Ruth Divelbiss 1909 Postcard: Going Home

Ruth Divelbiss was the recipient of this cute New Year’s greeting sent to her from Ethel in Chambersburg, Franklin, Pennsylvania to Ruth, who lived on R.D. #4 in nearby Mercersburg, about 16 miles away.

Ethel’s message certainly didn’t reveal much about either of them:

Dear Ruth: how are you getting along. have been looking for you people down. This leaves us all well. hope you will find you all the same. wish you a happy new year come down soon. Ethel  (??)

If act, I’m not even sure what Ethel’s surname initial is. The D in Ruth’s last name took me a few tries to decipher, too.

So, who as Ruth? After I figured out that her surname began with a D, and not a weird H or K, she was easy to find in 1910.

Ruth was the daughter, and only child, of Leonard Grant Divilbiss and Ellen Jane Overcash, both of German heritage and whose families had both been in Pennsylvania by the early 1700s.

Grant, as he was called, and Ella married on 3 March 1892 in Mercersburg. Ella died in 1893 and, although I haven’t been able to find a record of the month and day, she may have died from the effects of childbirth, as Ruth Overcash Divelbiss was born on 15 January 1893.

It isn’t clear who raised Ruth since, in 1910, she was a servant in the Ryder household, along with her aunt Alice Overcash and young cousin, Earl S. Overcash.

Oddly, I have been unable to find Ruth anywhere in 1900. She isn’t at home with her father and stepmother, Catherine E. Overcash, who was the younger sister of her mother and aunt Alice.

She wasn’t living with grandparents and I haven’t been able to locate Alice Overcash in 1900 either. I’m assuming that perhaps they were in the process of moving when the census taker came around or were otherwise somehow skipped.

Ruth’s father didn’t remarry until 24 May 1894 and he may have felt unable to care for a newborn child, allowing Alice to care for her.

Leonard, or Grant, as he often went by, had two more children:

1. Frank Lester, born 23 November 1894; died 3 December 1949; married (1) Celia May Murray (2) Beatrice Deliah Shires. He had ten children.
2. David Raymond, born 29 May 1900; died 29 July 1982; married Cora Belle Fields. He had 2 children.

Therefore, although Ruth had no full siblings, she had two half-brothers, who were also her half-first cousins.

Ruth Overcash Divelbiss married James Albert McLaughlin on 26 June 1918 in Fort Loudon, Franklin, Pennsylvania, right as World War I came to a close.

Through the years, James worked as a shipping clerk in a machine shop, a merchant in a general store and, by 1940, He was the postmaster of Peters, Franklin, Pennsylvania and Ruth worked with him as a postal clerk.

Ruth’s aunt, Alice May Overcash, never married. She lived with the McLaughlins at the time of the 1930 and 1940 censuses, passing away in 1941. This reinforces my theory that Alice raised Ruth as if she were her own daughter.

They were the parents of four children:

1. Leonard Eugene, born 29 April 1919; died 11 December 2004; married Florence Maria Ewan, 24 September 1946
2. Charles Stenger, twin, born 19 November 1920; died 10 October 1944, during World War II; unmarried
3. Robert Divelbiss, born 19 November 1920; died 20 July 1996; married Ethel (MNU)
4. Francis Llewellyn,
born 17 October 1929; died 18 February 2001; married Elaine M. Jones, 1949, probably Frederick County, Maryland

Ruth Overcash (Divelbiss) McLaughlin died on 1 October 1972 and is buried at Stenger Hill Cemetery, Fort Loudon, Franklin, Pennsylvania with her husband and aunt Alice, who all share a gravestone.

All of the three surviving children of James and Ruth married and had children, so there are a number of descendants today.

This cute postcard is going home to family, again as a New Year’s greeting. Ruth would probably be quite surprised to know that her postcard, which she received in 1909, was going to her descendants 115 years later!

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