Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye Grandma...


Yesterday evening my grandmother passed away.  She died in her own home and on her terms, with only her oldest daughter present.  She was ready to go and her passing was peaceful.  When I think of my grandmother there is one word that seems to exemplify who she was and why she was so special – strength.  Helen Marian Gage Johnson had strength of will, character, mind, body and heart. 

Marian with sisters around 1932 (Elaine, Norma & Pauline in front (L-R)
Marian with Orland & Bernard in 1929 - going to school.

Marian Gage & Frank Johnson - Married 1939
Grandma Marian was the 2nd oldest child of the 10 children of Ora & Florence Shawver Gage.  She was never a tiny and delicate girl and was always big for her age.  When the depression hit her family, Grandma was the helpful daughter who helped her mother prepare food for their large family and helped take care of the younger children.  When her family traveled across Montana in 1934 with six children in a Model A, I know she was the best helper her mother could have asked for.  In 1935, after they moved to Hatter Creek, she went out along with her brothers and got jobs to help support her family.  Her mother was determined that she would graduate from high school, so she sent her to the Ursaline Academy in Moscow, ID.  The strength of will came in – as it did during much of her life – when she and a nun disagreed over something.  Grandma came back home to the farm and went to school in Potlatch, graduated in 1939 alongside her older and younger brother.  When Grandma Marian married later in 1939, she set out on her new married life with another trip across Montana to her new husband’s home in North Dakota.  Grandma Marian had to use all of the skills she had learned from her mother about cooking with very little as well as the determined spirit that her family knew so well.  She and her husband had little money or resources – but still had family members living with them in a tiny house and three children in quick succession.  In 1943, she had reached her limit and came back home to visit her family.  Very quickly it was decided that her husband would come out west as there were better opportunities in Idaho than back in North Dakota.  Grandma Marian & Grandpa Frank had two more children and lived in the old Hatter Creek School until 1952 when they moved in the Mountain Home area – just below Skyline Drive near Potlatch.  In 1965, Grandma Marian and Grandpa Frank moved to the Oregon City area, finally settling in Canby, OR.  After Grandpa Frank’s death in 1975, Grandma Marian’s parents moved nearby and for 15 years more they helped care for each other until their deaths in 1990 and 1991.  Grandma moved back to Idaho in 2001, and lived that last 10 years of her life in Lewiston, ID.

Grandma Marian showed her strengths in many ways during her life.  She was extremely intelligent and one of the best students in any school she went to.  Just a few months ago, could still rattle off several generations of British Kings and Queens.  What was even more endearing is when she and her brother would bicker over some teacher or event from their childhood.  I think Grandma required these spirited discussions with her older brother as they mirrored their lifetime together as siblings.  She loved her parents dearly, but she and her father clashed on several occasions.  Both were strong willed people and sometimes they didn’t always agree.  It is ironic that she dies on the same day as her father, 21 years after his death.  Throughout Grandma’s long life, she worked hard.  She worked hard as a wife and mother by preparing her families food and clothing and taking care of their needs and working alongside her husband on their farm with no complaint.  She worked the long hours as a cook and later in a chicken plant and ending her working life in a tool factory.  Just before she moved to Lewiston in 2001, she took up the computer as a hobby.  Grandma wasn’t one to be idle very long – so she began scanning and printing her mother’s pictures and making albums for her children and grandchildren. 
Grandma at her 90th Birthday party with her living siblings.

It is a testament to the remarkable person that she was – that wherever she went, she made lifelong friends.  My faith tells me that she is in a better place and with loved ones that she has lost. We will miss her stubborn unquenchable spirit and loving caring.  Grandma until we meet again – We love you and miss you!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Gravestone


My mother was a young child when her grandfather died in 1945.  Mom had one memory of him.  She was trying to get across the living room and he sat in his chair and spit into the spittoon across the way from him.  Mom had cross his path to get to the other side – when she made the attempt, she got hit.  Not the most pleasant memory for a child of her grandfather.  A few years later, her own father was killed in a hunting accident.  Her mother and grandmother would make trips down to the cemetery to take flowers after his death on Memorial Day.  It really bothered them that my grandfather’s father had no gravestone and they decided to do something about it!  Grandma Cappy was fond of her ex father-in-law and didn’t like that none of his living children had put a gravestone on his grave.

In the spring of 1949, Grandma Cappy and Mom Friddle (Great Grandma Sophie) decided that they would make a gravestone.  They made a small form and poured concrete into the form.  Grandma Cappy then carefully wrote the name “John L. Tannahill” and his birth and death years.  They then left the concrete to cure.  That stone sat outside near the shed…I’m sure the people they employed as berry pickers were a little creeped out to see a gravestone and probably wondered if someone was actually buried there.  Memorial Day approached and they decided that it was time to place the stone.

Both of these women were under 5 feet in height and very petite.  However, they didn’t let that stop them.  Somehow they wrestled that stone into the back of the car.  When it was time to go down to the cemetery, Mom piled into the car as instructed and the flowers and several garden tools were added.  Mom found out in a short time, what those tools were to be used for.
 
The homemade gravestone made by my grandmother and great grandmother in 1949.
Grandma Cappy and Mom Friddle pulled up to the appropriate location and got out a shovel to start digging the area out to place the stone.  Mom’s eight year old mind was horrified.  What if someone saw them and thought they were grave robbers.  She got down on the floor of the car so no one would see her and think that she was involved.  Soon enough, the stone was wrestled out of the car and put in place – Grandpa Tannahill finally had a gravestone.

The new gravestone - placed around 2000.
As the years passed, it was obvious that the stone was deteriorating.  Mom talked about it with her cousin and they decided that they would purchase a new stone.  They talked to some of their other Tannahill cousins and pooled some money together and placed a new stone on the grave.  They did what their parents didn’t do…put a gravestone on their grandfather’s grave.  So when you go down to the cemetery today, that new stone is in place and the old one is now just a dim memory.  There are only a few of us who know the story of the Grandma Cappy and Mom Friddle making that stone and putting it in place.  It must have been quite a sight to see those two small women determinedly dragging that stone out of the trunk of the car and putting it in place.  Mom never saw them – she was still hiding!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grandpa Winslow


I have found my great great grandfather to be a fascinating character.  I don’t think he ever had any fame or was anything special to society.  However, what I have read about him tells me that he was a good man who wasn’t afraid of hard work or a challenge.  He also was remarkably good humored and stories that I have read a great story teller.  Winslow Lonsdale Pope was born 1 Nov 1847 in Warwick, Drummond, Quebec and died 2 Oct 1928 in Weston, Middlesex Co., MA.  He was the son of Francis Pope and Belinda Willey and the grandson of Winslow Pope and Mary Wheelock.  Winslow was the second child in his family to be named Winslow Lonsdale Pope – he had an older brother who was born in 1839 and died in 1842.  I’ve never understood giving a child a name that had been an older deceased child’s name.  I’m sure I look at the situation with a modern interpretation. 

