Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Remembering Grandma Cappy



31 years ago today I was going to college.  My week started out with the excitement of getting ready to live on my own for the first time in a dorm room at the University of Idaho - by Wednesday, the week had changed.  My grandmother had had a massive heart attack and wasn't expected to survive long and by Saturday morning, she had passed away.  However, I was still expected to go up to get my dorm room, move my stuff in and try to sort things through a bit.  I can remember sitting in my car driving up the Lewiston hill with tears running down my face.  I had never felt so alone - this was something that my Mom and I had been planning and now everything had irrevocably changed.  I came back home and tried to help Mom.  There were so many things that had to be done.  We had to clean the house, answer the door with many of the people who wanted to give us their sympathy.  I suppose the phone calls were the worst.  I can remember answering the call from a dear family member and not wanting to tell them the bad news.  I passed the phone off to one of my siblings.  It is funny now that when a family member dies now - I am usually one of the first people that they call.  They say that I seem to know what to say - experience has taught me a few tricks that I didn't know at 18 years old.

I have more regrets about what I never asked Grandma Cappy than I do any of my other grandparents.  My grandfather died before I really knew what to do or ask (I was 8 years old) but by the time I was 18, I should have known better. That has taught be to embrace some of my older relatives and take the opportunity to listen to their stories and experiences.  I can't tell you how much that has enriched my life.  So in memory of Grandma Cappy - here are a few blogs where she was highlighted!


Going to College
Hunting in Autumn
Graduation Day
A Container for Everything
The Most Important Women in My Life
My Grandmothers Life During the Depression
Grandma's Diaries
A Wedding Getaway?
My Favorite Assignment
Happy Birthday Grandma Cappy

My Mom - Betty and her sister Joan - taken at Grandma Cappy's funeral in 1985.





Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Grandpa Gwen's Last Memorial Day

This is one of my least favorite pictures of my grandparents - but it is as they looked shortly before my grandmother died in 1985.  This is Gwen Shearer and Capitola Ester Friddle Tannahill Shearer!
We have always made a big deal out of Memorial Day in our family.  It was a time of work, visiting and family...that usually involved visits to the cemetery.  You might say that those memories helped me enjoy family history even more than I already do...because I remember those stories and there aren't a lot of family members who do anymore...because those are some of the graves that I visit.

My grandmother, Capitola Friddle Tannahill Shearer (FAG  #38384311) died in August of 1985 and she is buried up at Lewis Clark Memorial Gardens in the Lewiston Orchards (Lewiston, ID).  Shortly after she died, Grandpa Gwen asked my mother if she would like to have her father and brother (Bab Boy Shearer - stillborn - FAG #132465265) moved up to be next to Grandma Cappy.  Richard Tannahill (FAG #38384361) was my mother's natural father who died when she was six years old.  He was also Grandpa Gwen's best friend.  Mom said that when she was a child, she could always talk to Grandpa Gwen about her father.  Grandpa Gwen and my Mom ended up having a special Father/Daughter relationship.  I know that he is my step-grandfather - but he is the only grandfather that I have known.  When Grandpa Gwen asked Mom if she wanted her father moved to lie beside Grandma, I think it was something that she really didn't know she wanted.  So, the arrangements were made.  The funeral home even asked Mom if she wanted to be there when Grandpa Richard was exhumed...Mom said "Absolutely not!!!"

