Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winter Spirit in Lewiston, ID

When I was a little girl, Christmas lights were among my favorite things.  I can remember many holiday drives in the evening when my parents took us around to see the lights.  Back then, there were competitions and every year several homes would go all out to decorate for the holidays.  That was probably about 35 years ago.  Then we went through a session when few people put up Christmas lights and during the past twenty years there has been another change – for more decoration.

Back in the early 1990’s, a group of Lewiston people began decorating what we locals call Locomotive Park.  There is an old early 20th century locomotive that has had its home there ever since I can remember.   There is also a large curving park that circles around what would be Highway 12 as it enters Lewiston, ID and continues over to Clarkston, WA.  As you can probably tell by the names – our two cities here in the LC Valley are named for Lewis and Clark.  Near the Locomotive is a fairly large tableau of trees – the Winter Spirit committee has decorated Locomotive park for at least the last 20 years with literally millions of lights.  The Locomotive is awash with colored lights and the tall tree in the center flickers with dancing lights that match the music being broadcast on speakers.  Kids young and old can dance around on the pad and help make the lights move.  There is a beautiful archway snaking through the park that is a glittering trail that leads the visitor all over the park and its beautiful trees.  Every year volunteers work for several weekends to get the lights up and there is a lovely lighting ceremony during the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The lights stay up through the New Year. 

I still can remember the first year that it was lit.  My nieces and nephews were small children.  They ran through the archways and watched the lights flicker with the movement.  Sometimes the weather was warm and other times quite chilly and snowy.  The adults in the family would walk around enjoying the children’s joy and wonder as well as our own.  We would spend at least an hour walking through the park, no matter how cold it was.  Then when we go out on drives to look at the Christmas lights – we would drive by Locomotive Park and enjoy the beautiful colors.  I don’t know that any of us ever completely outgrow looking at pretty twinkling lights.
My Niece & Nephew enjoying the lights!
Several years ago, my sister-in-law and brother were visiting from out of town.  They had moved north several years before but one thing they wanted to do during that Thanksgiving weekend visit was go and look at the Christmas lights.  We enjoyed looking at the new Fireplace with the tiles that had been painted by local schoolchildren and reacquainted ourselves with all of the new displays that had been done.  My teenage niece and nephew ran around and played like children.  I still remember my brother saying that he wished that these lights had been around when he was in high school – it would have made for a cheap date.

If you are interested in looking at some of the photos or wish to look at more information check out their website at .  There is even an opportunity to donate to the cause as this is a volunteer operation.

Through the arch!

Some of the lights of Winter Spirit!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eastman Research

One of my favorite pastimes is to take a second look at some favorite ancestors or relatives.  I live in Lewiston, ID and have not had too many opportunities to study most of my ancestry first hand nor do I have the availability of a world class genealogical library to reference.  What I do have is a computer and the persistence of searching for information and an eye for what is good info…and what isn’t.
Back around 2000, I discovered one of my favorite characters in all of my genealogical research, Susanna Eastman. Susanna is my 8th great grandmother…here is my lineage.

  • Susanna Eastman m. John Swan
  • Nathaniel Swan m. Mahitabel Brown
  • Jesse Swan m. Elizabeth Baldwin
  • Nathaniel Swan m. Harriet Shutter
  • Cynthia Swan m. Potter Gage
  • Gilbert Gage m. Phebe Allen
  • Orlando Gage m. Edith Gallup
  • Ora Silas Gage m. Florence Christine Shawver
  • Helen Gage m. Frank Johnson
  • Eugene Johnson m. Betty Tannahill
  • Me!

Now Susanna lived a long and interesting life.  As a young woman she married Thomas Wood and had a daughter with him.  Both he and her child were killed in an Indian attack in 1697.  Susanna remarried in 1699 to John Swan.  They had 7 children including my ancestor, Nathaniel.  In the history of Haverhill, MA there is a story about an attack that was made on her and John Swan’s home.  They were pushing against the door and had started to enter the home when Susanna skewered them with the baking spit.  In the History and Genealogy of the Eastman Family of America there is also the story of when Susanna and John moved to Connecticut.  Susannah put her young son down in a basket and told her husband that the basket needed to be loaded onto the wagon.   Sometime later (about 2 miles down the road) it was discovered that the baby had been left behind.  I imagine the 2 mile return trip to retrieve the sleeping child had to be a difficult one for both parents with the father getting the majority of the dirty looks.  Susanna lived to be 100 years old which is pretty remarkable.  She was born about 1673 and died in 1772 – right on the cusp of the Revolutionary War.

So…every once in a while I do a search on family members.  Sometimes I don’t have their full dates or perhaps I don’t have the maiden name of the mother.  There is new information that is being put on the Internet all of the time and more and more primary documents that have been posted.  In addition there are also old genealogy books that are posted.  So, when I did a search on Susanna Eastman tonight I found some additional information. 

You can also spend some time looking at different websites that might have information.  This whole process can be time consuming but also very rewarding.  So – occasionally sit down at the computer and go to your favorite search engine and see what you can find.  You might find something new like a photo of the grave or new cousin.  This can be truly a rewarding experience!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Unknown Johnson

When I first started doing genealogy research over 15 years ago, the computer was considered to be a new tool.  The internet and email were just starting to be used for genealogy research.  We used to peruse these old World Family Tree CD’s from Family Tree Maker.   There was a lot of junk but there were also some great surprises.

When my mother got the information from my grandfather back in the early 1970’s about his family.  It was surprising how much he knew and there was a surprising name that he didn’t know.  Grandpa Frank knew that his great grandmother’s name was Nancy Mayfield, but his great grandfather was unknown.  Mom and I referred to him for quite some time as unknown Johnson – in fact, one of our first goals was to find out what his name was.  We posted queries at every place we could think of and we received a note from another researcher one day that gave us his name – from a marriage record no less.  His name was Moses Johnson and he married Nancy Mayfield on 6 May 1816 in Granville Co., NC.
One day I started looking through one of those World Family Tree CD’s and found a listing in there for a Washington Abraham Johnson who was my great great grandfather.  I looked further and noticed that the researcher didn’t have Moses’ name either –but he certainly had a wealth of information about the children of Washington Abraham Johnson.  I started to compare notes and noticed that this was a researcher who had paid careful attention to dates and locations.  This wasn’t something that was all that common on these World Family Tree CD’s.  Many times there were girls who had had 5 children by the age of 12 and several more after the age of 50.  You could tell that these genealogies were not examined very carefully and that someone was adding a name even if only one item out of four matched the puzzle.  I decided that I would contact this researcher.  I picked up the phone and made a long distance phone call and dialed the number I found as a reference.  Back then, long distance actually meant something! My cousin Lowell picked up the phone and I experienced one of the greatest joys of genealogy – meeting a cousin and making a great friend.
One of the first things that I asked Lowell is if he knew who “Unknown” Johnson was?  He replied that he had no idea…so I was able to make him acquainted with Moses Johnson.  During a series of letters and phone calls – our family got to know Lowell and his lovely wife, Bonnie.  I was excited to find a cousin of my fathers who was actually the same age as he – in fact, Lowell was three weeks older.  Within a year or so, we were making plans on traveling back to North Dakota to meet our cousin.  We found pictures that proved that it wasn’t my father and Lowell’s first meeting.  There was a photo of their mothers holding each of them for the camera when they were babies. 
Grace Carlson Johnson holding Lowell & Marian Gage Johnson holding Eugene.

The 3 Franks - Frank Stewart Johnson, Frank Washington Johnson & their uncle, Frank Smith Johnson.

