M. 7 Apr 1853 in Jerseyville, Illinois
Husband: Samuel Luckey
D: 7 May 1927 in Parsons, Kansas
My grandfather, who was born in rural Kansas in 1893, once told me his earliest memories of his family. Every Sunday, the relatives would gather for a big dinner, and presiding over the meal was an incredibly old woman they called Grandma Luckey. "She had no teeth and she had to gum her food," said my grandfather. This was actually Mary Jane Davis, his great-grandmother, who was about 65 at the time. My grandfather moved away from Kansas in 1900 and knew nothing of Grandma Luckey after that.
Mary Jane Davis was born in March 1834 to Samuel Davis and Mary Clifford, their third child. The Davis family lived in Greene County, Illinois, having migrated from the backwoods of North Carolina. They were amongst the first settlers in that part of Illinois and most likely lived in a log cabin at the time of Mary Jane's birth. It's unknown how much education she might have received in her youth.
On April 7, 1853, Mary Jane married Samuel Luckey, a man whose family had also migrated from North Carolina. She gave birth to 3 boys and 8 girls over the next 24 years. Two of her daughters died young, during the 1860s.
Marriage certificate of Samuel Luckey and Mary Jane Davis
The Luckeys decided to head out west in 1879, purchasing a farm in Labette County Kansas. All of the children moved with them except for daughter Laura, who stayed behind in Illinois to raise a family. Five years later, Samuel died, leaving Mary Jane to care for her clan. She lost two other children that year, 13 year-old John and 6 year-old May.
Mary Jane took charge of the family's farm. The 1885 Kansas State Census showed that the 160 acre farm produced wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, apples and peaches, and that $30 of swine were slaughtered that year. Not long after that, Mary Jane appears to have given up running the farm. Her grown children had households of their own and she took turns living with them. This was during the time that my grandfather remembered her as "Grandma Luckey." In 1900, she was living in the town of Parsons with her youngest child, William, and his family.
It wasn't until after many years of research that I learned how long Mary Jane Davis lived after my grandfather lost contact with her. I needed a census database to find her in the 1910 census; she was living with daughter Laura back in Illinois. In 1919, she was back with William in Parsons, and in 1920, she was with another daughter Maggie, also in Parsons.
The mystery of when Grandma Luckey died was finally answered after I connected online with another descendant who had her obituary from May 1927. Another descendant I found online told me that she heard Mary Jane had "an Irish brogue," presumably because her mother's heritage traced back to Ireland. Although frail and blind in her final years, she had survived to the advanced age of 93. Her life actually overlapped my father's by five years; he was her great-great grandson, but because our branch had no contact with the rest, nobody ever knew that.
Grandma Luckey's grave, 1927
1. Mary Edith Luckey – B. 18 Jun 1854, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 18 Jan 1899, Labette County, Kansas; M. (1) James Ross (1852-1884), 24 Jul 1872, Jersey County, Illinois; (2) Albert Leonartz (1849-?), 8 Aug 1887, Labette County, Kansas
2. Caroline Elizabeth Luckey – B. 29 Nov 1855, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 2 Aug 1887, Labette County, Kansas
3. Eliza Ann Luckey – B. 1858, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 24 May 1862, Jersey County, Illinois
4. Eleanora Luckey – B. 6 Aug 1859, Jersey County, Illinois; D. Jan 1865, Jersey County, Illinois
5. Laura Jane Luckey – B. 2 Apr 1861, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 18 Apr 1954, McMinnville, Oregon; M. John Walter Brown (1852-1919), 23 Oct 1879, Jersey County, Illinois
6. Joseph M. Luckey – B. 23 Feb 1863, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 4 Feb 1941, Parsons, Kansas; M. Rachel Matilda Minder (1864-1953), 2 May 1884, Osage, Kansas
7. Rosa Bell Luckey – B. 30 Sep 1866, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 31 May 1941, Los Angeles, California; M. George Willis Reed (1867-1944), 2 Jan 1889, Parsons, Kansas
8. Margaret Louisa Luckey – B. 24 Dec 1868, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 22 Feb 1952, Parsons, Kansas; M. Alexander Taylor (1857-1940), 25 Dec 1888, Parsons, Kansas
9. John F. Luckey – B. 16 Apr 1870, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 8 Mar 1884, Labette County, Kansas
10. William Anderson Luckey – B. 8 May 1874, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 7 Dec 1935, Sedalia, Missouri; M. Ella Lucinda Mashburn (1880-1959), 23 Dec 1896, Parsons, Kansas
11. May B. Luckey – B. 10 Sep 1878, Jersey County, Illinois; D. 15 Oct 1884, Labette County, Kansas
1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920 U.S. Censuses in Illinois and Kansas
Marriage certificate of Samuel Luckey and Mary Jane Davis, Jerseyville, Illinois, 7 Apr 1853
1885 and 1895 Kansas State Censuses
City Directories for Parsons, Kansas, 1891-1907
Interviews of Thomas Michael Mitchell, 1976
Marriage certificate of James Ross and Mary E. Luckey, 23 Jul 1872, Jerseyville, Illinois
Records of Pefley Cemetery, Parsons, Kansas
Tombstone inscriptions of Keller Cemetery, Jersey County, Illinois
Jersey County, Illinois marriage index
Death record of John Walter Brown, 29 Mar 1919, Greence County, Illinois
Obituary of Rachel Luckey, Parsons Daily Sun, 1953, Parsons, Kansas
Kansas marriages, 1840-1935
California death records, 1940-1997
Foot Prints in the Sand [Rootsweb.com], Garland Lively, 2009