Winslow married Martha Rutherford in Barnet Co., VT on 30 May 1868.  They were married 11 years and had 4 children, 2 of whom survived to adulthood.  Martha woke up one night with severe abdominal pains as bad pains in the back of her head and neck.  She slipped into a coma and died shortly thereafter.  Winslow was left with two children to care for and must have been desolate with his wife’s death.  He married Nancy Ann Marie Lyons on 19 Mar 1881.  At 26 years old, she must have been considered to be an old maid.  Within 5 years, they had left New Hampshire and had traveled to Dickinson Co., IA.  There they had 4 of their seven children.  Here is a list of their children:

·        Shirlie Louisa b. 14 Jul 1881 Burke, Caledonia Co., VT d. 14 Apr 1927 Dunn Center, Dunn Co., ND
·         Anna May b. 5 Nov 1883 Bath, Grafton Co., NH d. 30 Nov 1935 Wing, Burleigh Co., ND
·         Mattie Winnova b. Jan 1886 Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA d. 21 Jul 1901 Sioux Valley, Jackson Co., MN
·         Verna Myra b. 1 Mar 1889 Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA d. 18 Sep 1946 Turtle Lake, McLean Co., ND
·         Hazel Bell b. 17 Dec 1891 Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA d. 8 Jul 1921 Turtle Lake, McLean Co., ND
·         John Francis b. 26 Nov 1895 Sioux Valley, Jackson Co., MN d. aft 1934
·         Plumer Elwood b. 24 Nov 1897 Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA d. 8 Nov 1981 Wells River, Orange Co., VT


The older children were:
·         Male Pope b. Jul 1869 Landaff, Grafton Co., NH d. Sep 1869, Danville, Caledonia Co., VT
·         Addie C. b. 20 Nov 1870 Haverhill, Grafton Co., NH d. 16 Aug 1872 Danville, Caledonia Co., VT
·         Francis Hooker b. 22 Jan 1873 Greenbank’s Hollow, Danville, Caledonia Co., VT d. 21 Dec 1934 Auburndale, Middlesex Co., MA
·         Viola Belinda  b. 15 Sep 1875 Danville, Caledonia Co., VT d. 2 Feb 1892 Lake Park, Dickinson Co., IA

Winslow with Shirlie and Anna May
Winslow and Nancy moved to McLean Co., ND sometime around 1905.  Not too long after their move, Nancy died of tuberculosis.   After the 1910 census, Winslow left ND and went back east.  His oldest son, Francis or Frank as he was called had moved to Middlesex Co., MA by 1897.  Winslow joined him after 1910 and married for the third time an older woman who was caring for her two nieces.  Winslow was settled in MA but still made several trips back to North Dakota to visit his family.  He had a good enough relationship to carry on a correspondence with his granddaughter, Nan Johnson.  We have copies of many of those letters. 

I suspect that Winslow had a pioneer’s heart.  He enjoyed the challenges that life offered and wasn’t afraid to move somewhere else if he saw an opportunity.  Winslow was recorded I Landaff, Grafton Co., NH in 1870, Bath, Grafton Co., NH in 1880, Sioux Valley, Jackson Co., N in 1900 and Washburn, Mclean Co., ND.  He was recorded for the last time in 1920 in Weston, Middlesex Co., MA.  We know that he was in Minnesota by 1885 because of the births of his children.    During his lifetime, he worked as a farmer, a lumberman and a cook.  He died at the age of 81 of a cerebral hemorrhage. 

Winslow - Taken about a week before he died.
When you consider the timeline of his life – it is sad to note that of 11 children – he outlived all but 5 of his children as well as two wives.  He also outlived all but one of his 10 siblings.  Yet when you read his letters there is a sense of humor and kindness that is evident to his granddaughter.  It is obvious that he was a good man and well beloved by his family.  This is pretty good epitaph for a lifetime, don’t you think?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Greatest Generation - The Depression


When my grandmother was born in 1920, she was the adored first daughter of Florence Shawver and Ora Gage.  I remember being excited when I first got access to the 1920 census that I would be able to find my Dad’s parents in the census.  I was never able to find my grandfather and my father theorized that they were living on the breaks of the Missouri River.  However, there was another reason entirely for my grandmother not being in the census.  She was born on June 10 and the census was taken on June 9th.  So, I had to wait until 1930 to first find her in the census back in Mapleton, IA where she was born.  My grandmother was a child of the depression.  She was old enough to remember better times but also old enough to understand what was going on. 

Marian in her store bought dress for her first communion!
When the depression hit in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, rural families were in many ways lucky.  Unlike those that lived in the city, they generally had more food available.  My grandmother’s mother spent a lot of time growing gardens and canning the food that they grew.  They had chickens, cows that gave them milk, and hogs that provided meat.  My great grandmother sold eggs and butter to make money to support her family.  I remember my Grandma Marian saying that she hated to see that butter go…she loved butter on her bread.  She said that she felt bad for her younger sisters because they never had store bought clothes as she did.  By 1933, my great grandparents faced a choice – they could either not pay their taxes or leave their place and move on.  They chose to sign the property over to a friend and left for South Dakota.

South Dakota was not terrible friendly to my grandmother’s family.  They didn’t spend much time there and left for greener pastures.  My grandmother’s older brother was sick with what they thought was tuberculosis and was left behind at a sanitarium to heal.  The rest of the family traveled in a Model A and crossed Montana into Idaho in 1934.  There were 7 children who traveled in that car with their parents.  They spent some time at their uncle’s place in Jordan, MT then they traveled west.  My uncle Bernard remembered that they ate eggs in every form that my great grandmother could think of to prepare to feed their family

Within a short time after arriving in Idaho, the family bought land and made a home on Hatter Creek near Princeton, ID.  My grandmother spent little time at home – she worked out as they used to say.  She spent most of her time taking care of children and being paid to do so.  Grandma Marian then gave that money to her parents to help support her family.  She ended up in boarding school in Moscow at what they called the Ursaline Academy in Moscow, ID.  Grandma Marian does admit to a certain amount of stubbornness and this attitude didn’t work too well with the nuns at school.  She came home and ended up attending the local high school and graduating in 1939 with her older and younger brother from Potlatch high school.
 
Grandma Marian’s family survived the depression because they had parents who did what needed to be done…had children who as teenagers got jobs and helped provide for their families.  The girls took care of their younger siblings and the boys helped on the farm.  This story is no different than many others who lived through the depression.  Is it any wonder that these same children who lived through the deprivation of the depression are the same ones who fought our battles in World War II and stayed home and kept the home fires burning or built the machines needed in war- as Tom Brokaw labeled them, they were truly our “greatest generation! ” 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Holy Night!


My Mom made a big deal out of Christmas….from the Christmas tree and decorations to the candy and cookies.  Her favorite thing about the Christmas season was music.  Music was an integral part of who she was and how she thought…but at Christmastime it was even more pronounced. Mom was a classically trained pianist and vocalist.  My name, itself, came from one of her favorite operas, Carmen. When she graduated from high school she had scholarships to Stanford and the University of Idaho and was a Peabody award winner.  The fact that her boyfriend at the time when to the University of Idaho might have had something to do with her decision to go to school there.  But if she had wished – she could have aspired to bigger and better things.  Mom said that she never regretted choosing to be a wife and mother rather than a professional performer. If you talk to a certain age group around Lewiston, ID, Betty Tannahill Johnson is still a well remembered Lewiston performer.  Mom did share her gift with numerous students through the years as well as her church and especially her family.  Growing up, I can remember listening to all the old classics from Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dean Martin or even the Chipmunks on the record player at Christmas.  I especially remember listening to my mother play and sing at the piano for hours at a time.  Even the last Christmas she was alive, she still spent time playing on her piano despite the fact that she was on oxygen and her hands were crippled with arthritis.

