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Family Histories & Gen Charts > Summary for Daisy Leona Seymour

Compiled by Evelyn W Henry, g/d of Fred Seymour

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

12 Apr 2003




Page 1


Date(s)        Place                                           Description




25 Nov

21 Jan
24 Jun

1887 Lewis, Cass, IA
            1985    Yucca Valley, Riverside, CA  1985            Tampico Memorial Cemetery



Sex:     F
1..ast Changed: 2 Jul 2002


AKA:                                               Married Name:










Relationship    Mother



Fred Harvey SEYMOUR


Biological    Emma Alice BOWMAN







Marriage Date/Place



(Harold) Leo NOKES


14 Apr 1910       Sterling, Whiteside, IL




DAISY LEONA (SEYMOUR) NOKES                                  Compiled by Evelyn W. Henry - May 2002


Daisy was my aunt, and I loved her for her warmth and uplifting spirit. She instilled those same qualities in her two children, along with and because of, her deep religious faith. I’m sorry to say I had very little contact with Aunt Daisy as I was growing up

-           California seemed such a long way from Wisconsin, and there were very little travel opportunities for either family in those days. As an adult, I was privileged to enjoy a few times with Aunt Daisy and Elsie when they visited my mother. When I became interested in tracing the family history, I appreciated greatly her ability to recall family events. Along with her oral input, obtained through telephone interviews, Daisy graciously shared records she had obtained in connection with her DAR activities, copies of newspaper items and records she and Elsie had compiled during a Bowman family reunion some forty years earlier. These sources have been invaluable to me!


Daisy Leona Nokes was born 25 November 1887 in Lewis, Cass County, Iowa, where her mother had gone to be with her own mother at the time of the birth. However, the official residence of her parents, Emma (Bowman) and Fred H. Seymour, was in Tampico, Whiteside County, Illinois, where they had a residence on Washington Street. The family must have returned there shortly after Daisy’s birth.


We can get a good picture of Daisy’s childhood in Tampico by reading her own words taken from several articles she wrote for the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO newspaper during the early 1980’s. In these articles, under the heading “See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico,” she chronicles her memories of the Seymour family as they interacted within the community. Daisy was in her early 90’s when she wrote these articles with the help of her daughter, Elsie. Ronald Reagan had just become President, and Tampico, his birthplace, had become a focus of national curiosity. This created a renewed interest in the history of the town and in the surrounding area where the president had spent his early childhood.


As noted in the previous biographies of Daisy’s parents and grandparents, members of four generations of the Seymour family lived in Tampico, beginning with Harvey H. Seymour, who came from New York State in the mid 1850’s and set up shop in the Village as a wagon wheel maker. Daisy told of her fascination in watching her grandfather work with the red hot irons while building wagon wheels, and about how she enjoyed playing in the yard of his house on Benton Street. She mentioned the numerous times her parents relocated within Tampico before settling in the quarters above their general store on Main Street.


Since her father and mother were engaged in business and so well known in the town, Daisy felt “all eyes were on her” as she was growing up, and, in her stories, she admits she did not always behave as she knew she should. But, by the

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

2 Jul 2002                                                                                                                                              Page 2


Notes (Continued)

time she was old enough to be of real help in her fathers store, Daisy began to take on many character-building responsibilities. She was required always to come straight home from school to the store. She was often called in from play to help with some chore such as cleaning lamp chimneys or selling up displays.


Daisy, even at this age, enjoyed talking with people. She knew everybody in town, especially the proprietors of the shops along Main Street, where she loved to stop by and chat. She described visits with some of them in her 29 September 1982 “See More” article. She also spoke of calling on relatives who lived nearby. In Hume Township, “Uncle Dave Hotchkiss had a wonderful farm. He was the husband of Pa’s oldest sister, my Aunt Julia. He had such wonderful graneries and 13 catsl Howl happened to remember that is more than I know, except that they used to drink the foam off from the cows’ milk. Aunt Julia had such beautiful yellow roses.., later (when) they lived in Prophetstown, she had those beautiful pink flowers that they said came over in the Mayflower.” Also living in Hume Township were “the Stewarts, my father’s older twin sisters, Adelaide and Adeline, who married Stewart brothers.” In another article, Daisy told of being allowed to take the train to Prophetstown to visit Aunt Julia and her cousins, Cora and Emma Hotchkiss. She was just six, and accidentally fell down at the train station. “My Uncle Dave Hotchkiss, who had come to pick me up, immediately reprimanded me. It was in fun of course, but I took it very seriously then: ‘Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall!’ I didn’t want to be proud and I told him sol”


