Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Early Pope Ancestors

You will never find one of my ancestors listed on the Ellis Island records or probably any immigrant records past 1810.  From what I have been able to discover, most of my ancestors arrived much earlier with a large group arriving in the 1700’s and many arrived much earlier including the group that arrived on the Mayflower and shortly thereafter.  One of these couples both arrived with their families shortly after the Mayflower’s arrival in 1620 and were my 8th great grandparents
Thomas Pope was born about 1608 in England – as far as I know, his parents are unknown.  He arrived in America around 1632 and married Ann Fallowell in 1637 in Plymouth Co., MA and after her death married Sarah Jenney on 19 May 1646 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA.  Thomas first appears on the 1633 tax list and is listed as a cooper by occupation.  He was chosen as a Constable in Plymouth in 1645 and a surveyor of highways in 1651 and 1652.  Thomas owned several lots of land including Plymouth and Dartmouth.  He died before Aug 1683 when his estate is inventoried.  Thomas would be counted as one of the more prominent men of the colony. 

Sarah Jenney, Thomas Pope’s second wife, was born in July 1623 on the “Little James” while crossing the ocean to her parents, John Jenney and Sarah Carey.  I have heard John Jenney described as a cooper and as a brewer.  However, he was most known as a miller and built a mill in 1636 that remained in continuous operation until it was destroyed by a fire in 1847.  The Jenney Grist mill was a center for commerce because John Jenney would usually trade goods and services for the milling of corn, wheat, and rye flours.  When Thomas Pope and Sarah Jenney married in 1646 it was after the death of her father who died in 1644.  They had 7 children.  I am descended from both their oldest son, Seth, and their youngest son, Isaac.  Seth’s son, Elnathan married Isaac’s daughter Margaret Pope.
While Thomas Pope and Sarah Jenney were probably considered to be a fairly successful family in the colony, they experienced one of the worst tragedies that any family could face.  Susannah Pope and her husband Jacob Mitchell and her younger brother, John were killed by King Phillip’s warriors as they were fleeing to the Dartmouth garrison in July 1675.  If you have never heard of “King Philip’s War” you can look at http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com/enquirer/king_philip.htm - King Philip aka Metacomet was the Chief of the Wampanoags who led a war against the Plymouth colony villages.  The whole situation was a disaster for both the Puritans and the Wampanoags.
If you are interested in further information on the Pope family – You can check out the “Genealogy of Thomas Pope (1608-1883) and his descendants” at http://books.google.com/books/about/Genealogy_of_Thomas_Pope_1608_1883_and_h.html?id=E3tIAAAAMAAJ

You can also visit www.findagrave.com and see some of the early Pope gravestones including that of Deborah Perry, wife of Seth Pope a the Acushnet Cemetery which is the oldest stone still in existence at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8233908

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Source of Frustration...

My mother was the daughter of Oliver Richard Tannahill…but he was known as O. Richard Tannahill meaning that I assume he didn’t like his first name.  He died in a hunting accident in 1947 when my mother had just barely turned 6.  Her memories of him were vague and hazy and she only had a few precious memories.  So much of what she knew, she learned from others who admired and loved him.  So, the Tannahill branch was never an easy family to research for me.  I didn’t have the resource of a grandfather to learn from or a mother who had a lifetime of her father’s stories.  All we had to really start with was a few names and dates…so Mom and I took it from there.

Top Left - Ted, George, Richard, Sam - Lower Left - Rachel, John & Viney - older brother Earl not pictured - he died in 1942.  Photo was taken in 1945 at the funeral of John Lyons Tannahill.
We began our research on the Tannahill family with the names of Richard’s siblings and his parents.  A photograph was taken at the funeral of Grandpa Tannahill (John Lyons Tannahill) that included 7 of the 8 siblings and allowed us to see what they looked like as adults.  Later on we also got a picture of the entire family taken at a much younger age.  A cousin had a book that she had gotten at the Family History library down in Salt Lake City that Mom and I copied.  As we began to read the book (Genealogical History of the Tannahills, Tannehills and Taneyhills by James B. Tannehill), it illuminated a lot of the story of the Tannahill family since their arrival in America in the 1600’s.  However, it soon became a study of frustration as well.  The author had lovingly articulated stories that he had gathered by letters and archived documents but he neglected to include any of the sources.  So, while the story was great it was lacking a way to use the book as proof of anything.