We got the chance to meet Lowell and Bonnie in North Dakota on that day a long time ago.  My father and Lowell were able to trade stories and were share stories about their shared heritage.  My Grandpa Frank had a cousin also named Frank – and that was Lowell’s father.  Both of the Franks were named for their uncle Frank.  Lowell’s grandfather was Washington Andrew Johnson and Dad’s grandfather was Ulpian Grey Johnson and they were both the sons of Washington Abraham Johnson and Mary Ann Smith and grandsons of Moses Johnson and Nancy Mayfield. 

There is a lesson in my story…don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to contact that researcher who might be connected.  You never know what you’ll find and if you are lucky – you will find a cousin as well as a friendship as we did with Lowell and his lovely wife, Bonnie!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Letters

Christmas cards have always been an integral part of the Christmas season for me…unfortunately; they seem to be going out of style as is the handwritten letter.  Isn’t it sad that many of the younger generation will never understand the value of a letter or even a newsy email?  They only want to communicate in short tweets or texts and don’t care for the long and leisurely conversation that lasts over 140 characters. 

When I was a little girl, I vividly remember watching my mother sit at the kitchen table writing out notes in her Christmas card.  Mom had absolutely beautiful handwriting with an artistic flair – I’ve seen letters that she wrote to her sister and mother and those old Christmas notes had bits and pieces of their lives that I had never known.  I remember that it was exciting as a young child getting those Christmas letters in the mail and having my chance to read them.  There was a wealth of information in them about family activities and events – connections to old and new friends and in some cases an actual Christmas card that came to me personally.  Those Christmas cards were often a shared time with my parents when I learned about their friends and our family and learned how to read different handwriting and words that I wasn’t used to.  For me…they were a learning opportunity that I took advantage of. 

We still have some of the old Christmas cards and letters that were sent by family members – and many of the Christmas letters that my mother sent out once she got a computer.  I think Mom was one of the first people I know of who sent out a Christmas newsletter every year.  I look back on those old letters and relive some of the wonderful memories of the last 30 years.  One year she sent out some favorite family recipes, when her grandkids came along – her letters were full of them.  When I moved out on my own, I too sent out Christmas cards.  My list was much smaller than my parents but even then they were full of friends who I had not seen for a long time as well as beloved family members. I followed my mother’s example and wrote my own Christmas letter that was full of everything that was important to me – my job & home, my family & friends and my pet.  Not too terribly imaginative but they improved with practice.

Today I send out cards to my parent’s friends and family and my own.  I still remember that last Christmas letter that my Mom sent out.  She wasn’t feeling well and I helped her write it, print it, and got her labels done.  There were still many that she wrote a handwritten note to.  Mom downplayed her own health problems and instead focused on the positive…that was her attitude.  I’m sure when everyone went through their cards at the end of the Christmas season that year that they paused on her card.  So, now when I write my letter, print it and my labels then sit at the kitchen counter to write a note or two, I feel a kinship with my mother and grandmother and all of the other family members who have shared Christmas cards through the years.  Perhaps someday – someone will pick of that old letter and read it and wonder about the people in the letter.  Perhaps they too will take it upon themselves to research and find out who they were.  Those letters are a window to our lives and communicate what is important to use as the years pass by.  Wouldn’t you love to find a passel of letters written by your ancestors…and if you did – wouldn’t they be a precious resource!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

As I am writing this – it is Thanksgiving eve…I’m physically and mentally tired after the day at my job and coming home to cook and bake my part of the Thanksgiving meal.  I’m ready for bed – but I can’t help thinking about all of those people out there who don’t have the blessings that I enjoy.  I have a job, family who loves and cares about what happens to me, friends, a loving pet, and wonderful memories of those I am thankful to have known.

When one enjoys great blessing of family – we also experience the pain of loss.  So many of my memories of past Thanksgivings are tied up with my mother, grandparents (Gwen & Cappy Shearer) and great grandmothers (Sophie Friddle and Nettie Shearer) as well as my mother’s godmother, Glenthora Jones!  They have all passed away now yet I feel as if somehow they are still with us.  I wish Mom could taste that apple pie I just finished or sneak a piece of the pumpkin pie that Dad and I had for supper tonight.  I wish I could listen once more at the feet of my great grandmothers and Aunty Jones as they spoke of stagecoach rides up into the hills. I wish I could talk with my grandparents once again and really listen to what they say.  Those times are past and there are new enjoyable traditions that I treasure just as much as those old ones.   I ask that as you travel or welcome friends and family for Thanksgiving meal that you remember that you are making treasured memories.  Please be thankful for the blessings that we all have!
Thanksgiving 1968 - It is my second Thanksgiving.  While much has changed in the intervening years -
there are still some traditions that continue.

My Mayflower Ancestry - Pt 3

It is fun to study one’s maternal lines – you never know what you’ll find or where they will end up.  In our search for information on my Mom’s Allen line – we kept running into research that just wasn’t quite right.  The family story was that we were related to Ethan Allen of the Green Mountain boys from the Revolutionary War…so everyone was trying to make the Ethan Allen’s line mesh with our Adoniram Allen line…and they never worked.  It turned out that the tie was not with the Allen line but rather with their mothers…who were sisters.  It was a lesson well learned and I have found some interesting family lines on the maternal side of the family…and here is one that ties my father’s family and mother’s family together by marriage!

William White was a passenger on the Mayflower and he died on 21 Feb 1620.  Beyond that there really isn’t much more information.  He was married to a woman named Susanna and traveled on the Mayflower with his son Resolved.  Susanna White gave birth to a son named Peregrine on board the Mayflower while it was docked off of Cape Cod while the Pilgrims were trying to find a place to place their colony.  William White was one of the passengers who died on during that first winter leaving his wife with two young children to care for.  I don’t that anyone has found anything concrete on William White’s ancestry – White has to be almost as common of a name as Johnson to research.  There were a few Whites in Leiden, Holland who were possibilities, but they have been discounted.  No one knows what Susanna White’s maiden name was either.  So, she remains Susanna, wife of William White and Edward Winslow.  After the death of her husband in February, she married another widower who had lost his wife as well, Edward Winslow. 

Edward Winslow was one of the leaders of the Plymouth colony and was in fact its’ third governor.  Edward came on the Mayflower with his brother, Gilbert and his wife, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth died soon after arrival and Gilbert went back to England.  Edward married Susanna in May of 1621.  They had five children but only two lived to adulthood and had children.  Several of Edward’s brothers came within a decade, one of whom was Kenelm Winslow, my 9th great grandfather.  So…with all of the research that Mom and I did…the only tie we ever found between my parents was when Mom’s 9th great grandmother married Dad’s 8th great-granduncle.  Susanna lived to be an old woman and died almost 50 years after the arrival of the Mayflower in 1680.  Edward died in 1655 while on journey to Hispaniola and was buried at sea.

Here are my lines is my line to William White & wife, Susanna.
  • William White m. Susanna
  • Resolved White m. Judith Vassal
  • Anna White m. John Hayward
  • Sarah Hayward m. David Allen
  • David Allen m. Sarah Baker
  • Adoniram “Teges” Allen m. Elizabeth Morris
  • Morris Allen m. Rachel Bishop
  • Ailey Allen m. William Kelly
  • John Ward Kelly m. Melvina Robertson
  • Sarah Rachel Kelly m. John Lyons Tannahill
  • Oliver Richard Tannahill m. Capitola Friddle
  • Betty Jean Tannahill m. Eugene Johnson
  • Me!

