The Story of My Life, by Nellie Juanita Waddington Gano (1917-1965)

Special thanks to Barbara Jean Gano Lansingh for preserving and compiling this autobiography.

The Waddingtons lived in England for many, many generations. I would like to quote this paragraph from the Extracts of the "Craven Herald" -- by the Rev. S. T. Taylor-Taswell, M.A. "The Waddingtons are a very ancient family, and trace their ancestry to a period prior to the Norman Conquest, to even Saxon Times. The name itself is territorial, and signifies the town (ton) of the children of Wada, and may be traced in such places as Wad-how, Wasworth, and Paddington, and strange as it may seem in Padiham, the abode of Wada, since Pada and Wada were only variations of the same word. Their possessions extended over a large part of Yorkshire and Lancashire." However thsi may be, the Waddingtons are able to trace their line in direct unbroken descent to Richard de Waddington of Halifax, York, England. He was born about 1379. There is record of his holding office in 1388.

My grandfather, James Waddington came to the United States in 1835 with his parents. He was born at Headingly, Yorkshire, England the 6th of Nov., 1821. On Feb. 26, 1846 he married my grandmother Lydia Borland. They made their home at New Philadelphia, Ohio. My grandmother died the 25th of March 1907, in Anselmo, Nebraska. James Waddington died the 10th of Feb. 1891, Anselmo, Nebraska. The Borlands were immigrants from Country Antrim, Ireland. When they first came to the United States, they settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. My father always claimed that his mother was Pennsylvania Dutch descent, but this I have not been able to verify. Lydia Borland was born March 8, 1825, Harrison County, Ohio.

My maternal grandmother, Eliza Robinson was born in Todmorden, Yorkshire, England, may 6, 1854. Todmorden is near Leeds. She came to this country when she was a young girl of fifteen. She first lived in the state of Ohio. She met Sylvester Burris of Belaire, Belmont County, Ohio, who was born Sept. 15 1852. They were married the 26th of June 1878 at Tama, Iowa. They went immediately to St. Mary, Kansas to begin their home. Eliza Robinson Burris died Feb. 9, 1936 at Casa Grande, Arizona.

Sylvester Burris was a farmer by occupation. His mother died when he was two. He never knew his father. He was raised by his grand parents. The Burris family lived in Virginia before moving ot Ohio. It is believed that they may have been of German descent. Sylvester Burris died August 22, 1910.

My father was born at New Philadelphia, Ohio, Aug 20, 1866, the fifteenth child of James and Lydia Borland Waddington. The Civil War had just ended and he was named WIlliam Sherman Waddington for the General William Sherman who was a hero for the people of Ohio and the Union at that time.

At the age of six he and his brother were riding work horses back from the field after a day's work when my father fell off his horse, his foot caught in the harness and he was dragged a considerable distance. His hip was dislocated. He spent one whole year in bed following this accident. Finally a healing took place and he was able to walk with the ade of a stick cane. This leg did not develop normally, and was much shorter than the other leg. He always wore a boot with a cork base that made up for the ifference in length. This enabled him to move freely without the use of a cane.

When my father was 20 year old in the year 1886 he moved to Custer County, Nebraska with his parents. He took a homestead of 160 acres in Eureka Valley, near Arnold, Nebraska. I can remember how he would sing of "The Old Sod Shanty on the Claim" which was his way of depicting this phase of his lonesome life as he reminisced of this experience. He sold or traded those 160 acres for a farm in the Ortello Valley near Anselmo, Nebraska. He soon purchased another 160 acres and eventually owned 880 acres in Ortello Valley.

He met Ara May Burris in Anselmo at the home of a mutual friend where she was employed as a housekeeper and practical nurse. Peppermint candy was his favorite treat but Ara May never munched a morsel once he was out of sight. You see, she disliked the flavor of peppermint. Her brothers and sisters were always eager to share the treat, though.

By this time, the Burris family had increased to a family of nine. Ara May, or Sis, was the oldest, born April 3, 1879. The family moved from Kansas to Nebraska in the year 1905. They began to purchase an 1800 acre farm 6 miles east of Anselmo. It was about the year 1910 when Ara May and William first met. They were married in Alliane, Nebraska, Oct. 12, 1911. After a trip to Denver they came back to the farm in Ortello Valley to make their home.