Our family line is an excellent example of this…John Lyons Tannahill was born on 28 Apr 1873 in Jonesburg, Chautauqua Co., KS as the 3rd living child.  His father died eight days before his birth of an unknown cause.  John’s mother, Almira, remarried a few years later to a Samuel Pennell and had 7 more children with him.  So, we knew that Grandpa Tannahill was the son of John Lyons Tannahill and Almira Jones – but where did the line go from there.  Grandpa Tannahill’s father was also named John Lyons Tannahill and he was born 9 Feb 1840 in Ohio and died 19 Apr 1873 in Chautauqua Co., KS.  He was the third child of 8 children born to Mary Fillinger and possibly Frank Tannehill.  Of those 8 children, only two lived beyond 1900 and of the two that survived past 1900, only one can be traced to their death.  It is unknown where the family lived before they went to Iowa other than to say Ohio.  It is also unknown when Frank Tannehill died.  We know that he died before 1850, because he is not recorded in the 1850 census with his wife, Mary Fillinger.  She is recorded in every census until her death in 1897.  Tragically she must have seen the deaths of 6 of her 8 children before her own death.  Frank Tannehill was reputed to be born about 1788, so he must have been an old man when he married Mary “Polly” Fillinger, by my estimation about 47 years old.  According to James B. Tannehill, Frank was the son of James Tannehill and Jemima Smith who probably was born either in Virginia or Somerset Co., PA.  He left his father’s home in 1810 and went to Virginia and then down to Nicholas Co., KY where he is recorded in 1830 as unmarried.  According to James Tannehill, hen then went to Iowa to live out his days.  This is obviously incorrect, because the four children who were born before 1845 were born in Ohio.  The first child recorded as being born in Iowa was in May 1845. 

Most of this information is in James Tannehill’s book and although I have added detail to the line, in essence it is the same.  I believe from the way he wrote his book that he got a lot of his information from the archives in Washington D. C. and from letters that he wrote to Tannehill families all over the United States. (You might have noticed that I spell the name differently from John Lyons Tannahill down…that is because that is the way our family has always spelled it)  I believe that James Tannehill is right on the line and I suspect that he got his information from Charlotte Tannahill Bucey or her adopted sons.  Charlotte was the last living Tannahill sibling and she died in 1934.  So, if that is where he got the information, I’m sure that is correct according to the best information that he had available.  However, I’ve yet to find anything that helps me confirm anything for several reasons.
  • John Lyons Tannahill died in 1873 in Jonesburg, KS and there are no death records available until after 1904.
  • While I have a death record for Mary “Polly” Fillinger Tannahill, there is no listing of either her parents or her husband’s name.
  • Because of Iowa laws, I can’t get a copy of Charlotte Tannahill Bucey’s official death record because I am not a direct descendant.  The copy that I obtained from the local archive doesn’t give me any information on her lineage.

So, although the James B. Tannehill’s book is a marvelous resource, it has been a source of frustration.  Although I keep trying to find information that proves my line of Tannahills – I feel as if I am chipping away at a brick wall.  Perhaps someday, I will find the magic piece of information that blows that brick wall away.  I’ve been searching for almost 15 years…so hopefully my persistence will pay off.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Lifetime of Changes

My great grandmother (Sophie Dollar Friddle aka Mom Friddle) was born either on January 27 or January 28 in 1894.  According to Mom Friddle she was born around midnight on the 27th…and her step grandmother, Lulu, thought she was born after midnight and therefore on the 28th of January – so that was the date that she celebrated as her birthday.  She died the day before my birthday in 1979 on February 8th.  It is hard for me to believe that it was over 30 years ago now.

The little house near Shingletown, TN where Mom Friddle was born.
Mom Friddle grew up in a small house in a holler about two miles from the nearest small town of Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN.  Within three months of her birth, her mother died at the tender age of 21 and Mom Friddle was left to be raised by her grandfather, Alexander Monroe Dollar and step grandmother, Sarah “Lulu” Pearce.  I suspect that she had an idyllic childhood – she had little responsibility and was the adored granddaughter of a woman who never had any children of her own.  I remember Mom Friddle telling me about that house that she grew up in and how she used to walk to town to the store.  I used to think that she meant Mountain City – but now I know that it was the little town at the end of the road that burned down near the turn of the 20th century.  When her grandfather died in 1908, her father made noises about bringing Mom Friddle to live with him and his new family.  She was encouraged by her grandmother to get married to stop her father from stealing her away.  Mom Friddle eloped and soon she was the mother of a young child traveling west to Oregon to join her husband on a train.  (The story of her elopement is a grand story for another time).

