Euphemia (ASHENHURST) and William Ellis "Billy" McDOWELL
"Billy" McDowell was a thresher in Iowa. He moved his family to Richmond, California during second World War and worked
as a night watchman at the docks. Either my mother or grandmother told me he'd been assaulted one night while on duty.
His death certificate (Los Angeles county, CA) lists his occupation as "road contractor." The following transcription
of his draft record (1917-1918) is found on the
Ringgold county's website.
McDOWELL, William Ellis, Tingley, Iowa born June 10, 1876 farmer & thresher, spouse - Euphemia McDOWELL
William and his threshing crew were the subjects of
Threshing With Steam As I Remember It. The story describes him as "a slender wiry dark complected man" who "could get
mad when things went wrong." The "water monkey" was his son Clyde. The story concludes with the end of the threshing
season. William would blast the steam engine's whistle and...
...the men and women of the day who now sleep in our beautiful cemeteries listened and looked at each other and said, "It sounds like Billy McDowell has finished his run!"
William died three and half years before I was born. But I remember Clyde very well, probably last seeing him in 1964. He and my grandfather, who were brothers-in-law, were close friends
and worked together painting houses. Clyde had a wooden leg, the result, as I recall, of an accident while working
with his father. Like his dad, he had huge ears which he would wiggle to entertain the youngsters.
Other than the night watchman story and the threshing article, the only story I recall being told about Will is one that
my grandmother told me. Apparently while a teenager he had gotten caught walking down a wooded country road at night
with no light. Understandably, he was nervous about being out alone in the middle of nowhere. After awhile he saw a man
crouched behind a tree. Will called out to him, "Who are you? What do you want?". There was no response so he picked up
a branch and swung it around him as he ran home. Telling the family of the incident, several men, along with Will,
went out to the spot to confront the man--who turned out to be a dead tree. Apparently, my great-grandfather never
heard the last of it. Indeed, the story was still being told more than a hundred years later.
I visited Tingley, Iowa, where Will and Eunie raised their family, in 1988 and spent some time talking to the proprietor
of the general store. He knew my grandmother well and remarked that he remembered "Old Will McDowell" and that the
wagon wheel sitting in front of the store had belonged to him.
Family of William Ellis and Euphemia (Ashenhurst) McDowell
1. Cecil Eva McDowell, b. 1900; d. 1933
married 1919 Bert Thomas Butterfield
2. Clyde Erwin McDowell, b. 1901; d. 1967; unmarried
3. Alma Luella McDowell, b. 1903; d. 1993, Phoeniz AZ
married 1920 Lester Burns Harrison
4. Birdie Nina McDowell, b. 1905; d. 1994 (my grandmother)
married Hugh Wallace Hogue
5. Euphemia Ruth McDowell, b. 1907; d. 1998
married Willis Theodore Jackson
had one son, "Fay" died in Long Beach CA.
6. Avalyn Fern McDowell, b. 1910; d. 1980
married 1927 Gilbert Filmore Freeman
7. Raymond William "Ray" McDowell, b. 1912; d. 1969
married 1950 Verena Nelson
8. Wilma Lucille McDowell
b. 1913 d. 1928 before her 15th birthday
Submission and photographs by Michael Cooley, April of 2010
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