This image can be viewed in greater resolution as a TIFF file or with additional pages as a PDF file at the superb site of the Jackson County, Missouri, Department of Records.
James William Long and Mary Elizabeth Liza Jane Johnson were married 118 years ago today. James, born in about 1866, was the youngest son, but the third of five children, of James "Old Man" Long and Paulina Nancy Long [1838-1886].
Mary Elizabeth, born in August, 1870, was the oldest child of Ezekiel Johnson [c. 1846-1940] and Sarah Gilbert [c. 1849-1919]. Sarah Gilbert was reputedly an Indian and still-living witnesses say her features were prominently displayed in daughter Mary's visage. Mary was not yet 18 years old when she married James. At the Jackson County Department of Records online site, you can see the mark made by the illiterate farmer Ezekiel Johnson to consent to the union.
James and Mary had 14 children together. Four sons died in infancy; a daughter, Mary Beatrice Long, died of tuberculosis as a teenager. But their other children proved exceptionally long-lived, especially Christina Long Neal, who lived to age 102; William Henry Long who died at age 101; and Rosetta Bell Long, who passed just two months short of her 94th birthday.
James William Long was for many years the pastor of the Sunrise Baptist Church in Kansas City. It is said that the church during those years straddled the state line; the pulpit was in Missouri, the congregation in Kansas. [Today, the church is at 3301 Cypress Avenue, KCMO].
James and Mary Long's granddaughter, Lillian Manson, recalls:
"Grandpa and Grandma built their home on the west side [of Kansas City, Missouri]. There was no inside plumbing. They hardly ever ventured beyond the west side until just before Grandma died, which would have been about 1946. I never knew Grandpa to work other than at his preaching. In the house, he had a study with glass walls. He would be in there all day, reading."James William Long died in November 1945. Thereafter, the teenaged Lillian Manson spent every day caring for her grandmother; brushing her mid-back length silver hair and knotting it into a single braid, just the way Mary liked it. Just three months after James departed, Mary Elizabeth Liza Jane Johnson Long died on February 17, 1946.
"He was very harsh with his children. He would make them read the Bible every night after supper and if they fell asleep, he would hit them."