Here is my next ancestor story, which is taken from my husband’s side of the family again. Little Annie as she was always known in family stories, was in reality, Anna Marie Strate the youngest child of her parents and the daughter of Rasmus Strate, 1857-1914, and his wife, Ane Mettie Marie Sofie Frederikke Thomsen, 1864-1886. Annie was born January 28, 1886 in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah. Annie would have been my husband’s first cousin, one generation removed from their common ancestors. Her mother was my husband’s grandaunt, and was one of his grandfather, Peder Engmar Thomsen, anglicized to Peter Elmer Thompson, older sisters.
Annie’s mother died from complications following Annie’s birth, almost a month later on February 25, 1886 and so she of course never knew her mother. Her grandparents, Hans and Karen Thomsen had left Spring City in September of 1881 and gone to the Arizona Territory and were living in St. Johns until February of 1885 when they moved to Old Mexico. After they heard about their daughter’s death they came back up to Utah and took Annie back to Mexico with them to raise. They were living at the Pratt Ranch in Cave Valley in Chihuahua, Mexico when Annie came to live with them.
Annie had two older siblings, a brother and a sister, both born in Spring City as well named, Rasmus Adolph Strate, 1882-1970 in Porterville, Tulare County, California who married Katherine Groves Thompson (no relationship) and Velettie Caroline Strate, 1884-1964 in Sacramento, California who married Thomas Jackson Thomas and then Phillip Andrew Biesinger. Their father kept these two children with him, but he could not take care of the baby too and that is why he let her go with her grandparents. I have a picture of Annie’s father Rasmus, her brother Rasmus and her sister Velettie, but not one of her mother and they are the following. I wish I had a better one of Caroline, and I do have a picture of Annie’s, mother’s, tombstone though and it follows as well.
Annie was barely a year old when her grandparents took her to Mexico and for the next five years she followed her two young uncles, Hyrum and Peter all over the place, as they were the only two still living at home. She was their little shadow, but stayed closed to her grandmother for the most part. In the spring of 1892, Annie and her grandmother Karen had their picture taken in Colonia Juarez and this is the only picture I have of Annie as a child, but none yet of her as an adult. Annie was six years old and her grandmother was fifty-eight in this picture. My youngest daughter Amy, looked a lot like Annie when was she was this age, and so we had a copy of this picture made and hung in Amy’s bedroom. Her favorite bedtime story was when I told her the story about the little girl who survived the Indian attack.
That spring was probably the last time for quite a few years that Annie still felt like a little girl, for that fall on what started out to be a beautiful Sunday morning on September 19, 1892 the quiet was shattered as renegade Apache Indians, raiding off the reservation, came running down into the farm yard of the Pratt Ranch, shooting and screaming war cries, as first Hyrum, then Peter fell from gunshots. Hyrum they believe died almost instantly, Peter, my husband’s grandfather, was shot at least twice in the chest, but somehow managed to crawl away, after the Indians went into the house, over to the chicken coop and crawl underneath it. Karen hearing the sounds I am sure went running out to see what was happening. I am also sure she probably saw her sons lying dead, as I am pretty sure she was probably thinking that, and then to feel the tug of her little granddaughter, which brought her back to the reality of what was happening around here. The Indians seeing her standing there shot her and she fell and then they grabbed Annie, but then put her down as they raided through the house and took food, and whatever else they thought they needed. While the Indians were tearing the house apart Karen who was not dead yet, took Annie and hid her under her long skirt. When the Indians came back out they didn’t see Annie, but they realized that Karen was still a live, so a squaw took a large rock and bashed her head in, this time she was dead. I wrote about Karen’s story for Week #7.