In her article dated 20 July 1982, Daisy told of experiences she had at the old 4-room school building she and her sisters attended - grade school in the lower two rooms, high school students upstairs. Her father, Fred, had attended that same school, and later on, Daisy’s two children, Fred and Else, attended the school for a time, as did her sister Vera’s daughter, Eloise Lewis.


Her cousin, Edith Paice, about five years older, was quite mischievous, but Daisy admired the way Edith loved to dress up and act in plays she would put on in her basement This was probably the beginning of Daisy’s interest in acting and elocution. Edith later went to Chicago to study drama.


Whenever entertainers came to town to perform at Burden’s Opera House, they were housed and fed at the Seynmour’s. In one of her “See More” articles, Daisy wrote about that in more detail. For her, the impression these entertainers and actors made was an exciting one.


The old TAMPICO TORNADO newspapers often mentioned Daisy and her sisters. School activities, even an absence due to illness might be reported. There were reports of the girls’ runaway horses and buggy spills, and their attendance at various social events. By the time Daisy was sixteen, there were frequent reports of her appearances in school and church

•dramas and oratorical contests. A few quotes may be of interest here. 29 August 1903: “TAMPICO WINS AT CONTEST” (headline on front page) “Miss Daisy Seymour wins first prize in oratorical contest at Sterling Fair  Miss Daisy Seymour, of this place, easily winning over the other contestants and being awarded first prize which was $4.00. Miss Seymour’s selection was entitled “Victor(y) at Marengo” which she delivered in an excellent manner...Miss Seymour has considerable talent as an elocutionist, having won second at Prophetstown, where many thought she was entitled to higher honors, and her success at the contest in Sterling was not unexpected by her friends.”


THE TORNADO, 13 November 1903, reported on a play presented at Burden’s Opera House as part of the Baptist

Ladies Bazaar, billed as “The Spinsters Return from Kondike With Their Husbands.” Daisy played a part in this “side­splitting entertainment,” and acted as cashier, as well, taking in $184.00. The next year, Daisy took first prize in the W.C.T.

U. elocutionary contest. As a junior in high school, she gave a “reading” at the graduation exercise of the senior class.

(The programs for the 1904 and 1905 graduation exercises were reprinted in the Tampico Centennial Book, published in

1975.) More about Daisy’s elocution successes and drama experiences with her friend, Nelle Reagan, can be seen in

Daisy’s “See More Of Old Tampico” articles.)


At school, Daisy was helping to teach the younger children. Although she was yet to graduate from high school herself, Daisy was certified to teach on 26 March 1904, according to her Whiteside County certificate receipt of that date. On 2 May 1904, THE TORNADO announced that Daisy Seymour would be in charge of the South Hume School in the fall. She was to attend summer sessions at the Normal School in Dekaib to help prepare for her teaching duties.


The next year, on 16 June 1905, she graduated with a class of three, consisting of Lewis LaDue, nez Remington and Daisy Seymour. The program for the graduation, held at Burden’s Opera House, was printed on the front page of THE TORNADO, along with pictures. Daisy gave a “presentation” regarding her views against discrimination. She continued her education at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

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Notes (Continued)

During her youth, Daisy was a member of the Baptist Church in Tampico, but this was a time period of heightened religous zeal, and revival meetings abounded. The great evangelist, Billy Sunday, came to Tampico in 1906, and it was reported that he made “12 converts at the meeting.” Later, a Dr. Munhall converted many more. It was probably around this time that Daisy and Ethel, and perhaps all of the Seymours, joined the Church of God. It was reported on 17 August 1906 that the two sisters attended a Bible Institute in Oregon, Illinois, headquarters of that denomination.