Here is my line to Edward Winslow’s brother, Kenelm – both were sons of Edward Winslow and Magdalene Ollyver…
  • Kenelm Winslow m. Eleanor Newton
  • Kenelm Winslow m. Mercy Worden
  • Kenelm Winslow m. Bethia Hall & Edward Winslow m. Sarah
  • Hannah Winslow m. Edward Winslow (yes they were first cousins)
  • Sarah Winslow m. Seth Pope
  • Winslow Pope m. Mary Wheelock
  • Francis Pope m. Belinda Willey
  • Winslow Lonsdale Pope m. Nancy Ann Marie Lyons
  • Shirlie Louisa Pope m. Ulpian Grey Johnson
  • Frank Stewart Johnson m. Helen Gage
  • Eugene Johnson m. Betty Tannahill
  • Me!

Both of these lines were branches off of maternal lines in my family.  My advice is to not forget the women in the family.  You might find some of your most interesting ancestors!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Mayflower Ancestry - Pt 2

Not all the Mayflower families were of sterling character.  While most seemed to upstanding folk – there were a few that didn’t quite meet our view of a Pilgrim.  John Billington was one such Pilgrim.  As an amateur genealogist it is quite exciting to find that Mayflower connection…until you find out he was hung for murder!

The Billington family were the troublemakers of the Plymouth colony.  On the trip over, John Billington’s son, Francis shot off his father’s musket showering sparks among open barrels of gunpowder.  With that one action, the entire ship could have easily burned down.  Later in March 1621, John Billington’s son, John wandered off and was found by the Nauset Indians and was later brought home.  According to Caleb Johnson, Billington “was implicated in the Oldham-Lyford scandal (a failed revolt against the Plymouth church).”  He claimed that he knew nothing about it.  The final nail in the coffin occurred in 1630, when John Billington shot and killed John Newcomen…John Billington was tried and hanged in September 1630. John Billington was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and he was also the first to be hanged for a crime in New England.  He wasn’t a member of the separatist’s church but rather left England to escape creditors…so not all the Pilgrims were Puritan separatists.  After Billington’s death, his wife Eleanor or Helen couldn’t stay out of trouble either.  She was found guilty of slander, was fined and put in the stocks and whipped as punishment. 

After John Billington’s death, Helen or Eleanor (both names are reputed to be her name) deeded her land to her remaining son, Francis, and remarried Gregory Armstrong in 1637.  Francis Billington had married a widow named Christian Penn, who was a widow of Francis Eaton.  Christian Penn brought with her 4 children including one step child – she and Francis Billington had nine more children.  Francis’ older brother, John, died in the late1620’s and so all of John Billington’s descendants come through Francis.  Francis lived to be an old man and died in 1684 nearly 80 years old, his wife Christian preceded him in death a few months before his own.  Here is my lineage from John Billington:
  • John Billington m. Eleanor/Helen
  • Francis Billington m. Christian Penn
  • Mary Billington m. Samuel Sabin
  • Mercy Sabin m. James Welch
  • Mercy/Mary Welch m. Thomas Spaulding
  • Eunice Spaulding m. John Baldwin
  • Elizabeth Baldwin m. Jesse Swan
  • Nathaniel Swan m. Harriet Shutter
  • Cynthia Swan m. Potter Gage
  • Gilbert Gage m. Phoebe Allen
  • Orlando Gage m. Edith Gallup
  • Ora Silas Gage m. Florence Shawver
  • Helen Gage m. Frank Johnson
  • Eugene Johnson m. Betty Tannahill
  • Me!

Back when I was in high school and certainly old enough to know of some the peccadillos of the Pilgrims, don’t you think that it would have interested kids my age to know some of what really happened.  There were babies born before prerequisite nine months after marriage, there were those who didn’t agree with their leadership and were put in stocks or whipped, and even some who committed murder.  I never heard of any these stories…and I think that if we had the chance to learn about some of these things, perhaps we would remember their history better.  These people were all too human and their experiences are more interesting because of their problems as well as their successes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Mayflower Ancestry - Pt 1

If you have New England ancestry and your family has been in this country for generations, you most likely have Mayflower ancestry.  The search is much easier for some because someone has gone through the process of researching and documenting those lines.  God Bless those someone’s…because I know it is hard work.  My friend Midge is one of those who has completed the documentation!

One of my favorite researchers and Gallup cousins is the fabulous Midge Frazel, her Granite in My Blood blog has been a great resource for information about cemeteries and gravestones…especially those in New England as well as many New England families.  Midge was kind enough to share many of her Gallup cemetery photos to post on my website and through the years we have shared many stories, laughs and information. Through our communication about the Gallup family - we discovered our shared Mayflower line…here is my line:
  • John Howland m. Elizabeth Tilley
  • Desire Howland m. John Gorham
  • Elizabeth Gorham m. Joseph Hallet
  • Lois Hallet m. Henry Cobb
  • Eunice Cobb m. Benadam Gallup, Jr.
  • Nathan Gallup m. Sarah Giddings
  • Sarah Gallup m. Silas Gallup (yes she married her 2nd  cousin)
  • Ebenezer Gallup m. Susan Harden
  • Silas Gallup m. Phebe Montanye
  • Edith Gallup m. Orlando Gage
  • Ora Silas Gage m. Florence Shawver
  • Helen Gage m. Frank Johnson
  • Eugene Johnson m. Betty Tannahill
  • Me…

So…I began in earnest studying a part of history that I had never had a great deal of interest in before.  During my years in school, I had been inundated with the story about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower that had been taught in a staid and boring way.  These people were stuck on a pedestal by many of my teachers…and they were therefore boring.  So, I began the process of learning about my Mayflower ancestry and learned that these Pilgrims were all too human and faced hardships that I have a difficult even comprehending.  I wish my teachers had taught me more about the reality of what they faced and that they were flawed people trying their best to make a new life.

Elizabeth Tilley was a 13 year old girl who traveled with her parents on the Mayflower in 1620.  She was one of 11 girls who ranged in age from 1 to 17.  When the Mayflower left on its historic voyage it was already near winter.  Most of the women and children stayed on the ship while the men began the process of constructing the colony.  By the time the Mayflower left for England in early April a third of the Mayflower passengers had died.   Elizabeth lost both of her parents and her aunt and uncle.  Almost all of the girls who came over with their families lost them during that first winter.  It must have been frightening for Elizabeth…13 years old and literally all alone with the only family she had an ocean away.  She was taken in by the Carver family but even they died during that first year in the colony. 

John Howland journeyed over on the Mayflower as a manservant for Governor John Carver.  During the voyage over, John Howland fell overboard but managed to grab ahold of the topsail rope and was fished out by the crew with a hook.  He was likely 21 years old – but his true age is unknown.  He was one of two bachelors who made the voyage. John Howland signed the Mayflower Compact and served as a Committeeman in the General court of Plymouth.  He became a freeman in Plymouth in 1633 and he and Elizabeth became major landholders in the area.  

John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley married about 1623 when Elizabeth was 16 and John was abt 24 years old.  They shared 10 children and a long life together.  John Howland died about 1672 at his son’s house in Plymouth.  Elizabeth went to live with her son, Jabez, in Plymouth and later lived her daughter Lydia, the wife of James Brown in Swansea (now East Providence, RI).  Elizabeth died on Dec 22, 1687 and is buried at the Little Neck Cemetery in East Providence, RI. 