I have never forgotten Memorial Day in 1986.  My mother went all out - she gathered all of the funeral containers from Grandma Cappy's funeral and filled them with the roses that we already had blooming.  When we picked Grandpa Gwen up and went to the cemetery, you could tell that it was especially emotional for him.  I wasn't used to seeing that side of him, so it really made an impact. We set up a chair in front of Grandma's grave so he could sit, and then Mom went to work. Once we had finished decorating Grandma Cappy's grave, the baby's and Granny (Nettie Pearl Moody Shearer FAG# 62326075) and Pop Shearer (Floyd David Shearer FAG#62326029), you could tell that there was a comforting look of satisfaction on his face.  He then made the statement that "it was how it should be...Mama (Grandma Cappy) should have both of us with her!"  Grandpa Gwen then added "but there is no hurry to get there!"  I think that the month of May had been an especially difficult month in many ways.  My brother had graduated from college and I had begun my first year of college.  My grandparents had given us the opportunity to go to college without having to worry about the money to pay for it.  They also helped with a scholarship with Dist. 241 in Idaho Co., ID that gives one student out of each school a scholarship to the University of Idaho and to date there has been over 90 students who have gone to school with the Shearer Scholarship.  (See Graduation Day) The University of Idaho graduation of 1986 not only included my brother but some of those first students who had received the scholarship.  It was a bittersweet day because Grandpa Gwen had lived to see that day and attend that graduation, but my grandmother had not.

After we had gone and taken care of the graves down at Normal Hill Cemetery - (see OK, Pop, Turn Over and The Gravestone) we went out for an early dinner.  Grandpa Gwen decided to splurge and have a steak.  He really didn't have that great of an appetite, but he certainly made a good stab at it...and although there was steak left, that was probably one of the best meals he had had in quite some time...and the rest went home in a doggie bag.  It had been a good day.  He felt that the graves looked good and was satisfied with the day and perhaps life.

That was the last Memorial Day he was alive...he died in January of 1987 and perhaps that was one of his last really good days.  Grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimers later in 1986 even though we suspected that he had had it a long time.  Mom and I used to make custard for him to have for breakfast.  We started out with bowl that he could spoon out the custard with...and then we had single custard cups, since he couldn't remember how to spoon it out.

Today it is my father and I who take care of the graves.  We have my mother, her parents, her grandparents and my father's parents and grandparents as well as several aunts, uncles, a few cousins and friends.  Almost all of them represent something special to me.  So Memorial Day for me is a chance to still tell stories and spend some time with my family.  It is certainly a duty...but also something that I choose to do.  If I didn't, I think my mother would come back and haunt me!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Geneleaogy Wanderings – German Ancestry on the Gage family

There is no doubt that my 3rd great grandmother, Phoebe Allen Gage’s maternal lines are unmistakably German with a little Dutch thrown in.  I have a small knowledge of German (from high school German) and I find it endlessly fascinating to see how these names change and that I have two separate lines that have similar names.  I have seen the name Zeybel spelled as Zeybel or Seibel.  The Zeh name is spelled as Zeh, Zehe or See. Since I don’t live in the region and I really don’t have a strong knowledge – I have had to rely on other’s research and sometimes I certainly wonder what’s what!

My 6th great grandmother’s name was Anna Elizabeth Zeybel – she was born around April 1747 as that was when she was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church (15 Apr 1747)  - her sponsors were Hannes Rikkert and Anna Elisabeth. Anna was married to Willem Truax on 17 Apr 1760 and they had 11 children.
  • Jacob Willem Truax b. 1762 d. 1841 m. Barbara Bell
  • Johannes Truax b. 1763 d. 1829 m. Gertuid Hainen
  • Eve Truax b. 1765 d. aft 1873 m. John Van Schaick
  • Elizabeth Truax b. 1766 d. ? m. Henrich Ervent
  • Annatje Truax b. 1769 d. 1812 m. Peter Jost Zeh (my 5th great grandmother)
  • Maria Truax b. 1771 d. aft 1820 m. John Michael Bell
  • Margaret Truax b. 1773 d. 1859 m. William Marinus
  • Catharina Truax b. 1776 d. ? m. Matteus Werner
  • Barbara Truax b. 1777 d. ?
  • Angeline – Engeltje Truax b. 1779 d. 1852 m. George Leib
  • Maria Barbara Truax b. 1781 d. 1853 m. James Herbert

