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SHERMAN, Bertha Irene

SHERMAN, Bertha Irene

Female 1903 - 1970  (67 years)

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  • Name SHERMAN, Bertha Irene 
    Born 2 Mar 1903  Kalispell, Flathead, Montana, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 30 Jun 1970  Traverse City, Grand Traverse, Michigan, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Eastlawn Southgate, Sacramento, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I18  Parker/Collis Genealogy
    Last Modified 31 May 2012 

    Father SHERMAN, Milton Kellum,   b. 26 Nov 1880, Kingsmill, Cockran Dist., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Feb 1953, Manton, Wexford, Michigan, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years) 
    Mother SLY, Addie May,   b. 3 May 1881, Oscoda, Iosco, Michigan, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Jan 1953, Spokane, Spokane, Washington, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Married 17 Feb 1902  Tawas City, Iosco, Michigan, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F12  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family COLLIS, Ernest Russell,   b. 31 Dec 1896, Brentwood, Contra Costa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jun 1976, Sacramento, Sacramento, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 14 Oct 1923  Spokane, Spokane, Washington, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. COLLIS, Walter Leroy,   b. 27 Sep 1924, Brentwood, Contra Costa, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 May 1999, Sacramento, Sacramento, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years)
    +2. COLLIS, Laura May,   b. 10 Aug 1926, Yuba City, Sutter, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 May 2012, Roseville, Placer, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years)
    +3. COLLIS, Barbara Jean,   b. 20 Nov 1930, Stockton, San Joaquin, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jun 2009, Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years)
    +4. Living
    +5. Living
    +6. Living
    Family ID F1  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Bertha about 1921
    Bertha about 1921

  • Notes 

      Bertha was born in Kalispell, Montana, on 2 March, 1903. Her mother, Addie May Sly, and father, Milton K. Sherman, had met in Michigan where May was a waitress in the restaurant of the Elliot House Hotel. Milton and his brothers were loggers. Milton's sister, Matilda, wrote, "May Sly was a very beautiful girl. She had most of the young men in a whirl for sure. However, Milton won her. I recall that her parents worked for the Elliots also." May and Milton married February 17, 1902 in Oscoda, Michigan. The marriage was registered in Tawas City, the county seat. Matilda (or Tillie as she was called) continues, "When May's parents decided to move to Montana, May insisted on going too. Milton, being so mad about her, gave in and went along. Milton was always a very calm, quiet man. He would never argue or quarrel with any one."

      May's parents spoken of here are her mother, Elizabeth, and step father, Richard Smith. Elizabeth Close had married Loren Sly in Michigan in 1877. Addie May was the second of their three children. Loren left for the Gold fields about 1888 during a recession. The family received a few letters then heard no more from him. Elizabeth took in roomers to make ends meet after her husband disappeared. Richard Smith was one of those roomers. He was a logger and said he liked to take a room with a widow to help her out. Although Elizabeth was not officially a widow, she was raising her three children by herself. Richard Smith and Elizabeth were married in Michigan about 1900.

      Elizabeth (Libby) and Richard Smith moved to Montana in 1902 and took up a homestead near Eureka. May and Milton went with them and also filed for homestead land. They lived in what was called the "Love Cottage". Bertha's father, Milton, left when Bertha was about 2 years old, and according to Bertha, she never heard from nor saw him again. Maye Alverson, a step cousin to Bertha, wrote that someone had taken a shot at Milton while he sat in his home. The suspected person was Richard Smith, who supposedly did not care for Milton. Richard Smith was often upset with one or another of the neighbors and eventually lost much of his land through unsuccessful law suits.

      In the book: "The Story of the Tobacco Plains Country, the Autobiography of a Community," Page 164 in a chapter on "Fortine Area Homesteads." It says, "Among many other Michiganders who homesteaded in this vicinity were Dick Smith and his wife, and Mrs. Smith's son and daughter, Ernest and May Sly. For years Dick Smith was the community "radical"--always fighting the capitalist lumber companies and writing accusing letters to his Congressmen: "Just sore at everybody in the world," as Harry Weydemeyer puts it. Mrs. Smith died and her son and daughter went west, but Dick stayed on, living alone at his homestead, and died there at a ripe old age, still kicking."

      Milton decided he could not stay any longer. It is said that when Milton left, he asked May to come with him, but she refused. I later learned that Milton had returned to his parent's home in Michigan. His sister, my Aunt Tillie, wrote," What happened between May and Milton I never heard. I do know he loved May and Bertha very much. When he came home, I was only about 6 or 7 years of age, but I remember he had a picture of Bertha at about 1 and a half or 2 years of age. He had that picture enlarged and it hung in our parlor. Several times I have gone into the parlor and found him standing there before that picture with tears running down his face." Maye Alverson wrote that Milton had sent money and gifts to Bertha which never reached her. Perhaps her step-father, Richard (Dick), had intercepted them. Bertha said that Grandpa Dick was never anything but kind to her and she loved him.

