Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making a Return Trip: Foglesong in Mason County, West Virginia

     Through the years, I've established ancestral connections to many different surnames in a variety of locations.  My approach has always been to work on something until the trail goes cold, then turn to another topic for inspiration.  While it's true that I could have worked more efficiently, had I stuck to one topic for longer periods of time, there was another factor at work.  For me, family history research is supposed to be fun.  If I ignored that, it would be like having one huge homework assignment that never gets completed.  And for me, the fun is in new research, not (unfortunately) organization, or working through a checklist.
     However, as I continue to learn new skills as a genealogist, I'm continually reminded of the value of revisiting my earlier work, and all of those "cold cases."  Many times, they're "cold" because I wasn't thorough enough in my efforts the first or second time around.  (Most of us have been guilty of yanking a book off the library shelf, spending 30 seconds to see whether our ancestor's name is in the index, and quickly moving on.)
     As part of my campaign to do a better job, I made the Foglesong family the target of a recent set of internet searches.  I descend from James Foglesong, born 1814 in Virginia, died 1889 in Lewis County, Washington.  He was part of a large family that spent time in various areas of Virginia, including what would become Mason County, West Virginia.
     Among the search results via Google was one for a Foglesong Cemetery, via the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc., at:

http://wvcpaweb.org/cemeteryregister/Mason/MasonFoglesong.html .

      This terrific site consolidates cemetery information from northwestern West Virginia. The entry for the Foglesong cemetery contained a wealth of detail about its location, history, burials, and condition (abandoned), as well as several photographs.  The entry states that James Foglesong's father, George Foglesong (1766-1850) is presumed to have been buried there.

Photo courtesy http://wvcpaweb.org/
     With all of the research tools that have become available, this information opens up new avenues of study. How I wish I'd taken the time to locate this information for myself, before I visited the area briefly many years ago!
      As 2014 opens, my resolution will be to dedicate myself to expanding my research, and, hopefully, to "get it right."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Family History: It's Everywhere! (Or, A Message From Beyond?)


 While viewing a recent TV episode, I found myself mentally veering wildly off the subject, and engaging in a little impromptu family history research.  I was watching TLC's Long Island Medium  (http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/long-island-medium), where the subject of the show is followed by cameras, as she delivers  messages from departed loved ones to their families and friends.  These segments are spliced together with funny scenes from the medium's family life.  Whether you believe that her process is possible or not isn't the point:  it isn't a documentary.  I just consider it light entertainment, and treat it like a guilty pleasure.
     On the episode in question, the medium and her daughter take a long weekend in upstate New York.  One of the stories is set on a farm.  In the background of one scene is a silo, on which you can see the name "Hull" in fading paint.  I was immediately interested,  because I've often seen the name Hull appear in close proximity to my ancestors in colonial New England.
     Still watching the show, I pulled out my smart phone.  On Google, I entered the name "Hull," and the name of the village I thought they were in.  Within seconds, I found an entry for the name of the family farm, and a link to its website at http://www.hull-o.com/ .  Browsing through to the history page, one finds out that, amazingly, the farm is still operated, seven generations later, by a descendant of the original Hull who founded it in 1786.  The earlier Hull was a private in the continental forces during the Revolution.  (As a side note, how long would it have taken to piece all that together in the days before we were all walking around with little computers?)
     Having studied my ancestors for 33 years, it should come as no surprise that the urge to go into research mode never completely diminishes, no matter what I'm doing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fashionable Memories: The Middy Blouse

Katie "Babe" Ives, circa 1920, photo in possession of author
Middy blouse illustrations of the era

     Katie Lois “Babe” Ives Eckerson was the youngest of six surviving children, born in 1904 to Charles A. and Mary Catherine Myers Ives.  Although her parents raised her in the Church of the Brethren, that didn't keep Babe from pushing the boundaries of the religion’s conservative dress code.  It also didn't keep her from enjoying a social life.
     As Babe was growing up, the “Middy” came into fashion.  This was a sailor style blouse, which got its name from the naval rank of “midshipman.”  With its comfortable, loose fit, it was a welcome departure from earlier styles.  It was generally accessorized by the addition of a tie in the front, often in a contrasting fabric.  Babe said that during this time, the ultimate fashion score a real naval tie obtained from an actual sailor.  Perhaps this was on her mind when she considered potential suitors. 
     Boyfriends, other than the man who was to become her husband, were rarely discussed.  I only remember one or two conversations of the kind, and she was rather embarrassed to admit having kept company with anyone before her husband.
     However, there was one young man, who became part of a memorable story.  He escorted Babe to a local fair.  I'm not sure whether the possibility of obtaining a naval tie was part of this young man's attraction or not.  Babe was an older teenager at this point, as she married in 1923 at the age of 19.  
     The fair featured various carnival games, including one known as the “High-Striker,” “Test Your Strength,” or “Strongman."  This is the one where a mallet is used to hit a lever; a winner rings the bell at the top.
     Babe and her swain proceeded to enjoy the amusements of the fair, and ended up arriving home late.  This wasn't unusual during her teenage years of pushing the fashion and courting boundaries.  On this occasion, however, her parents were somewhat conflicted as to whether to punish her for being late.  It turns out that farm girl Babe, in her loose-fitting Middy blouse, had taken a swing at the "High-Striker," and managed to win one of the top prizes.  This was long before the days of iPads or big-screen TVs.  No, this was something the family could really use:  a ham and a bucket of lard!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Joan L. Eckerson Anderson, 1925 - 2013


