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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Edwards Family

Jefferson Davis Edwards and his wife Martha came to Amber Valley, Alberta from Oklahoma in 1910. Jefferson was only 21 when he walked hundreds of miles north of Edmonton to stake a claim on a piece of land east of Athabasca. Initially, the young couple lived with Martha’s father, Jordan Murphy. Martha was the first woman to live in Amber Valley, and her son, Romeo, was the first child born there. Together, Jefferson and Martha raised 10 children: Kenneth, Booker, Romeo, Alonzo, Arnold, Elmer, Joey, Ralph, Valsper, and Dorothy.

When the Edwards children grew up, only Kenneth, Booker, and Romeo continued to farm on the family homestead and on other farms nearby. Kenneth and Booker farmed east of Athabasca, while Romeo farmed in the Ferguson district of Alberta. Alonzo, Arnold, Elmer, Joey, Valsper, and Ralph moved to Edmonton. Dorothy left Canada and moved to South Dakota.

Romeo and Elnora (Coleman) EdwardsJefferson Edwards’ oldest son, Romeo, married Elnora Coleman. Together, Romeo and Elnora raised five girls: Phyillis, Gloria, Hazel, Roberta, and Jaqueline. Phyllis is married and raised two boys; all live in Edmonton. Gloria is a lab technologist at the Redwater Hospital and has three boys. Hazel lives in Kitimat, British Columbia with her husband Van Turner. Roberta is married to Al Bowen from Amber Valley. Jaqueline, lives in Los Angeles and is married to Pastor Larry Hess.

Jefferson and Martha’s son Kenneth spent his life farming in Athabasca. When not working his fields, Kenneth spent his time playing baseball with friends and family. For 35 years, he played as a pitcher and a catcher, making his début with the Amber Valley Baseball Team and later for the mixed Athabasca Baseball Team. After farming and prior to his retirement, he drove a school bus for 25 years. Kenneth and his wife Joyce Bowen have six sons: David, Dean, Deon, Leonard, Jerry, and Terry.

Martha and Jefferson Edwards' seventh child was Booker T. Washington Edwards, named for the African-American leader and scholar. Booker stayed close to his parents and farmed in the Amber Valley area. He hosted a Sunday school at his house. Booker was on the Amber Valley Baseball Team and was considered the “clown of the team,” often playing jokes and tricks on his teammates. The baseball team disbanded during the Second World War since several of their players enlisted in the armed forces. Although he wanted very much to join the army, Booker was obliged to look after the farm. In 1954, he married Ruby Bransford, a teacher at the Toles School in Amber Valley.

Final resting place of Jefferson and Martha EdwardsJefferson Davis Edwards embraced his new citizenship with pride and became involved in local politics, school and hospital boards, and the Alberta Wheat Pool. In recognition of his contributions to sports, politics, and community life, the Government of Alberta, in 1973, presented Jefferson Edwards with an Achievement in Humanities Award. In 1974, the Black Cultural Society of Alberta granted Martha and Jefferson an award for excellence in contributing to pioneer life. Martha died in 1977, and Jefferson two years later.

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