Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Spotlight on: Isabell Esther Mark Nee Ream

Isabell Esther Mark

21 Dec 1903 Medina OH - 9 Mar 1984Wadsworth, OH

Daughter of

Mother of Harold & Paul
Sister of my paternal grandmother, Ivy Mark Brown
My great aunt

Isabell Esther (Mark) Nee Ream was the oldest child of Thomas K. and N. Regina (Gruissy) Mark.[1]According to her sister, Wava, Isabell was named for her grandmother, Mary Isabella (Heffelfinger) Mark. This grandmother died just a month after Isabell was born.[2]By 1920 the Thomas K. Mark family had grown to seven children.[3]Isabell was the oldest at 16 years old and Wava was the youngest at 11 months old. The family was living on Prospect Street in Guilford Township, Seville Village, Medina County, Ohio. Thomas was a carpenter who owned his own home.  

Isabell (Mark) Nee was only seventeen years old when she married Roy Edward Nee on 5 November 1922.[4]  Wava said not everyone was happy with this marriage because Isabell’s husband was older than her father. To her younger siblings this seemed quite ancient.[5]Roy and Isabell (Mark) Nee had two sons: Harold[6]and Paul[7]. There was a ten year difference in the ages of the brothers.

            Isabell’s younger sister, Viola, remembers Isabell and Roy visiting the family.  She said Isabell and Roy would borrow a horse and buggy. They would, “come over on Friday night and stay till Sunday night. If school was out they would take me home with them to take care of Harold.”[8]Viola would often help them out. She said she heard Harold’s first word.  


Isabell, Vera & Ivy Mark

Harold’s first word was La Lops. That was me. She (Isabell) was in the kitchen cooking something. And she called me get something out of the garden and I went over the baby gate and I didn’t get to the back door and he was yelling, ‘La Laps’. Isabel said, ‘He’s calling you. Come back here.’ He didn’t want me leaving. That was his first words. He called me La Laps for years.[9]  


            Roy E. Nee held several jobs. He worked on the John Winkler farm in Seville.  At another time he worked in one of the factories in Wadsworth.  Another time he worked on railroads.[10]

            When their son, Harold Jay Nee, was a little boy the family lived in Long Beach, California. Roy had a sister who lived in California so Roy decided to move out there. He said it was for his wife’s health. In moving from Ohio to California, Roy, Isabell and Harold lived in their car.[11]  Paul Nee writes, “They moved to California so Dad could work on his sisters orange grove. This was during the Depression. There was no work in Ohio. They only stayed a few years and then came back to Ohio.”[12]

            Isabell kept in touch with her family despite being away from Ohio. She wrote letters home. On 26 October 1928 Isabell, Roy and Harold were on their way to California when Isabell wrote a letter from Texas. She wrote, “We drove over 100 mile without seeing a tree or field planted.”[13]She also wrote, “Harold had a fever from strange water but is O.K. now.”[14]She wrote a letter on 3 February 1929, Harold’s fifth birthday. Isabell wrote about her son’s birthday cake, “marble with coco frosting and white lettering” and his birthday present “an apron for washing dishes and a pin cushion. She wrote that he cries when she won’t let him wash dishes. She also wrote,


Isabell Mark

I set some yellow and some purple daisies out. My four o’clocks and Black eyed susans, lettuce, turnips and onions are up. It was so cold they took quite a while coming. I moved the violets. And will plant Tomatoe [sic] and pepper etc. seeds in flats this week. As we are on a main blvd we can sell things here. Roy bought 2 peach and a bartlet pear tree last week and set between the grape fruit and had 3 seedless white grapes and 5 muscats given to him. They are tearing out 20 acres of muscat grapes across the street. Everyone went crazy on grapes. The man behind us pulled his out and put in walnuts. I planted seed of the Wild tobacco tree yesterday; I got it off a tree 2 years old and nearly 20 ft high. If hogs could grow like trees here meat would not be so unreasonable high. The spinach is 10 cents a lb and carrots 10 a doz. Big young ones. Potatoes are 2 and a half cents a lb. and not like Ohio ones either. It’s all you can do to get good ones. I want to put out a lot of sweet potatoes, a man here is putting out 6 acres. And say a man near here is planning on raising forty thousand turkeys. Can you imagine the gobbles?[15]


