Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pop Friddle's Lonely Childhood

The first New Year that I saw as meaningful was that of 1980.  I had lived through the entire decade of the 1970’s, but was young enough that I don’t remember that new year.  I was twelve years old in 1980 and remembered thinking that there were a lot of exciting things to come that year and that decade.  When I woke up on New Year’s Day, I opened up the newspaper and looked at the Garfield comic strip.  There was Garfield sitting in his bed with his eyes half open.  He put his paw out and touched the ground in front of him and thought “Nope, it doesn’t feel any different!”  When 2000 dawned, I pretty much felt the same way.  Despite all the doom and gloom that was forecasted, the world didn’t stop and life continued on.  I’ve often thought of the dawning of the 20th century and my ancestors who were alive then.  For the most part, they led pretty standard lives with their families and their secure homes – all but one of my ancestors – my great grandfather, David Carl Friddle.

David Carl Friddle was my great grandfather.  I never knew him personally, but my mother told me a great deal about him.  I know that he was a loving, doting grandfather who lavished attention and affection on my mother.  My mother told me that when the circus came to town, they would often draft him to be the strong man because he could straighten a horse shoe with his bare hands.  By the time my mother remembered him; he had suffered several strokes and was probably a shadow of his former self.  Mom could remember vividly listening to him and my great grandmother telling tall tales about each other and both of them nodding as if it was the absolute truth. ..and she remembered that the two of them gazed at each other with love and devotion.   There was a lot she didn’t know about the gentle giant who gave her bare hugs and comforted her when she was crying her eyes out.  Much of this, Mom and I found out together as even she didn’t know what his young life was like.
David Carl Friddle or “Pop” as he was referred to in our family was born on 1 May 1889 to Moses Friddles and Martha “Mattie” Brown.  His father, Moses was 63 years old when Pop was born and his mother was 27.  Pop was the youngest of the six children that Moses and Mattie had…however, Moses also had at least four other children from his first marriage.  When Pop was about 10 months old, his father died.  I have no real idea as to what happened in the intervening years between 1890 and 1900 except a few stories that I have heard.  I believe that Mattie worked as a maid in the household of Judge Vaught and that the old Judge taught Pop how to read and write.  By the time 1900 came around, Pop’s entire family had splintered and none of them were together.  Pop’s oldest brother, Albert, who was born in 1854 had left Tennessee before Pop had been born and went to Oregon with his family.  His sister, Julia, was married and living in Caldwell County, North Carolina with children of her own.  Pop’s older brother, Roby was in the military and stationed in the Philippines and his brother Jesse was most likely also in the military.  It is unknown where his older brother James was – because I’ve been unable to located in him the census for 1900, however it is likely that he was a servant in another household.  Pop is listed as a 10 year old “Carlie” in the household of Richard Wilson. Pop’s sister, Calia, is also listed several households away as a servant in the household of Nathaniel Ward and his wife Lily.  Pop’s mother, Martha “Mattie” is listed in the same area with her new husband, John M. Tester.

As 1900 dawned – I can’t help thinking about the situation that my great grandfather was in.  His father  who he never really knew died when he was one – and by the time he is 10 years old, his mother has remarried and seemingly abandoned her youngest child.  This ten year old boy had to work to have a place to stay.  I don’t think his situation improved much over the next ten years.  I know that his teen years were spent working so he had a place to sleep and food to eat.  When I contrast my situation with his, it is difficult to ever feel sorry for myself.  I had parents who loved me and provided everything that I could want or need including affection.  I had siblings and a large external family who care about me and what happened in my life.  Pop had a mother who seemed to have abandoned him and no close family to look out for him.

Pop married Mom Friddle (Sophia Dollar) on 22 Dec 1908. When the 1910 census is taken, he is most likely living in the home that his wife grew up in (Laurel Bloomery, TN)  At 21 year old, he had a wife and son to care for and probably saw no potential for a good living in Tennessee.  I’m not sure, but I believe that his brother, Albert came back to Tennessee for a visit and encouraged his much younger brother to come out west as there was land and opportunity.  When Pop Friddle left Tennessee in late 1910, he left behind a life that he never returned to.  His mother had died the previous year as had his sister, Calia.  His brother Jesse had died while in the military in Ohio and it is unclear where his brother Roby lived.  His brother, James was married and living a county away.  There was nothing for him in Tennessee and so he left for a new life.
Mom Friddle went back to North Carolina and Tennessee to visit family, but Pop never did.  By the time 1928 had arrived, his two brothers back in Tennessee had both died.  James was most likely murdered before he, too could leave.  In fact, Pop Friddle lost Albert to old age on 5 October 1928 and his brother James was found along side of a road with a gunshot in his head on 1 October 1928.  In 1932, his last living sibling, Julia, died of old age in Walla Walla, WA.  From what I know of Pop Friddle, he took loving care of his wife, children and grandchildren.  They were precious to him and perhaps he probably understood the importance of family more than most.  

Pop died on 4 Jan 1955 in Lewiston, ID.  He was the last remaining member of his own family.  As he lay in that bed after suffering another debilitating stroke, he must have known he was near the end.  My mother told me that she sat by his bedside that last hour.  Mom Friddle and my Grandma Cappy sat on the other side of the bed quietly talking.  My mother remembered him looking at her and trying smile as he briefly squeezed her hand and then he looked over at Mom Friddle, smiled and closed his eyes and died.   Pop lived his life trying to be the best husband, father and grandfather that he could.  In many ways it is amazing that that little boy who saw the new century in 1900 grew up to be such a beloved husband, father, and grandfather.     

Monday, December 24, 2012

An Elk City Christmas


Every year as I’ve grown older, I seem to reminisce back to Christmas celebrations of my youth.  My mother always made a “great” Christmas, but there were a few Christmas celebrations that really stuck out in my head.  I don’t remember any presents that I received (although don’t mention the robot to my brother) nor do I really remember anything specific that happened.  For a child, Christmas in Elk City at my grandparents’ house was special.  Elk City is located about and hour and half south of Grangeville, ID and is located on the South Fork of the Clearwater river.  It is just on the edge of being in the wilderness and is at about 4000 feet.
The preparations for my mother had to be intense and enormous.  Not only did she have to do the normal shopping, wrapping as well as the candy making and cookie baking…she had to prepare her whole family to enter into a winter wonderland.  I’ve no idea how long it took to pack the station wagon for our journey to Elk City which on a good day was 2 ½ hours but mostly around three hours.  In went the presents, the cookies and candy and the clothes.  The last bit had to take a good bit of planning.  All of us would probably spend the majority of our time playing out in the snow so extra clothes, mittens and hats were in order as well as our sleds.  After that was all packed, four kids and a dog were added to the mix with two probably weary adults.  I think that I must have sat in the front with my parents, being the youngest one, because three kids and a dog took up more than enough room in the back.  As soon as we were at the bottom of Mt. Idaho and a little bit down the road, the questions of “When will we get there” would start.  Mom being a musician would start us off singing Christmas carols to pass the time.    My father would listen to our caroling and concentrate on the driving.  This wasn’t an easy drive – it was usually packed with snow and there seemed to obstacles in the road quite often.
Soon we would arrive and climb the hill up to my grandparents’ house.   I don’t remember unloading the car of the presents or anything else – all I remember is playing in that wonderful snow.  Mom told me that we only did this a few years – and I suppose because I was so young that the years probably mesh in my mind.  I can remember the snow being so deep that I wasn’t allowed out by myself…it was taller than I was.  I can remember playing out in the snow for so long that your eyelashes became icicles and it seemed like every part of your body was frozen.  We would then run inside, take off our wet mittens and socks, lay them on the fireplace – probably warm up with some hot cocoa and then put on some dry mittens, hats and socks and head back out into the snowy paradise.  The logistics of collecting enough winter clothes to keep four children and two adults warm during our snow play was carefully managed by my mother.