Mom singing with her granddaughters.
  Her grandchildren remember singing with her at the piano just as her children did.  Of all of the Christmas music that she played and sang, there was one song that to this day is extra special to me.

Mom was the choir director at our church as well as the organist.  When the opportunity arose, she was also the soloist.  At Christmas Eve Midnight Mass…Mom’s talent really shone.  She would usually have the children’s choir sing a few songs as well as her adult choir.  Everything was orchestrated and planned.  Then the time came for Mom to sing.   At Christmas, she usually chose “O Holy Night!”  As Mom stepped up to sing, the church waited expectantly.  They were used to hearing her sing – but when she sang “O Holy Night,” it was special.
Mom singing with her choir at St James Catholic Church.

Mom singing a solo.

  Despite the large crowd and standing room only space – as she began to sing, a microphone wasn’t necessary.  She could fill the entire church with her voice and she let her love of God shine through her special instrument.  To this day, when I hear “O Holy Night” I am always reminded of my mother.  I like to hear someone sing it that has a great voice because most vocalists don’t do the song justice.  I was spoiled by mother’s beautiful singing.  So, as Christmas Eve approaches and I lay down to sleep.  I will dream that I am once again a child listening to her mother sing and marveling that that beautiful voice belonged to my Mom.  Merry Christmas Mom!  I love you and miss you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Special Delivery


When my father was a boy, his parents weren’t well off…in fact, they were poor.  I know that my father and his siblings didn’t really realize that circumstance until they were much older.  Dad’s family had what was necessary and made do with what they had.  In 1952, they moved from Hatter Creek (near Princeton, ID) to Mountain Home (just north of Freeze Church and just south of Skyline Drive).  After a lot of work and finagling…they had a larger home that was able to accommodate the family even though they were a long way from town.  Christmas was always a bit lean because of money and one Christmas was especially hard but really showed the generosity of spirit that some people have.

Dad was probably about 13 or 14 and as the oldest knew that money was tight.  But Dad had two younger sisters who expected Santa Claus to leave presents under the tree.  Grandma Marian and Grandpa Frank had to wait until payday to buy the gifts for their children.  The toys they ordered through the catalog were supposed to be there by Christmas.  Grandma and Grandpa anxiously waited for the toys to arrive and their post man knew of their anxiety.  Their mail was delivered from the town of Garfield, WA which was quite a ways away and during those times the snow and weather was especially brutal.  They didn’t have the equipment that we have today so travel was always difficult.  Mail was usually delivered to their mailbox which was a mile and a half down the road.  It was trip that during the worst of the snow they would take the horse to make the journey.

It was Christmas Eve and the presents had not arrived.  At this point, Grandma and Grandpa were heartbroken because they didn’t want to disappoint their children especially the little girls.  They gathered the small gifts that they had and pondered what they would do.  It was about seven at night when they heard a knock on the door.  Their postman had gone back to the post office and saw the package sitting there waiting for delivery.  He got the box on his truck and headed back out.  He knew that my grandparents had been waiting for that box.  By the time he got back to their mail box, the only way he could make it to the house was walking with a sled behind carrying the box.  He walked the mile and half to their house and delivered that box.  Even though this happened 60 years ago, my Dad still remembers that Christmas – not because of the gifts or because of the celebration but rather the kindness and extra effort a postman took to make sure some children had their Christmas.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday Grandma Cappy!


Today would have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday.  Capitola Ester Friddle was born to David Carl Friddle and Sophie Vestelle Dollar on December 17th, 1911 up on Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR.  She was delivered by her uncle, Albert Friddles, who was the local midwife in a cabin.  At the time of her birth, her parents were 22 and 17 years old and already the parents of a 2 year old boy. 

Capitola's high school graduation picture.
Grandma Cappy was not an easy person.  She was a loving mother and grandmother but didn’t have what one might call the most developed maternal instincts.  Grandma grew up in serious times and therefore was not someone all that frivolous about anything.  My mother used to say that “work” was her God.    When something bothered her – she worked, when she was happy – she worked, when she was challenged by something – she worked.  Playing hooky was not part of Grandma’s makeup.  My nieces and nephews have both enjoyed “fun” grandmothers who did fun activities with them and actually were great fun to be around.  My grandmother grew up during the depression and her parents had little money for most of her childhood.  They learned to work to survive and make do with what they had.  This isn’t to say that I didn’t love my grandmother – I did.  As a child, I found her interesting to talk to and always tried to please her.  I’m sure I drove a lot of people nuts with my constant questioning, but my grandmother was patient and encouraged my intellect.  She died the day I went to college in 1985.  Her health had been failing for some time – but I know that her last thoughts were of her family because they were always the most important and driving force in her life.

When Grandma Cappy was a little girl living on the old homestead on Grouse Flats, she went to a one room school with all of the other children in the area.  She and her brothers always thought of the old home place with a lot of fondness….certainly a lot more fondness than their mother.  They moved to Pomeroy in the early 1920’s so Grandma’s brother, Jack could go to high school.  After Jack graduated from high school, they moved to Lewiston.  Grandma became the first class to go through Lewiston High School in their new building.  It is the same building that her daughters went to and my siblings and myself…as well as one of her great granddaughters.  We are all graduates of LHS.  Cappy went to college at the Lewiston Normal School and got a degree teaching.  At that point she met her boyfriend and later first husband, Richard Tannahill.  They eloped in Vancouver, WA on Dec 28, 1938.  Cappy’s mother, brothers and sister –in-law were present.  They married far away from Lewiston so they could keep her marriage secret and she could finish teaching the year. 

They waited four years for their first daughter and when my mother was born in 1941, my grandmother decided that would be the last child.  After all, her husband was off hunting and it was her brother who took her to the hospital to have the baby.  If Richard couldn’t for the birth…then there wasn’t going to be any more babies.  It must have been hard work to maintain a big home, take care of two babies and help her parents especially in the early 1940’s when her brothers were off fighting in two fronts in World War II.  Cappy and her brothers were very close and it had to tear Grandma up to know her beloved brother were in harm’s way.  Jack was her buddy…he probably knew her best because they were so close in age.  Claude was a beloved baby brother who she helped raise.  Claude used to tell me that Cappy swatted his backside more often than his mother. 

