The Bucher/Booker Family, 1686-1990: Chapter VIII, Part 3


The Marquis Lafayette Booker and Mary Ann Lee Family

Marquis L. Booker, born in Sullivan County, Indiana near Pleasantville, married twice. His first marriage took place in Piatt County, Illinois on 8 February 1885 to Eva May Mills. Eva, the daughter of James Mills and Sarah Fay, was born in 1867 in Randolph County, Indiana. Eva May died of typhoid fever on 22 November 1885, and was buried in the Bement Cemetery. Looking through the Piatt County birth records, I discovered a female infant, Lova Blanch Booker, born 7 November 1885, father, Marquis L. Booker, age 25, and mother, Eva May Mills, age 18. Although I have found Eva’s death record two weeks after the birth of her child, I found no record of a death of Lova Blanch Booker. Possibly, Lova Blanch Booker was taken in by her mother’s family, but I have no information on her at all.

Marquis remarried 27 May 1891 in Bement, Illinois to Mary Ann Lee, daughter of George Lee and Eliza E. Hill. Mary was born 2 July 1871 in Keithley (Keighley) Yorkshire, England, and immigrated to the United States in 1881. As mentioned earlier in this chapter (John R. Booker), Marquis and Mary can be found on the 1898 Territorial Census of Oklahoma in Lexington dated 7 July.

963 Booker, Lafe M age 38 b. IN from where to OK – Illinois

Mary A. F age 24 b. Eur. from where to OK – Illinois

Marcus M age 6 b. IL. from where to OK – Illinois

Archie M age 4 b. IL. from where to OK – Illinois

Gracie F age 2 b. IL. from where to OK – Illinois

As you can see by looking at the children’s place of birth, Marquis could have moved to Oklahoma after Gracie’s birth in June of 1896. But the 1900 Census of Illinois in the town of Bement, shows that Marquis’s and Mary’s next child, Ida Leona, as being born in April of 1898 in Illinois. The year of her birth on the 1900 Census is a mistake in that Ida was actually born in 1899 in Decatur, Illinois. Marquis must have decided to move his family back to Bement, Illinois prior to Ida’s birth in April 1899.

Marquis and Mary Booker had seven children, but only six lived to adulthood.

Marquis Ernest Booker b. 22/5/1892 Bement, IL, d. 28/12/1965 Decatur, IL

Archie Melvin Booker b. 15/9/1894 Bement, IL, d. 20/2/1961 Decatur, IL

Grace Marie Booker b. 27/6/1896 Bement, IL, d. 15/5/1970 Decatur, IL

Ida Leona Booker b. 20/4/1899 Decatur, IL, d. 30/7/1981 Portland, OR

Teddy Leroy Booker b. 18/6/1903 Decatur, IL, d. 14/4/1957 Ventura, CA

Eugene Arnett Booker b. 7/11/1910 Springfield, IL, d. 24/11/1910 Decatur, IL

Garnet Jewel Booker b. 31/7/1914 Decatur, IL

Mrs. Jeanne E. Booker Woods wrote me about her grandfather, Marquis Lafayette Booker.

I Remember Grandpa


The last time I saw Grandpa was the summer of 1940, but I remember Grandpa. To me, he seemed very tall and slim – probably because I’m such a shorty. I remember him as a quiet and patient man, who tolerated me and my constant questions. His work shop was such a fascinating and mysterious place, full of strange pieces of machinery and tools. I would follow him to this place of wonder, and sit on a high stool and watch him perform the tasks he seemed to enjoy. He had a big Arbor outside his workshop which was covered with grapes and also decorative gourds. We used one of the gourds at the water pump to drink from. When cut in half it was like a big dipper.

Grandpa had a lovely large garden in the lot next to his house. He raised just about everything there I guess, and I was not allowed to enter in to pull carrots or pick peas which I loved fresh from the source. He raised the best popcorn I’ve ever had. I remember sitting in front of the fire in the kitchen, shucking ear after ear of popcorn and then popping it up and filling large kettles with the fluffy buttery stuff. If we weren’t popping corn, we were pulling taffy or playing games at the big kitchen table. On summer evenings we would sit on the front porch and watch the fireflys (lightning bugs), and he would get some old rags burning and smoldering in a tin can to keep the mosquitos away. I don’t know which was worse – the smell of the smoking rags – or the mosquito bites.


Grandpa had chickens and ducks in a big pen out back, and now and then he raised a weiner pig. Also, he raised from time to time pigeons and rabbits. I remember one Thanksgiving going out to a farm owned by “Uncle Willie” [William Nelson Booker], and we had a feast of pigeons in a big roaster of dressing.

On our visit to Decatur in 1940 we brought him a white duck we had found on a California beach. This duck took an instant liking to him and followed him everywhere. He had a beautiful red popcorn wagon in the late ’20’s which he would take to the Fair grounds west of Decatur during automobile and horse races. This popcorn wagon was large enough for him to stand inside, and as I recall, it was quite ornate – trimmed in white and gold – like something out of a fairytale. Those trips to the Fair grounds gave me my first memories of auto and trotter races – which left a lot of dust in the air. Everyone in the Booker “clan” turned out for these events. Grandpa loved to go to the traveling medicine shows that came through Decatur. I think it was at one of these shows that he was introduced to “Dr. Miles Nervine” and got hooked on that elixir of wonder and healing. On the holidays and birthdays in the summer we would all go to Nelson Park for a big picnic topped off with home made ice cream and huge chunks of watermelon. They really were gatherings to remember.