One year – perhaps that first year, my grandparents bought us kids a toboggan.    My grandparents lived at the top of a hill – there was a fine road that wound around the hill that provided a great sledding course – but the toboggan…that was special.  All of us kids would pile in and start down the side of the hill, picking up speed constantly.  We would come to a snow berm (from my grandpa plowing the road) and we would sail over the top of the road and land on the other side.  We probably hit three of these snow berms on that trip down the hill.  At the bottom, my dad and grandfather would tow us back up to the top with the snow mobiles.  Mom thought this looked like a great deal of fun…until she took a ride with us.  I’m still surprised that she let me ride that toboggan.  Mom also had to try the sled on road and wore down the toes of her boots trying to slow down. 
Soon enough, it would be Christmas Eve and my sister and I were dragged in from our snowy paradise to get our hair done.  Mom always dressed us up on Christmas Eve, usually in matching outfits.  Neither one of us was all that thrilled to be dragged into the house…but night would soon fall and the boys would have to come in as well.  My grandparents had a huge living room with a gigantic fireplace that stretched to basement.    It was in the basement where Grandma’s Christmas tree waited with the presents under the tree.  Usually Mom would gather us around the piano to sing Christmas music and usually we would get so excited that we didn’t pay the proper attention.  I can remember running to the window and sing a red light blinking across the sky and thinking that perhaps Rudolph had just flown by.  Perhaps we would hear a kerthunk downstairs or some sort of noise and usually my mother would exclaim that Santa must have arrived.  All of us would head downstairs and dive into the presents.  It was traditional in my family to open our presents on Christmas Eve.  Then on Christmas day, we would have a big dinner. 

After the excitement of opening the presents and perhaps playing with them, all of us kids would bunk down in our sleeping bags – usually with a favorite toy nearby.  I know that on some of these Christmas’s my cousins would be there to enjoy the play and the presents with us.  The seven of us kids all within eight years had a wonderful time playing in the snow and being together. Each one of us holds these Elk City Christmas’s in our memories.  My grandparents have been gone for many years as well as my mother and her sister now.  The house has been out of the family a long time and the hill side that we used use the toboggan on has far too many trees to provide a safe path down the hill.  I don’t know if those Christmas’s were so perfect – but they sure seemed so to us kids.   I can still picture all of us in our mittens, scarves, hats with our red noses getting ready to pile back on that toboggan for another ride down the hill. 
It is my hope that everyone has treasured memories of Christmas past and hope that they can make new and wonderful Christmas memories this year.  Merry Christmas to everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Special Delivery - Revisited

This is my father's favorite Christmas story.  Christmas at his house was a slim affair.  Dad's story reminds me that Christmas presents can be something other than prettily wrapped gifts.  It can be the generosity and kindness of a postman who went wall beyond any expected effort to make sure that a family was able to celebrate Christmas.


This photo shows the farm back in 1957.  You can see the road going towards the house.  By Christmas of that year, that road was impassible and the closest passable road was over a mile away.

So please read - A Special Delivery - if you are of a certain age and lived far off the beaten path, you may have a similar story!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Birthday - Grandma Cappy

Gwen & Capitola Shearer - about 1965 in Clarkston, WA near Wasems.
Today would have been my grandmother's birthday.  Ironically, it was also her first mother-in-law's birthday as well.  Sarah Kelley Tannahill was not one of her favorite people, so it was a bit funny that they had the same birthday.

I don't really remember celebrating her birthday much when she was alive.  For one thing...they lived in Elk City for a lot of my childhood and I was in school and unaware of such dates.  When she passed away in 1985, I was on the brink of adulthood and since she died on the day I went to college, I probably took her death a little harder.  As I got older, I appreciated the person that she was more and more.  Mom and I would often talk about her mother.  I also got a chance to read some of her diaries.  I read about the excitement of new grandchildren, the day to day details of her normal life and the heartbreak at the loss of her husband and later her father.  Through those diaries, Grandma became a real person to me.  Through those diaries, I got to know my grandmother as an adult.

In 2005, it was 20 years since she had passed.  Mom was particularly sentimental about her mother that year.  Perhaps she realized that we wouldn't have her much longer.  Mom asked me to put an artificial poinsettia on Grandma's grave in time for her birthday and Christmas.  I had no idea that I would be back there before the end of the year burying my mother after her death from lung cancer on December 26th.  That poinsettia was still there - there was comfort to me that my mother was with her momma again.

Today, both of their graves have poinsettia's on them - which is a flower that I associate with both of them.  They don't make me sad but they are instead a celebration these two women.  So...Grandma, Happy Birthday!

If you would like to read a bit more about my Grandma Cappy - Take a look at the blog I wrote last year for her 100th birthday!

http://genheirlooms.blogspot.com/2011/12/happy-100th-birthday-grandma-cappy.html



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12

If Mom was still alive, then Mom & Dad would have been married for 53 years today.  As I look around in the house, I notice lots of things that I bought Mom & Dad for their anniversary...especially the big clock in the sun room.

Mom always believed in giving the gift of "time!"  Probably because there was nothing that she loved more than having a clock in every room...which we still do.  In fact, in a few rooms we have multiple clocks.  I was always in cahoots with Mom when it came time for their anniversary.  Sometimes I would buy some Christmas decoration that she wanted.  Some of those items are still among my favorite Christmas decorations.  I think that perhaps her favorite anniversary gift that I ever gave her was the huge clock that I spied at Costco one year.  It looked nice and was about two feet wide.  We could put that clock up three rooms away and she could still see it.

Mom always said that their wedding might have been full of lots of missteps -(See http://genheirlooms.blogspot.com/2011/12/52-years-ago-today.html )  but Mom & Dad's marriage was a happy and fulfilling one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Flair


My mother never thought that she had much artistic talent.  I think that she always loved looking at those who could paint something and make it beautiful.  I would argue that she had a great deal of artistic talent…just not the traditional kind. 

Christmas Decorations 2012 - Living Room
When I was about six years old, Mom really got into ceramics.  Mom never did anything part way – she always dove in and immersed herself with whatever skill she was attempting to learn.  That Christmas, Mom decided that we kids were going to make our grandmother Christmas presents.  So, each one of us chose something and we painted it with a glaze it was fired and Grandma Cappy got several gifts including an ugly shaker shaped like a mushroom that was about 8 inches tall.  I don’t know what my sibling made – but that was the masterpiece that I made.  I still have it, hiding in a shelf in my bedroom.  Mom decided that she too was going to make a present for her mother as well as a few decorations for our tree.