According to the John Howland Society, there are over 10 million living descendants of the 52 surviving Mayflower Pilgrim.  There are certainly some notables among John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley’s descendants including three Presidents (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Herbert Walker Bush, George W. Bush) notable actors such as Humphrey Bogart and poets such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

If you are interested in more info – I encourage you to check out:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mom and Apple Pie

When I was a little girl I remember being enthralled with the pies that my grandmother made for Thanksgiving.  Mom and Grandma had a deal…Mom would make the meal and Grandma would make the pies.  Although Grandma wasn’t a particularly good cook, she did love to make pies and was good at it.  We would usually have pumpkin pies, apple pie, mincemeat pie and perhaps a huckleberry pie.  Towards the last of Grandma’s life, Mom took over the baking of the pies…or should I say, I did with her guidance.

We have a bar area in the kitchen where we would often sit and eat a snack or meal.  Mom would sit at that bar and direct me on what to do.  At that point, we were using store bought pie crusts.  Mom showed me how to roll out the pie crust and set it in the pie plate.  We then crimped the edges and used a fork to put holes in the bottom of the crust.  Then we would go through the procedure of preparing the pumpkin pie filling.  Mom would read me the recipe and I would add the ingredients and mix the filling.  Soon enough, we had our pies in the oven and adding a wonderful fragrance to the room.

Next we would start on the apple pie.   We began by getting the crust ready and then began the process of pealing the apples and slicing them.  Mom would tell me what to put in the apples, using a lifetime of knowledge to tell me what to put in the pie.  There were no recipes used, just experience that told the cook what to put it the pie.  Placing the pie crust on the top of the pie was always a bit of an adventure for me.  I didn’t have years of experience to easily transfer the crust to the top of the pie.  After we had crimped the edges and had knifed in the vent holes…Mom had me separate and egg and use the yolk to wash the top of the pie.

There were a lot of happy and sometimes not so happy learning times for me with Mom at that bar.  She taught me how to bake cookies, pies, make meat loaf, her taco salad and spaghetti.  It was our classroom and my test was the meal and or pie that followed.  There were some bad mistakes at times, some things that were barely passable and as I got older and more experienced – my cooking got better and better…all under Mom’s tutelage.

This week as I begin the process of making Mom’s Thanksgiving favorites to take to my brother’s home for Thanksgiving – I will think of Mom sitting at that place at the bar.  As I sat at the bar myself, I still never sit in the place that she did.  Even though she isn’t there physically, I feel her there.   During that Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, I will bake the pumpkin pies, apple and mincemeat pies and prepare the candied sweet potatoes and the jelled eggnog Bavarian which have always been mainstays of our holiday meals since my child hood.  It is a solitary job that will take several hours of solid work.  I’m not really alone though…Mom is there with me and so is my grandmother at least in spirit.  As they completed the same work years ago for our family meals they were showing their love for their family.  It is my turn to do the same thing.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do I have Native American ancestry?

I’ve often heard within our family that there is Indian or Native American ancestry.  Now this is a common theme among genealogists.  I’ve always heard that my mother’s Tannahill side was the source of this Native American blood.  This is the same side of the family that told the story that we were related to “Machine Gun” Kelly – it sounded likely since there was a Kelly background…until I found out that his real name was George Kelly Barnes and he came from Tennessee.  So…I look at these family stories sometimes with a grain of salt.

The most likely Native American ancestor – if they exist is probably about four generations back.  My great grandfather, John Lyons Tannahill, was the son of Almira Jones and John Lyons Tannahill.  Almira was the daughter of Henry Valentine Jones and Huldah Harrington and she was born 3 Jul 1850 and died 5 Aug 1916.  She married John Lyons Tannahill on 27 Dec 1866 and they had 4 sons (first one stillborn) and John Lyons Tannahill (Sr) died 9 days before his son, John Lyons Tannahill was born.  Almira remarried Samuel Pennell and had 7 more children.  I’ve been able to trace information about Almira and her parents – but the trail runs cold.  I have the dubious honor of being descended from Johnsons, Smiths, & Jones…if you don’t have definite details, they are exceptionally hard to trace.

Henry Valentine Jones was born in 14 Feb 1827 in Ohio…I have nothing more specific than the date and location.  I suspect it might Athens Co., OH – but I can’t be sure.  He is supposedly the son of Henry Washington Jones and an unknown woman.  I believe that if we have Native American ancestry that it is this unknown woman.  There are features common to Native American ancestry in pictures I have seen of both Henry Valentine Jones and Almira Jones.  However, having these features doesn’t make it so.  I’ve also read bits and pieces about the Jones family have Welsh ancestry.  As I said before – I have no proof beyond a birthdate, death date and marriage date for Henry Valentine Jones.
Henry Valentine Jones

Almira Jones Tannahill Pennell

Here is the west – there seems to be a magic date when death records were kept.  Most of the time, these dates are about 1904 or so.  Henry Valentine Jones died in 1904 before death records were kept in Kansas.  So – without a family bible, birth record, or death record – there is little to go on for that mysterious Native American ancestry.  The family story is all that we have to base this information on. 

Now because I have no proof or any records as yet, I still hold out hope that someday I may find something.  So, every once in a while, I check records for anything further on Henry Valentine Jones and his possible father Henry Washington Jones.  I correspond with different people who have experience with Ohio lines and counties to find out if anyone has seen those names.  I probably touch base on the family at least once a year.  You might wonder if I have found any success as yet.  The answer is no…not on this family.  But…the method has worked on other families.  So, perhaps one day, I will find the key record that will answer the question one way or another – do I have Native American ancestry? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Montanye - My Huguenot Ancestry

When you start the genealogical journey back in time, you come across some interesting and seemingly far off places.  Our immigrant ancestors came from somewhere and sometime we are lucky to discover some of those interesting places.  My 10th great grandfather, Dr. Johannes De La Montagne came reportedly  from Saintonge, France on the west coast of France.  I say reportedly because I’ve never heard of any proof or any trace of him during his childhood.  The facts that we know about De La Montagne are in themselves fascinating.

In 1623, Dr. Johannes De La Montagne shoes up with Jesse de Forest during a journey to the Amazon River near the coast of Guiana.  Jesse De Forest was leading a Huguenot expedition in Guiana to find a location for a colony.  Johannes actually ended up being the keeper of the journals during the expedition probably because he was literate.  He returned to Leyden, Holland with the news that Jesse De Forest had died in 1624 in Guiana.  Johannes also courted and married Jesse De Forest’s daughter, Rachel.  They left in 1628 for Tobago but Rachel returned by 1631 possibly because of poor health caused by the climate.  Johannes returned in 1633 to Holland and in 1636 left for America.

When Johannes and Rachel left for America in 1636 they sailed with several of Rachel’s brothers and uncle as well as their 3 children.  Rachel gave birth to a daughter, Maria, on board the ship near the island of Madeira (part of group of islands off of Portugal).  After their arrival in New Amsterdam, now New York, Rachel’s brother Henry, started a tobacco plantation called Vrendahl.   Henry died soon after and Johannes and Rachel took over the plantation.  The plantation was located in the upper half of what is now known as Central Park in Manhattan.  They were driven off of the plantation by some local Indians and the plantation was abandoned.

Johannes became of the official surgeon of New Amsterdam and spent several years working for both Willem Kieft and Peter Stuyvesant – both had the role of the Dutch Director-General in the colony of New Netherland.  Johannes later became the Vice Director of the colony and had special responsibility for Fort Orange (Albany) and the Dutch settlement of Beverwyck.  When the colony was taken over by the British in 1664, Johannes De La Montagne had to resign his position and sign a loyalty oath.  According to records, Johannes returned to Holland with Peter Stuyvesant to defend the turnover of the colony.  He returned to the America and probably died around 1670 in Claverack, NY which is about an hour south of Albany.

