Happy Birthday Thomas Leland Estes

Thomas Leland Estes (1896-1968)

Nearly every minute of my “family history” free time since August 2016 has been spent working on writing an Estes book. So, Thomas Leland Estes and his ancestors have been in my thoughts a lot. What an interesting family history to study!  Please join me in remembering my Grandpa Tom.

Thomas Leland Estes was born on 28 Mar 1896 in Castana, Monona, Iowa as the fifth child of John Thomas Estes and Zelpha Lou McCall. He had five siblings, namely: Gussie Ann, Robert C., Ida Mildred, Herman Patrick, and James Andrew. He was called Tom. When he was very young, his mother passed away and his dad was left alone to raise the children. They moved around a bit, living at Castana, Iowa as well as Callaway County, Missouri and Union, Daviess, Missouri. The family did not have a lot of money.

Estes brothers, from top, Bob, Herman, Tom and Jim.

Tom served his country in World War I. He didn’t see action because he arrived in France just as the war ended.

US, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 – Thomas Leland Estes.

When he returned from the service he worked as a farm laborer in Sac County, Iowa. There he met the love of his life. When he was 23, he married Lona Iona Fawcett, daughter of Harry Allen Lawrence Fawcett and Barbara Mary Meyer, on 30 Sep 1919 in Sac City, Sac, Iowa.

Thomas Leland Estes and Lona Iona Fawcett had seven children:

  1. Thelma Marie Estes was born on 31 Dec 1920 in Sac City, Sac, Iowa. She married Elmer Everett Peterson on 11 Nov 1940 in Austin, Mower, Minnesota during what later became known as the Armistice Day Blizzard. She died on 15 Jan 2004 in Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota.
  2. Thomas Duane Estes was born on 13 Jan 1923 in Freeborn, Minnesota. He married Dorothy Mae Murphy in Austin, Mower, Minnesota. He died on 17 Apr 1985 in Austin, Mower, Minnesota.
  3. James Milo Estes was born on 22 Apr 1927 in Ellendale, Steele, Minnesota.  He married Shirley Lillian Wood on 25 Oct 1948 in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota. He died on 11 Mar 1968 in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota.
  4. Charles Allen Estes was born on 22 Apr 1927 in Ellendale, Steele, Minnesota. He married Mary Lou Miller on 04 Dec 1948 in Austin, Mower, Minnesota. He died on 03 Jun 2009 in Albert Lea, Freeborn, Minnesota.
  5. Marjorie Lavon Estes was born on 21 Jun 1929 in Freeborn, Minnesota. She married Bryan Fulton Stewart on 07 Sep 1952. She died on 14 Oct 2004 in Bradenton, Manatee, Florida.
  6. Donald Eugene Estes was born on 31 Jan 1934 in Freeborn, Minnesota. He married Margaard Enderle on 12 Oct 1957 in Augsburg, Bayern, Germany. He died on 24 Nov 1994 in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas.
  7. Donna Rae Estes was born in Oakland, Freeborn, Minnesota. She married David Jerome Christianson in Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church, Austin, Mower, Minnesota.

Estes Family. Back, from left, Chuck, Thelma, Marge, Donna and Jim. Front, from left, Duane, Lona, Tom, and Don.

Tom and Lona started their married life in Iowa, but then made a move north to Minnesota. Lona’s parents moved also. For decades, Tom and Lona moved around to farm on rented farms. The depression hit them especially hard. They lost all of their milking cows, already had five kids, and were without an income for a long time. After prohibition, Tom ran a beer joint for awhile and he and Lona did other jobs such as working in the onion fields at Hollandale, Minnesota. Tragedy struck again when they lost everything in a house fire.

But, things changed for the better when Tom got into Hormel’s in Austin, Mower, Minnesota on 2 Sep 1942. Finally, the work and pay were steady. He couldn’t believe how much they were paying him and called working there a gravy train. He continued to work there until his retirement.

Tom and Lona.

Tom and Lona enjoyed fishing up north at Baby Lake and traveling to visit his siblings in Missouri and Texas. Later, he and Lona traveled to many places to visit their son and daughter, who were both military families, as they were stationed at different places. For several years they wintered in Texas to escape the Minnesota cold and snow.

Tom Estes.

I have much, much more to say about Tom, but I will save some things for the book which will (hopefully) be done later this year. My perception is that though times were often hard, the Estes family was large and knew how to have fun. This is a re-run, but I’ll include it here again. I put together this video for another blog post quite a while ago. I just love how much fun the Estes family seems to be having in all of these video clips! It is worth another watch.

 

Sadly, Thomas Leland Estes died on 20 Feb 1968 at Austin, Mower, Minnesota at the age of 71. He was buried in Austin at the Grandview Cemetery.

If you are part of this family and want to send me current photos, names, dates and such from your branch of the family to include in the book that I am writing, please do. Stories are great too! If you have memories or stories to share, please do! You can contact me via any means you usually contact me, leave a comment for us on this page, or use the email button to write to me. Thanks!

Where is he in the tree?

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