When my mother was born, Mom Friddle was still a relatively young woman at 46.  Since I am turning 45 soon, it seems even younger now.  My mother lived just about 100 yards away from her grandparents and spent a great deal of time with them.  Like her grandmother, she was an adored granddaughter who enjoyed the love and attention of her grandparents.  I’m sure Mom didn’t recognize at the time how fortunate she was to be so close to her grandparents – but she certainly did later in life.  Mom Friddle was integral part of my mother’s life and young marriage.  Since my mother’s own mother was still working, it was Mom Friddle who she talked often to and sought advice on a multitude of issues.  My mother said that Mom Friddle taught her a lot of lessons both by words and examples.  One of the most important lessons that Mom took to heart was to always keep some “jingle money” as Mom Friddle termed it.  She meant that my mother should always keep her own money and not be totally dependent on any man.  Throughout my mother’s life, she always squirreled away a bit of money to cover the odd emergency that came up…that was a lesson that came from her grandmother.

Mom Friddle - about 1955
Mom asked her grandmother in the early 1970’s if she wished that she had lived in another time.  Mom Friddle looked at her and replied that she felt that had lived in the most exciting time of human history.  The first time she saw a train, she got on it and road clear across the country.  The first car was also the first time she got to ride in a car.  During her lifetime telephones, radio, and television became commonplace and she had lived to see women get the vote and had seen so many technological advances that it boggled the mind.  When she was a child, man only dreamed of flying and she had seen a man walking around on the moon on television. Mom Friddle said that she didn't know if there would ever be a time of such growth in technology and travel as she had seen her lifetime – from the beginning of flight to going to space and landing on the moon.   It really is remarkable when you thing of the world of her childhood and the changes that she saw in her lifetime – it makes one wonder what changes will occur in our lifetimes and if we will look back in awe just as she did!  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Andrews…

I have been studying the Pennington family for about 15 years.  In the beginning, I concentrated my efforts on my 3rd Great grandmother and her family.  I became the group leader for the PRA Group 7 – which were the descendants of Micajah Pennington.  As I expanded my research, I looked at all of the Pennington in the Ashe Co., NC area and later expanded my search to Watauga Co., NC, Wilkes Co., NC, Grayson Co., VA, Smyth Co., VA, Lee Co., VA, Washington Co., VA, Harlan Co., KY & Johnson Co., TN.  I call this group the “Ashe Co., NC Penningtons” – which includes Penningtons in Group 4, 7, 12, 30, 31, &32.  Most of my time has been spent on the Groups 7 and 30 which includes the majority of the Penningtons living today in Ashe Co., NC, Smyth Co., VA, Washington Co., VA, and Johnson Co., TN.  One of my most challenging puzzles involved two Andrew Penningtons who had too many similarities.

Most of the Group 30 Pennington descend from Andrew Pennington b. 11 Oct 1809 in Ashe Co., NC.  He is the son of Abram Pennington.  Although Andrew had siblings – he seems to be the primary direct ancestor of most of the Smyth Co., and Washington Co., VA Pennington.  Andrew married Hester Ann Blevins about 1835 in Ashe Co., NC.  Hester was the daughter of James Blevins and Lydia Sizemore and along with two of her siblings married Pennington siblings.  Hester and Andrew had 14 children and both lived fairly long lives.  If you follow Andrew’s path in the census he is located in the following locations:
  • 1850 Census – Ashe Co., NC
  • 1860 Census – Western District, Washington Co., VA
  • 1870 Census – Abington, Washington Co. VA
  • 1880 Census – Holston, Washington Co., VA
  • Died 11 Oct 1882 – Smyth Co., VA and buried at Laurel Cemetery, Smyth Co., VA

By my count, Andrew and Hester had 72 grandchildren – it is no wonder that their descendants are so plentiful.

