Orvis Alexander Banks born 1896

Orvis Banks was born 15 March, 1896, in Holden, Massachusetts, the second child of Burpee Banks and Hattie Lightizer, who were both from Nova Scotia.  Orvis had an older sister, Minnie, who died at age 1 of convulsions, before he was born.   Orvis’ father was a farmer. 

In 1900, the Banks family lived in Worcester, MA, and Burpee was a farmer.  This census confirmed that Hattie had given birth to two children, but only one (Orvis) was still living. 

Like many Nova Scotians who moved to Massachusetts, this family seems to have maintained family connections back home.  Orvis was listed on at least two ships passenger lists, traveling with his mother back to Boston from Yarmouth, NS, in 1898 and 1903.  

In 1910, the Banks family was living in Oakham, MA.  The quality of this census image is very poor – Burpee Banks was indexed as Buckie Barnham – and I could not read the occupations.    

Orvis moved out west, and according to the 1915 state was living with Boardman and Abbie Hodges in Ellendale, Dickey County, North Dakota.   Abbie was Burpee’s sister, Orvis’ aunt.  Boardman was known for inviting relatives to come stay with him, to help give them new starts in the west. 

Orvis registered for the draft for the World War in 1917.  He was unmarried, and described as 5’10”, slender build, brown eyes, and black hair.  Besides registering, Orvis actually enlisted, along with many other men from Dickey County.  I’m not sure if he served or went overseas.  When he registered, Orvis was an apprentice in the printing office of the Oakes Times.  Boardman’s son-in-law, Alex Wright, was the publisher of the Times.  

In 1920, Orvis was still living with Boardman and Abbie in Ellendale.  He was a teacher at the state school.  This school had been created, at least on paper, in 1889, and was called the State Manual Training School.  That name was changed to State Normal and Industrial School.  The first three graduates, all women, received their teaching certificates in 1901. 

Orvis married Alice Wilhelminia Peterson, who was born in 1883 in Minnesota.  They were counted in the 1925 state census in Ellendale.  Occupations were not listed.  In 1930, they were living in a boarding house with Hubert and Lulu Peck on Fourth Street in Ellendale.  He was a teacher at the government Normal School.

The 1940 census lists Orvis and Alice still boarding in the household of Herbert Peck in Ellendale.  The record indicates that they lived in the same house in 1935.  Orvis was listed as a teacher at the state teacher’s college.  Alice was a secretary in the school’s office.  Orvis and Alice had no children. 

Orvis died 6 October 1969 in Aberdeen, South Dakota.  His obituary was published in the Fergus Falls (Minnesota) Daily Journal, 8 Oct 1969 p 3   O. A. Banks Funeral at Parkers Friday  PARKERS PRAIRIE – Services for Orvis A. Banks, 73, who was married to the former Alice W. Peterson of this village, will be Friday at 2 p.m., from the LaMere chapel with the Rev. Maynard 0. Hanson officiating. Burial will be in Swedish Cemetery. Mr. Banks died Monday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, S.D. He had lived 50 years at Ellendale, N.D., where he was a college professor and in business administration at the University of North Dakota branch. Services will be held in Ellendale Thursday. He leaves his wife.

Alice died 18 November 1971, and both were buried at Swedish Cemetery, at Parker’s Prairie, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. 

The state school in Ellendale suffered a fire and closed in 1971.  The property was sold to Trinity Bible College, which still operates on that property.


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