The Pacific Northwest got a little less lively on Monday, September 2, 2013, with the death of Joan Lenore Eckerson Anderson, age 88.  Born at home in Centralia, Washington in 1925, to Harold L. and Katie “Babe” Ives Eckerson, “Jo” or “Josie,” as she was known, descended from several old Fords Prairie and Centralia pioneers.  These included her Eckerson, Ives, Channell, Foglesong, and Myers ancestors, many of whom had come to the area long before 1900.  Her mother always said that Jo's arrival was the first of many of her life's dramas, because it occurred during a flood in January, and the doctor had a hard time making it to their house.  Joan attended Fords Prairie School, and graduated from Centralia High School in 1944.  She had many happy memories of growing up as a rural Washington tomboy, even during the Depression, spending time with loving relatives, her friends, and mostly, her beloved horses.  From an early age, she found a lot of joy on horseback, a passion that lasted throughout her life.  Whatever was bothering her, time spent in the barn was the answer.

As an older teenager during the years of WWII, Jo worked at a couple of jobs traditionally held by men.  She rode a bus to Chehalis to work as a “Rosie the Riveter,” at a war-time plant established by Boeing.  There she built aircraft components, proud of her ability to work faster than some of the men.  Jo also worked at a service station west of Centralia, where she had two life-changing experiences.  In 1942, she was held up by two men, who threatened her with a gun held to her back, and told her not to talk.  Not one to like being told what to do, Jo promptly called the police after their departure, and the pair was arrested within two hours.  The second life-changer was when a charming young soldier from Chicago came in to the station, looking to have a repair made to the Army vehicle he was driving.  Although Jo had met many lonely young men stationed at nearby Fort Lewis, there was something special about Jack C. Francis.  During her one year at Washington State University at Pullman, she half-heartedly studied home economics, and worried over his safe return from the battlefields of Europe.  They married in November of 1945.

Married life brought a different set of adventures and challenges.  Jack had a case of “itchy feet,” and they moved regularly, once to Alaska.  Two children came along right away:  James Patrick and Mary Catherine, followed later by Jennifer Jo, and finally John David.  To make extra money, Jo did some home remodeling jobs.  Later, it didn't occur to her children to find it odd that their mother could build a brick fireplace or mix cement.  This was long before the “DIY” movement.  Jo also grew a huge garden, and did a mammoth amount of canning every year.  What she didn't plant, she bought by the box directly from the grower.  We dreaded peeling peaches in the heat of August, but loved opening up those jars in January!

In 1955, Jo and Jack followed her parents, and moved to the Napa Valley of California, where they all decided to take a break from the rains of Washington.  Not long after, Jo began her working career with the State of California, training as a psychiatric technician at the State Hospital in Napa.  This was back in the days when that job required a full nurse’s uniform, which involved a white dress, white stockings, and starched cap.  I still remember her freshly-washed cap, plastered to the refrigerator to dry smooth and flat.  After several years, Jo was given the opportunity to organize an on-site center at the hospital, where donated clothing could chosen by the patients in a store-like setting.  Known as the “Dolly Shoppe,” it was a great success.  The family moved to Camarillo, CA for a year in the late 1960's, so that she could duplicate the shop at the hospital there.  Vacation time always involved sleeping bags and either a tent or a trailer, and hitting the road for the great outdoors.

Our mom did a couple of things right in particular:  as kids, we felt well-taken care of, despite having very little money.  It never occurred to us that we were eating bait (smelt), or cheap cuts of meat (the sparest of spare ribs and round steak), because she made it fun by giving them crazy names like, “fence-post meat.”  We were taught from an early age never to utter a racial slur, and to have compassion for the underdog.

Jo and Jack eventually parted ways.  In 1966, Jo married David C. Anderson, with whom she shared many happy years until his death in 1990.  During their marriage, Jo was able to return to her love of riding and owning horses.  After her retirement, she and “Andy” traveled in an RV to many parts of the United States, frequently to various events devoted to the Tennessee Walking Horse.  In the mid-1980's, they made the decision to move back to Washington.  While still in Napa Valley, Jo had operated a saddle shop called Plum Creek Saddlery on their property.  She moved the operation with her to Washington.  She made many friends throughout the Pacific Northwest, swapping horse stories over the sales.  She was later briefly married to Clarence Guenther of Onalaska, WA, with whom she shared memories of old Washington acquaintances, and also made a return trip to Alaska.

The biggest tragedy of Jo's life was the loss of her son, Jame Patrick Francis, in Viet Nam combat in 1969.  Although devastated, she picked up the pieces and moved on.  This same energy enabled her to develop properties relatively late in life.  As a single woman, she had a house site carved into a slope, had buildings built, had landscaping put in, and moved a horse onto the property, all in her early 70's. 

Jo was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Babe Eckerson, her brother, John Eckerson, her second husband, David C. Anderson, and her son, James Patrick Francis.  She is survived by her daughter, Mary C. Lesch and her husband Bill, whose loving and attentive care helped Mom live way beyond her nine lives.  She is also survived by daughter Jennifer J. Pina and her husband Davie.  Jennifer is honored to have assumed the role of family historian, and firmly believes our ancestors had a sense of humor.    Also surviving is her son John D. (Francis) Anderson and his wife Joyce.  John is our master of revels and tech wizard, who provided Mom with a steady supply of milkshakes and old-time radio recordings.  Jo also leaves six grandchildren:  Christine, Michael, Daniel, and Timothy Lesch, and Rebecca and Irene Anderson, as well as several great grandchildren.

