The people you see pictured to your right are my great-grandparents: James Eckert Okell and Mayme Leo Bunch Collins. As with my last post I will tell you each of their stories individually. First off, this photo was taken in 1951, it said so when I flipped over the photo as well as their names. Okay onto the fascinating people in the photo! First up my great-grandmother’s interesting yet complex life story:
Mayme Leo Bunch Collins was born in Earlington, Kentucky on November 27, 1889 her mother Emma Vannason was 18 and her father Richard Bunch was 26 years old. Her one and only biological sibling Charles William Collins was born on March 26, 1891, in the same town as her when Mayme was 2 years old. Mayme’s father passed away when Mayme was very young, on October 15, 1893 in Woodburn, Kentucky, he was just 30 years old. After Mayme’s father Richard passed away, Emma (Mayme & Charles’ mother) moved to Indianapolis, Indiana from Kentucky. That was between 1893 and 1900 that they moved. Mayme and Charles’ mother Emma passed away in October of 1901 in Edgecombe, North Carolina, when Mayme was 12 and Charles was 10 years old. On September 10, 1913 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, when Mayme was 23 years old she married that handsome gentleman you see in the photo beside her, otherwise known to me as my great-grandfather James Eckert Okell. After James and Mayme got married they moved to Chicago Illinois where Mayme witnessed several historical things, here are just a few: Women Gain The Constitutional Right To Vote, the 1919 Steel Strike, and Shipbuilding on the Great Lakes. On January 20, 1920, Mayme gave birth to their first child in Chicago, Illinois, a boy they named Charles Eckert Okell, (my grandfather), two years later in New York she gave birth to a daughter, Patricia Ann (Okell) born on September 21, 1922. In 1925, the young family moved back to Illinois only to experience another historic event, only this time it was deadly. It was called the Tri-State Tornado, it has gone down in the record books as the deadliest tornado in US history to hit the Midwest. It covered Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri and was on the ground for more than three hours. Luckily, all of my family that I listed above came out of that mess alive. In November of 1951 when Mayme was 62, her brother Charles William Collins died in Mobile, Alabama. Tragedy struck her family 10 years later, when her husband James Eckert Okell passed away on July 31, 1961 at the age of 71 in Geneva, Illinois, they were married 47 years. Okay so back to that photo that you see to your left: Mayme and James Eckert Okell both would have been 62 years old when that was taken. Mayme Leo Bunch Collins passed away on October 27, 1972 at the age of 82 years old in Mobile, Alabama. Oh if you are wondering why my great-grandmother has the name “Bunch Collins” in her name it’s because after her mother’s husband Richard passed away, (Mayme & Charles’ father), Emma remarried to William Collins, and Mayme and Charles took his last name after they got married.
James Eckert Okell was born on December 29, 1889 in Fort Madison, Iowa to Charles Lincoln Okell 29, and Anna Eckert 26 years old when he was born. He had one brother, Peter Okell, born in 1887 in Fort Madison, Iowa. Tragedy struck James and his brother Peter early on October 26, 1898 when their mother Anna passed away at the age of 35, at the time of their mother’s passing, Peter was only 11 and James was 9. Their father Charles Lincoln Okell passed away on January 21, 1931 in St. Paul, Minnesota at the age of 70. James was 42 and his brother Peter was 44 years old. For James’ and Mayme’s marriage read the above paragraph about Mayme as well as their children. James Eckert Okell passed away on July 13, 1961 in Geneva, Illinois, at the age of 71 years old.