Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead

Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead

Male 1903 - 1970  (67 years)

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  • Name Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead 
    Born 4 May 1903  Riverside, Roanoke County Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 18 Sep 1970  Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • John David Grinstead (b. 19 MAR 1929) wrote the following biography about his father, Ellis Baker Grinstead, in March, 1999:

      "John Grinstead was born on May 4, 1903 in Riverside, Virginia, the third child of Charles Meek Grinstead and Minnie Tarter Williams Grinstead. Until John was about eight he lived at home with seven of his siblings, then he went to live with Bill and Reese Bishop who were friends of his parents.

      John did not like school and whenever he could manage, he would go "coon" hunting instead. He used to get skunks to stink him up on the way to school so the teacher would send him home. That gave him the excuse to stay out for the day. He was heard to say many times as an adult that he only had a 3rd grade education.

      From the time he was eight till he was fourteen John worked for the Bishops for his keep and visited his family on occasion. John was a very good swimmer and could out swim and out dive all the kids at the "old swimming hole" Snakes such as copperheads and water moccasins (cotton mouths) inhabited the same area and waters in which they swam.

      Another Bishop brother took John to Hartline, Washinton after a promise to his folks of education and a good future for John. That promise never came true. John worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week for more than a year and got nothing except board and room. He then left to return home riding the rails of freight cars till he got as far as Chicago, Ill. where he met a fellow and went to Springfield, Ill. and worked and slept in a pool hall for a number of months. He then tried to join the Army but was too young so he went to the Navy recruiting office, lied about his age (I think he was 16 at the time) and joined the Navy. John learned to box while in the Navy and used that knowledge many, many times during his lifetime.

      His dislike for the Navy was evident as he went AWOL a number of times and the last time he was never found. I believe that was about the time that he changed his given name from Ellis Baker to John. After leaving the Navy, John returned to the Hartline/Quincy, Washington area where he met and married Lillian Schults July 7th, 1922. After a couple years of a stormy marriage a judge granted John a divorce after John showed the judge the open space in his mouth where his top front teeth used to be. John went on to explain that Lillian got drunk on wine often and one night picked up a chair and smashed John in the face during an argument.

      Mike; The above is to the best of my knowledge and from the records I have kept. Dad talked a lot about his childhood to all of us "kids" that would listen so you may hear different versions. I took Dad back to his home town in 1962 where he got to see all his brothers and sisters that were still alive. Some for the first time and one sister he never got to see at all as she was born and died while he was away those 45 years."

      John David Grinstead (b. 19 MAR 1929) wrote the following addendum to the biography about his father, Ellis Baker Grinstead, in April, 1999:

      Hi Mike; I have no info on Dad as to when he left eastern Washington or when he arrived in Bellingham. Nor from the time he divorced Lillian Schultz till he married Mom. I am sure Dad and Mom had some courting time though as indicated in the Eulogy by Jenny. She may know a lot more about how Dad and Mom met as she and Mom used to talk a lot when they lived next door to each other on Superior street. Also Jenny is a real nice person and easy to talk to and is interested in what you have to say. Mom liked her a lot. Mom needed someone to "prime her pump" to start talking or she was not forthcoming about information. Anyway, back to Dad.

      Johnny, everyone he knew called him that, married Rachel May Bingham October 10, 1926 and had a bunch of kids. You have all that info except you have a few errors in it. Ginny was born in 1946 and Kirsten was not a daughter. You should put in Elizabeth Anne though as that was Rolly's daughter from a previous marriage. Gin raised her like her own! Also Ed was was never married to Karen. He had daughter Heidi with Cookie ?
      He did marry and divorce Marvel Kay Johnson m.5/24/1968, divorced ?; and Shelah Etter m. 8/21/197, I do not know when they were divorced either.

      Will be using Dad and Mom instead of Johnny and Rachel in the following write up whenever appropriate.

      Dad worked at Ashe Bros. Motor Co. in Bellingham as a mechanic and/or the shop foreman. ( Don't know if he started there before he met and married Mom or after that.) He was considered the best Oldsmobile mechanic in Bellingham and the Oldsmobile owners would wait days to have their cars worked on by him rather than have another mechanic work on it. At the time mechanic wages were pretty low and then came the depression which made it very tough on the working person. He and Mom had a life style that was less than comfortable I would say. They had few if any luxuries.