My line descends through Johannes and Rachel’s son Jean.  The family had a prominent position within the early history of New York both within the government and founding.  I’ve been told that there is a monument to the Huguenots in Central Park – probably not too far from where Johannes and his wife Rachel De Forest lived.  As a group who were searching for religious freedom they left a significant imprint on one of the most important cities in the world, New York City. 

 One of the interesting problems with the Montagne family is the numerous spellings.  Within my line alone, I find the following spellings:  De La Montagne, Delamontanie, & Montanye.  The family comes from Harlem, New York City, Pluckemin, NJ, and finally ends up in Charleston, Montgomery Co., NY which is where my great great great grandmother’s family lived and near where she married her schoolteacher when she 15 years old.  Phebe Montanye Gallup was born a little over 200 years after her ancestor immigrated.  My grandmother and great uncle both remember Grandma Gallup, as she was called quite well.  I think it is pretty remarkable that we live in 2011 and she was born in 1844 – and she is still well remembered.  

If you are interested in the family of the Montanye's look up Lois Stewart's genealogy on the Montanye's called "The Ancestors and Descendants of James Montaney (1799-1857) of Oppenheim, Fulton County, New York; A Genealogical History...of the Montanye Family"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Gallup Genealogy

The Gallup name is heard just about every night on the nightly news - usually regarding a poll on the ebb and flows of some politician.  When I found out that I had Gallup ancestry, I was very interested in finding out more information.  I started out my search by trying to go through the DAR books at the local library…they were interesting and rife with possibilities but at the time, I knew little beyond my great great grandmother’s name.   Not too long after my initial search, my great uncle provided me access to a wonderful resource – the 1966 Gallup genealogy.

If you are lucky enough to have a New England family in your background, especially one as prominent as the Gallup family there are usually numerous resources not available for many other researchers.  The Gallup Association was instituted in the late 1800’s primarily with the goal to maintain the family cemetery at Gallup hill in Ledyard, CT.  They were also kind enough to write genealogies in 1893, 1966, 1987, and 2009.  I have copies of the final three genealogies and the original genealogy can be ordered online if so desired. 

Researching a Gallup line can be illuminating in many ways.  There are many family members that demand more attention because of their interesting lives and the times in which they lived.  The first Gallup that immigrated to this country was John Gallop – (the name changed not too long after they arrived).  He arrived in 1630 on the “Mary and John” as part of the Winthrop Fleet.  At first John Gallop came on his own and he settled in Boston, got land and built a wharf and house.  He had a ship and traded up and down the coast.  From all accounts he was an excellent captain and discovered a new channel into the Boston harbor.  Unfortunately for John Gallop – his wife wasn’t too keen to come to the New World.  Governor Winthrop was concerned with the possibility that John Gallop might return back England.  He wrote to the Rev John White in Dorchester the following letter:

I have much difficultye to keep John Gallop here by reason of his wife will not come. 
I marvayle at the woman's weaknesse.  I pray pursuade her and further her coming by all means.  If she will come, let her have the remainder of his wages; if not, let it be bestowed to bring over his childre, if so he desires.  It would be about 40 pounds losse to him to come for her.
                                                Your assured in the Lord's worke,
                                                Massachusetts, July 4, 1632
                                                                J. Winthrop.

Christobel, John’s wife, finally agreed to come and she and her children arrived in 1633 on the Griffin.  Christobel and John had the following children:
  • John Gallup b. 1615 Bridport, Dorsetshire, England d. 19 Dec 1675 Narragansett Fort, RI
  • Joan Gallop b. 1618 Bridport, Dorsetshire, England d. 20 Mar 1691 Hingham, Plymouth Co., MA m. Thomas Joy
  • William Gallop b. 1622 Mostern, Dorset England – returned to England and fought under Cromwell and died.
  • Francis Gallop b. abt 1625 Bridport, Dorsetshire, England d. 18 Nov 1625 Bridport, Dorsetshire, England
  • Nathaniel Gallop b. 16 Aug 1629 Mosterne, Dorset, England d. 1676
  • Samuel Gallop b. 16 Aug 1629 Mosterne, Dorset, England d. bet 1667-1679.
  • John Gallop died on 11 Jan 1650 in Boston, MA and his wife died on 27 Sep 1655 in Boston, MA. 

If you are descended from John Gallup b. 1615 – you are very fortunate.  This is the line that has been the best researched and documented of all of the Gallup lines in the United States.  If you are descended from Nathaniel or Samuel – you aren’t quite so lucky.  The information is somewhat sketchy and only someone who is descended from those two individuals is likely to spend much time on their line.  However, if you are descended from John – you are likely to have several intersecting branches with other Gallup’s as well as family names like: Palmer, Denison, Cheseborough, Prentice, Fish, Crary, Wheeler, Stanton, Williams, and Prentice.  Honestly…there are too many to count.  More on my interesting Gallup family later!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is it Genetic?

I think it is pretty horrifying to most modern women to think of what some of our ancestors did in the realm of childbirth.  You rarely ever see a family with more than 4 children and when you do, it is a bit shocking to our modern sensibilities.  For a wife in the early 20th century or earlier – large families were common and even necessary.  Every family needed a lot of hands to get the work done.  Everything that I have learned about my great great grandmother has come from other cousins whose family members had knowledge of her.  What I have found out…has raised some interesting questions!

John Ward Kelley & Melvina Robertson
Melvina Robertson was born about 19 July 1849 to Charles Robinson, Jr. and Catherine Shelton.  In all my research of the Robertson/Robinson family, the name changes back and forth quite often –  from census records, marriage records, or birth/death records, the name is never quite the same.  Anyway, Melvina’s father died when she was about 3 years old and her mother remarried to a local widower, L. Julius Spivey.  This widower was actually a cousin to her husband and they probably knew each other when they lived in Washington Co., TN.  In 1867, she marries John Ward Kelley.  Both of them were raised in Sexton’s Creek, Clay Co., KY and their families probably emigrated about the same time from Washington Co., TN.  Clay Co., KY to this day is one of the poorest counties in KY and from what I have learned; Sexton’s Creek wasn’t too prosperous.  Within the first 10 years of her marriage, Melvina had 7 children and by the time they decided to leave KY in 1885 they had 11 children.  They settled in Chautauqua Co., KS and started a new life.  John Ward Kelley had family in the area so it was a logical place for them to go after leaving KY and there was land to be had in the area for a new start.  By late 1890, Melvina was pregnant with her 14th child and on 21 Dec 1890 – she and the child (a daughter) died during childbirth.  She left behind 13 children with 10 still living at home. (Including my great grandmother Sarah Kelley Tanahill who married John Lyons Tannahill)

During the past 15 years or so, I have corresponded with many descendants of Melvina Robertson and John Ward Kelley.  One of the most interesting things that I have learned about her is that she was said to have something called “Wolf’s Bite.”  Today, we would call it Lupus.  I don’t know how she was diagnosed – I suspect it was the rash that is common with the disease. I have talked to many of her descendants and have found a common theme in many of them with health problems.  Many have auto immune diseases.  Diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes and many others are considered to be auto immune diseases.  I know of two close cousins who have Multiple Sclerosis – my mother had Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes…and several distant cousins have Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Within the descendants of Melvina Robertson – I know of at least 10 who have at least one of these diseases.  I asked my doctor about it – whether there was a genetic component to a disease like Lupus.  He said that he didn’t know of one – but there is certainly one with Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
As genealogists, I think that it is an interesting and important to look at diseases or tendencies that run in families.  Just as we can see resemblances in photographs that follow through generations, we should pay attention to health patterns as well.  Who knows what future health professionals will discover about genetic tendencies with diseases…it seems something new is coming out all of the time.  Perhaps we should note these diseases within our genealogy files for future reference.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Frankie - My Pitsenbarger Ancestor

My great grandmother’s mother had one of the most difficult names to research – Pitsenbarger.  One would think with such an unusual name that it would be an easy name to research – not so.  “Why?” you may ask – how do you spell it and how many different ways can you spell it?  I think that I have seen them all!