Four children were born to them: Lydia Viola, 26 March, 1914; Nellie Juanita, 25 August, 1916; the Twins -- Willamina May and William Sylvester, 12 Jan 1920. Lydia Viola lived nine days passing this life on the 3rd of APril 1914. She was a "Blue" baby. The little four lb. twin girl lived four hours. Willie, the bouncing 12 lb. boy grew and thrived and enjoyed life to its fullest until stricken with a brain tumor. THis was discovered after he joined the Coast Guard in 1942. He was 22. He died in Prescott, Arizona at the Veterans Hospital July 27, 1946.

My father passed away at the age of 63, March 29, 1930 at Casa Grande, Arizona. The cause of his death was from leakage of the heart from which he had suffered a good many years. On Dec. 31, 1929, he saw somke rolling out of the house next door. The fear of fire brought on a severe hemorrhage. He was never able to recuperate or rest after this attack. He had a good many days to reflect on his life, his desires for his family, etc. He wrote in Willie's autograph album these thoughts: "Feb. 9, 1930, Dear Willie Waddington, I want my boy to love his home, his mother, yes and me. I want him whereso'er he'll roam, with us in thought, to be. I want him to love that which is fine, not let his standards drag. But Oh, I want that boy of mine to love his country's flag. Here is your name -- William S. Waddington."

One time during the last week of his life he seemed to have died but his spirit returned to his body and he rlated the things he had seen. He was full of hope and desired to have his family live righteously that they might be able to enter into the beautiful place he had viewed. He claimed that the place he had seen was most beautiful and peaceful-- more beautiful than he was able to describe. The he commented --(Aunt Freda and Mother wrote thsi down as they remembered very soon after it was said)-- He said, "He thanked God for everything. He oped this valley (Casa Grande Valley, Arizona) would be prosperous and that lots of big churches would be built and everyone would be happy." He said, "He didn't know he would have the privieg of such a nice ending but he thanked God for it all."

This left an impression on my 13 year old mind that has never been forgotten and seemed to fit into place when I became acquainted with the dotrine of the L.D.S. Church. I like to think that the churches he saw in the Casa Grande Valley were Mormon Chapels.

As stated above, my existence into this life began the 25 of August, 1916. The day was cold and chilly on the late summer day in Ortello Valley, Custer County, Nebraska. (Anselmo, Nebraska was my post address.) My father was fifty years old and my mother 37. Their home was a little four room house on a farm in the prairie country--- sometimes classified as sandhill country.

Needless to say, I became a spoiled child and very much favored by my father. I can remember how he would day I needed some fresh air and no matter what the weather I would ge a "Piggy Back" ride around the house every day.

I can remember the long winters, and the wood stove we hovered near. My dad often popped corn over the coals. Many a cold winter night found us eating apples and popcorn.

I remember, Old Fritz, our collie dog. I can see him streaking across the show after a rabbit, as we traveled to school in the buggy drawn by our horse, Billy. I can remember that I was almost glad when the 1916 Buick refused to start on the cold mornings. I considered it a greater event to go to school in the buggy because of the wintry things we could enjoy together along the way.

I can remember the summers---raising chickens, the fears of running into a fierce guinea hen with her brood of little ones. (On one occasion I was near the garage door, not knowing a guinea was anywhere near, when she flew at me, knocking me to the ground and then scratched me with her claws.) I remember the garden, the strawberries, and good spring vegetables: lambs quarter, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, etc. The flowers: iris, peonies, pansies, asters, tiger lilies. I remember canning time, too. How good it was to sneak a big slice of delicious red beet. And cherries-just plain pie cherries I considered the best fruit grown on the farm. I could hardly wait each spring until they were ripe. And the gooseberries--Willie and I used to see how many we could eat without making a face. The wildflowers of the Prairie; wild roses, sweet peas, and Johnny Jump-ups were my favorites. Seet peas grew along the roadside, and the roses and violets in the pastures.

I remember the thrill of the arrival of the new pigs and calves and colts. My father shared each of these events with me by taking me to see them very soon after they were born.

We burned corn cobs in the kitchen stove and that was an eternal chore. I thing I brought in a lot more cobs thatn I probably did.

I can remember the election year when Al Smith, a Catholic, ran for president. Many a neighbor stopped in to discuss the situation with my father. About the same time the Ku Klux Klan arouse in strength to fight the Catholics. Crosses were burned on the hill near Anselmo on several occasions. I remember the fears I absorbed from being a near-by listener.

My grandmother Burris invited me inot her home to visit and this was paradise for me. There were so many interesting things to do. The house was big, the stairway intriguing. The turkey gobbler was fierce. Enough uncles and aunts to satisfy my every whim. I loved to go and stay two weeks at every opportunity. Grandmother Burris was the only grandparent I ever knew.