The word “feisty” might have been created with our mom in mind.  At her annual health assessment conference five weeks before she died, Jo had this typical exchange:  when the social worker asked her what year it was, Mom (who was clearly stumped) saved herself by saying, “If you don't know what year it is, you need to go figure it out, I'm not helping you!”  One health provider commented that we must have learned to think on our feet, growing up around our mother.  She never let the truth get in the way of a good story, nor did she miss an opportunity to let fly with a zinger.  At the end of the day, there was no more loving, fun, and generous mama grizzly.  You only have one mother, and ours was unique.

The family wishes to extend their thanks for the excellent care provided by the staff at both Delaware Plaza Assisted Living, and Frontier Rehabilitation Center of Longview, WA, and by David Westrup, M.D.  As her son John said, they helped Mom coast in for a smooth landing.

This tribute can be viewed online at jenongen@blogspot.com 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to (Genealogy) School

     It isn’t only the kids who are headed back to school.  Those of us who have been involved in researching our family history for a long time (33 years, in my case) can also benefit from hitting the books.
     Over the last couple of months, I’ve plunged into a reading list that’s recharged my interest in genealogy, and given me many tools to do a better job.  I’ll review the process here.  (The books are widely available from a variety of sources, genealogy book vendors, non-profit used book dealers, Amazon, and the like.)
     First up:  Hey America, Your Roots Are Showing, by well-known researcher and author Megan Smolenyak.  Not a “how-to” book, but more of a “greatest hits” collection, from among her past research cases.  She tells about a fascinating variety of subjects and approaches, in a brisk and breezy style that’s not too demanding.  Probably my favorite chapter was about the identity of the “real” Annie Moore, first down the gangplank at Ellis Island.  The book is a great way to get excited about family history research.
     Next, it was on to Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America, by François Weil.  I had the pleasure of hearing him address the summer meeting of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston this year.  The book describes the shifting landscape of the who, the how, and the why of family history research in America, from colonial times up to the present.  It certainly provides food for thought; we may need to take another look at some of the “family tree” books we’ve all used as reference material!
     Now, you’d think that my 33 years of experience might give me some kind of advantage, when it comes to “knowing it all.”  Hah!  The next book gave me some queasy feelings about what I missed, or did poorly, along the way.  The Family Tree Problem Solver, by the late Marsha Hoffman Rising, gives an excellent course that would benefit genealogists at all levels of expertise.  Every concept is illustrated by actual examples from her research.  Those “brick walls?”  Using this process may provide some hope, after all.
     Then it was on to Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas W. Jones.   You’ve got to love a guy who’s become a respected expert in the field, even though I assume he had to work with the surname Jones!  This book covers the Genealogical Proof Standard:  what it is, and how to apply it.  I experienced a feeling of dread when, on page two, he describes the book as being similar to a mathematics textbook.  But I became engaged in the experience of reading it.  Each chapter presents a concept, illustrates it, and asks the reader to answer test questions.  If you’re thinking, “What’s a proof standard?” or if the start of your genealogy career began before it was established, or if you have only a hazy notion that it involves “a reasonably exhaustive search,” and “source citations,” there is much to be learned from this book.
     On the horizon are two more offerings, sitting on my desk.  The first is Locating Your Roots:  Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records, by Patricia Law Hatcher.  This is considered  the go-to book on the subject, and I look forward to getting a better handle on this topic.  Finally, I’ll read  the latest from “The Genealogy Guys,” of podcasting fame, George G. Morgan and Drew Smith:  Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques.  This one assumes you’ve at least started your research, but would be useful at all skill levels.  The language used is an easy read.  The book updates traditional “how-to” directions for the 21st century, to include tools such as social media and DNA testing.
     While I’m always tempted by the lure of new research, I know I’ll benefit more from taking a spin past all of my old “brick walls,” and seeing how much I could accomplish by applying these important techniques. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jen on Gen Gets Fresh

Vintage children's shoe collection, in possession of the author

     Today marks Jen on Gen's new look.  For some time, I've wanted to update the look of the blog from one of the standard templates offered by Google.  Without wanting to spend a lot of time learning the process to do it myself, I went looking for a template kit.  The nice folks over at www.designerblogs.com helped me over a technical glitch to get it up and running.  I've also ditched the "work in progress" as part of the description.  Since I've been at this for awhile now, it looks as though I'm sticking around.
     I thought I'd take the opportunity to celebrate the freshened look of the blog by sharing this photo of part of my ancestral kid's shoe collection.  I don't know all of the details, but I believe that the tan and black pair on the right belonged to Katie "Babe" Lois Ives, who was born in Centralia, Lewis Co., Washington in 1904.  The white ones on the left were made by hand out of felt.  There might be a Native American connection:  an ancestor either learned how to make them, or bought them from a local Native American woman, in perhaps rural Washington.  They have clearly never been worn, unless it was for two minutes to admire them.
     I look forward to rummaging in the corners of my memory and collection, and bringing some of both out into the light on the fresh new workspace.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Edward Channell family: treasure among the essentials

Signature of Edward Channell in Bible
(In possession of the author)
     Among my ancestors are  many who made the journey across vast parts of the United States.  No, they didn't come to seek their fortunes in the Gold Rush of 1849, nor were they fur traders, or travelers around the tip of South America.  One particular family, that of Edward Channell, made the sensible decision to wait until the railroad had been completed across the United States, and travel in relative safety and "comfort."
     A recent clean-out of my garage made me wonder:  how did I managed to accumulate so much "stuff," half of which I don't remember having?  I doubt the Channell family were able to bring many possessions with them on the move from Douds, Van Buren County, Iowa, to Centralia, Lewis County, Washington.  Thankfully, among the belongings they picked up along the way are those considered treasures by their descendants.
     Somehow,  their massive Bible, printed as a tutorial, has survived.  Whether they carried it with them, shipped it separately, or acquired it later, I don't know.  The complete title is lengthy, but starts out, "Hitchcock's New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible:  or, the whole of the Old and New Testaments Arranged According to Subjects in Twenty-Seven Books..."  It was printed by A. J. Johnson & Son of New York & Philadelphia.  The copyright date, in Roman numerals, is 1875.
Edward Channell family Bible, copyright 1875
     Besides the inscribed name (top), someone kindly included a very specific piece of information.  Considering the long stretch between the censuses of 1880 and 1900, this was most welcome:  the time of the family's move to Washington.  "Edward Channell and Family Emigrated to Wash. Ter. in the month of Sept. 1881."