My great great grandmother’s name was Rebecca Jane Pitsenbarger, but she was known by her family as “Frankie.”  She was born on 28 Jan 1870 near Shawverville, WV by the Kanawha River.  I have heard some locals tell me where Shawverville was, but it is pretty hard to find on a map.  It must be near Nicholas Co., WV – because that is where she is recorded on the census that year.  She was the daughter of William “Billy” Pitsenbarger and Mary “Polly” Amick.  She was the youngest of 8 children.

I have several families in the West Virginia area that I connect to either directly or through my ancestors siblings.  People with names like Shawver, Nutter, Amick, Pitsenbarger, & Legg are direct ancestors.   There are numerous families that have intermarried into these families like O’Dell, Stowers, Bailes, Ramsey, Boley, & Burdette and many many others.  They can be very difficult to track because not only do you have those associated names – they have intermarried so often that you will find some strange relationships if you examine it too closely. (See my Blog – He is his own Grandpa)

The biggest problem with the name Pitsenbarger is the many ways it has been butchered by those spelling it.  The original spelling was probably Pitzenberger and the likelihood is that our ancestor, Abraham Pitzenberger emigrated from Switzerland.  I have seen it spelled Pitsenbarger, Pitsonbarger, Pitsinbarger, Pittsenbarger, Pittsenberger and several other ways that I can’t remember right now.  I think that I have even seen it mixed up with Puffenbarger which is another family entirely.  So when you look the name up in indexes you have to be willing to search several different spellings.  The Soundex system was developed to help index names from the census records – probably because the census takers didn’t spell most of these names correctly.  If you need to check the Soundex code for a name – check out

I was fortunate that I had a piece of paper that had my great grandmother’s family written out.  I knew from the start that her mother was Frankie Pitzenbarger and the rest of the line back to Abraham Pitzenberger – the immigrant ancestor.  One of the most curious things was that Frankie’s mother’s name was Mary “Polly” Amick and her father’s mother’s name was Elizabeth Amick.  I thought that they must be connected somehow.  They lived in the same area and even though there were a lot of Amicks there must be a connection.  It took me about six months but I finally figured out that William Pitsenbarger and Mary “Polly” Amick were 1st cousins.  Mary Amick’s father,  Jacob Amick and William Pitsenbarger’s mother Elizabeth were siblings.  They were both the children of Henry Amick, Jr. and Elizabeth Barbara Niemand.    Now this might be common in West Virginia in the mid 1800’s – but it still makes me a bit uncomfortable.  I have taken great delight in teasing some of my young cousins about the relationship…because I ‘m not sure they knew how common that situation was.

You might be wondering what happened to Frankie.  She “married” George Christian Shawver about 1890 and had six children.  All but the youngest went on to live long lives well into their 80’s and 90’s.  Frankie, herself, died of Tuberculosis on 10 May 1904.  Her husband went on to remarry and six more children were born.   We are fortunate to have a wonderful picture of Frankie that I estimate was probably taken in the 1880’s sometime.  It is a full figured picture that shows the way a young woman of her time dressed.  
Rebecca Jane "Frankie" Pitsenbarger.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shirlie Louisa Pope Johnson

One of the first things that I discovered about Shirlie Louisa Pope Johnson, my great grandmother, was that we had been spelling her name incorrectly.  In just about everything that I had read about her had her name spelled Shirley – but her birth record has her name listed as Shirlie.  An odd spelling – but I suppose it was nice to be unique.  She faced many challenges and tragedies in her life. 

Winlsow with Shirlie and younger sister Anna May.
Nancy Ann Marie Lyons Pope - Shirlie's Mother

Shirlie was born in Burke, Caladonia Co., VT on 14 Jul 1881, the eldest daughter of Winslow Lonsdale Pope and Nancy Ann Marie Lyons.  By the time she was four years old, her family had moved to Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA and they were living in Minnesota by the time the 1900 census.  They then moved to McLean Co., ND sometime after 1900.  Winslow bought some property there and by 11 Nov 1903, Shirlie had married Charles A. White.  Charles & Shirlie had two boys, George b. 1904 and Elmer b. 1906.  Just before the birth of her youngest son, Shirlie’s mother died of Tuberculosis.  When her youngest son was less than a year old, she lost her husband.  He had been out fighting a prairie fire and smoke inhalation killed him less than 6 days after fighting the fire.  It must have been so difficult to be a young 25 year old widow with two children to take care of with probably little money to help her along the way.  About a year later, she married Ulpian Grey Johnson on 27 Apr 1909 in Washburn, McLean Co., NC.  Ulpian or George as he was called had emigrated up to North Dakota from Iowa following the railroad and ended up homesteading in North Dakota in 1908.
Shirlie and her first husband Charles White.

By 1910, Shirlie and Ulpian are living in Dunn Center, Dunn Co., ND and have had their oldest daughter, Mary (b. 27 Jan 1910), and Nancy Mae followed on 9 Mar 1912.  My grandfather, Frank Stewart was b. 10 Oct 1912 and Hazel born/died 9 Mar 1919 and the youngest; Audrey was b. 22 Jan 1923.  I still remember that I was very excited when I got access to the 1920 census, that I would be able to find my grandfather…alas they were not counted.  My father believes that they were on their homestead on the Missouri River breaks.  Not too long after that, I’m sure they were forced to leave their home because of the building of a dam on the Missouri river that flooded their home.

In early spring in 1927, Shirlie died tragically and quickly of pneumonia.  We take for granted today the availability of antibiotics to help combat infections but in the late 1920’s they were not available and pneumonia could quickly lead to death.  Her sister, Verna, traveled across the Missouri river on a horse across the ice to try and help nurse her, but she succumbed much too quickly.  It couldn’t have been an easy situation.  I know that the family had little money and no prospect of much money.  Ulpian and Shirlie’s oldest daughter was handicapped and possibly mentally slow.  As my father has said – he was sure if his Aunt Mary’s mental abilities was a result of her handicap or was just exacerbated by it.  I have heard stories that Shirlie wasn’t that bright…but I find that difficult to believe.   From what I have learned – she was strong one in the family who kept “things” together.  Her husband was handicapped somewhat by a farm accident and had little arm strength.  Shirlie’s husband fell apart and it was up to her my grandfather and his sister Nan to take care of the family.  Nan was 15 years old and my grandfather Frank was 13 – both quit school and went to work to provide for their family.  I know that Shirlie’s sister, Verna, blamed Ulpian for not getting her medical care soon enough – and I don’t think there was much family support from Shirlie’s family after her death.
Taken shortly after Shirlie's death - Back Left to right: Ulpian,
Nan, Mary, Frank - Front - Audrey & Mary
There was a reason my grandfather didn’t know anything about his mother’s family.  Other than letters, they had little contact with Shirlie’s family.  Grandpa Frank didn’t know that his mother’s family was amongst the earliest settlers in the United States.  A few years after his mother’s death, they discovered a burning coal mine under the ground at the Old Dunn Center Cemetery and were advised that anyone buried there should be moved to the new cemetery.  When my grandfather moved to Idaho with his family, he made arrangements to have his mother and his baby sister, Hazel, moved.  Unfortunately, it was never done and she remained in a poorly marked grave in the Old Dunn Center cemetery.  We went back to Dunn Co., ND many years ago and attempted to locate her grave.  We think that we know where she is buried – but we can’t be sure.  We can only estimate based on the available records.  A few years ago, my grandmother (Marian) placed a stone at the New Dunn Center cemetery listing Shirley and Hazel as well as Ulpian on the gravestone.  I don’t think that she knew at the time that she had misspelled Shirlie’s name – but then she had already done that once before – when my grandparents named their oldest daughter Shirley. 

