Sunday, October 20, 2019

Richard M Grenfell (1849 - About 1911)

Berenice Grenfell Currey* was raised by her widowed paternal grandmother but probably never met her grandfather because the couple left the farm to retire in San Diego before she was born. She heard stories about him from her grandmother which she shared with me. One of them was about his wanderlust--he traveled all over the world and was in South Africa when the Kimberley diamond fields were opened.

Last week I was contacted by his great great grandson Jim** and when I mentioned that story he told me he would send me a portrait of Richard M. Grenfell taken at that time. And here it is:

[Courtesy of Jim Grenfell]

Richard Grenfell brought his wife and seven children to the United State in 1881 with the original plan of settling in the Bluegrass Country of Kentucky but when they landed in New York a lot of attention was still being given to the gold found in South Dakota so they were there instead. Their first dwelling was in Crook City, a boom town with no sanitation, and that's where the Grenfells buried six of their children--one girl fell into a storm-swollen creek and drowned, and the others died of typhoid fever. Since Richard didn't become a citizen until 1886 he couldn't homestead and so they bought an existing farm.

Here's his application for citizenship:

[From my personal collection]

Until this photo arrived, the only picture I had of Richard Grenfell was this one of he and Grace standing in front of their bungalow on Point Loma around 1910. He died before Mother's arrival in 1912 and I believe he's buried in Alpine. Unfortunately I haven't found a death record in the usual databases.

[From my personal collection]

Jim  wondered if Mother had been the inheritor of a Revolutionary Era silver tea set*** that had belonged to ancestors of her mother Mary Grant Grenfell.

Now, I never heard of any ancestral silver although that wouldn't have arrived at the Grenfell farm house until Mary Grant's marriage to William Grenfell in 1900 so Grandma Stanton**** wouldn't necessarily have known about it. At her father's death it was learned that William Grenfell left his entire estate to his youngest son Richard with no mention of his only daughter or the child of his oldest son. The only things Mother got from the house were a marble-topped table and a punch bowl set of pressed glass. Mother's relationship with Mary Grant Grenfell was almost non-existent--she received one letter from the woman between 1912, when her father took her to live with his mother, and Mary's death in 1948. So even if it existed I can't imagine Mary Grant Grenfell giving it to her daughter.

Even though I can't solve the mystery of that silver tea service for him, I'm glad that Jim reached out to me because I have some family photos and records that belong with him and I'll be sending them off to him later this week.

*The mother who raised me Bernice Evangeline Grenfell (1902-1980). You can read more about her early life here, and here.
**He's the grandson of Gilbert Grenfell, mother's older brother, who was killed in 1928 when his tractor overturned.
**Alleged to have been used to serve tea to General George Washington. (of course!).
****Grace Thomas Grenfell married Joseph Stanton in 1921 and Mother always referred to her by her second husband's surname.

© 2019 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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