Walter Minard Deyoe – 1873 to 1961
This dashing young man is identified on the back of the photo as Walter Deyoe. Although I never did discover how a photograph from Oil City, Pennsylvania ended up in a central Massachusetts flea market where I discovered it, here is Walter’s story:
Walter Minard Deyoe was born in Saratoga Springs on 30 July 1873 where his father, Rufus, leased a farm from his grandfather, Minard Deyoe. Walter’s father, Rufus, was born in August 1838 and his mother, Gulia G. was born in July 1850. Both parents were from Saratoga County, New York. The young family moved to Oil City Pennsylvania about 1878 when Walter was about 5 years of age. His father first worked as a carpenter in Oil City, but by 1893, Rufus was a city tax collector. Rufus died 10 September 1900 at the age of 62, still the city tax collector at the time.
It appears that the family maintained a sprawling property between 202 and 211 West Sixth Street for many years. This was the family’s residence but also the location of the greenhouses where Walter began as a farmer and developed his floral business, W.M. Deyoe & Co. They also had a floral shop at 6 Seneca. Much of the family, including Walter’s mother Gulia, worked with him.
Of medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair, Walter married Geraldine Fulton about 1897. Geraldine was born in June of 1871 in Pennsylvania and Walter was two years her junior. She was perhaps the one who gave the census taker the wrong year of birth for Walter making him a little closer to her age, the 1900 census stating that both husband and wife were age 28. They had at least four children. A son, Robert, was born in February of 1899. Robert was a veteran of World War I and in 1966 went on to become the Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania after his retirement from the floral business. Another son, Walter, Jr. was born in 1901, and a daughter, Ruth was born in 1906. She later joined her father in his floral business and married Jesse Esken in 1937. In 1916, Geraldine gave birth to one last child named Gerald. She was 44 years old at the time.
Tragedy struck the family on 18 April 1935, when son Walter, Jr. died at the age of 33, six days after an emergency appendectomy. Less than two months later Walter Sr.’s mother Guila died on the 6th of June. She was 84 years old.
The family floral business flourished in the same location for many years. Geraldine died 21 November 1955, and Walter survived her by a little over 5 years, dying on 2 January 1961.
I was lucky enough to connect with another researcher, Joyce Neidich, who was kind enough to supply an article from the Souvenir of the Oil City Derrick from 1896. To my surprise, the photograph used in the Souvenir was the same as the photo that I had purchased.
Joyce researches in Western Pennsylvania and she can be reached through her website: http://mysite.verizon.net/resyudzj/stonesearcher/ . Many thanks to her for her contribution of this news article.