Mom began assembling a fairly large nativity set.  She painted each one with the appropriate colors.  As it was, I’m sure it was painted beautifully – but here is where Mom’s artistic talent came in.  Instead of making it look like a normal painted nativity scene, she washed everything in gold.  The colors were still there, but she made it look special with gold tint.  Dad made a stable for the nativity set and when it was presented to Grandma at Christmas that year, she was absolutely thrilled.  She didn't do much decorating, but every Christmas that followed during her lifetime, she lovingly unpacked her beautiful nativity set and placed each piece in the appropriate spot.  When Grandma died in 1985, Mom took the nativity set back and I remember us putting it up near the fireplace.  Over the stable, Mom would place green boughs and some of Grandma Cappy’s artificial poinsettias.  I think Mom thought of it as a wonderful way to honor her own mother at Christmas.  The stable has long since fallen apart and now I am the one who puts it out each year in honor of both my mother and grandmother.  I place it on the electronic baby grand piano that Mom so loved and place a large poinsettia in the background.  As you walk in the room, it still draws the eye.  I've had my nieces help me set it up in some years and I show them the marks under the pieces that say when the nativity pieces were painted and by whom and then I tell them the story. 
Mom's Nativity Scene
There are also Christmas ornaments that Mom made that same year.  There are probably close to ten of these ornaments.  I’m probably most fond of the Santa ornaments myself…but there are a few angels and holly hobby pieces as well.
Some favorite ornaments
  No matter how small the Christmas tree that I have, those ornaments will always be on the Christmas tree.  I don’t know if it was the same year, but Mom also made a wonderful Santa who is holding his sack open to provide a place to put Christmas cards.  As I look around the house decorated for Christmas – there are so many memories and beautiful pieces that my Mom lovingly created with her own unique artistic flair.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Old Stereo

Most of the year, the stereo was dormant.  Occasionally you would hear a record being played, but for the most part it was a silent piece of furniture in our living room.  However, at Christmas time, it seemed like it was always playing.

I can remember the pile of records that my mother had in the side cubby hole in that old stereo.  There were probably twenty or thirty records.   Mom wasn't one to listen to music all of the time…she always said that she found it too distracting.  For me, it helps me concentrate – but Mom said that she concentrated on the music rather than was she was trying to do.  When it was time to decorate the house for Christmas, those records would be brought out and thumbed through to find something that suited her mood.  There are only a few records that I remember specifically – but the music is something that I remember well. 

Years ago, they used to see records at the Firestone tire store.  Not year round, but at Christmas time.  Dad said that they would make a special trip down to get the record every year.  These records would have singers like Perry Como, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee and Bing Crosby.  We must have had about 10 of those records.  It was almost like listening to your iPod today.  There was a terrific mix of music from people you liked to hear sing.  Mom was a music snob and so all of the music was classical in nature or from the crooners that Mom enjoyed listening to.  With the mix of music that she had in that stereo, it was almost shocking to find a Chipmunks Christmas album in the stack.  At Christmas time, we were even allowed to play that one a few times.

As we decorated the house, music would be playing on that old stereo and Mom would be singing along to the familiar tunes.  I have a great memory for the lyrics of just about all of the famous Christmas songs, and I think I learned most of them listening to either those old records or to Mom singing at the piano. 

I started playing Christmas music about the second week of November in my office.  My coworkers know that is the music of choice for me this time of year.  There is some modern stuff but there is also a lot of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra.  Now I play it from my iPod with my own Christmas mix – and when I go home at night and do some decorating, baking or wrapping – that Christmas music is still playing in the house.  They may not be those old records on the stereo in the living room – but I suspect that the same type of music is still playing.  Those old songs always make me love Christmas and fondly remember my childhood listening to that old stereo!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Red Poinsettia


My mother grew up with a Poinsettia in the house every Christmas, and both of her grandmothers always had them in their homes…I suspect that they were purchased every year by my Grandma Cappy.  They were a favorite flower of hers and I never remember a Christmas without a Poinsettia in her home.  During her later years, my mother usually made brought the Poinsettia to her just as my grandmother had done for her mother in law and mother.  It seemed to be a tradition.  When my Grandma Cappy died in 1985, Mom would still buy the Poinsettia…but she would buy an artificial one and place on her grave.  When my Grandma Marian moved to Lewiston in 2001, one of the first things that my mother bought her that Christmas season was a beautiful Poinsettia for her home.  As Mom and I decorated her small apartment, Grandma Marian protested that she didn't really need such a fuss, but Mom and could tell that she was delighted with the decorations and especially enjoyed the Poinsettia. Grandma Marian spent most of her life watching practically every penny that she spent.  That came from a lifetime of trying to make sure she always had money in the bank.  She had grown up during the depression and had spent too many years with a growing family and not enough money to go around.  During those years, she rarely bought anything for herself…especially anything that might be thought of as a luxury. 

After my mother died in 2005, I continued to take a Poinsettia every year to my Grandma Marian as well as an Amaryllis…I always loved watching how quickly it grew and loved the beautiful blooms.  Last year, Grandma was slowing down…but I still brought her the Poinsettia and Amaryllis.  I think that it gave her a lot of joy to watch the Amaryllis grow quickly because it was placed where she could watch it every day.  Her Poinsettia was also where she could watch and enjoy it. 

Every time I stopped by or talked to her on the phone, she would ask how my Amaryllis was doing.  It didn't bloom nearly as soon as hers nor with nearly as many blooms.  During those last few weeks of her life, those flowers gave her a lot of pleasure.  In fact, her Amaryllis finished blooming just as she passed away on December 30th

Today, it is a Christmas tradition for me to have a Poinsettia in the house and an Amaryllis growing.  I've never had a Christmas without a Poinsettia.  When I look at the Poinsettia today – it symbolizes the women in my life who have had such an impact on me.  My mother who could never have enough Poinsettias – who loved the colors, twinkling lights and glitter of Christmas.  Her mother, Grandma Cappy who didn't go much for the decorating but always had the Poinsettia in a primary position in her home.  Granny Shearer who would keep the Poinsettia alive for many weeks and even months after Christmas.  Grandma Marian who never really bought things like Poinsettias for herself but loved receiving them.  In many ways, I think that Grandma Marian might have enjoyed them more than any of them.  She truly enjoyed their simple beauty and color. 

This nativity scene was painted by mother back in 1973 as a gift for her mother.
Now...I always display it with a Poinsettia in the background as they both loved Poinsettias.
A few weeks ago, Dad and I bought some artificial Poinsettias and placed them at my mother and Grandma Cappy’s grave.  Dad put a stake in them so they would stay put and not blow away in the wind or weather.   That morning, Dad and his sisters went up to Freeze cemetery and put a Poinsettia down on my Grandma Marian’s grave.  My mother and both of my grandmothers all impacted my life in so many ways – I think of them daily and especially at Christmas time.  The Poinsettia has become not just a symbol of the Christmas season…but also of these wonderful, smart, loving women.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A November Drive


My father and I enjoy going on drives.  Sometimes, we go to familiar places and other times, we try a new direction.  I've had people look at me in puzzlement when I talk about our latest adventure.  It is something that I enjoy and probably take a bit for granted.  It is an easy ride in a car especially with the heater running, comfortable seats, and protected from the wind.  I've often thought about the drive my great grandmother made in a wagon back in 1910 traveling to her new home.

