Local ladies celebrate long lives

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

There must be something in the water in Ripley County as three residents will reach milestone birthdays in February. Elva Little of Ripley Crossings in Milan, will celebrate her 104th birthday today, February 1. Ethel Ross of Osgood, will celebrate her 100th birthday February 2 and Martha Williams, Ripley Crossings, Milan, will celebrate her 100th birthday on February 3.

Elva Little – 104
Elva Little was born in Rexville in 1907 to Luther and Lizzie (Lane) Delay. She attended Versailles High School where Latin was her favorite subject. After graduation, Elva worked as a telephone operator in Cincinnati and lived at the YMCA.

It was love at first sight when she met Delbert Little. They were married on February 1, 1936, at the 9th Street Baptist Church in Cin cinnati. They moved to Indianapolis and rented their first apartment for $14 per month. Elva and Delbert had three children, Patricia Anne Little Smith, Martha Faye Delay Little, and David Mahlon Little.

Elva’s hobbies included a love for reading and gardening as well as writing. At the age of 92, she published a book entitled, Life in the Slow Lane.

Some of the biggest changes she has seen over the years have been in health care. According to Little, she has always had an interest in keeping her family healthy. Her secret to a long life? Hard work, keeping busy and to care about your health, said Little.

“I am not sure what changed the world in the last 104 years, but I do know what changed Versailles: electricity,” she continued. According to Little, Uncle Billy Smith, originally from England, was responsible for bringing electricity for the businesses.

Another fond memory is that her uncle and grandfather were the first people to own cars in Versailles. Her grandfather went to Detroit to purchase the car. Although her grandfather did not learn how to drive, Elva’s brother, Lloyd Delay, had the privilege; he encouraged everyone else to learn.

Ethel Ross – 100
Ethel Ross was born in Clay County, KY, on February 2 - 100 years ago. She was raised in Casey County, KY, but has lived the past 41 years in Osgood, where she makes her home today.

Ethel was married to the late Tearl James Ross and the couple had two daughters: Ines Durham of Yosemite, KY, and Eva Joyce Rise of Osgood. She has nine grandchildren, and a host of great and great great grandchildren and many friends and relatives.
Her explanation for her long life is this: she loves to read her Bible and says her prayer life to the Lord keeps her going.

Ethel enjoys quilting, sewing and baking peach cobbler. She is also famous for her homemade chicken and dumplings and homemade biscuits.

Her family describes Ethel as “a blessing to all who has met or meets her. Her smile is a blessing to all. Her radiance has made her many friends.”

Ethel has a large loving family who will help make her special birthday a great time.

Martha Williams – 100
Martha Ellen Meadow Hamblin Williams was born on February 3, 1911 near Piney Grove in Whitley County, KY to William and Axie (Smith) Meadows. As the second of seven children, she spent a lot of time taking care of her siblings.

Williams married Forrest Hamblin in 1928 and had four children: Irene Dart, Virginia Graves, June (Jean) Kieffer and Harold Hamblin. She also helped to raise Forrest’s children from a previous marriage. Forrest died on April 16, 1955.

According to daughter June Kieffer, her mother was always busy canning and sewing for the family. “She didn’t have much time to spend outside of the home,” Kieffer said.
Williams was a superb seamstress who would make most of the clothing for the family. “She had a God-given talent,” said Kieffer. “Mother could look at a dress and then make a pattern for it.

Quilting was also a favorite pastime for Williams. She made several quilts that she sometimes sold, but often gave away for gifts. According to Kieffer, she tried to give a quilt to each of her 15 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and 31 great-great grandchildren.

Williams worked at the Jackson Box Company in Norwood, OH, during WWII making boxes for the military. It was at another job making battery chargers where she met her second husband J.C. Williams.

“He was a wonderful person,” said Kieffer of her stepfather. “He treated us kids as his own.”

Martha and J.C. married on Dec 18, 1965. J.C. passed away on August 19, 1994.

“Mom was really an ordinary person,” said Kieffer. “She was very generous and giving often doing without so that the kids had what we needed.”

A birthday celebration will be held for Martha on Sunday, February 6 from 2-4 p.m. at Ripley Crossing in Milan. Family and friends are welcome to attend and extend their birthday wishes. For more information, contact Ripley Crossing at 812-654-2231.

What was the best advice that Martha gave to her children? “Treat others how you want to be treated,” said Kieffer. “And, always be truthful.”