To the Story
William C. Dolby
Nora Jackson Holland

William C. Dolby and Nora Jackson Holland were my Grandparents. How do you write anything interesting about a set of grandparents that you never knew? They both died over 20 years before I was born. They both died before my Mother was 2 years old, so she didn't know them either. All we know about William and Nora is what the family faintly remembers, and what the statistics have given us. What I have found, and what the family has told me, is that Will and Nora both had a destiny which was to include tragedy, loss and a mountain of heartache. Will was to suffer through several marriages and the bitter loss of three wives. He died in an unknown place and probably alone. Nora faced the same difficulty, being widowed twice before she met Will. Nora died as a young mother and her children were scattered across the country, with a couple of them having to be put in an Orphanage as there was no one to take care of them. Its a sad story, to be sure, but probably not unlike many others of the time.

William C Dolby was born the 17th day of December 1860 in Lancaster County PA. He was the son of Christian & Catherine (Zimmerman) Dolby. William died on the 10th of December 1920 but we have no idea where this happened. His birth and death are recorded in my Great Aunt Florence's Bible. Will was a wonderfully "handsome" man and would have had little trouble attracting the attention of any woman. Will left his Pennsylvania home at a young age, but his heart remained in his birthplace. He was to go back for short visits throughout the years and was last known to visit his homeland in 1912.

Nora Jackson Holland was a very beautiful woman with a classic beauty. She had beautiful dark eyes - long dark hair and a clear, creamy complexion. Nora was born the 1st of May 1885, in Cape Girardeau Co MO, the daughter of Jackson Coley & Margaret Naomi (Lytle) Holland. Nora was the youngest child and was named after her father. He doted on his young daughter and always thought she was special. She died on the 10th of October 1918 in Stillwell, Adair Co OK, a victim of the great Flu Epidemic that raged throughout the country that year. The death of Nora completely devastated her parents, e especially her father, and the family remembers that he never really recovered, or accepted her death. After his death in 1924 the family returned to MO.

William left Lancaster Co PA when he was about 20 years of age and traveled West to join his brother Abraham Dolby, in Seymour, Webster Co MO. What an adventure that must have been for him. A young man stepping into his future so far from home. I imagine he must have lived with Abraham for awhile. Will has one distinct characteristic that shows up and is seen in every picture we have of him. He is always wearing a Watch Fab and what I wouldn't give to see it with my own eyes. It had to mean a great deal to him because it seems he never took it off.

I believe his full name is probably William Christian Dolby - named for his father Christian. He met, and later married, Sarah A Thornsberry, the daughter of Daniel & Sarah Thornsberry on the 2nd day of March 1882. Their beautiful daughter, Lila Belle Dolby, was born on the 16th of December 1882. Their happiness was to be short lived however, as Sarah died a few years later on the 16th of February 1890, a young woman of only 28 years of age.

William had to be a troubled man at that time - his wife was gone and he had a daughter only 8 years old. What was he to do? Well he apparently got on with his life as best he could. Lila Belle was given over to her Thornsberry Grandparents and was raised by them. William married for the 2nd time on the 23rd of March 1896 to Ester P Goodrich. Although they were married in Webster Co MO, the marriage license said that William was a resident of Galena, Cherokee KS at the time. This may be about the same time that he was running for Councilman for the 4th Ward in Cherokee Co KS. I was never able to find the exact year that this occurred. Jodean Martin had this little card in her possession for years and years. Jodeans husband Kenneth was a descendant of Abraham Dolby, brother of William.

The marriage to Esther ended in divorce on the 16th of April 1904. It wasn't a friendly divorce but another phase of Williams life was now over. There were no children of this marriage and they went their separate ways.

In 1910 I found William living with a woman named Laura DeHart. The Census shows them as man and wife - but no record of a marriage was ever found. Laura had filed for a divorce in 1904 from her husband John DeHart, but it was denied.

William C Dolby then found himself in Oklahoma in the year of 1914. I suspect that he was there visiting his sister, Emma Dolby Stout and her family, but by now I had grown to realize that he "moved" around a lot. He met Nora Jackson Holland and they were married on the 11th of January 1915 in Adair Co OK.

By this time William is 55 years of age. He's not getting any younger and he can't seem to find a place to settle down in. His occupation for the most part was a "miner" but I have no inkling what kind of work he was doing in OK when he married Nora.

Nora Jackson Holland did not have an easy life herself. She withstood one tragedy after another and a cruel twist of fate caused her death at the age of 33. Nora was first married to William Albert Bergman on 1 March 1903 in Wayne Co MO. There were two children born to this marriage, they were Charles Bergman born in December 1903 and his sister Naomi Bergman born in July 1905. Death came calling to destroy this otherwise happy family, in September 1905 when William suddenly died. Nora packed up the children and moved back in with her parents. When her parents decided to relocate to Oklahoma, Nora and the children went with them. William White was the 2nd husband of Nora's. They were married in Adair Co OK on the 27th of January 1909. Two more children were born to Nora - they were Emma White in 1910 and Christine White in 1912. Its hard to believe, but tragedy came calling once more for Nora, when Mr White died around 1913. Once again Nora and the children returned home to live with her parents. So when William Dolby met Nora she was already a tired and weary woman who had been through too much. William now had a ready made family of four stepchildren.

Life settled down and William & Nora had their first child. Albert Dolby was born on the 15th of April 1916. William now had his first and only son, and I can only imagine how happy he must have been. My mother Essie Mae Dolby was born on the 19th of September 1918. The birth of my mother no doubt weakened Nora's physical condition. She came down with the flu that same month and never was to recover from it. Nora died on the 10th of October, when her baby girl was less than one month old. The family was in a turmoil at this time. Along with Nora, the family lost her cousin Ezra at the same time on the 14th of October. Death was all around the community where they lived, the Flu Epidemic of 1918 took thousands of lives.

William in a desperate state of mind at this time, did what a lot of men have done before. He had to leave. Tragedy and loss that had constantly surrounded him, had no doubt swallowed him by now. He was 58 years old, he had an infant daughter and a 2 year old son and I'm sure he just didn't know what to do. He buried his wife, placed his daughter Essie in the care of Florence, who was Nora's sister and who was also the mother of Ezra who had just died, packed up his things and he left Oklahoma, taking Albert along with him.

The family heard from, or about him, from time to time and they knew that Albert was living with a family named Fitzer in Joplin MO. It must have been the Fitzer's who notified the family when William died. The Fitzer family kept Albert and raised him as their own and Albert used the Fitzer name from that time on. Sadly - Essie and Albert were never to see each other again and no one in the family ever knew what happened to Albert.

Rhonda Endicott sent me this picture just recently. Rhonda is connected to the Fitzer family. This picture was found among their things. The woman is Hattie Lucinda (Peel) Fitzer the wife of Joseph Fitzer. Albert appears to be about 4 years old in this photo.

Rhonda sent this picture too. This is Albert with Joseph Fitzer. Albert is holding his pet cat and the story that goes with Mr. Cat is that he was killed by a car - when he was found he still had a mouse in his mouth that he had just caught. There is no justice here - the poor cat didn't even get to enjoy what would have been his last meal.

But during all the tragedy and loss its obvious that William C. Dolby was a man who liked to laugh. His pictures appear to me, to be a serious man with a great sense of humor.

I wish that my mother could have know her parents and I wish that I had known them too. There was such a great difference in the ages of William and Nora and I truly hope that they had a few good years with each other.

Written from the heart and hand me down memories of your unknown granddaugher, Christine. I was named after Nora's daughter, Christine White, who had to be placed in an orphanage so many years ago.

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