Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween to remember…

Halloween was always a great occasion at our house.  Mom almost always made our costumes and they weren’t the sheet with two eye holes cut out like the ones she had as a child.  Mom made tiger costumes with tails, bunny rabbits, witches and one memorable costume where I was Sylvester the Cat carrying around stuffed Tweedy Bird.  When my brothers were involved in Scouts and my father was the leader, Mom and Dad held a great Halloween party at our house.  I would love to say that my father participated in the creativity…but that really isn’t his thing.  On the other hand, my mother threw herself into the project.  Our basement was unfinished except a bedroom and piano studio where my mother taught voice and piano lessons.  Concrete floors and unfinished walls would make a great canvas for Mom’s creation.  I don’t really remember how she decorated except to remember her version of dunking for apples.  Mom didn’t want the water mess – so she hung the apple from string from the ceiling!  Her version of a haunted room…however, was special!

Mom wanted to make something really spooky that year…and what is spookier to a kid than something that looks like a coffin.  Mom found a mannequin which she dressed up as an old crone.  She contacted an old family friend who owned a Mortuary and got a packing crate that had contained a coffin.  Mom then set it up in the corner of the room with candelabras to lend the room a flickering light.  She then sat down at her piano and played several sorrowful like tunes to her reel to reel player.  Once she had done that, she slowed the speed down and produced some really spooky music.  Her stage was set!

My best friend and I were probably 7 years old…we were thrilled that we were going to be allowed to go into the room.  We didn’t want to be cowards, but it worried us to see the older boys come out of the room a little white faced and scared looking.  We went into the Mom’s studio and sat down on her piano bench.  The first thing we noticed was the music.  It was slow and spooky…then we noticed the candle light flickering on the dark walls.  As we sat there looking at everything around us – there was a creak.  It almost sounded like a door opening.  Our imagination took over and we frantically looked around the room for the source.  That was when we noticed the odd looking box in front of us and noticed that the lid was slowly being raised.  It creaked and groaned and we both sat there paralyzed – wondering what was going to come out of that box.  I don’t think we made it to the point where the witch raised up…we were out of there probably before the lid even fully opened.  We couldn’t take it and rushed out of the room.  The atmosphere even affected adults in that room.  My best friend’s mother went in and pretty soon we heard a voice ring out “If that damn thing comes out of that coffin…”

When the actual night of Halloween occurred…the coffin was set up outside the front of our house with the music ringing out from speakers in perched in the dining room window.  One of the older boys in the neighborhood wanted to operate the string that operated the lid of the coffin.  Back then…we would normally have well over 200 trick or treaters…that year we had very few.  They were all transfixed by staging of the old crone in the coffin. 

It has probably been close to 45 years since Mom and Dad had that party.  Every once in a while we still hear from one of those scouts now in their 50’s tell us that was probably the best Halloween party that they had ever been to. 

My 1st Halloween - My older brother and sister are entertaining me with their masks.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Idea of a Vacation!

Genealogy is my obsession…there I’ve said it.  Anyone who knows me thinks that I am a bit twisted to think going to cemeteries and court houses makes for a good vacation.  Everyone where I work thinks that I must be related to everybody.  I grant you…I have a large family – but not quite that large.  The trick is that I know more about my relatives than most people – I’m sure some things that they wish I didn’t know J  When we genealogists get a chance to have one of those vacations – where we get to go to cemeteries and courthouses – we tend to take advantage of the situation – especially if it involves flying clear across the United States to go to North Carolina!

Back in 2001, I flew back to visit my distant cousin Tammy Dollar.  Her mother, Mary, offered to take me to Abingdon, VA for a visit.  (Ashe Co., NC, Johnson Co., TN, and Washington Co, VA form a corner where all three states meet).  Mary took me to meet her cousin and I decided that I shouldn’t let the opportunity pass to ask a few questions.  You see – I knew that my great great great grandfather lived in Washington Co., VA and that his son had lived there as well.  My great great grandmother, his daughter Buena Vista Bailey, had died at age 21 and she had been a difficult person to research.  I asked Mary’s cousin if she knew of Luther Bailey, Buena Vista’s half-brother, – after all there were only a few thousand people who lived there J  I was shocked when Mary’s cousin replied that she knew him well, her husband grew up next door to him and wondered if I knew his daughter-in-law.  I was thrilled with the prospect that I might finally find some information.  She and Mary proceeded to drive me to the place where Luther Bailey had lived and up to the cemetery where he was buried.  There to my delight was the gravestone of Jasper L. Bailey as well as his third wife and several of his children and descendants.  I finally had full dates.  Unfortunately, that was the day that I had forgotten my digital camera – and I had to use a disposable one.  I had forgotten how cumbersome it was to have a limited amount of pictures that I could take.  Mary and her cousin then took me down to meet Luther’s daughter in law.  Mrs. Bailey was a delightful older lady who really didn’t know that much about the family but I tried to pump her for information regardless.

The grave of Jasper L Bailey and Rachel Mcbride at Montgomery Cemetery, in Denton Valley, Washington Co., VA.  Jasper was my great great great grandfather.  I am descended from he and his second wife, Margaret!

