52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – #2 – Ida Mae BRANSCOMBE

I am starting to catch up on my 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks! ūüôā

Ida Mae Branscombe (b. 14 August 1874 d. 25 October 1962) was my great grandmother. She was born in Picton, Prince Edward, Ontario, Canada to Thomas Branscombe and Sarah Euphemia McDonald. According to her obituary, she came to Alpena, Michigan when she was 14 ca. 1888. She married¬†David Donald Jr., son of the Sr. David Donald on 23 February 1892 when she was about 17 years old. They built and operated the only store in the “Greenwoods” in Long Rapids, Michigan. Bartering was common at the store, as money was scarce. Chickens, eggs, homemade butter and wheat were exchanged by the customers for essentials including,¬†“tea dust at ten cents a pound; coffee, in a four pound pail, for one dollar; white sugar at twenty-five cents for three pounds; oranges for five cents each; and lard at two pounds for twenty-five cents.”1 The family went by carriage to Alpena to exchange or sell for items to resell in their store including groceries, clothing and hunting supplies for the local woodsmen. They had scales in the store that they made available for anyone to use. The grove in the front of the store was also a popular place for parties, picnics, 4th of July festivities and for homemade ice cream.

Even with five small children in her care, Ida Mae kept the store open for customers while David worked as a lumber scaler for extra income.

“When Mr. Donald’s health began to fail, he went West to Fort Collins, Colorado. The store property was sold to the youngest brother, Will Donald. Soon after the sixth baby was born to Mrs. Donald, she boarded the train with her small brood and headed west to join her husband. Mr. Donald was a pottery cookware salesman in Fort Collins and the family was together until he succumbed to tuberculosis on 15¬†January¬†1907. Mrs. Donald and all her children once again returned to Greenwoods, repurchased the family dwelling and ran the store until it was destroyed by fire.”1

The family slept¬†in the Greenwoods school house (which was right across the street from where the store once stood and also served as the church) and left in the morning when the students¬†arrived for classes, until their new house was built. An interesting side note:¬†Mrs. David Donald, Sr. (grandmother to Ida Mae’s children) and later her son, Donald, gave¬†the sermon and taught¬†Sunday School there.

Ida Mae (pictured below, bottom row, middle) married my great grandfather Lorenzo “Dow” Edmonds, (pictured below, bottom row, 2nd from left) a bachelor, on 4¬†December¬†1907 in Long Rapids, Alpena, Michigan. He was born 15 December 1866 to William Edmonds and Matilda Humphrey in Belleville, Ontario, Canada and came to the Alpena area between¬†1880 and 1890. Ida Mae and her six children (Florence, Henrietta, Arthur, David, Violet and Ida) started their new life with Dow. Ida Mae and Dow had at least 7 more children together, including my grandmother, Isabelle (pictured bottom row, second from right, below).

The Edmonds/Donald Family
Front: Henrietta Donald, Lorenzo “Dow”, Ida, Isabelle Florence Donald. Back: Violet Donald, Wesley, Roy, Milton, Arthur Donald, Lorenzo Jr., and Florence Donald


Dow died 3 May 1955. She and Dow are buried in Long Rapids Cemetery, in Long Rapids, Alpena, Michigan, along with many of our other family members.

According to her obituary, “Mrs. Edmonds was a member of the Long Rapids Congregational Church and the Long Rapids Rebekahs.¬†Surviving are 10 children, Mrs. William Kollen (Florence) of R 2, Mrs. Ervin Griffith (Henrietta) of R 2, Posen, Arthur Donald of Alpena, Mrs. John Cook (Violet) of Posen, Mrs. William Edmonds (Ida) of Lachine, Mrs. William Tucker (Isabella) of Hillman, Milton Edmonds of Standish, Wesley Edmonds of R 2 Posen, Lorenzo Edmonds of Flint and Roy Edmonds of Lachine; 74 grandchildren; 104 great grandchildren; and 11 great great grandchildren.¬†Mrs. Edmonds’ body is at the Wachterhauser funeral home where the funeral will be at 2 Sunday. The Rev. Norris Beck of Greely Baptist Church will officiate.”

1. Excerpt from: http://www.posenmi.org/?q=node/18