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Family Histories & Gen Charts > Summary for Vera May Seymour

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

Individual Summary for Vera May SEYMOUR

8 May 2003



Page 1


Date(s)          Place                                              Description




22 May 1897 Tampico, Whiteside, IL

30 Nov 1947     Mesa, Maricopa, AZ Tampico Memorial Cemetery



Sex:                F
Last Changed: 3 Oct 2002

AKA:                                                  Married Name: Vera
ID:                                                                           AFN:








Relationship          Mother



Fred Harvey SEYMOUR

Biological          Emma Alice BOWMAN






Marriage Date/Place




26 Feb 1917         Peoria, Peoria, IL     -




Compiled by Evelyn Whitmer Henry June 2002

Vera May (Seymour) Lewis was my aunt, Mothers younger sister youngest of Fred and Emma Seymour’s three daughters. I was very fond of Aunt Vera. She was always kind, and loving, and fun to be with. Vera was the most petite of the three Seymour sisters, and perhaps the prettiest, with sparkling brown eyes and dark brown hair. She was the one who stayed close to the “nest,” remaining in the old home town of Tampico, Illinois most of her life.


Vera May was born in Tampico, Whiteside County, Illinois on 22 May 1897. Her birth was announced in the town’s weekly, THE TAMPICO TORNADO this way: “F. H. Seymour is once more wearing a bland smile and the cause of his pleasant and satisfied look and happy mood is all on account of a daughter who came to live with him last Saturday.”


Her birth must have brought much joy to the family, and some changes in lifestyle, as well. THE TORNADO two months earlier, said that the Seymours had moved from their old house on Benton Street back into the quarters at the store on Main Street. However, on 8 May it was reported that Fred was building a new residence on Benton Street “18’ x 24’ and the “L” 14’ x 24’ in size.” This must have been the house the family referred to as the “cottage.” The family lived there for a short time, but found it more convenient for everyone, especially for Fred, to return to the store building.


At the time of Vera’s birth, Fred Seymour’s business was thriving, as was the Village. In August of that year (1897) the Board of Trustees voted to install electric lighting, and Fred Seymour was reelected as tax collector for the Village. The next year, both local hotels installed electric lighting.


The next mention of Vera in THE TORNADO was 24 May 1902. It was a description of her fifth birthday party, when twenty-six of her little friends gathered to help her celebrate with ice cream and cake, and provided a Kodak Moment when “Richard Schofield shot the party with his Kodak”


Vera was five years younger than Ethel, and over nine years younger than Daisy; therefore, in the Seymour household, the older sisters were probably closer to each other due to their mutual school and church activities, Vera was the “baby sister.” But, as adults, Ethel and Vera developed a very special bond, More about that below.

Individual Summary for Vera May SEYMOUR

8 May 2003                                  ____________________                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 2

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Vera grew up with the store being the main focus of her family, so it was natural that she learned the business. As each of her older sisters took on other interests, eventually married and eft town, Vera spent more and more of her time helping her parents run the store. She proved to have a good business sense, and had a strong rapport with the townspeople. After high school, she began to work alongside her parents every day.


But there was time for a social life, too, and by 1917, Vera had found the man she wanted to spend her life with, Olof H. Lewis, a clerk in the Pitney Store. Their wedding celebration was thus reported in THE TORNADO:


March 1, 1917- Front Page headline: “VERA SEYMOUR AND OLAF LEWIS WED

“Miss Vera Seymour and Olaf Lewis both prominent young people of Tampico, were married Monday evening, February 26, in Peoria at the Christian parsonage by Rev. Homer E. Salo. Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Whitmer of Peoria attended the couple, Mrs. Whitmer being a sister of the bride. The ring ceremony was used and the bride was very nicely attired in a champagne colored Georgette crepe over Chiffon taffeta gown. After the ceremony supper was served to the wedding party at the Jefferson Hotel. After spending a few days visiting in Peoria, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis returned to Tampico and will be at home in Alta Hunters cottage on North Main Street.