After a wonderful afternoon with Mary and her cousin – we started the drive back home to Ashe Co., NC.  Mary decided to take me through Johnson Co., TN and Laurel Bloomery.  Needless to say I was quite excited.  My great grandmother - Sophia Dollar Friddle had grown up in Laurel Bloomery.  As we neared the Laurel Bloomery, I saw a sign that said to turn left to go to the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church.  I asked Mary if she minded taking the turn.  She was happy to do so – ready to meet any adventure!  As we neared the church, I told Mary that I had been told that my great great grandfather’s brother, Roby Dollar had helped build that church and that I was sure that my great grandmother might even have gone to church there.  I wondered out loud where the cemetery was and how to get up there.  Just on a hillside above the church, you could see the old cemetery.
Looking down on Shingletown from the cemetery.
Looking up to the cemetery from the church.
 Mary went and knocked on the door of the house near the cemetery to see if we could get directions to the cemetery.  A man in his 50’s stepped out of the house and gave us directions.  After such a wonderful day – I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to ask if he knew where the Dollars had lived.  He looked at me and said that “I don’t rightly know – but if my Daddy were here, he could tell you!”  No sooner than he made that statement, an elderly gentleman road up with a younger woman driving a truck.  His son asked his father (quite loudly, I might add) if he knew where the Dollar place was.  The old gentleman replied “Roe Dollar’s place - It is up the road a few miles off the left fork of the road.”  At that point, I was getting excited but definitely needed some clarification and asked him if he meant Roby Dollar.  He turned and looked at me and said “No – he was the one with all them daughters…I mean his Daddy!” ( Roby had 10 daughters and used to quip that he would never be poor because he would always have his 10 Dollars) I was about ready to jump out of my skin.  He was talking about Alexander Monroe Dollar who was called Monroe quite often.  He was my great grandmother’s grandfather and raised her.  This was the house that my great grandmother had been raised in.  The same house that she told me about when I was a little girl. 

Mary and I thanked the gentleman and his family for their help and jumped in the car and headed up the road.  We came to a clearing near the top of the road and there sitting in front of me was a little white house.  I swear that the hair on the back of my neck tingled.  I was looking at the house that my great grandmother had been born in and grew up in.  She had probably sat on that front porch and looked about her and dreamed of what her life would be – never knowing that it would be so far from where she grew up. 
I have since been back to that house and have been inside of it as well as the church.  I’ve been taken above the hill behind the house where the Dollars had owned and worked the land.  I knew that somewhere around that house were probably at least three graves that I would never find.  That of Alexander Monroe Dollar and his first wife, Elizabeth Pennington and my great grandmother’s mother, Buena Vista Bailey – all had probably died near that house.  I’ve never found evidence that they were buried in the Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery or the Shingletown Cemetery as it was known – so I believe that they were buried elsewhere. 
The house that my great grandmother lived in! - Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN

I have never had a day like that one – back in 2001.  It was truly an exciting day that will live in my memory always.  It was a happy coincidence to meet that old gentleman – he was probably one of the few people who remember the Dollar family when they lived there.  His family had operated a store at the end of the road near the house that we knocked on the door.  That small place was called Shingletown and the store that his family ran was the same store that my great grandmother had talked about when I was a child.  That old gentleman died a few months later – he will always live in my memory as my guide to my great grandmother’s childhood home!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Job Well Done!

As I am watching the leaves falling from the trees, I am reminded of the yearly chore of raking the leaves and bundling them up to be disposed of.  As a child – it was a lot more fun to rake them up in a pile and spend half the day jumping into the piles and scattering them all over again.  Back in 1990, my great grandfather was in the twilight months of his life.  After 98 years of living, his body was breaking down but certainly not his will or his desire to see a job well done!  My father relates two stories about his grandfather that exemplifies both of these strong character traits of Granddad Gage.

Granddad Gage was well known for both his work ethic and the excellent quality of his work.  That is a skill that is probably not appreciated enough in today’s society.  At 70 years old, he probably could outwork many men decades younger than he.  Back in the early 1960’s, my parents had bought their first house and had to put a sewer line in from the road – Granddad Gage offered to help with the project.  Dad asked him to make his arrival a little later in the morning because he had to work a late shift.  Granddad was probably there by 7 am – which he probably thought was late enough.

My mother had gotten up early – probably to take care of a fractious child and laid back down on the couch.  She suspected that Granddad would probably be there early in the morning.  Sure enough there was a knock on the door and Mom scurried off the couch to answer the door.  Granddad informed Mom to let Dad know he was there and would get started.  Mom raced into the bedroom to wake my poor father up – he hadn’t had much sleep.  Dad hurriedly got up and dressed quickly.  He had been well trained of his Grandfather’s expectations and didn’t dawdle.
Granddad Gage had a special spade that he used to dig sewer ditches and he had a specific way in which he dug the ditch.  By the time my father arrived outside, Granddad had already gotten several feet dug out already.  Each pile of dirt was in neat pile alongside the ditch and the ditch was uniform in how deep and wide along every step the way.  If a job had to be done – then it had to be done in the right way or it wasn’t worth doing.  Like he had done with all of his sons – he preceded to teach my twenty something father on the right way to dig a ditch for a sewer line.  Several of my great uncles told my father that they had received the same lesson.  That spade remains an important family heirloom.  I’m sure that it is several decades old – and I am also sure that it doesn’t look its age.  Granddad Gage took immaculate care of all of his tools. My father is now the same age as his grandfather was when he helped him dig that sewer ditch almost 50 years ago.  Dad was impressed with his grandfather back them – but he is even more impressed now.  I don’t think that Dad believes that he could dig that sewer ditch with the same skill and speed at his age today as his grandfather did all those years ago.

During the fall of 1990, my parents were visiting my Great Grandparents in Canby, OR.  They had some lovely trees around the house and their leaves had fallen.  My father, being the good grandson that he was, offered to rake and bag the leaves – Granddad took him up on his offer.  So the two of them went outside and Granddad Gage sat in a chair while my father started to work.  At 98 years old – Granddad still felt that he needed to instruct his 50 year old grandson on the proper way to rake the leaves and the proper way to bag them.  My father was glad to benefit from his wisdom.  That was the last visit that my father had with his grandfather – so like the many other experiences he had.  That of a Grandfather imparting his wisdom and knowledge to his grandson.