            In 1930 the family was back in Ohio. Roy was 52 and a farm laborer. Isabell was 27.   Harold was six years old. They lived in Westfield, Medina County, Ohio.[16]  

            Roy died in 1963.[17]Paul’s son, Stephen, remembers his grandparents. He wrote, 


Grandpa Roy died when I was 7 so I don’t have a lot of memories, but I’ll share what I can. Grandpa Roy taught me how to play checkers when I was very young, probably around 4 or 5. We played regular checkers and he also taught me how to play Chinese checkers. I have long since forgotten that game, but we would spend hours playing together. Grandpa didn’t smile much, but he did when we played checkers together.[18] 


            Of his grandmother, Stephen wrote, 


I have more memories of Grandma Bell, obviously, since she was around longer. We called her Grandma Bell because Isabel was too much for us when we were small. There were quite a few summers spent at Grandma’s house, at least a few weeks of the summer. She would ride herd on 4 to 6 Grandkids, plus take care of Grandpa Mark. We learned early on that Grandma was not one to mess with. She kept us plenty busy with chores around the house and plenty more chores when she moved out to the farm just north of Wadsworth. We didn’t mind much cause there was always time to play too. I’m sure we grumbled a bit but a smart child knew not to push Grandma too far or the chore list would get longer. Probably the hardest part of staying at Grandma’s house was watching Lawrence Welk on TV. It was Grandpa Mark’s favorite show and Grandma would round us all up and we’d have to sit there and watch it. For a group of kids who would rather be outside playing it was sheer torture! I remember sharing a room at Grandma’s with my cousin Bobby. We would lay there in the dark listening to the semi trucks off in the distance. Somewhere not far away was a big hill and we would count the number of times that the driver had to shift gears to get over that hill. Lots of little things are popping into my head. Like the little baseball bat that Grandma kept by her bed, just in case someone was stupid enough to walk into her home unannounced. The little bath oil beads that she kept in the bathroom. Grandma Bell was my rough and tumble country Grandma and I loved her dearly. She was my favorite Grandma. I remember her girlfriends teasing her about dyeing her hair. They were all gray and she had no gray hair at least well into her sixties maybe longer. I remember being thrilled that she got remarried so late in life. She spent so much of her life taking care of others it was nice to see her do something for herself.[19]


            Isabell worked as an accountant. Paul Nee wrote,


Mom worked as an accountant during the war for a local milk& dairy co. After the war she did the same work for a local heating and roofing co. called City Heating & Sheet metal Products Co. Harold J. also worked for them after he got out of the service.[20]


            My father, Delbert K. Brown, liked to keep in touch with his Ohio relatives. I remember a visit to Ohio and meeting my great Aunt Isabell. Two things remain with me of that visit.  She had a house full of figurines and flowers. They were on tall glass shelves and tables. We children were told to be careful around the fragile figurines. In Aunt Isabell’s bedroom she had a large mirror and around the mirror were paper flowers that had been cut from cards. They were glued around the edges so it looked like a wreath of flowers surrounded the mirror.  I thought it was quite beautiful. When we returned home I tried to replicate that mirror but mine never looked as pretty.

            In 1977 Isabell married William Ream.

