Orella Ortega Whetsel was my  maternal Grandmother

Orella was born April 14, 1898. She was the youngest of eight children in her family. Two of the children had died before she was born. Her family was in Lick Township, Jackson County, Ohio. Her father was Daniel Henry Whetsel and her mother was Samantha Angeline Neal.

When our mother died,  she left a few stories she had written about her family members. One was about her mother. I am going to incert it here :

The following was written by Thora Buffinton-Gatwood:

“The time was September 1915. The new schoolteacher was quite an attraction at the dance held in the tiny one-room schoolhouse. Everyone wanted to see her and find out about her family. New-comers were not too plentiful in this mining community of Wellston, Ohio. The shy coal-miner thought the teacher was very pretty and so tiny it was hard to tell her from her older students. In those days all eight grades were taught in one room. Some of the older boys would bring in the coal and tend the fire in the pot-bellied stove. A fresh bucket of coal had just been set near the door. Coming out of a swing, the teacher’s partner released her and she landed in the coal bucket. The shy youg coal-miner rescued her before any other could get there. Since her dress was soiled, he offered to take her home to change. That shy youg coal-miner was my father, Frank Phillip Buffington, born January 13, 1894. The pretty school teacher was my moter, Orella Ortega Whetsel, born April 29, 1898.”

Since my Grandmother died many years prior to my birth I did not know her personally. In fact, I never knew any Whetsel’s. My mother was only nine when her mother died and her father remarried. This was the grandma I knew.

Orella graduated from high school and attended a music conservatory. I have been told that she was an accomplished pianist.

In 1915 Orella married Franklin Phillip Buffington.

In the 1920 census for Carlisle, Sullivan County, Indiana Orella is a housewife and mother of two small children (one of them was my Mother). The family had left Ohio 1919 or 1920.

My mother could tell many stories about her mother and all the things she had been taught by her. She said that her mother could study a dress in a store window and she would duplicate it on her sewing machine. This same story could be told about my mother.

My mother always insisted that her sewing, crocheting and embroidery work was all taught to her by her mother. My mother taught my sister and I these same things, but we had her long after we were nine years old. She also told us she would sit on the bench in the silent movie house while her mother played the piano to match the action on the screen.

Her mother sang folk songs to her and she sang them to us and we sang them to our children. I don’t know where the songs came from, but I know they must have been quit old.

There were three boys born while the Buffington family lived in Indiana, but only one survived. Frank and Orella returned to Ohio by 1927. Orella Whetsel Buffington died in June 1927. She left a husband with three young children.  Her death certificate states that she had a hysterectomy on June 7, 1927. She died of peritonitis on June 9, 1927. Penicillin was not used until the 1940’s. Orella Whetsel Buffington was thirty years old at the time of her death. She was buried in the Fairmount Cemetery, Wellston, Ohio.


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