Grandma Vallette on the Internet | Mark’s Remarks

Laura Williams Vallette was born in Dearborn County, Indiana in 1828.  

Andrew Jackson won the presidency that year, defeating John Quincy Adams. Indiana had been a state for about 12 years, and people were continuing to move in from the east.  

It is said that Laura was the daughter of John P. and Laura Vallette. However, not much is known about her parents. I once read her obituary, and it said her parents died when she was quite young and she was raised by her grandparents, who lived to be 102.  However, I find no other records of either her maternal or paternal grandparents, nor any records of her mother that actually add up.  

In addition, Laura and her husband show up on the 1850 census, living  with their young family in Ohio.  Also in their household is a John P. Williams, age 72. 

There lies the mystery, which I believe I wrote about before. John Williams could be a grandfather, but her obit says she was raised by her grandparents who lived to a ripe old age.  Her obituary says her parents died when she was young. Laura is 22 years old in 1850. Would her father be 50 years older?  Again, could it have been a grandfather?

So, who is this John P. Williams? I continue to search and search for answers. It’s like a puzzle that I hope I solve one day.  Definitely what genealogists call a “brick wall.”

On the 1850 census, he lists his occupation as “shoemaker.” So, at least there’s that.

Laura married William P. Vallette in 1844, and later had 14 children. Eventually the family ended up in Edwards County, Illinois.  

William Vallette served in the Civil War, as did some of his sons and sons-in-law. They were a typical large family of the late 1800s. Everyone seemed to work hard, according to land records and wills.  There were children lost in infancy, teen years, and some as adults. I believe 11 of the 14 were alive when Laura passed away.

Laura would have seen her family experience much, as she herself lived to be 100. I am amazed to think of the timeline of her life; from Andrew Jackson to Herbert Hoover. From horse-drawn wagons to automobiles, and so on. The list is endless.  

The incredible amount of technology that came along would have been something to behold. Still, I would guess Laura went quietly about her business and lived a simple life, maybe even unaware of certain things.

I’m also rather amazed that you can Google Laura Williams Vallette and see her, there in living color.  Well, living black and white.  You can see a photo of her large family, posing on the porch of their big house on the occasion of the Vallettes’ 50th wedding anniversary in 1894.  

There are various photos of her, always dressed in a long dress with a somewhat serious, even sour expression.  She’s in a five-generation photo with her daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and great-great-granddaughter.  There’s a photo of just Laura and William, who looks a bit more pleasant than his wife. Of course, there is her tombstone in Mt. Zion cemetery if you look her up on  

Upon further investigation, you can look on free sites like Family Search and get all types of information on Laura’s life.  This is strange to me, especially since the generation before her seems to have vanished.  

I wonder what Laura herself would think of if she were to understand the Internet and then see how easy it is to Google her life and image? I wonder if she’d be alarmed? I wonder if, like most women on that side of the family, she would scoff at photos of herself and hastily look for an apron or dish towel to hold in front of her face in case a photographer was lurking about.  

I wonder if she’d be proud to see her life laid out for all to see. 

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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