One time we went fishing up at Lake Bloomington and took Grandpa along. I was walking along a narrow path near the edge of the lake with Grandpa following not far behind, and I came upon a snake stretched across the path. Immediately, I froze – lost my voice – and couldn’t seem to move or call out. Grandpa caught up with me and saw why I had stopped dead in my tracks. He took the cane pole he was carrying and came down with the butt of it on that snake’s head so fast it didn’t know what hit it. My voice returned and I grabbed Grandpa around the legs and hugged and squeezed till I was worn out. He certainly was my hero.


Grandpa wore a ten gallon hat – light gray – and huge and also, he wore a gun on his hip. I don’t know why he wore the gun, and never had presence of mind or curiosity to even ask.


As Grandpa aged he slowed down of course. After my family moved to California in 1937, it seemed like he was always breaking a bone somewhere or getting laid up with something. Grandma would write that he had fallen, or slipped on the ice or been hit by a car, even on North Main Street where there was no traffic to speak of. In those days Main Street ended by their house at Nullen’s Pasture. I guess when Grandpa was laid up, he had to have something to do with his time, so he crocheted or knitted to pass the time. He made me a little white purse (which I lost in the outhouse in his backyard), and a lovely pair of white crocheted dress gloves. His work was as good as any woman’s handy work.


Grandpa was a fun loving guy. He would be a silent partner if you wanted to play a trick on a cousin. He never got found out, but we sure did.

Grandpa was a good father, and he did his best for all his children and grandchildren. He never had much money that I know of, but seemed content with his lot in life as far as I could tell. He was well versed in the Bible and could quote scripture word for word, though he was not an educated man. He evidently had some early schooling, as he could read and write.

I remember Grandpa in lots of very special ways. To me, he was the ideal Grandpa that every child should have at least one of to love and to collect fond memories for the day when they become grandparents. I know this because I do remember Grandpa, and I love to tell about him.



Item from the Bement Register, dated 15 January 1891:

“Lafe Booker has taken the agency for Brewster Medicated Electricity, a sure cure for cold in the head, catarrh, hay fever, asthma, sick headache, la grippe, etc. The cure is in a bottle containing a complete electric battery, and is guraranteed for two years. Mr. Booker has the agency for Piatt, Champaign, and Moultrie Counties, and the medicine is sold only by agents. If you are troubled by any of these diseases, it would pay you to try it. It will be on sale at Alvard’s grocery.”



From the Decatur Review dated 30 January 1943:


Retired Bricklayer and Contractor Lived Here 41 Years

Marquis L. Booker, 82, who retired a number of years ago as a bricklayer and contractor, died at 9:50 P. M. Friday in his home at 2780 North Main Street, where he had been ill for several weeks. He came to Decatur 41 years ago from Bement.

Mr. Booker was born Oct. 13, 1860, in Sullivan, Ind., and was married May 27, 1890 to Mary Ann Lee. He was a member of the First Christian Church. He leaves his wife, three daughters, Mrs. Grace M. Craw of Decatur, Mrs. Garnett Arndt of East Moline, and Miss Ida Lee [sic] Booker of Chicago, and three sons, Ernest M. and Archie M. of Decatur and T. L. Booker of Lindwood, Calif. There are 18 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Mr. and Mrs. Booker celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1940.

Funeral services will be held at 2 P. M. Monday in the Dawson & Wikoff funeral chapel, with burial in Graceland cemetery. Friends may call after 6 p. m. today at the family residence.



Mary Ann Lee Booker followed her husband on 28 August 1950, and was buried next to him in Graceland Cemetery.

The Winnifred Ann Booker and Charles Halstead Family

Winnifred Ann Booker married Charles Halstead in Sullivan County, Indiana on 5 July 1884. Charles, born 16 May 1858, was the son of Voloney or Vollen Halstead and Elizabeth Swinney, and Vollen was the son of Alexander B. Halstead. Much of the family information I received on the Halstead family was given to me by Mrs. Janet Halstead, wife of Gerald Don Halstead of Huntington Beach, California. Gerald is a great-grandson of Winnie Booker Halstead. Winnie was described as a short woman, with dark eyes and dark hair, “someone that everyone wanted to protect.”

Immediately after their marriage Winnie and Charles moved to Bement, Piatt County, Illinois to join the rest of Phillip Booker’s family.

Soon after their move, their first child, Ada May, was born in May of 1885.

Ada May Halstead b. 28/5/1885 Bement, IL, d. 18/9/1928

Roy Vollen Halstead b. 26/9/1886 Bement, IL, d. 21/4/1946 Hawthorn, CA

Gertrude Halstead b. 17/10/1888 Bement or Decatur, IL, d. 25/4/1948 Ft. Myers, FL

Harry Floyd Halstead b. 29/10/1890 Decatur, IL, d. 2/1/1945 ?