     I can now visualize this couple as they made the trip across the country by train.  Not only were they leaving everything that was familiar behind them, they had to manage the trip with three young daughters, ages 6, 3, and 8 months!  
     An adventure, indeed...   



Monday, July 29, 2013

Taking a second look: Ruth, wife of John Roundy of Rockingham, Vermont


Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, Massachusetts, taken by the author, July 2013

     Establishing an identity for Ruth, the wife of Captain John Roundy of Rockingham, Vermont, poses some difficulties.  Her first name is shown in her husband's will, as well as in various Rockingham church and vital records.  None show a maiden name.
     Several resources name Ruth Chickley or Chickerly as the wife of Captain John Roundy, who died in 1805.  Three examples, spanning over 100 years, are:  various lineage books of the DAR (and more recently, the organization's online patriot index), The Roundy Family in America, a 1942 book by Everett Ellsworth Roundy, and, The American Genealogist (TAG), vol. 43, page 179, published in 1966.  TAG provides a marriage date for John Roundy to Ruth Chickley of 4 February 1768.  Multiple researchers have posted variations of this data to online family trees, where it has become accepted as fact.
     Taking a second look, however, raises some questions.
     First, Ruth's birth year is often estimated at 1753-1755.  This would make her age 13-15 at the time of her marriage.  Certainly not unheard of, but perhaps young for New England?
     Secondly, where are the records, or even theoretical parents, for a Ruth Chickley or Chickerly?  Results of searching for those names on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, or the NEHGS website are slim to none.  Even expanding the search to include the variations of Checkley or Chickering wasn't helpful.  Not even unsourced pedigree charts offer any clues.  The earliest Ruth Chickley I could identify was a married woman in the 1850 census.  A lack of records wouldn't be surprising in most of the country, but in New England, the coverage is pretty good.  At least something for a family member would be expected.
     However, intriguing pieces of data exist, which may offer an explanation.  The Roundy family is known to have spent time in Beverly, Massachusetts, before resettling in Connecticut.  A search there and in surrounding communities offers some results that can't be ignored.  Among the marriage records of Marblehead, Massachusetts, is a marriage for a John Roundy to Ruth Devereux.  The date?  4 February 1768.  The asterisk next to it indicates an intention was also recorded.  The John Roundy shown above him is the great-grandfather to the Captain of Vermont, at the time of his second marriage in 1707/08. 

     Also among the records for Marblehead is a baptism for John and Ruth's son,
Ralph Devereux Roundy, shown here.  This differs by four years from the generally accepted earlier birth date of Captain John's son Ralph, but again, it's a baptism, not a birth.

     How do I explain the fact that Captain John and his father are both recorded as having been born in Norwich, Connecticut, and why would the son be in Massachusetts for his 1768 marriage?  I don't have a quick answer.  Perhaps it was simply a case of someone taking care of business or the affairs of family members, which required a trip between the two locations.  Also, I have seen on several occasions a large family being recorded all at once in the local baptismal records, but all of the children hadn't necessarily been born in that location. Perhaps they just simply move back for a time.  John and Ruth Devereux Roundy had four children recorded in Marblehead records:  Ruth, 1771, Desire, 1774, John, 1775, and Ralph, 1778.   Perhaps the Roundys kept closer ties to Massachusetts than we know.  This family was clearly "on the move," if they were also thought to have been in Simsbury, Connecticut, before traveling on to Vermont.  Being in motion might also explain why a CT birth record for daughter Sabra Roundy has been hard to locate.  As for the name Chickley/Chickerly, it might be one of those "kernels of truth" situations:  right date, wrong name.
     Because of the multitude of Roundys in the Marblehead area, one has to be careful about persons of the same name creating ancestral chaos.  However, none of the John Roundys I could find among the records were the right age to be living a "parallel life" to the Captain.  The same is true of the Ruth Roundys married to a John.
     The good news in all of this is that the Devereux/Potter and allied families are well-documented in the area; there is a voluminous amount of information available.  Having recently been on the ground in Massachusetts, I can tell you that the relevant communities are very close together.  The distance between Beverly, Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott, and Lynn is actually a total of about nine miles.
     A page detailing the Potter family of Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts, shows the children of Ruth Potter and her first husband, Ralph Devereux.  Note the daughter, also named Ruth, baptized 15 January 1743/44, is shown to have married John Roundy on  4 February 1768.  She would have been 24 when she got married. 

Ruth Potter biography

     Image reproduced in the The Essex Genealogist, Vol. 19, page 151, published in 1999.  I accessed this source via the New England Historic Genealogical Society's website:  AmericanAncestors.org.

