Effe Henderson Thorpe b. 7-17-1876, d. 5-20-1976

(photo enhanced by Joe Yarbrough, from Marcia)

   Our (my) Great Aunt Effe was the second born to the union of Benjamin F. Thorpe and Lydia Henderson. Her father was part owner in a business at Greenfield at the time of her birth, but at an early age she, and her three siblings, were left fatherless. One account states that her father "returned from Kansas, having laid claim to property at that place"? Nothing, concerning his livelihood, beyond that statement has been brought to my attention.
    Lydia, a school teacher, raised the children and at the appropriate time, moved her family to Carlinville, IL. where they could achieve higher education at Blackburn College. I have no other knowledge than Aunt Effe remained nearby her mother until her death? We know that soon after the death of her mother, she spent time in Japan.

Rough times @ home

     During the period when Grandma was in Japan (1913-1926), her brother Frank Robinson passed away as shown in the newspaper accounts, "Rob's" death  and Death of F R Thorpe in the local papers. Just a few weeks later their mother, Lydia, was called to eternal rest.

  Aunt Effe, now age 42, was left alone in Greenfield in the home her mother had built. Marcia, as I recall, provided this photograph of her. (it is not suggested that she is 42 years in this foto?)

    The following letter indicates the natural loneliness and sadness Aunt Effe felt during this time mingled with the joy of knowing her mother was resting in God's presence.

Greenfield, Ill

March 22, 1917


Dearest Sister –


Oh! How can I write you today? I have tried to find courage to begin your letter but it is so hard. If you could only have been here thru all these sad hours! If you could only have seen mother once more! It is so hard for you to bear so far away and I need you so. I am simply crushed by my sorrow and loneliness. Our blessed, precious mother breathed her last breath just about this time (4:45 o’clock) one week ago today. I was all alone with her excepting two nurses and Mabel Reid. None of the folks were there. But oh, how everyone loved her in the hospital. We have had a wonderful Mother and I am so thankful for her splendid helpful life. I can’t wish her back here where she had so much sorrow and pain and so many heartaches to bear. And we know she is at rest – that her tears are all wiped away. But I am still selfish in my grief. I want her so! I am so alone now. And I do not know how to do anything without asking her. It just seems to me I cannot live without her.


I want to tell you all about the operation, the funeral and everything: but I don’t know whether I can or now. I think I wrote you up to the day of the operation which was on Mar. 14th. She was so brave and cheery when they sent me from the room. But oh! I knew it was death even then for she was so weak and had been failing so fast. She lived just 30 hours after the operation which lasted about two hours. Every breath was one of pain after she came from under the anesthetic, until the collapse came. Her heart failed and she passed on to the Great Beyond just as peacefully and quietly as she would have liked two do. Dr. Hairgrove found so many troubles that the wonder is she could have lived as long as she did. The lower part of her stomach had thickened until the opening into the bowels was almost closed. They removed the opening (which is a very small duct) and opened the bowels, attaching the stomach to them. There were ulcers and adhesions, the result of ulcers. There had been a bursting of the gall bladder at sometime and they found to migrating gall stones which were imbedded in the outside of the intestine. (The gall bladder was about the size of a pea.) There were probably more of these but they only found and removed two. Then there was a very serious gastric trouble which I can explain only as an absence of certain gastric juices, etc. any one of the troubles was enough to have caused her death. The nurses were very kind to me at the end. Our special nurse, who is a B.U. girl, was very sweet and lovely. And the Wallers have done so much for me that I can never hope to repay them in any way.


We buried Mother by Bob’s side on the 17th and there is still room for me on the other side of her. Our minister was out of town, so we had Mr. Barton of the Methodist Church assisted by Henry Smith. Frank and Lena sang so sweetly, two songs – “Saved by Grace” and “Sometime We’ll Understand”. There were so many pretty flowers. I took the five dollars you sent and got flowers, a large spray of rose buds and sweet peas. They were not as pretty as I would have liked but I was a little late with the order. I thought you would like to do that much.

The services were from the church and were very simple and brief. I do not know how I got thru the day. I fainted three times and of course I am ashamed of my weakness: but I could not keep a grip on my nerves. I do so dislike a scene, but I had not been inside the church since Bob was taken there not quite eleven weeks before and it was too much. It seems like if I could only have had them die at home it would not be quite so hard to bear. I want you to have so many things but will not send them until I hear from you. Do you suppose it would be safe to send silver and stuff like that by registered mail now or even fourth class stuff? I am afraid to send anything.


I have been so busy since the funeral. Have rented the house furnished until the first of Oct. I am reserving one room upstairs and have taken my desk, your bureau, several chairs and things up there besides all the good china, etc., I am going to S-field (Springfield?) for the summer. After that I have no plans. I am going to be administrator to save expense, so I’ll be back several times I presume. Of course this place is mine and I get the rent in advance – all of it. I rented it for $75.00 which is much too cheap of course, but I’m so glad I don’t have to tear up now and I know these folks will take good care of things.


Grace stayed until this morning to help me. Mother asked me to give her the little desk that I had given Mother several years ago and I gave her so much junk of different kinds that I felt ashamed of myself. She seemed glad to get it all tho.


