James Monroe, my great grandfather and the oldest son was born on January 10, 1859 in Avenue City, Andrew County, Missouri and died December 31, 1936 in Billings, Montana. He married Susan Alice Myers of Berlin, Gentry County, Missouri on February 9, 1882. Susan was born January 25, 1857 in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana and died January 26, 1948 in Billings, Montana. Her parents were Benjamin Myers and Eleanor Wilkerson. It is not known if Eleanor was related to my grandmother Katherine “Kate” Wilkerson who married James Monroe’s son Charles.
James Monroe was not a farmer. He capitalized on St. Joseph being a jumping off spot for wagon trains headed west by opening a harness shop in Union Star, Missouri. When their oldest son Charles was born in 1883 they were living in King City, Gentry County just across the DeKalb County line and very close to Union Star.
This is a picture of James Monroe in his Harness Shop in Union Star, Missouri.
James and Sarah had seven children: Charles (my grandfather), Alice, Bess, James, Emma, Clara, and Thomas. The Pemberton’s probably had a good life in Union Star, he had a successful business and they raised their children there. Yvetta Pemberton Hoyer, Charles and Kate’s oldest daughter writes in a short story about her parents. After they were married “Charles and Kate opened a harness and saddle shop in Maysville, Missouri. But the advent of cars and farm machinery made the harness shop unprofitable, but they were true children of their adventurous pioneer ancestors. Selling their business, gathering their belongings together and taking their children, Frances and Yvetta, they set out via railroad for Billings, Montana in 1917 to open a shoe repair shop.” However, they did not set out alone. The entire family except for Bess (who was already married) and Emma went with them. Whether it was the allure of free land offered to homesteaders or the somewhat rosy picture that was painted of Montana and dry land farming, off they went.
Yvetta continues “One of my most vivid memories is standing at the railroad station in St. Joseph, holding my sister’s hand and watching my weeping grandmother, arms around Mother, “There’s nothing but Indians and outlaws out there, take care of my grandchildren.” Fearfully I watched out the train window and sure enough as we crossed the Yellowstone river, camped out below the bridge were blanketed Indians next to their tepees cooking over open fires. Horses were tethered to the big farm wagons, children everywhere! Grandmother’s worst fears were true! But it was all forgotten in the new adventures awaiting us.”
Charles went to work for a shoe repair shop, Alice, Jim and Thomas started teaching, and James and Sarah staked their claim to a dry land farm.
It looks like dry land farming was a fairly bleak existence and a huge change from life in DeKalb County, Missouri. My cousin Tom Pemberton who grew up there remembers that even after living in Billings for over 20 years they always waited for the Union Star News to come and faithfully kept up on life “back home.” For some reason they had no desire to move back even though Sarah and James eventually moved to Billings and lived with Alice and Jim at 338 Yellowstone Avenue. Tom Pemberton Jr. remembers his grandfather had ulcers and sat in the dining room of the house “looking out the window for hours on end and smoking his corncob pipe” Here he is with his corncob pipe. James died December 31, 1936 in Billings, Montana. Obituary: “Services Conducted for J. M. Pemberton – “Funeral services for James Monroe Pemberton, 77, who died Thursday at the home of his son, James G. Pemberton of 338 Yellowstone Avenue, were conducted Sunday afternoon at Smith’s chapel with the Rev. George S. Sloan, pastor of the First Congregational church, in charge. Interment was in Mountview cemetery. Howard C. Smith, accompanied by Mrs. Smith, sang “Lead, Kindly Light: and “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” Pallbears were Emil Borberg, George F. Collins, J. B. Buller, Frank Martin, Ole Restad and Joe O’Neil. Besides his son here, he is survived by five other children, a brother, a sister and 11 grandchildren. Here from out-of-town for the services were a son, C.F. Pemberton of Seattle, and a daughter, Mrs. Charles Head of Crosby, Missouri.
Susan Alice Myers
Susan Alice Myers was born January January 10, 1859 in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana. Her parents were Benjamin Myers and Eleanor Wilkerson. I have many pictures of Susan on the Pemberton Family Picture pages.