     Have I proven beyond a doubt that the Ruth Devereux Roundy of Marblehead eventually moved to Vermont?  Probably not.  Further research might provide more clues.  However, I keep asking myself a simple question, "How many John and Ruth Roundys are associated with a marriage date of 4 February 1768, who had a son named Ralph?"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ancestral bragging - nothing new

     Bragging about ancestors, real or imagined, is certainly nothing new.  Recently, while doing some newspaper research, I came across the following item.  It was published in the Sioux City (Iowa) issue of Thursday, February 27, 1896, in a column entitled, "Jottings About Town News Briefs."  This was a collection of miscellaneous items that didn't rate separate articles.

     So many thoughts are generated by this small piece.   The date of the Conquest appears to be something other than 1066, which is unfortunate.  Is the reporter's use of the word "interesting" meant to be ironic?  How was the city attorney identified and located by his "fifth cousin?"  And, lastly, was this "genealogical record" acquired by means of a subscription letter asking for a fee?  After all, you wouldn't expect anything less than a Norman knight for your money, would you?
     Or, perhaps the knight really did leave a descendant in far-off Iowa, toiling away at the courthouse!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ezekiel H. Teel - Reporting for Duty

While doing a bit of research on the ancestor of my friend and neighbor, I found his name (Stephen Flanagan) contained in a letter supporting another man's application for a Revolutionary War pension, at Fold3.com.  The amount of rich detail found here clarifies family relationships, as well as military service.  Middle-school students might be surprised at the experiences of a 13-year-old in 1782.

I have transcribed the letter below, exactly as written:

1 May 1834

Dear Sir,

     The additional facts which can be gathered in the case of Ezekiel H. Teel, are as follows: - The family bible of his mother shows that he was born in 1769: - The battle of the Hyder Ally was fought in 1782, consequently at that time he was 13 years of age: - a boy of that age may render efficient Services on board an armed vessel.
     Mr. Price (a brother-in-law of Stephen Girard) says, that when boys, Teel was always considered the older of the two, but from the family records it does appear that Mr. Price is two years older than Teel. –
     I have frequently heard the late Capt. Stephen Flanagan say, that Teal was in that action, and I have often heard him remark, that at that time, Teel was distinguished, as an adventurous and Courageous boy.

Thos. D. Grover(?) Groves(?)

Hon. I. (or J.) B. Sutherland

A postscript is torn away from the original paper.

(Note:  The battle referred to is known as The Battle of Delaware Bay, or the Battle of Cape May, fought in early April of 1782.  The Hyder Ally was an American privateer sloop, named for Hyder Ali, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore on the Indian subcontinent, and a British enemy.  The Americans were victorious over a superior British force.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sisters? Not exactly...Rena M. Fuller Ives & Carrie Smith Ives

     Recently, I visited the updated Washington State Library, now located in Tumwater.  I had last used the collection at the old location in downtown Olympia, close to the capitol building.  The new facility makes for a productive experience, with easy parking, helpful staff, and free downloading of materials to your own thumb drive.
     One of the things I was able to clarify, was the relationship between two women who had married into my family, Rena M. Fuller and Carrie A. Smith.  While they aren't "my" ancestors, I thought the clues in their obituaries were worth sharing.  I sure wish this kind of detail would happen to me more often...
     Rena Mae Fuller was the wife of Levi "Lee" Ives, and lived from 1857-1944.  In an obituary of 6 April 1944, in the Herald-Reporter newspaper of Brewster and Pateros, Washington, she is described as "a real pioneer," and "the first white woman along the Columbia River at the place now called Pateros."  (The site was originally known as Ives Landing.)  Her survivors are listed as 3 brothers:  Frank, Arch and Scott Fuller, and one sister, Carrie A. Ives of Pateros.  Looking at my records, and the 1880 census, I knew that a Carrie A. Smith had married Joseph Daniel Ives, brother to Lee Ives.  So, did Rena's obituary really mean that Carrie was a sister-in-law, instead of sister?  Or did it mean something else?  Earlier census records were located for the Riley Fuller family, showing two young females named Rena and Carrie.  Where did the name Smith fit in?
     Luckily, I located an obituary for Mrs. Carrie Amanda Ives, in the Herald-Reporter of 5 September 1946, which brought clarity to the relationship.  "She was born in Gloverville (Gloversville?), N.Y. October 4, 1862.  Her father Edward Smith was killed during the Civil War.  Her mother Mary Haggert Smith married Riley Fuller, and they located first in Illinois, then in Kansas."  With regard to Carrie's marriage to Joseph D. Ives, it states, "They came to Washington state in the early 80's and homesteaded along the Okanogan river, near what is now the town of Monse.  They were the first white settlers in that particular section of the country."  (It's hard to imagine the loneliness these two women experienced.)  Carrie's obit also states that her survivors are two half brothers, Arch and Scott.   Information from Carrie Ives' death record can be accessed via the Washington State digital archives, at http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/ .  The names of her parents are listed as being Edward Smith and Mary Haggert.
     The relationships Rena Fuller Ives shared with those who appeared with her on the early census were varied:  father, step-mother, no blood ties, and half-siblings.  Blended families are certainly nothing new.  The census record, however, doesn't begin to explain this complexity.
     Another example of the drilling deeper for "the rest of the story."  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Robert L. Glos: At Rest in France