There are a number of newspapers missing from the microfilms covering the next couple of years, and other published reports on the Seymour family are scarce. The next available mention of Daisy Seymour is on 19 June 1908, an indication that she was teaching school in Sterling. On 20 June 1908 it was reported in THE FULTON JOURNAL that Miss Daisy Seymour attended Teachers’ Normal. “She is the daughter of Fred Seymour, a well-to-do businessman of Tampico, who thirty years ago was a pupil of the editor of the JOURNAL. Miss Seymour has been one of the succesful teachers of the Sterling schools.”


Some time in 1908, Fred Seymour sold his business, retaining ownership of the building, and relocated his family to Sterling, so that the family could be together. However, he was back in business in Tampico by May 14, 1909. Daisy and her sister, Ethel stayed on in Sterling at the home of a friend. Daisy continued teaching in Sterling, but in August of 1909, it was reported that she had “tendered her resignation owing to ill health. The board was not pleased to receive her resignation as she was considered to be one of the best teachers in the school.”


There are very few other mentions of Daisy in 1909, and regrettably, the entire year of 1910 is missing from the microfilms of THE TAMPICO TORNADO. That is the year that both Daisy and Ethel Seymour were married. Some of the following data was gleaned from 1910 editions of the STERLING EVENING GAZETTE, Sterling, Illinois:


14 April 1910- Large headline - TO BE MARRIED AT TAMPCIO TONIGHT - Miss Daisy Seymour will become bride of Leo H.

Nokes of Sac City (Iowa).. Several social functions have been given in her honor within the last week. Is twice showered.”

(Daisy and Ethel were members of a young women’s group called the “FunSee Club,” and one of the showers was given by

those women. Another was given by a group of Daisy’s married friends, including NelIe Reagan.)


14 April 1910- ‘This couple may now wed. A marriage license was issued on Wednesday to Leo H. Nolws of Sac City, Iowa and Miss Daisy L. Seymour of Tampico.” The wedding took place in Tampico and was performed by The Rev. Samuel J. Lindsay. Witnesses were Ethel Seymour and Carroll Whitmer. Copies of the certificate and “guest” pages from Daisy’s wedding book show that some others in attendance included the parents, Fred and Emma Seymour, C. A. and Elsie Nokes, little sister, Vera Seymour, and three members of the Dillon family.


IS April 1910 - “Mr. and Mrs. H. Leo Nokes took the train Friday evening for their new home in Sac City, Iowa. A large number were down to the depot to bid them goodbye and the usual decorations for their trunk and suitcase were not forgotten by their friends. Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Nokes of Sac City, Iowa, Carroll Whitmer of Sterling and Miss Bernice Phelps of Oregon, III. were out of town guests at the Seynlour-Nokes wedding.”


The young couple apparently did not stay in Sac City for very long. Leo Nokes was a watch repairman and jeweler. According to Elsie Nokes, their daughter, Leo and Daisy moved to Elgin, Kane County, Illinois in September of 1910, where Leo apprenticed at the Elgin Watch Company. They returned to make Tampico their home in October of 1911, when Leo accepted a position as jeweler in Fenn & Ellison’s Drug Store. They rented a collage on N. Main Street. But, it was in the front bedroom above her father’s store that Daisy gave birth to their son, Fred Harold Nokes,. on 8 April 1912.


About July 1912, the young Nokes family moved to Vermillion, Clay County, South Dakota to establish a jewelery business, but they were back in Illinois at LaSalle, LaSalle County, in April 1913. In LaSalle, Leo worked at the Big Ben Clock Company. However, a small newspaper clipping preserved and shared by Daisy and Elsie, indicates they left LaSalle when Leo’s parents persuaded him to join them in their growing floral business in Sac City. Their daughter, Elseleone, was born in Sac City on 2 July 1914.


Around 1919-22, the Nokes’ farmed near Tampico, Illinois. The farm not producing enough income, Daisy accepted a teaching position at a nearby country school. When Leo went to Elgin, Illinois to take further training in watchmaking, Daisy and the two children stayed behind on the farm. Fred recalls the hardships his mother endured there. He was only about eight years old, but he milked five cows every morning. Too small to carry the heavy milk cans, his mother would load them into the wagon, pile Fred and Elsie in beside them, and drive into town to deliver them. Then she took the children to school.