Within those names above – I am not entirely sure that they are all spelled correctly, sometimes it is my best guess.  I got a lot of the information from a website no longer on the web called “The House of Truax” However, back to Anna Elizabeth Zeybel – her parents were either George or Jurrie Sybel and Anna Maria Reyin.  There are Dutch Reformed Church records that list their marriage on 12 Feb 1742 at the Schoharie Reformed Church in Schoharie, NY. (Jurrie was previously married to a Maria Engal Huls who was probably born about 1710 and d. before 1742.  She was the daughter of Christopher Hull and Eva Catherina and they had 6 children - all daughters) Jurrie’s parents are Jacob Zeybel d. 1735 and Anna Getha.  Jacob was born in Oberschild, Germany and his parents were Johann Zeybel and Catharina.  I have my doubts on these later generations as I can’t really research them because I really don’t have access to those records.  My best guess is that Jacob was the immigrant and probably came in the early 1700’s.

Here is a bit about the Truax family that I wrote in an earlier blog – Walloon’s to New Amsterdam
Annatje Truax was married to Peter Jost Zeh (b. abt 1770 d. aft 1830) and he was also of German descent and his family goes back a few more generations. 

His line is:
Jost Bellinger Zeh b. 1740 d. 1823 m. Anna Barbara Wanner b. 1740 d. 1800
Johannes Zeh Jr b. 1710 d. 1763 m. Anna Catherine Bellinger b. 1716 d. 1749
Johannes Zeh b. 1667 d. 1744 m. Anna Magdalena – Johannes was born in Rudelsheim, Germany and immigrated about 1710. 

Their children’s names are:
  • Johann George Zeh b. 1698 d. 1751 m. Margaret Tschudi
  • Johannes Gerhardt Zeh b. 1704 d. abt 1710 (during sea voyage to America)
  • Ignatius Zeh b. 1706 d. 1710 (during sea voyage to America)
  • Johannes Petrus Zeh b. 1709 d. abt 1710 (during sea voyage to America)
  • Johannes Zeh b. 1710 d. 1763 m. Anna Catherine Bellinger (my 7th great grandfather)
  • Christian Zeh b. 1710 d. 1763 m. Anna Sophia Lawyer
  • Adam Zeh b. 1712 d. 1771 m. Anna Meier
  • Maria Margaretha Zeh b. 1712 m. Marcus Bellinger
  • Sophia Zeh b. 1719 d. 1759
  • Maria Barbara Zeh b. ? d. ? m. John Frederick Carel Schel

Check out Descendants of Johannes Zehe/Zeh/See by Harold See for more info on the family.
This reminds me that I have a few books that I need to reference about these families.  I wonder if it was desperation with their current circumstances that forced them to leave their homes or the promise of a new life and opportunity.  The original Zeh family shows some of the heartbreaking consequences and danger of traveling on a sea voyage to America. Johannes and Anna Magdalena lost three children on that voyage and she was likely pregnant during that voyage as my 7th great grandfather was born in NY in September of the same year that they made the voyage. I have to wonder what those children died of...and how many others died during the journey.

I know that I have a considerable amount of German ancestry and that most of them immigrated in the 1700’s.  I assume that most of them are Palantine Germans and I suspect that there are many of us with ancestry in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia would find similar stories in our family histories.  Here is another earlier blog that I wrote about these ancestors: Palantine Family Roots

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Genealogy Wanderings - Dountain/Downtain

My great grandmother's family came from West Virginia. Most of her family lines were in West Virginia for all of the 19th century.  There are so many family relationships that sometimes it is easy to lose focus...because once you start looking it is almost like you go into a black hole and forget what your goal was.  This is one of the most complicated family relationships that I have.  I am directly related to Shawver, Nutter, Pitsenbarger, and Amick - and those families are intermarried and there are a lot of other names the fall into the mix like O'Dell

My great grandmother's younger brother was called Dewey Dountain Shawver.  I have many fond memories of him, because he was truly a character.  His son was called Dewey Dountain Shawver, Jr and there is now 4 generations of Dewey Dountain Shawver's.  Our family left West Virginia in the late 19th century - still one has to wonder where the name came from...because it is unusual.  I have found several with the name in the associated families...not sure if one of them is the source of the name.  Here are a few of these Dountain/Downtain cousins.

