Tuesday, January 28, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks - Week 4 - Orem Lancaster

Orem Lancaster was born in the small farm community of Josephine in Scott County in April 1900.  When he was little he had a goat that pulled a wagon.  All of the neighborhood children wrote Santa a letter requesting "Orem's goat and wagon" for their Christmas.  He was so afraid that Santa would take his goat that on Christmas Eve he slipped out to the barn and slept with the goat so Santa wouldn't take it.

Orem's mother died when he was 10 from TB and his father moved to town.  Orem graduated from the Millersburg Military Academy and attended the University of Kentucky for a year.  He met his wife, a student at Georgetown College while he was attending school and working as a janitor at the newspaper his father owned.  When he got married he had fifty cents and a bicycle.  His first business adventure was a partnership with a local judge in an oil and gas company.  This company was bought out by a larger, national company and Orem took his talents to the ice business.  He started selling ice for ice boxes and added milk and ice cream.  His delivery wagon was pulled by a pony named Silver and the local children would buy ice cream to give to the pony.  During this time he had his only child, a daughter, my mother.

In 1947, Orem decided to retire, so he bought a farm and started a dairy.  In 1958 he sold his cows and retired again.  But he was intrigued by the idea of building homes on a slab.  He was told that he couldn't do that in Kentucky because the weather was too damp and the slabs would always leak.  He set out to prove "them" wrong and built three slab houses, which we still own today.  He then retired from the building business and got into real estate.  He owed two laundromats and many residential properties.  In 1963 he decided that there was a need for "city" water in the rural areas of Scott County, so he formed a water company and brought water to the northern and eastern parts of the county.  After this company was purchased by a neighboring water company, he retired from this in 1973.
Orem, his daughter Eleanor and his wife Eleanor in 1969

Retirement this time meant fishing and spending time with his three grandchildren, but in April 1974, his passed away.  Orem spent his life with hard work and never taking "No" for an answer.  He loved to tell stories and talk. He was always ready to help a neighbor or friend or even a stranger in need.  He was a strong christian and made sure we went to church every Sunday as a family.  I miss him every day and I try to be a better person because of his influence.


  1. Such a wonderful story. I have Lancaster ancestors but mine were in Pennsylvania and then moved to Maryland.

    1. So far, all of my Lancasters are in Kentucky and Virginia. I haven't done much on this line though. I need to make that a priority for this year.