      Not long after they were married, Dad and Mom decided to drive back to Virginia where Dad was born. Dad took all his mechanic tools so I assume they were moving back there. They had a Model T Ford and going over Blewett Pass in Eastern Washington on the way to Virginia, Mom left her purse with all their money on the running board of the car when they stopped due to car trouble. Dad had to move the passenger seat to get to the tools so Mom moved her purse onto the running board and they both forgot about it. They found it missing later on when they stopped for gas. Dad had to sell his mechanic tools to get the money to get back to Bellingham and to survive while he found a job.

      The only place I remember Dad working other than having his own automobile repair shop was Ashe Motors which changed from Ashe Bros. to Ashe Motors. Charmie can probably tell you the street names, etc. that Dad and Mom rented before they moved to 1901 H street. I know some street names but don't have the when or address information. I do not have a strong memory of my childhood. Little bits of data here and there but nothing like Charmie, Jim and Ginny claim they have. Hopefully they can fill you in on a lot of I can't.

      One of the stories I remember hearing occurred circa 1937-8 while we were living on Cottonwood Street. Dad and Mom were coming home late at night from a trip to town. The bus only came within a mile of the house so they were going down the road laughing and dancing around acting silly when the police came by, thought they were teenagers and stopped them for being out so late at night. I don't know who was more surprised; the cops when they found out how old Mom and Dad were or Dad and Mom for being stopped and questioned about being out so late at night.

      Dad was working on a late model Oldsmobile with power steering and brakes which was uncomon in the 1940's and took it for a test drive to check out the customers complaint that the car killed every once in awhile when he was driving it. As he came to a corner the engine died and that made the steering and braking much more difficult so Dad went though a fence into the yard of a house on the corner rather than going around the corner! I think it caught him by surprise. Dad fixed the problem of course and the minor damage done to the car and fence was absorbed by Ashe Motors.

      Dad had a sensitive side also which he didn't like to show often. He bought me a new bike one time when we lived on Cottonwood street and after a short time had to return it as he couldn't afford the payments. After Nita & I got married Dad, with tears in his eyes, told Nita about having to take the bike back and how bad he still felt about it. Me, I don't even remember anything about it more than the one time I rode it when nobody was around and went down the hill two blocks and into the ditch and laid there a long time before Dad came down to get me. I don't remember him saying anything to me about the bike one way or another.

      Grandma Bingham, Mom's mother, lived with Dad and Mom most of their married life until grandma's death in 1955. Between the mother-in-law and all the kids I think Dad found it more desirable to head for the tavern after work rather then go home. Of course he had other reasons too; he liked beer and he liked to fight and argue which he did a lot of when he drank beer. Dad's life was not a easy one as he also had Mom's sister and her family living with and off him at times.

      Dad never cared if we got an education. In fact he discouraged it a lot. However he made sure we understood certain things that he felt we needed to be a good person. ie: 1. Never steal or lie 2. Respect our elders 3. Never interrupt your elders 4. He didn't use these words but it comes out to " do unto others as you would want them to do to you" and 5. If you get married and have a family, do what you have to do to support them; don't rely on the state or someone else to do it. Family love and affection was something he never knew as a child and was something he probably didn't even know how to show us.

      When my cousin Harold and I ran away from home and joined a carnival that was in Bellingham for a few days, Dad waited till the night before it was leaving town and came down to get us. I don't remember him saying much as he grabbed both of us by the hair ( I had hair then ) and pushed us in front of him and kicked us in the rear all the way home, First me then Harold then and so forth. It was real lucky for Harold and I that Dad came after us that night as we were a couple of 15 year olds looking for excitement and adventure. I know my life has been much better than it would have been if Dad hadn't come down and got me that night. I realized later what a bad crowd that carnival bunch was but when you are 15 who thinks about those things.

      Every once in a while Dad would decide he was going to clean up our two story house on H street. If we left anything lying around, which we did a lot, he would sweep it along with anything else that wasn't tied down out the back door and into the back of wood shed. That is where most of the trash that Mom couldn't burn in her wood burning cook stove would go along with other stuff scheduled for the dump. Periodically Dad would bring home a truck from the garage and haul all the stuff in the back of the wood shed , that Mom and the kids didn't rescue, to the dump. Sometimes it was like Christmas as we found things we thought were long gone and others we forgot we had.

      Dad loved ice cream and many Sundays in the summer when we were young he would load all of that wanted to go into the car and head out to Marietta ( a Lummi Indian village) about five miles from Bellingham, and get us all 5 cent ice cream cones. The best anywhere he would tell us. They were good and they were big compared to the ones they sell today.