I find it difficult to really understand the life that my great grandmother had lived.  I have no basis for comparison to understand what it must have been like to face what she did.  She lost in her lifetime a husband, her mother, and child.  There was nothing easy about where she lived or how she lived.  They had horrible winters and brutal summers and it was even worse in the 1920’s.   Shirlie never lived to see her children grown and married or see any of her grandchildren.  I know that she was a much loved sister, wife and mother and that her death made a profound impact on her husband and children’s lives.  My grandfather didn’t have a lot of things to remember his family by – some pictures and few items from his family - one of my grandfather’s most prized possessions was a button box that is sitting on a shelf in a place of honor at my aunt’s home, it was one of the few things that he had of his mothers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Gage Veterans - Highlighting Orland & Bernard

Every young man who went off to fight for his country has a unique story and family.  Neither one of my grandfathers served in World War II – one because of health reasons and I’m sure the other one was too valuable as a farmer and logger.  Each one of my grandmothers had two brothers who went off to war – I’ve told the story about Jack & Claude…now it’s time for Orland and Bernard!

Orland is the oldest of the 10 children (and six sons) to be born to Ora and Florence Shawver Gage.  Much of his youth was spent working with his father and grandfather farming and doing whatever needed to be done – whether it was building the family cabin with his father and brothers or cutting wood to help bring extra income for his family.  

Orland & Bernard on leave - 1945
Orland volunteered for the Army in the fall of 1943 and was inducted in late December of 1943.  He left at home his wife and newborn son.  Orland was part of the 38th Bomb Group and fought in the 823rd Squadron.  He was a tail gunner in B-25. I still find it difficult to believe that my tall uncle fit himself in that tiny spot.  I had watched the movie Memphis Belle and remember watching Henry Connick, Jr.’s character fit himself in that tiny area – Orland told me that he had considerably more room.  Orland went overseas on Easter Sunday of 1945 and flew 18 missions until the end of the war.  He wasn’t able to come home until February the interim he showed the skills that made him successful in life.  Orland was sent to Fukuoka, Japan as acting First Sgt with orders to strip a manufacturing plant and build quarters for the Bomb Group that was expected in November. According to Orland, he complained to the Colonel when the mill they were using wasn’t getting lumber to them quickly enough and told them that he knew a little something about mills.  Before they knew it, Orland had that mill running and producing more than enough lumber to get the job done plus a few other important projects like a 32-hole latrine.  After he returned home, Orland began working for Potlatch Corporation.  He joined the Idaho National Guard unit in Lewiston, ID and was in Company A of the 200th Tank Battalion as First Sergeant. By the time, he was called back up to active duty in 1951, Orland was a 2nd Lieutenant and the Tank Battalion was now the 148th Field Artillery Battalion.  He served in Korea as well and continued to serve in the Idaho National Guard until 1979.  

Orland writes “I have always taken pride in the way my brothers all were members of the military. Bernard spent 8 years in the Marines and flew F4U Corsairs as an enlisted pilot and returned home from China as a 2nd Lt. Don served three years as a Marine and was in Korea as a member of the 1st Marine Division. He returned as a Sergeant from Korea. Byron was a member of the 148th Field Artillery Battalion when it was recalled for the Korean War. He went to Korea and was assigned to the 196th Field Battalion Communications section. He became a Tech/Sgt in charge of the section before coming home. He left the Washington National Guard as 1st Lt. My brother Duane was a member of the 148th Field Artillery Battalion after the war and left the guard as a Tech/Sgt. He was a good soldier in peace time and would have been good at anything he tried in the service. We boys purchased a brick for Dad and each of his sons that will be placed at the “I AM AN AMERICAN” monument that stands in front of the Veteran’s Home on 8th Street in Lewiston.”

Gage Men - Left to Right - Ora, Orland, Bernard, Don, Byron & Duane
Orland has been a proud Veteran who has worked hard to preserve the history of his bomb group from WW II.  He has worked diligently to maintain contact with the other members, scanned thousands of documents and pictures and worked to get a unit history published for his bomb group.  If you are interested - please check out

Bernard flying over Emeraru in Corsair
Orland’s little brother, John Bernard Gage, was a pretty unique character himself.  When he passed away a few years ago – our family experienced a military funeral that was especially emotional for most of us.  Most of us knew that Bernard or Uncle Bun as he was called by the family served in WW II and we all knew he was a pilot – but I don’t think we ever really knew the whole story.  One of the cool things in our family is that Orland, Grandma Marian, and Bernard all graduated the same year from high school in 1939.  (Sickness and stubbornness were probably the true causes of Orland and Marian not graduating on time)  Bernard joined up with the Marines in early 1940 – lying about his age by a few months.  He was flying in China before World War II started for most Americans.  He flew a F4U1 – Corsair for over 400 missions from China to the South Pacific.  Part of his job was to photograph missions from up above on some of the bombing missions of the B-25’s below.  He and Orland figured out one time that they were actually flying the same mission at the same time – just in different planes.  The most unique thing was that Bernard flew all those missions and what was probably one of the hottest planes of the war as a Sergeant.  This was almost unheard of – Bernard refused to become an officer if his buddies weren’t being offered the same opportunity.  When he found out that officers were being released early – Bernard became an officer and was soon on his way home. When he arrived home in 1946, he came home with a wife and a new son and settled to farm up on Hatter Creek.  There isn’t one person who knew him well who didn’t marvel at his mechanical knowledge and sharp mind.  During his later years, it became a bit difficult to talk to Bernard because he couldn’t hear.  He had spent too many years working on engines to have much hearing left.

To my knowledge, the Gage and Shawver families have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Iraq War and have served their countries in times of peace and of war through both the National Guard and regular military.  I know the hardships that my great grandmother faced when her two oldest sons and her son-in-law were over fighting the war in World War II as well as her three sons in Korea.  She also saw her grandson go off to fight in Vietnam.  It is pretty remarkable that they all returned home safe.  God bless all of those veterans who have served and all of the family who waited and prayed for them to return to them safely.

(Orland took the time to write his life story a few years ago and I have taken some of the detail from that story – he has truly lived a remarkable life and continues to be active to this day)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Claude & Jack - WW II - Veterans

Claude & Jack Friddle - abt 1945

In the fall of 1941, my mother’s family were living in pretty good times.  My mother was born in October of 1941 – ironically while her father was off hunting.  Claude (Capitola’s younger brother) drove his sister to the hospital to have my mother.  He used to tell my mother that he had helped bring her into the world.  Grandma Cappy decided after that experience that if her husband, Richard, couldn’t be there for the birth…then she wasn’t going to have any more children.  They were happy with their two daughters – their lumber lot was doing well, the ranch out in Tammany was also doing well.  Mom & Pop Friddle lived next door (David Carl Friddle & Sophia Dollar Friddle) and Capitola’s younger brother was involved in the waning years of high school and her older brother, Jack was off living in Baker City, OR with his wife Hilda and also working.  However, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, they like everyone else were glued to the radio listening to Roosevelt grimly relating what had happened.  Everything they knew about their life was about to change – as it did for so many families across the United States. Young men joined up and started leaving for faraway places for training and eventually to the battlefield.  Amongst those young men was my great uncle Jack. 