Thinking the little girl may have gone for help and then realizing that one of the boys was no longer lying where he had fallen, the Indians mounted up and took off, leaving death and destruction in their wake. After they left, Annie looked out from under her grandmother’s shirt and saw that she was dead, I can only imagine the horror that little girl endured seeing her beloved grandmother with her head all bloody. My husband’s grandfather, Peter, motioned for Annie to come to him and I am sure she must have run as fast as lightening towards him. They laid under the chicken coop until they were sure the Indians were really gone and then 14 year old Peter, told 6 year old Annie that they needed to go for help. Their old dog had somehow stayed out of the ruckus and showed up right when they needed him. Somehow Peter stood and while holding on to Annie and with the dog there to warn them of any danger, they started walking towards the Mortenson ranch which was a few miles away but the closest to their ranch.
Peter soon stopped weak from the loss of blood and set and leaned against a tree. He told Annie that she needed to continue to walk down that road and she would eventually see the Mortenson ranch. Annie was so frightened that she at first refused, but Peter finally convinced her to take their dog and she would be safe, while he stayed there at the tree. Peter said in later years that he thought for sure he would be dead before Annie got out of his site and he didn’t want her to be setting by him when that happened, she had already seen more than any little girl should have ever had to see.
Meanwhile at the Mortenson ranch something just didn’t feel right, James Mortenson went and saddled his horse and headed towards the Thomsen ranch and the closer he got the more that feeling increased. It was coming on to dusk when out of the evening mist he saw a tiny figure and a large dog, he recognized Little Annie almost immediately and he knew that things were bad, she was covered in blood and while he checked her over to see if it was hers, he finally got her to talk. She said everyone was dead and that Peter had told her to walk towards his ranch. James put her on his horse and took her back to his ranch and then raised the alarm about Indians in the area. He hitched up his wagon so that he could collect the bodies at the Thomsen ranch, Annie had told him that Peter wasn’t at the ranch, but against a tree on the road towards his ranch. As James was going down the road he kept his eyes open for Indians and for the tree, Annie said Peter was by. When he saw the boy against the tree he knew he was dead, but as he picked him up to lay him in the wagon, Peter’s eyes opened and he ask if Annie had made it to the ranch and then he passed out, alive, but just barely, and so James went back to his ranch with the boy so they could start trying to save his life.
In the mean time someone was able to find Annie’s grandfather and he came to the Mortenson ranch where his wife, sons Hyrum, Peter and his granddaughter Annie were. They buried the two bodies the next day and as soon as Peter was able to travel they put him in a wagon and took him and Annie to Colonia Juarez where they stayed with Aunt Sena. Word was sent to Annie’s father, Rasmus Strate in Utah, I am not sure how long it took, but he did come and get Annie and took her back to Utah with him.
Annie soon met her two older siblings, and her father for basically the first time, since she had been less than a year old when her grandparents took her to Mexico. Annie’s father remarried in 1894 and now she had a stepmother and soon Annie had half-siblings being born, all in Spring City, starting with, Maybert ‘R’ Strate, 1895-1968; Andrew Everette Strate, 1897-1961; Rulon Alfonzo Strate, 1899-1983; Fredolph McKinley ‘Mack’ Strate, 1901-1988; Christie Marie Strate Beck, 1904-1992; Don Carlos Strate, 1909-1983 and Dora Geneva Strate Madsen, 1912-1984. All of these half-siblings were buried at the Spring City Cemetery, just like Annie’s father, mother and step-mother were.
Annie was living with her father on the 1900 census in Spring City, but sometime between 1902 and 1904 she met and married Gabriel B. ‘Gabe’ May who was born in Owen County, Kentucky on May 2, 1876. Why he was in Utah, I have not been able to figure out yet, but on their first child’s birth record it does say he was a soldier, so maybe he was stationed at Camp Douglas and the 1945 state census in Florida says he was a Spanish War Veteran. All the old family records say that Annie and Gabe were married in Spring City on November 17, 1904 but so far I have not been able to find an official record of that marriage. They became the parents of four known children, two boys and two girls. Their first child, Gabriel Allen ‘Harry B.’ May was born in Salt Lake City on January 28, 1906. Before August of 1908 they had left Utah and gone back east to Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana where some of Gabe’s family lived. Their next child, a daughter, Dolly Marie May was born in Indianapolis on August 30, 1908 as were their next two children, Marie Geneva May on September 22, 1915 and Walter Gene May on November 19, 1919.