Isaac "Ike" Dountain Nutter is one of my earliest Dountain's.  He was born 11 Aug 1856 in Nutterville, Greenbriar Co., WV and died 21 May 1935.  His parents were John B. Nutter and Elizabeth Pitsenbarger.  John B. Nutter was the half brother of my 4th great grandmother, Elizabeth Nutter  (m. to Thomas Henderson Legg) and Elizabeth Pitsenbarger was the younger sister of my 3rd great grandfather, William Pitsenbarger.  Isaac Dountain Nutter was married to Mary Etta Walker and they had 5 children.

Levi Dountain Nutter was born March 1866 in Nicholas Co., WV and died 31 Oct 1931 in Nicholas Co., WV.  His parents were Charles W. Nutter and Sarah Pitsenbarger.  Charles Nutter's grandfather was David Nutter - my 5th great grandfather. Sarah Pitsenbarger's grandfather is my 5th great grandfather, Abraham Pitsenbarger.  They had 4 children.

Pascal Dountain Nutter was born 18 Aug 1896 in Greenbrier, WV and died 14 Nov 1955.  He was married to Rebecca May Trout.  His father was Johnson Floyd Nutter whose parents were John B Nutter and Elizabeth Pitsenberger.  (See above) His mother was Elbina Catherine Nutter, who parents were Charles W Nutter and Sarah Pitsenbarger.  They had 14 children including Pascal Dountain Nutter, Jr.

Adam Downtain Bailes was born 13 Sep 1857 in Mt Nebo, Nicholas Co., WV and died 14 Oct 1886 in Nicholas Co., WV.  He was married to Rachel Anna Pitsenbarger who was the sister of my second great grandmother, Rebecca Jane Pitsenbarger.  They had 2 children.

Paschal Downtain Nutter was born May 1861 Greenbrier Co., WV and died 13 Jan 1897 in Greenbrier Co., WV.  He was the son of Levi William Nutter and Margaret Backus.  Paschal is the grandson of my 5th great grandfather David Nutter and his second wife, Christina O'Dell. (I am descended from his first wife, Ruth Cottle.)  He was married to Caroline Richardson and they had 5 children.

Of course then there is my great great uncle, Dewey Dountain Shawver born 25 May 1899 in Decatur, Burt Co., NE and died 18 Oct 1995 in Moscow, Latah Co., ID.  He was the son of George Christian Shawver and Rebecca Jane Pitsenbarger. Dewey was married to Alice Davidson and they had three children, including Dewey Dountain Shawver Jr aka "DeweyD".  

I am not sure where the Dountain/Downtain name came from...but the name is interspersed with the Nutters and Pitsenbargers primarily but it also shows up in the O'Dell family which is closely tied with the Nutter family since David Nutter (my 5th great grandfather) married Christina O'Dell after the death of Ruth Cottle.  David and Ruth had 10 children and then David and his second wife had 7 more children.  Since the name mostly shows up among the descendants of David Nutter with the exception of Adam Downtain Bailes, it makes me think that there must have been local individual who was an important and/or beloved member of the community.  Perhaps someone can tell me who it might be.

If you would like to read more about Dewey Shawver's siblings and parents...check out:


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Andrew Johnson's Death Place

Back in 2001, when I first met traveled back to Tennessee and North Carolina...I met up with a Johnson cousin in Elizabethton, Carter Co., TN.  We both share the relationship with President Andrew Johnson.  (My 3rd great grandfather, Moses Johnson, was his uncle.  Anyway, she had found this house on a prior visit and so she took me by.  I found it to be very sad.  I know that President Andrew Johnson wasn't the most liked President and that there were many in the are who didn't have him in high esteem.  This house looked run down and about ready to collapse.  When I went back a few years later...the house was no longer there and I assumed that someone had destroyed it.