Richard died in 1947 as the result of a hunting accident.  She married Gwen Shearer about a year later.  At this point, Cappy ran a lumber lot at her home and was a sharp businesswoman.  Mom said that she could calculate lumber quicker than anyone she knew.  In 1956, Gwen Shearer’s mill burned down in Orofino, ID and they were in the process of building a new mill in Elk City, ID.  This took a serious financial toll…and Grandma decided to go back to school and get recertified to teach.  Cappy did what was necessary and started substitute teaching by 1959.  By the next year, she was teaching at Elk City’s grade school.  Grandma loved teaching and was very good at it.  She was tough but fair and from all accounts, her students loved her.  Grandma also adored animals and for most of her life, she had a pet as part of it.  When Grandma was teaching, her dog came to school with her.  She would spend most of the day on Grandma’s purse and the kids knew to stay away. 

Cleaning up after opening presents - Abt 1974
Grandma got her dream house in 1972 with a huge kitchen and a huge living room.  The fireplace was a masterpiece of rock that she and Grandpa Gwen had chosen.  All of her grandchildren have vivid memories of some of the best Christmas’s that a child could experience.  Most of the time, we would decorate the Christmas tree when we got up there.  Cappy would have put up the nativity set that my mother painted for her.  What was so wonderful about Christmas at Grandma’s house was the snow.  We would play on our sleds and the toboggan that they gave us for hours.  Only coming in for brief times to change socks and mittens and maybe eat something then we would go back out and play.  There wasn’t just a few inches of snow out there…but rather feet.  Many times Grandpa Gwen and Dad would come out and drag us up from the bottom of the hill with the snowmobiles, great memories and great fun.
My grandmother Cappy’s favorite flower was the poinsettia.  Every year she bought one for her mother, mother-in-law, herself and for her daughters.  Whenever I see poinsettia’s I think of her and my mother.  Mom loved them because of their color but also because of her mother.  As I put up the nativity set that my mother so lovingly painted for her mother – I place a large poinsettia behind.  You might say that this is a tribute to both women.  I never look at it without thinking of them.  So Grandma – wherever you are – Happy 100th birthday.  We love you and miss you!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chink in a Brick Wall - John Lyons


When you start looking at ancestors who lived in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s there are some special challenges involved.  One of these ancestors for me is John N. Lyons.  He was born in 1790 in Ireland and is probably the latest immigrant ancestor that I know of in my family.  His granddaughter, Nancy Ann Marie Lyons is my great great grandmother is and is the mother of Shirlie Louisa Pope.

I suspect that John arrived either before 1800 or shortly thereafter.  I haven’t as yet found out a listing on a ship with he or is family’s names.  However, I need to look at what I have found this year.  I live in Lewiston, ID and have no large genealogical library nearby nor do I have much time to do research during the day as I work a full time job.  So, I am very dependent on online resources – especially for famlies who lived across the country.  Thanks to some new databases that have been publisshed online – I have made some definite progress this past year.

John Lyons was married to Mary French on 4 Sep 1817 in Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA – I initially got their names from their son’s death record (John Nathan Lyons)  who would have been my 4th great grandfather.  With as common a name as John, it is easy to confuse him with others in the same region.  Ancestry published the New Hampshire Death & Burial Records Index this past year, and I was able to find John Lyons mentioned as well as the names of his parents – Timothy and Honora.  As yet, I haven’t located his wife, Mary, but I hope to tackle her again soon.

I have also made progress using Family Search which is located at www.familysearch.org and is run by the LDS church.  Using their database of Massachusetts marriage records, I was able to piece together information on John and Mary’s children.  I am only descended from John Nathan Lyons – but I always like to get information on the sbilings.  You never know when you can locate a descendant and maybe get a little more information.

If you are a paid subscriber of Ancestry.com – pay attention to the new databases that are announced and spend the time every few months to hit some of these brick walls.  You never know when you will make a breakthrough.  Don’t forget to check www.familysearch .org as well.  My advice is to start a broad search and then narrow your parameters.  I look at John Lyons and see him as a success…for the past year I have created several chinks in that brick wall.  Here is the info that I have on him!

John N. Lyons b. 1790 Ireland d. 11 Dec 1880 Manchester, NH m. Mary W. French b. abt 1790 MA d. bef 1860
  •  Sarah Ann Lyons b. 8 Aug 1818 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA d. 3 Nov 1910 Billerica, Middlesex Co., MA m. George C. Leonard 14 Sept 1843 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA
  •  John Nathan Lyons b. 23 Apr 1820 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA d. 7 Apr 1911 Bath, Grafton Co., NH m. Mary Elizabeth Reed  21 Dec 1845, Fairlee, Orange Co., VT m.  Elizabeth Snow 23 Mar 1893 Manchester, NH
  •  Charles E. Lyons b. Mar 1831 Oxford, NH d. aft 1900 m. Wate Holmes 22 Nov 1855 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA
  • James D. Farnsworth Lyons b. 1834 Oxford, NY d. 15 Mar 1887 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA m. Harriet M. Getchell  bef 1866
  •  Myra L. Lyons b. 1836 Oxford, NH d. 8 Aug 1895 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA m. Edward Evertt Lothrop 4 Jan 1857 Randolph, Norfolk Co., MA
  • Mary E. Lyons b. abt 1840 Oxford, NH

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I know - What I think I know? - Pt 1


Sometimes it is difficult to fill in the narrative in genealogy research.  There is a difference in what you know and what you think you know.  For example, I know the birth and death dates of my great grandmother, her parents, her marriages and her children.  I know where she lived in 10 year increments from the census…but what do I really know about her.

Shirlie with her first husband, Charles White.
According to some in the Johnson side of the family, Shirlie Louisa Pope was considered to be a bit slow.  There is no story of any kind like this on the Pope branch.  So, I have to look a bit closer at what I really know about Shirlie.  She married a Charles White in 1903 when she was 22 and had two children with him until he died after fighting a prairie fire in 1907.  She married Ulpian Johnson two years later in 1909 and together they had 5 children, 4 who survived to adulthood.  She died in 1927 as the result of pneumonia.
So…I know that Shirlie was born in Burke, Caledonia Co., VT – she was in Dunn Co., ND in 1910 and in 1925.  The family wasn’t counted in the 1920 census – Dad thinks this was the case because they were living down on the Missouri River breaks.  They had to move when a damn was put in and the area flooded.   I’ve never located her in the 1900 census although I am sure she was probably in North Dakota at the time and she was born too late for the 1880 census…and to the eternal horror of any genealogist the 1890 census was destroyed.   Despite the gaps, I have a pretty good understanding of where she lived and when – so I am confident in the facts of her life.

The stories that I have heard of her intelligence don’t quite mesh with what I know about her life.  I don’t think I can take too seriously one side of the family who said that she was slow and the other side who was angry to lose a beloved member so young.  Shirlie’s sister, Verna, was quite angry at Shirlie’s husband, Ulpian aka George at not getting a doctor to her sooner.  I’m not sure in 1927, that would even have helped as there wasn’t much medicine available to help her.  I doubt the stories about her intelligence.  Her husband, Ulpian, pretty much fell apart after her death and Aunt Nan and my grandfather, Frank, quit school and got jobs to support the family.  Ulpian had been injured as a young man in either a farming or rail accident.  I’ve been told both stories.  To the day he died, Ulpian, was unable to talk about Shirlie without crying, so his children didn’t talk about their mother.  I find this to be a tragic circumstance.  It is one thing to have lose your mother so young but to not be able to talk about her to your father had to be an extra hard blow.  The family stories are what keep a loved one alive long after they have gone.