Wedding Picture - December 1908
My great grandparents decided to leave Tennessee upon the encouragement of my great grandfather’s brother, Albert.  There was no land to be had for an inexpensive price in Tennessee and no opportunity for a young couple to start a new life.  So, Pop (David Carl ) Friddle traveled west and found a job working for the railroad and set up a homestead.  Mom (Sophia) Friddle followed a few months later.  It must have been frightening for that 16 year old girl to leave everyone she knew and loved behind and travel clear across the country to a place that was foreign with small child to care for.  Mom Friddle boarded a train probably near Mountain City, TN – possibly Damascus or Abingdon, VA and began her long journey.

I doubt she had much in the way of luggage – only her clothes and that of her son, Jack.  He was only a year old and Mom Friddle was 16.  The train ride took several days while I’m sure she slept in the seat and kept her young son in line.  She arrived in Enterprise, OR on a cold November day.  Mom Friddle still had a two day wagon ride to get to Troy, OR which was where her husband was to meet her.  She stayed at a boarding house that first night, before she began the next part of her trip.  The lady who ran the boarding house must have thought that this girl was ill prepared for the trip.  I’m sure Mom Friddle didn't have a warm coat that was meant for the weather out west, just what she was used to in her Tennessee Mountains.  The woman gave Mom Friddle a coat and heated up rocks to keep around her and her baby’s body as they began their journey to Troy, OR. 

I don’t know all the specifics as the story was related in a letter written by my grandmother telling the story to a relative.  However, Dad and I've made that trip from Enterprise, OR to Troy, OR in a nice warm car on a nice paved road – I’m sure there was nothing nice about that particular trip.  The trip is about 50 miles, so Mom Friddle would have probably traveled about 25 miles each day probably in near freezing temperatures.   She must have been incredibly weary and cold by the time she reached Troy, OR and finally met up with Pop Friddle.  The only relief that she must have felt was that he could take over the driving, because they still had at least another 10 to 15 miles to reach the homestead.  The trip from Troy, OR to Grouse Flats today is a bit of a bear.  It is an extremely steep and winding road that even in a car takes about 10 minutes to go from the bottom to the top.  By that time, it was a matter of reaching their destination on what I’m sure was a bumpy road that probably had already had seen some snow.  When they reached their new home, I’m not sure if Mom Friddle was happy or frightened. 

It was a very simple house that probably wasn't more than a shack.  It probably only had a single room and when the wind blew, the house rattled with it.  It was built a few miles from the nearest water.  Since, Pop Friddle was away during the weekdays working for the railroad, Mom Friddle and Jack would have to walk to get their water every day.  Their nearest neighbor was Pop Friddle’s brother, Albert, who ended up being a mentor to Mom Friddle.  My grandmother used to tell us about Mom Friddle being alone in that shack in the mountains during the winter with the cougars screaming and all other sorts of wildlife right outside the door.  I can’t imagine how isolated she must have felt.  Perhaps Pop Friddle was home often during these first few months, but the experience for that 16 year old girl must have been overwhelming.  She didn’t know how to cook much, make soap or any of the other housewifely skills needed.  Mom Friddle had lived her short life, spoiled by an adoring step grandmother who had taken care of her almost since birth.  Here she was – a young mother and wife who had to learn how to survive because there was no other choice. 
Pop Friddle teaching Mom Friddle how to shoot in the spring of 1911.
When I think of the long wagon ride back on the November day in 1910 – I think about that girl who had no knowledge of the life that was before her.  I wonder at how frightened she might have been, but I suspect that under that fear was the determination and steel of the impressive woman that she became.  When I knew her, she was an old woman with a constant tic probably from Parkinson’s disease.  She had a crutch because of a broken hip….but oh the stories that she could tell.  I wish I had known enough to ask her the details about that long ago trip from Tennessee to Oregon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I didn't appreciate the significance of the history of Thanksgiving when I was young.  I knew the general stuff about the Pilgrims because we got to color pictures of them and talked about them in a general sense.  When I got older, teachers only seemed to want to spent a few minutes on the most general and unexciting of details.  History is a story that needs to be taught like a story and not a bunch of names and dates.  I didn't have an appreciation for significance of the Pilgrims and those other early settlers who arrived in the next ten years.  I didn't understand the deprivation that they suffered or the loss of people.  There were a lot of these new settlers who in a few months lost husbands, wives, and children to sickness in those first few months.  I'm not sure that most teachers really know that story to be fair...they probably received the same type of education that I did on the subject.

I've been researching my family's genealogy for 15 years.  During that time, I've come across mostly common people who have made their way in the world - each in their own unique way.  However, so much of my family comes from the New England area and I knew that it was likely that I had a few Mayflower ancestors.  Last year I wrote about these ancestors in:

You might say that now when I sit down to our Thanksgiving table with family and friends that I have a new appreciation of who has come before me.  



I think that this was my second Thanksgiving ..as I am the toddler sitting in the high chair.  So much on the table is familiar from my childhood - from the candle holders, the china, salt and pepper shakers to the Turkey in the center.  As I place that Turkey on our table once again, I know that it has been our family since about 1948 and has been on every Thanksgiving table during my lifetime.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Henry - A Grand Dog!


Whenever my siblings and I get together, one of the topics that often comes up is that of the family dog, Henry.  Even though it has been over 30 years since we lost him to the effects of old age…he is a part of all of our childhoods.

Mom went with her mother to pick out a puppy for her mother and they decided to get a puppy for her family as well.  Grandma was getting a Pomeranian who was a big ball of fluff that she called Cream Puff.  Mom chose Henry – a Pekingese that was much bigger than a handful.  When she brought him home, Mom and Dad had three kids all under the age of three.   Mom said that he was so tiny those first few weeks that she had to help him down the steps when he went outside to go to the bathroom.  My Dad named two of our pets in my lifetime…and Henry was one of them (Dad was never all that creative with names.)  However, I must admit that the name Henry suited our dog. 

Henry took his role as guardian very seriously.  When a German shepherd was getting too close to my brother in the front yard, Henry took after the intruding dog.  You wouldn't think that a Pekingese could do that much, but there is a lot of strength in their stocky bodies and they have incredibly powerful jaws.  It took someone pulling Henry off to save the larger dog.  Whenever we were out playing, Henry would stay with us and watch over us.  When Mom would call, he would come running so Mom would know where we were at…once she was reassured, he would return to guard duty over us kids. 

We lost Henry several times – probably through the carelessness of children.  Most times, it wasn't very long until we got him back…perhaps a few hours.  One Thanksgiving we were heading up to my grandparents and we had to stop in the eastern part of the Lewiston Orchards.  When we got back in the car and headed on, Henry got left behind.  We returned to get him…but he wasn't anywhere to be seen.  So, we continued on our journey to my grandparents for Thanksgiving.  When we returned home we spent a lot of time looking for Henry but never found him.  A few months or so later, Mom and Dad were driving along that same road, and they spied Henry sitting in the exact same place that he had been left before unintentionally.  He was well fed and looked healthy but when he saw my parents he was obviously happy to see his family. 

