I’m taking a break from blogging about my own family and the history of Haywood County to share this rare find my wife received last week from her aunt. This newspaper article about Michelle’s 2nd great-grandmother, Serilda Martina Eaton Warn (1846-1943), provides some great biographical information and colorful detail on that family line.
Serilda was the mother of Nettie Grace Warn (1884-1943), who was the mother of Gladys Serilda Warn Trefren (1917-2002) who was the mother of Barbara June Trefren Mayer who is the mother of my wife, Michelle.
The article was written by Ada Marcia Hoebel on the occasion of Serilda Warn’s 94th birthday in Boise, Idaho, but I’m not certain in which newspaper it appeared.
While most of my family migrated to Haywood County, Tennessee and stayed put, Michelle’s family migrated westward and then moved around quite a bit. This makes tracking them even more difficult which is why articles like this are so valuable.
Unidentified Boise, Idaho newspaper, week of Jan. 15, 1940
Transcribed as written
Mrs. Serilda Warn Tells Of 94 Years of Exciting and Colorful Experiences
By Ada Marcia Hoebel
More cheerful and chipper than most 80-year-olds is Mrs. Serilda Eaton Warn of 1911 North Fourteenth street, who Monday observed her ninety-fourth birthday anniversary. She’s a happy, intelligent old lady who still enjoys life because her keen memory affords her the pleasure of reminiscing about interesting experiences and because an eager interest in radio programs keeps her aware of current events.
Its amazing—her faculty for remembering dates. Without hesitation she can rattle off the day, month and year of each of her eight children’s births and of every other significant incident in her life. It may be an inherent family trait—living to such a ripe old age (her grandfather lived to be 113 years old—but Mrs. Warn explains it this way:
“I just took things easy, made the best of every bad situation, enjoyed life and didn’t have any bad habits.” She chuckled, and continued, “and that’s more that some of ‘em can say today!”
Mrs. Warn was born in Coles county, Ill., on January 15, 1846. “Father always told us there was Lincoln blood in our veins, and I’m mighty proud of that,” she said. Abraham Lincoln and her grandfather, Benjamin Eaton, went to the same school when they were boys, “and studied together—using soapstone to write on the back of a shovel,” she averred.
“I’ll bet I’ve traveled more miles in a covered wagon than any woman in the United States today,” said Mrs. Warn. In 1871, she moved with her father’s family to Kansas. There she met and married John Franklin Warn, and on May 7, 1880, with her sister, now, Mrs. Olin McCabe of Boise, 75, and in company with several other covered wagon parties, they set out to cross the plains to the west. It took them three months to get to Wallowa valley, Ore., where they spent the winter in a log cabin. Then on April 12, 1881, they landed in Boise, right on what is not Thirteenth street.” They camped here until they bought two acres of land where White City park now stands, and built a house there. Mr. Warn was a butcher and grocer for many years. He died in 1923.
All but one of their eight children are still living. Four were born before their wagon-train trip, and four were born in Boise. Chester Warn, 53; Mrs. Hyrum Williams, 55; Mrs. H. L. Dibble, 61, and Mrs. Owen L. Smith, 50, four of her children, are still living in Boise. Incidentally, Mrs. Smith’s birthday anniversary was Monday too—she was born on her mother’s forty fourth.
Mrs. Warn’s eyes sparkled as she told about the time she won first prize for the best old-fashioned costume worn at the “Boise Basin celebration” here 10 years ago.
“And I got quite a lot of applause, too,” she said, “I even sang a part of a song on the stage.” To demonstrate her lyric ability, she said, “do you want me to sing it for you now?”—and promptly did. She carried a tune well, too.
Mrs. Warn’s day begins at about 8 o’clock in the morning. Its highlights are “Ma Perkins,” “Affairs of Anthony,” the 7 o’clock news, and “King Cowboy,” right after which she retires every night at 9 o’clock.
“I was always a happy girl and a busy woman,” said Mrs. Warn. “I was considered an excellent seamstress and housekeeper—in fact, I was also one of the best spellers in the state of Illinois.” Spelling bees and singing were two of her favorite hobbies, she said.
Mrs. Warn was one of 12 children, four of whom are sill living, but she’s the oldest of them all. “I was a puny thing when I was little,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I remember hearing father say once that they’d never be able to raise me. Well, I’ve never been very strong, but I’ve certainly outlived his prediction.”
Serilda Warn died in Boise on Nov. 13, 1942 at the age of 96. She was buried next to her husband at the Morris Hill Cemetery.