Lily Marie McClaskey

Teenager, Lily Marie McClaskey

Lily Marie McClaskey, my grandmother,  was born November 9, 1919 in Matheson, Colorado to Robert John McClaskey and Cordelia Jane Stuart McClaskey.

According to Emeline, Lily’s older sister by six years the family had moved to Matheson from Oklahoma: “My mother was born in Iconium, Iowa, March 18, 1884. My dad was born in Milan, Missouri on August 27, 1884. They were married in Oklahoma (Roger Mills County) November 29. 1912. They lived in Oklahoma until September 24, 1913 when they and dad’s parents and two brothers went to Matheson, Colorado in three covered wagons.”

Lil’s mother died February 14, 1928 when she was only 9 years old. On the death certificate it does say that Cordelia died of Scarlet Fever. Sister, Emeline said her mother died of a miscarriage.  It is probable that both were true, as Emeline also said the whole family had come down with Scarlet Fever.  For a time, the children were split up and sent to homes of  family and friends.  Grandma never seemed to have many happy memories from that time at all. An Uncle Art McClaskey &  his wife, Lillie Belle also helped the family.  Robert John moved himself and children to Kansas to be closer to them.

It was from my grandmother that I heard stories of how some McClaskey’s were horse thieves, and sold whiskey from covered wagons to Indians.  I’m not sure that in the long run she was sure she was right about all of those stories, but I know when she told me at 16 years or so that she thought was telling the truth.  But apparently one was real, and she told it to more people than just me.  Even her daughter, Alveta, remembers Lil telling about how she was playing on a buckboard wagon that was loaded with what she thought was beans.  The load was  all covered up. Her father got after her and her playmate for playing on the wagon, and shooed them away.  Turns out that was a wagon full of whiskey to be delivered to some place.

In 1937, at the age of 18, Lil moved from Kansas  to Oregon with her father, step-mother, Ida Mae Miller McClaskey and brother’s Bill and Bryan. At this moment, I don’t know why they went to Oregon. But, I have recently discovered that there were McClaskey’s in The Dalles, Oregon before my particular branch came.  That might have influenced their decision.

They first settled in …..

Orvin Earl Rowe holding son, Marvin Rowe & Lily Marie McClaskey Rowe holding son, Alvin (my dad)

My grandmother married my grandfather, Orvin Earl Rowe, March 18, 1939, at the age of 20.  Even at 20, she and Orvin crossed the state line into Washington to be married.  My understanding is that it was an elopement of sorts.   Orvin was her first husband, and Lil was his third wife. Lil married one more time in mid life to on Richard Lee Roy Lantz.  She survived both men.  My grandfather died, December 27, 1964 of an apparent heart attack.  Richard died in the 1970’s despite the fact that he was 9 years younger than my grandmother. (He always looked old to me!!!)

With my grandfather, Orvin Rowe, my grandmother and he settled in Silverton, Oregon.  Orvin grew up in this town.  My grandmother brought nine children into the world.  Eight lived to adulthood.  One little girl, Baby Anita Marie, died at birth. She is buried in Millers Cemetery in Silverton, Oregon.  My grandmother never knew just exactly why the baby died, and it bothered her for the rest of her life.  From this marriage was born:

i. MARVIN WILLIAM ROWE, b. May 26, 1939. (Wow! After only 2 months of marriage!)
ii. ALVIN CECIL ROWE, (my father) b. September 14, 1940, Silverton, OR; d. August 23, 1983, Silverton, OR.
iii. ALFRED LEE ROWE, b. October 28, 1941, Silverton, OR; d. January 13, 2005
iv. BABY ANITA MARIE ROWE, b. September 26, 1943; d. September 26, 1943.
v. JAMES ARTHUR ROWE, b. July 27, 1945
vi. MAURITA JANE ROWE, b. December 01, 1946;
vii. ALVETA LORENE ROWE, b. April 18, 1948; Silverton, OR; d March 10, 2007, Bend, Deshutes, OR
viii. RICHARD ROBERT ROWE, b. February 27, 1953

R to L: Lelia Rowe Pepiot with her children. She is sister-in-law to Lily McClaskey Rowe

Grandma is remembered for her generosity, and pretty doggoned good cooking!  I personally LOVED her homemade root beer and fried potatos!

