Mabel and Her Mom

Week 9: #52 Ancestors – Females

By Eilene Lyon

I’ve written briefly about my great-grandmother, Mabel Pearl (Cutting) Halse, in relation to her husband and children. It’s a case of having a lot of photographs, but not really knowing her. Unlike her mother-in-law, Lucy Halse, Mabel didn’t get her name in the papers or history books. She was much too busy rearing eleven children and maintaining a large farm household.

Mabel was born in Winneshiek County, Iowa, on September 4, 1880 (she shares a birthday with The Putterer!), the first child of Arthur N. and Alice (Fawcett) Cutting. Her birthday also fell on the second anniversary of her parent’s marriage.1

Mabel Cutting at about age 3, c. 1883. (Courtesy of N. Ingram)

She was just an infant when the Cuttings and Halses relocated to Dexter Township, Codington County, South Dakota. Mabel’s brother, Clifford, arrived in 1882, but it would be more than a decade before her two youngest brothers were born.

At age sixteen, on February 4, 1897, she married her second cousin, Ernest Guy Tresselyn Halse (known simply as Guy).2 Guy and Mabel had a 160-acre homestead on the north edge of the township, close to Day County. Their first son, Howard, was born on October 27, right on schedule, I’d say.3 The kids kept coming every couple years or so.

Mabel Cutting and Guy Halse wedding photo, 1897. (Courtesy of P. Neal)

Mabel undoubtedly spent her days cooking, cleaning, and preserving food for her large brood and farmer husband. The oldest daughters eventually pitched in to help with the household chores, but it is not surprising that Mabel looks exhausted in family photos!

After many of their children relocated to Oregon and Washington, Mabel and Guy decided to move to Trout Lake, Washington, about 1943. Their first home was attached to a store, then they found a clapboard-sided house in the valley. Mabel was visiting her daughter, Hazel (Halse) Sturm, in Hermiston, Oregon, when she passed away suddenly on April 27, 1946, just ten months shy of her golden wedding anniversary.4 She was survived by Guy, all her children, and (eventually) 28 grandchildren.

Mabel at right in middle row in polka-dotted dress. The house at Trout Lake about 1944. Her son in naval uniform at back right is Alvin Halse. (Courtesy of P. Neal)

I have found only one handwritten document by Mabel. She wrote the letter in June 1945, a couple days before the birth of my uncle, Nathan Halse.

“Dear Everett and Reatha—I am wondering what happened I didn’t hear from you. Think you must be in the Hospital Hope you are O.K. and the baby is O.K. It dont matter what sex it is so that it is O.K.”

She mentions “Doris and Buster” going to visit Reatha and Everett in Corvallis (Doris was Mabel’s youngest child). Then she waxes on about her son, Myron Halse, and his business selling friers (chickens). She said he had as many as 500 before selling off several hundred.5 That’s a lot of KFC! Ha.

Mabel’s mother, Alice, is also a shadow. Alice Adelia Fawcett was the fifth of seven children of John Painter Fawcett and Phebe Williams Painter. (Yes, these two were second cousins, also.) Like her daughter, Alice was born in Winneshiek County, Iowa, though her parents were from Ohio.

The church in Hesper, Iowa, across from the Quaker cemetery where Cuttings, Fawcetts, and Painters are buried. (E. Lyon 2012)

She spent her childhood in the Quaker-dominated town of Hesper. Her mother, Phebe, died when Alice was only eleven. Four years later, her father passed away.6 Most likely she lived with an older sibling’s family until she married Arthur Newman Cutting in 1878, when she was nineteeen. Like Mabel, Alice lived on a farm. For nearly twenty years, she and Arthur homesteaded in Dexter Township, where Arthur established a neighborhood school.

