Thursday, February 23, 2012

Died in Childbirth – Laura Ethol Ross

B. 24 Sep 1873 in Jersey County, Illinois
M. 6 Mar 1895 in Oswego, Kansas
Husband: Howard Milton Sheridan
D. 17 Mar 1917 in Los Angeles, California

Laura Ethol Ross was a woman who faced many hardships in her life. She was born in Jersey County, Illinois on September 24, 1873 to James Ross and Mary Edith Luckey, their first child. Her parents were first cousins. The family would grow to include four younger brothers. When Laura was about 6 years-old, the family moved to Labette County, Kansas. Laura’s father purchased a farm outside of the town of Parsons, but died of pneumonia in 1884. Her mother then married a farmhand named Albert Leonartz and had three children by him. He was said to be strict with all of the children in the family.

Laura Sheridan in about 1897

In 1893, Laura became pregnant out-of-wedlock; the child was born in October of that year and she named him Thomas. She would later tell her son that his biological father was named Thomas Carey. She claimed that she sued the man for child support when he refused to marry her and won $75. No evidence of a paternity suit has been found, but in 2017, DNA evidence proved that the man was Thomas Michael Carey (1864-1937), who later became a fruit wholesaler in Coffeyville, Kansas. Carey married another woman in 1895 and went on to have four more children, none of whom ever knew they had an older half-brother.

On March 6, 1895, Laura married a man named Howard Sheridan in Oswego, Kansas. The marriage record shows that Laura lived in a place called Idenbro, a tiny settlement southwest of Parsons which no longer exists. During the years after her marriage to Sheridan, the family moved several times between Kansas and Missouri, sometimes living on farms. Laura had three more sons (one died as an infant). Money was tight and it was said that one winter, the family had $6 to see them through to spring. On one of the farms where they lived, 5 year-old Thomas once tried to keep the runt of a litter of pigs as a pet. Laura encouraged him by telling him, “Name it after somebody strong, and it will grow up to be strong.” So he named the pig "President McKinley." When Laura’s husband Howard found the boy with the pig, though, he got angry — he took out his gun and shot it.

Sheridan family in 1905

Howard worked for the railroad and in 1900, he was transferred to the state of Washington. Around 1901, the family moved to a remote section of woods near a town called Lake Kapowsin, not far from Mt. Ranier. The tiny house where they lived was right next to the train tracks. During this time, Laura had two more sons. The family moved to the Tacoma area in about 1905 and in 1908, Laura had yet another boy. In 1910, she finally gave birth to a girl. 

Laura's entries in her family Bible

Laura and her son Thomas in about 1912

In 1913, Laura was pregnant again. When she gave birth, the labor was difficult and the baby boy lived only a day; he wasn't even given a name. Laura lost a lot of blood and became very weak. The doctor said, “If you ever have a child again, you could die.” In about 1916, the Sheridan family moved to Los Angeles; it's unknown why they left Washington. Not long after settling in L.A., Laura became pregnant, and on March 17, 1917, she went into premature labor and bled to death. The baby, who would have been her ninth boy, was stillborn. Laura was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Children by Thomas Michael Carey:
1. Thomas Michael Mitchell – B. 7 Oct 1893, Oswego, Kansas; D. 10 Mar 1980, Monterey Park, California; M. (1) Tillie R. Nack (1894-1915), 11 Nov 1912, Tacoma, Washington; (2) Hazel Laura Elwood (1901-1964), 11 Feb 1921, Los Angeles, California; (3) Lillian Myrtle Johnson (1909-2002), 8 Mar 1944, Los Angeles, California

Children by Howard Milton Sheridan:
1. Howard Russell Sheridan – B. 6 Aug 1896, Missouri; D. 27 Jul 1965, Camarillo, California; M. Angela Arruza (1901-1974)

2. Leslie Edward Sheridan – B. 30 Aug 1898, Kansas; D. 9 Mar 1899, Kansas

3. Forest Milton Sheridan – B. 13 Apr 1900, Kansas; D. 6 Jan 1971, California

4. Charles Ohmer Sheridan – B. 1 Jan 1903, Lake Kapowsin, Washington; D. 1 Jan 1989, Los Angeles, California; M. (1) Unknown; (2) Unknown; (3) Altha Sarah Beasley (~1904-?), 30 Sep 1950, Los Angeles

5. Ray Kenneth Sheridan – B. 13 Oct 1904, Lake Kapowsin, Washington; D. 5 Mar 1982, Duluth, Minnesota; M. Angeline (1915-?), ~1930

6. Orville Alder Ross Sheridan – B. 5 Jan 1908, Tacoma, Washington; D. 1 Mar 1993, Tacoma, Washington; M. (1) Lucille Potter (~1914 -?), 1 Jun 1935, Tacoma, Washington; (2) Bliss M. Mosley (~1910-1970)

7. Beulah Jane Sheridan – B. 7 Nov 1910, Tacoma, Washington; D. 3 Dec 1997, Puyallup, Washington; M. Harry A. Larsen (1909-1975), 8 Oct 1930, Pierce County, Washington

8. Baby Boy Sheridan – B. 7 Sep 1913, Tacoma, Washington; D. 8 Sep 1913, Tacoma, Washington

Family Bible of Laura E. Sheridan
1880, 1900, 1910, 1930 and 1940 U.S. Censuses in Kansas and Washington
Marriage record of Howard Sheridan and Laura Ross, Oswego, Kansas, 6 Mar 1895
City Directories in Parsons (Kansas), Tacoma and Los Angeles, 1900-1917
Death certificate of Laura E. Sheridan, Los Angeles, 17 Mar 1917
Interviews of Thomas Michael Mitchell, 1976-1977
Death Certificate of Thomas Michael Mitchell, 14 Mar 1980
Birth Certificate of Hazel Laura Elwood, 10 Apr 1901
World War I Draft registration cards
Social Security Death Index
California Death Records database
California County Marriages, 1850-1952
Minnesota Death Records database
Obituary of Orville Sheridan, March 1993
Obituary of Bliss M. Sheridan, May 1970
Washington Marriage Records database DNA

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