Delbert Manross...California Here We Come
Delbert was the first born of John and Adeline Manross. He was born in the farming community Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan on February 5, 1876. Delbert graduated from Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University) in Big Rapids, Michigan, receiving a degree in education that prepared him to teach Business Education classes in high school.
Delbert accepted a position at Janesville High School in Janesville, WI. He met Beulah Westerfield, a native of Janesville, who was working as a women’s clothing buyer for Bostwick's Department Store. Delbert and Beulah were married in Chicago, IL on August 17, 1907 and returned to live in Janesville. All three of their children were born in Janesville: Audrey in 1908, Lural in 1912, and John in 1915. The family was active in the Methodist Church and Delbert was the President of the Men’s League.
From the time he was a young man, Delbert always had the urge to move West. When traveling book dealers would visit Janesville, selling textbooks for the high school, he would listen eagerly to the tales of adventure and the opportunities out West.
In 1918 Delbert learned of a job opportunity at Butte Business College, Butte, Montana. Delbert went on ahead to Butte by himself to secure the job and obtain housing for his family. As Beulah and the children were preparing to move to Butte, they received an urgent telegram from Delbert. He explained that the 1918 Flu had hit Montana hard, like many other States. The towns, schools, and churches in Montana were temporarily closed to prevent spreading the disease. 675,000 Americans died from the 1918 flu.
Delbert instructed Beulah to change their reservations and to take the train to Livingston, Montana where their family could live safely on the farm owned by Beulah’s older brother, Jess Westerfield. The farm was very rustic and the housing was a weathered two story log cabin. That meant there would be 13 people temporarily living in this structure for an indefinite time period…just to survive. The Delbert Manross family lived on this ranch from October 1918 until the flu epidemic had subsided in January of 1919 and then were able to move to their new home in Butte. For the next three years, while they lived in Butte, MT, the Manross family would return to the farm in Livingston for a couple of weeks each summer.
In the Fall of 1921, Delbert felt the urge to move West once again. The family packed its belongings and took the train to Modesto, California where Delbert had secured another teaching position. In 1922 the family purchased their first automobile, a seven passenger Buick, with jump seats and dyed curtains. In 1923 he was one of the founding members of the charitable Kiwanis Club in Modesto. Delbert taught school at Modesto High School for a number of years and in 1927 accepted an opportunity as Chairman of the Commerce Department at Grass Valley High School. That same year he was elected Secretary of the Commercial Teacher’s Association of Northern California at the meeting of the Teacher’s Institute in Sacramento, CA.
As a couple who valued education, Delbert and Beulah were very earnest in urging their children to attend college even in the midst of the depression. San Jose State College was the choice of Audrey and Lural and John D. graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. Beulah, who was a talented seamstress, supplemented the family income by making fashionable clothing to order.
Delbert was known, by family and friends, for his home medical remedies. No matter what illness might occur, he would brew a conglomeration of herbs and spices on the stove which would be consumed by whoever was ill. Surprisingly, his remedies often proved to be quite effective.
In Grass Valley both Beulah and Delbert were quite active in the Methodist Church. Delbert was the Treasurer of the campaign to build the new church. He passed away suddenly in 1941. Beulah then met John Nichols while living in Long Beach, CA. She married John, who had participated in the Oklahoma Land rush in 1889. The Land Rush started at noon on April 22, 1889 with an estimated 50,000 individuals lined up on horseback hoping to obtain their piece of the 2 million acres of available and free land. Legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres. If they lived on the land, and improved it, they would receive title. Beulah passed away in 1969 in Modesto, CA.