The first church I attended was the United Brethren in Ortello Valley, just one half mile west of our house. We walked on many a Sunday. I can remember being very frightened by an Evangelist who preached on the terribleness of Hell. It was a very trying experience for me. Mother, Willie and I attended Sunday School every Sunday. My father would go the first time a new minister preached, Reunion Sunday when a picnic lunch was served, the Christmas program and Children's day in June. He was a GOd fearing man bud did not go along with the doctrines of the churches he knew. I became a member of the United Brethren Church when I was eleven.

When we moved to Arizona I attended the Presbyterian church. In college, I attended the Methodist church, and in Snowflake, I went to the LDS church. In Gilbert, Arizon I joined or tranferred my letter to the Community Methodist Chruch. In Yuma I went to the LDS Branch. It was while I lived there that I became a member of the LDS church. I was baptized and confirmed in the MEsa Temple, March 6, 1943. This came about through the encouragement and desire of my husband. I always questioned that the LDS was The True Church in existence. When I received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that it is the true church upon the earth today for the benefit of all mankind. And so, my stubborn soul could doubt no longer. My membership in the church is valued most highly because it brings peace and contentment to my soul, knowing for a surety that Jesus is the Christ.

Going back now, when I was a fifth grader we spent the winter in Arizona. My grandmother Burris and her children Lee, Win, Bessie, Freda and Dewey had moved to Casa Grande in 1920. Two years previously Mother and Willie and I had visited in Arizona. We made the trip via train. (Willie and I had whooping cough.) My teacher in the fifth grade was Miss Ruth Steele. It was a wonderful experience for me to attend such a large school. How good it was to make new friends. Dorothy Ward became my best friend that year and even today we keep in touch. We rented a house near a railroad tack and sort of camped those few moths in Casa Grande. Mexicans lived on the same street. It was interesting to observe their customs. We bought wood from Indians for our little stove for cooking and heating. I don't recall that they ever knocked on the door. This year we visited Grandma really often. Aunt Freda and Uncle Fred lived on our street too. It was fun to visit them and hold their new baby.

Our trip back to Nebraska in March was rather terrifying. We visited relatives in Colorado--Uncle Andy Waddington and family and also cousins. The morning we left Fowler,Colorado, it was storming. When we reached Fort Morgan we stayed with Nellie Phelps, my cousin. We had thought we would be there overnight but had to stay a week as the roads became closed with snow. Near the Colorado line we had a wreck. No one was hurt but the car was damaged and we had to stay in a hotel in Sterling, Colorado until it could be repaired. Starting out again, the roads were fair until we left North Platte for the 80 mile stretch across the hills. I still remember the snow piled higher than the car. A track had been cleared through the snow over which we inched our way home. How good it was to get back to the farm in Ortello. Our dog, old Fritz, was faithfully waiting for us.

The first four years of school I attended the Ortello Valley Rural School. My teachers were Mrs. Dewey, Vera Empfield, Hanna Reyner and Opal ______. I was in Arizona for the fifth grade, and to the Nebraska one room school for the 6th. Miss Lola Butterfield was my sixth grade teacher. My father's health continued to fail and my parents decided to move to Arizona. I attended the Casa Grande grammar school. My seventh grade teacher was Miss Helen Noland. Of all my teachers I ever had I think she was my favorite. I try to think back and analyze the reason now. Every week we memorized a new poem. Every moth she changed the pictures in the room to stimulate our interest. Her methods were challenging to me. Mr. E. Z. Decker was my eighth grade teacher. (I knew he was a Mormon, but when we went to Snowflake to church for the first time I was really surprised when he was called from the audience to give the closing prayer for the meeting.)

I attended the Casa Grande Union High School four years. There were 19 in my grauating class. Teachers I remember; Miss Allen, Spanish; Miss Helen Hunter, home economics; Mr. Weaver Meadows, typing; Miss Nelson, English; Mr. Stewart, chemistry; Mr. B.D. Reasin, History and Superintendant.

My first club was 4-H. How thrilled I was to have a real need for using the sewing machine. This was while I was in Nebraska and probably the summer I was 12.

In High School I belonged to Girl Reserves; Christian Endeavor (the Presbyterian young people's group), Glee Club. I had one line in the senior class play.