 

I later found out that the house had already been moved from the original location to this location where I photographed the house.  President Andrew Johnson had suffered a stroke while visiting his daughter (at this house) and died a few days later.  He was buried in Greenville, TN in a beautiful area and most of his family is also buried there. 

 I found it sad that this house hadn't been maintained and taken care of.  A few weeks ago, I was watching an old episode of Barnwood Builders.  They were working on a place in Elizabethton, TN and my ears perked up when I heard that the house had been moved and restored.  They didn't spend much time on the house - just a few glimpses and mentions - but it certainly perked my interest.  The house was moved and restored...and thanks to the Internet, I found an article about the house.


If you are interested about Andrew Johnson...check out the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site  and here is a blog that I wrote about Andrew Johnson and my connection back in 2012!


Thank you to Mr Schumaier for moving and restoring this house.








Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Genealogy Wanderings - Allen

Phebe Allen with grandchildren (Gilbert Gage Jr,'s children).
I have way too many Allen's in my family tree.  Even one is too many.  I have found it to be one of the more difficult lines to research - similar to Johnson, Smith and Jones (which I have all three).  My 3rd great grandmother was Phoebe Allen married to Gilbert Gage.  I am fairly sure that my great grandfather knew his grandmother as she died in 1910 and he left 1908 with his siblings to Nebraska after their parents died.  So, other than a picture of her, a gravestone, and a few records - I knew very little about her and her family.

I learned fairly early on that she was the daughter of John Peter Allen and Elizabeth Zen and was part of his second family.  John Peter Allen was born 24 Sept 1783 in NY and d. 2 Apr 1868 in Knox, Albany Co., NY.  He was first married to Anna Eva Weidman (b. 1786 d. 1821) and they were the parents of:


  • Asa Allen b. 1806
  • Hannah Maria Allen b. 11 Jun 1808 d. aft 1880 m. John Grassfield
  • William Allen b. 11 Oct 1810 d. 7 Oct 1892 m. Elizabeth Ann Engle
  • John P. Allen Jr. b. 19 Jun 1812 d. 28 Dec 1883 m. Catherine Margaret Beller and Melinda Haverly
  • James Ira Allen b. 8 May 1817 d. 7 Oct 1866 m. Eva P. Ball
  • Sylvester Allen b. 7 Jan 1818 d. 20 Sep 1898 m. Sarah A Bunzey
  • Susanna Allen b. 7 Jul 1821 d. 29 May 1889 m. Jacob Henry Haverly


Since I don't have a definite death date for Anna Eva Weidman, I assume that she likely died in childbirth or shortly after with her last child.  John Peter Allen then remarried in abt 1825 to Elizabeth Zeh, my 4th great grandmother.  She was b. 24 Sept 1793 and d. 14 Oct 1851 to Peter Jost Zeh and Annatje Truax. Elizabeth and John Peter Allen had the following children:


  • Ann Eliza Allen b. 27 July 1827
  • Emma Elizabeth Allen b. 28 Aug 1828
  • Phoebe Ann Allen b. 7 Jan 1830 d. 30 Dec 1912 m. Gilbert Gage (my 3rd great grandparents)
  • Peter Zeh Allen b 14 Dec 1830 d. aft 1910 m. Harriet Charlotte Schoonmaker m. Sarah E m. Phoebe A Schermehorn
  • Elizabeth Allen b.  27 Mar 1833 d. 22 Jan 1918 m. George Haverly


I have been lucky to have gotten some copies of records on Elizabeth Zeh's family and was able to trace it back several generations on multiple lines.  However, the Allen line hasn't been as easy. Sometime along the last 20 years, I started a correspondence with a descendant of James Ira Allen that has been more beneficial to me than to him...I am sure.  He had wonderful information on his ancestor including the fact that he had served in the Civil War.  This cousin did the research that opened a whole new group of Allen's to explore.

According to what my cousin found...John Peter Allen was the son of Samuel Allen and Sarah Shephard Hammond.  Sarah Hammond's line goes back and meets up with the line of Francis Cooke...which gives me another Mayflower ancestors. She also connects with my Wilbore line. Samuel Allen's line meets up with my Allen ancestors Nehemiah Allen and Sarah Woodford as well as Judah Wright and Mercy Burt.

