The focus today is on my grandma, Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS in celebration of Mother’s Day. She was one of my three moms. She stepped in as my mother-figure when my mom passed away suddenly when I was 19 years old. All three of my moms have passed away and all three still come to my mind ALL of the time. ♥
My beloved mom’s were:
Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS SCHROEDER LAKEY
March 4, 1947 – March 20, 1987 ~ My Mom
Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS
March 24, 1928 – May 13, 2010 ~ My Grandma (my mom’s mom)
Bernice Ann WATMOUGH PARKER
March 27, 1929 ~ March 21, 2012 ~ My Mom-in-Love (my husband’s mom)
Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS
Ruby Irene was born to Charles Oscar PORTER and Mary Irene “Renie” Saphronia Jasmine SMITH (TARTER ROBINETT TARTER) PORTER on March 24, 1928, in Maysville, Arkansas.
Ruby Irene was the youngest of around a dozen children (including her half and step siblings). She mostly went by her middle name Irene, but I am not sure when that began. By looking at census records, I believe it was sometime after 1940.
By May 12, 1930 (when Irene was two years old), the family had moved to Kansas City, Missouri. They lived at 5601 East 56th Street.
Name: Ruby Irene Porter
Birth Year: abt 1928
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Home in 1930: Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri
Street Address: East 56th Street
Ward of City: 16
House Number in Cities or Towns: 5601
Dwelling Number: 148
Family Number: 151
Attended School: No
Father’s Birthplace: Kansas
Mother’s Birthplace: Oklahoma
Oscar Porter 46
Irene Porter 38
Louis Porter 18
Loren Porter 15
Audie Robnett (Robinett) 14
Maudie Robnett (Robinett) 14
Lucille Robnett (Robinett) 12
Harold Porter 12
Charles Porter 5
Elizabeth Jean Porter 4
Ruby Irene Porter 2
The 1940 Census is so full of information that it makes me realize that there are more things that I do not know.
One of the questions in the 1940 census was about where you lived in 1935. When you look at our family on the census above, you will notice that the ones still living in the home in 1940 had lived in at least three different locations in 1935.
It actually shows Mary Irene, Ruby Irene’s mom, as living in Claremore, Oklahoma, in 1935. That is where she was born, so at this time I believe that was just a mistake and they wrote her birthplace in the wrong place (or someone misunderstood the question or answer). I guess there is a chance that she went back to the reservation, but I’m sure that Grandma would have said something about that if it had happened….maybe not all of the details if it was an unpleasant reason… but it always seemed like once her mom left Claremore much earlier in her life, she never went back.
So, why did the family live apart for a while?
I remember Grandma mentioning something in passing one time about her spending quite a bit of time with her mom’s previous husband (whom she had married and divorced twice before marrying grandma’s father Charles Oscar). He was really nice and like a favorite uncle to Grandma. It sounds like he spoiled her a lot, too. I thought that she meant when she was more like a teenager or at least a tween. It’s also possible that she went to stay with Uncle Al and Aunt Susie, but I don’t have anything to go on other than just a feeling and the fact that they were extremely close.
I also know that she went to high school in my hometown of Belton for a while even though it doesn’t appear that her parents ever lived in Belton, Missouri. I know that they were quite poor most of the time, too. Did this have something to do with the family living apart?
In the 1930 census we discover that Charles Oscar and his son Louis both listed their occupations as laborers of “odd jobs”, but by 1940 Charles Oscar was a foreman and the industry was listed as “city market”. It seems like times were getting better in 1940, but then again… why did Grandma end up going to high school in Belton just a few years later?
Information found on the 1940 US Census for Charles Oscar PORTER and family (especially Ruby Irene):
Name: Ruby I Porter
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1928
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Home in 1940: Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri
House Number 1340
Inferred Residence in 1935: Rural, Benton, Arkansas
Residence in 1935: Rural Benton Arkansas
Sheet Number: 10A
Attended School or College: Yes
Highest Grade Completed: Elementary school, 6th grade
Household Members (name, age, where lived in 1935):
Charles Porter 56 Rural, Hickory Co, Missouri
Mary Porter 49 Claremore, Oklahoma – but I believe probably with her husband
Charles Porter 15 Winfield, Colley Co, Kansas
Betty Porter 13 Winfield, Colley Co, Kansas
Ruby I Porter 12 Rural, Benton Co, Arkansas
Ruby Irene PORTER married Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS Sr on October 14, 1944.