Granddad Gage using his sythe to cut the weeds in 1974.
Every other year, our family has a family reunion at my great uncle’s place up on Hatter Creek, near Princeton, ID.  These family reunions were held at the behest of my great grandparent’s wishes as they wanted their family to remain close and connected to one another.  There are a lot of the young kids in the family who never met Grandma and Granddad Gage – but when my father and his uncles get together, inevitably the subject of Granddad Gage comes up.  There is a theme that interweaves all of the tales that are told.  That of a loving father who was strict and demanded that his children work hard and do whatever job they were doing well!  They have all led successful lives in businesses like education, accounting, manufacturing and the lumber industry.  Ever one of them can claim that their successes were based in large part, to the example that their father and grandfather gave them.  It is a heritage that as a family, we are proud of!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pop Friddle - A Gentle Giant

My mother adored her grandfather.  Her Pop Friddle was the one who comforted her when her feelings  were hurt by gathering her in his arms to give her a big bear hug.  As a little girl, she told him her stories, her problems and her fears and he would patiently and lovingly listened to her and give her the attention that she craved.  Since he and Mom Friddle only lived a 100 feet or so away from my mother’s house – they spent a lot of time together.  I’m sure Pop Friddle would go about doing his chores with mother following him behind chattering away.  On some occasions, Mom Friddle would make her a fried egg sandwich to get her to go home.  Mom’s bond with both of her grandparents was strong…but it was especially strong with her grandfather, Pop Friddle.
Capitola, David Carl Friddle aka Pop, Jack Friddle, & Sophie Dollar Friddle aka Mom - Taken abt 1920

Pop Friddle (David Carl Friddle) was born in 1889 in Mountain City, Johnson Co., TN.  His father died when he was a year old and by the time of the 1900 census, he was recorded in another household as a servant.  I’m not sure he was able to ever go to school but he was taught to read and write and simple math by old Judge Vaught.  Most of his knowledge was self-taught.  Pop Friddle eloped with Mom Friddle when he was 19 and she was 14 and by late 1910 they had come west to settle at Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR.  Mom and Pop Friddle had Uncle Jack back in Mountain City, TN in 1909, my grandmother Capitola in 1911, son Ronald in 1914 (he died at three months) and lastly Claude in 1924. By 1928, he and Mom Friddle were living in Lewiston, ID on land that was located on the block of Thain Rd and Stewart Ave today.  Pop Friddle worked for $1 a day for the Irrigation district, and half of his salary went to pay for that land and the rest to support his family.  Pop Friddle worked hard at his job but also at home where he and Mom Friddle raised huge gardens, berry bushes and orchards and farm animals – all to provide for his family as best he could.  During the depression, his family were able to eat, had a good home and loving parents.  He was even able to provide the resources so his daughter could go to college and all three of his children were able to graduate from high school.   Much more than many other families during the same period. He was a big man – over 6 feet and was stocky and extremely strong.  My mother could remember him going to the local circus and bending horse shoes by hand.  Pop Friddle never wanted to return to the home of his childhood – I don’t think there was anything there he wanted to remember.  Those early years of his life didn’t seem to impact the kindly and adoring father and grandfather that he was by all accounts
Pop Friddle with Tauser (the dog) - Taken about 1945
Mom and Pop Friddle had given a parcel of land to each one of their children as they married.  Grandma Cappy and her first husband built a lumber lot and sold lumber from the mill that my step grandfather had on McCormack Ridge.  Therefore, my grandmother was busy running her business, and while she loved her children – it was Mom and Pop Friddle who took up the slack for the working mother.  My mother remembered being scolded by her mother and running to Pop Friddle for comfort.  When her mother came down to find her – Pop Friddle scolded Grandma Cappy for being too strict to my mother.  My mother could remember her grandparents having a very loving and affectionate relationship.  Humor and storytelling were a part of who they were and if they could be combined…all the better.  Mom said that she could remember Mom Friddle telling a story about Pop Friddle that she knew were lies and exaggerations and Pop Friddle would slightly smile and nod his head as if to say it was all true. 

In late 1954, Pop Friddle had had several strokes and wasn’t able to do too much.  According to my grandmother’s diary – during one afternoon in late November, Grandma Cappy and Pop Friddle went shopping.  He bought his daughter a new coat and bought an accordion for Joan (Mom’s sister) and a violin for my mother (Betty).  My mother thought those presents were from her parents – she never knew that Pop Friddle had bought them as special gifts.  Just after Christmas, Pop Friddle suffered his worst stroke yet.  He lay in his bed for almost 2 weeks unable to speak or move very much.  The only way he could communicate was with the squeeze of a hand and his eyes and slight smile.  On January 4th, mother was sitting by the bed holding Pop’s hand while her mother and grandmother were sitting in the corner talking.  Mom remembered Pop looking at her and then looking towards Mom Friddle and smiling and then he slipped away.

I never knew my great grandfather – most of my life I have seen pictures and heard numerous stories about him both from my mother and his children.  What a legacy to leave – when his children and grandchildren talked about him – a funny or loving story was usually told that made the listener smile or laugh.  From such humble beginnings and with no example to work from – he was wonderful husband, father, and grandfather – in short he lived a successful life by the most important standard of all – he was loved and respected by all those who knew him!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Favorite Assignment

When I was a junior in high school,  I was in a History/English class that was intended for college bound students, so at times we had some unique classroom assignments.  During this particular assignment, we were asked to talk to someone about the depression.  The closest people I had to talk to were my grandparents.  I don’t remember many classroom assignments from high school or college for that matter – but I’ve never been so glad that I had that assignment so long ago.  My eyes were opened to the past and living history that we had around us.

My grandmother was born in 1911 on Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR.  Her parents moved to Pomeroy, Garfield Co., WA in the early 1920’s and to Lewiston, Nez Perce Co., ID in the last 1920’s.  Capitola (aka Grandma Cappy) started high school in the brand new school that had just been built.  It is the same high school that my mother attended and that my siblings and I attended – but in 1927 – it was brand new (I might have the actual date off a year or two).  Capitola’s mother believed that girls should have their own money and be able to support themselves, so after high school; my grandmother went to the Lewiston Normal School – today, known as Lewis Clark State College. 