I have already found some interesting tidbits on these families and there is so much more to look at.  I have a feeling that my grandparents were cousins of some sort.  Might take me a bit more time to find out.  I helped my cousin a bit with bits and pieces and he has more than paid me back with all this new information.  Now, I just have to find the time to explore!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28, 1986

Thirty years ago, I can remember waking up, throwing on some clothes and heading to class.  As a college student there were many late nights and mornings that were rushed because I had overslept.  January 28th was no different.  After my class, I was heading back to my dorm when I noticed people talking to each other more than usual.  As I was going up the elevator to the 9th floor dorm where I lived, I hear the horrifying news.

My parents took us on a trip around the United States when I was 11 in 1978. I remember visiting the Badlands, the Gettysburg battlefield, walked around Independence Hall and touched the Liberty bell.  I remember seeing the Capitol and White House, visiting Arlington and Arlington Cemetery and seeing Mount Vernon.  I remember sitting by the ocean in Charleston, riding through a rainstorm in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and enjoying all the rides and sights at Disney World.  One thing that I remember most clearly was visiting Cape Canaveral.  I am not sure I understood the significance of the Saturn rocket that was there on display…I just remember that it was huge. There were all kind of things that were interesting and new to me.  Everything that I had seen thus far on the trip represented the natural world or something from history.  I saw sitting on the tarmac on display, the Enterprise, which was the prototype for the shuttle program.  That was something that made an impression on me, for I was told that pretty soon, a shuttle would go up into space and then come back down and land on the ground like a plane.  You have to understand that I was of an age that I didn’t remember the Mercury or the Gemini space programs.  I was either not alive or too young for it to make an impression on me.  This was something that I was excited to experience and represented the future of NASA.

In 1982, the first Shuttle, Columbia, took off for space.  I remember watching it on television and thinking how cool it was to see the blastoff.  By the time the Challenger took off on Jan 28 1986, it was something that was almost “old hat!”  I knew about Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher in space, but I didn’t know any of the other astronaut’s names.  When I got back to my room that morning of the 28th of January in 1986, the first thing I did was turn on the television.  I sat there in horror watching the blast off of the shuttle and the explosion just a short time later.  It was being rebroadcast over and over again, all the time with the newscasters saying that recovery efforts were being undertaken.  I was not so naive to think anyone could have survived that terrible day.  There are pictures from that day that I have never been able to get out of my mind.  The horror on the faces of the crowd watching the takeoff…especially that of Christa McAuliffe’s parents…or the faces of the students who were so excited and then so traumatized.  The picture that has always stayed in my mind was that of the astronauts as they strode confidently out to the bus that was to take them to the Challenger as they were preparing for liftoff.

For the rest of my life…whenever I hear the quote “slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God!” that Reagan used in his speech on TV.  I have to say that of everything that I heard said or done during that week…that quote was strangely comforting.  The lines came from a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr, a pilot who was killed in action in 1941 while flying a Spitfire as an RAF pilot.  The poem “High Flight” was enclosed in a letter to his parents shortly before his death. 
Over the next months and years, we learned what happened to the Challenger and NASA tried to fix what was broken and on Sept 29, 1988, the Discovery took off to restart the Shuttle program.  I never became blasé about the shuttle again and was sad to see another accident happen in 2003 when Columbia blew apart during re-entry.  When the last shuttle, Atlantis, flew its last mission on July 8, 2011, it was sad to me to see it end.  It was the first NASA program that I had seen the first flight and the touchdown of the last flight. 


Me (Carmen Johnson) in my dorm room.
There are only a few times in my life that events have happened that I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news and what I was feeling.   The Challenger explosion is one of those times.  I was in an elevator in the Theophilus Tower at the University of Idaho going up to my dorm named Neely Hall on the 9th floor.  Once I entered my room and turned my television on and watched the video, it was forever part of my memory.