This is where I get to to what I think I know!  I believe that Shirlie was intellectually much smarter than she was given credit for with her husband’s family.  From the stories that I have heard – my impression is that she was the strong one in the family and the one who kept “things” together.  She was so beloved by my grandfather that he named his oldest daughter after her.  I think she was somewhat unfairly labeled by Ulpian’s brother and sister in-law as being slow.  Shirlie’s father was a very vibrant and seemingly intelligent man.  It might be said that her older two sons with her first husband weren’t too intelligent.  Mary, Shirlie’s oldest daughter with Ulpian, was handicapped and was never quite right.  So, it might be said that she was either mentally slow or it was a result of her handicap.  While Shirlie was alive, her children were in school and getting an education.  After her death, they left school to go to work and support the family.  Their father didn’t have the strength to maintain the family unit without his wife…so the question to me is why was Shirlie labeled as slow by Ulpian’s family.  As far as I can see, the label was unfair and I think untrue.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Edward Pennington & Pennington Gap


Edward “Neddy” Pennington is the third oldest son of Micajah Pennington and his wife Rachel Jones.  He was born on 29 Dec 1769 in Wilkes Co., NC – probably near modern day Ashe Co., NC.  He lived to be 90 years old and was the longest lived of all of his siblings
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Micajah Pennington and Rachel Jones had ten children born from 1761 to 1782.  Edward Pennington was the fourth son and fifth child in his family.    One of the first things that we see a legal listing for Edward Pennington was a Bastardy Bond.  When an unmarried woman was found to be pregnant, she was brought to court and questioned and was supposed to produce the name of the father.  The father would then be required to post bond to essentially pay for the raising of the child so the county wouldn’t have to take care of the expense.  Edward Pennington was required to post such a bond in the case of Agnes Little and their child Ann Little Pennington.  The child was born in 1792 and died in 1796.  Edward married not too long after the child’s birth and was supposedly being taken care of by Micajah and Rachel when the child died.  Edward married Martha “Patsy” Flanary around 1793 in Wilkes Co., NC and by 1802, they had moved to Lee Co., VA. 

Edward and his wife had four children by the time they moved to Lee Co., VA.   The process of moving a family to another location circa 1802 boggles the imagination.  The oldest child would have been around 7 (b. 1794) and the youngest was probably a baby (b. 1801).  Imagine trying to make the move in the first place and then having to build a home of some sort to house a growing family…because not too long after the move, they had another child.

Edward & Martha were the parents of the following children:
  • ·         Phoebe b. 9/26/1794 m. William Parsons
  • ·         Thomas  b. 7/5/1794 m. Mourning Jones
  • ·         David b. 3/11/1799 m. Virginia Stamper
  • ·         Elizabeth b. 1/19/1801 m. George Smyth
  • ·         John Dees b. 10/5/1802 m. Rachel Zion
  • ·         Rebecca b. 7/12/1805 m. John Parsons
  • ·         Susan b. 3/20/1808 m. Abraham Chrisman
  • ·         Elijah b. 3/10/1810 m. Sarah Jones
  • ·         Levi b. 10/10/1812 m. Elizabeth Zion
  • ·         Martha b. 7/6/1815 m. Isaac Russell
  • ·         Mary b. 11/11/1817 m. Mitchell Cecil


When you start to look at this family and their descendants – it can get very complicated.  Phoebe and Rebecca married brothers – Thomas and Elijah married sisters.  Elijah married the niece of John’s wife…and within a few generations Parsons, Smythe, Russell, and Zions are so tangled up that it seems that they are all related somehow.  Many of these families stayed in the area and I would imagine if you talked to someone who was from Pennington Gap, Lee Co., VA and their families had been there for a few generations…I’m sure they have a connection to Neddy Pennington and his eleven children.  Edward and his family made enough a stamp on the region that the largest community in Lee Co., VA is called Pennington Gap – named for Edward Pennington, one of its earliest settlers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Born in North Dakota


North Dakota seems to be going through a boom time right now.  It is one of the few places in the country where jobs are plentiful enough to meet the demand.  There are some lovely parts of the state – I thought the Washburn area is quite pretty,  but in general the land is pretty flat and the weather can be horrible…although the same could be said for some parts of Idaho, where I live. Here in Idaho, I have met a lot of people who were born in North Dakota but their families left and came west…including my father.

Dad was born in Dickinson, ND in the summer of 1940.  Since Dad was my grandmother’s first child, he was born in the hospital.  Dad thought it was quite funny to find out that the hospital was located on Johnson Ave…since that is last name they must have named it after him right?  Anyway, I’ve often heard that on the day Dad was born, there was a hail storm that killed the horse attached to the wagon in front of the hospital.  That might have sounded somewhat unbelievable, but when we were back there about 15 years ago, we got caught in a hail storm with the hail that was bigger than golf balls.  It did a lot of damage to both our motor home and that of my aunt and uncle’s.  Sitting in that motor home with the hail pounding on the roof was probably the noisiest storm, I’ve ever experienced.

After Dad was born, he was taken to Dunn Center where my grandparents lived.  This was a tiny house that housed both of my grandparents, my great grandfather and my grandfather’s sister, Mary.  By the time they moved in 1943, there were three babies in the house.  Times were still pretty hard.  The Depression hit the region quite hard.  This area of North Dakota had hard winters and hard winters…life was not easy.  There weren’t many jobs available and my grandfather made what money he could as a handyman.  They had a little money coming in from my great grandfather’s social security that helped but money was very tight.  I think that this was true for many families in North Dakota in the 1930’s and 40’s. Jobs were scarce and it was a hard place to support your family.  It is probably why I know so many people who were born in North Dakota.  So…about 71 years ago – this is what it looked like where my Dad lived and here is a photo with his grandfather. 
House in North Dakota where my grandparents lived.

Ulpian standing, Frank sitting holding Gene (Dad)

Monday, December 12, 2011

52 Years Ago Today


Mom always told me that she wasn’t sure if it wouldn’t have been easier if she and Dad had taken the money spent for the wedding and eloped.  I’m sure it felt like nothing went right from one crisis to the next.   My parents were married 52 years ago on December 12, 1959.  Mom and Dad met in May, were engaged by October and married in December.  Although Mom and Dad shared 46 happy years together before Mom’s death in 2005…their wedding did not roll along smoothly.

Group photo of the Wedding party.
I’m sure as her wedding day dawned, Mom was unhappy that neither one of her uncles would be able to attend.  Jack was in retail and the Christmas season was impossible for him to leave and travel the long distance to Idaho for the wedding and Claude had to work.  As it turned out, her step father, Gwen was unable to be there either.  He owned a mill at Elk City, ID and he was notified that morning that someone had tragically been killed in a logging accident and that he was needed in Elk City.  So within a few hours of her wedding, she had no family member there to give her away.  My father’s uncle, Don Gage was pressed into service to fulfill the obligation.  He was only 8 years older than my father’s 19…so he was young for the job.

