Celestial Blackmail?

Week 23: #52 Ancestors – Going to the Chapel

By Eilene Lyon

There’s no question that Great-grandma Clara was a staunch supporter of the Methodist Church. Her father (God rest his soul) had been a lay preacher in the faith, after all. She was abstemious, and thought everyone else should be, too. (I do hope she isn’t observing my imbibing.)

Thwarted in her professional ambitions, she used her energy to accumulate a mini real estate “empire” in her home town of Moscow, Idaho. She took in renters in her own house from the University of Idaho and tutored them when they fell behind in their studies. She had nearly a city block filled with her tenants, according to family lore.

The basis for her accumulation of property began with a homestead claim near Orofino, but I’ll detail that another time. Suffice it to say, she had some property and used it to wield a little influence. That’s where the church comes in.

This is also a family story that I have not been able to confirm. But it’s just a little telling tale about Great-grandma.

Sometime around 1930, the Moscow First United Methodist Church was interested in procuring a pipe organ for the sanctuary. Clara offered to purchase the organ for the church, but there was a hitch (of course). The church would have to hire her daughter, Clare, to play it!

Well, I do have this photo of Clare (my grandmother) seated at a pipe organ. And the church’s music director confirmed that it matched the description of the placement of the organ at that time (it was later moved).


He was also able to relate that the current organ (which may be the same one from 1930) was built by the famed Shoenstein Company, founded in San Francisco in 1877. The company has an archive that might shed light on this tale.

I remember Grandma playing the piano on occasion, but I had no idea about her history as a church organist, nor that her mother may have coerced the church into hiring her to play. But it doesn’t surprise me a bit!


My grandmother, Clare Ransom Davis, in her Sunday best.

13 thoughts on “Celestial Blackmail?

Add yours

  1. We enjoyed the story and history. Wish I knew my great grandparents. My dad’s parents died when I was very young. Your story is one to be treasured. Aunt Judy

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

National Parks USA

A tour of Public Lands & National Parks with T

Turning My Earth

Genealogy and other musings

Tye's Travels

Head Dog, Leading the Way Across the USA!


Following the Path to the Past

The Glasgow Gallivanter

Adventures at home and abroad

In the Dash

Valarie Gravelle's family history and genealogy blog

Christine's Genealogy Musings

Piecing together my family history


never judge a girl by her weight

A Dalectable Life

The little and large things making my life delicious!


Drop in and stay awhile

Rust Belt Girl

reading and writing the Rust Belt

writing my past

in which I document my genealogical research adventures and explore the people and events from my family's history…


Genealogy, Family history, and Whatnot


Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Poetry and Prose

From soul to soul

Holy Cake Day

Nature. Community. Cake.

A Coffee Stained Life

Photography, Gardening, Food, Art, Family, Genealogy, Coffee & Tea

%d bloggers like this: