These are my grandparents on their wedding day. William Francis Sherman and Nellie Viola Niess were married on September 18, 1914 in the First Congregational Church in Washington D.C. It was the social event of the year! Standing directly behind my grandmother is her father, Edwin A. Niess.
William Francis Sherman, b. 2 May 1865, Cleveland, Ohio d. probably before September 1914, m. May Ellen Carrington, b. 17 February 1866, Ireland, d. aft September 1914Second Generation:
William Francis Sherman, b. 2 April 1891, Tampa, Florida, d. 7 November 1948, Washington D.C., m. 16 September 1914, Washington D.C., to Nellie Viola Niess, b. 15 August 1891, Washington D.C., d. 30 April 1976, Riverside, California
William Francis Sherman, Jr., b. 4 September 1915, Washington D.C., d. 18 September 1990, Olney, Maryland, m. 21 April 1939, California to Catherine Dorothea Lindgren, still living
Raymond Carvell Sherman, b. 15 July 1918, Washington D.C., d. 20 October 1973, Olney, Maryland, m. 11 July 1942, Washington D.C. to Alise Jessie Williamson, still living - one son from this marriage
Vincent Edwin Sherman, b. 7 February 1920, Washington D.C., d. Portland, Oregon, m. 15 April 1941 Washington D.C., to Georgia Mae Saxton, b. 18 November 1918, Oakland, California, d. 16 September 1993, Houston, Texas - three children from this marriage
Little is known about William Sherman's past. According to his social security card record, his father's name was also William Francis Sherman and his mother was May Ellen Carrington. The 1920 census lists his father as having roots in New York and his mother in Ireland.
He was born in Tampa, Florida, according to family legend, on April 2, 1891. His father was employed by the New York Railroad as the Chief Civil Engineer helping to build the railroad in Florida. He left home to join the service when he was 16 years old. It was while he was in the service in Washington D.C., that he met Nellie Viola Niess, who was to become my grandmother. The only verifiable thing in this paragraph is that he was in the service. However, his records were part of those that burned in the fire in St. Louis. He did serve in the Army Corps of Engineers and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery for this reason. I have only been able to obtain his social security application, his death certificate and his marriage license. Everything else has presented me a brickwall!
After their marriage, three sons were born to them, my father, William Francis Sherman, Jr., his brother Raymond Carvell and his youngest brother Vincent Edwin. Having three little boys born within a 5 year time span was more than my grandmother could handle, so my father went to live with my great-grandparents, Edwin and Carrie Niess. During this period his father, "Billy" was employed by A.F. Jorss Ornamental Iron Works as a bookkeeper, then as an Estimator. When my father was thirteen he went back to live with his parents and siblings since the family was moving to New York.
Billy had lost his job in Washington, and had spent time working for a bookmaker on a commission basis to make ends meet in that city. A job opening presented itself in the fall of 1929 in New York City. The family moved to New York City and lived in a community on Long Island named Elmhurst. Billy's job and the Company he worked for disappeared one day. My grandfather was supposedly (I say supposedly since I can't verify it!) employed as an engineer for Otis Elevator when the Empire State Building was constructed. Billy spent many hours writing letters looking for employment - and one day he got an offer - from San Francisco!
The family moved to San Francisco in the midst of the depression. Billy went first in 1931, and according to the San Francisco City Directory the family followed in 1932. According to my father's memoirs, the family sat in New York waiting for passage money, when finally my grandmother wrote to the company that employed Billy and asked if there was any money forthcoming. The money was there immediately. According to my Aunt Georgia's account of the incident, Nellie's father finally came up with the money for her to take her three boys to California. Which account is correct, we shall never know! It is known that the family went by steamship, traveling through the Panama Canal and arriving in San Francisco 28 days after they left New York City.
In 1932 he was employed as an Engineer for Persons Dwan Company. In 1933 and 1934 he was an Estimator for Forderer Cornice Works. The family lived at 5616 Geary Avenue during their stay in San Francisco. My father and his youngest brother, Vincent, both attended Lowell High School, Raymond went to a school that specialized in a technical education, by his own choice. There was discord in the household in San Francisco, and Billy again lost his job and this time moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. The family again followed, minus my father who had joined the Army by this time.
The Sherman family eventually moved back to Washington D.C. where Raymond and Vincent both met their brides, and started their families. My grandparents' problems deepened and they soon separated. Nellie filed for divorce and whether or not the divorce ever became final before my grandfather died, I do not know.
Billy died in Washington D.C. at the Statler Hotel on November 7, 1948. Why he was there when he had a residence in another part of the city is not known. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Nellie moved to San Francisco where she lived until she became so confused my father found it necessary to move her closer to our family in Riverside. Today her condition would be referred to as Alzheimers, then we just called her "Grandma Forgetful"! Nellie eventually was put into a rest home where she died on April 30, 1976. Her cremains are buried with her mother's remains at Springhill Cemetery in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.
More on the Sherman family on the page dedicated to my father -William Francis Sherman, Jr.
If you are a Sherman researcher and any of this sounds a little familiar to you, please contact me! I'd love to exchange information and stories with you! I'd like to find out who my great-grandparents were, and why there was never any contact with them throughout my father's childhood!
Information on William Francis Sherman obtained from death certificate, social security application, 1920 census records, marriage license, burial records from Arlington National Cemetery, San Francisco City Directory and family legend. There are no Veteran's Administration files available due to a fire in the repository at St. Louis. I have copies of all of the above referenced records.
Information on Nellie Viola Niess obtained from Jeremiah Mark Carvell Family Bible, birth certificate, death certificate, marriage license, 1920 census records, personal knowledge and family legend. I have copies of all of the above referenced records, and have the above referenced Family Bible in my possession.
Information on this family was also obtained from memoirs that my father, William F. Sherman, Jr. had started just prior to his death, and a copy of a letter to my father from my aunt, Georgia M. Sherman, widow of his brother, Vincent.
Pictured above are:
Wedding Picture of William Francis Sherman and Nellie Viola Niess
Young Sherman family, around June, 1920
Sherman family, Billy, Nellie, Raymond and Vincent
Nellie Viola Niess
Ray and Alise Sherman, Nellie, Catherine,(wife of Bill) Linda and first husband, Greg Bowman