Going to school wasn’t an easy proposition – there was a lack of money and transportation.  Pop Friddle (Grandma Cappy’s father – David Carl Friddle) butchered and sold a hog to pay for tuition and books and Grandma Cappy would ride her horse to school.  Mom Friddle (Sophie Dollar Friddle) and Capitola spent three years picking lettuce to buy an old piano so she could learn how to play music.  The thought was that she would have more opportunity for a job if she could also teach music.  After two years of school, Cappy graduated and got her first job as a schoolteacher – a one room school called the Snow School – about twenty miles south of Lewiston, ID in the Waha area.

I’m sure she had a lot of idealistic notions before she began her first day of school.  Cappy was to live in the small room in the back of the school – her boyfriend at the time was also conveniently nearby.  During those first few weeks of school, she saw her students come to school with bare feet and nothing to eat.  Even during the worst of times – Capitola’s family always had something to eat and shoes when needed.  She might not be able to do much about the shoes – but she certainly could do something about the food. 
Taken in 1933 - Capitola is standing on the left side in the back.
Capitola went to her parents’ home in Lewiston and gathered as many vegetables as she could take from the garden – her boyfriend (later her first husband, Richard Tannahill) poached a deer and she started to make a soup for the children to eat every day at school.  The wood stove that provided heat was also a good place to have a soup bubbling away during the day.  She continued to add to the soup every day and provided for those kids probably their only hot meal of the day. 

Both of my grandparents explained to me that the depression wasn’t so bad for those who had gardens, animals and knew how to do for themselves.  They might not have had sugar – but they never went hungry.  Maybe it took the selling of a hog so my grandmother could go to school – but she at least had that opportunity.  My step-grandfather, Gwen Shearer, wasn’t able to go to school.  He got a job as a butcher to make a living and started his own small sawmill.  Both of them made the most of the opportunities that presented themselves at the time.

Many years later – my grandmother returned to teaching after not working for about 15 years.  I think she truly loved teaching, but it was also a way to bring some money into the household.  Her husband, Gwen Shearer, was trying to build a new lumber mill in Elk City, ID when his current lumber mill in Orofino, ID burned down.  They actually went bankrupt for a short time.  However, they both worked hard and sacrificed and were able to recover to build a successful logging operation in Elk City, ID.  Grandpa Gwen was deeply involved in the Idaho County School District #241 and my grandmother continued to teach at the small school in Elk City, ID.  Education was an important part of who they were and they wanted to provide opportunities to kids who were willing to work hard.  When they retired in 1978, they began the process of building a scholarship program for the kids in Idaho County.  Each year, one student from each high school would get a full ride scholarship to the University of Idaho.  These kids were usually some of the best students, but they were also involved in extracurricular activities and needed the money to continue their education.  At any one time, there were around 12 students attending the University of Idaho on the Gwen and Capitola Shearer Scholarship.  My grandparent’s experiences in the depression made them want to provide opportunities for young people to follow their dreams of education.

My grandparents provided the same opportunity for their grandchildren.  We didn’t all finish college, but the opportunity was there for us.  My grandmother didn’t live to see any of the first scholarship students’ graduate – she died in 1985.  My step-grandfather Gwen, however, was able to see not only his first grandchild to graduate in 1986 from college, (my brother Russell) but also see the first of the students that received that scholarship graduate.  Grandpa Gwen died in January of 1987.  I graduated in 1989 with a B. S. in History and minor in English and in 1990 with a B. S. degree in Secondary Education.  I am no longer a teacher – but I use my education in my job and everyday life.  I don’t believe that education is ever wasted!
Gwen & Capitola Shearer - Taken about 1965

That long ago assignment gave me the opportunity to learn something about my grandparent’s lives that I never would have probably known otherwise.  My mother even told me at the time that there things I  learned that she didn’t even know.  It is important to ask our older generation about their experiences  - there is a wealth of information and knowledge that would be lost otherwise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Friddle Brick Wall

Anyone who has done genealogy research has come up against at least one brick wall…and like any stubborn fool we keep pounding on that wall hoping to burst through.  I have several “brick wall’s” but my longest and most difficult one – might be my great great grandfather, Moses Friddles.

Moses Friddles 
Moses was born about 1826 probably in South Carolina.  The first time I find mention of him in any records is on 9 Dec 1859 in Carter Co., TN where he marries Amanda T. McKee.  When I first found this bit of information, I was troubled because the record was in Carter Co., TN and not Johnson Co., TN.  With a little research, I found out that Johnson Co., TN didn’t exist at that time.  In the 1860 census,  Moses is recorded with his wife Amanda and three children.  Julia b. 1852 in NC, Albert b. 1854 in NC and Thomas b. 1856 in NC, so there had to be a first wife probably in North Carolina. The next record that I find is that he married a Mary Ann Crosswhite on 29 Nov 1868 and I can find no trace of Amanda Mckee so I make the assumption that she probably died.    Somehow or another – Moses and Mary Ann Crosswhite either divorced, separated or had the marriage annulled.  She is still alive and lives until about 1917 in Johnson Co., TN.  As far as I can tell, there are no children from either of these two marriages…and at this point I have no idea what the mysterious first wife’s name was.  Moses then marries Martha “Mattie” E. Brown on 12 Oct 1878 in Johnson Co., TN.  He is 52 years old and she is 16 years old.  Mattie and Moses have six children: Roby b. 1879 d. bef 1898, Jesse b. 1881 d. aft 1920, Calia b. 1883 d. bef 1910, James b. 1884 d. 1928, Roy b. 1887 d. bef 1891 and David Carl (my great grandfather)  b. 1889 d. 1955. Moses dies 11 Mar 1890 in Mountain City, TN.   He is listed in the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule with the following notation:  Moses S. Friddles - Private, Company M, 13th TN Cav. Fed; enlisted Feb. 2, 1864, discharged Sep. 5, 1865; length of service 1 year, 7 months 3 days. Post Office Address, Vaughtsville, TN, Disability incurred, chronic diarrhea, rheumatism, piles. He is buried at Hawkins Cemetery, Johnson Co. TN with a Civil War military stone.

