Lennie Mae Downing (1891 - 1928)

Links for Lennie Mae Downing

Lennie Mae Downing History

Lennie Mae Downing was born 10 April 1891 in Cabool, Missouri. She was the 4th of 8 children born to Jefferson Davis Downing and Julia Ann Deck.

May 1, 1900 Lennie's parents moved their family from Missouri to Blackfoot, Idaho to the farm of her grandfather. They arrived sometime before the 1900 census which was taken on June 1, 1900. The picture below was taken in Cabool, Missoui the day the family left for Idaho.

May 1, 1900, L-R back: Erbie, Jefferson Davis (Father), Elsie, Julia Ann Deck (Mother), Lennie (age 9), Loula
L-R Front: Neola, Edith (baby)

In the 1900 census, Lennie is listed as "Lena" and is 9 years old and is going to school. She is living with her father and mother along with 5 siblings at the home of her grandfather W.A. Downing in Blackfoot, Idaho. It states she was born in Missouri, her father was born in Missouri and her mother was born in Arkansas.

Lennie (age 9) 1900 Census ( Entire page )

The picture below is of the Jefferson Davis Downing home that Lennie grew up in as it appeared in the summer of 2017.

Jefferson Davis Downing Home in 2017

The home is currently located at 315 S Adams Avenue in Blackfoot. Originally the home was located on the Jefferson Davis Downing farm which began at what was then the end of Adams Avenue. The original location of the home is approximately where Adams Avenue currently intersects with Sonny street. At some point after the death of Lennie's father in 1938, the house was moved to where it stands today about a block away from the original location. Below is a detail from a 1940 map of Blackfoot. An arrow points to where the home stood originally. Note that at that time the home was on a farm where the land was just outside the city limits with nothing between it and the Blackfoot river. In the 1920 and 1930 census the home was given the address of 500 Adams Avenue.

Jefferson Davis Downing Home Original Location
1940 map of Blackfoot, ID

Below is a google map from 2017 showing the original and current locations of the home. Note how the city has now grown and what was the Jefferson Davis Downing farm now is filled with streets and homes.

Jefferson Davis Downing Home then and now

The photo below was taken in sometime in the fall of 1902 with the family living in Blackfoot. Date based on the apparent age of baby Opal who was born June 5, 1902

Fall 1902, L-R back standing: Loula, Elsie, Lennie (age 11), Neola
Sitting L-R: Julia Ann Deck (Mother), Opal(baby), Jefferson Davis (Father)
L-R Front standing: Edith, Erbie

Lennie (age unknown)

Lennie loved horses and rode well and hunted with her brothers and sisters (source: History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin).

Lennie (left) with a friend (unknown)

Lennie (left) and friend (unknown) in the Blackfoot River


Lennie (right) with a friend (unknown)

In 1909, at age 18, Lennie was working as a singer in the Isis theater in Blackfoot, singing during the intermissions. She had a "beautiful soprano voice" (source: Karen Goodwin Keller audio). While working at the theater in 1909, Lennie met Clyde Hudson, who was also working as a singer at the theater. At the time he was courting Lennie's sister Elsie but "soon changed his mind" (source: History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin). Listen to this audio as Karen Goodwin Keller (a granddaughter) describes their meeting and first date.

    ***Note: In her history Margaret states they were working at the Rialto Theater while in the audio Karen states it was the Isis theater. The Rialto wasn't built until 1920 (reference) while the Isis theater was referenced in a 1916 edition of the Blackfoot newspaper edition. I concluded they were working at the Isis theater.

Clyde and Lennie married in Blackfoot, Idaho, 28 April 1909. Clyde was 23 years old and Lennie was 18. There were married by the Reverend C. A. Edwards a Methodist Episcopal minister. Here is a link to their marriage record and marriage details.

In the 1910 census, Lennie and Clyde are listed as living in the household of Lennie's father Jeff Downing. Clyde is 24 years old and Lennie is 19. Lennie's occupation/employment is listed as "none". Clyde's occupation is listed as a carpenter. Her father is also listed as a carpenter.

