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Life Story / Obituary
A strong, courageous, and hardworking woman, Ella Bancroft was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She was a devoted homemaker first and foremost, but she was also willing to do whatever needed to be done on the family farm - as long as she wasn’t doing the planting! Ella was never one to worry about what she had, rather, her focus was on living life on purpose each and every day filled with love for those around her. A dear woman to many, she will be deeply missed and forever remembered by those who were blessed to feel her touch.
With the end of WWI in 1918, America was poised for greatness. The decade that followed was filled with great prosperity and countless changes that affected our daily lives. The Charleston, jazz music, and baseball were popular facets of our culture while the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. The Roaring Twenties were truly a time unlike any other in American history. It was just as this decade was dawning that a young couple from Valley Farms, Michigan, was delighted with the birth of their baby girl on November 22, 1921. Ella L. was the oldest of seven children born to her parents, Dee and Bernice (Parkinson) Elwood, joined in her family by her brothers, Joe, Roy, and Dale, and her sisters, Myrtle, Emma Jean, and Lela. Although she was born in Valley Farms, located between DeWitt and Lansing, her family moved around rather frequently during Ella’s formative years.
In many ways Ella experienced an upbringing that was reflective of her generation. Times were tough for the Elwood family, especially once the Great Depression set in during the 1930s. Although she was a mischievous young girl Ella was also an integral part of raising her younger siblings. She was outgoing, easy to get along with, and made friends with ease. Ella enjoyed skating, learned to cook at a young age, and began making handcrafted lace, or tatting as it is usually known. Crocheting was also something that she took up while a young girl. Because her family moved so frequently, Ella attended eight different schools in Lansing before she and her family settled on the Vaughn Seed Farm in Ovid where she later worked. Ella enjoyed her childhood and learned both to work and play hard.
New and exciting days were on the horizon for Ella when she met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was AD Wellington Bancroft, and they met in a rather unlikely way as he went on a date with Ella’s sister, Myrtle. The date didn’t go so well, and as a result Myrtle told Ella that AD was all hers. A dating relationship ensued, and a short time later the sweethearts became husband and wife on November 26, 1943.
Over the years there was nothing that was more near and dear to Ella’s heart than her loved ones. She and AD loved going out dancing whenever they could, which became a bit less frequent once they became parents to four wonderful children, Juddson, Delbert, James, and Lorraine. AD worked various jobs to help support his family and also worked at Motor Wheel. This left Ella with a large amount of work to do on the family farm. She didn’t mind things like driving the tractor, harvesting the crops, or doing a variety of other odd jobs, but she made it known that she was not interested in doing the planting. The farm they purchased on Hyde Road in 1953 became Ella’s home for the rest of her life. When time allowed, she enjoyed taking her kids hunting and fishing.
Once their children were grown and on their own, Ella and AD enjoyed traveling around Michigan attending pony pulls. They were also members of the Mid-Michigan Pony Pullers Association with Ella serving as the group’s secretary for several years.
Later in life Ella embraced both the peaks and valleys along her life’s journey. She was filled with unspeakable joy to welcome grandchildren into the family, and she loved spending time with them whenever she could. During her sunset years her family grew to include great-grandchildren whom she dearly loved as well. These younger generations loved hearing Ella’s wild stories about her life while she was growing up. It was the love of her family that sustained Ella during the days, weeks, and months that followed AD’s death in 2005. Much of her time was spent with her family in addition to tatting and crocheting.
Throughout her rich and rewarding life, Ella Bancroft created a brilliantly colored tapestry of memories with those she loved most. She was the matriarch of her family who never shied away from working hard in everything she did including running the family farm. Ella leaves behind a timeless legacy that will be carried on by those who follow her.
Ella L. Bancroft, of Maple Rapids, died January 8, 2014. Ella’s family includes her children; Juddson (Joan) Bancroft, Delbert (Bonnie) Bancroft, James (Ida) Bancroft, and Lorraine (Willie) Cuyler, all of Maple Rapids; 10 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; 7 great-great-grandchildren; brother, Dale Elwood, sister, Lela (Duane) Whitcell; sisters-in-law, Thelma Elwood and Harriet (Ross) Henry; brother-in-law, Joe (Elouise) Bancroft; and many nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband, AD, Ella was preceded in death by her parents, brothers; Joe and Roy Elwood; and sisters, Myrtle Horworth and Emma Jean Walters. Funeral services will be held 2:00 p.m. Monday, January 13, 2014, at the Osgood Funeral Home, St. Johns. Burial will follow at Sowle Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Sunday, January 12, 2014, at the funeral home. To learn more about Ella and view her Life Story film, visit her personal webpage at www.lifestorynet.com/memories/96621. The family is being served by the Osgood Funeral Homes.