Who are all these people again?

If you’ve just recently joined us (ME) here at this blog, here’s a fresh introduction to the folks whose lives I’ve been researching, as well as few I plan to talk about soon.

All of these people are related to me through my mother’s father, Malcolm MacGregor Jameson, known to me as “Grandpa Mac” and to others in the family as MacGregor. He didn’t talk much about his family and the relationship I had to him and my grandmother wasn’t a close one. So some of this stuff I’m learning is very new to me.

On Mac’s dad’s side is my great-great-grandfather Joe Lee Jameson, a Texas bureaucrat who had been bookkeeper at an insane asylum, the State Revenue Agent of Texas, endorser for an adding machine, and had recently become an oil company executive when he died of typhoid fever at the age of thirty-four. He was married to Amaryllis Routh Jameson (whose later married name was Ward and who took the nickname “Jamie”), and at least half the stuff I know about this family comes from her scrapbooks, so she is my hero.

Joe_Jee_Jameson_1890s(?)_NEW

Joe Lee Jameson, looking very important

They had three children,* all born in Texas:

The eldest, Malcolm Routh Jameson (my great-grandfather), also died relatively young, in his fifties. He had been a Naval officer during WWI and later in life became a science-fiction writer. I’ve built a web site for him and I’ll sometimes call him MRJ for short.

The second child was Vida Jameson (or “Vida I” because MRJ named his daughter after her). She died when she was just five. *There were also twin boys in the family who were born and died (or else were stillborn) in 1901. They’re the ones with unsettling little angel baby jpegs on their Ancestry.com profiles (no, I don’t know who put them there).

A year after the twins, and two years after Vida’s death, House Baker Jameson (named for his father’s mentor, Colonel Edward M. House), was born. He became an actor and worked on stage, radio, TV and film from the 1930s into the late 60s. His first wife was Edith (Edie) Taliaferro, a stage actress who had been a child star and who also had appeared in a handful of silent films, only one of which survives. After she died, House remarried, to actress and dancer Liz Mears. (And while he’s not a blood relative, I’ll tell you about her dad sometime, because… well, you’ll see.)

MRJ was the only one of his siblings to have children of his own: my Grandpa Mac (the second born), and Vida Jameson (aka Vida II), who as a young adult became friends with some Golden Age sci-fi writers her father knew, and eventually published stories of her own.

Vida and Mac’s mother was my great-grandmother Mary MacGregor Jameson (I grew up hearing her referred to as “Nana”), who first met MRJ when they were kids, when both his family and hers were living in the administrative staff quarters of the Southwestern Insane Asylum in San Antonio, Texas, around 1897. If you’re following along, you’ll remember my great-great-grandfather Joe Lee Jameson was the bookkeeper; my other great-great grandfather was the superintendent.

MRJ_and_Nana

MRJ and Nana (Mary), 1920s: “Of course we’re crazy about each other. We met at the insane asylum!”

Like MRJ, Mary was the only one of her siblings to have children. She was the second of five sisters, the four others being:

  • Anna MacGregor Collins, the oldest, who was the family archivist and genealogist, and whom I have to thank for saving a lot of this stuff.
  • Helen MacGregor, who never married and became a schoolteacher (oh, but she left some compelling stuff).
  • Margaret MacGregor Morgan, who moved to New York City in the 1930s. Still trying to figure out her story.
  • Kathryn MacGregor Burgess, who along with her sister Anna married military officers stationed in the Philippines.

The MacGregor sisters’ parents (see how I pivoted and am now going backward through the generations of my Grandpa Mac’s mother’s line?), were my great-great grandfather Dr. William Wallace MacGregor, a physician and surgeon, and Anna Jones MacGregor, my great-great grandmother (whose birth was celebrated in this lovely letter).

Beyond this generation and going backward, Anna Jones’s line is the most well-documented—most of the material I have from the 1880s and earlier is from her side, and she and some of her daughters claimed DAR membership based on her ancestors (the Moores, the Markses, and the Meriwethers). We’ve already had a glimpse of Anna’s maternal relatives, and there are some letters from her father and his people too.

