Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Uncle So Nice They Named Him Twice

Okay, so I actually don't know how nice Jehu Jehu was. But as of last week I now know something about Mr. Jehu, who was Clarence (Miles) Branch's uncle--a brother to his mother Margaret Jehu Branch (1877-1971). I found the picture above (click on it to enlarge) among Blanche's Branch's photos. It was labeled on the back "Grandpa Jehu Theater in Pennsylvania." I'd made a few half-hearted attempts to find out more, but had no luck until I heard from a cousin whose father is a Jehu--Miles Branch's last living cousin on his mother's side.

This man, who is 92, is a son of Albert Jehu (1881-1972), Margaret's younger brother. I spoke to him and his daughter last week, and he had the nicest things to say about Margaret, whom he called Aunt Maggie. He grew up in Sykesville, Pa., about 16 miles from Horatio, where Margaret and George Branch had their farm. He remembers taking the train to visit his aunt and uncle, where he always enjoyed himself. "Every day there was like a party," he said. He remembers Margaret as someone who liked to laugh and who baked bread for him.

At left (click to enlarge): We thought the woman at left in this picture was Margaret Jehu Branch, and her nephew agrees. We don't know who the other people are, but the Jehu cousins think the young woman next to Margaret looks like a Jehu.

He said his Uncle George was good to him, and he remembered playing with his cousin Harry Branch in the mines on the Branch farm. (Miles, 19 years older, had already left home.) He remembers George walking him to the railroad tracks at the end of his visits and waving his lantern to get the train to stop and pick him up.

Now, back to the theater picture, which must have been taken in 1920 or shortly thereafter, since the movie advertised at right is The Kentucky Colonel, which was released in 1920. Our cousin recognized the man standing in the center as being his uncle Jehu Jehu (1867-1935). He said that Jehu owned the theater, and that his father (Jehu's brother) Albert owned a pool hall next door. "All the Jehus were salesmen," he said, adding that Richard Jehu (1846-1919), the father of Jehu, Albert, and Margaret, had been a fishmonger in Wales and, in addition to mining coal, also sold fish in Pennsylvania.

For the record, Richard Jehu and his wife Elizabeth Thomas came from Wales right after the Civil War. Richard's father was also named Jehu Jehu, and his mother was Mary Jervis. After his parents died, Richard and his six living siblings emigrated to America. Most of them settled around Scranton, Pennsylvania, but Richard and Elizabeth went to Sykesville, near Punxsutawney. In addition to Jehu, Margaret, and Albert, they had two more daughters: Mary Jehu (1872-1966), who married William Platt, and Elizabeth Jehu (1879-1965), who married James J. Jeffries.

I won't lie to you--I love accumulating the facts and dates and data about my family. But it doesn't really come alive until you hear memories like those our cousin shared about his Aunt Maggie. That's when you start to be able to paint a picture of those who came before us and how they shaped the people we do remember.

One last picture (click to enlarge): This was taken at George and Margaret Branch's farm, some time in the late 1930s. At least some, if not all, of the kids in the picture are their grandchildren.

1 comment:

Berbs said...

I posted some Jehu photos on www.findagrave.com. My uncle used to work for the Jehu company in Sykesville!