Lennie (age 19) 1910 US Census ( Entire page )

Lennie and Clyde had 7 children:

    Harry Everett (Eddie) 1910 - 1974
    Dorothy 1912 - 1993
    Margaret 1914 - 2008
    Julia Mae (Judy) 1918 - 1999
    Betty Jean 1920 - 1993
    Clyde (Buddy) 1922 - 1929
    Don Herbert 1924 - 1977

In the 1912 Clyde and Lennie were living at 184 S Fisher street in Blackfoot (source: Bingham County Directory for Blackfoot, pg 125).


Lennie (left) holding Julia about 1920
Right: Loula (sister) with son Gayle

In the 1920 census (3 Jan 1920), Clyde and Lennie are listed as living in Blackfoot City, Precinct 2. Lennie's occupation is left blank meaning she was a stay at home mom. Clyde's occupation is listed as a cook in the restaurant business and that he was paid wages.

Lennie (age 28) 1920 Census ( Entire page )

Clyde and Lennie's family 1921

about 1921-22, Back (L-R): Lennie, ?, ?
Middle: Eddie, Dorothy, Julia, Margaret, ?
Front: Betty

By 1922 the family had moved to Firth, Idaho. There Buddy was born. He was born prematurely and had a heart defect. From the History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin:

    "About this time when I was six they began to build a school at Firth, ldaho and also to improve the roads. My father was able to lease a restaurant and we moved to Firth. Mother made all the pies, did some of the cooking and tended my three sisters, my one brother, and me. It was here that we had two terrifying experiences. One morning as we were huddled around the stove, my younger sister Julia fell from a chair onto a piece of kindling with nails in it that was laying on the floor . The nail lodged in her temple. We were close to the cafe where my father worked so we ran for help. They took her to the druggist in town as there was no doctor at that time. The pulled the board and the nails out and by the kindness of God there was no serious damage done and she recovered.
    I'm sure that the hard work was too much for mother. She had a new baby boy arrive early. He lived but was very delicate. Mother was never strong after this. Aunt Opal, mother's youngest sister came to stay and help us. She was the best ear washer I ever saw. She stayed with us for sometime.
    During this time, dad sang with a quartet, the Sundquists. I remember the quartet he sang with practicing on the piano in the cafe. I also remember Dad was also a very good wrestler. I remember Dad wrestling up in an old dance hall every week."

After two years in Firth the family moved to Shelley where Clyde had another cafe. They were there only a short time before leaving.

By 1924 the family had moved to Aberdeen, Idaho where Clyde had another cafe. There Don was born. From the History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin:

    At this time we became active in the Methodist Church. I remember the church picnics and the Epworth League (youth association). While in Aberdeen, we all had chicken pox and the mumps. Our baby, Don, almost died of the chicken pox but a good friend who was a nurse, took him to her home and pulled him through.

Sometime before 1927 the family moved to Shelley, Idaho. From the History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin:

    Wanderlust pulled at Dad again and we moved back to Shelley... Dad and my elder brother Eddie went to Parma that summer and worked in fields.
    Mother, Dad and all us kids had fairly good voices. We loved music and although we didn't have the money to take lessons, there was always music in the house. Dad could play a little on the piano, violin and trombone. Eddy could play mouth organ, ukulele and later the banjo and guitar.
    Mother was very ambitious and kept a very clean house, sewed and though her health wasn't very good, took in boarders the last year they were in Shelly.
While in Shellie Lennie Mae's health became so bad she was hospitalized and she was diagnosed with diabetes. Before the start of school in 1928 the family moved back to Blackfoot. From the History of Margaret Hudson Goodwin:
    My father went to work for Egin Lamprect as a cook. One day mother went to the fair and brought a friend from Shelley home with her. She went into the bedroom, laid down, and took a nap. The next day we heard that she had died. A few days later mother got up ill, by noon she had gone into a coma. The neighbors called dad home from work, and he called Dr. Parite. He came and said he didn't know anything about diabetes and suggested we call Dr. Beck. We did and for 2 days Dr. Beck worked with her; finally he told us that he couldn't do anything for her. Aunt Lou came from Pocatello and they decided to take mother to the doctor in Idaho Falls who had taken care of her before. The doctor said that if we had brought her sooner he could have helped but it was too late now.

Lennie passed away Oct 5, 1928 at the age of 37 leaving Clyde with 7 children. The oldest Everett was 17 and the youngest Don was 3. Her death certificate states that she died from a "diabetes coma" and that contributing to her death were several diabetic comas. She was buried in the Grove City Cemetery at Blackfoot, Idaho

Lennie's grave stone


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