I’ve also started to find out a little more about Dr. MacGregor’s family, who I think came over to the US from Glasgow, Scotland, around 1850. I have a few scraps (and I mean, literally, scraps) from that side.

And then, jumping ahead about a century (oh, the whiplash!), I have some stuff that provides some interesting glimpses of my mother’s very early childhood in New York, when she and my grandmother lived with MRJ and Nana while Grandpa Mac was off in the Pacific in WWII.

I’ve set up a category list in the sidebar to be a sort of index, so feel free to click on those names (or places or details) to see where else they come up. And I’ll be updating the family tree info when I get a chance. Until then, consider this your cheat sheet. Any questions?

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What happened in that house

Amaryllis Routh Jameson kept meticulous scrapbooks full of news items about her family and friends. Since her husband was heavily involved in Texas business and politics, there was no shortage of clippings. And, as it turned out, no shortage of dramatic news:

This ran in the Austin paper (which was then the Democratic Statesman I think?), sometime around May 1899:

This morning little Vida, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Joe Lee Jameson, residing at 1108 Colorado street, while leaning over the banister at the head of a stairway, lost her balance and fell about nineteen feet to the floor of the hallway below. She struck head first, but fortunately alighted upon a rug, which to some extent broke the force of the fall…. while the little girl has not recovered from the shock, it is not believed that her injuries are of a serious nature. It was a miraculous escape from death.

When you look at the photo of that house, you can see from the windows how high the ceilings were and visualize those nineteen feet. (Interesting to think that the photo must have been taken not too long after the incident, too.)

A miraculous escape, but then, just below that clipping, others are pasted, with the penciled-in caption “Eighteen months later.”  Eighteen months later, on Thursday, November 15, 1900…

Vida, the 7-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Lee Jameson, died suddenly yesterday at the family home…. Death was due to an attack of meningitis. Vida was apparently well until last Sunday evening, when she became ill. She was the pride of the family circle and by her affectionate and gentle disposition had won the hearts of not only her bereaved parents, but all those with whom she came in contact….

Meningitis is sometimes caused by a traumatic injury to the head or spine. Since it doesn’t sound like Vida’s case was a contagious one, it seems possible she developed the infection as a result of her accident. While going through the family files, we found photos of Vida with annotations by my grandmother saying she had “died from a fall,” so perhaps the family felt the events were linked.

More clippings:

This interesting child was the light of the family circle… her attractive ways and affectionate disposition won many hearts. Everyone deeply sympathizes with the afflicted parents.

I cropped this portrait from the family photos in this post.

An interesting child: Vida Jameson 1893-1900

News items ran in other Texas papers where the Rouths and Jamesons had family. The governor’s wife attended the funeral (and presumably, Governor Sayers as well).

And Vida’s brother Malcolm contributed a few lines as well:

Dear Aunt Ruth: I will be 9 years old next month.

I only had one little sister. Her name was Vida. She was 7. She died last Thursday. I am so sad. Her schoolmates and lots of people sent flowers. Her grave was all covered wtih them. Mrs. Sayers twined ropes of violets around the little white casket.

Good-bye.

Malcolm would name his only daughter Vida. He eventually became a writer. (Was this his first published effort?)

Vida’s death was one of several trials the family would experience in the 1900s. Here is her memorial on Find A Grave.

The people who lived in that house

(They lived there for a short time, at least.)

A closer view of the family seen in this photo: Joe Lee Jameson and Amaryllis Routh Jameson (aka “Jamie”), my great-great-grandparents; Malcolm Routh Jameson, my great grandfather, and Vida Jameson (the first of two Vidas: there would be another in the next generation).

The top two photos are from about 1899. The bottom photo may be a year or two later, since MRJ is a little older. And since Vida isn’t there.

By 1905 their family portrait would look much different.