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Laura Jane (Miner) Troxel
(1848-1943)

 

Laura Jane (Miner) Troxel was born on July 6, 1848 in or near Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa, about 19 miles from Burlington, the daughter of Nathaniel "Nathan" and Susan (Abbott) Miner.

On Aug. 29, 1871, when Laura was 23 years of age, she married 25-year-old Joseph Troxel Jr. (June 6, 1846-1933), also spelled "Troxell," a native of Annville, Lebanon County, PA. He was the son of Joseph and (?) (Forney) Troxel Sr. Their nuptials were celebrated in the home of Laura's parents in Union Township, Des Moines County, officiated by Rev. Dr. William Salter. Among those attending were Laura's sisters  Clara Tucker and Sarah Bird "Birdie" Pickard. A record of the wedding was made in the Des Moines County Marriage Book.

No  public record of Joseph's birth or baptism was kept, although a notation was made in a family record of some kind. He stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall (or 5 feet 10½ inches -- records differ) and weighed 165 lbs., sporting a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes.

Gettysburg's East Cavalry Field today, where Joseph saw battle action
Courtesy Library of Congress



The Troxels' signatures - National Archives
During the Civil War, in Baltimore, MD, Joseph joined the Union Army on Oct. 25, 1862. He was assigned to the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Battery H, commanded by Capt. W.D. Rank. In May 1863, his unit designation was changed to light artillery. During early-to-mid 1863, he contracted severe diarrhea followed in July by hemorrhoids while in the line of duty. Joseph's Company H is known to have taken part in the East Cavalry Field fight at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. In that engagement, Union cavalry under the command of Brig. Gen. David Gregg and Gen. George Armstrong Custer stopped Confederates led by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart from turning the flank and threatening the Union's rear of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade. Later a prominent monument was erected to Battery H at the site.

After Gettysburg, Company H spent the rest of the war in the Baltimore area. Joseph received his honorable discharge in Baltimore on July 25, 1865.

Upon a return to civilian life, Joseph immediately settled in Burlington, Des Moines County, where he eventually met his future wife.

The couple bore one known son, Millard Miner Troxel.

The Troxels made their home in Burlington until 1901. In 1871, Joseph and a brother formed a furniture business in Burlington. They ran it for three decades. In 1899, their address was 308 Jefferson Street in town. 

 

Bird's-eye view of Waterloo, home of the Troxels in 1901-1911

Joseph was awarded a federal pension in July 1890 as compensation for illness/injury sustained during the war. [Invalid App. #984.411 - Cert. #803.275] He claimed disability for a hernia and hemorrhoids, and once wrote that he had a "complete rupture right side. Can retain it with a truss. Have had piles every since was in the army. Sometimes they bleed profusely." John P. Gingrich of Burlington, who had enlisted with Joseph in Pennsylvania on the same day, and Dr. S.E. Nixon, who had treated Joseph for years, testified that the physical disability claims were legitimate. Nils Anderson and Milton G. Campbell also gave affidavits in support of the claims.

In 1901, the Troxels moved to Waterloo, a bustling town along the Cedar River, with an address of 622 Washington Street. There, Joseph  and son Millard refurbished a building and relocated the firm there. The April 20, 1901 edition of the Waterloo Courier reported: 

The new furniture store, located in the building formerly occupied by the Cutler Hardware company, will be opened Monday by the new firm of Troxel & Co., a firm which has come to this city from Burlington, after years of successful experience in the furniture business. The store room has been completely remodelled and refitted for the new firm and is a place of beauty. With the embellishments of a stock of new and modern furniture, the place is very inviting and has the appearance of a flourishing store, where all go to purchase their articles of household furnishings. The new company will occupy three of the four floors of the building, including the basement, and for them the ground floor and second story have been completely remodeled. A handsome new steel ceiling has been added to both floors and the walls have been repapered in a delightful blending of colors. A new wide staircase has been erected in the rear connection the first with the second floor. An elevator has also been added for the convenience of the firm in raising the goods from the basement and first floor to the second. The company has also the use of the two storehouses in the rear of the building formerly used by the Cutler Hardware company. The main building, fronting on East Fourth street is forty-five feet by eighty feet, allowing ample room for the display and sale of furniture. The store houses each have two floors and are 54 by 60, and 45 by 54 feet, respectively. The basement of the main building will be used as a general store room for articles constantly needed in stock. The first floor will be used for the display and sale of bedroom, dining-room and library suites, and although the complete stock has not yet bee placed in this room, there is an excellent showing of handsome furniture. On the second floor will be found the parlor furniture and upholstered goods, the carpets, draperies and wall paper. These will be artistically arranged for display and some very choice designs in carpets and draperies are already being shown. 

One of Laura's letters
National Archives
The Troxels hired M.A. Brigham of Cedar Rapids an Elmo Bateman of Waterloo as salesmen. 

Laura and her daughter-in-law Cora are known to have held a series of Thursday afternoon card parties at the residence they shared at 622 Washington Street. A January 1904 story in the Courier reported that they had entertained 24 women in an afternoon-long game of six-handed euchre. Laura’s married sister Birdie and husband Isaac Pickard of Fort Madison are known to have visited their home in August 1908.

