Ophelia’s Son-in-Law’s Cousins

Ophelia’s daughter Dorothy Grace O’Neil was married to Edwin Gilchrist Sykes. Photographs of two of Edwin’s cousins are in the batch I bought at a “mega flea market” at the Maryland State Fairgrounds over the 4th of July weekend.

Betty Sykes Michaels front

Above is Elizabeth B. Sykes (1898-1987), the daughter of Edwin’s paternal uncle, Richard Eddy Sykes (1861-1942). This photograph appears to have been taken on 27 July 1925, the day she married Ralph Harold Michaels (1893-1970) in Canton, NY. Elizabeth’s obituary informs that she “was an artist and made two illustrations for children’s books. In fact, she was the illustrator of two children’s books.

One was Patty Reed’s Doll: The Story of the Donner Party by Rachel K. Laurgaard, published in 1956 by The Caxton Printers, Inc., Caldwell, ID. A signed first edition goes for $125, plus shipping. Amazon.com will let you “look inside” of the 1989 paperback edition to see Elizabeth’s illustrations.

The other book was Lummi Indian How Stories by Ethel Fyles Beck, also published by The Caxton Printers, Inc., in 1955. You can see the cover and buy a used copy here for $28.

The Pittsburgh Press-Republican, Plattsburg, NY edition of 28 June 1945 published a photograph of Elizabeth after she was elected as an alumni trustee for her alma mater, Saint Lawrence University where her father had been president.

19450628 ESM Newspspaper Photo

The following photograph was sent to me by Lenora Lynam, archivist of the Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg, KS, who spent her Covid-19 summer “trying to find new homes for things that don’t have a close connection to Lindsborg or McPherson County.” She found my family tree containing Elizabeth and sent me the photograph of her.

Elizabeth Sykes, gift of the Esther Tillman Miller Family to Old Mill Museum, Lindsborg, KS

The young lady in the following photograph is Margaret L. McKindley (1893-1953). She was the daughter of Edwin’s paternal aunt, Nellie G. Sykes (1859-1935) and her husband James N. McKindley. Margaret married Walter G. Amundson (1884-1967) who became a director of the Duluth Linen Company in 1930 and started his own company, The Amundson Company, which manufactured clothing. Margaret, her husband, and her parents are buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Duluth, MN.

Margaret McKinley Amundsen front

As usual, the following are the reverses of the subject photographs in the order they appear above.

Betty Sykes Michaels back
Margaret McKinley Amundsen back
Ophelia’s Son-in-Law’s Cousins

Ophelia’s Children

O'Neil Sykes Group front

The ladies and gentleman in the above photograph are probably four of William Thomas O’Neil and Ophelia Young O’Neil‘s five children. I qualify that statement because one of the ladies is not named in the inscription on the back (below). Also unclear is which daughter is which.

We can positively identify Henry Edward O’Neil (1876-1923). In Census records and newspaper accounts of Ed’s death there is considerable confusion about his name. Was it Edwin or Edward, was this name first or was Henry first? In spite of good professional and financial fortunes (Saint Regis Falls National Bank president, Saint Regis Falls Light and Power Company president, considerable lumber holdings) his life ended early and tragically. According to press accounts, in April 1923 Ed drove from his home in Saint Regis Falls, NY to Brasher Falls, NY and checked into the Riverside Hotel. That night he went to a dance and returned to his room very late. When he didn’t show up for “dinner” at midday, the hotel owner investigated and found that Ed had hanged himself using bed sheets tied to a bedpost. In The Journal and Republican and Lowville Times of 26 April 1923 it was written that “No reason could be ascribed for his act other than belief he was a victim of despondency.”

Dorothy Grace O’Neil (1891-1969) married Edwin Gilchrist Sykes (1890-1959) in 1917. They operated a dairy and they had three sons.

Florence Louise O’Neil (1885-1976) married Chester Marion Austin (1885-1969) and they had two sons.

Edith O’Neil (1874-1934) married Canadian-born Donald Alexander MacDonald (1862-1935). In 1914 and 1915 Edith was the Assembly District Leader of the Franklin County Suffrage League, a position from which she resigned when she moved to Albany, NY with her husband who was an assemblyman and Conservation Commissioner. Read her “It Is The Indifferent That Oppose Suffrage” in the 15 September 1915 edition of The Norwood News. In 1917 Edith received a patent for “a process for extracting dye from autumn leaves.” According to Sustainable Fashion: Past, Present, and Future by Jennifer Farley Gordon and Colleen Hill, the development of the process, inspired by the stains leaves leave on sidewalks, was timely because WWI had disrupted synthetic dye imports from Germany. Her patent emphasized the fact that fallen leaves were a renewable resource which could be recycled as fertilizer after processing.

Not pictured is the youngest sibling, Arthur S. O’Neil (1893-1965), who married Katherine Russell Warner (1897-1972). They had one daughter. Arthur was president of the Ogdensburg Trust Company in Ogdensburg, NY when he died. His absence from this photograph could be explained by his service in WWI which took him overseas between 26 February 1918 and 6 July 1919. He served in the 41st Engineers and the 13th Battalion of the 20th Engineers.

O'neil Sykes Group back

Ophelia’s Children