In colleg I belonged to a sorority. Each year we gave a dance. I invited Ford my Senior year. This was our first date. However, we first met at a Methodist young people's party. It was my senior year when I took Biology and Ford was the lab assistant and thus a college romance came into existence. There were many dates that Spring. (Ford didn't seem to mind dancing at all then). By late summer we were enganed to be married. Ford attended school at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I taught school, the second grade at Eloy, Arizona. We planned to postponed marriage until school debts were paid but somehow these well-laid plans didn't develop. We were married July 24, 1939 in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Ford's mother, Olga Winifred Willard was born in or near Elko, Nevada, June 26, 1882. Her parents were Lewis Augustus Willard and Julia Frost. Augustus Willard was the son of Alexander Hamilton Willard who was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Simon Willard was the first Willard who came to this country in 1635 and bought a tract of land from the Indians, six miles squre, and founded the town of Concord, Mass. He also lived in Guston and Lancaster, Mass. Olga's first husband Claud Thompson was born 1872 and died 4 July 1910 (?) and married about 1900 at Virginia City, Nevada, died in Greenfield, California.

The first Gano to enter this country was Frances Gano. He was a French Huguenot and came to escape religious persecution. David Gano born 1775(?) of New Jersey is as far as the ancestral line has been traced. We suppos the line will connet to the Frances Gano line. Ford was born in Sacramento, California. He moved with his parents and younger brother Fenner Lynn when he was about 2 and 1/2 years old to Cottonwood, Arizona. They lived on a farm near the Verde River. Paula Elberta and Mary Jo Ann were born in Arizona. (There were two children by the first marriage: John Lewis Thompson, born 22 oct 1901, and Francis (Frank) Thompson born ????).

Ford and I established our home in Snowflake, Arizona in an apartment over a double garage. We lived here for seven months, then moved to a house where we lived for over a year. Nellie Joanne was born June 4, XXXX in Snowflake. Barbara Jean arrived 16 August XXXX. We moved to a house across from the school and then decided to move to Gilbert where we wouldn't be so pressured with Mormonism. To my surprise we missed the whirl of activity we had known in Snowflake.

We spent Christmas in San Diego [note from Barbara... there seems to be some information missing here, I'll keep looking for it].

The days at Gilbert in a large old ranch house were long and tedious. Ford worked constantly as a vocational agriculture instructor. He was at school until 11:00 PM every night. That was a "spooky" house. I remember going to bed early every night and covering my head with the covers and hoping nothing would happen until Ford would get home.

It was here that I discovered the Methodist religion had very little to offer. Ford began to really long to be a baptized Mormon. I began to look into the possiblity for myself. (This puts it mildly for I had violently opposed the thought, and I don't know why.) I began to ask my Mormon friends Mrs. Brookbank and her daughter Bea Heywood questions. (Bea had been my college roommate and such a joy to know). They were very kind and I began to read books they would put into my hands.

Then an opportunity came for us to move to Yuma, Arizona. This was a challenge to Ford in his vocational agriculture work. This also provided us with the opportunity to easily shift back to atteding the L.D.S. Church. we would not feel much "social pressure" in a new community.

The move itself was trying. We borrowed Uncle Lee's cotton trailer. The load was too great for the tires--- when they gave out on the lonesome desert road, some servicemen made our dilemma seem worse by calling us Okies. Once there, our housing was much improved.

I think this was my first Christmas away from my home folks. I think it was about this time that my brother joined the Coast Guard. He had previously worked in a shipyard after atteding 2 years at the University of Arizona.

I went into J.C.Penneys the first Saturday in Yuma to buy Joanne and Barbara shoes. There as clerk, was one of the twins, a Flake, whom we had know in Snowflake. She invited us to the branch meeting the next day. I was a Relief Society Social Science class leader. I became more impressed as time went on that this would be a good church to belong to and Ford wanted to very much. On March 6, 1943 our Branch President, Donald E. Westover baptized us in the Arizona Temple. We were also comfirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the temple following our baptism.

One of the most difficult hurdles for me was to accept the L.D.S. Church as the only true church. I would just "boil" at the egotistical attitudes fo some members. When Iw as confirmed the Holy Ghost bore record to me that it was the true church upon the earth. It is with a grateful feeling that I, too, can bear testimony that it is the true church of Jesus Christ. I have come to realize that no truth that I knew before has been cast off but that many more truths have been realized for the church embraces all truth wherever it is found. If I live worthy I can incorporate these truths into my life.

By December at district conference Ford was ordained an Elder in the Priesthood. I continued to serve in the Relief Society.

Early in the fall of 1943 we knew a baby was making ready to bless our home. Our house was sold and the pressures of wartime made it almost impossible to find another. Finally we shared a house with Sister Blair where we lived until July 1st. Darlene was born May 31, XXXX.