Now I don’t know what is going on, but in Jefferson County, Indiana on November 11, 1911 Annie and Gabe are getting married, again???, and both are saying it is their first marriage, and it has the wrong birth date for Annie. Jefferson County is almost 100 miles southeast of Indianapolis, so why they went that far to get married, when the marriage record says they both live in Marion County, is beyond me at this time. The only thing I can think is that maybe they weren’t really married in Utah in 1904 and they have finally decided they might want to make themselves legit, so to speak and so they go 100 miles away so no one knows what they are doing. The following is a copy of their marriage license from 1911.
In 1914, Annie’s father Rasmus Strate had died in Spring City, and I doubt Annie was able to go back for his funeral. Annie and Gabe and their children continued to live in Indianapolis, but things were to get heart breaking again for Annie when on March 8, 1930 her oldest child, Gabriel Allen May, Harry as he was known, was killed in a car accident where he suffered a fractured skull and broken neck, when the car he was a passenger in was hit by a train. His fiancée Ina Smith, was setting in his lap and suffered internal injuries, but apparently survived as I have not found any newspapers stating that she had died.
Annie’s other three children married, Dolly Marie May married Samuel Raymond Pullen, 1901-1965, on July 15, 1928 in Indianapolis and after his death in 1965 she married a Mr. Kern, and I have yet to find his first name or their marriage date. Mary Geneva May married Robert Delmas Thrasher, 1911-1966, on March 30, 1937 in Shelby County, Indiana and Walter Gene May married Velma Pauline Palmer, 1920-1990, on June 19, 1939 in Indianapolis. I don’t know if it was just the memories of her son’s death or if they just decided to leave Indianapolis for some other reason, but sometime before December 1938, Annie and Gabe moved to Miami, Florida and their three living children and their spouses also moved there as well around the same time.
Annie and Gabe from everything I have found to date only had two grandchildren, a grandson by their daughter Dolly, named Robert Thrasher and a granddaughter by their son Walter, named Judith Ann May. I have been trying to track these two down to see what pictures or stories they may know about their grandmother, but so far I have not had any luck in locating them. They were just a year or so apart in age being born in the early 1940’s. I did find a picture of Annie’s granddaughter, Judith Ann May from the Manatee Junior College in Bradenton, Florida year book in 1962 and it follows.
I don’t have any pictures of Annie when she was an adult, nor do I have any of her children, but I do have a couple of her husband that were sent to me by one of his grandnieces from the May side of this family, and they are the following, taken on the beach in Miami in December of 1938.
Annie’s children passed away, Gabriel Allen May on March 8, 1930 as I stated earlier; Dolly Marie May Pullen Kern on June 9, 1989; Mary Geneva May Thrasher on March 28, 1993 and Walter Gene May on June 27, 1990; all in Florida except for the oldest child. Annie’s husband Gabe was 10 years older than Annie, but died 10 years after her in December of 1967 in Miami, Florida.
No one had followed Annie, genealogy wise, at least that I am aware of, after she left her grandparents and went back to her father. My mother-in-law, just a couple of years before she passed away in 2007, ask me if I could find out whatever happen to Annie, so that is when I started looking for her. I wish I had started looking sooner and then maybe I could have talk to one of her children.
Little Annie, Anna Marie Strate May, passed away in Miami, Florida on December 26, 1957 and was laid to rest at Lincoln Memorial Park in Allapattah in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Her husband and two of her children and their spouses, Dolly and Walter, are also buried there as well. I have yet to find the cemetery that Mary and her husband were buried in.
What a life Little Annie led, from her mother dying when she was barely a month old, to her grandmother and uncle being murder right in front of her when she was six years old. Then to be taken back by a father she didn’t even know, to siblings she never remembered seeing and then a new step-mother, it makes you wonder if she may have suffered any kind of abandonment or depression with the things that she endured at such a young age. Then to top it off to have her oldest child be killed in such a tragic accident when he was only 24 years old. She must have had real strength and fortitude of spirit to help her get through all she had to endure, through her almost 72 years of life.