Moses Friddles - Hawkins Cemetery, Johnson Co., TN
This is the most complete information that I have been able to find – I can locate him in the 1860, 1870, & 1880 census as well as the Veteran’s Schedule of  1890. However, I can find no trace of him in the 1850 census or any trace of him in any other record.  From what I have gathered from his grandson (who knew very little about him) there was the story that Moses was actually a foundling child whose last name might have been Howard.  Nothing I can find either supports this refutes this story…not only that – Moses had little to no money so there are no land records or wills that one can reference.  However, he did have a military pension.  For those who don’t know – pension records can be very expensive to get – I paid $40 to get his pension record about 10 years ago.  It is interesting reading (what you can read – the handwriting is a bit difficult) but it raised more questions than answers.  After Moses Friddle’s death, his wife continued to claim all of their children until she was caught claiming children who were no longer alive.  She was also claiming children who didn’t live with her.  In the 1900 census, my great grandfather David Carl, his sister Callie, and brother James are listed in other households as servants and Mattie is listed with her new husband.  She loses the pension when it is also discovered that she had remarried.  She dies sometime after 1904 and her burial location is unknown.

My next step is to try and get some information from a different source.  I ordered the death records for both Albert Friddles and Julia Friddles Prestwood (David Carl’s older siblings)  One of the records has no information on the mother and the other record lists Monday as the name of the wife.  So…now at least I have an unknown wife with the last name of Monday.  I find from Albert Friddles obit that the Friddle family moved from North Carolina to Vaughtsville at an early age which is in Johnson Co., TN.  After a few years, I made contact with some descendants of James Friddles.  They tell me that James was forced to give up his children by his second wife and when he was making plans to come out west, his second wife murdered him.  The official record claims that it was suicide.  Since he was poor and had no family who really cared, he was probably buried in a pauper’s grave and there was no further information on him.

In reality, I will probably never find where Moses Friddles came from or who his parents were.  Of the possible 10 children that he fathered – I know information about four of those children.  My great grandfather had a very close relationship with his older brother, Albert.  I’m sure that he was a father figure to Pop Friddle (David Carl Friddle).  Albert was actually 34 years older that Pop Friddle and was the one who encouraged him to come out west.  In the early 1900’s, Albert’s sister Julia either left her husband or divorced,  either way, her husband remarried back in North Carolina and Julia’s two children came west with her.  Pop’s sister, Calia was married and died before 1910.  James Blaine Friddles had several children and his wife died – when he remarried both of them agreed to give up their children.  James did and the second wife didn’t.  James was found alongside the road in 1928 as I mentioned earlier. My great grandfather never knew his father as he died when he was a year old.  By the time he married in 1908 and left for Oregon in 1910, he virtually had no family in Tennessee and never had any interest in going back to visit. 

When I first started researching Moses Friddles – I really only had a name.  I’ve really only be able to establish certain details about his life gathered from census records, pension records, and marriage records.  The sad fact is I may never discover much more.  I’ve already asked anyone who might be connected only to find out that I was giving them information because they didn’t have anything.  So, Moses remains a brick wall – I have a photo of him and his gravestone but little else.  However, I will keep trying to knock that wall down – persistently trying to chink away the barriers.  Who knows – I may still find the answers someday…of course at that point – there will be new questions!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grandma Gage

If you try to picture the perfect grandmother - Grandma Gage might have been who you least I know she was for all of her grandchildren.  There was gentleness about her that was innate.  One might have thought she was dainty lady - but she was still around 150 pounds and 5'6 or so.  She was always interested in what her family were doing and listened to each one of us intently when we talked to her.  She made you feel as if you were her favorite.  Her voice and way might have been gentle but there was a spine of steel and anyone who thought they could manipulate her were sadly mistaken.

When she passed away at the age of 93, she had been widowed a few short months - but she and granddad had been married for 73 1/2 years.  They had had 10 children, 33 grandchildren, 49 great-grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.  My father is the oldest of her grandchildren and I am one of her great grandchildren. By anyone standards that is a large family.  What was so remarkable is that I think she could have told you the month and year of the birth of all of those descendants.  I used to joke to Granddad Gage that when God said "Go forth and multiply" Granddad took him seriously!

Florence Christine Shawver married Ora Silas Gage on 5 Sept 1917 when she was 20 years old.  She had already taught school for a few years and also taught the first year of her marriage.  From the time she was 21 years old until she was 42 - she had 10 children - six sons and four daughters.  Her youngest son, Gary, died at the of 8 when he drowned in the Palouse river and her daughter, Norma, died at the age of 55 of lung cancer. She once told me that Gary's death was much harder.  He never had the chance to grow up, marry, have children - in short, live a life.  Norma at least had loved and married and had a family.  I think her faith helped get through those two difficult blows.

Grandma and Granddad both converted to Catholicism and were faithful and devout Catholics their entire lives.  Grandma began her married life in a nice little farm near Mapleton, IA - not too far from her family and close to friends.  By the early 1930's, the depression was taking it's toll.  My grandparents decided that rather than lose their farm to taxes they would sign it over to a close friend and move elsewhere.  For the first time in her life, my great grandmother truly moved away from home.  They made their first stop in Philip, SD.  It was a short stop - only about a year.  They then decided to move west.  So, in November 1933 they traveled across Montana in a Model T with six children.  Most of their possessions traveled by train but the family traveled by car.  They had to leave behind their oldest son in a sanitarium in South Dakota near Rapid City.  He had what they thought was tuberculosis.  So with a baby on her lap and her older children taking care of the other young ones in the back seat - they traveled across Montana.  They stopped for a short time at her brother's place in Jordan, MT and then they began their trek west.  My uncle Bernard said that they ate a lot of eggs.  They would stop along side the road - Granddad would build a fire and Grandma would cook fried eggs to make sandwiches, make egg salad or anything else she could think of to feed her family.  They made it to Dover, ID and settled down to make their home for a short time.  Their son joined them the following February (that is a whole other story).  A few months later, Granddad found some land in Hatter Creek, ID and moved his family there and began building a home.