At 34 years old, he wasn’t quite as young as most of those signing up.  He had had some military experience in the army in the early 1930’s.  I’ve never had a specific date – but I have a photo of him in his uniform.  Jack enlisted on 25 Feb 1943 and he became a paratrooper and ended up as a captain.  Jack spent some time training down in North Carolina and got the chance to see some of his mother’s family.  Several of his mother’s siblings made the trip to see him.  Eventually Jack ended heading for the Pacific theater.  As I never heard a lot of specifics, I know that he spent a lot of time like most paratroopers jumping from one island to another.  Not only did you have the danger of the parachute jump, I don’t think they ever knew what they would face when they landed.  When I was around Jack, he didn’t’ talk about his experiences probably because I was little girl and he had much more fun teasing me.  However, he and his brother, Claude used to spend a lot of time telling each other stories.  I do know that he survived several close calls including having an unexploded bomb come down literally right next to him.  Jack also arrived home with a Japanese rifle that was complete with a bayonet.  Jack gave that rifle to my father years ago and my Dad gave the rifle to my brother a few years ago. 

Claude signed up in 1943, just after high school graduation.  He went to his father first to tell him – because he wanted help telling his mother.  He knew that Mom Friddle would be beyond upset that he had signed up.  Her older son was already serving in the war and she didn’t want to chance losing her second son.  Nevertheless, Claude headed off for training and then to the European theater.  He spent a lot of time in England making friends with the other servicemen and then watching a lot of fly off on bombing missions to Germany – knowing the whole time that many of them would never come back.  I only heard him talk about World War II a few times, but that was something that deeply affected him.  Claude was part of the 1st Army – Tank Division.  His first experience in battle came on D-day as the second wave at Omaha Beach.  Claude spent the next several months battling through the hedgerows and inching towards Germany.  He was in the Battle of the Bulge fighting under Gen. George Patton.  During his time there, he had 5 tanks shot out from under him.  During the Battle of the Bulge, Claude’s legs were severely frozen and during the last years of his life – diabetes and damage from the war made it so that he had little feeling in his legs.

By the late summer of 1945, Jack and Claude were both heading home from war.  My mother remembered them coming home.  As she was quite young, this was a momentous occasion.  Jack and Claude nicknamed their two nieces the “Geisha Girl” (Aunt Joan) and the “Blonde Bomber” (Betty, my mother).  When they entered the house, they were surprised to find a map on the wall with push pins dotting its surface.  Through news reports and Jack & Claude’s letters, Mom Friddle and Grandma Cappy had traced their progress through the war.  Much to Jack & Claude’s surprise, this map was remarkably accurate.

Like so many other servicemen, Jack and Claude came home and took up the business of living a civilian life.  Jack went back to managing a retail store and eventually owned a few stores along the way.  He died in 1987 at the age of 78.  Claude worked several jobs and eventually ended up the irrigation department in Lewiston, ID.  He was married for over 60 years and had three daughters.  Claude recently passed away at the age of 87.  Jack and Claude were always tied together as brothers – I think that their war experiences tied them even more closely together.  They had a shared experience that only another veteran would understand.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Civil War Stories

The Revolutionary War was a battle for the establishment of what we would later call the United States of America – the Civil War was fight to try to preserve that union.  So many expectations of mine have been proven false when I have looked at my Civil War ancestors.  My mother’s family primarily lived in the South so I expected them to probably be Confederates and I expected my father’s family to be fighting for the Union and to be fairly numerous because of their history of fighting in our countries battles.  I found that I was mostly wrong.

My great grandfather’s Gage and Gallup ancestors stayed primarily out of the Civil War from what I have been able to ascertain.  Perhaps they were needed for their farming or manufacturing ability.  I don’t find evidence that my great grandmother’s Shawver and Pitsenbarger family were involved either.  They lived in Nicholas Co., VA which later became Nicholas Co., WV – and there must have been other forces that caused problems.  However, my father’s one line that was in the South was involved…just not in the Confederacy. 

When I was in Carter Co., TN several years ago, I found a book written about the 13th TN Calvary…I picked it up wanting to find information about my mother’s great grandfather who I know was in that unit and found that my 4th great grandfather Moses Johnson along with his son Nicholas and son-in-law, Green Walker.  They were involved in the bridge burning that the 13th TN Calvary did to slow the Confederate troops down. They and their families were mentioned specifically for protecting and providing for the soldiers who were hiding from the Confederate troops who were pursuing them.

Moses Friddles
Moses Friddles was an Artificer in 13th TN Calvary.  His job was to repair muskets and artillery and keep track of the company ordinance.  The story goes in the family that his young son, Albert, spent part of the war with him.  Moses had left his two children with a family and the family had gotten sick and died of small pox.  Albert took his sister and found somewhere for her to stay and then went looking for his father.  He would have only been about 10 years old at the time.  Albert found his father and spent the remainder of the war helping out by holding the reins of the horses for visiting soldiers.  Moses survived the war as did Albert and married Mary Ann Crosswhite (his 3rd marriage) which didn’t last.  In 1878, he married 16 year old Martha “Mattie” Brown.  He was 36 years older than she.  Their youngest son was my great grandfather, David Carl Friddle.  According to his pension, Moses was afflicted with chronic diarrhea, rheumatism, and piles.  Sounds like a pretty miserable life to me!

Jasper Bailey
Jasper Bailey was my mother’s great great grandfather.  His daughter Buena Vista Bailey was my great grandmother, Sophia (Mom Friddle’s) mother.  Jasper was a member of the 3rd NC Infantry – a Union division.  He fought at Morgantown, Bulls Gap, and the Red Banks of the Chucky River which is where he was injured in his leg.  Jasper’s injury didn’t affect him much as a young man because he made his living as a bear hunter, but by the time he was an old man he was so crippled that he couldn’t walk very much.  He died on 1 Jan 1928 in Washington Co., VA.

My one Confederate ancestor was Alexander Monroe Dollar.  He was my great grandmother’s (Mom Friddle) other grandfather.  He was a member of the 58th Infantry of North Carolina.  He enlisted on 20 Jul 1862, deserted on 9 Feb 1863 at Big Creek Gap, TN and then returned for duty on 10 Dec 1863.  Monroe Dollar then deserted from camp near Dalton, GA on 19 Mar 1864 and went over to the enemy on an unspecified date.  He took the oath of Allegiance at Knoxville, TN on 10 Oct 1864.  From what I have read, the 58th North Carolina had one of the worst desertion records of any group in the Confederacy.

My last Civil War ancestor is John Lyons Tannahill.  He and his brother, Henry, found in the 7th IA Calvary.  They enlisted in March 1864 and were mustered out in 1866.  Their primary duty during the war was guarding telegraph lines, and those traveling, escorting trains and protecting immigrants.  They primarily battled attains the Sioux Indians.  I don’t think he spent any of the war battling the Confederates just the warring Sioux along the Nebraska and the Dakotas.

My five Civil War ancestor all had unique experiences that covered the realm of experience for Civil War soldiers.  One worked as guard & protection duty, while another helped keep the artillery in working condition, another helped sabotage bridges to prevent the enemy from utilizing them for transport and still another was serving in battle and wounded and the last deserted his post and returned home.  Most of them lived to be old men except John Lyons Tannahill.   I still don’t know what he died from – he was only 33 when he died and he left behind a widow and three sons.  All of them died in their 60’s or 70’s.  I’m sure they had lots of tales to tell about their experiences…I wish I could go back in time to hear them!