From a 1937 newspaper clipping we know that on a trip back to Union Star, Missouri “Mrs. Minnie Teaford entertained at a family dinner Sunday in honor of Mrs. Susie Pemberton and daughter, Alice of Billings, Montana. The Pemberton’s were former residents of Union Star but haven’t lived in Billings the past twenty years. A beautiful basket dinner was served at the noon hour. Those present were: Miss Emma Pemberton and J. W. William of St. Joseph; Mrs. Charles Head and sons, James and Bobby; and Mrs. Frank Anderson of Cosby; Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Teaford and family, Mr. and Mrs. Wm Ott, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Abbott and son, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Miller and family, and Misses Patricia and Jean Ott. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Ott entertained Monday in honor of the Pembertons. Those attending were Mrs. Charles Head, Miss Emma Pemberton, Mrs. Minnie Teaford, Mrs. Ernest Miller and Mrs. Fred Abbott”
From her obituaries we know more about her life. “Billings Matron, 91, Succumbs – Mrs. Susan Alice Pemberton, 9l, 338 Yellowstone avenue, succumbed to the infirmities of age Monday at 3:15 a.m. in a Billings hospital. She had been hospitalized since Friday. Mrs. Pemberton was born Jan 5, 1857 in Crawfordsville, IN., a daughter of Benjamin F. Myers. When she was 16 the family moved to Missouri and she was married at Berlin, Missouri., Feb 9, 1882, to James M. Pemberton. He died in December 1936. Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton came to Billings from Union Star, Missouri, In 1916. She was a member of the Baptist church at Berlin. Surviving are three sons, James G. Pemberton of 338 Yellowstone avenue, Thomas E. Pemberton of 307 North Twenty-third street and C.F. Pemberton of Seattle; four daughters Miss Alice Pemberton of the home address, Mrs. Emma Noonan of 804 North Thirtieth street, Mrs. Bess Head of Savannah, Missouri., and Mrs. S.W. Davidson of Phoenix, Ariz. Also among survivors are a brother, Edward Myers of Washington, 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 2 p.m. at Smith’s chapel. Burial will be in Mountview cemetery.” I think this is a great picture of James and Susan. As you can see he was thin as a rail and she was extremely heavy. He died at 77 and she died at 91, so I guess you never know.
Another obituary “Funeral Service Conducted for Billings Woman, 91 – Funeral services were conducted Thursday at Smith’s chapel for Mrs. Susan Alice Pemberton 91, who died Monday in a Billings hospital. She had resided at 338 Yellowstone Avenue. the Rev. R. H. Moorman, pastor of the First Baptist church, officiated at the rites. “Ohio, Happy Day” and “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” were sung by Howard C. Smith, accompanied by Mrs. Ernest E. Wild. Pallbearers were J. B. Buller, Ralph Dolson, Albert Nirstheimer, John Restad, O. E. Restad and Charles L. Rhodes. Burial was in Mountview Cemetery. Surviving are three sons, four daughters, a brother, 11 great grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Here is a picture of Susan taken with her brother Ed taken in Oregon in the early 1940’s on a trip when her son Tom Pemberton and his family – Ruth and Tom Jr. – came to Washington to visit Charles and Kate. Tom Jr. remembers they went to visit Ed and he worked at a prison in Oregon.
Charles Franklin was born January 10, 1883 in King City which just across the county line from Union Star, Missouri in Gentry County. There is more about my grandfather’s family on the next page.
Alice was born on September 26, 1886 also in King City. She became a life-long teacher first at the Bray School District No 75in DeKalb County, Missouri from 1908 – 1909 for 7 months at $50.00 per month. Later after she moved to Montana she taught school and took care of her parents. She never married and died at the age of 92 in Billings, Montana.
Next was Bess May. Bess was born October 26, 1890. Bess was the only member of the family to stay in Missouri when the family moved to Montana. She married Charles Head about 1907 and had six children spread over twenty-two years: Kenneth, Mildred, Rex, Gordon, James and Robert. I have several of Bess and some of her children on the Pemberton Family Pictures Page. Bess died March 30, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri at the age of 82. From left to right: Clara Pemberton Davidson, Emma Pemberton Noonan, Susan Alice Meyers Pemberton, Tom Pemberton, Alice Pemberton, Bess Pemberton Head and Jim Pemberton.