The loggie (as the new home was called) wasn't terribly big and when all the kids were home - it had to be a tight fit.  Grandma was a true pioneer wife - she had a huge garden and canned vegetables and fruit to feed her family in the winter, baked copious loaves of bread each week, made clothes for her family.  My father still tells the story that he very rarely ever heard his grandmother speak sharply - unless you slammed the door when she had an angel food cake in the oven.  I think a home made angel food cake is still one of his favorite things - thanks to the wonderful cakes that Grandma Gage made.

I remember when I was in college and taking education classes.  My great grandmother was so interested in hearing about those classes.  She may not have employed as a teacher for a long period of time - but it was still a big part of her makeup.  I was planning on going up to my great aunt's to visit my great grandparents on a Friday.  During my class that day, my professor was telling us that we would have to teach books that we didn't like...she remembered having to teach "Silas Marner" and she said that was probably her least favorite book...when my great grandmother and talked later in the day - she said the same thing.  My professor was impressed that my great grandmother expressed the same dislike for a book that she had had to teach about 70 years ago.  We both wondered why the book was still being taught :)

60th Anniversary - Taken 1977 - Ora & Florence Gage Family
You can't write about my great grandmother without writing about my great grandfather.  They were married for over 73 years and I believe that they had a true love story.  Grandma survived him for a few months after Granddad's death...I'm sure he was waiting for her to join him and they are together up above watching over their family - just as they did in life!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grandpa Frank...

How did my obsession with past relatives seems so long ago that it is hard to pinpoint exactly.  Back around 1996 or so Mom bought Family Tree Maker and we installed it on our computers.  We then put in everything that we knew about the family.  Dad's side was and is huge and complicated.  Mom's side is still complicated but not nearly as large.  Mom had taken the time to talk to my grandfather back in the early 1970's before his death in 1975.  My memories are very dim of my Grandpa Frank - hazy images of being taught how to peel an orange and trips to the store for candy are my clearest memories.  I was just 8 years old when he died, and had never had the opportunity to spend much time with him.

Frank Stewart Johnson was born in 10 Oct 1914 in Dunn Center, Dunn Co., ND to Ulpian Grey Johnson and Shirlie Louisa Pope.  He had three sisters and two half brothers.  His mother died 14 Apr 1927 of pneumonia and his life was forever changed.  Grandpa Frank's father literally fell apart, and it fell to Frank to take care of the family.  He quit school and got a job and did his best to provide for his family.  Dunn Center today is experiencing a bit of an oil boom - back in the 1920's and 30's it was probably one of the most inhospitable places to live.  Hot summers with vicious thunder storms and egg size hail and horrible winters where a rope from the barn to the house was the only way to find your way.  Frank joined the CCC's (Civilian Conservation Corps) and traveled and worked his way through the late 1930's.  In 1939, he visited Idaho with his friend Lawrence Chandler and met a local neighbor and friend, Marian Johnson.  On 01 Oct 1939, Marian and Frank married at the parsonage at St. Mary's Church, in Moscow, ID.  At that point, they went back to North Dakota, where they lived in a tiny two room house with Frank's father, Ulpian, and his sister Mary.  Mary had been born with a dislocated hip and was also somewhat mentally challenged.  Marian and Frank quickly had three children and it must have been a tight fit in the house.  There was little money and few jobs and by 1943, they made the decision to return to Idaho and Hatter Creek which was where Marian's family lived.  By the time, mother married my father (Marian & Frank's oldest child and only son) Marian and Frank lived up in at a small farm in Mountain Home (near present day Potlatch) 

Mom loved her father-in-law!  He was a gentle man who loved his family deeply.  She appreciated his devotion to his family and humor.  Marian and Frank moved to OR in 1965 and during one his visits to our home in Lewiston, ID - Mom sat down with him with some pencil and paper and asked him questions about his family.  Grandpa Frank complied and we had our start to our genealogy research.  He remembered his grandparent's names and all of his father's siblings as well as the name of his great grandmother and some of his grandfather's siblings.  He left us with "Unknown" Johnson as the name of great grandfather...but it was a start.  

Grandpa Frank never really felt that his family history quite measured up.  My grandmother's family had a genealogy that extended back to some of the earliest families in this country.  He felt that my grandmother had a heritage to be proud of...and he didn't think he did.  Grandpa Frank died in 1975 - but when Mom and I started researching, it was on his family that we made the most progress on our early efforts.

We had that basic genealogy that Mom had written down from many years ago.  Our first goal was to find out who "Unknown Johnson" was which we found fairly early with a marriage record.  We then found someone else who was researching the same family and made contact.  Turned out that the cousin was just a few weeks older than my father and had also been researching for a long time.  Then my parents took my grandmother on a trip back east where they visited my Grandpa Frank's sister.  They got copies of letters that had been traded back in the early 1920's between Grandpa Frank's sister Nan and their grandfather, Winslow Lonsdale Pope.  Everything opened up on that family at that point.  In reality, Grandpa Frank's family probably had more prestige than my grandmother's family and he never knew.  The Popes had been in the United States since the 1620's and while his ancestor, Kenelm Winslow wasn't here on the Mayflower, he was soon after.  He followed his brother, Edward Winslow, who was on the Mayflower and who was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Grandpa Frank was also descended from Rev. Ralph Wheelock who you might say began the first public school with a free education in the United States.  

It took a several years more until we were able to piece together his Johnson family.  My father had heard since he was young that we were related to Pres. Andrew Johnson.  My mother and I could not find any proof of the relationship or where the actual connection might be.  An article was sent to us by another Johnson researcher that spelled out the relationship.  "Unknown Johnson" was actually Moses Johnson - which we discovered through a marriage record.  Moses Johnson turned out to be the younger brother of Jacob Johnson - who was Pres. Andrew Johnson's father.  The article quoted a letter written by Henderson Johnson  (my great great grandfather's older brother) that was addressed to Cousin Andy.  The letter was included in the papers of Pres. Andrew Johnson.