      Nita flew back East from our home in Auburn, Washington to visit me in New Jersey for three days in 1968 while Dad baby sat our three girls. The girls loved Dad letting them do most anything they wanted to. He took them to the fair, out to eat (which we seldom did) and he let them put his wavy silver hair up in curlers. He also told "real good " bedtime stories. Besides all that, between the four of them they ate almost all of the three two and one half gallon cartons of ice cream Nita had in the freezer. When Nita came home Dad was all packed and headed out the door after saying goodbye. I think he really enjoyed himself, but over did it some and was ready for some peace and quiet.

      When Dad would smash his finger at work or elsewhere and the nail would turn black and the pressure under the nail would build up he would take an electric drill and bit and drill a tiny hole through the nail to relieve the pressure. He never considered going to a doctor for any reason. He finally had to one time as his Quincy ( abscess, teritonsiller ) was so bad one year that he decided to have his tonsils taken out. He made an appointment to have it done at the doctors office as he refused to go to a hospital. Dad told me that he drank a pint of whiskey before he went to the doctor and the local anesthesia didn't take very well and he was in a lot of pain when they were taking the tonsils out. He wouldn't tell the doctor as that would have been an indication that he was weak and not a real man. From what he told me there was a lot of gagging and blood spitting going on during the operation

      Ginny's husband Rolly told me this story about Dad a few days ago when they were in Bellingham. It was Thanksgiving Day November 26, 1964, Ginny and Rolly's wedding day, when Rolly, exceeding the speed limit on Marine Drive, was pulled over by the Bellingham Police. While the cop was checking Rolly's drivers license and writing the ticket he asked what Rolly was doing in Bellingham. Rolly told him he was getting married that day to Ginny Grinstead. The cop then said "are you marrying Johnny Grinstead's daughter?" Rolly said; "yes" and the cop started tearing up the ticket he was writing and told Rolly he was going to have enough trouble as it was he sure didn't need the trouble with a ticket.

      When we lived on Grant street in Bellingham circa 1937-8 Uncle Perry and Aunt Becky (Mom's sister) lived with us for quite a while. Perry had not worked in a long time and Dad was supporting both families with no help from Perry. This was getting to Dad some and when Perry finally got a job and got his first pay check he bought a car instead of paying on the grocery bill down at the local store. Perry was proud of that car and Dad being the ace mechanic told Perry he would take it for a drive and check it out for him to make sure it was OK. Dad drove it by himself down to the local grocery store where they had the big grocery bill and asked the owner what would he give him for the car if he applied the money to the bill. They reached an agreement and Dad left him the car. He went home and told Perry he sold his car and paid on the grocery bill. Dad never told me what Perry had said or done but Dad and Perry had a number of fights over the years. Mostly when they were drinking.

      Some more insights into the lives of Ellis Baker Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham were provided to the author by Virginia Lea Grinstead, their youngest daughter. She wrote in April, 1999.

      Dave (John David Grinstead) told me that you are interested in some family history. I sent Bob (Robert Lawrence Grinstead) most of these letters, but I wasn’t sure you had them. I am enclosing Grandma’s letters (Elizabeth Bertha Fritschie), one letter from Grandpa (Adelbert Decolia Bingham), some of her poetry and a letter from Aunt Ruth (Ruth Amelia Evans Bingham) to Grandma written before she married Uncle Lee (Elmer Lee Bingham). I copied some of the originals so you can see her writing. I have some great pictures from this time I would be glad to copy for you if you would like. When Auntie Becky (Rebecca Fern Grinstead) was dying I copied some of Darlene’s pictures so I may have some that Bob doesn’t have.

      A little history on these letters:

      When Mom and Dad married in Oct. of 1926, Grandma came to live with them. When Charmie was born, Dad and Grandma delivered her and Dad gave her her first bath. Grandma did live in an apartment for a short while (which burnt down) but most of her life she lived with Mom and Dad. She visited her other children from time to time. These are the letters she wrote to Aunt Ruth and Uncle Lee. Aunt Ruth saved them and gave them to me. She also had more letters that were found when she died and he has promised to copy them for me. Grandpa and Grandma were estranged for most of the time after Mom and Dad were married, but Grandpa lived with them from time to time. Grandpa died lon before I was born, but I remember Grandma quite well. She started suffering from dementia in the early 1950’s and Mom and Dad put her in a nursing home sometime about 1953-54. Mom said Dad cried when he carried her to the car to take her there. I used to catch the bus after school and go visit her. Mom used to give me 15 cents to buy her grapes. She died in April of 1955. She had broken her hip and died of complications. Grandma was a very interesting lady. She was an artist, played the piano and was very well educated. She was a suffragette and wrote some articles to the papers on women’s rights that I can copy for you if you like. Uncle Lee used to tell me “you are just like Ma” and that was not a compliment! You might enjoy a book by Wallace Stegner called “Big Rock Candy Mountain” that I think really has a lot of parallels to Grandma and Grandpa’s life.

