Posted by: marthabernie | January 4, 2019

The Cockburn Family – Milton, Oregon Crica 1914-1916

For those of you who read the family history portion of this blog, you know that a lot of the photographs I have posted came from the home of my Great Aunt, Matilda Anna Laura McMenus Forkner/Faulkner Tweddell.  My mother was named for her (Anna) and I was given a variation of her name as a middle name (Anne).  We always refer to her as “Aunt Annie” because that is what everyone called her in the family.  She lived a very interesting life, albeit a hard one in some respects up until 1923.  She was born in 1868 and married in 1886. She and her husband, Lon Forkner, lived in the Conway, Missouri area on a small farm that had originally been part of a land purchase (80 acres of “Missouri swampland” for $80) by Lon’s great grandfather, Micajah Forkner.  Micajah was one of the earliest settlers in the area.  Lon and Annie had four children, Ethyl, Ednah, Oscar and then Raymond Irl (“Little Ray”).  Ray only lived to be about 9 years old and died in 1900, probably from pneumonia or complications from influenza or other virus.  In 1906, for reasons we still are not sure of (though my mother had some interesting theories), Annie and Lon rented out their little farm in Conway and moved with the three kids to Stevensville, Montana.  Both Ednah and Ethyl found husbands there and were married in late 1908.   Annie hired herself out as a housekeeper for the May family in Stevensville, one of the most prominent families in the town.  This is also when they decided to change the family surname, FORKNER, back to FAULKNER, which we know is how it was spelled by the original ancestor who came over from England. Lon did farm and manual labor to add to the family’s income, but by 1914, all the kids were out of the house and Lon and Annie decided to try their luck in Oregon.  Not sure if that was their intended destination when they left Stevensville in April, 1914 by train, but that is where they ended up.  Aunt Annie kept a little diary of the trip, describing the people she met and the various towns and train stations along the way.  The trip description ends with her notation of hearing the sound of the ocean from her berth at midnight and going out onto the platform to see the “beautiful ocean.”

Photographs were plentiful in Stevensville (Aunt Annie loved photographs!) and the photos have always been a great way to document where the family was and what they were doing at various times;  then there was a hiatus until they settled in Milton, Oregon near Walla Walla.  During the summer of 1914, she and Lon worked on the Drumheller Ranch, he with the harvest hands and she being the cook in the cook wagon for the men when dinner time came.  If you are interested in the Drumheller Ranch, search on it in the post search box and my earlier posts will come up.  You can also search on Milton, Oregon and find a few photos of Aunt Annie in her white cap with her grand children.  But my purpose in posting tonight is to talk about the Cockburn family of Milton, Oregon.  They are of Scottish descent and as I found out recently, there are many of the descendants in the Milton area still today.  Among Aunt Annie’s photographs are five which were taken when she worked for the George S. Cockburn family between September, 1914 and December, 1916.  As I learned today when talking to one of the descendants, George S. Cockburn’s first wife died of tuberculosis and he was a widower for a few years before marrying a second time and having five more children.  It was in the interim period that my great aunt went to work for the family, acting as housekeeper and taking care of George’s two small sons, George E and Marion Cockburn.  I think as it became apparent that Aunt Annie would be replaced by the new Mrs. Cockburn, she decided to take the boys to Walla Walla and have their photos taken with her.  This is a great statement to how close she had become to the boys, I think.  So when my mother started going through all of Aunt Annie’s photographs after Aunt Annie’s daughter died in 1968, she came across both studio and snapshot photos of Aunt Annie and the boys.  They resided first in one of Aunt Annie’s old trunks for decades, and then in an album that my mother put together.  After my mother died, I tried to find some information on the Cockburn family in Milton without success.  Fortunately, since Aunt Annie had written on the back of two of the photos, we knew they were George and Marion Cockburn and were able to match them up with unlabeled photos.  There is also a letter of reference for Annie from Mr Cockburn (George Sr) who worked at the Farmers Security Bank.

In going through some photos a couple of weeks ago, I came across the Cockburn boys again and decided to have another go at finding descendants through the internet.  And lo and behold, I found a Cockburn cousin who referred me to one of George S. Cockburn’s grand daughters (Marion’s daughter), who is 83 years young and living in Pendleton.  She had only ever seen one of the photos which had Aunt Annie’s distinctive handwriting on the back, giving everyone’s name and age, even her own (age 48 in 1916).  It had been sent to one of the cousins that year at Christmas and eventually (fairly recently) had made it to Marion’s daughter.  Anyway, I am happy to say that these photos will no longer reside in boxes or albums of unknowns but are going home to their family just as soon as I can pack them up and go to the post office.  Photos and descriptions follow.  Click on the photos to get a larger image.

PS.  Aunt Annie divorced her husband of 32 years in 1918 when she turned 50 and set about looking for another husband.  It’s another one of the long stories of her life, but she met Walter Tweddell in 1923 through a correspondence club and they exchanged photos and letters for a few months, before marrying on November 14, 1923.  She had moved to San Francisco by that time to be with her daughter (also divorced) and was working as a practical nurse in SF.  When she married Uncle Walter, he took her home to Los Angeles (now Highland Park, CA) and she never had to go out to work another day in her life.  My mother and aunts always said that Annie and Walter were “happy as lovebirds” and lived happily ever after until he died in 1940.

Writing on reverse:

She wrote “mine” at the bottom of the copies of photos she kept herself.  Others would be addressed to the recipients.  She was a great one for putting lots of information on the back of photos….or none at all!

writing on reverse side:

Letter of reference from Mr Cockburn:

Two pages of notations from a little book where Aunt Annie kept track of some payments.  It starts with, “Began work Sept 23-14: and on the second page she notes that she was starting her third year of work for Mr. Cockburn Sept 23-16.  Last notation says “Ednah’s Board $5.00”  This must have been something she paid when her daughter Ednah Forkner Lewis came to visit with grand daughter, Ruthanna.  There is also an entry for 25cents on the first page for Ednah’s Board.

Finally, two snapshots.  The first shows the boys playing miniature violins.  The second looks as if they are holding baby chicks and others on the table.

George on the left, Marion on the right.


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