Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Daniel Hewitt Proctor and Amelia "Millie" Travis, 1900

My great grandparents, Daniel and Millie (Travis) Proctor, Wedding- 1900

Right up front, I want to say that my grandmother Aune Reini Proctor said that Dan and Millie were the nicest people she ever met. Since she was their daughter-in-law, this is pretty significant. Aune met a lot of people in her 96 years of life and I never heard her say the same thing about anyone else. For this alone, they deserve to be remembered. Fortunately, this is not all that I know about them.

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Iowa Old Press who have transcribed and posted so many gems about my Travis family, I found their wedding announcement:

October 25, 1900

On October 24, 1900, at 7:00 o'clock p.m., Mr. Daniel H. Proctor and Miss Amelia Travis, Rev. E. Dickinson officiating. The wedding was a quiet one and took place at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. Travis, the immediate friends of the contracting parties only being present, with Livingston Mitchell who played the wedding march. The couple left on Tuesday morning for Omaha and will make a tour through Kansas to look up a location for a home. Their many friends extend warmest greetings and prayers for their happiness and success. 

Millie was 30 and Daniel was 34 when they married - unusually late for a first marriage in those days. I have found no evidence of an earlier marriage for either of them and in the 1900 Federal Census, just prior to the marriage, both lived with their tight-knit families. The Travises were one of the founding families in this area of Iowa and Millie was born and raised there, so it is a bit surprising that their wedding was such a quiet affair.

Daniel's family had moved from Equality, Illinois, the place of his birth, to Sidney sometime between the 1880 Federal Census and the 1885 Iowa State Census. I have not yet discovered what precipitated this move by Daniel's widowed mother, Mary Hewitt Proctor, and her children. Judging from the number of Proctors there in later censuses and in the cemeteries, it appears that others from the extended Proctor family may have been involved. Daniel's father, Ephraim, passed away in 1875, so Mary and the children may have been somewhat dependent on family members who decided to relocate. (Whatever it was, I am thankful!)

I had never heard that Dan and Millie considered living in Kansas before reading the snippet above. I have wondered what motivated them to move away from Millie's well established family in Sidney and settle in the Seattle area. This tells me that they had planned to move from the outset of their marriage, so it wasn't a spontaneous or rash decision. Judging from their children's birth dates and places, they came to Washington State between March 1903 and March 1905. Since their daughter Cleo Proctor Cavanaugh wrote in a letter from 1990 that she was born in the first house that Daniel built at 4221 Ferdinand St, Columbia City, they must have been there for awhile before her birth in March 1905 to allow time for the construction, thus narrowing the window.
4221 Ferdinand St, Columbia City, WA
I was so happy to find on my recent road trip to Washington that it still stands along with several other houses that Dan and his sons built. Isn't it pretty? It really was special to be able to touch something that my great grandfather created over 100 years ago.
[Update - Thanks to Scott R's comment below, I did some research on the house. Apparently, the current owner is running a yoga studio out of it (it must have good energy!). I will have to take a yoga class next time I am up there. Also, the state archivist is in the process of retrieving a photo of it from 1937. It was built in 1904.]

Millie and Dan spent the rest of their lives in the Seattle area and raised a happy family of four sons and one daughter. I have many photos of them in their later years, but I especially like the one below for the following two reasons:
1) They look every bit as pleasant as my grandmother Aune described them.
2) I am quite confident that I recognize the shadow on Millie's dress.

I find it a fitting metaphor that just as Aune's remembrances of Dan and Millie shaped my understanding of them, her silhouette is clearly visible in this image. In our search for our ancestors, we often find ourselves "chasing their shadows," so be sure to find out all you can about your family history from your older relatives. It may be the only real chance that you have to get to know those who have gone before you.


  1. That is the house that Dan built... only the tower is an addition built by its current owner, Dan Maguire.

  2. Scott! You just blew my mind! How in the world do you know that?! Are you familiar with this house? Thanks so much for the info!

  3. You posted the address, which made put you on our neighborhood radar. I live a block down the street. I think Dan also lifted the house to finish the basement level.

    You can probably find out what the original house looked like by asking for it here.

    And of course they were the nicest people -- Columbia City's got plenty of 'em.

  4. Scott,
    You are really on top of things! I sent Dan M an email (and the archivist). I see that he runs a yoga studio out of the house...?
    You are so lucky to live there and I do believe what you say about the people. Thank you so much for commenting and providing the additional info. You made my day!

  5. It is great to be able to see the places where are ancestors lived!
    Congratulations on being nominated.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  6. Sure. You might also check in with the RVHS.

  7. Thanks, Scott. I emailed them. They don't have anything on Dan P, but would like to, so I will put something together to submit.
    Thank you, Theresa and congrats to you too!