girlfriends became jealous and burned down Elva’s cabin on her homestead.

When she married Thomas Allen, they eventually lived in Hotchkiss, Colorado on a ranch where they raised sheep.  They lived in a log cabin without electricity.  The house had a water pump and cistern but did not have running water.  Water to wash dishes, wash clothes, and take baths had to be warmed on a wood-burning cook stove.  As a rancher’s wife, she had to take care of some of the farm chores too.  She milked cows, feed livestock, and tended a garden.  During sheering season, she helped with the sheep camps and with the cooking.  During the Depression, she also worked as a housekeeper for others in the area to help supplement their income.  She was strong and hardworking.

Eventually, Tom, Elva, and their daughter, Janice, followed their daughters, Dotty, and Barb, to Alameda, California.  Elva began to have problems with arthritis that was extremely painful.  At times, she had to use a wheelchair to help her stay mobile.    Still, through all her ups and downs, Elva remained kind, loving, and cheerful.  All that knew her adored this remarkable woman.  On February 20, 1983, Elva left this world.  To this day, her family has continued to feel this loss as they remember this remarkable woman.

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