      After Milton and May separated, May went to Spokane, Washington to look for work. She worked as a waitress in one or another hotel there. She left Bertha in the care of her grandparents, Libby and Dick Smith. Bertha had fond memories of her time with her Grandmother. She remembered playing on the kitchen floor with an egg beater and a bowl, beating imaginary eggs while her grandmother prepared a meal. Bertha had diphtheria when she was four years old and lived in a little house in Eureka Montana. It's not clear whether she was living with her mother or grandmother at that time. When Bertha's mother, May, married James Leroy Lamb in 1908, they wanted Bertha to come live with them in Diamond, Washington, but Grandmother Libby felt she couldn't part with her, so Bertha continued living with her grandmother. Periodically she would visit her mother and step father. Roy had graduated from college with a business degree. He was a bookkeeper when he married May, but he didn't like it. He later became a road overseer. Later he managed the warehouse near the railroad.

      Bertha attended Therriault (pronounced Tarry-o) School in Eureka, Montana The school was held in a log cabin close the 'Love Cabin' previously belonging to her father. The school and 'Love Cabin' were about 3 miles from the Smith's homestead. As the Smith homestead was several miles from school and any neighbors, Bertha would often ride her horse to school. At times she would be the only child at school. I'm sure she was a lonely child, but perhaps didn't know any different. She did have her animals for friends and playmates.

      It was a hard life in the far Northwestern corner of Montana. Richard was never a good provider. Libby was a hard worker.and had a strawberry patch and vegetable garden. She would sell eggs and vegetables to the neighbors to make ends meet. She would even hire out as a cook.

      Hunting was a necessity to provide food for the winter. There would be a deer hanging in the shed all winter. It was so cold that the deer would freeze, and a saw would be used to cut off a chunk of meat for dinner. Bertha learned to can the deer meet in the oven. She also learned to shoot a gun at a young age and was a good shot. There wasn't much opportunity to shoot a gun when she lived in Sacramento and in fact there were no guns in the home, but she liked to target practice when she would visit her daughter and son in law, Barbara and Tom Alexander, in Arizona.

      In 1917 Bertha started Lincoln High School in Eureka, Montana. She lived with her Grandma in a rented house next door to her Aunt Carrie Fletcher and her family. The Fletchers lived in a house they built on a lot owned by Bertha's mother. Bertha was a regular Tom boy, according to her, and she played "Follow the Leader" with the Fletcher boys all over the mill pond and the lumber yard. Uncle Fred Fletcher was the tender at the dam but never stopped them even though it was a danger as the logs bobbed and rolled as they jumped from one to another. What fun they had. At one time Uncle Fred was a diver repairing boats on Flathead Lake and as a child, Bertha would go visit them where they lived in Somers, Montana. At that time so many children bothered her, so Aunt Carrie let her go into the cellar and kept the other kids away. She stated, "I guess I had spent to much time alone that I couldn't stand the commotion." It seems she outgrew that by the time she was in high school.

      Bertha's Grandmother, Libby, had breast cancer, and said to have been caused from falling down a well. Libby went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, but they could not cure the cancer and prescribed morphine for the pain. Libby was there during the flue epidemic of 1918 and Bertha had the flu and was alone in the house in Eureka. In the spring of 1919, Libby's illness and the resulting pain became very bad, and she kept asking for Bertha. Bertha quit school to tend to her. A couple of times May came to care for Libby, but when she wasn't there, Bertha nursed her and administered morphine shots to ease the pain. At times Ernest Fletcher would give Bertha a break and he would care for Libby. She died the 8th of July in 1919 when Bertha was just sixteen.

      After her grandmother's death, Bertha went to live with her mother and stepfather in Diamond, Washington. They had no children of their own. Bertha told me that she didn't know why, but she assumed that her parent's wouldn't want her to live with them. Perhaps she felt rejected as she had visited but had not really lived with her mother since the age of two. In retrospect Bertha stated that her stepfather, Roy Lamb, "was very tolerant and understanding of what must have been a very bratty and spoiled sixteen year old. Anyway, I have only pleasant and affectionate memories of him." Roy was very good to her and they developed a very close relationship. Bertha and her mother also became very close after she moved back home. Bertha was still an only child and longed for brothers and sisters.

      For whatever reason, Bertha decided she wanted to go to catholic school. She attended St. John's Academy, a Catholic girl's boarding school for a year and a half. She had met Russell by then and Barbara said that Russell told Bertha she needed to give up Catholic School or him. She moved back with Roy and May.
      Bertha was a good student and she loved learning. She took Latin in school which served her well throughout her life, as she had a good vocabulary and a good understanding of words. She loved working crossword puzzles. She attended Colfax High School, where she graduated 23 May 1922. She was an officer and treasurer in the Campfire Girls-Tenega. Campfire girls were first organized in 1910 as the first non sectarian organization for girl in the the United States.

