Sunday, September 9, 2007

Family Group Record -- Willie Law Van Horn-Jessie Witt

This is the family record of one of my paternal great grand parents - Willie Law Van Horn and Jessie Witt.

One of my fondest stories about Great Grandpa Willie Law Van Horn was told to me by my Grand Aunt Elizabeth Tansik several years ago. And I have been able to dig through some original records and find that there is probably a pretty good grain of truth to all this as well.

After Willie's father died in 1897, tutorships were established for him and his four siblings in Columbia, Caldwell Parish, LA. One year (1898) after his death, Mattie and the family dug up great-great grandfather William, boarded a train and moved to New Orleans, were Dr. William was reburied in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 down in the Garden District. Mattie settled into a home at 916 Eleonore in New Orleans.See this link to learn more about Willie's family.

It was the intent that each of the Van Horn children would all go to college. It was Dr. William and Mattie's hope that they would follow their father's footsteps.

All this worked out fine for all the kids except my great grandfather Willie. Seems he was a bit of a "hell raiser." All he ever wanted to be was a cowboy (see picture below). We do know that in 1905-6 he was working as an electrician in New Orleans and living at home with his mother. And according to my Grand Aunt Elizabeth we also know that he spent way to much time on Bourbon Street in notorious French Quarter raising hell and drinking.

Great grandfather Willie Law Van Horn in front of the family home -- 916 Eleanor Street, New Orleans. Is he heading out for a night in the French Quarter?

Evidently Grandpa Willie raised hell one time to many and one morning or late evening after he returned home his mother Mattie kicked him out of the house. This was circa 1907. Guess the cowby urge took hold and he traveked west into Texas Hill Country. On April 26, 1909, married Jessie Witt in Kerr County, Texas. But even Jessie (all the grandchildren called her "Gata") wasn't enough to tame Willie.

According to one family member (my Aunt Deen) Gata told her that her mother and dad were farmers, and Willie did not care anything for that life style. Gata would not leave her mother and dad, so Willie left her and they got a divorce.

On the hearing date for their divorce proceeding (November 21, 1914), Grandpa Willie was a no-show and the judge had no choice but to grant Gata the relief she was asking for in her divorce petition. The marriage was dissolved.

After their divorce Willie wrote many a letter trying to get back together. These were the letters that I saw as a kid that were up in the crawl space above the closet in her old home at 1702 West Mayfield in South San Antonio. Unfortunately no one in my family now knows what has happened to them. Boy what I wouldn't give to have copies of those letters. I am sure it would fill in quite a few holes I have in the family timeline.

After many years of searching I finally found information on Willie's military services during World War I. He entered service on December 8, 1917, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and was discharged in June 1919 with a rank of Sergeant First Class. He did serve in the European Theater between 1918-1919. Evidently he was exposed to mustard gas during this time as he was treated for that conditions after the war in San Antonio area military hospitals.

In January 1939, he went to work for the Corpus Christi Police Department and retired from that job in January 1954.

The rest of the story is presented in the family group record below.

Husband: Sgt 1st Class Willie Law Van Horn (39)
Birth: 1 Dec 1885 Louisiana
Marriage: 26 Apr 1909 Kerr County, Texas
Death: 20 Feb 1960 U.S. Navy Hospital, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas
Burial: 23 Feb 1960 Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas

Father Dr. William Law Van Horn (41) (b. 28 Oct 1857, d. 9 Jun 1897)
Mother Mattie Parry Mallory (47) (b. 17 Jan 1866, d. 31 Oct 1942)

Wife: Jessie Witt (40)
Birth 10 Jun 1890 Bexar County, Texas
Marriage 2nd: after 29 Jan Walter Franklin Roberts (189) (b. 1878, 1920 d. 21 Jul
1935); San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Death: 26 Feb 1979 Local Hospital, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Burial 28 Feb 1979 Mission Burial Park South, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas

Father Private John Christopher Witt (79) (b. 8 Feb 1854, d. 22 Jun 1924)
Mother Henrietta Elizabeth Lange (80) (b. 18 Aug 1866, d. 2 Jul 1943)


Two Known Children for Willie Law Van Horn and Jessie Witt

M Witt Lange Van Horn (34)
Birth 7 Aug 1911 Medina City, Bandera County, Texas
Marriage 5 Nov 1931 Iris Jeanette Hurt (35) (b. 24 Apr 1912, d. 23 Feb 1981),
daughter of James Ira Hurt Sr. (4705) and Johanna Himena Schneider(4706); M.E.
Church South, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.
Son: Living Warner Lee Van Horn (4)
Daughter: Living Norma Deen Van Horn (38)
Divorce 1935 Iris Jeanette Hurt (35)
Death 30 Sep 1982 Lytle Nursing Home, Lytle, Atascosa County, Texas
Burial 1 Oct 1982 Mission Burial Park South, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas

M Victor Clark Van Horn (44)
Birth 30 May 1913 Medina County, Texas
Marriage 12 Mar 1938 Helen Marie Ferguson (199) Living, daughter of Norman Edward
Ferguson (224) and Florence Mabel Weatherby (225); Houston, Harris County, Texas.
Daughter: Living Jerilyn Kay Van Horn (200); San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Daughter: Living Judy Rae Van Horn (204); San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Son: Living Jack Clark Van Horn (208); San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Daughter: Living Janet Faye Van Horn (214); San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Death 12 Apr 1986 San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Burial 15 Apr 1986 Mission Burial Park South, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas


Second wife and family of Sgt 1st Class Willie Law Van Horn (39)

Wife Bertha Mae Bowers (8647)
Birth 19 Jan 1892 Arkansas
Marriage __ Jun 1916 Longview, Gregg County, Texas
Death 30 Jan 1965 Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas
Parents Unknown, we have no picture and burial information.

One Known Child

F Mattie Elizabeth Van Horn (8648)
Birth 3 Aug 1917 Tarrant County, Texas
Marriage 24 Jun 1950 Frank Joseph Tansik (8649) (d. 21 Dec 1975)
Daughter: Living Katherine Ann Tansik (24199); Nueces County, Texas
Son: Living Franklin Joseph Tansik (24198); Nueces County, Texas
Death 30 May 1987 Travis County, Texas