I've always thought that Henry had a majestic look to him.  There was a pride and dignity about him that reflected his heritage.  Known as “Lion Dogs”, Pekingese dogs belonged to emperor of China and his court.  They didn't even show up outside of China until the 1860’s.  With his heavy coat of fir, Henry could often be found in the summertime outside sitting on a sprinkler to cool off.  It was always a funny sight.  However in the winter time, Henry was in his element.  His favorite activity was playing in the snow.  I remember the last year he was alive, he was playing in the fresh snow just like a puppy.

We lost Henry on Mother’s day, the year I was 13 years old.   During the previous few years, Henry’s muzzle had turned to white and during that last year; he seemed to have lost some of his patience with children.  The week before he died, he went around and visited each of the neighbors and one of them told us that it was like he was saying goodbye.  He was 16 years old and had lived a long and good life taking care of his family and watching over “his” kids.  There is no doubt that he remains a treasured memory of my and my sibling’s childhood.  Henry was a grand dog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who is Rhetta?


Every once in a while, I come across a name that I am curious about…today it was Rhetta Shaw.  The only thing that I really had on Rhetta was that she was born about 1869 to Mary Pennington and William Shaw.  She was the granddaughter of Elijah Ephraim Pennington and Mary Osborne…It is time to see if I can find out some more about her.

My first conclusion is the Shaw must be one of those hard to find names…because it is difficult to find Shaw in the census records, which means that it has been transcribed many ways.  I have a note that she was married to a Charlie McCoy, so I approach it from that direction.  After a search, I find that her name is Loretta and not Rhetta…that certainly makes sense.  I have a cousin whose name is Loretta and is called Rhetta.   Then there is a census record for 1910 with a Charles McCoy married to Nancy living in Johnson Co., TN.  I go back to the first census record that I found for William Shawn and Mary Pennington and their daughter was named Nancy and was listed as being born about 1869.  So…now I believe that Rhetta is now Nancy Loretta Shaw.   I find a listing that she is buried in Mock Cemetery which I know is very near where the Pennington family lived – in fact it is literally across the street and up on a hillside.  I now believe that this is the correct Rhetta Shaw.  I locate her death record and it says that she is about 60 years old and the daughter of Wm Shaw and Becca Pennington and that she is the wife of Chas McCoy.    Her cause of death is flux.  So, now that I have found Rhetta…what about her mother.

According to the death record that I have just located, Loretta’s mother is listed as Becca Pennington.  Now, I have seen Mary Pennington listed at times a Mary Rebecca Pennington so this isn't too much of a stretch.  Her husband, William Shaw is listed as dying in 19 Dec 1917 and is buried at the Floyd Welch Cemetery in Ashe Co., NC.  However, there is no Mary or Rebecca Shaw in that cemetery.  Others have a listing that Mary died on 2 Apr 1942.  I do find a death record for a Mat Shaw who died on 2 Apr 1942 in Ashe Co., NC as a pauper in the County Home.  Her husband is listed as Bill Shaw.  There is no listing as to her parents, birth date or birthplace and she dies of the infirmities of age at the age of 91 years old.  She is buried the same day at the County Home cemetery.  I suspect that this is the Mary Pennington who is the daughter of Eliajah Ephraim Pennington and Mary Osborne.  I know that she had one known daughter who died in 1923 and her husband died in 1917.  It is rather sad that she seemed to die all alone in the world when she must have had many nieces and nephews who lived nearby.

Now back to Loretta Shaw and Charlie McCoy…I have seen his death date as 27 Nov 1927, but I would sure like to see a death record.  While searching for said record, I find a marriage listing for Charlie McCoy and Nancy Shaw of 20 Apr 1883 in Johnson Co., TN.  This isn't a strange occurrence – it was probably a shorter distance to get married in Johnson Co., TN while living in Ashe Co., NC especially up in Laurel Twp.  There are a lot of couples who eloped over in Johnson Co., TN.    However, this makes Nancy Loretta Shaw 14 years of age when she was married…so elopement seems likely.  So after a search, I am unable to locate Charlie McCoy’s death record, but I do have a listing in the Ashe Co., NC cemetery records as being buried in Mock Cemetery as well as a listing for his wife, so I suspect the date is correct.  Also listed is that his parents are Harrison McCoy and Caroline Oliver who I know to be Hiram Harrison McCoy and Caroline C. Oliver.

In summary…this is what I have found:
Mary Rebecca Pennington b. abt 1846 d. 2 Apr 1942 m. William Shaw on 8 Dec 1867.  (He was born 1843 and died in 1917)  Mary died in poverty and was buried as a pauper. I have found one child listed and that is Nancy Loretta Shaw.  She was born abt 1869 and died of the flux on 13 May 1923.  Her husband, Charlie died in 1927 and both of them are buried in Mock Cemetery.   I know that they had two children from census records – Ross McCoy and Riley McCoy, but that is a search for another day!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daddy’s Gone

Two little girls were walking home from church one Sunday morning when the younger one told her sister that she felt like something bad had happened.  When they got home from church that morning, they found out that something terrible had happened.  Their Daddy had died in a hunting accident and it was November 9th, 1947 - 65 years ago today!

Richard hunting a Lynx
Oliver Richard Tannahill was known in his family as Richard.  The Oliver was never mentioned.  He and his sister Olive Rachel (aka Sally) were the youngest of eight children.  The twins were born on April 27, 1912 in Peru, Chautauqua Co., KS.  In the late 1920’s, Richard moved to Lewiston area and graduated from high school and met his future wife.  Richard and Capitola went to Vancouver, WA and married secretly.   In the next several years, he worked at his ranch, transported lumber down from his friend’s mill on McCormick Ridge.  Richard was also one of the mainstays of his family…his siblings and nieces and nephews counted on his support and advice.  He was always a hard worker but he had a special passion and skill for hunting.  Richard would go up to hunting camp and fill his tags that of all of his friends.  He also enjoyed bird hunting.

Richard & Capitola abt 1934
That day began like many Sunday mornings for Richard…he and a friend went out hunting for a few hours.  They were out at Webb Ridge hunting pheasant, when Richard’s friend was startled and his gun discharged.  The shotgun charge hit Richard on the right side of his head and he died instantaneously at 35 years old.  By the time, the two little girls arrived home, their mother, Capitola, had been notified.  I imagine that she must have sat there in the living room in disbelieving shock when she heard the door open that signaled that her two daughters were home.  I never talked to my grandmother about that day – but my mother, Betty, was the younger of those two little girls.  She refused to believe that her Daddy wasn't coming home.  Nothing could convince her…so besides dealing with her own grief, Grandma Cappy had two small children who didn't want to believe that their Daddy was gone.  The coroner and mortician was a friend of the family named Andy Vassar.  He took it upon himself to try and rebuild Richard’s face so his daughters could seem him one more time.  It didn't help my mother much because she simply said that “That isn't my Daddy…that is Uncle Hubert.”