There has been a story in the family for many years, about how grandma was 1/2 Choctaw Indian.  And I agree that her coloring and so forth makes her look much like an Indian.  But, the record and history do not support this theory at all. If we who are descended from this McClaskey/ Stuart have any Indian in our blood, it is the kind that resides in the heart.  There is no doubt about the goodness of these people.

Grandma Lil tending to a child.

I think this story comes mostly from the fact that the McClaskey family, and the Stuart family spent time in Oklahoma.  I am relatively sure the Stuarts went to acquire a homestead during a land run which was on a newly opened Indian reservation.  I think probably the McClaskey’s were there for the same reasons, though, I have not yet found any hard evidence for it.  So, for a time the families did live on/ in Indian territory, and I believe that was part of how the story came to be.

Lil with daughter, Alveta Lorene Rowe

Fact is, it looks as if Lil was mostly Irish and German.  The 1800’s McClaskey’s of Milan, Missouri were known to hang out in  the “Little Ireland” section of town, and were known for making trouble as some Irish are known for.  Lil’s grandmother, Rozzella Clapp was of German decent.  From pictures I deduce that Lil’s skin and hair coloring came from Rozzella.  But her stature I think came from her other grandmother, Emeline Murphy.  Emeline seems like a tall woman to me.  Not obese but well rounded, especially after having many children.  I have the Murphy Clan traced back tentatively to the Isle of Man, so again there is a Celtic origins that could be Irish, Scottish, or even English.  Lily’s other grandfather, the husband of Emeline was a George A. Stuart. If his surname tells us anything about his ethnicity then he might have come from French/Scottish decent.  And to make things more fun, it looks as if Lil’s great grandmother, Elizabeth Shatto may be descended from the French Huguenots who came to America fleeing religious persecution.  When they were in France the surname seemed to be spelled Chateau.  So, my grandmother was one very American Woman, truly a product of what America has come to be  known for: The American Melting Pot.  A unique and lovely mixture of people and cultures, mixed with the rugged attitude that only American’s have acquired. To me she was beautiful.  And that is all that really matters.

My grandmother died February 14, 1998.  This was 70 years to the day that her very mother died.  It seems to me that grandma was loyal to her mother until the very end.  Her children grew up with the memory of their grandmother, Cordelia Jane.  So strongly embedded was the knowledge that third son, Alfred Rowe, named his oldest daughter, Cordelia Jane Rowe. My grandmother made more than one trip from Oregon to Colorado to lay a wreath at my great grandmother’s grave.   There are stories I have heard about how we all choose when we die.  If this is true, then I see that it is very significant that grandma died the same day as Great grandma.  There must have been a very loving relationship between the two.

Standing with grandma, Lily Rowe is her little sister, Mary Frances.


“I do have allot of fond memories of being little and living near Aunt Pearl and Aunt Lil’s families.”                                       -Larry & Jerry Lead Williams lar&jer@willapabay.org

Aunt Lil and Aunt Pearl were very dear to me. I will never forget their kindnesses when I was a young girl. I still remember how handsome my boy cousins were and how beautiful my girl cousins were–and still are! ! The best years of my life was when we went to Silverton for the summer, when I was a kid! My aunts and uncles always had the “open door” policy, and always made us welcome–even when we arrived in the middle of the night! They were some real good people–and their kindnesses will never be forgotten.
-Cordelia Jane Lead Cardwell  jcardwell@willapabay.org

Lil’s Findagrave Memorial

Postcard from son, Alvin C. Rowe to Lily Rowe. 1958

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