If there is any special thing you want please say so and I’ll save it or them for you. Poor Mother did not have any clothes. Her one nice dress we buried her in. She told me when I gave her the dress that it would be her burial robe and sure enough it was. If I could only take back the crow words and the careless words which caused her pain! If I could only have helped her bear the suffering of the past years! But why do I mourn for her now when her pain is all over and I have the memories of her devoted, beautiful life to stay with me for comfort and solace. The head nurse at Passavant told me she was the sweetest, most consecrated woman she had ever known. It makes me so proud to have had such a precious mother; but oh! the emptiness of my life now. If you have some letter of Mother’s you can spare please send it to me for I have none at all. We did not have any of Bob’s either. Poor dear Bob!


If you have any suggestions about settling up affairs please say so. There being minor heirs makes it much harder to do. What I want to do is to please you and Grace or the boys rather.


I sent the piano over for Ray and Lena while I’m gone. Aunt Helen is quite sick almost pneumonia.


I must close. Please write to me as often as you did before Mother went away. We are all by ourselves and we ought to cling pretty closely.


Dearest love to all of you and don’t grieve too much, for mother has only gone on before. Yours lovingly, Effe.

    Also surviving grandma Lydia's death was her son, Edwin Lemon. To the union of Edwin, born 3/30/1880, and wife Edith L., were born 3 sons:

    Columbus Wheeler, b.1904 m. Doreen
    Everett Edwin, b.1906 m. Imogene Hayes
    and: Frank Robinson (Bob) Thorpe, b.11/11/1907 m. Hulda Armstrong 1931
    Bob and Hulda had 4 children: Three boys Bobbie, Kenny and Larry and one girl, Nancy. Two boys died in infancy and Larry passed away at mid-life. Nancy (Thorpe) Feraldi resides in the southwest U.S. now - as I recall?
     To Larry and Alberta (Turner) Thorpe were born Sandra and David. This photo of Bob Thorpe, his daughter in law, Alberta, and his granddaughter, Sandra (Thorpe) Hobkirk was captured in Raymond, IL. on the occasion of the memorial service for S W Thornton b.1903, first cousin to Bob.


    This photograph was captured at the home of Edwin Henderson, seven miles northeast of Greenfield. It is my understanding that the young lady is Orsa O'flyng, the tall lady is Aunt Effe, and the elderly lady is Eliza (Williams) Henderson? This beautiful home, built prior to the civil war, stood until the turn of the century when the maintenance of the foundation became too expensive for the owners to consider.

    In later life, Orsa O'flyng moved to a western state and Aunt Effe spent time in Japan as an educator in some capacity. The following letter indicates the close relationship these two had developed in their younger years.

    FYI: My understanding is that Orsa O'flyng became step-sister to Eliza (Williams) Henderson when Orsa's widowed mother married Uncle Billy Williams several years after the death of his wife, Lydia (Whitehurst) Williams. This record may surface later?

    The sisters, Effe and Eliza, spent many of their latter years living in the house, which had been the home of their cousin, Ray Steckel, and his wife, Lena. Vince and Elsie (Thornton) Marquess also lived in this home when first married. The two are seen here, at home, in a very familiar pose.

    Here we see the two on Sunday afternoon with their dear friend, Nellie Argall, after having enjoyed a dinner served up by Marcia (Yarbrough) Thornton.

    Here Aunt Effe is visiting with an old friend, Ms. Barnett (first name escapes me) in the dining room at the manse in Greenfield. (I think this foto has been reversed in editing?)

    The location of the following foto is unknown to me. 

    As stated elsewhere my memory leaves questionable some circumstances and events in life, but I have a story of my very dear great Aunt that will forever remain clear in my memory. I must state initially that I do not remember the year, but Aunt Effe asked me if I would take her to view the Williams / Henderson cemetery, which was located at that time, on the land settled by her great grandfather, "Billy" Williams. (This is the cemetery that, later, was desecrated).
    My first question was; "where is it located? You see, at that time I knew what and where the Henderson place was, but I had no idea of the connection to the Williams name. When she stated it's location I realized I knew the site, but did not know the history. 
    I do not remember the year, but it was possibly 1965? She would have been 88 years of age. I am certain it was not prior to 1961!
    As usual, she was always a lady - wearing a dress, hose, those 1+inch heels, very properly attired for anything of a social nature, but not really appropriate for cemetery viewing - we went to view the burial site of her (our) ancestors at the Williams home place.
     The burial plot sat approximately 200 feet from the public road in a fenced pasture. There was no gate nearby and a deep road ditch to cross prior to the fence. These obstacles did not deter her desire to view and recall, in that atmosphere, the relationship she had with several of those interred there.
    We carefully crossed the ditch and I assisted her in climbing through the fence. Having accomplished the first hurdle we face the second fence surrounding the plot. This was overgrown with weeds and briars, but now, knowing her determination at the first obstacle, I too was determined to complete this mission, regardless of the inconvenience.
    It was pure joy to clean a marker of poison ivy or vines and hear her speak of the individual memorialized there. Although we did not (as I recall) locate any marker for the black men who accompanied "Uncle Billy" to Illinois, there were several family member markers located she had known personally.

    We reversed our course and conquered again the obstacles which confronted us without a major scratch or runner.
    At that time in my life I had been much too busy to give thought to my family background, but witnessing the love Aunt Effe displayed that day for her forefathers gave me a new outlook on genealogy. She will always be forefront in my mind when giving thought to those who came before. Often I wish I had taken the time to sit with her, following that excursion, and made a record of her relationship with those she recalled on that day.  
    My having the knowledge gained in this outing had no influence on the fact that at a later date the burial site would be completely demolished by mechanical means.



     For assistance in locating the grave site, go to: Oakwood @ 62044