As Mom walked down the aisle with her stand-in escort, Mom told me that Dad was so white that he almost faded into the background of his white suit.  She used to smile and tell me that you shouldn’t put the bridegroom in white especially if they are nervous…she wasn’t real sure if a tan would have helped.  I know that as she walked down the aisle there were a lot of things she wasn’t very happy about.  Money was tight and so her mother insisted on making my mother’s wedding dress.  Despite the happy occasion, Mom never liked that dress.  However, I know that my father thought she was beautiful.

When Mom reached the end of her walk down the aisle, the wedding mass started.  As the priest began to bless the couple near the end with a sprinkle of holy water, Mom got a face full of water unintentionally.  As she tried to blink the water out of her face, the priest presented the happy couple.  Since Dad had forgotten to lift her veil, she hurriedly lifted it out of the way. As she walked back down the aisle with Dad – she felt a sudden tug on her dress.  The ring bearer had gotten tired and decided to take a ride down the aisle on Mom’s dress train.

The flower girl, Krista and Phil - the ring bearer who took a ride on Mom's train!
Mom and Dad honeymooned at a friend’s cabin near Wolf Lodge.  I think two of Dad’s sisters also honeymooned there.  Since all three marriages were long and relatively happy – there must have been something special about the cabin.  Mom used to tell me that despite their rocky beginning – Mom felt that she had a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man.  I know that Dad felt the same way about my mother. 


Mom & Dad cutting their cake.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The 48’ Chevy


Do you remember the car you drove in high school?  Was it an old family car that had seen better days ?  Mom’s car was an old family car but it was still in great shape.  It had its own bittersweet history!

The car was ordered in early November of 1947.  Mom’s father, Richard ordered the car from the dealer knowing that they wouldn’t get the car for several months.  My grandmother noted in the diary that it was ordered.  A few days later there was simply an entry that said “My Darling Richard…”  Mom’s father had been killed in a hunting accident and my poor grandmother had to deal with her own broken heart at his loss but those of her two little girls who were only 6 and 7.  By the time March had arrived, Grandma took possession of the new car.  Grandma noted in her diary the excitement of the girls over the new car.  I’m sure it had to tug at her heart – knowing that this was one of the last things that her husband had done before his death was order the new family car. 

When my mother entered high school and needed a car, the 48 Chevy became her transportation.  With vocal and piano lessons, school activities, and other outings – it certainly got heavily used.  Mom used to tell me that they would try to squeeze as many teenagers in the car as they could for $1 night at the drive in movie theater.  The numbers usually reached double figures – which certainly boggles the mind.  That car even had a place in my parents courtship.  It was having some problems and Mom’s step father had the neighbor mechanic look at it and supposedly fix it.  Mom and Dad were driving to Moscow for a date, and the car broke down.  Dad got out and used a little chicken wire and fixed the car.  When they arrived in Moscow, they drove by the parts store and Dad got the part and fixed it.  When Grandpa Gwen asked Mom a few days later how the car was running…she said that it was running fine now…Gene had fixed it.  When Grandpa asked Dad what was wrong with it – Dad told him what he had done.  Grandpa was irritated that the mechanic had had it for a week and couldn't figure it out and a 19 year old young man had taken care of it first time he saw the problem.

A few years later, the old 48 Chevy was sitting up at Elk City with a pile of snow on its top.  It was out in the weather and wasn’t being used.  I’m sure we can all picture a semi-abandoned car in the driveway covered in snow.  One morning after a particularly brutal cold snap, Grandpa Gwen was out trying to get the Chrysler started so Grandma could go to work (she taught at the local school) and was having no success.  He then tried to get is truck started – it too didn’t want to start.  Grandpa had heaters on both rigs and they were both parked under the car port.  It must have been frustrating to have to be out in that cold trying to get those rigs started with no success.  Grandpa looked over at the old Chevy and went over and swiped the worst of the snow off the top.  He opened the door, stuck in the key and twisted it with no thought that it would actually work.  That old car started right up, much to his surprise.  For the rest of that long winter, the other car and truck spent the majority of its time sitting unused while the old Chevy kept on starting and transporting them wherever they needed to go.  Unfortunately, near the end of that winter it went off the road and was totaled.  Mom always wished she could have kept that car.  There was a sentimentality that was attached to it for multiple reasons.  Not only was it the last car her father had bought but it played a big part in her high school years and courtship with my father.  I guess you could say it had a happy life…for a car!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Getting From Here to There!


I find it interesting to look at my family’s travels to go from one place to another…and why they made the journey.  My mother’s family has been in the Lewis Clark Valley since the late 1920’s and they were in the general area since around 1910.  My father’s family came west in 1935 and settled up on Hatter Creek near present day Princeton, ID.  Each family had several crossroads before they arrived at their homes!

Mom & Pop Friddle with son Claude - about 1947
There is a story that my great grandfather, Pop Friddle, got into a bar fight and had to leave quickly from Mountain City, Johnson Co., TN.  I’ll never know if that is correct or not – but I do know that he came west in the early fall or late summer of 1910 and claimed a homestead up on Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR.  Pop Friddle chose that location because his older brother had been there since the late 1880’s and their sister had moved there after 1900.  Pop had a brother who still lived in Tennessee but I doubt there was much opportunity for a young couple there – so they came west.  Pop came first and built a home on the homestead and my great grandmother came out in November.  She was 16 years old with a 1 year old child.  (That whole trip deserves a story all its own).  Anyway, Pop took Mom Friddle up to the homestead and then promptly left to work at his job for the railroad.  By the mid 1920’s, they had sold off their land and moved to Pomeroy, WA.  Mom Friddle wanted her oldest son to go to high school and Uncle Jack graduated from Pomeroy around 1927.  Soon after Jack’s graduation, they moved to Lewiston where Pop Friddle got a job with Irrigation district and Grandma Cappy could attend high school in the brand new Lewiston High School Building.  She graduated I 1930 and Claude graduated from LHS in 1942.  In 20 short years – Mom and Pop Friddle had moved from Tennessee where their families had probably lived in the area for decades and moved first to a homestead, then to a small town and eventually to a larger town with more opportunities.  That is quite a journey.