“The bride is the daughter of F. H. Seymour, one of Tampico’s leading merchants and for several years has assisted her father in the store, She is a bright, capable young lady of pleasing personality and appearance and has many friends in Tampico. The groom has been employed for several years as clerk in H. C. Pitney’s store and is certainly a splendid young man in every sense of the word. He came here from Rock Falls where his mother lives and is held in high esteem there and in Tampico. He is a good, steady, reliable, honest young man, liked by everyone and surely deserves the splendid young lady he has won. The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis tender their best wishes.”


About a year and a half later the following announcement of the birth of Vera and Olof’s daughter appeared in THE TORNADO: 15 August lOiS - “Born to Mr. and Mrs. Olof Lewis at the Sterling Hospital on Thursday, August 8, a daughter, Eloise Jane, and grandpa Fred H. Seymour is wearing that smile that won’t come off these days.”


Vera and Olof stayed in Tampico, Vera contuning to help in the store when she could. Olaf too, worked in the Seymour General Store, as well as using his carpentry skills there and in the Village. When Grandpa and Grandma Seymour wanted to retire, Vera and Olof were ready to take over management of the store. It was hard for Fred to let go, even though he knew the business was in good hands. In fact, he was pleased when he was called on to come in occasionally to help wait on his old cuistomers. Grandpa sold the business and building to Vera and Olof on 1 September 1928. They continued the business successfully into the 1940’s, although they, like Fred, tried to lease or sell a time or two.


Their business was a true “mom and Pop” partnership. Olof stocked the shelves, cut the meat, candled the eggs brought in by farmers, and kept the place neat. Both enjoyed waiting on customers. Vera was the one who took care of purchasing and accounting, no small task in those depression days when many cash strapped people had to charge their groceries, or barter farm products or baked goods for their groceries.


Meanwhile, Vera’s sisters had relocated. Daisy and the Nokes family lived in Illinois for a number of years, but by 1929, they had moved to California. Our family, the Whitmers, lived in Peoria, then Rockford, but in 1932, we settled in Madison, Wisconsin. Since it was difficult for Vera and Olaf to take time away from the store to come visit with us, our family drove down from Wisconsin several times each year. Sometimes, on weekends, we would all meet in a park about half way between.


My sister, Denise, and Vera’s daughter, Eloise, just two years apart, were almost as close as if they were sisters, and the girls rejoiced when they could spend time together. Sometimes, during the summer, Denise stayed in Tampico with Eloise for a more extended time. Denise and Eloise had great fun together in Tampico, moving about from grocery store to Grandma Seymour’s house and exploring other locations in town. When I became interested in chronicling the family history, Denny described some of her memories in letters to me. I was six years younger, but I, too, have many pleasant memories of our visits in Tampico. In my story entitled “Upstairs, Downstairs,” (attached) I have detailed a few of our special remembrances.


Throughout her parents’ lifetimes, Vera remained close to them. Grandpa and Grandma maintained their own home and kept up four lots, including a large garden, at their North Main Street property for many years after they left the store. Daisy and Ethel, kept in touch with visits, calls and letters, which were exchanged regularly, but it was Vera who was physically there to look after her parents when needed. After Grandpa died in 1939, it was Vera who had the task of managing the estate and selling their property, with input from her sisters.

Individual Summary for Vera May SEYMOUR

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A year previously, in December of 1938, Eloise Lewis had married Thomas F. Stabler, a Sterling man and classmate at the Sterling High School. Then, on 20 December 1939, there was much rejoicing when Eloise and Tom presented Vera and Olof with their first grandchild, Thomas F. Stabler II, who was born in the Sterling Hospital. Eloise, too, had worked in the family store while she was growing up, and for a while she and Tom joined her parents there. Later, Vera and Olof took a break from business, and Eloise and Tom took over. But Vera and Oiof sold the store property on i May 1943, per Whiteside County deed records,


After they sold the store, Olof and Vera farmed for a while, then spent a few years in the city of Rock Falls, liiinois, during the first part of World War Il. But after the war ended, they decided it was time for them to leave Whiteside County, travel a bit, and find a place to retire.