      I am writing this at our house in Longview, and miss our computer and spell check. Please ignore my numerous errors. My memories are, of course, my own and you Dad may see them differently. By the way, much to Dave’s delight, he said you had my birthday in 1940 – it is really 1946, although after the year I have had I feel at least 60.

      Give our love to your family and come see us when you can.

      Love

      Aunt Ginny
    Person ID I00038  McKenzie Genealogy
    Last Modified 8 Jul 2021 

    Father Charles Meek Grinstead,   b. 7 Nov 1874, Chilhowie, Smyth County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Oct 1940, Marion, Smyth County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Minnie Tarter Williams,   b. 12 Feb 1881, Chilhowie, Smyth County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jan 1953, Marion, Smyth County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 11 Jan 1898  Riverside, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F00042  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Lillian Schultz,   d. UNKNOWN 
    Married 7 Jul 1922 
    Last Modified 8 Jul 2021 
    Family ID F00041  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Rachel May Bingham,   b. 7 Apr 1909, Spearfish, South Dakota Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Aug 1994, Bellingham, WA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years) 
    Married 10 Oct 1926  Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Charmie Fern Grinstead,   b. 6 Oct 1927, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Jan 2013, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years)  [natural]
     2. John David Grinstead,   b. 19 Mar 1929, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Jan 2019, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 89 years)  [natural]
     3. James Richard Grinstead,   b. 17 Jun 1930, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Mar 2010, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)  [natural]
     4. Robert Lawrance Grinstead,   b. 4 Sep 1935, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Apr 2010, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years)  [natural]
     5. Raymond Charles Grinstead,   b. 2 Apr 1937, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Sep 2017, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)  [natural]
     6. William Adelbert Grinstead,   b. 26 Dec 1942, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Dec 2020, Mt. Vernon, Knox County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)  [natural]
     7. Virginia Lea Grinstead,   b. 2 Aug 1946, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Aug 2013, South Bend, Pacific County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years)  [natural]
     8. Donald Edward (Ed) Grinstead,   b. Private  [private]
    Last Modified 8 Jul 2021 
    Family ID F00023  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Photo of Jasper Newton Grinstead and Family.jpg
    Photo of Jasper Newton Grinstead and Family.jpg
    Oldest Person: Jasper Newton Grinstead; Younger Couple: Charles Meek Grinstead and Minnie Tarter Williams; Children: L to R: Alice May, Mary Ann, Pauline Beattie, William Newton, Charmie Lee, Ellis Baker (John) and Arthur McDonald

    Documents
    Residences of Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham
    Residences of Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham
    This document reflects the residences of Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham over the course of their marriage. It was compiled by Nancy Grinstead, daughter of John David Grinstead and Juanita Beatrice MacArthur. John David Grinstead sent it to the author/webmaster in 2010.
    Letter from Elizabeth Bertha Fritschie Bingham to Ellis Baker (John)n Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham Grinstead December 1929
    Letter from Elizabeth Bertha Fritschie Bingham to Ellis Baker (John)n Grinstead and Rachel May Bingham Grinstead December 1929
    Christmas Card from Ashe Brothers Motor Company
    Christmas Card from Ashe Brothers Motor Company
    A note appended by Virginia Lea Grinstead in 1999 states: Christmas card from Dad's (Ellis (John) Baker Grinstead) work in 1939. I think Charmie (Charmie Fern Grinstead (b. 1927) has the original. I remember some of those guys and I am sure Bob (Robert Lawrence Grinstead (B. 1935) does too.
    Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead Return to Smyth County, Virginia
    Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead Return to Smyth County, Virginia

    Headstones
    Gravestones of Rachel Bingham (b. 1909) and Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead (b. 1903)
    Gravestones of Rachel Bingham (b. 1909) and Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead (b. 1903)


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