My grandmother kept diaries for many years that are filled will all kinds of anecdotes and stories of her daily activities.  Reading that diary from 1947 is like reading the end first so the events become a prelude to a tragedy.  Just a few days before that Sunday morning accident, Richard had ordered the new family car that would be delivered the next spring.  The night before Richard took his family to see “Stairway to Heaven,” the movie ticket is still in the leather jacket he wore.  On the day of his death, Grandma Cappy simply wrote in her diary…”Oh my darling Richard!”  The next day…she wrote of choosing his coffin and making arrangements.  Then she wrote about the day that she buried him.  Nothing was written in the diary for the rest of the year. 

My mother remembered only pieces about the funeral.  The most vivid memory was being walked away from the cemetery and hearing the creaking of the cables as they were lowering the coffin in the ground.  Some woman pointed out a dandelion to my mother to try and divert her attention.  Mom wasn’t real sure why some lady wanted her to look at the dumb flower.  She told me that she could hear that creaking sound in her dreams from then on.

One of the few pictures of the Richard Tannahill Family -
Cappy, Betty, Richard and Joan
Richard was mourned by many friends and family.  By all accounts, his funeral was well attended and the chapel was overflowing.  Mom remembered some man coming to the door handing money to her mother.  The man told her mother that Richard had loaned him money and he felt that he needed to pay it back.  This happened several times. 

Grandma Cappy both adored her husband and was somewhat exasperated by him.  As hard as he worked…he played almost as hard at both baseball and hunting.  No matter where he was, he could be found with a passel of kids following him around.  My mother had few memories of her father...she remembered being in trouble with her mother and pouting at the table.  Her father sat across from her and slurped up spaghetti to get her to smile.  I've often wondered what my Mom’s family would have been like had her father lived.  On that terrible day, 65 years ago…everything changed in the blink of an eye and suddenly a beloved father and husband was gone forever.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My DNA Journey - The Results


Several weeks ago, I wrote about taking the Ancestry.com Autosomal DNA test and I promised that I would let you know what the results were.  In my previous blog (http://genheirlooms.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-dna-journey.html) I talked about what I expected to find out from my test…here is what I found out.

My supposition was that I would be 100% European – with the possibility that I might have some Native American ancestry or an Asian lineage.  Despite every family story – the test shows that I have no Native American ancestry.  Like most people, the story of that Indian in the background is just that…a story.  In fact, there weren’t a lot of surprises in my results…except one.

Most of my ancestry is Scandinavian or from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  I would imagine that most people tested whose families come from England and Ireland will most likely have the same result.  The Vikings left a lot of descendants all over Europe both as merchants and raiders.  I suspect that most of this ancestry for me comes through England and Ireland.  From what I have been able to surmise – most of my English ancestors came to England  through the Norman Invasion in 1066.  Since there isn’t a lot of record keeping…going much beyond that is difficult.  The Scandinavian portion is 55%.  Most of my paternal side of the family probably comes from England and probably makes us the majority of this Scandinavian branch.  There is also ancestry on my maternal lines that are Irish and Scottish and could also be part of this Scandinavian portion.

I have 16% Central European ancestry which includes Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.  I am actually surprised that this isn’t a bigger chunk of my family background.  My paternal great grandmother’s ancestry primarily came out of this region – mostly likely Germany and Austria.  My paternal grandfather also had ancestry from Germany.  Most of my German ancestors left Europe in the early to mid-1700’s and ended up in New York and West Virginia. 

The Southern European label is the one that confuses me the most.  According to my test, I have 13% Southern European ancestry which includes Italy, Spain & Portugal.  As far as I know, I have no ancestry from that area.  It is a large enough chunk that it leads me to believe that it might come from my Friddle ancestry.  I make this guess…because of all my family lines, this is the one I know the least about.  My great great grandfather first shows up in 1858 in a record.  By that point, he has been married and already had several children and the 1858 record is his second marriage.  I’ve never been able to locate an 1850 census record for him nor any mention of parents.  My great uncle told me that his father had told him that Moses Friddles was supposedly a foundling child.  He was taken in by a family and raised by them and his ancestry is unknown.  I have no proof of the accuracy of this story.  Most of my family lines trace back to before the 1700’s with only a few exceptions and most of those lines come through either England or Germany.  So…this is definitely a puzzle.

My test also says that I have 12% British Isles ancestry.  Since, there is such a predominance of Scandinavian ancestry in my family that I think comes through England…this ancestry is also puzzling.  I suspect that is an area that had little contact with the pillaging Vikings which leads me to guess that it might be Wales.  According to some of the information that I have read, my mother’s paternal grandfather’s mother was supposedly from a Welsh background.  With a surname like Jones – I’m not sure how you can make that assumption because that name is so common.    However, it is a decent theory to look into.

The test leaves me with a lot of questions and possible contacts.  Several matches have come up that are likely 4th to 6th cousins.  With as many family lines that I have – I suspect that it won’t be easy to really establish a true match.  However the question that I have always had about the Native American ancestry is answered and like most others…is proved false.    (See Blog – Do I have Native American ancestry? - http://genheirlooms.blogspot.com/2011/11/do-i-have-native-american-ancestry.html for more info!)
So here are some of my main family lines and my best guess as to where they came from:
Paternal Lines:
  • Johnson – England
  • Gage – England
  • Gallup – England
  • Montanye – France
  • Shawver – Germany
  • Pitsenbarger – Switzerland
  • Lyons – Ireland
  • Pope – England

Maternal Lines:
  • Tannahill – Scotland
  • Brown – England or Ireland
  • Bailey – Ireland
  • Jones – Wales
  • Dollar – Scotland
  • Friddle - ???
  • Pennington – England
  • Allen – England
  • Kelley – Ireland
  • Fillinger - Ireland

Friday, November 2, 2012

Orlando Gage


Orlando Gage was the eldest child of Gilbert Gage and Phoebe Ann Allen.  He was born on 2 Apr 1850 in Knox, Albany Co., NY.  His family had lived in the New York area for several generations and while they were not wealthy, they must have been well known. 

Orlando Gage as a young man - probably when he married  Charity Hotaling.
Charity Ellen Hotaling Gage
Orlando married Charity Ellen Hotaling on 12 Jan 1875 at the United Methodist Church in Delmar, Albany Co., NY.  She was the daughter of Michael Hotaling and Ellen Robertson.  The young couple had three sons and a daughter before Charity’s death just a month after her daughter was born of quick consumption.  Orlando was left with three boys and baby daughter all under the age of 10 years old when their mother died.  Several months later, Orlando married a spinster schoolteacher in May 1886.  (See My Gallup Branch – Edith - http://genheirlooms.blogspot.com/2012/09/my-gallup-branch-edith.html)  According to my Aunt Phebe, the boys were taken care of by Orlando’s sisters for a short time – but they were too much too handle along with their own families.  After Orlando and Edith married, Orlando began working for Pullman Car Shops helping to build train cars and doing the carpentry work.   A few years later, Edith worried about the rambunctious boys getting into trouble in the city, and so Orlando and Edith moved into the farm that she had been born at and left the city.  Edith farmed the place for a few years until Orlando left his job at the Pullman Car Shops and worked on the farm and did carpentry work on the side.   By this time, their family had grown by four additional living children.  Their oldest died in a tragic accident when he was a few years old.  Granddad Gage (Ora Silas) was the oldest living boy in the second family and then the twins Pete & Phebe and their youngest, Alice.   The farm proved to be too small and in 1900, they moved to a larger farm and then bought their own farm in 1905.
Edith holding the twins (Pete & Phoebe with Alice on her lap)  Ora standing next to her and Orlando on the right.