When the federal census was taken in 1910, Joseph was supported by his own income, and his son Millard worked as manager of their furniture store. Roomers John R. Bolley and Charles Dowd  [spelling?] lived under their roof.

Then in 1911, the couple pulled up their Iowa stakes and migrated to Southern California, first settling in San Diego, at the address of 3315 H Street. The federal census enumeration of 1920 shows the Troxels now living in Coronado, San Diego County, with the 73-year-old Joseph still working as proprietor of a variety/hardware store.

They remained in Coronado through the 1920s and are listed together in the 1930 U.S. Census, he retired at age 83 and she age 81. Joseph's monthly pension checks during that time totaled $75.00. His final years were burdened with continuing health decline. In 1932, his personal physician Dr. Charles W. Lane wrote: 

It is quite necessary for him to have regular personal aid and attendance due to a chronic heart condition, deafness, bladder trouble and the feebleness brought on by his advanced years. His mental condition is good. He is unable to dress or bathe without assistance. He requires the attendance of a physician on an average of twice a month and at times he is bedfast for a week or more due to the heart and bladder trouble. He is very very deaf.

Sadly, diagnosed in 1932 with cancer of the prostate and bladder, Joseph passed away on Aug. 19, 1933. An obituary in the San Diego Sun gave a surviving sister's name of Mrs. Daniel Haskell of Burlington. Rev. Mottley S. Hammock presided over the funeral rites.

The widowed Laura petitioned the government to receive her late husband's pension. The government launched an investigation into the case and conducted depositions with Laura's sisters, 83-year-old Clara Tucker, of Pomona near Los Angeles and 67-year-old  Sarah Bird Pickard of Coronado. It was granted on Oct. 12, 1933 at a rate of $40 per month. [Widow App. #1.735.862 - XC 877.179]

Laura's final address in Coronado was at 1010 F Street. She died at home at the age of 94 on April 10, 1943 or May 8, 1943. Word of her passing was sent to friends in Waterloo, IA. An obituary in the Waterloo Courier said "They went to Coronado 31 years ago and had since resided there" and that she was survived by her brother William Miner of Denmark, IA. Her remains were placed into rest in the Greenwood Mausoleum.

In September 2022, the founder of this website visited the National Archives in Washington, DC and requested to see the Troxel Civil War pension file. He was notified that the file is actually in the custody of the National Archives in St. Louis, and he sent a letter to St. Louis requesting a complete copy of the records. It took a year-and-a-half, but the full record was located, scanned and transmitted by mid-2024.

 

~ Son Millard Miner Troxel ~

Son Millard Miner Troxel (1872-1950) was born on Oct. 8, 1872 in Iowa.

He was of medium height and build, with grey eyes and dark brown hair. 

At the age of 26, on Valentine's Day 1889, he was united in wedlock with 19-year-old Cora E. Artz (1879-1907), daugher of E.L. Artz of Burlington, Des Moines County, IA. The ceremony was held in her hometown.

They did not reproduce. 

After two years in Burlington, the pair pulled up stakes and moved in 1901 to Waterloo, where Millard and his father opened a large furniture store on East Fourth Street, known as Troxel Furniture and Carpet Company. He regularly made trips to places such as Chicago and Grand Rapids to promote the business.

A local newspaper said that while in Waterloo, Cora "endeared herself to all whom she met. She was a member of the P.E.O. society and connected with other leading organizations of the city and her beautiful character and gentle disposition made her a favorite with all....[She] formed acquaintances and friends [and] was a familiar figure at the social affairs of the city." 

Among the organizations to which she belonged were the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, Ladies Literary Society, Coffee and Repartee Needlework Club. She and her mother-in-law often jointly entertained friends.

Millard and Cora liked to fish and were known to have outings on the Black Hawk Creek. Cora also liked to play card games such as euchre.

In 1900, the pair lived under the roof of Millard's parents. That year, Millard was employed as a clerk, likely in his father's furniture store.

Sadly, Cora contracted typhoid fever in August 1906, "which was very severe and from which she never fully recovered," said the Waterloo Courier. "All her life her heart had been weak and this serious illness enfeebled her health still more." Seeking a healthier climate, her husband and mother moved in about March 1907 to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Spokane, WA, "hoping that the change might be beneficial." 

Now in Spokane, said the Courier, the 26-year-old Cora "seemed to be getting along nicely, they had just pleasantly settled in a new home of their own and those with her were hopdful that their loved one was to be restored to them." But on the fateful day of May 8, 1907, at 6 p.m., "she saw a runaway [horse] madly go past the house. Her husband was rather late in coming to supper and she had been worrying about him and seeing the runaway, she imagined he might be hurt and the excitement caused heart failure from which she died half an hour later, her mother and the physician who had been heastily summoned being at her side."  

Word was sent to Millard's father in Waterloo, with an obituary appearing in the Courier. Her remains were returned to Waterloo and taken to her in-laws' residence at 622 Washington Street. Rev. J.W. Bissell officiated the funeral. She was placed into eternal rest in the Elmwood Cemetery in Waterloo, Black Hawk County, IA. A large prominent marker stands at the grave with the words "Troxel."