William Halstead b. 17/3/1893 Bement or Decatur, IL, d. ?? 1965 Napa, CA

Nellie Burrow Halstead b. 8/2/1895 Decatur, IL, d. ?? 1970’s Lucerne, San Bernadino, CA

Goldie Halstead b. 17/1/1897 Decatur, IL, d. 18/1/1903 Long Creek, IL

Orville Halstead b. 20/7/1900 Decatur, IL, d. Oct. 1965 Banning, Riverside, CA

Ralph Halstead b. 1903 Long Creek, IL, d. 1903 Long Creek, IL

Charles Halstead died in Long Creek, Illinois on 6 May 1910. Burial place unknown to author, but most likely in the Bement, Illinois Cemetery.

Winnie remarried in 1920 to Douglas Losier in Decatur, Illinois. Winnie and Doug moved in 1922 to Miles City, Montana for three or four years, and when times got hard, they moved to Oakland, California by way of Washington and Oregon, picking apples. But a Decatur newspaper article dated July 1933 states that Mr. and Mrs. Roy Halstead and son, Grover, of Los Angeles, California had been visiting with parents, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Losier of Decatur. Then when Winnifred’s brother, Samuel, died in 1937, his obituary stated that Winnifred was living in Oregon.

I have very little information on the Halstead family, except that by the late 1920’s most of the family had moved to the Los Angeles, California area.

Winifred Ann Booker Halstead Losier died 14 March 1938 in Oakland, California, and was buried at Inglewood Park, Los Angeles, California. The only mention of her death in a Los Angeles newspaper is as follows:

LOSIER, Winnie Ann, 74. Services were held at the Utter-McKinley mortuary. Rev. David Schmidt officiated. Interment was in Inglewood cemetery.



Samuel Francis Booker

Samuel Francis Booker was the last child of Phillip Booker, and Louisa Jane Plew Booker. Samuel married Hattie Bell Mencer on 1 October 1895 in Piatt County, Illinois. Hattie, born in 1877 in Illinois, was the daughter of John Y. Mencer and Mary F. Parirler.

On the 1900 Census in Bement, Illinois Samuel and Hattie are listed as follows:

Booker, Samuel F. Head/WM Jun. 1868, age 31, Marr. 5 yrs. b. IN,, Father b. KY, Mother b. VA, occup. Teamster, Hattie Wife/WM Nov. 1877, age 22, Marr. 5 yrs. no children, b. IL, Father b. IN, Mother b. MO

Mencer, Earl, Nephew, WM Oct. 1898, age 1, b. IL, Father b. IL, Mother b. IL

Mencer, Jessie A. Sister-in-Law, WF Aug. 1882, 17, widow, one child, one living. b. IL, Father b. IN, Mother b. MO

Booker, Louiza Mother, WF Nov. 1829, age 70, Widow, 10 children, 8 living, b. VA, Father b. KY, Mother b. VA

On the 1910 Census Samuel is found living in Decatur, Illinois living with Samuel Meyers. By this time Samuel F. Booker and Hattie had divorced.

A letter dated 6 February 1987 from Jeanne E. Booker Woods gives the following information:

“I do remember Sam’s dark black eyes and in my very early years 10-13, I was afraid of him, mostly because I didn’t understand of course. [Samuel was blind] The last time I saw Uncle Sam in 1937, he was in a wheel chair and lived in a tiny little house (shack is the word) about a block or so from where we lived in Decatur on W. Eldorado St. My cousins Richard and Vincent Thompson (Ida’s sons) used to go over to Sams and clean as best they could as youngsters and check on Sam.”



Samuel Francis Booker died in August of 1937, and his obituary was printed in the Decatur Review 19 August 1937 as follows:

Blind Plasterer Is Found Dead

S. F. Booker Discovered in Bed by Boy on Daily Visit.

Samuel Francis Booker, 69 former plasterer, was found dead at 8:30 a. m.


Today in his home at 678 1/2 South New street where he lived alone. He appeared to have been dead since Wednesday night and probably suffered a heart attack. Dr. George W. Haan, deputy coroner, plans a post mortem examination.

Booker, who has been blind for the last 12 years, was found dead in his bed by a boy who has been coming regularly to his home to assist him. Police were notified.

He was born in Sullivan county, Indiana June 2, 1868 and came to Decatur 40 years ago. He was in the plastering business until blindness forced his retirement. He was a member of the Christian Church.

He leaves a brother, M. L. Booker, Decatur, and two sisters, Mrs. Mahala Harr, Kansas, Ill. [sic], and Mrs. Winnie Lozier, in the state of Oregon.

Funeral services will be conducted at the Moran & Sons funeral home at 3:30 p. m. Friday. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery.

On Samuel’s death certificate, Marquis L. Booker was the informant, and Samuel was listed divorced.

The Bucher/Booker Family, 1686-1990 © 1990 Charles Lee Booker Jr.


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