The second Andrew was born a few years later on 7 Sept 1813 in Ashe Co., NC.  He was the son of Ephraim Pennington b. 1769.  (I differentiate these Pennington sometimes by their birth years because there are multiple Penningtons with the same first name)  At first, it seemed possible that he was son of Levi Pennington b. 1794 and a brother of my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth Pennington.  There are 14 to 16 children that are attributed to Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson – however, this Andrew Pennington is not one of them.  Instead, he is a younger brother of Levi Pennington.  You might wonder how we came to that conclusion.  I say “we” because there were several people involved in looking at and studying the information.  We came to that conclusion after a close reading of a letter that we had a copy of that was written by Daniel Pennington, a younger brother of Andrew.  In this letter, Daniel is visiting his brother in Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN and talks about visiting his son’s uncle Levi the next day in Ashe Co., NC.  This meant that Levi was not Andrew’s father, but rather his brother and the Ephraim that he was recorded with in 1850 was most likely his father.  At the time I first started researching him – I didn’t realize the important role that Andrew played in my family’s history.  My 3rd Great grandmother, Elizabeth and her husband Alexander Monroe Dollar left Ashe Co., NC and moved to Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN sometime after 1880.  I’m sure they went to Laurel Bloomery because Elizabeth’s uncle was already living there with his family.  So…here is Andrew’s path through the census –
  • 1850 – Ashe Co., NC
  • 1860 – Ward’s Forge, Johnson Co., TN
  • 1870 – Taylorsville, Johnson Co., TN
  • 1880  - Johnson Co., TN
  • Died – 29 Dec 1894 – Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN (Laurel Bloomery area)
  • Buried – Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery, Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN

Andrew's grave at Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery - Johnson Co., TN
Andrew married Mary Elizabeth Pope around 1835 and were the parents of 8 children. Andrew married a second time after Mary Elizabeth Pope’s death to an Elizabeth Shepherd sometime after 1884.  Andrew and his wife had about 25 grandchildren.  However, if you look at those buried at Wesley Methodist Cemetery in Shingletown, I would estimate that about 70% of those buried there are somehow connected to Andrew and his descendants. 

View looking towards the Wesley Methodist Church from the cemetery.
So, when you research Andrew Pennington b. 1809 or Andrew Pennington b. 1813 you will find them in close geographic proximity in almost every census.  Not only is that a problem, when you look at census records, it is common to find mistakes in the years of birth.  So either one could easily be mistaken for the other – the only way to truly separate them is to look at their wives.  It took me a few years to locate them in all the census records and to build my database to include their children and other descendants.  Now, as a Pennington dies in the region – I spend the time to add their information to my database and attempt to connect them.  When I can’t connect them – I am often drawn in a whole other direction of research.  You might say that these two Andrew’s were my first tangents in other genealogy directions and I’ve never stopped looking at their families or adding new information to my database.  So my tale of two Andrews is always in flux and probably will never be complete.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Albert Friddles - An Admirable Person!

There are a lot of mysteries for me about the life of Albert Ananias Friddles and no one around to clear up any of those mysteries.  He was an incredibly significant person in the life of my great grandparents and what I know of his life signifies him as admirable person.

Albert pictured with his youngest daughter Elvia - who he raised  on his own! - Probably taken about 1920.
Albert was born on 22 May 1854 to Moses S. Friddles and ? Munday in North Carolina (at a guess I would say Lenoir Co., NC) His death record doesn’t supply the name of his mother and his sister’s birth record only supplies a surname.  Albert married Cordelia A. Vaught on 15 Mar 1883 in Johnson Co., TN.  She was the daughter of Joseph Leonard Vaught and Louisa Jane “Lou” Mast.  Albert and Cordelia left their home in Vaughtsville, Johnson Co., TN in 1888 and came west and settled at first in Garfield Co., WA and then got a homestead up on Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR.  They had had three sons back in TN and added three daughters to their family.  One of those daughters died at about a month old in 1898.  Cordelia had either pneumonia or consumption and died on 20 Oct 1901 and is buried at the original home place on Grouse Flats.  Albert was left alone to care for his 5 children ranging in age from 6 months old to 18 as wells as take care of his property and provide for his family.  This would be a difficult task today…but at the turn of the 20th century – it must have seemed almost impossible.