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

         12Apr2003                                                                                                                                      Page4


Notes (Continued)


According to the TAMPICO TORNADO, by early 1922, Daisy and Leo were living in Dixon, Lee County, Illinois, where they renewed their acquaintance with the Reagan family. They purchased a home in Dixon, and Fred graduated from high school there, as did Ronald Reagan one year before. Fred remembers his mother as being very “sentimental” and family oriented. They made frequent visits to Tampico to see her parents and other relatives and friends.


The June 4, 1925 TORNADO reported the Nokes family living in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois. There they stayed until 1929, enjoying close contact with Daisy’s sister, Ethel Whitmer and her family, also Rockford residents. In 1929, the” Golden State” beckoned Leo and Daisy to make the long haul across country to southern California, which was to become home for the rest of their lives and the lives of their children, Fred and Elsie.


In California, the family lived several places. Leo continued using his watchmaking and clock repair skills, sometimes going into the homes of Hollywood stars to work on their valuable clocks. Through the years, the family engaged in several different enterprises, including a bakery, and a food supply business. The Nokes children were always a part of the family business, working beside their parents as youths and young adults, but both Fred and Elsie went on to earn post graduate college degrees. Even as they began to lead independent lives, they always retained close family ties.


Leo H. Nokes died on 10 September 1953 in Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. He was sixty-eight years old. After that, although she and Elsie later shared a home, Daisy maintained her independence, and she remained active in church and social circles. The Daughters of the American Revolution was one of her main focuses at that time. She not only ioined the local chapter, using the Revolutionary War services of our Seymour ancestors, Joseph Senior and Joseph Junior, but she became a DAR officer and spokesperson. She traveled to Washington, D. C. at least once to do research and to participate in DAR activities. She also became involved in the Armed Forces Writers’ League.


In California, Daisy renewed her contact with Nelle Reagan and other Tampico people who had settled in that area. In a clipping from a local newspaper, copied and shared by Elsie, there was a description of a reunion held in December 1951 in Elsie’s Glendale home. Some quotes from that clipping:

“A Home Town Open House for all Tampico and vicinity people was held at the home of the president of the Tampico

Association, Dr. Elseleone Nokes of Glendale, honoring Mrs. Rose Brown and Mrs. Rosetta Pedersen of Tampico. visiting in

Southern California, (they are)... staying at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Myran Howland of Pasadena... Songs were “led by Lena

Marvel and Amy Stevens, assisted by Nellie Reagan and MabelConroy. Martin Seltzer accompanied on the marimba... Derald

Nokes, five year old son of Dr. Fred Nokes, played an accordian solo and sang “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“Mrs. Nellie Reagan gave a short inspiring talk on Blessings, Belief and Prayer.. Colored slides and motion pictures of

Pasadena parades ... were shown in the evening by H. Leo Nokes. A prayer in closing was given by Daisy Nokes  present

were: Mrs. Rose Brown, Mrs. Rosetta Pedersen, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Marvel, Mrs. Ferne Gillette and Dorothy Scott, Mr. and Mrs.

W. S. Stevens, Mrs. Pearl Willison, Mrs and Mrs. Wayne Stewart, Gwendolyn Monroe, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Dawson and Diane

Dawson, Mrs. Agnes WahI, Mrs. Mabel L. Conroy, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Williams, Mrs. Ethel McCombs Swanson, Alex

McCombs, Marie Lutes Moore and Oscar Hegler, Emma Allen, Rich Allen, Dr. Ruth Allen, Mrs. C. W. Fisher and Ellen Kepner.

Mrs. Nellie Reagan, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Howland, Dr. and Mrs. Fred Nokes and son Derald, Dr. Elsleleone Nokes, Mr. and Mrs.

Leo Nokes and Martin Seltzer.”


Daisy also reunited briefly with Ronald Reagan in 1980, when he was running for President, and a picture was published in the local newspaper of Daisy about to kiss him on his cheek. (Later, when the President’s Birthplace Museum was opened in Tampico, an enlargement of that picture was posted in a prominent place among the displays.)


