Thursday, August 28, 2008

Della Louise Burtenshaw

Della Louise Burtenshaw Noe Paramour Harward

I've always wanted to know my Grandma Harward. My dad's mother. She died of breast cancer when Dad was five. I'd like to see what was in her mind and what made her "tick." My cousin Susan wrote a book about her mom, including a lot of information about Grandma. It is so fascinating!

Here's the facts that I know about her:
She was born 16 Sep 1895 in Shelton, Bonneville, Idaho to William Burtenshaw and Sarah Alice Clegg. Married George Edwin Noe 9 Dec 1941 in Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho. Divorced. Married 2nd John Franklin Paramour in 1929 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada. Divorced. Married 3rd Eldon Harward 31 Jan 1931 in Price, Carbon, Utah. Divorced. Died 3 July 1941 in Shelton, Bonneville, Idaho of Breast Cancer.

My Documentation includes:
1900 census, Dist. 16, Willow Creek, Bingham, Idaho: Burtenshaw, Della, daughter, white, female, born Sept 1896, age 4, single, born in Idaho, both parents born in Utah.

1910 census, Dist. 51, Willow Creek, Bingham, Idaho: Burtenshaw, Della L., daughter, female, white, age 14, single, born in Idaho, both parents born in Utah. Occupation: none.

William Burtenshaw Family

Back Row: John, Francis, LeRoy
2nd Row: Etta Burtenshaw Moss, Vera Burtenshaw Schmidt, Ora Burtenshaw Snow, Linda Burtenshaw Cleverley
3rd Row: Lorania Burtenshaw Yetter Jackson (Aunt Rainy), Della (Grandma!), Mother Sarah Alice Clegg Burtenshaw
Front: Wilbur Brown (from Sarah's second marriage) and Florence Burtenshaw Miller

1920 census, Dist. 102, Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho: Noe, Della L., wife, female, white, age 24, married, born in Idaho, both parents born in Utah. Occupation: none.

Film #184262 P. 1296 Salt Lake. Divorced.

1930 census, Dist. 31, Reno, Washoe, Nevada: Paramore, Della, wife-H, female, white, age 35, married, first married at age 19, born in Idaho, both parents born in Utah. Occupation: none.

Marriage certificate to Eldon Harward (image is as big as I can get it here)

Here is an e-mail I got from one of my inquiries to cousin Susan:
June 28, 2008
Hi Lisa,

Apparently none of Della's three husbands were angels. A few years ago Carol, Barbara, and I visited with Della's younger--and only surviving--sister, Florence (who has since passed away); and she told us that Della was a 'rescuer' when it came to men. She said Della was attracted to men who weren't very good to her. I don't know how much truth there is in that, but it is the case that all the men she married did, in one way or another, abuse her. I don't know whether George Noe was ever physically abusive, but he did cheat on her. Her second marriage lasted only abut six months, and that husband apparently was very abusive. In the case of Eldon, the abuse came later.

Eldon and Della married in January, 1931, and my mother described their first year together as probably the happiest in her childhood. Eldon was very good to both Della and Maxine, and Maxine called him daddy and loved him like a father. But everything changed with the birth of their stillborn daughter in the summer of 1933. That is when their marriage began to deteriorate. They began to argue frequently, and Eldon left often for weeks at a time to work in Wyoming. There was much unrest and insecurity over mining at the time (conflicts over unionization, etc.), and I suspect their personal tragedy was compounded by economic concerns. Della twice attempted suicide by drinking poison. I suspect she was suffering from depression, and was probably no eaiser to live with than Eldon. Their relationship apparently deteriorated so severely that even the birth of your father--in November 1934--could not salvage it.

In September, 1936, Della had a mastectomy for breast cancer. The incision was held in place by small pearl buttons. (Yes, it sounds bizarre to me too. I have no idea how that actually worked and have never been able to learn more about it.) A few days following her sugery in the mining hospital in Kenilworth, she was transferred to the hospital in Price, where she spent a couple of weeks. Following is the account I wrote in my book about the episode over her buttons. It is based on mother's account:

Two weeks passed, and Eldon brought Della home. She was weak and could hardly lift her one arm. That very night, despite her weakness, the arguments started again and continued as if there had never been a break. One night shortly after her return home, the two got into an especially ugly quarrel; it turned violent and Eldon shoved Della roughly, causing her sore arm to fling backwards. Della cried out in pain. The incision over her breast was not sutured, it was held in place by small pearl buttons, and the backward thrust of her arm caused one of the buttons to rip out. Two more weeks passed and Eldon left for Wyoming, and Della returned to work as a cook at the hotel.

The only other episode of physical violence I know of occurred in the spring of 1937. Della and Eldon were arguing and Maxine got between them and told Eldon to leave her mama alone. He hit Maxine and gave her a black eye.

So there you have it. It's a sad story. But of course, it's also incomplete. I imagine that even throughout their troubled years, they had moments of happiness and contentment as well. And, of course, their was the birth of your dad. Which just shows that even the most difficult and unhappy circumstances can still bring forth something good and wonderful.

Love, Sue