After two years of teaching in Yuma, Ford was discontented and decided to try the business field. The afternoon of May 30th, he left for Phoenix reluctantly. He ws to meet Dave Haywood and plan for his next job and had already postponed the interview a week. Soon after he drove out of the yard I knew the baby would soon arrive. One of the sisters took me to the hospital. I spent 8 days at the hospital.

When I was recuperating at home, Barbara tried to swallow Grandma's cane. The handle became lodged in her throat. By a gentle twist I was able to remove it. This gave us all quite a scare. It was while we were in Yuma that Joanne stopped growing. The doctor diagnosed her afliction as "Sprue". She did not have the abiltiy to digest fat. A no fat diet was recommended and bananas was her principal food and they were difficult to buy in wartime. We used banana flakes, too. On this diet she began to gain 1/2 pound per month and gradually after a year or two got back on to a normal diet.

We lived in Mesa in a very lovely house. The rent took one fourth of the income. Something had to be done. I tried to start a day nursery for children. The landlady objected. Then I took in a high school boy to room and board. Then he was put into his parents custody by the state adjutant general. Again we had to make a change.

I began to look for a place to buy. I found a nice home out on the desert by a mountainside. Ford was going out to look at it when Mr. Heywood suggested that we move to a farm southwest of Gilbert. This was really a miserable place. I despised living htere with a passion. My chores were most difficult to perform. My washing machine was out of order and I had to go to Mesa to a help yourself laundry. Lugging this laundry just about got the best of me. We redecorated the house to try to make it liviable. The day I got the last box unpacked Ford came home with the news that he had a chance for advancement. This meant move again.

While we were here we were members of the Gilbert Ward. I helped in the Primary and Relief Society. I was a counselor to Jennifer Lamb. Barbara developed asthma. Darlene hung a hanger in her eye and tried to pull her eye out of shape. Darlene had convulsions once while on the farm. We rushed her to Mesa to the hospital. Then I couldn't visit her because there was no gasoline. During the war we were rationed on gasoline. I was very glad when she broke out with a rash and the nurse phoned for me to come for her at once. A Phoenix doctor discovered I had a low blood count and wanted me to take shots to build it up. I gave this up because of the gasoline crisis.

Perhaps the most outstanding event during this period was our privilege of entering into the House of the Lord and being sealed for time and all eternity. This is somehting we had looked forward to for a long time. I made white dresses for the three girls and myself. They were sealed to us following our temple marriage. Never will they seem more precious to me. It was a glorious occasion for all of us. This event took place April 23, 1945.

We had to go house hunting again. We decided to try to buy a home this time. Ford found a very old house at 610 E. 4th Ave. It was just outside the city limits of Mesa. I told the children it was a pioneer house. We soon found it was infested with all kinds and varieties of scorpions. It was not elegant in any way but what we could afford. It was to be our home form October 1945 to February 1952.

Here I became a work director in the Relief Society and hten a counselor to Sister Viola Martin when the 7th Ward was organized.

In the fall the children and I all had the flu at the same time. We were all desperately ill. (Ford would contend it was a condition of my mind - this was a carry over from Christian Science influences). I never did feel really well or strong again. I struggled on not realizing that anything serious was developing. On Mothers Day, May 10, I had a hemorrhage. I said "Ford, something is wrong, I've had a hemorrhage." He said, "But it's not very bad." I went on to welfare meeting with the bishopric. I started to hemorrhage again and related my experience to Sister Martin. She said I'd better see a Doctor right away. I went to the Doctor that morning, he had me come back for x-rays. He didn't give me an inkling there of what was wrong. It proved to be tuberculosis. I was sent to a sanatorium which I came to hate with a passion.

[narrative ends here]

A Note from Barbara Lansingh:

This is an autobiography written by Nellie Juanita Waddington Gano and edited by her daughter Barbara Jean Gano Lansingh. The original autobiography and other genealogical information are in the possession of Barbara Lansingh*.

Mother's autobiography ends around 1949. I know I was about 8 when mother was in the sanatorium. I would like to have each of us write a continuation so that her history will be complete (or at least more complete).

Please send me a copy of your remembrances and I'll edit and add to her biography. I know that while I was inputting Mom's history into the computer I realized that I haven't left any of my life story to my family. Time is too short here on earth; so I have made a promise to myself that I wil l work on my autobiography so my family won't have to guess at my history. (It's too bad that I didn't keep a journal.)

Thanks for your help and happy holidays.

Bobbie Jean


[*all rights reserved - copyright Barbara Lansingh 2000]

[entered in HTML format by Liz Osborn, 9 April 2000 - please let me know of typos]

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