      Bertha attended State Normal School at Cheney, Washington, in 1923. She started teaching in September 1923 at Harp School in Mount Hope, just out of Spokane, Washington. She had met Russell Collis at a fair when she was 15. They were married 14 Oct 1923. Bertha quit teaching at the end of that school year as she was pregnant with Roy. She never went back to teaching again. She would have been a wonderful teacher. She was smart and patient and loving.

      When Bertha and Russell moved to Sacramento in May 1941, Bertha worked at the Libby McNeil Cannery on Stockton Boulevard, canning apricots, and peaches. The next summer she worked at Bercut Richards canning tomatoes. It was tiring hard work, but she was used to hard work. She had been a stay at home, but work at home mom throughout the early years of marriage; she had cooked for road crews in Colfax while they were living there. She had helped roof a house when 8 months pregnant with Barbara.

      Bertha was an active member of the Nazarene church on 21st and S Streets. It was a strict religion which discouraged dancing, makeup, jewelry, and movies. She wrote many poems embracing religious themes. She was Sunday school superintendent and at one time printed the Sunday bulletin on the mimeograph machine; a messy job. She took her children to church by herself as Russell only attended on Easter and Christmas. He would often cook dinner while we were at church and after dinner, we would take a ride. There were many such trips around the area. One by one her children quit attending as they reached their teenage years. Eventually Bertha quit attending.

      Bertha began working for the State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles on 15 Dec 1942 and remained there until she retired in April 1965 as a Supervisor in the Division of Drivers License. She was 62 years old. She was a finger print specialist in analyzing and comparing finger prints. She was well liked and well thought of in the department. As she got older, she seldom drove the car as Russell took her where she wanted to go. They even went grocery shopping together. They were compatible and excepting of their differences and strengths.

      Bertha was quick to figure things out. She was always ready to fix things. I can remember her taking apart the toaster or iron and putting them back together again and they worked. That was in the days when you fixed what you had rather than throwing it out and buying a new one. We had an old electric curling iron as I remember. You had to be really careful not to get it too hot or you would burn your hair and it would break off. She was always working on some kind of hand work; knitting, crocheting, tatting, and sewing. She made most of our clothing when we were young and taught us to sew at a very young age. She could create any garment you could show her. Every Easter we would have a new homemade out fit to wear to church. She knitted many Barbie doll sweaters for her first grandchildren. As she aged, she developed arthritis in her hands and no longer did handwork. She wrote lots of poetry, much of it of a religious nature, but some with a bit humor also. She was a lady of many talents. My most vivid memories of her were of the times I would have a bad dream in the night. I would creep into my parent's room and stand or kneel beside her bed. She would wake up and take me into bed with her until I was ready to go back to my own bed. When I was young, Stan, Darlyne and I slept in the same room. One night I woke up and saw Stan standing beside my bed; and yet when I looked over at his bed, he was fast asleep in it. The person standing beside my bed disappeared into my parent's closet in the nest room. I was scared out of my whits. My parents got up and searched all through their closet and even into the attic opening in the ceiling of their closet. No one could be found. I was sure that someone was there. They were so patient with me even in the middle of the night, knowing it was a bad dream.

      One cold night in January of 1953 Bertha received a telephone call during the night. Her mother had been in an automobile accident and was killed instantly from a ruptured aorta and spleen. The car she was riding in and another car had collided in a snowstorm just south of Spokane, Washington. She had been shopping with other women from her home town area. (See addendum 6).It was a terrible shock. I woke up to Bertha's screaming. Roy had always promised to bring May down to Sacramento to see her daughter and grandchildren. Now that was no longer an option and Roy was devastated. Bertha and Russell drove up to be with Roy. It was a sad reunion. Roy, May's husband, came to visit us in Sacramento with a neighbor boy, Norman Kuntz after her death. Norman was about 16 at the time and probably helped with the driving. Roy was so lonely. Roy died July 31, 1955. Bertha and Russell took a trip to Diamond to settle his affairs.

      When Bertha retired, she and Russell fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams of seeing New England in the fall with all of the beautiful colors. They sold their home, bought an Airstream trailer and traveled across the United States. While they were gone, I found some of her treasures that she had stored at Darlyne and Bill's house. Among her papers, I found May Sly and Milton Sherman's marriage certificate stating they were married in Bay County Michigan. I called the operator and told her I was looking for Milton Sherman and explained the reason. She gave me the names and phone numbers for all of the Shermans in that area. One of the persons I called gave me the name and number of Tillie Sherman Chambers who was a sister to Milton. Milton had died in 1953 of a heart attack. That was the same year but about a month after May's death. Aunt Tillie told me that Milton had come home and married Zoë Sharrow in 1908. Milton and Zoë had four children; 3 boys and a girl.