Isabell (Mark) Nee died 9 March 1984.[21]She had been living at 148 King Street in Wadsworth and she was the township clerk in Wadsworth, Ohio. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.  At the time of her death she was married to William Ream. However, she shares a tombstone with Roy Nee and the name on her tombstone is Isabell Nee.[22]

Her obituary says,


WADSWORTH – Isabell E. (Nee) Ream, 80, died March 9 at the Wadsworth Health Care Center after a lengthy illness. Mrs. Ream was born in Medina County and resided in the Wadsworth – Seville area most of her life. She was Wadsworth Township Clerk for eight years and a member of ACME Lutheran Church. She was a former member of the Wadsworth United Methodist Church, where she was a nursery teacher for over 25 years, and a member of the United Methodist Women. She also participated in senior citizens groups. She is survived by husband, William, whom she married Jan. 29, 1977; sons Harold J. Nee of Wadsworth, Paul K. Nee of Arvoda, Colo.; six grandchildren; 13 great – grandchildren; brothers, Owen Mark of River Styx, Clarence Mark of Akron, Ind., sisters, Vera Ballard of Lakeland, Fla., Ivy Brown of Kinderhook, NY., Viola Nothstein of White Plains, Md., Wava Braun of Seville. The family will receive friends at the Hillard – Cox – Mullaney Funeral Home, 174 N. Lyman St., Wadsworth, Sunday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. where services will be held Monday, 11 a.m., Rev. Vernel A. Lundeen officiating. Interment Woodlawn cemetery. Contributions may be made to the United Methodist Church Nursery or ACME Lutheran Church Library[23].




The above story of Isabell was taken from my book,

The Mark Family Story.

[1]Birth record for Isabell Esther Mark, 21 December 1903, Volume 3, Record #186, Ohio Probate Court, Medina County, Ohio.

[2]Mark Family File at Wooster Public Library, Wooster, Ohio. Includes tombstone photographs.

[3]1920 United States Census, Medina County, Ohio; Volume 147, ED 67, Sheet 5, Line 37, Family History Center Microfilm # 1821417. Thomas K. Mark family.

[4]Marriage Record for Isabell Mark and Roy E. Nee, Certificate #1369, 5 November 1922, Probate Court-Marriage Record, Vol.M, Page 92.

[5]“Interviews with Wava (Mark) Braun”. 

[6]Certificate of Birthfor Harold Jay Nee, 3 February 1924, Registration District No. 828, Registered No. 19, State of Ohio, Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Medina county Health Department, 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina, Ohio.

[7]Nee Family Tree made by Rick Nee, March 2007.

[8]“Interviews with Viola (Mark) Nothstein”. 


[10]Journal of Roy E. Nee.


[12]Letter from Paul K. Nee (6602 E Des Moines, Mesa, Arizona) to author, March 2007.

[13]Letter from Isabell (Mark) Nee (Pescos, Texas) to Mrs. Y. K. Mark (Box 164, Seville, Ohio) 26 October 1928.


[15]Letter from Isabell (Mark) Nee (Fontana, California) to Mrs. T. K. Mark (Box 164, Seville,

 Ohio) 3 February 1929.

[16]1930 United States Census, Westfield, Medina County, Ohio, SD4, ED 52-27, Sheet 8B.

 The Roy E. Nee family.

[17]Certificate of Death for Roy Edward Nee, 20 March 1963, Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital statistics, Medina County Health Department, 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina, Ohio.

[18]email letter from Stephen Nee to author, April 2007.

[19]Email letter from Stephen Nee to author, April 2007.

[20]Email letter from Paul K. Nee to author, February 2010.

[21]Certificate of Death for Isabell Esther Ream, State File #021274, 9 March 1984; Ohio Dept of Health, Division of Vital Statistics.

[22]Tombstone Inscriptions fromMedina County Cemeteries; 1983; Mark. Page 61, Woodlawn Cemetery, Wadsworth, Section 26, Row 38.  "NEE: Roy E., 1878 - 1963.  Isabell E., 1903". 

[23]"Isabell E. (Nee) Ream." Akron Beacon JournalMarch 10, 1984.


  1. This is great. Remembering those special moments with family and grandparents.

  2. Charlie, it is those moments that bring people to life.


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