James G. Pemberton was born July 2, 1892 in King City, Missouri. Jim was an avid hunter and fisherman and never married. Here is a picture of Susan Pemberton with Jim fishing in the background. He first worked for a short time as a teacher and then for 15 to 20 years for a grocery chain. He later developed property and built houses. Jim died either in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo clinic or on the way home on the train. I suspect he died at the Mayo clinic September 2, 1951. From Mountview Cemetery I found that the official cause of death was kidney failure, however, Tom, Dorothy and Donna think he went back to the Mayo Clinic because he had cancer.
Emma was born November 26, 1894 also in King City, Missouri. Emma tried teaching in Missouri and stayed in Missouri in 1817 when the family moved to Montana. In the 1920 census she is living with Bess in DeKalb County, Missouri. She moved to Billings in 1932 where she had a brief marriage to William Noonan and worked for the Billings Gazette as a book binder for thirty years. She lived with her sister Alice and brother Jim until he died at the family home until they died. We went to Billings to visit Aunts Alice and Emma in 1956. I remember Emma being jolly and funny. I learn now she had a bit of a drinking problem, but she sure was fun to a 7 year old.
Obituary – “Mrs. Emma Noonan, 77, of 338 Yellowstone Avenue, a bookbinder at the Gazette Printing County for 30 years died Saturday at Deaconess Hospital after a long illness. She was born Nov. 26, 1894 , at King City, Mo., the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Pemberton. The family moved to Union Star, Mo. in 1898. She attended school at Union Star and graduated from Northwest Teachers College, Maysville, Missouri and later taught school in Missouri. She moved to Billings in 1932 and began working for the Gazette Printing County, retiring in 1962. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Dahl-Brown Funeral chapel, with Dr. Vern Klingman, First United Methodist Church, officiating. Burial will be in the Mountview Cemetery. Vault internment. Survivors include three sisters, Alice Pemberton, 338 Yellowstone Ave., Mrs. Bess Head, Rosendale, Mo., and Mrs. Clara Davidson, Phoenix, Ariz.”
The youngest girl Clara was born in December 1895 probably also in King City, Missouri. Clara also grew up in Union Star, Missouri and moved to Billings with the rest of the family. Shortly after arriving in Billings she met and married Selwin “Davey” Davidson and they moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I have several pictures on the Pemberton Family Picture Page of when Clara visited the family in Billings. I remember when we visited Clara and Davey in Phoenix in the winter of 1960. They were so nice to us. I will never forget how strange it seemed that Davey put sugar on his tomatoes. Clara gave me a book on the Lost Dutchman mine in Arizona and there was a dollar bill taped toward the end of the book. My reward for reading the whole book. I do remember after struggling through about half of the book I took the money with out reading the entire book. Phoenix was not very developed then, it was mainly orange groves. Davey was in Real Estate. I often wonder what he would think of Phoenix today. Clara died in a nursing home in Phoenix in June 1984.
Finally the youngest of the seven children was Thomas E. Pemberton. Tom was born in 1898 probably in Union Star, Missouri. Tom married Ruth Restad who died this year at the age of 103 in Billings.
Tom was a teacher and was Appointed School Superintendent (Newspaper Article Billings Gazette about 1933)
“Thomas Pemberton Republican candidate for county superintendent of schools at the recent primary election, will take over that office the first of the month in order to fill the unexpired term of Miss Sylvia Watts. Miss Watts has been appointed to the position of truant officer. Mr. Pemberton is well equipped to fill the office and has prepared himself for the work of which he is now entering. He is 35 years of age and a graduate of the Eastern Montana Normal school, has had 17 years of experience as a school teacher and executive. With the exception of is first year, his entire service has been in the county. Mr. Pemberton has been principal of the Elysian school continuously since his graduation from the local normal school in 1933. Before entering the normal school as a student he had for eight years been principal of the Canyon creek two-teacher school Previously he had taught a year at Worden, a term at Longfellow school, near Shepard, and five years in district No. 5, eight miles north of Billings. Mr. Pemberton came here from Missouri in 1916 with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Pemberton, of 338 Yellowstone avenue. He was graduated from the high school at King City, Mo., at the age of 16, and taught there a year prior to coming to Montana. He is married and the father of an eight-year old son.”
The eight year old son is Tom Pemberton Jr. who is now retired and lives in Marysville, Washington about a 45 minutes from me. Luckily we have connected, and we have started having lunch with Tom a couple times a year. He is great and I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to get to know him