     The Greatest Generation continues to teach us about duty and sacrifice.  On a recent visit to France, my husband and I made a priority of visiting the grave of his mother's cousin, Robert L. Glos, who is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, Moselle, France.  The literature says:  "It covers 113.5 acres and contains 10,849 graves, the largest of any American World War II cemetery in Europe."  Robert was aboard a bomber that was shot down on October 11, 1944.  
     We spent the night nearby, and dressed up for the occasion on a beautiful spring morning.  After buying some flowers, we arrived for our visit.  The French lady on duty that morning wasn't aware we were coming, but made our time special with grace and respect.  First, we were escorted personally to the grave site.  While we walked, she gave us a bit of general information about the location.  I asked whether the number of people visiting is dwindling.  She said no, that in fact the number of school-age children coming on field trips and being taught to remember is replacing the older visitors.  
     When we arrived, she placed an American flag in the ground.  Then, from the little pail she was carrying, she took sand that she rubbed into the name and information carved on the headstone, so it would stand out for a photo.  Incredibly, the sand is from Omaha Beach, in Normandy, hundreds of miles away.
     Since this wasn't about me, I wandered away at that point and left my husband alone with his thoughts at the grave.  He later told me he had no idea how much being there would affect him.  Here was a young man who had died several years before my husband was born.  But standing here, among the graves of the many who had given their lives, was an incredibly powerful and moving experience.
     I had brought photos of Bobby with me,  and took some images with them placed on the headstone.  The last image I took, I added a picture of my husband's father, who was Bobby's best friend.  He had also served in Europe.  The day of our visit, in far-off France, they were together again.
     Before we  left, we were presented with the flag, and a nice folder with various pages of information, including details of Bobby's exact position in the cemetery, visitor pamphlets, and how to possibly obtain more information.
     I understand that the decision to leave Bobby buried in France was very painful for the family.  But on this peaceful day, seeing him among his comrades, it seems just right.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Of the Tribe? Casting a Wider Net for New Details

     The rate at which new information is being digitized and made available online sometimes leaves us scrambling to keep up.  I've developed the habit of checking FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com regularly for new record groups, as well as other online providers.  Another approach is to plug a name of interest into the home page search fields, and see what turns up.
     Recently, I did a double take, when the name of my relative, Jack C. Francis, appeared in an Ancestry.com resource titled "U.S., WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947."  Now, "my" Jack had been a Catholic schoolboy in Chicago prior to joining the Army, so I thought it unlikely that this entry was for him.  However, the name is pretty specific, so I definitely wanted to have a look.  Imagine my surprise at seeing that the digitized card did indeed refer to the Jack C. Francis I'm related to.  His father is listed as next of kin, and there's a residence address I'm familiar with.
     Further reading about the data set indicates that these records were compiled by the National Jewish Welfare Board, as part of the Bureau of War Records.  This was an organization which documented the role of the Jewish-American service personnel.  The cards were made of information extracted from service files. They had a color-coded system:  the red strip on the card of Jack Francis indicates wounded.  The explanation states that the cards might even indicate whether the subject turned out not to be Jewish, although that isn't the case here.

     This, combined with the combat history book (a lot like a yearbook of his unit), gives us some excellent detail about Jack's time in the service, despite the loss of so many of the WWII personnel files in the fire of 1973.  Of particular interest is the date and page number on this card, and what other information they might lead to.
     Jack always said that the kind of religion you practiced didn't matter in a foxhole...apparently, he was right.
     Another example of casting the net wider for new information.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Take Note: Memories Set to Music


     Although not blessed with musical talent myself, I've had a lifelong appreciation for song.  There are some vivid memories I associate with music, which probably contributed to this enjoyment.
     My grandmother certainly made an impression, by regularly singing snatches from a couple of pieces from the early part of the 20th century.  The first was K-K-K-Katy, a WWI favorite written in 1917, and published in 1918.  It made a real impression on her at the time:  not only did it make use of her first name, but she was a young teenager, and full of romantic dreams.  I have the original sheet music from that time.  Someone has posted a recorded portion to Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_J9kPQ8hwA , set to a an appropriate slide show, including a picture of the sheet music.
     Another gem from her childhood, and passed on to me, was the 1906 tune about Arrah Wanna, the Indian maiden who married Irishman Barney Carney.  Nothing about this song is historically authentic or politically correct, which didn't register on my little kid mind.

   The chorus, which is the only part I knew, went like this:

                                                    Arrah Wanna, on my honor,
                                                    I'll take care of you,
                                                    I'll be kind and true
                                                    We can love and bill and coo,
                                                    In a wig-wam built of sham-rocks green
                                                    We'll make those red men smile,
                                                    When you're Misses Barney,
                                                    heap much Carney,
                                                    from Killarney's Isle.

The online National Jukebox section of the Library of Congress has an original recording at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/6130/ .
     My mother updated the musical tradition, by singing snatches of her own favorites.  One sounded to me like, "I don't want a rickshay romance," but turns out to be a song titled Ricochet Romance, released in 1953.  I think Mom never got beyond the first line of the chorus:  "I don't want a ricochet romance, I don't want a ricochet love." Another random lyric of hers was, "Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't want to leave the Congo." I was shocked when I heard this ditty sung on a recording by Danny Kaye and the Andrews Sisters, from 1947. The song is actually titled "Civilization," and is quite long and complicated. Another short sample of hers was "Let's take a boat to Bermuda." She got a little bit farther in this one, which was titled "Let's Get Away From it All," originated by Tommy Dorsey. I remember this bit:
Let's take a boat to Bermuda
Let's take a plane to Saint Paul
Let's take a kayak, to Quincy or Nyack,
Let's get away from it all.

     And, finally, her classic take on the 1949 show tune from South Pacific, "Bali Hai."  Instead of Bali Hai, she'd bellow, to the same tune:  "BELLY ACHE!"  We'd all guffaw at that one, without a clue of the song's origins.
     You can bet that hearing any of these instantly transports me back to a very different time and place.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fun With DNA, or, Will Oprah Boost Me Over the Brick Wall?