Mabel and Guy Halse far left. The next couple is Carrie and Clifford Cutting; their first two sons, Roland and Arthur seated on ground. Alice and Arthur Cutting seated. Far right is Howard and Ward Cutting. I believe the couple standing behind Arthur is Alice’s niece, Nettie May Tavener and her husband, Jefferson C. Gaffney. The infant on Alice’s lap would then be Nettie May’s first son, Warner. Taken at the Cutting farm in Beaverton, in 1909 or 1910. (Courtesy of N. Ingram)

Arthur spent some time out west before marriage, and maybe that’s what got him interested in moving to Oregon. Alice and Arthur were the first of my ancestors to reach that state. They each purchased 80 acres in Washington County, in what is now part of Beaverton (their parcels were side-by-side). Their three sons, Clifford, Ward, and Howard, being minors at the time, moved with them. Alice was widowed when Arthur died in June 1912.7

Plat showing the Cutting properties in Washington County, click to enlarge. (Ancestry)

Alice and Arthur participated in the local grange, and Alice continued her grange activities after his death. She sold Arthur’s 80 acres and 10 of hers to her son and daughter-in-law, Ward and Eleanor, in 1930 and 1931 (I don’t have a record for her remaining 70 acres).8 She moved to nearby Tigard and lived there until her death in 1942, less than four years before her daughter, Mabel.

Mabel and Guy’s headstone in the Dexter Cemetery (E. Lyon 2012); Alice’s headstone in Crescent Grove Cemetery in Tigard (N. Ingram 2013).

Feature image: Four generations: Dolores Sturm, Hazel (Halse) Sturm, Mabel (Cutting) Halse, and Alice (Fawcett) Cutting, c. 1935. (Courtesy of W. Halse)


  1. U.S., Hinshaw Index to Selected Quaker Records, 1680-1940> Iowa> Winneshiek Monthly Meeting> Mabel P. Cutting image 331, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2705/; Iowa, U.S., Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996> Alice Adelia Fawcett, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60284/
  2. Codington County (SD) Marriage Book C, p. 27. 
  3. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918> South Dakota> Codington County> ALL> Draft Card H> Howard Adrian Halse image 88, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6482/
  4. Oregon, U.S., Death Index, 1898-2008> H Mabel P. Halse image 3274, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/5254/
  5. Letter from “Mother” [Mabel P. Halse], June 20, 1945, to “Dear Everett & Reatha [Halse],” private collection of S. Halse. 
  6. U.S., Hinshaw Index to Selected Quaker Records, 1680-1940> Iowa> Winneshiek Monthly Meeting> John Faucett and Phebe Faucett image 441, (see Note 1). 
  7. Oregon, U.S., Death Index, 1898-2008> C> Arthur N. Cutting image 2461, (See Note 4). 
  8. Washington County Deed Records, photocopies obtained from county register (no book numbers). 

37 thoughts on “Mabel and Her Mom

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    1. I’ve traveled the country, visiting various cousins, along with my scanner and phone camera! I have not inherited any photos except from my parents, and a very few that had been handed down to them.

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  1. You have the most wonderful pictures to support your story. You did a great job of documenting Mabel’s life for not really knowing her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tonya. I wish I had more first-hand stories. Even my dad doesn’t really remember her. I could probably learn more from some of his older cousins. The one who gave me some of these photos told me a little.

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  2. You’ve unearthed a ton of info on Mabel, from the towhead picture at three years old, to her final resting place alongside “Guy”. As I am going to be turning 66 next month, the same age as Mabel when she passed away, I sympathize with this poor woman, knowing that the rigors of raising 11 children and being a farmer’s wife put poor Mabel into an early grave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are right. Her mother (only four kids) lived quite a bit longer. As I get older, I think a lot more about how long my ancestors lived. But I have many advantages over their situations. Even so, many have lived into 80s and 90s.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope so too for your sake! Today in our City, I saw in the local Facebook forum, a parade of police cars, sirens blaring and horns honking, drove by, delivered cupcakes and flowers, then posed on the porch with a woman celebrating her 101st birthday . Wonder what her secret is?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Old letters seem to me to be examples of stream of consciousness. You find one and jump into someone’s life, not necessarily knowing who the writer is talking about but drawn in just the same. Human interest stories, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So often women lived these unrecorded lives because their lives were in the private sphere. But think of all that she must have done and seen. Being sixteen when she married and still a teenager having all those children and raising them—today a sixteen year old is too wrapped up in video games and Instagram to be considered an adult! Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t have been ready for that responsibility at 16, with or without video games.😏 Having photos shared by cousins is wonderful. Wouldn’t a recipe book or list of favorite songs be great?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s wonderful when you can make history come to life! It also helps clear up inaccurate perceptions we may have. I’m glad that a woman who was born in the 19th century was given the opportunity to go to school, in my mind, that wasn’t common — or was it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many girls went to school in the 19th century. Unfortunately, for a long time, tax-funded schools were not available and parent had to pay for teachers directly or through subscription to a school.

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