COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City resident Nancy Brunner, 68, knows the struggles her great-great grandfather Mortimer Jeffries endured and the persistence he demonstrated.
“I think there were many struggles he went through to be able to vote and have his children attend school, and from what I understand they were educated,” said Brunner as she complimented her great-great grandfather’s handwriting.
Mortimer was born Aug. 22, 1820, in Greensville, Va. He was of the Saponi Indian tribe and is pictured on a welcoming sign for a Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation campground in Almanac County, N.C.
“Forest Hazel is the reason he is on the sign since he heads up the campground in North Carolina,” said Nancy.
While Nancy has never seen the sign, she said she is proud of her native American heritage.
“We were told never to be ashamed of it,” said Nancy.
Mortimer later moved to Indiana where he married Elizabeth Keen in December of 1850 in Rush County. They had eight children including Leander Jeffries, Jonathon Jeffries, Levi Jeffries, Priscilla Jeffries, Sarah Jeffries, Herbert Jeffries, Lizzie (Beatrice Elizabeth) Jeffries and Mary Mortimer Jeffries.
According to Nancy, while in Indiana, Mortimer worked as a farmer and fought for his right to vote on a change of venue in Noble County, taking his case to the Supreme Court where he was later granted suffrage.
“He was very persistent,” said Nancy.
One of his children, Priscilla, married James Martin Crone in February of 1873 in Whitley County. The Crones had three children, including David Crone, William Wallace Crone and Amanda Elizabeth Crone.
Amanda was Nancy’s grandmother, and after she died, family photos were stored in an attic at her uncle’s house.
“I lucked into that one,” said Nancy. “They all belonged to my grandmother, and I never knew where they were until I stumbled across them.”
Nancy said the Crone family was Scot-Irish, as they originally came from Europe and lived in Pennsylvania before heading south to Virginia and eventually to Indiana.
“Most of the Crone family ended up moving to Michigan,” said Nancy.
Nancy said the Jeffries family has close ties to Collins, near Churubusco, as family members were buried in what eventually became known as the Jeffries Cemetery. The Jeffries Cemetery is located in Smith Township on 300 N.
Mortimer was buried there, as he died Sept. 17, 1879, at the age of 59.