Their life on their small farm was short lived.  Edith hurt her back and became sick with pneumonia.  Orlando took care of his wife and at her death; he took care of the funeral arrangements and then went home to his bed and died himself eight days after her death.  A Rev. N. McLeod wrote the following obituary:

After a brief illness of pneumonia and within a week after the death of his wife from pneumonia, elder Orlando Gage passed to his reward Jan 16, 1908.  His death caused deep sorrow in the community and especially in the Church and where he was a member and regular attendant.

He was born in Knox, NY Apr 2, 1850.  In early life he learned and followed the trade of carpenter.  He lived for some time in Albany and was an attendant at the West End Presbyterian Church.

He married Miss Charity Ellen Hotlaling of Clarkesville, NY from where four children were born viz. Burton L., Edwin W., Leroy J. and Nellie Mable now Mrs. Harry Lewis.  Mrs. Gage died Oct 9, 1885 while residing in Knox.

Soon after, Mr Gage married Miss Edith Gallup of Duanesburg, NY from whom were born four children viz, Allen, who died when 22 months old, Ora Silas, Peter Z. and Phoebe Margaret, twins, and Alice Irene.  Mr. Gage (with his wife) united with the church at Esperance, Mar 26, 1891 and was ordained an Elder May 8, 1898, which office he filled till his death. 

He was a brother beloved in the church and in the community.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof


A few days ago, I was going through some old cassette tapes and I came across an old tape that stirred a few sweet memories for me.

When I was a little girl…probably before Kindergarten or perhaps the same year, Fiddler on the Roof, the movie, came out.  I don’t know if I saw the movie in the theater…I honestly can’t remember.  However, I do remember riding with my mother in the car and listening to the music.  When Tevye begins singing “If I were a Rich Man,”  Mom and I would sing right along with it.  Perhaps this sounds natural to most people…but honestly Mom was not one to listen to vocal music in the car.  She used to say that she would get too involved with the music.  We had instrumental music playing the in car all the time…but to have a vocalist singing music was different.  Mom was a classically trained musician and singer who was a performer and teacher.  At that time in my life, Mom had several vocal students as well and piano students.  So, when Mom listened to something – she listened with a critical ear.  It was hard for her to really listen to music and enjoy it.

Fiddler on the Roof was different for Mom.  I don’t really remember Mom driving that much.  She quit driving by the time I was 10 years old.  Once my siblings started driving, she really didn’t need to and she really didn’t enjoy it.  So, for me to remember riding in the car with Mom driving and singing music from the stereo was significant.  Whenever I hear the music from the soundtrack, it takes me back to my childhood and singing in the car with my mother.

My niece was in Fiddler on the Roof in high school.  By that point, Mom’s health was poor and she couldn’t really sit in the seats at the theater.  She wanted to see it, but her health didn’t allow that.  I remember Dad and I sitting there watching the opening scenes in the play.  I got quite emotional listening to the familiar music.  My niece wasn’t too happy that she didn’t get the role of one of the daughters…instead she played Yente, the Matchmaker.  I remember telling her that no one remembers who played the daughters from the Broadway production…but everyone remembered Bea Arthurs who played Yente.  Yente was scene stealer of a character, and my niece was one of the most memorable characters in that production.

I remember going home after the play and my Mother was anxiously waiting to hear how it went.  After talking about the kid’s performance, I told her that the music made me a bit teary eyed.  She asked me why…and I told her that I remembered riding in the car with her singing “If I were a Rich Man” along with the soundtrack.  Mom smiled at me and said that she remembered that too.  The next day, while we were back in the den working on our computers, I played the soundtrack on the stereo.  Once again…we sat together listening and singing along to the music.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anyone for Baseball?


Baseball was a big part of the life of the grandfather that I never knew and the great grandfather who I knew the longest.  Both played in their youth and only my great grandfather lived to enjoy the game in during his long lifetime. 

Richard Tannahill was an athlete.  I've been told that he would run down from Webb Ridge where he lived which is over 20 miles.  I’m don’t know that he had much opportunity to participate in a high school or college athletic program – but from what I've been told, Richard was a great runner and baseball player.  When he married my grandmother in 1934, baseball became a bone of contention.  From what I understand – both individuals were exceptionally hard workers and worked long hours…however, Richard would often take time at the end of a long day and play a baseball game.  Knowing my grandmother, she could look at most of his activities such as hunting and see some value in it…I’m sure that she thought baseball was a waste of time.  I've even seen newspaper articles that talk about Richard organizing a baseball team in the Lewiston Orchards.  My mother has few memories of her father, but she did remember him often around kids and playing baseball with them.  Richard never reached the age where he could be a fan watching the game – he was killed in a hunting accident when he was 36. 

Like Richard, Granddad Gage was probably a natural athlete.  Both his parents died when he was 15, and he took his siblings west from New York to live with their maternal grandmother.  Soon after, he took off and got a job and actually joined the Army.  My uncle tells me that he actually rose in the ranks pretty quickly but he wasn't sure if that was because he was a good soldier or a good baseball player.  When he left the military, he met and married my great grandmother and soon after he had a farm and many children.  However, he would take off in the evening and go in and play baseball with his town team.  My uncle tells me about the time that he was in college trying out for the University of Idaho baseball team.  He had a good swing and could the hit the ball far.  The coach was impressed and told him so.  My uncle told him that he had remembered with the coach played as a young man back in Iowa.  The coach looked at my uncle with some surprise and proceeded to tell him a story.  The coach said that he had known a Gage back in Iowa.  He said one day they were playing a baseball game and the pitcher was having some problems.  They called in this rangy fellow from the outfield who came in and pitched seven innings and shut them down.  He was told that this Gage did this after working out in the fields all day.  My uncle told him that he remembered that game well and that that Gage was his father.

Granddad Gage moved to Lewiston, ID in the early 1950’s and took advantage of something that no other town offered him where he had lived before.  Granddad went to just about every Broncs game that he could.  When he retired, he went to every home game.  When my cousins visited from Iowa in 1957, they told me that they went to a baseball game nearly every night while visiting with Granddad.  I know that he took his grandchildren to games as well.  Everyone knew that Granddad didn't want to miss a game.  The Lewiston Broncs were a minor league baseball team that played in Lewiston from about early 1950’s to the mid 1970’s.  There were some famous players such as Reggie Jackson who played here in 1966 and Granddad would often talk about watching Reggie Jackson.  At the time, Lewiston was the smallest city in the United States to have his own professional baseball team.

So, as the World Series starts today, I will think of the grandfather I never knew and the great grandfather that I adored.  I’m not a big baseball fan, but perhaps I always pay attention to the World Series because there is a part of me that gets excited about baseball in October.  It might be in the blood!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Micajah b. 1743


Micajah Pennington is a transitional character in the Pennington genealogy…at least he has been for me.  When I first started researching the Pennington family in relation to my own, I was told that Micajah was ancestor.  I later found out that he wasn't…but all the research that I did on him has paid off in other ways.  I gained an understanding of the region and the complexity of the family.