Grandma & Granddad Gage came from Mapleton, IA, sort of J  Granddad Gage was actually born in Duanesburg, Schenectady Co., NY.  His family lived in Knox and Esperance, NY as well.  IN 1908, his parents died and Granddad Gage brought his younger 3 siblings out west to live with their maternal grandmother.   Granddad Gage immediately went out and found a job and worked as the local postman for a time.  He eventually ended up working for Linus Brenner and courted my great grandmother, Florence Shawver.  She was born in Lyons, NE and had grown up there.  I suspect that Granddad Gage and Grandma Gage had met a few years before they were married.  Granddad’s uncle – Hugh Gallup was married to Grandma Gage’s sister, Jessie Shawver – so you might say there was an opportunity to meet.  After they married in 1917, the Grandfolks quickly had children and worked their farm in Mapleton, IA.  Things were good until the depression hit.  Granddad could make the payments on his farm but he couldn’t afford the taxes.  Rather than have the government take the land away – Granddad signed it over to his old friend, Linus Brenner.  They took their family to Philip, SD where there was supposed to be a great opportunity to raise cattle.  It wasn’t so great and within a year, they were traveling west to Idaho.  They lived in Dover, ID for several months, while Granddad looked for land.  The best deal that he found was land on Hatter Creek which was $ 8.50 an acre.  So the family moved to Hatter Creek in 1935.  I have an uncle who still lives on the Creek no more than a few hundred yards from the original home place.  We have family reunions up there every other year.  I heard someone say that their family had been there at the turn of the century and ours had come so much later.  Their line was dying off and we just seemed to be multiplying.  We normally have around 150 plus people at these reunions.  We all return to the home place to reacquaint ourselves with each other.  It is a grand tradition. 
Granddad & Grandma Gage - abt 1987
Granddad Gage and Grandma Gage left Hatter Creek about 1946 and lived in Potlatch, ID for a while until they moved to Lewiston, ID.  They weren’t done with their travels though…they lived in Genesee, ID and then went west to live on the ocean at Yachats, OR.  In 1975, they moved to Canby, OR to be near their widowed daughter…they were there until their deaths in 1990 and 1991.  I think they stayed in Canby, OR for the longest period of their married lives. 

Once Mom and Pop Friddle moved to Lewiston and then to their home on Thain, they stayed there for the rest of their lives.  Pop Friddle died in 1955 and Mom Friddle survived him by 25 years and died in 1979. 

Remembering Pearl Harbor


Think how different life was 70 years ago today before the news broke about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  People  had probably gone to church since it was Sunday and were preparing to enjoy their day of rest.  In a few short hours, everything changed!

My grandmothers were both young wives with young children.  Grandma Marian lived in North Dakota with her husband and two children and her father in law.  I’m sure winter was making its mark.  Her parents were still living up at the loggie at Hatter Creek.  Granddad Gage was nearing 50 years old and Grandma Gage was around 45.  They still had 7 children at home.  Their oldest two were already married and their second son, Bernard, was already in the military, in training.  Grandma Cappy was in Lewiston, ID.  She had recently had my mother in October of that year – so she, too had small children to care for.  Her parent’s and younger brother lived next door and her husband was working at hauling lumber down from his best friend's lumber mill, running a ranch and working at the Potlatch mill.  After that day, their lives were never the same.

Neither one of my grandfather’s served in World War II.  Grandpa Frank had flat feet and was not a candidate for military service.  Grandpa Richard was probably refused entry into the military.  As a rancher and farmer, he was needed at home far more.  All of Richard’s brothers were probably too old but I know that he had a least one nephew who served as well as his brother-in-law.  Grandpa Frank didn’t have any brothers, only sisters – but Grandma Marian had two brothers and two brother-in-laws who fought in World War II.  By the end of the war, both of Grandma Cappy’s brothers were in the war both fighting in the thick of the battle.  But on that day 70 years ago all of this was yet to come.  On that day, people were in shock and fear.  I’m sure they wondered what was to come and most of them gathered around the radio the next day to learn what the President had to say.

Before 10 years ago, I could only imagine what it would have felt like – to be an American on the December 7, 1941.  After September 11, 2011 – I understood.  It was weeks before Americans of 70 years ago saw the horrors of the Pearl Harbor attack on movie newsreels –we saw everything happening in front of our eyes on the television.  I remember watching in disbelief as the World Trade towers collapsed thinking of all the people who had died and their families.  Now I look at those old newsreels and know that many were affected – in big cities and small communities.  My grandmother and her two brothers both lost a classmate in Pearl Harbor that day.  He was from the tiny town of Princeton, ID.  Around 2400 people died that day and he was one of them.  Today, 70 years later, there are about 2,500 to 3,000 survivors still alive.  Their numbers are dwindling but let’s hope our country will keep their memory alive and honor their sacrifices in the years to come. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Catalogs


Sometimes I miss getting those big Sears & Roebuck or JCPenney catalogs in the mail.  I realize that I am dating myself, but they were especially fun to get at Christmas.  Those catalogs were an education to both parents and kids as to what the newest toys were out there.  I can still remember when the Christmas catalog would come in the mail.  The only way I could get first crack at it was to be home while the others were still at school.  Even then I would lose custody as soon as they got home.  We were also lucky enough to have Uncle Jack’s catalogs to peruse and I was fortunate to get one all on my own.

Uncle Jack and Aunt Hilda were my maternal grandmother’s brother and sister-in-law.  We really didn’t get a chance to see them that much but it was always a special occasion when we did.  Jack & Hilda owned a “Ben Franklin” store in Santa Rosa, CA.  As storekeepers, they rarely had holidays off especially at Christmas time.  Jack & Hilda would send up catalogs for us kids before the Christmas season and we would thumb through these catalogs with great intent.  Mom actually had to tell Jack to send us up two each.  That way we wouldn’t fight over the catalog.  The second one was for our orders.  By the time we sent the catalog back to Jack with our individual requests that first catalog was well used so the 2nd one was kept pristine so it was easy to read.  I’m sure Mom made us tailor down our requests.  Hilda would always add a few items that were more practical…knowing Uncle Jack – he took great fun in filling our requests.

When my parents had my sister, money was very tight.  They were essentially a newly married couple only in their 2nd year of marriage and they had a baby that needed a lot of medical care so the bills were high.  They didn’t have much to buy Christmas presents with that Christmas in 1961.  In fact, they were counting on a shipment from Jack and Hilda to help with Christmas.  Jack & Hilda sent up the big care package through the mail…but as things sometime go – it took longer than expected.  In fact, it was Christmas Eve and the box still hadn’t arrived.  Mom reasoned that my sister as a baby wouldn’t know the difference – but Mom certainly did and was heartbroken that the box hadn’t appeared.  The postman knew that Mom and Dad were waiting for that box, so when he went back to the Post Office after his route, he saw that the box had arrived.  He loaded the box into his truck and brought it up to Mom and Dad’s house.  Mom was thrilled – they would be able to have Christmas after all.
Uncle Jack & Aunt Hilda

Jack and Hilda have both passed away and remain only in memories…just like those old catalogs.  There are still a few reminders of the gifts they gave us though.  My sister has a stuffed Santa Claus that has been well loved and is almost falling apart.  She no longer puts him out but he is in a treasured place.  I think that Santa was in that first box of gifts that Jack & Hilda sent up that arrived on that late Christmas Eve afternoon.  I have a little vest with my name on it and a Santa Claus that only fits a stuffed bear now.  I look at that vest and have to smile.   

Monday, December 5, 2011

Levi's Unknown Daughter


I’ve been researching Levi Pennington and his wife Elizabeth Henson for over 15 years now.  Many years ago I was told my John French that Levi Pennington and his wife were my 4th great grandparents.  This was near the beginning of my research so it was very exciting to reach back into the 1700’s.  Although I would later learn that info I was given for Levi’s ancestry was incorrect…it was a great start.

About five years ago, I started seeing rumblings on the New River news list about a Hiley who was married to a James Lewis.  The researcher said that they had thought Hiley’s last name was Pennington but they weren’t sure.  I probably have one of the more complete Pennington gedcoms in the Ashe Co., NC area.  Hiley was a complete unknown to me.  So, when I was asked about Hiley, it forced me to reexamine what I thought I knew.

