Brumley Brothers

Left to right standing; John, unknown person, Tom, below is Elmer and William

The Brumley brothers are the sons of my great-grandfather Isaac Walter Brumley and Nancy Katherine (Kate) Cox. John Leo was the first son born 1895, William Ralph 1897, Thomas Clinton 1899, Henry Elmer Raymond 1907 and Walter Willis Brumley 1908. There was only one sister, Nancy Beatrice born in 1901.

The boys grew up just like any other children of the time, they had chores to do and school to go too. The family dynamics, however, changed after their mother died in 1912 of Pellagra. All of a sudden Walter Brumley was faced to raise six children on his own while keeping a job with the railroad. My grandfather was sixteen and was able to find odd jobs. William was fifteen and probably also worked at odd jobs. Tom was only thirteen so he probably looked after his younger siblings, Nancy was ten, Elmer was five and Walter was only four years old.

In the 1920 Census, I found Elmer living with the Ralph B Ellison family in Taney County, Missouri as well as Walter living with the George W Lewallen family in Taney County and was listed as an orphan. Their father was still living at the time so why was he listed as an orphan? I was unable to find Nancy living with anyone in the area.

By 1918 John Leo was with his father working in Baxter Springs, Kansas where they signed up for the WWI Draft. In 1920 he married my grandmother, Nellie Opal Sells in Springfield, Missouri. By this same time, William Ralph was now living in Springfield, Greene, Missouri as well. I could not find a marriage license for him so I don’t think he was married. In 1919 I found Thomas Clinton living Pleasanton, Linn, Kansas and he was married to Mary Dorris Lester sometime around 1921. Elmer went to Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas to live with John and Nellie until he married Martha Gertrude Anderson in 1927. Walter managed to make it to Kansas City as well and married Martha Ann Louise Beard in 1928. Nancy traveled around and finally settled in Chicago, Tom and his family followed her to Chicago where he went into business for himself.

John was definitely the spoke in this family wheel, when his brothers fell on hard times they knew John was the one to go too until they could make it on their own. Their father continued to travel all over working for the railroad and died at sixty-four. William died in Spokane, Washington in 1961 he was just sixty-three, Tom died in 1971 at seventy-one years old and Walter died in 1959 at the age of fifty-nine. My grandfather John outlived them all when he died at the age of eighty-one in 1976 in Olathe, Johnson, Kansas. He truly played the part of father and mother to his younger siblings over the years.

My mother, Nancy Gertrude Brumley told me countless stories of when the brothers would get together at her house. They always brought laughter and music with them. So even with the hard life, they had to live early on they managed to make the best of it.

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Thank you.

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