Frank Johnson in 1939 - getting ready to drive John Bernard Gage's car in the Tin Lizzy Derby in Lewiston, ID
Grandpa Frank never really knew the history of his family and I'm not sure he thought there would be anything to be proud of.  That was a regret that my mother and I had - that Grandpa Frank never knew anything about where is family came from or the long and rich history that they had.  Now, I am at the point that I can't share the research with my mother; she died almost 6 years ago of lung cancer.  Their have been some wonderful discoveries that I have not been able to share with her - but somehow I think she knows...and I think that Grandpa Frank knows as well.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coffee & Hot Toddies

The name Sophia Vestelle Dollar Friddle seems to me to be the image of an elegant lady...I don't think my great grandmother could ever be accused of being elegant...Sophie probably fit her much better - but we called her Mom Friddle. When she became a grandmother in her mid 40's - she considered herself too young to be called grandma or instead she became Mom Friddle.  That is what her granddaughters all called her, as well as her great grandchildren.  She was born in 1894 in Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN and died in 1979 in Lewiston, ID - and what a life she lived between those years!

I only knew Mom Friddle as an old woman - my earliest memories of her are when she was in her late 70's and  early 80's.  By that point, she used a crutch to get around because of a broken hip and had a constant tick in her neck probably cause by something like Parkinsons...although I never knew exactly what it was.  My father came late to her family when he married my mother in 1959.  I'm sure Mom Friddle was delighted to add a handy young man who was talented with mechanics and was a true handyman - I know that she found my father very useful.  Dad used to enjoy stopping to see Mom Friddle when he got of night shift at the mill and have a cup of coffee with her.  I'm not sure that was really conducive to a good sleep after work, however.  I never personally drank a cup of her coffee - but I have heard that it was so thick that a spoon could stand up straight.  Mom Friddle took the coffee pot and removed all of the guts out of the percolator and put the coffee in the pot with water and boiled it on the stove for 15 minutes.  It might not have been too bad the first time, but she didn't empty the old coffee grounds and instead would add more grounds and water for her next pot of coffee.  I'm sure she eventually would empty the grounds and rinse out the pot -but as you can imagine - this didn't involve a thorough cleaning.  My grandmother (her daughter) decided one time that she would clean out the coffee pot and spent several hours trying to get it clean - unsuccessfully, I might add.  My mother suggested later that she should have just bought her a new coffee pot and throw the other one away.  My Grandma Cappy could make a penny scream and never spent money if she didn't have to...but after trying to clean out that coffee pot, she decided buying a new coffee pot might be the better course of action.

Mom Friddle drank a lot of coffee, but when it was time to go to bed, she required something else - a hot toddie!  Essentially whiskey and water and depending on you talk to - perhaps some sugar or lemon as well.  I don't know know how she made her hot toddie...but she couldn't go to sleep at night without one.  We have a photo of her walking back from her son, who lived nearby with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a jug of milk and her crutch in the other hand.  Jack, her older son, had just arrived from San Francisco for a visit and popped out of the bushes to take the picture.  I'm sure some expletives were expressed!

Towards the end of her life, Mom Friddle had to go into a nursing home.  This was after she had set fire to her kitchen and her children made the decision that she couldn't be on her own.  I'm sure the caretakers at the nursing home thought they were helping Mom Friddle, but all they allowed her to drink was weak tea.  After drinking coffee during the day for all of her life and going to bed with a hot toddie...the nursing home was giving her vicious headaches and she couldn't sleep.  Mom remembered visiting her and asking her doctor and the nurses why she couldn't have coffee and her hot toddie.  She was trying to make the point, that she was an old woman and shouldn't have to live the time she had left in misery.  The nurses still didn't think that coffee and whiskey was good for her health - however the doctor took the point and actually had to write out a prescription for coffee and whiskey. I'm sure the coffee wasn't quite as strong as Mom Friddle liked...but at least it had caffeine.  She didn't last very long in the nursing home - only about 6 months...but at 85 years old, she had lived a long and productive life and left behind stories that we still tell, 32 years after she left us!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Beloved Granny

My mother always told me that she really didn't learn to cook from her mother...Grandma Cappy didn't really enjoy cooking - it was just something she had to do.  Although, I must say - she made fabulous pies.  Mom really learned to cook from her step grandmother.  My mother's father died when she was barely six years old from a hunting accident.  A little over a year later, my grandmother remarried - to Gwen Shearer.  Richard Tannahill (Mom's father) and Gwen Shearer were best friends and business partners.  So...with the addition of Gwen as a step father, Mom also gained another grandmother.  This grandmother was quite different from the one she was used to...but quite wonderful as well.  There is no doubt that Granny and Mom struck up a loving and close relationship almost immediately.  Granny was delighted to gain grandchildren and especially a granddaughter who she bonded with so completely.

Granny spent much of her summers cooking for her son's logging camp up on McCormick Ridge, which is  in the Waha area near Lewiston, ID.  Mom got to spend a few weeks with her during the summers.  She loved to spend time playing with the frogs in the creek or exploring the forest surrounding the camp.  However, what she loved doing the most was spending time with Granny - since Granny was cooking in the cook cabin...that was where Mom was.  She started out learning how to do some of the grunt work like peeling potatoes.  Then she graduated to learning how to bake biscuits, bread and caramel rolls...and later cooking the entire meal for the crew under the tutelage of Granny.  Did I mention that she was only 8 years old and had to stand on a stool to do most of those things?  Granny was a fabulous cook...and she loved having someone to teach.

Granny's real name was Nettie Pearl Moody Shearer.  She was the daughter of Henry M. Moody and Lily Bell Long and was born 7 Dec 1890 in Jefferson City, Bates Co., MO.  Her family moved west when she was very young and she spent her childhood down on the Salmon River, where her father operated a ferry.  As a child, she knew Polly Beamis...because they lived in the same area.  (Polly Beamis was a Chinese immigrant who is quite well known in central Idaho.  There was a book and movie made many years back called "A Thousand Pieces of Gold" that about her life.)  Nettie married Floyd David Shearer in 1910 and had three sons - Buford, Gwen and Aaron.  It was never an easy life nor a particularly happy marriage and Nettie decided to leave Floyd in the 1950's and took up a job as a cook in a nursing home and worked there until retirement.  I only remember Granny as a very old woman in her late 80's.  Even then, she was quite a wonderful granny!

