Widowed Beatrice Weible Active in Dover Civic Life
Our binge-sharing of several dozen finds combing through Newspapers.com archives continues today with a look at the Weibles.
I don’t seem to be keeping to my grand plan of garnering posts to last well into this year by only sharing one clipping at a time. However, it’s the cumulative effect of seeing our relatives names crop up in the usual places, year after year, that I find most profound.
Take my great-grandmother, Beatrice Morgan Weible. It has always been difficult for me to imagine her young life and family life, since the broadest strokes of history, particularly when it comes to record-keeping, usually focus on the more profound and somber life events: birth, marriage, death.
Like my great-grandparents, Vance Foutz and Laura Zeigler Foutz, great-grandma Weible’s early life was at least in part shaped by birth order and the death of parents.
Vance was born seventh in 1887, 20 years after his oldest brother, Sherman Foutz. His father, Jonathan Foutz, died in 1900 when Vance was just 13. The family would soon move from their home of several generations in Harrison County, with Vance and brother Charles working to support their mother, Rebecca, eventually settling in Dover.
Laura was born tenth in 1885, 18 years after her oldest brother, Johann Heinrich Zeigler. Her father, John Jacob Zeigler, died in 1897 when Laura was not yet 12. While she would have a large support network of siblings surrounding her at their family farm, her married life from the beginning was occupied with sharing a residence and caring for, first, her mother-in-law Rebecca, who died in 1915, and later her own mother, Elizabeth Duerr Zeigler, who died in 1928.
Beatrice Weible, similarly, was born eighth in 1892, 19 years after her oldest brother, William Daniel Morgan. Her father, Thomas W Morgan, emigrated from Wales about 1870, marrying her mother, Jannett Rees, in 1872 in Philadelphia.
From there, the family made their way across Pennsylvania. In 1880, Thomas is working as a heater, probably in a mill or factory, and the family resides in Apollo, Pa. By 1884, the family moves to Carnegie, where Thomas finds iron work in the rolling mill there. He is elected to two terms as councilman, and in February 1895 begins running the Hotel Morgan.
His promising life is cut short at 49 when he dies in October 1897. Great-grandma Beatrice is just 5 years old.
Busy Beatrice in Adopted Hometown Dover
In the years after Thomas Morgan’s death, the Morgan crew travel extensively. Family lore tells of ocean journeys with matriarch Jannett Morgan to their ancestral home in Wales. Fortuitously, they also reside for a couple years in Dover, Ohio, where daughter Jennet May Morgan becomes the bride of Howard Richardson.
It is in Dover where Beatrice meets my great-grandfather, Robert Ohio Weible. Again, their marriage in May 1914 is shaped, at least in part, at least from the vantage point of history, by tragedy: Jannet Morgan dies three months prior to their wedding, in February 1914. R.O.’s parents, Esther Bliss Goddard Weible and Franklin Eli Weible, follow not long after, in January 1915 and February 1917, respectively.
Perhaps losing parents early was more common back then. But I can’t help but wonder how these events shaped my great-grandmother’s early life. Certain pictures, in which her countenance is somber, suggest far more sadness than seeing a life in motion would probably reveal:
- a Halloween dance with R.O. in 1913
- her portrait, probably from the 1910s
- even her portraits with young children Robert Jr. and (my grandma) Suzanne
Probably I’m reading too much into an expression. Certainly, the photos above, from the 1950s, show an active, proud, pleasant person in the thick of it with the Dover Woman’s Club. That these images capture her in the decade after great-grandfather Robert Ohio Weible’s early death in July 1947 at just 55, reliably demonstrate her resilience, I think.
It is really not until the 1950s that the Dover Daily Reporter becomes positively peppered with at least weekly mentions of Beatrice Weible’s service. As Woman’s Club hostess and later, president. As co-hostess with cohort Edith Harney of weekly Trinity-Bethany Bible classes at Dover First Moravian Church. As frequent hostess of the Moravian Church’s “Merry Marthas.”
And etc. and etc. and etc. (Click on the thumbnails below to read some representative notices. Again, there are hundreds of these published throughout the 1950s and 1960s.)
Sole woman in male BOE field
But one discovery I found particularly intriguing may show evidence of her early re-entry into society life following R.O.’s passing.
From February 1950, the Dover Daily Reporter shares the results of the Tuscarawas County Republican party’s choice for its board of elections. On the ballot: R.E. Fair, mayor of Shanesville; Forrest Smith of Newcomerstown; J.A. Neff of New Philadelphia; and… one Mrs. Beatrice Weible of Dover.
All were vying for a seat to succeed W. Paul Wilcoxen of Uhrichsville as a member of the county board of elections. The article further described Beatrice Weible as “widow of R.O. Weible,” hopefully a measure of respect for the wife of a man who had served as chairman of the executive committee in the 1930s, as well as president of the Dover Republican Club (among many, many, many other civic groups). But probably a means of further underlining the obvious: here’s a woman running against three men.
Fair was elected on the first ballot by a wide margin, the article reported.
However, great-grandma Weible would go on to enmesh herself fully in Dover life, if not politics, throughout her remaining quarter century.
Quite a legacy, I’d say; quite a lady.