Posted by: marthabernie | September 19, 2014


This is my grandmother, Inez McMenus Shank, when she was about two years old (1883).   This photo was copied from a tintype.  Her parents had seven surviving children.  A first baby boy died at birth.  A daughter, Sarah, died at age two in the 1870’s.  Another baby boy born a year after Inez also died at birth.

Inez’ older sister (Aunt Annie whom I refer to often here on my blog) was named Matilda Anna Laura after her father’s three youngest sisters, Matilda, Hannah and Laura McMenus.  When Inez came along thirteen years after Annie, the parents decided to give her just one name, and as far as I know, no one in the family was named Inez, so it was unusual to go outside the usual naming patterns of the day.

The photo below is Inez when she was 16 years old (1897).  I believe she had met my grandfather at this stage, but his father wanted them to wait to marry until Inez was 18 and his son, Joseph Eli Shank, 21 years old.  They did wait and were married late in 1899.

The story of how they met is sweet.  Since most churches could not afford to have a full-time minister, clergymen rode a circuit and often did not visit a particular church  more than once every month.  Everyone gathered each Sunday but it was a treat to have an actual minister present.  Young men often visited other churches, ostensibly to hear the uplifting sermon  by the visiting clergyman, but I suspect it was also a way to meet girls outside their immediate neighborhood!  So my grandfather left his home church near Long Lane in Dallas County and visited the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Phillipsburg, Laclede County, Missouri.  He told my mother years later that he first saw Inez standing under the tree next to the church and immediately knew that she was the one for him.  The last time I visited Phillipsburg, the tree was still standing next to the church–old and venerable.


  1. What a wonderful story about how they met! It was so different in the days before modern transportation and modern technology.


  2. what an amazing story! and fabulous photographs.


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