Millard remained a widower for three years. In 1910, at the age of 38, he resided with his parents in Waterloo and was employed as a manager in the furniture store. He moved to Kewanee, IL sometime that year.

On Sept. 7, 1910, when he was 38 years of age, Millard married for a second time. His second bride was 34-year-old Marie Vimont (1878- ? ), a native of Lincoln, IL and the daugher of William H. and Susan (Nourse) Vimont.  Their quiet nuptials were conducted by Rev. C.T. Hagerman in the presence of 36 guests in the residence of Marie's married sister Mrs. Lowell Chamberlain on West Grand Avenue. A related story in the Des Moines Register said that Marie was an alumna of Northwestern University and Columbia University and had been chair of biology at Kewanee High School. 

They produced two known children -- Margaret Troxel and Joseph Vimont Troxel.

In 1912, when their daughter was born, they lived in Illinois. Then in 1912 they migrated to Southern California and established a new home in Coronado, San Diego County, where he operated his own hardware and general merchandise store. Millard and his father together built a small white house on 9th Avenue.

When required to register for the military draft in 1918, Millard disclosed that his address was 617 9th Avenue in Coronado. The store itself was at 1001 Orange Avene. 

The Troxels resided in 1920 on 9th Street in Coronado and remained in the city at least through 1935.

By 1940, the family relocated into the city of San Diego, with a home on Biona Street. Then in 1950, they lived in El Cajon, San Diego County.

Millard died in San Diego County on April 19, 1950, at the age of 68.

Marie outlived her spouse by a dozen years. She passed away in San Diego County on March 2, 1962. Interment was in the mausoleum of Greenwood Memorial Park.

Daughter Margaret Troxel (1911-2013) was born on June 2, 1911 in Illinois. When she was age 28, in 1940, she was employed as a teacher in San Diego, CA and dwelled with her parents. In time she entered into marriage with Walter William Mentze (1904-2007), a native of Harper, KS. In a most fascinating twist, both wife and husband both reached their 100th birthdays. They became the parents of two -- Joan Mentze and Rev. Robert Mentze. They resided in San Diego. Walter also was an educator and taught music at Roosevelt Junior High School and Horace Mann Middle School. The angel of death spirited Walter away at the age of 103 on Nov. 19, 2007. Burial was in Greenwood Memorial Park, with an obituary appearing in the San Diego Union-Tribune.  Margaret outlived him by a little more than five years.  She surrendered to death on Jan. 24, 2013, at the age of 101.

  • Granddaughter Joan M. Mentze (1949- ? ) was born in about 1949 in San Diego. She was in the city of her birth in 2007. 
  • Grandson Rev. Dr. Robert W. Mentze resided in 2007 in Santee, CA. Retired in 2019, he was active with the Presbytery of San Diego.

Son Joseph Vimont Troxel (1915-2004) was born on Aug. 21, 1915 in a hospital in San Diego. He grew up "enjoying all that the Coronado community had to offer, including Tent City and fields of wildflowers," said Coronado Eagle & Journal. He was an alumnus of Coronado High School and worked in the family hardware business, establishing his own space in the back of the building where he sold and fixed radios. Joseph lived at home at age 24, in 1940, and earned a living as a salesman in the store. He also was a volunteer youth worker at Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church and as a camp counselor for the San Diego YMCA. He is known to have moved to San Diego in 1937 and became a member of the Rolando Methodist Church. Then during World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and was in military service for three years. When the federal census enumeration was made in 1950, Joseph was age 35, still a bachelor and continuing to work as a salesman in a retail hardware store in El Cajon, San Diego County. His father died in 1950, with Joseph taking over ownership of the hardware firm and running it for a baker's dozen years, located at the corner of Orange and 10th Streets. In 1963, at the age of 48, he was joined in wedlock with Chicago native and widow Elza Catherine (Venn) Sanders (Nov. 28, 1911-2011), widow of John E. "Jack" Sanders who had owned the Lemon Grove (CA) Hardware Store. She brought two stepchildren to the union, Sharon Konz and Jack Sanders. The couple remained together for more than four decades and put down roots in Rolando. Joseph especially loved to be out in nature in the desert and mountains and at one point purchased a cabin in Pine Valley for his mother. He also "spent many hours working in the large, naturalized garden he loved, especially his rose garden," said the Eagle & Journal. "Joe will always be remembered for his down-home friendliness and helpfulness." Joseph died after a short bout of pneumonia on Nov. 12, 2004. The Eagle & Journal published his obituary. A memorial was held in the family church, where a memorial fund was established in his name. Elza lived in widowhood for another seven years. Death swept her away on Nov. 2, 2011. Her obituary appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

  • Step-granddaughter Sharon Sanders wed (?) Konz. 
  • Step-grandson Jack R. Sanders ( ? - ? ) was joined in wedlock with Maria.

 

Copyright © 2000, 2005, 2016, 2020, 2022, 2024 Mark A. Miner