An Inheritance of Ghosts

James Alvin Colley and Vida Catherine Miller

Posted in James Alvin Colley, Vida Catherine (Miller) Colley, Vida Catherine Miller by Gregg Mattocks on 27 August 2009

James Alvin Colley [12]

Father: James Clay Colley [24]

Mother: Cora Shrite [25]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Vida Catherine Miller [13]

Father: Walter Scott Miller [26]

Mother: Maggie Myrtle Woods [27]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


James Alvin “Pud” Colley [12] was born 19 June 1888 at Clay County, Missouri, the son of James Clay and Cora (Shrite) Colley.  Alvin’s father died in December 1889 and his mother remarried to Thomas P. McDaniel.

In June 1900, Alvin, aged 11 and working was a farm laborer, was living in his stepfather’s household – along with his mother, brother, and sister – at Paradise, Platte Township, Clay County.  Alvin’s mother died in January 1905 so that Alvin had lost both his parents by the time he was 16.  It is unknown if Alvin continued to live with his stepfather after his mother’s death.

By April 1910, Alvin had removed to Butler Township, St. Clair County, Missouri.  The census of that year recorded Alvin,  a farmer, aged 21, living with his “partner” John Lewis.

Alvin married, 23 September 1910, at Lowry City, Butler Township, St. Clair County, Vida Catherine Miller [13].  Vida was born 31 December 1891 at St. Clair County, the daughter of Walter Scott and Maggie Myrtle (Woods) Miller.

In June 1900, Vida C., aged 8, was living with her parents in the tenth ward of Kansas City, Jackson  County, Missouri.  By 1910 the family had moved to Lowry City.  In April of that year, Vida, aged 18, a seamstress working from home, was living with her parents at Lowry City.

With World War I under way, Alvin registered for the draft on 1 June 1917.  The registration form tells us that Alvin was self-employed as a baker in Lowry City at the time.  He claimed exemption from service as he had a wife to support.  In his registration, Alvin described himself as being of medium height, medium build, with brown eyes and red hair.  It would seem that Alvin never served in the military.

Son Luster Earl Colley was born to Alvin and Vida in October 1917.

In January 1920, Alvin, working as a garage mechanic, aged 31, was living with his wife Vida, aged 26, and their son Earl at Lowry City.  Son Francis Eugene was born in October of that year.

The Colleys probably owned a dog at this time, as a photograph of the two boys from this era shows them petting a large hound.

In April 1930, James A., a baker who owned his own bakery, aged 41, was living with his wife, Vida C., aged 38, and their two sons, in a home James owned on Sixth Street in Lowry City, Butler Township. The Colley house was then valued at $1400. The census of that year recorded that James was not a veteran.

Shortly after the marriage of Alvin’s son Earl to Doris Wears in July 1938, the newlywed couple came to work at the bakery, which their daughter Carol said was called the “Home Bakery”.  Carol thought Alvin’s bakery business might have been a franchise.

With the outbreak of World War II, Alvin was faced with a sugar shortage. Because the government would not allot his small business enough of this commodity, Alvin was forced to close the bakery. He left his home in Lowry City, and located in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, where he worked in the war industry. However, Alvin apparently had not sold his home in Lowry City and, after the war, returned there to live.

Alvin evidently enjoyed hunting as two photographs show him engaging in that recreation with his son Earl.  The first photograph, taken in 1943, shows Alvin and Earl holding up a string of quail in front of the Colley home in Lowry City.  A hunting dog lays at their feet.  The second photograph, dating from March 1945, depicts Alvin tossing a clay pigeon as Earl prepares to shoot it.

Carol Mattocks recalled running into her grandfather Alvin often on the streets of Lowry City.  When she would see him, the two would inevitably stop and chat for a bit.  Carol related that Alvin was known to many in town as “Pud” (or “Pood”).

In July of 1957 Vida, a residentof Lowry City, was admitted to the Wetzel Hospital in Clinton, Henry County, Missouri.

Vida Catherine Colley, aged 67, died at the hospital at 2:05 a.m. on 3 August 1957.  Cause of death was cerebral thrombosis due to arterial sclerosis.  Funeral arrangements were handled by Goodrich Funeral Home of Osceola, St. Clair County.  Vida was buried at Lowry City Cemetery in Lowry City.

Granddaughter Carol remembered seeing Alvin for the last time when she was in Lowry City shortly after the death of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

A photograph which dates from the late sixties or early seventies shows Alvin surrounded by his two sons and their families in front of the Lowry City Christian Church in Lowry City after Sunday services.

James Alvin Colley died 31 October 1974 at Lowry City.  He was buried alongside his wife at Lowry City Cemetery.

Children of James Alvin and Vida Catherine (Miller) Colley:

  • 12.1. Luster Earl [6], born 7 October 1917.
  • 12.2. Francis Eugene “Gene”, born about 28 October 1920.


  • 1900 United States Census, Clay County, Missouri, (T623-849-167B).
  • 1900 United States Census, Jackson County, Missouri, (T623-864-144B).
  • 1900 United States Census, Jackson County, Missouri, (T623-864-145A).
  • 1910 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T624-801-182A).
  • 1910 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T624-801-183B).
  • 1920 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T625-943-149B)
  • 1930 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T626-1221-143B).
  • —, Gravestone of James A. and Vida C. Colley, Lowry City Cemetery, Lowry City, Missouri.
  • —, World War I Draft Registration card for James Alvin Colley, Butler Precinct, St. Clair County, Missouri.
  • Michael Colley, “Dad’s Pictures,” at, accessed 25 August 2009.
  • Vida Catherine Colley, The Birthday and Anniversary Book, memoranda book of Vida Catherine Colley, (selected items), transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • Division of Health of Missouri, Standard Death Certficate, state file number 24288 [Vida Catherine Colley].
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 14 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 5 September 2004.