      Another of Bertha's desires was fulfilled even though she hadn't known it. The family discussed whether Bertha should be informed of the news of her new family since she had a serious heart condition. Stan said that we had no choice. She needed to be told. When Bertha and Russell returned from their year long trip across the States, I broke the news to her that she had 3 half brothers and a half sister. She was so excited! She could hardly wait to talk to them on the telephone. She had a conversation with Joe, the oldest brother and wrote to the cousin who was involved in researching the genealogy of the family. She decided to fly back to Michigan to meet them. We knew it was risky due to her heart condition. She had had a heart attack in Florida and was confined to the trailer for quite some time. Russell did not wish to go as he was not comfortable meeting so many new people. We talked about the risk, but they decided she should go and the new family in Michigan was anxious to meet her.

      When she got to Michigan, a cousin, Vernon Sherman, arranged for a large Sherman family reunion. Milton's sister, Tillie, his wife, Zoey, and all of Milton's children and their families attended. There were also many cousins. Bertha loved it all and had a wonderful visit. (See Addendum 18 - letter from Vernon Sherman).

      After a couple of days in Michigan, Bertha felt lots of pain in her legs and back. She knew something was not right. She ended up in the hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. Russell, accompanied by his oldest son, Roy, flew back to Michigan to be with her. Despite his reticence, he met all the Sherman family. They were very good to him and he liked them. Bertha was in the hospital for about a week. Surgery was performed to remove the embolism, but it was too late. She died in the hospital June 30, 1970. Her body was shipped back to Sacramento for burial at Eastlawn South. (See addendum 7). Joe, her half brother, and his wife Lora came to visit us in Sacramento a while later. It was nice for the family to meet him. We met his daughter Norma and her husband, Bud, and their children also, but never met the rest of the family.

      Some of Bertha's Legacies:

      ·She loved all nature, from the most delicate flower to the high majestic peaks.
      ·She was a conservationist before it was popular to be one. We could never throw even a bit of paper on the ground.
      ·She cared about all humans, from the intellectual to the down trodden.
      ·She had a deep spirituality.
      ·She loved a good joke.
      ·She was a good shot with a gun.
      ·She had a good command of the language with a large vocabulary. She felt the Latin she took in high school accounted
      for this. She loved doing crossword puzzles.
      ·She knew and loved poetry. Just a word would prick her memory and she would recite a long loved poem. She wrote
      poems both spiritual and humorous.
      ·One of her favorite sayings was; "Necessity is the mother of invention." Another regarding attitude was; "You can catch
      more flies with honey than with vinegar."
      ·She insisted in honesty and truthfulness in all things minor and major. We could never bring anything home that wasn't
      ours. She would say quietly and calmly, "It isn't yours, go put it back where you found it."
      ·She was an excellent seamstress and had always wanted to take dressmaking courses. She could look at a picture of a
      dress or outfit and create one like it.
      ·Her hands were always busy with knitting, crocheting, tatting or other handwork.
      ·She was not an exceptional housekeeper. One of her favorite sayings was, "It will never be noticed on a galloping
      ·She always took a position against gossip, but was not concerned if she was the butt of the gossip. She would say, "If
      they're talking about me, then they're not talking about someone else."
      ·She loved life and lived it.
      ·She had often stated that she only had three desires: "To live to see her family raised; to see New England in the fall;
      and to have brothers and sisters." She fulfilled all three of them.

      One of her sayings,"When they are little they step on your toes. When they are big they step on your heart!"

      *1910 United States Federal Census
      Name: Bertha I Hserman [Bertha I Sherman]
      Age in 1910: 7
      Estimated Birth Year: abt 1903
      BirthPlace: Montana
      Relation to Head of House: Granddaughter
      Father's Birth Place: Austria
      Mother's Birth Place: Michigan
      Home in 1910: School District 10, Lincoln, Montana
      Marital Status: Single
      Race: White
      Gender: Female
      Household Members: Name Age
      Richard Smith 44
      Elizabeth Smith 31
      Bertha I Hserman 7 ( Should be Sherman)

      1920 United States Federal Census
      Name: Bertha Sherman [Bertha Shorman]
      Home in 1920: Diamond, Whitman, Washington
      Age: 16 years
      Estimated Birth Year: abt 1904
      Birthplace: Montana [Washington]
      Relation to Head of House: Stepdaughter
      Father's Birth Place: Michigan
      Mother's Name: Mae
      Mother's Birth Place: Michigan
      Marital Status: Single
      Race: White
      Sex: Female
      Able to read: Yes
      Able to Write: Yes
      Image: 887
      Household Members: Name Age
      Roy Lamb 35
      Mae Lamb 36
      Bertha Sherman 16