Hiley was born between 1816-1818 in Ashe Co., NC and married James Emmett Lewis in August of 1837.  According to a widow’s pension application, James Lewis was shot in the side and later died of his wounds.  Hiley was left with 8 children ranging in age from 27 to age 5.  She died at Sturgill, Ashe Co., NC on 4 Nov 1895.

One thing that seemed common in the grandchildren of Levi Pennington, if there were several boys, there was almost always one named Levi.  Hiley’s youngest son was named Levi Franklin Lewis.  That name got me to thinking…most of us who research Levi and Elizabeth believes that there anywhere from 14 to 16 children.  The oldest daughter we know for certain is Edy Pennington.  There is one other daughter named Dora that we believe is connected.  However there is a time period between 1815 and 1818 that could have had another child.  There were not many other men living in Ashe Co., NC at the same time frame that could have been the father.  In the 1820 census, there were two females between the ages of 0-10 – these two girls could have been Edy and Hiley and not Dora as previously thought.

Later that same year, one of our small band of researchers got a document that probated Levi Pennington’s will in 1887.  Listed on that document was Hiley Pennington Lewis’ name amongst the children of Levi Pennington.  With that document, many questions were answered…but also many more begged for answers.  

However, we now know for certain that Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson had a daughter who married a James Lewis…and before a few years ago – most of us didn’t know she existed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Tree 2011


Yesterday I went down to the Christmas tree lot to select our Christmas tree for the season.  I have to admit that paying for a Christmas tree is probably cheaper than the process that we did as kids and we definitely get a nicer tree - but it sure isn’t as fun!

My Mom was fun – she was strict…but she was fun and creative.  My first memories of going out to get a tree must have been when I was five or so.  Granny Shearer went with us and Granny, Henry and I stayed behind while the rest went to get the tree.  Granny was too old to tromp through that snow and Henry and I both had too short of legs.  By the time the rest had come back with the necessary trees, Granny and I had filled our time up with making baby snowmen.  We would drink the hot cocoa that Mom brought in a thermos and then the real fun would start.  Dad would connect our sleds to the back of the car and drag us all over the place.  I was too young for most of this fun – but was allowed for short rides.  We would then begin the process of going home.  All of us singing Christmas songs made the ride go that much faster.


Usually, more than one tree was necessary – a tree for our home, a small tree for Granny, and another tree that would be used as filler and for wreaths.  You might wonder why we needed one for filler.  The sad fact is Mom was also very picky about her Christmas trees – they needed lots of branches and no blank spots.  No matter how good a tree looks in the woods…there are always problem areas by the time you put it up.  So, Dad would have to get his drill out and he would drill holes in our tree and insert the branches where Mom told him.  There was always a bit of grumbling about this process but it was entertaining for us kids.  Then we would add the lights…those big bulbs that needed strong branches just to hold them.  I think they were 15 watt bulbs.  Dad’s eyes roll today at the cost of electricity when we used to put those bulbs on the tree, the house and the big spruce out front. 
Our cat Cinder peeking out after all the presents had been opened!

Next we began to add the ornaments.  There were homemade ornaments that we kids had created which I’m sure had to be put in the pride of position in the front of the tree.  We also had ornaments that Mom had made in ceramics and old bulbs that had been passed down as well as new ones that Mom had bought.  Back then, there were no fancy Hallmark ornaments to display.  Then it was time for the garland and that was strictly Mom’s domain.  She would add the garland arranging it in sweeps and drapes around the tree.  When she finished – it was time for our favorite activity – putting tinsel on the tree.  We just didn’t put one box or a single strand on one branch – we put clumps on.  Mom would later go back and thin out our clumps and make sure that we good coverage throughout the tree.  It seemed that we always had back ground music on from the TV.  For several years it seemed like either the Bing Crosby Christmas special was on or the Bob Home Christmas special was blaring across the TV.  It seems sad to me that kids today don’t really know about the silly fun of those Christmas shows. 

Christmas Tree 2011 - Not as spectacular as
when it is dark and the lights are twinkling,
 but definitely pretty.
By the time I was about 12, the Christmas tree was Mom and my project.  The rest of the kids had pretty much lost interest.  It was still Mom’s tree and many of the same decorations were still hanging on its branches.  By this time we had twinkling lights with a controller that allowed us to control the speed.  In our opinion, we had beautiful old fashioned Christmas trees that sparkled with colors, gold garland and silver tinsel. 

Yesterday, my sister-in-law helped me put up our tree.  Every year they are different but still beautiful.  It isn’t my sister-in-law’s style of tree – but like I told her, we are all products of our mothers.  My mother’s tree never had bows or ribbon decorating the branches and I doubt if my tree ever does.  There are a lot of Christmas trees that I like and I appreciate their beauty…but I love our tree and am always somehow sad to take it down.  However, I know a new one will spring up during the next year at Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Uncle Carl...


Several years ago – I found a number for Geneva Hansen.  She was the daughter of Joe Friddle and Bessie Silver.  I called her and made plans to drive to Coue d’Alene, ID which was where she lived.  At the time I met her she was in her 90’s – still living at home and still very sharp.  She was a bit puzzled as to why I wanted to talk to her, but there was definitely a great reward. 

Geneva was old enough to remember living up on Grouse Flats with her parents and grandfather, Albert Friddles.  Albert was my great grandfather’s older brother and was probably the closest father figure that he had.  Albert was actually 34 years older than Pop Friddle (David Carl Friddle, my great grandfather) and was the one who encouraged him to come out west and homestead up on Grouse Flats which is in Wallowa Co., OR.

Geneva recalled when she was a little girl she thought that Uncle Carl (Pop Friddle) was her favorite person in the world.   Whenever he was around, Geneva would follow him around like a puppy.  She loved is deep voice, big laugh and hugs.  My mother used to say that Pop Friddle gave the best bear hugs.  I’ve always heard stories from my mother and my great uncle about Pop Friddle, but it was great to hear stories from someone else who had a completely different perspective. 

Geneva told one story about a Christmas when she was young – probably about 1920.  Evidently they were having a Christmas party at their church. Pop Friddle being a large and husky man must have been the obvious choice to play Santa Claus.  So, he dressed up in the red suit and beard and made an entrance at the party.  He looked nothing like his normal self.  Geneva was one of the younger children who they were trying to surprise with Santa.  Geneva said that she took one look at the man in the red suit and went running towards him shouting “Uncle Carl, Uncle Carl”  - They weren’t able to trick young Geneva and she was so thrilled to see her favorite uncle.

Pop Friddle as he must have looked around 1920.
Geneva told me that that Christmas was one of her favorite memories as a child.  They didn’t have much but they did get oranges and nuts and perhaps a toy at Christmas.  They were much simpler times and Christmas was a simpler celebration…but that Christmas party so long ago was still very fresh in Geneva’s memory.
Geneva passed away a few years ago at the age of 94.  She was the last of her family – her 3 other sisters, parents, and husband had all preceded her in death.  She spent the last few years of her life living in Everett near her daughter.  What a lovely lady – I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet her.