Granny always loved a little Christmas Tree to decorate at Christmas time.  It was  a tradition for our family to go out and get our tree from the woods.  So...we would begin our drive up to the snowy forest with four kids and dog and old lady in the back.  By the time we arrived - Granny and I would stay behind with Henry (our Pekingnese dog) because Henry and I both had problems with short legs and Granny didn't really want to walk in thigh deep snow.  We made little snow men and had quite the delightful time - I can't imagine many of her age having the patience or wanting to make a trek like that out in the woods.

One of the last significant times I spent with Granny was the Thanksgiving when I was 12 years old.  My grandmother insisted that Granny needed to lay down before dinner so she wouldn't get too tired.  Granny insisted that I needed to go with her.  We lay on that bed and she held my hand and told me riding down Rattlesnake grade in a wagon - it shifted and she lost her grip on her doll and watched it break into pieces as it tumbled down the mountain.  How heartbreaking that had to be for a little girl with probably her only doll.  She also called me her little "Betty!"  I recognized even at that age, that Granny was giving me a wonderful compliment...she was telling me that I reminded her of my mother and of all of the wonderful times they spent together.

Granny died the very next year of stomach cancer.  She knew that she had cancer before the doctors told her.  After all the years working in a nursing home, she said that you could smell it.  Granny was almost 90 years old and while her life was not easy she was certainly well beloved by her family.  Hopefully we can all say that!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Uncle Henry & Aunty Jones...

When my mother was a child - her family had neighbors who lived across the road from her house.   They were a childless couple who became very good friends of the family that they became my mother's godparents.

Glenthora Stranahan Jones or "Aunty Jones" as we always called her was a "character!"  She was a very poor driver who drove far longer than she should have.  Thain Rd was and still is an extremely busy street - when she was ready to pull out into traffic, she didn't ease into it - she gunned the car in the driveway and was already going a pretty good speed by the time she hit the road.  It is a miracle that she never hit anyone.  She wasn't the little old lady who drove too slow, she loved to drive fast.  Aunty Jones used to hide the newspaper and or glasses from her husband so he would see the traffic tickets listed.  Her family were among the earlier settlers of Lewiston, ID.  Her father was Clinton Terry Stranahan or CT as he was known.  He was one of the last Indian agents out in Lapwai, ID and owned a pretty large chunk of land.  He sold some of it to Potlatch Forests, later Clearwater Paper where the mill sits today.  He also had a rather large fruit farm in what is today known as the Lewiston Orchards.  May Louise Bostick was Aunty Jones mother.  She was the first white child born in Gallatin Co., MT.  Aunty Jones family had been in the Lewiston area since the mid 1880's, which considering the city of Lewiston is just now 150 years old (founded in 1861) was very early.  She became a nurse when she was a young woman and spent some time in Mexico working.  In addition, she also spent time with her husband in Europe after World War I where he was working as military officer.  She married Uncle Henry on Dec. 26, 1911.

I have very dim memories of sitting on Uncle Henry's lap.  I mostly remember a horse head cane that he used.  Strange what a child remembers :)  When he died in 1973, I was only about 6 years old...but I later heard many stories about him.  He was born in Springfield, IL and his family moved out west in 1887 to Oregon.  He left home when he was 14 to work in the logging camps.  Since he was big for his age, he signed up with the army and was sent to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.  Uncle Henry moved to Lewiston in about 1907 according to obituary and married Aunty Jones in 1911.  He retired from the Idaho National Guard in 1919 as a Major.  I always heard the story growing up that Uncle Henry wanted to serve in World War II - they told him that he had a bad appendix and he couldn't serve.  He had the appendix removed and they still wouldn't serve.  However, my uncle told me (he lived nearby) that there were cars that pulled up to his driveway that had flags with stars on them.  Since my uncle had just finished serving in World War II, he knew that those were members of the military with the highest of ranks.  During his lifetime, Uncle Henry worked for the local utilities and for the road department.  He was the district maintenance engineer for the Idaho Department of Highways in 1931 until 1941.  Uncle Henry then spent the last years of his working life taking care of his fruit orchard on Thain Rd and helping to start the local television station.

It was only later in life that I learned that the kindly old couple of my early childhood were such remarkable people.  Aunty Jones was much more than that lady who always gave us each of us kids a dollar bill and bag of oranges at Christmas.  She was fun and interesting to talk to.  Aunty Jones had verve for life as long as I knew her.  She was never the quintessential old lady she defined her own status.  She died in 1988 at almost exactly 99 years old.  In my minds eye, I can still picture her sitting on our couch and discussing the trips on the stagecoach in her youth with Granny Shearer and Mom Friddle (both my great grandmothers.)  They helped me and my siblings develop a love for history.  Whenever I think of her and Uncle Henry - I smile...I was lucky to have known them!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have a hard time remembering anymore what my life was like without genealogy.  In some ways I have been doing this my entire life.  I remember as a child listening to my great grandmothers and my mother's godmothers tell stories.  Usually these occasions occurred during holiday dinners.  Granny was born in 1890, Mom Friddle in 1894 and Aunty Jones was born in 1889.  They were all of an age and had some interesting experiences.

I remember telling my nephew about these dinners with a lot of fondness.  He thought it sounded boring to him.  I was somewhat horrified but also sad.  I was very fortunate to hear and remember so many of these stories.  They were cemented by my mother's memories as well as her memories of her own experiences.

All of them are gone now - including my mother.  In my mind - they are still with me and still speak to me.  Just in different ways now.  I'll never have the type of challenges that they faced in their lifetimes - but their wisdom is an heirloom in and of itself.  I'm proud of that that is what I am going to try to communicate through this blog.  We'll see how successful I am!