In 1955 Daisy and Elsie were living in the “High Desert” at Twenty-Nine Palms, San Bernardino County, where Elsie was employed as an Escrow Officer at a bank. About 1972, after Elsie retired, they moved to a small house in Joshua Tree, Riverside County, California, where Daisy again becane active in community and charity affairs, and honed her skills at oil painting.


According to Elsie, it was about 1943 that Daisy had first taken an interest in oil painting. She proved to be a very talented artist, and later took some classes to help enhance her skills. Despite failing eyesight, Daisy continued painting up to a few years before her death. On July 17, 1~1,when she was almost 94 years old, she had a one-woman show of her work. Twenty­four of her paintings, both landscapes and portraits, were displayed at a Yucca Valley Bank, and an artist’s reception and tea were held in her honor. An illustrated account appeared in the HI-DESERT STAR. On the occasion of Daisy’s ninety-fifth birthday, 75 friends and relatives attended an open house in her honor.

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

12 Apr 2003                                                                                                                                                   Page 5


Notes (Continued)

Daisy Leona Seymour Nokes died 21 January 1985 in a hospital in Yucca Valley, Riverside County, California. She had reached the age of 97 years, two months. She’d had a stroke at home about two weeks before. In accordance with her often stated wishes, during the summer following her death, daughter, Elsie, placed Daisy’s ashes in the space between the graves of her parents, Fred and Emma Seymour, in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery, Tampico, Illinois. Elsie arranged for a grave marker to be placed at the site bearing the names of both of her parents. It depicts a daisy blossom beside Daisy’s name, and a pocket watch beside the name of Leo Nokes.


No doubt a lengthy obituary appeared in a local California newspaper, but the brief notice published in the February 20, 1985 edition of the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO (newspaper of Prophetstown, Illinois which reported the Tampico news at that time,) reads as follows:



“Relatives and friends have received word that Daisy Seymour Nokes of Joshua Tree, Calif., passed away January 21, 1985 at Yucca Valley after a short illness. She had lived in California since 1929 and had observed her 97th birthday in November, 1984.

“Memorial services were held January 24 at the chapel in Yucca Valley with Rev. Roger D. Mayes of Grace Community Church officiating. Cards or letters may be sent to her daughter, Elsie, at 6612 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252.

“Daisy is survived by her daughter Elsie L. Nokes of Joshua Tree, a son Fred H. Nokes of Azuza, her sister Ethel Whitmer of Madison, Wis., three nieces, one grandson and a host of friends who will miss her.

“In this area she leaves numerous cousins, Mrs. Ruth Loudenberg of Tampico, Earl Merrill of Ohio, IL, Myrtle Perkins and Jane Morris of Prophetstown, Fred and Kenneth Dorathy and Allene Fuller of Clinton, IA, Ethel Schumacher of Sterling, Evelyn Homan of Freeport and Barbara S. Cunniff of Rock Falls.”


On 26 June 1985, the following article appeared in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO:

“DAISY SEYMOUR NOKES of Joshua Tree, California, was buried Monday in the Tampico Cemetery. Present for the service was her daughter Elsie Nokes of Joshua Tree, a niece, Mrs. Tom (Eloise Lewis) Stabler of Tempe, Ariz., Mrs. Evelyn Henry of Madison, Wis., and Tom Stabler.

“Earlier services were held in California following her death on Jan. 21, 1985, “Daisy Nokes wrote for the Echo over many years, describing how she babysat for President Ronald Reagan when he was a

boy in Tampico. She lived for many years in Tampico and was a close friend of Ronald’s mother. In simple terms, she was the President’s babysitter and chronicled much of his early history for Paul Nicely at the Reagan Birthplace.

“In a letter in 1981, President-Elect Reagan had this to say to Daisy Nokes:

“Dear Mrs. Nokes, It has just come to my attention that you celebrated your 93rd birthday on November 25. I want to join with your family and friends in wishing you a very Happy 93rd birthday. ‘What a special day it must have been for you. I know it is one filled with wonderful memories. “Nancy joins me in sending our warmest personal regards and congratulations.

“I think so often of my old home, the town and folks I loved back there. As you say, I will never rule out the Lord Jesus.

