Monday, July 2, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: Obituary of Melvin Van Every (1863-1929)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Today I transcribe the obituary for my great grandfather, Melvin E. Van Every, which appeared in The El Paso Times, May 29, 1929. I found the obituary at

MELVIN E. VAN EVERY, 66, of Garfield, N.M. Funeral services were held from the chapel of Kaster and Maxon at 4 o'clock Tuesday afternoon with the Rev. W. Angie Smith officiating. Burial was in Evergreen cemetery. Pallbears were members of the  W.O.W. Mr. Van Every is survived by his widow, three daughters, Mrs. Minnie Benold and Mrs. I.T. Herrin, both of El Paso, and Miss Myrtle Van Every of Kansas City, Mo., and one son, Dr. S.O. Van Every of Kansas City.


1) I believe W.O.W. stands for Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit organization that provides life insurance for its members. From other sources I already knew my great grandfather was a Freemason.

2) My grandmother, Myrtle, appears in the St. Louis City directories every year between 1921 and 1930. It is possible, however, that she spent some time in Kansas City with her brother, as well. She appears in the St. Louis census in 1930, but her brother is listed as living with a woman named, Myrtle, in the Kansas City census. The woman is listed as a wife, but no record with her appearance after the census has been uncovered. I think it's possible my grandmother would occasionally visit her brother, and whoever provided the information for the census (a landlord perhaps) wasn't aware they were brother and sister.

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