Presley Twining France was born on June 29, 1873 in Deshler, Henry County, OH, the son of John C. and Rhoda (Van Horn) France.
As a boy, Presley lived in Deshler until age five. His family then went to Grelton, Henry County, until he was age 15. In 1887, his parents moved again, to Mungen, Wood County, OH, where they stayed until 1892, when they moved to Continental, Putnam County.
On Dec. 21, 1895, in nearby Paulding County, OH, 22-year-old Presley married 21-year-old Mary Iona Robinson (1874-1945), a resident of Oakwood, OH. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Henry Provant.
The Frances had nine children -- Lynn Lanor France, Ruth Jewell, Rhoda Ellen Steiner, Flossie Faye Donaldson, John R. France, Essa Knoblauch, Lois Steel Riley, Robert France and Mildred Koyle.
The Frances were farmers. Immediately following their marriage, they lived on a farm near Continental. In an interesting twist, one of Presley's distant cousins lived in Kalida and Continental in Putnam County in the late 1800s and early 1900s -- the family of Joseph and Mary Jane (Courtney) Miner.
By 1900, the Frances had relocated to Michigan, where Presley worked as a teamster for a logging company in or near the town of Stanton. Seen here is a photograph showing Presley -- standing third from left on the railcar bed -- in logging operations in Michigan. (Click to see an enlarged version of this image, which was our "Photo of the Month" for December 2003.)
Within a year or two, Presley and Mary and young family moved back to Continental. Their old farm house (seen here) was located along the Paulding-Putnam County Line Road, was just north of the Nickleplate Railroad (now Norfolk Southern Railroad).
Then, in about 1918, Presley moved the family back to Michigan, settling for good in Michigan Center, where they remained for the rest of their lives.
Seen here, Mary poses with her family of daughters. Front row, left to right: Ruth Jewell, Faye Donaldson, Mildred Koyle, Essa Knoblauch. Back row, left to right: Lois Riley, Rhoda Steiner and mother Mary.
The federal census of 1920 shows them living on Cross Road in or near Napolean, Jackson County.
Mary passed away in Michigan Center on Sept. 2, 1945. She was age 71.
Presley outlived her by 12 years. He died as a result of an automobile accident, on March 23, 1957. He is buried with Mary at Woodlawn Cemetery in Jackson.
~ Son Lyman Lenor "Lynn" France ~
Son Lyman Lenor France (1897- ? ) was born in 1897. As a 23-year-old in 1920, he was employed by a spring factory in Napolean, Jackson County, MI.
He made his home in 1937 in Michigan Center, MI.
~ Daughter Ruth L. (France) Jewell ~
Daughter Ruth France (1899- ? ) was born in 1899.
She married (?) Jewell. Her residence in 1937 was in Michigan Center, MI.
~ Daughter Rhoda (France) Steiner ~
Daughter Rhoda Ellen France (1900-1944) was born in 1900.
At the age of 22, Rhoda married 38-year-old Dr. Benjamin Harrison Steiner (1884-1952), son of Andrew Thomas and Lantha (Crow) Steiner. Their nuptials were held on Dec. 23, 1922.
Benjamin was a veteran of World War I. He was a veterinarian and later a federal government meat inspector with the Val Decker Packing Company.
They are seen here with their two sons, James Presley Steiner (left) and Earl Thomas Steiner.
She passed away at age 44, on Dec. 23, 1944, "on their 22nd anniversary of their marriage," said the Piqua (OH) Daily Call. She was buried in Monroe Cemetery in Continental.
Benjamin married again, to Minnie Ellen High of Piqua, in 1945. She brought three children from a previous marriage -- Virginia Denman, Orville High and Ernest High.
He spent his final years in their home at 1046 Bellefontaine Avenue in Piqua. He died at home, at the age of 68, on or about May 15, 1952. Following a funeral in the Piqua Evangelical United Brethren Church, he was laid to eternal rest in the Forest Grove Cemetery in Continental. In his obituary, the Lima News noted that he was a cousin of "Dr. David L. Steiner."
Grandson James Pressley Steiner, a World War II veteran, studied at Purdue University. He became a forest ranger with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He worked at the Snoqualmie Reservation in Washington State, the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico, and the Fort Apache Reservation and the San Carlos Reservations in Arizona. He spent more than a decade helping organize the Medieval Renaissance Festival in Phoenix.
Grandson Earl T. Steiner conducted extensive research into the France-Van Horn branch of our family. He also was the official photographer for the Miami County (OH) Historical and Genealogical Society, affiliated with the Ohio Genealogical Society. Earl was a good friend of this website and shared much of his knowledge for its benefit. Sadly, he passed away on June 22, 2010, in Piqua, OH. Click to read Earl's memoirs -- Beginning (1996), Grampa France, Michigan Center (1997) and A Life's Resume.
~ Daughter Flossie Fay (France) Donaldson ~
Daughter Flossie Fay France (1902-1937) was born in about 1902 in Perrysburg, Wood County, OH.
She married Raymond Donaldson ( ? - ? ). They resided in Jackson, MI and later moved to Lima, Allen County, OH in about 1936. Their home in Lima was at 477 Ewing Avenue.
They had two children -- Neoma Donaldson and Raymond Donaldson Jr.
Tragedy rocked this family when Flossie died at the age of 34 on New Year's Day 1937, "in her home after a short illness," reported the Lima News.
~ Son John R. France ~
Son John France (1906- ? ) was born in 1906 in Ohio.
He resided in Michigan Center, MI in 1937.
~ Daughter Essa "Essie" (France) Knoblauch ~
Daughter Essa "Essie" France (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908 in Ohio. She grew up in or near Monroe, Putnam County, OH and then in Napolean, Jackson County, MI.
Essie married Carl Knoblauch. They lived in Jackson, MI circa 1937.
~ Daughter Lois (France) Riley ~
Daughter Lois France (1912- ? ) was born in about 1912.
She married Steven Riley. Circa 1937, their home was in Detroit.
~ Son Robert France ~
Son Robert France (1914- ? ) was born in about 1904.
He lived in Jackson, MI in 1937.
~ Daughter Mildred (France) Koyle ~
Daughter Mildred France (1916- ? ) was born in about 1916.
She married Ernest Koyle ( ? - ? ). In 1937, they resided in Jackson, MI.
Copyright © 2003, 2013 Mark A. Miner