Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Laborer

Ord W. LeMaster, Madison Twp. High School photo

The third ancestor in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project is my paternal grandfather, Ord Wehrly LeMaster (1906-1971).


Ord was born 30 September 1906 in Madison Township, Jay County, Indiana. His parents were Luman Cooper & Barbara Isabel (Wehrly) LeMaster(s).  He was the seventh son of thirteen children in the family.  

Ord's birth was judicially determined by affidavit in January 1942 because he was born before birth certificates were required in the State of Indiana.  This was likely done for the purposes of World War II draft registration or Social Security.

Ord was raised on the family farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits. In both the 1910 and 1920 census, he was enumerated in Madison Township, Jay County, Indiana outside of Salamonia on the family farm.

Hunting was also likely one of Ord's early pursuits. The only early surviving photo I have seen of him shows him after killing a bobcat.

Ord LeMaster shots bobcat

Ord graduated from the eighth grade from Madison Township schools in 1921.  He is believed to have attended high school for some time at Fort Recovery, Ohio before joining the Army National Guard on 30 March 1923.  Ord served with the 151st Infantry Howitzer unit and the 139th Field Artillery.  He re-enlisted on October 25, 1926 and again on April 2, 1928. He was made Private First Class in July 1924 and Corporal in August 1925. For unknown reasons, he was reduced in rank to Private in January 1926 and made a Private First Class again in July 1928.  


The military units he served with saw active duty along the Mexican border. Ord returned home and graduated from Madison Township High School in 1928.  He was discharged March 15, 1930.  

He was living on the family farm on 8 April 1928 when he was shot near the heart by an unidentified chicken thief.  Newspaper accounts of the incident recounted how he returned home late one night and noticed the door of the chicken house standing open.  When he stepped towards the coop, a shot rang out.  A sack containing one chicken, evidently dropped by the thief was found near the scene.

At the time of the 1930 census, Ord was still living and working on his parents farm as a laborer. On 21 February 1932, Ord married Ruth Pauline Haley at the Mt. Zion Evangelical Church in Noble Township, Jay County, Indiana.

Ord and Ruth began raising a family in rural Jay County and times were hard.  In February 1939, a newspaper article recounted how fire had destroyed the families' home for the second time in three years.  Everything they owned in the world was lost, and they had to move in with grandma Ruth's parents.  My aunt Idola and uncle Paul still have memories of the fire and the house that was destroyed.

By the 1940 census, the family was renting a home in Portland, Jay County, Indiana, at 507 E. Main Street Apartment Two. Ord was listed as a laborer at the Sheller Manufacturing Company, yet at the time of the census, he had been unemployed for a period of 32 weeks. The 1941 city directory for Portland also shows the family living at 507 E. Walnut Street.

Ord & Ruth LeMaster family circa 1944. 
L-R : Ord, Paul, Juanita, Ruth (holding Ord W.), Idola

By the time my dad came along in 1944, the family of six were living at 1107 W. Water Street in Portland, which is where they lived the rest of their lives. 

Ord worked as a factory laborer for Delco Battery in Muncie, Indiana for several years.  City directories indicate he was in the case department, and his obituary mentions he was an inspector.  Dad has told me how when he was attending Ball State University, that he would sometimes get a ride to class with grandpa on his way to work.

Not a lot of stories have been shared by my dad or my aunts and uncles regarding their dad.  The impression I have is that he was a man of strong opinions and was a no-nonsense individual.

Ord died on 30 October 1971 in Bluffton, Wells County, Indiana while at Bluffton Clinic.  The cause of death was listed as myocardial infarction.  Burial was at the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Noble Township, Jay County, Indiana.

I have no personal memories of grandpa Ord to share, as I was just two when he passed.  The family stories are few, but he must have been a hard worker and stern disciplinarian.  I'm hoping I can collect more about him and understand him a little better.


Ord & Ruth LeMaster with grandson Travis, Alexandria, Indiana




The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge was created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small blog.  The premise is to write once a week about a specific ancestor – whether it be a story, a biography, a photograph or a research problem.

2 comments:

Grandma Honey said...

Very Interesting post Travis! So the family picture...can you identify the 4 children in the picture? The youngest girl with the blonde hair resembles my mom, Gaynor Slinkard. At first I thought, what a coincidence, then I remembered quickly that she is of course from the LeMaster line.

Also, the last picture of Ord LeMaster later in life, is that his wife Ruth with him? Do you know who the baby is?

Travis LeMaster said...

Hi, I updated the post to include captions. The youngest girl is my aunt, Juanita. The last photo with the baby is me as a baby being held by Ord.