Tom Stabler had been in the army and was stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he and Eloise continued in residence In early November of 1947, Vera and Olof visited them in Little Rock, enjoying their grandson, Tommy II, and his new brother, Roger, who had been born in Little Rock a few weeks before. Then, looking for a likely place to call home in their retirement years, Vera and Olof headed for Arizona, planning to settle in Mesa, Maricopa County. Unfortunately, their dreams were cut short when Vera became ill and died suddenly on 30 November 1947. She was just fifty years old. Her remains were brought back to the town she loved, which was so much a part of her history, and interred in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery on Main Street.


Eloise and Tom soon moved to Tempe, Maricopa County, Arizona, and Olof Lewis remained in the area, as well, working as a carpenter, and making his home with the Stablers. Olof Lewis died on 15 March 1970 in Tempe. He, too, was buried in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery, beside his beloved Vera.


Footnote: How pleased and proud Vera would have been, had she lived long enough to see her grandson, Thomas F. Stabler II, follow in her footsteps in the food industry in the Phoenix, Arizona area, rising from stockboy to become an executive in the Arizona State Grocers Association. Of course, she would have been immensely proud of Roger Stabler, as well, and of his little sister, Jayne. Sadly, Vera never had the thrill of holding Jayne, her only granddaughter, who inherited her own brown eyes and hair, and to develop with her what would have been a very special bond.

(And one has to wonder what she would have felt knowing that a little boy she baby-sat when she was a teenager later grew up to be president of the United States, Ronald W. Reagan?)



>Family Records of Daisy Seymour Nokes, Ethel Seymour Whitmer, Eloise Lewis Stabler.

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

>Family records of the Bowman Family confirm the birth dates and marriage of Vera and Olof Lewis.

>Personal knowledge of myself and my mother, Ethel (Seymour) Whitmer

>Correspondence 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 their lives. 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 me, 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.

> Daisy Nokes’ ‘See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico” articles that appeared during the early 1980’s in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO, Prophetstown, Whiteside County, Illinois.

> Copy of report of Vera’s marriage published in THE TAMPICO TORNADO

> Deed records of Whiteside County, lUinois

> Transcript of records tracking the history of the store property supplied by Paul Nicely.

> Obituary notice?

> Cemetery Records of the Tampico Cemetery, Tampico, Illinois, and personal knowledge from viewing of the graves. Photo of Vera and Olof’s grave markers are in this compiler’s files.

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

>Census records - see foflowing:

8 May 2003

Individual Summary for Vera May SEYMOUR



Notes (Continued)

Page 4


1900 Census - Whiteside i23/126 Seymour, Fred





Co. Tampico Viii. - (transcribed from book by Baer, Snyder, Bush, Nelson)

M    35 M McGr*          Born IL Fa: born NY Mo: born NY

F    31  Wf                       IL       WV                  OH

F    12 Da                       IA        IL                     IL

F       8 Da                       IL        IL                     IL

F       3 Da                       IL        IL                     IL

*McGr = Merchant, Grocer



1910 Census - Whiteside County, Tampico Township - p. 225- i6 April 1910-Theodore W. Stock

Main Street

187-190  Seymour,

Fred H. 45 Ml 23 yrs b. IL Parents NY Merchant,Grocery House free of mort.

Emma A. 42 3 ch iA IL IL (error, should be IL - OH - OH)

Ethel 5. 18                                              IL          IL IA 0cc. Saleslady - grocery

Vera M. 12                                                               IL             “ “ 0cc. none aft sch.

1920 Census - Not found in initial search - further research needed

1930 Census - Whiteside County, Tampico Village - p. 7-B -7 April 1930- Tracy Pierce

224-224  Lewis, Olof 40 Mar b. IL Parents b. Sweden Owner General Store Value $5000

                    Vera 32                                                IL                           Illinois    Clerk

                                                                                Eloise 11 Single  IL                        Illinois    School

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