Ella’s Kids

Week 41: #52 Ancestors – Passed Down

By Eilene Lyon

There’s no question that my favorite family to write about is the Ransom family. What a great name! The Ransoms loved to stand out: ambitious, adventurous, tragic, a bit crazy at times. Never dull. This is probably one of the more sedate stories, but a little sad.

My great-great-grandparents, Emma Jenkins and Robert Ransom, had 13 children, but lost seven of them to childhood diseases. The eighth child to pass away lived to 28. Her name was Emma Luella Ransom, but she went by Ella. When Ella died, only one daughter remained—my great-grandmother, Clara Pearl Ransom, the 13th child.

Ella was born in Trenton, Indiana, in 1871, Emma and Robert’s tenth child.1 She joined three surviving older brothers: Jim, William, and Arthur. When she was about eight, her father and uncle lost everything in a bank failure. Robert decided to start over in Independence, Kansas. Emma and the children joined him in 1881. By that day, the trip could be made via railroad from Muncie.

Emma Luella Ransom, known as Ella. (Courtesy of Stanley Smith)

There was no high school at the time, so Ella likely finished her schooling by age 14. Her father died in 1883, but Emma and the older boys kept the family afloat. When Ella was 17, she married Henry Harrison Hockett.2

Henry Harrison Hockett. (Courtesy of Stanley Smith)

The Hocketts were a large and influential family in southeastern Kansas. The patriarch, Phineas Vestal Hockett, made his fortune trading in livestock during the Civil War. In Kansas, he was one of the founders and long-time president of the Commercial Bank in Independence.3

Phineas Vestal Hockett (1827-1906). (Ancestry)

When Arthur Ransom’s railroad job resulted in his relocation to Moscow, Idaho, in 1889, Ella’s mother and all of her siblings eventually moved to Idaho as well, leaving Ella and Henry Hockett behind in Kansas.

Henry and Ella had two children together, Robert Vestal born in 1890, and Clara Ransom in 1894.4 Tragedy for the family came suddenly in April 1899 when Ella fell ill and soon perished from spinal meningitis.5

Word of Ella’s death quickly reached Emma in Moscow, thanks to the telegraph, and she soon arrived back in Independence and took custody of her now-motherless grandchildren.6 Neither was an infant, so I’m not certain why Henry chose to let them go.

Emma (Jenkins) Ransom and her daughter Clara Pearl Ransom, on the porch of their home in Moscow, Idaho, c. 1900. This is the home where the Hockett children would have gone in 1899 after the death of their mother, Ella (Ransom) Hockett. (University of Idaho Special Collections)

But Emma was not long for the world, either. Upon her death in 1902, the responsibility for Bob and Clara fell to Ella’s younger sister, Clara Pearl Ransom. Clara was 25 and still single at the time. Her brother Arthur no doubt helped her out.

Robert Vestel Hockett. (University of Idaho Special Collections)
Clara Ransom Hockett. (Courtesy of Stanley Smith)

Clara ensured that her nephew and niece received a college education at her alma mater, the University of Idaho. Bob played on the basketball team there (he went by his middle name, Vestal, while in college).7 He served in the military during WWI, but apparently did not go overseas. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and worked as a commercial artist and civil engineer.8 His first marriage ended in divorce. He later married Edith M. Proctor. They had no children.

A sketch of Ella Hockett by Robert Vestal Hockett, based on her portrait seen near the beginning of this post. (Courtesy of Robert R. Smith)

Bob’s sister, Clara, was involved in the music program at the university and graduated in 1915.9 She met Eldon Myrick in school and they married that same year.10 Eldon had a long, storied career in the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. They had four children: Clara Leona (known as Peggy), Eldon Jr. (who died before his second birthday of pneumonia after a bout of measles), Marvin (known as Mike), and Roberta.

Clara R. Hockett (far right) performing in a Spanish dance at the University of Idaho in 1912 (Gem of the Mountains, 1913)

I have not found any records to indicate that Bob and Clara visited with their father, but I think they probably did. Henry had lived with his family in Idaho for about a year in the early 1890s, and I think he had investments there. He likely traveled to Idaho see his growing son and daughter on occasion.

Henry did eventually remarry and moved westward through Kansas up until 1930. Find A Grave indicates he died in Baca County, Colorado, in 1933, but I have not been able to find any news report or other record to verify this.11 For now, Henry Hockett’s fate is still a mystery.

Feature image: Robert Vestal Hockett and Clara Ransom Hockett c. 1895 (Courtesy of Stanley Smith)

  1. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23720939/hoc; supported by her marriage record, see Note 2. 
  2. Emma L. and Henry H. Hockett. Ancestry.com. Kansas, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1811-1911 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. 
  3. “The Passing of Another Independence Pioneer” The Evening Star (Independence, KS), March 29, 1906, p. 8. 
  4. Robert V. Hockett. Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000; Clara Ransom Myrick. Idaho, U.S., Death Records, 1890-1969 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. 
  5. Mrs. Ella Hockett obituary. The Freeman’s Lance (Sedan, KS), April 13, 1899, p. 8. 
  6. See Note 5. “Mrs. Ransom expects to return to her home in Moscow, Idaho, this week. She will take her grand children, Vestal and Clara Hockett, with her.” 
  7. “Bishop will switch lineup.” Spokane Chronicle (Spokane, WA), January 29, 1913, p. 16. 
  8. Robert V. Hockett. Year: 1930; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0176; FHL microfilm: 2339875 – via Ancestry.com; United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: 2612; Sheet Number: 76; Enumeration District: 66-2235 – via Ancestry.com. 
  9. The Gem of the Mountains, 1915. (University of Idaho yearbook: Moscow, Idaho). 
  10. Clara R. Hockett and Eldon H. Myrick. Montana State Historical Society; Helena, Montana; Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 – via Ancestry.com. 
  11. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/224081942/henry-harrison-hockett 

30 thoughts on “Ella’s Kids

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  1. Adventurous, indeed! What terrific stories here!

    I love so many of the names including the way Ella’s name was formed from her first and middle. Phineas looks like an interesting character too.

    More than anything, I like that they started over in a town named Independence. That is just perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mothers losing children, children losing their mothers. What hard and sad times those were. We are so fortunate to take for granted that in most cases we will live to see our children grow up and that they will grow up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So sad, but kind of a positive outcome for Ella’s children, in spite of all the trauma. It tells a lot about your great-grandmother’s character, taking over their care when she was still young and single.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I read stories like this where each person experiences so much tragedy, I can’t help but wonder why the current generations are so sure they are being traumatized by everything. Or, rather, I can’t help but wonder how our ancestors got through life!!!! Moscow, Idaha, and the University of Idaho of course conjures up different thoughts these days. That photo of the university dance!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow, that is some treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You must have been tickled to find it!!!
        So horrible about the murders. I feel for those parents, but also the parents of all the other kids who go to the school, people who live in town, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t have any family there anymore, but I belong to a book club that I attend by Zoom. They alluded to the event, but weren’t discussing it. It does have to be unsettling. I’d be worried if I lived there.

        Liked by 1 person

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