      Last year, I listened to a Genealogy Gems podcast, where host Lisa Louise Cooke (http://lisalouisecooke.com/) interviewed Bennett Greenspan, President & CEO of Family Tree DNA.  I'd also heard a talk earlier in the year by Dr. Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford.  In the years since DNA testing has become widely available to the public, I had remained uninterested in the subject.  Whenever a genealogy magazine published an article on the topic, I would skip to the end to see how it turned out.  I also had concerns about privacy, and which company had an established history.
     Once I learned about autosomal testing, however, I became intrigued.  This is how the Family Tree DNA website (FamilytreeDNA.com) describes their "Family Finder" test:  "Family Finder uses autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations."
     It dawned on me that the window for collecting a DNA sample from my 88-year-old mother is rapidly closing.  And so began the great DNA collection project.  How would I approach the subject from two states away, where my mother lives in nursing home care?  Luckily, my sister lives near her, and was on board.  Now, mom is the feisty type, who doesn't necessarily agree with a first request.  She also spends a lot of time having various medical tests and procedures.  We were afraid that asking for a DNA sample would be one of the few things she could control, and she'd say no.  My sister opened the topic by explaining that our mother would be contributing to science, and that we might eventually know more about the connections and origins of her beloved "daddy."
     We also had a secret weapon.  My mother is a huge admirer of Oprah Winfrey, who'd had her DNA tested.  I'm not familiar with the details, but apparently my mother knew all about it.  My sister brilliantly reminded her of Oprah's story when she asked mom about getting a sample.  Apparently, what's good enough for Oprah is good enough for my mom, who agreed with enthusiasm.
     A little ruse we employed, was to have my sister rub a plain old swab inside her own cheek, to show how painless it was.  Then she said, "Okay, your turn!," and produced the actual test kit for my mother.  Off it went in the mail to Texas.
     Fast forward almost three months.  We were stunned at how eagerly my mother anticipated the results.  When I was notified that they were ready, I took a quick look.  My mother is described as Western European, comprised of 89.78% Orcadian, and 10.22% "Palestinian, Adygei, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Iranian, Jewish."  Hmm.  They lost me after Western European.  I also checked out some of the people described as having matches to my mother, and will study that topic further at a later date.
     My sister, after hearing all of this, got to work on the internet to turn this into an entertainment opportunity for mom.  Turns out Orcadian refers to the Orkney Islands near Scotland, and serves as sort of a genetic crossroads.  Orcadians are the descendants of Iron Age Picts, Vikings, and Scots (sounds pretty British, which wasn't much of a surprise).  There are a number of fun websites online devoted to things like local Orkney festivals.  One of these is the annual celebration of the horse.  Since our mom owned and was passionate about horses her entire life, she was thrilled about that connection, yelling, "See?  I was born to ride!"  And, she gave a belly laugh about her 10% desert heritage.  She hasn't stopped talking to everyone about "her" results.  My sister says it's as though she dreamed up her own perfect genetic cocktail.
     Remember me saying I wasn't much of a scientist?  That hasn't changed.  I still have way more questions about what all of this means.  And, I have come to learn that this test isn't going to provide many firm answers.  For one thing, nobody's vetting the research on the paper genealogies provided by the test subjects.  We only know we are related, but not necessarily how, not even whether it's on the maternal or paternal lines. And, in some cases, we might only be genetically related in the sense that we're white Europeans who spent time in Ohio, for example, which isn't the same as being "related."
     But, does this matter to my mother?  No!  In fact, we all had so much fun with this, I ordered another test to be done on my mom.  This one is for the full sequence mitochondrial DNA, which studies the mother's mother's mother's line deep into history.   We'll now be able to tell her more about her oldest female ancestor.  No doubt she'll be thrilled about this, too.  I'm having an extra sample kit stored for the future, when newer tests might unlock more about our ancestors.
    It's been quite an undertaking, making a rainy winter in rural Washington very exciting for a fragile senior citizen.  Thanks Oprah!  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love Over Coffee: Isaac L. Myers & Hester Burgard

     Among the more unusual items that have passed through the generations of my family is this 19th-century coffee grinder.  It's known to have belonged to my 2nd great-parents, Isaac L. Myers and his wife, Hester Burgard, who was called Hetty.  One theory is that he constructed it as a gift for her at the time of their Civil War-era wedding.  I'm not sure whether this part is true.  While there are certainly some elements of the piece which could have been built by hand, the mechanism probably wasn't.  There are some patches of glue on the back side of the drawer, perhaps it was repaired along the way.  I've seen similar items on eBay, so a coffee grinder from this period isn't especially rare.  
     Isaac L. Myers was born 4 April, 1841, in York County, Pennsylvania.  He served just over three months in Company B of the 1st Battalion, PA Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.  The timing of his enlistment, in June of 1863, suggests that fears of the Confederate advance toward nearby Gettysburg must have prevailed over the pacifist teachings of the Church of the Brethren, of which he was a member.  Or, perhaps he was restless for "adventure."  Whatever the circumstances, soon after he moved to Astoria, Fulton County, Illinois.  Hester Burgard, born 31 March 1844 in Cumberland Co, PA, was a member of the Brethren Church there.  Isaac had become the singing master of the church, and Hetty "set her cap" for him.  He never stood a chance:  they were married March 5, 1865. 
     The couple lived at various times in Illinois, Kansas, and finally in Washington state, farming and serving the Brethren community.   They became parents to two sons and two daughters, all of whom left descendants.  Isaac died in 1912, Hetty lived on until 1932.  I was able to visit their last home together shortly before it was torn down.  Today the site, on the corner of Gold & Locust Streets in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington, stands vacant.
     Whatever the origins or value of this old, beat-up coffee grinder are, the link to this hard-working, kind, and loving couple is priceless. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Art From the Heart: Saluting French Roots