“Sincerely, Ronald Reagan”


Daisy Seymour Nokes was and will always be remembered as a kindly, gentle woman, patient and loving with her children, her family and friends. Beloved by her family and a wide circle of friends, she never failed to prove by quiet example her deep Christian faith just by the way she lived every day of her life. She accomplished many things during that life, as a wife, mother, teacher, patriot and artist, and she excelled in every role.



>Family Records of Daisy Seymour Nokes, Elsie and Fred Nokes, Ethel Seymour Whitmer, Eloise Lewis Stabler, and Barbara (Stewart) Cunniff.

>Family Bible Listing Recorded by Fred H. Seymour, himself, photocopy of the family pages now in possession of this compiler.

>Family records of the Bowman Family also confirm the birth dates and marriage of Daisy and (Harold) Leo Nokes.

>Personal knowledge of compiler and her mother, Ethel (Seymour) Whitmer, Daisy’s sister.

>Correspondence and telephone conversations with Daisy (Seymour) Nokes, Elsie and Fred Nokes, Denise (Whitmer) Johnson and Eloise (Lewis) Stabler.

>Transcripts of misc. items from the weekly newspaper ‘TAMPICO TORNADO” Many items on the Seymour family appeared in “The Tornado” concerning day-to-day events in the lives of the Seymours. These newspapers have been microfilmed and are on file at the Illinois State Historical Society, and also at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Most of the family items were transcribed from the microfilms by Evelyn W. Henry during the 1980’s. Typed copies were shared and cherished by Ethel Whitmer, Daisy and Elsie Nokes, and Eloise Stabler, and remain in the family files. (sources continued on next page.)

Individual Summary for Daisy Leona SEYMOUR

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                                                                        Notes (Continued)        _________


Sources (continued)

> Daisy Nokes’ “See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico” articles that appeared during the early 1980’s in the PROPHETSTOWN

ECHO, Prophetstown, Whiteside County, Illinois

>Article in 1910 edition of the STERLING GAZETTE -14 April1910

> Tampico Centennial Book, published in 1975, p. 29, 39

> Copy (faded) of Marriage certificate for Daisy and (Harold) Leo Nokes 14 April 1910.

> Copies of the certificate and “guest’ pages from Daisy’s wedding book

> Articles from the Hi-DESERT STAR, Yucca Valley, California 15 July 1981 and 8 December 1982, reporting on Daisy’s one-

woman show/reception, and on a celebration of her 95th birthday.

> Obituary notice the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO, 20 February 1985.

> Article in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO, 26 June 1985 re: burial of Daisy’s ashes in Tampico.

>Cemetery Records of the Tampico Cemetery, Tampico, Illinois, and personal knowledge from viewing of the graves. Photo of

Daisy’s grave marker and her parents’ graves in compiler’s files.

>Numerous family photos passed down from the Seymour and Bowman families to this compiler.

>Census records - see below.



1900 Census - Whiteside County. (transcribed from book by Baer, Snyder, Bush, Nelson) Tampico Village


123/126 Seymour, Fred M 35 M McGr Born IL Fa: born NY Mo: born NY

                          E.E. F 31 Wf                      IL             WV           OH

                          Daisy F 12 Da                     IA            IL

                          Ethel F 8 Da                       IL             IL              IL

                          Vera F 3 Da                        IL             IL              IL

*McGr = Merchant, Grocer


1920 Census - Whiteside County (microfilmed copy viewed by this compiler at the Hillsborough County, Florida Public Library, Tampa, Florida 17 October 2002.)

Tampico Township - Enum Dist. 178 Sheet 12- Thos. Derby, enumerator Farm 313-311

Nokes, Leo Head 33 b. Cob Fa b. NY Mo ft N~Y Manager/Farm

              Daisy Wife 32 III              U.S. U.S.                  —-

                                                      Fred      Son    7 Ill          Coio            Ill At School

              Elise     Daugh 5     111*         Cob Ill At School

*(person giving info did not know where Daisy’s parents were born, or that Daisy and Elsie were born in Iowa.



What would Aunt Daisy have thought about her final journey? Would her childhood mischievous streak have resurfaced and helped her to enjoy the delicious intrigue and mystery of the undertaking (pun intended), or would she have felt violated by the somewhat irreverent handling of her remains? Would the dizzying daisy chain of stops along the way from California to the family plot in northwestem Illinois have horrified her or amused her? I suggest it would be the latter.