Micajah Pennington, Sr was born on 28 Apr 1743 in Rowan Co., NC then but it is probably Wilkes Co., NC today.  He was married at the age of 18 in Wilkes Co., NC on 28 Jan 1761 to Rachel Jones who was about two years older than he.  By 9 Dec 1761, their eldest child, Elijah Pennington was born, followed by nine more children.
  • Elijah Pennington b. 9 Dec 1761 Wilkes Co., NC d. aft 1805
  • Micajah Pennington, Jr. b. 13 Dec 1763 Wilkes Co., NC d. aft 1850 near Harlan Co., KY
  • Mary Pennington b. 8 Nov 1765 in Wilkes Co., NC d. 21 Mar 1842 in Breathitt Co., KY
  • Levi Pennington b. 21 Dec 1767 in Wilkes Co., NC d. aft 1815 probably around Lee Co., VA
  • Edward “Neddy” Pennington b. 29 Dec 1769 Wilkes Co., NC d. 5 May 1860 Lee Co., VA
  • Rachel Pennington b. 26 Dec 1771 Wilkes Co., NC d. young
  • Elizabeth “Lesebeth” Pennington b. 10 Aug 1774 Wilkes Co., NC d. aft 18 Jun 1857 Grayson Co., VA
  • Sarah “Sarey” Pennington b. 24 Nov 1776 Wilkes Co., NC d. 1817, Buckhorn, Perry Co., KY
  • Johanna Pennington b. 24 Mar 1779 Wilkes Co., NC d. bef 1860
  • Benajah Pennington  b. 15 Jun 1782 Wilkes Co., NC d. aft 1813

Micajah Pennington was active in the early records of Ashe Co., NC which became a county in 1799.  Acting as a surveyor, his signature is on many land documents.  Micajah appears in court records of Rowan County, NC from 1765-1766 and in 1772 he is appointed Constable “in the neighborhood – up the Catawba River” and also acted as a Justice of the Peace in Wilkes Co., NC.  It is possible that he was also the Micajah Pennington who served in Captain Enoch Osborn’s Company from Montgomery Co., VA.  However, when I was doing some research on him with thoughts of joining the DAR, I was told by another researcher that there was the possibility that he was a British supporter.   Micajah and Rachel are also listed on a Bastardy Bond for their son Edward who had had a child with an Agnes Little.   The child (Ann Little Pennington) was born about 1792 and probably died about 1796.  She was cared for by Micajah and Rachel.  Micajah is listed in Ashe Co., NC as 1806 when he probably moved to Lee Co., VA.  There is a recording on a Tax List in 1815 – but I am suspicious as to whom that Micajah Pennington actually is.  I think that Micajah Pennington probably died sometime after 1812.  It could be as late as 1818 – but once again, it is difficult to ascertain who the Micajah Pennington is on those records.

All of Micajah Pennington’s known descendants come through his daughter Mary who married Jesse Bolling, Edward “Neddy” who married Martha Jane Flanary, Elizabeth who married John Barton, Sarah who married Dr. Samuel Johnston and Johanna who married Douglas Dickson.  I can say with no certainty that there are known descendants of Elijah, Levi, Rachel or Benajah.  Of those four, I believe that Rachel died young.  However, unless there is some documentation out there that is as yet unknown…we may never know of any descendants of the other three children.  Most of Micajah Pennington’s descendants lived around Lee Co., VA, Kentucky, Grayson Co., VA and a few in Ashe Co., NC.

The most trustworthy of sources that I know that is available is a Bible record that was found in a pension application for Elizabeth Pennington for her husband, John Barton.  There is an actual copy of the birthdates of all of their children.  There is no further information that I know of that tells us who Micajah Pennington’s parents were.  The assumption is that he was probably a son of Benajah Pennington and Elizabeth Humphries.  So, with all the research that I have done on Micajah Pennington and those that I have corresponded with over the years…I have an understanding of the complications of researching these families.  Fifteen years ago…I believed that there was one Micajah during the time period…I now suspect that there might have been two.  There is also another Edward Pennington floating around the region and don’t get me started on the Benajah Pennington’s and Ephraim Penningtons.  Somehow they are all interwoven.  DNA has provided some clues, but it can’t give us the exact relationship.  Whatever the case, when talking about the Ashe Co., NC Penningtons – one needs to always look at Micajah Pennington and his family.  Previous to 1800, Micajah is a central character in this family web – and it is still unknown as to how he is related to the family – all we can say is that through DNA, we know he is.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Great Resource…

A few days ago, I became aware of a fabulous new resource for the researcher in the Lewiston-Clarkston area and nearby environs.  There are a lot of newspapers that have been uploaded to Google News Archive so this applies to a lot of other areas as well.  If you go to http://news.google.com/newspapers# and look for your newspaper – you might be surprised what you will find!

Now I have spent a lot of time down at Lewis Clark State College, here in Lewiston, Idaho looking at the microfilm of the Lewiston Morning Tribune looking for obituaries or other types of news stories.  I didn't really hope that my local newspaper would be available in the near future – but after an email from Jill Nock of the Twin River Genealogical Society, I found out that my local newspaper was online which is available at http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=BtfE7wd9KvMC .  Now, this isn't a perfect system, there are a lot of issues that aren't available yet, but the archive starts on January 2, 1900 and runs through the 2000’s and they are in black and white.  You might wonder at some of the usefulness of the archive.

I was wandering around a little bit and looked at the issue from late January 1944 and found the obituary of my step grandfather’s grandmother.  I knew that she died in Oregon and didn't really expect to find much, but there in black and white was her obituary.  It gave me a piece of information that I had always been curious about.  Mary Crumpacker was originally married to Jesse Green Shearer and he died in 1888.  I never knew what the cause of his death was…because he was a young man.  According to the obituary posted for Mary Crumpacker Earl (Thomas Perrin Earl was her second husband) Jesse Shearer died of pneumonia.  Now, I most likely would not have been able to obtain a death record because of the time period and without a lot more research and time I don’t have, I might not have found that Jesse Shearer had died of pneumonia.  There are lots of interesting tidbits in these old obituaries.

Then I decided to try out the search engine and typed in Ora + Gage to see what I would find.  I knew that my great grandparents might have several entries in the local newspaper.  I was pleased with some of the information that I located….and it wasn't just only in my local paper.  It searched all of the newspaper archives.  I found announcements of when their sons were home on leave during Korea and National Guard service.  I found an article about my great uncle’s first marriage.  I loved these marriage articles from the early 1950’s – they mention all types of details such as what the bride’s maid of honor was wearing and how the mothers of the groom and bride are dressed.  I assumed that one my uncle’s brothers was his best man…but I never would have guessed that it was one of his older brothers.  Right below that article was another announcement of my father’s teacher who was widowed while he had her as a teacher and her remarriage.  In fact, her son ended up as part of the family when he married my cousin. 

I foresee many happy hours looking through these archives and am excited by what I may find.  With my little clipping program in Windows 7, I can save these images and attach them to my genealogy database with very little effort on my part.  Sounds like a win – win situation for me!