Carlton and Irene’s children were born in 1946, 1947, 1952, 1958, 1966, and 1979 (adopted).
Irene’s father Charles Oscar PORTER passed away April 19, 1946, and her mother Mary Irene passed away June 25, 1947. You check out Charles’ Death Certificate and the circumstances on my post Charles Oscar PORTER’s Death Certificate.
Irene and Carlton lived on Sterling in Independence for many years (including at least part of the 1960’s. They then bought a farm in between Holt and Kearney, Missouri, and lived there until 1990. They then moved to another house on Sterling in Independence, Missouri.
Carlton, Irene, and their older children were migrant farmers (as were her parents at least for a while when she was growing up). They did this at least a few years with the two oldest children and I think maybe for a short while after their third child was born.
She always said that they weren’t “migrant farmers”. That they would just follow the crops and get farming jobs harvesting wherever there was work. I (and my mom before me) tried to explain a few times to her that that is what a migrant farmer is, but she still didn’t see it that way.
We even discussed a book we had both read by John Grisham called “The Painted House” that was about some migrant farmers and the people they worked for. That’s when it became clear that she saw the term “migrant farmer” as only someone who migrated from another country and followed the harvest. Since they were from America and traveling inside of America, she didn’t see it as the same thing. I actually am proud of being a descendant of migrant farmers. They were hard workers and provided a necessary service to our world.
Part of Irene’s job was also to help cook the breakfast to feed all of the other workers. I totally believe that this is why she could make some of the best breakfast around! Eating breakfast at Grandma’s was better than eating breakfast out at a restaurant. It also helped that she made the most amazing Chili Sauce (that I thankfully have the recipe for) and had her huge, extremely well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Anytime she asked if I (as an adult) wanted to come over and she was planning on feeding me I always worked it around breakfast. 😉
Irene later worked at Superior Toy Company in bookkeeping and also in toy design. I don’t ever remember her working there, so I’m not sure what years she worked there. I actually had one of the bears she designed for quite a while when my daughter was young. It was bought new sometime in the early 1990’s, but was distinct and definitely her design…and it was huge!
Irene and Carlton cared for over 30 babies until their adoption and over 20 foster children during their lifetimes. Irene also was often the family member who cared for other family members when they were extremely ill and kept so many of our family out of nursing homes. She also was the one who would often take care of getting tombstones or cemetery markers for family members no matter how extended if they did not have one. She loved going with me to the different cemeteries and making sure that I knew where everyone was buried and how they were related. She didn’t want ANYONE to be forgotten.
Irene was always about family! She especially loved having a lot of grandchildren. She loved it when in less than a year and a half in 1988-1989 she got three grand-daughters and three great-grand-daughters.
During the mid 1980’s and well into the 1990’s she worked at her son’s opry. She sold tickets, headed up the concessions, and did so much more. I also worked there a lot during my teens and it provided a lot more opportunities to be around my grandma, as well as MANY other family members. It definitely added another dimension to our family dynamics. We didn’t just get together at holidays anymore. We worked together as a team.
Carlton passed away on July 15, 1991, in Independence, Missouri. Two of her daughters passed away too young. My mom passed away 16 days after turning 40 on March 20, 1987, and was buried on Grandma’s birthday (at Grandma’s request) on March 24, 1987. Darci Irene was 25 and was killed on September 4, 2004. Grandma was instrumental in the conviction of the serial killer who was responsible.
Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS passed away on May 13, 2010 in Belton, Missouri. She was buried in Mount Washington Cemetery in Independence, Missouri, on May 17, 2010, on my husband’s birthday (definitely not my idea; it makes it harder).
Irene and Carlton Sr.’s descendants (total to date):
22+ great-grandchildren (and counting)
12+ great-great-grandchildren (and counting)
Other posts about my grandma:
I have written several posts about my grandma on both of my blogs. In fact, her passing away was what caused me to start blogging again and was the beginning of my main blog The Journey Unexpected. Truth be told… she had a lot to do with my genealogy bug, too. She wasn’t the one who technically started the fire, but she most definitely fanned it in me more than anyone else ever has. Below is a short list of the main posts about my grandma over the years.
She Saw Jesus
I Need My Grandma…
She Is Gone (Poem and Dedication)
One Pie for Grandma and One Pie for Everyone Else ~ Plus Gooseberry Pie Recipe
Florence Mary RIAN PORTER and Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS
March 24th ~ On This Day in Our Family History