     For several years I took a watercolor painting class at the local community college, and there was no doubt that I languished near the bottom of the talent pool.  I did, however, meet a lot of nice people, and had a good time.  One of the other students was a cheerful, kind, older lady, who was born in Épernay, the heart of the Champagne region of France.
     Eventually, time and health issues caught up with her.  She moved across the country to be closer to her family, and took an apartment in an assisted-living facility.  We all missed her sweet presence.
     Recently, I had an idea to let her know we were all thinking about her.  I enlisted the help of one of the best students in the class, to create a watercolor depicting a "house" of some sort.  While I was expecting her to spend a short time on a ten-minute sketch of a cottage, and accent it with a few washes of color, she went a different route.  She made this lovely painting of Chateau de Chenonceau, one of the more popular historic sites in the Loire Valley of France, then matted it and placed it into a blue frame.  I then scanned the piece, and added the phrase "Chez Claudine" in a complimentary color, using a font called "French Script."  Next, I reproduced the painting on cardstock, and put it in a cheap white frame with a hanger made from lavender bias fold tape from my sewing supplies.
     Now, Claudine can enjoy the original painting in her apartment, and hang the copy outside the front door as a sign of welcome.
     Art from the heart:  the best product of my less-than-stellar painting career.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frontier Indiana: hotbed of sin?

     Loosening the brick wall surrounding an ancestor can involve drilling pretty deeply.  A case in point is the study I've made of some records in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, for more clues on my ancestor Allen Ives.
     The Records of the First Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, IN, 1828-1914 are available on FHC film #877704. The only reason I viewed this film, is that it covered the early period of time I was interested in, and I wanted to see what might turn up with careful study.  This is often the case with any library materials, you generally have no idea exactly what to find within a book or microfilm until you devote some time to it.  And by that, I mean more than just flipping through the index at the back for ancestral surnames!
     In this instance, I found images of the original, handwritten records on the film.  While not indexed or easy to read, the source gave a wealth of information including names, locations, and what topics were important.  Here are some notes I made while reading:

First members, August, 1828:
James Cochran & wife Rachel, John McCormick & wife Elizabeth, Elizabeth Trimble, Elizabeth Miller, Margaret Carson (certificate from New Brunswick, NJ).  Minister:  James Crawford.  Names mentioned:  Mary Slone returned to Dayton, Hugh Cochran & wife Maria, Mrs. Hannah McGuire, Henry Miller (Senior), of Benson, KY, and James Cochran elected elders. 

Lengthy action taken against Hugh M. King, guilty of un-Christian conduct:  "irreverent and foul language, visiting the groceries and of using ardent spirits to excess, guilty of breach of the Sabbath by visiting the groceries and associating with loose company on this holy day, speaking disrespectfully of the church of which he is a member and of some of its members." 1831

1834  The case of Martha Cochran was taken up, being charged with fornication, and having herself confessed it and its becoming clearly evident by the birth of a child.
"...to be suspended from the privileges of the church...and she is hereby suspended.  But while she is thus suspended she is not to be regarded as cut off, but is to be watched over and admonished and prayed for that she may be led to true repentance and to the enjoyment of the favour of God."  (Reinstated in 1835.)

1835:  New members Asa Allen & Mary Ann Allen his wife, new members from Hampshire Co, VA.  Left shortly after to join church in Monticello.

I stopped studying the film after I knew my ancestors had left the community.  Did I ever find mention of the name Ives?  No.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed gaining a rich insight into how the people of the community felt about certain issues during that early period, who might have been related to whom, and where some of the residents had come from.   Perhaps these will be useful clues for further study down the road.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ask a Librarian: Francis Marion Singer

     Back in the stone age of my ancestral search in 1980, using the resources of a library was a common thing.  I had yet to get a home computer, and digitized genealogical materials were a long way off.  Fast forward to the present, and the belief, by some, that "it's all online now."  (Hearing this makes me cringe, but that's a whole other subject.)  While new resources are frequently being made available via the Internet, the library still plays an important role in making information available to us.
     The past couple of years have been about reassessing the data I already have, and seeing where I could have done a better job.  During this process, I realized that I didn't have an obituary for Francis Marion Singer, half-sibling to my ancestor, Allen Ives.  From the records posted on Findagrave.com, I knew that "Frank M. Singer" was buried in Fountain Park Cemetery, Winchester, Randolph Co.,IN.  The photograph of his headstone shows a death date of December 13, 1903.
     Armed with a likely date and place, I located a website online for the nearest public library.  Following the procedures outlined on the site, I directed an e-mail to the appropriate party, asking whether someone might check the microfilmed copies of the local newspaper around that date.  I also asked whether they wanted a fee in advance, and whether I could pay extra to have them check for any other articles such as funeral notices, thank yous from the family, and the like.  The fee settled on was $10.  I received a packet before they could have received my check, which included not only the F. M. Singer obituary, but an account of the accident that caused the amputation of his leg (with four doctors in attendance), an update on his condition (he could "set" up), a biography from a county history, and, for good measure, some other obituaries for individuals named Singer, including a very detailed one for his second wife.  Among the information new to me was the description of where his property was located, a pastor's name, and the fact that F.M. Singer was a Mason.
     In this example, I use techniques I would have used in 1980, updated to make use of the internet as an additional tool.  In the end, however, it was the extra effort of a dedicated librarian, which provided me with these great, time-saving results.