It all began innocently enough in the summer of 1985. Cousin Eloise and her husband, Tom decided to drive from their home in Arizona to Sterling, Illinois to attend their 50th high school class reunion. They planned to make a side trip to Madison, Wisconsin for a visit with me, and my family. Knowing our cousin, Elsie, who lived just over the border in California, would also like to visit with everyone, they very generously invited her to ride along.


All went well on the first leg of the journey. The cousins were congenial, enjoying each other’s company as they drove along recalling family events and memories of the old home territory they would be visiting. What Eloise and Torn didn’t know was that Elsie had, among her various pieces of luggage, a package containing the “cremains” of her mother, (Aunt Daisy to Eloise and me).


Aunt Daisy Nokes, who died several months previously in California, at age 97, had made it known to Elsie that she wanted her ashes buried beside the graves of her parents in her home town of Tampico, Ø/Vhiteside County), Illinois. Elsie, being the devoted, dutiful daughter that she was, vowed to carry out her mother’s last wishes, though she had no idea as to how she would accomplish the task. Deeply religious, but with little resources, Elsie sought guidance from Above. The invitation to accompany Eloise and Tom to Sterling and nearby Tampico was the perfect answer to her prayers.


I’ll never know why Elsie didn’t tell Eloise and Tom that she was transporting her mother’s ashes in their car trunk. I’m sure they would have understood. Nevertheless, she did confide in me when she was at our home because she needed my help to accomplish her goal. Plans called for the three of them to drive toward Tampico, dropping Elsie off in Rockford, Illinois at the home of a second cousin, Janice, where Elsie was to stay for two days. Eloise and Tom continued on to Sterling for their reunion weekend. Meanwhile, on Friday, I was to drive to Rockford, pick up Elsie and her luggage, and complete the trip to Tampico.


All this time, Aunt Daisy, or all that remained of her, had been residing in the car trunk by day, and each night along the way toward Madison, she had been carried into the chosen motel. Then, into and out of our house, the home of Janice in Rockford, and lastly, into one more motel in Sterling before she reached her destination. Perhaps she was overseeing the whole operation from her heavenly vantagepoint, for each leg of the journey went exactly according to Elsie’s plan.


You have to understand that Aunt Daisy was, in life, a beautiful person, devoted to her God and to her family, and living her life according to her deep religious commitment. In her younger days she was a noted elocutionist, actress and schoolteacher in Tampico and Sterling. She raised two outstanding children, and in her sunset years, she was a successful artist, author, and enthusiastic officer in the D.A.R.


But, back to the story, upon our arrival in Tampico, Elsie obtained permission from an old friend, who was a member of the local cemetery council, to place her mother’s ashes in the space between the ground level concrete burial vaults of her parents, Fred and Emma Seymour. The kind friend, who had accompanied us to the gravesite, loaned Elsie a shovel, and even helped prepare the soil. Elsie dug a hole just large enough to accommodate the “package,” said a prayer and covered it with earth. Aunt Daisy was home at last.


During the ensuing weekend, Elsie and I had a great time exploring the Tampico area where each of us had spent time during our childhood, and visiting with cousins who still lived in the county. Of course, when their reunion festivities were over, Eloise and Tom met us in Tampico, and Elsie told

them she had carried out her mother’s wishes. Up to that point, I’m not sure if they even knew about Aunt Daisy’s desire to “rest” beside her parents. They were surprised, but they were not resentful at being excluded from the project. Time restraints of their reunion events would have prevented them from being present, in any case. All in all, the whole experience was a very rewarding time for all of us.


Ah! -- There is a final chapter Before leaving Sterling, Elsie contracted with a local monument maker to place a memorial marker at the grave. The resulting granite stone was placed there in due time, inscribed with tributes to both of Elsie’s parents - a lovely daisy blossom for her mother, and a pocket watch to represent the early occupation of her father, Leo. This may have created a conundrum for any future genealogist, seeking the location of Leo’s remains, for you see, Leo died in Glendale, California many, many years before Daisy’s departure, and his ashes remain there in Glendale.


Evelyn W. Henry - August 2002

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