Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zilpha “Mama Zip” Johnston

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

Z is for Zilpha “Mama Zip” Johnston

Zilpha was the second wife of my great grandfather, Thomas N. Johnston. They married 12 December 1931 in Stephenville, Texas. This was the second marriage for both of them; he was a widower and she was divorced.  She had previously married Walter Burford and in 1920, they lived in Fort Worth, Texas. He worked for the railroad as a receiving clerk and she was a telephone operator for a hardware company.

I found her in the 1930 census and she worked as a PBX operator for a lumber company. She was divorced sometime between 1920 and 1930. I bet she worked at the same lumber company as Thomas N. Johnston!

She was the only grandmother my mother knew. She called her “Mama Zip.” A cousin of my mother wrote:
She “was a grandmother to die for. She was very neat about everything. Dressed really well—worked at a department store selling really nice clothing.”

West End Cemetery, Stephenville, Texas; photo by author

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Congratulations on completing the challenge!
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

    1. Thanks. I don't know if I'd do it again, but I feel great finishing the task and getting some of my family's stories out there.

  2. HA -- not sure how my comment ended up on "Y" instead of "Z" but anyway, the sentiment is the same. I did various ancestors as my theme for several years of A-Z. We're lucky to be able to find quick information online. I like the name "Mama Zip" -- says a lot about a person.
    Now this really is my LAST visit for A-Z
    Jollett Etc.

    1. Thank you, Wendy, for visiting my A to Z this month. I enjoyed your posts as well. I don't know if I'd do it again. Some of those letters were tricky!


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