When Albert left Tennessee, he left behind his family and even some siblings who he never had met.  David Carl Friddle or Pop Friddle as our family calls him was 34 years younger than his brother.  Unless Albert made a few trips back to Tennessee, I’m sure the only way they had communicated was probably by letter.  Albert encouraged his younger siblings to come west.  His sister Julia came early in the 1900’s and his youngest brother, David Carl Friddle came out in 1910.  Both of them established homesteads up on Grouse Flats and I’m sure they relied a great deal on their brother.  Pop Friddle (David Carl Friddle) never knew his father and I suspect that Albert became the father figure who he had never had.  A few months after Pop Friddle came out, his young wife, Sophia Dollar Friddle joined him with their year old son Jasper “Jack.”  Pop Friddle had a small shack built to house his young family while he worked at the railroad during the week.  It was up to Albert to supply the guidance and advice that Mom Friddle needed to survive on her own.  Geneva Hansen (Albert’s granddaughter) told me that many times Albert came home from visiting Mom Friddle and told his daughter in law that she really needed to go over and show that girl how to cook.  Albert also supplied her with lessons on how to build and do carpentry as well as an attitude that “can’t” should never be part of her vocabulary.  Mom Friddle took his lessons to heart and when her husband returned one weekend from working on the railroad he found the house that he had built moved to another location that was closer to the water and more convenient.  It might have taken her dozens of trips and extraordinary hard work…but she accomplished her goal.

Albert was also the local midwife.  When Mom Friddle went in to labor with my grandmother Capitola, it was Albert who delivered her.  Mom and Pop Friddle left Grouse Flats in the early 1920’s and moved to Pomeroy, WA so their son Jack could attend high school.  Albert left the old homestead to his son, Joe and he too went to Pomeroy to live with his youngest daughter.  He died there in 1928 at the age of 74 years old.  Albert was mourned by Mom & Pop Friddle as well as all of Albert’s descendants.  He had made an impact on a lot of people.  

Albert's grave up on Grouse Flats, Wallowa Co., OR at Bartlett Cemetery.
It is interesting to note that Albert was buried back up at Grouse Flats at Bartlett Cemetery.  This is interesting because there really is no short way during October to make it over the mountain between Pomeroy and Grouse Flats.  If there was much snow - the quickest route would have been impossible.  He was buried two days after his death, and I am sure the trip to take him over to be buried had to be long and arduous especially in whatever transportation they had available at that point.  Let me explain – I have taken the route by car from Bartlett Cemetery to Pomeroy, WA in the middle of the summer.  The road is a dirt road with a lot of ruts and some areas that would be very rough to traverse.  The drive probably took me about 2 ½ hours in good weather.  If there was snow, then that route would have been impossible.  If you drive from Pomeroy, WA to Lewiston, ID – that is 40 miles but it is another 60 miles or so to get to Troy, OR.  Today that trip would take at least 3 hours because of the rough country – back then with dirt roads, poor equipment, etc – it probably took three times that long.  Nevertheless, he is buried at a small country cemetery near the home that he loved.  I don’t think he ever regretted coming west because there was no opportunity for him to own land or be prosperous back in Johnson Co., TN.  Albert was a pioneer who forged a new life in a difficult land and helped his family make new lives for themselves as well.  All in all…an admirable person!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Am I related to Andrew Johnson?

Every few months I get an email from someone who is wondering if they might be related some way to President Andrew Johnson.  They’ve heard from some relative that they are related to him and in some cases they think that it must be true because their family came from Tennessee…and so did Andrew Johnson….except he was born in North Carolina!  So here is a little history about Andrew Johnson.

Andrew Johnson was born on 29 Dec 1808 in Raleigh, Wake Co., NC to Jacob Johnson and Mary “Polly” McDonogh.  His father died tragically on 4 Jan 1812 after saving three men from drowning leaving his mother in dire straits financially with two sons to care for.  She got both of her son’s positions as tailor apprentices and then helped them leave their apprenticeship and go to Greenville, TN when they were in their late teens. This was in the late 1820’s.  Andrew married at the age of 18 to 16 year old Eliza McCardle. She essentially helped teach her husband to read, write and to math…and was an extremely important part of Andrew Johnson’s successes in life.  My 3rd great grandfather was a younger brother of Jacob Johnson’s and he and his family lived in Granville, NC.  It is interesting to note that Andrew as a youth was a member of what might now be called a gang of boys that ran around town.  Many of these boys were cousins of Andrew’s and his brothers and in an older group than my 2nd great grandfather.  One of these boys was hung for murder in the early 1840’s and this is about the same time that my family left North Carolina for Tennessee.  I don’t know if there is a connection…but it certainly looks suspicious to me. 

So by 1844, is a successful businessman and serving as the U. S. Representative from Tennessee’s 1st congressional district and served 5 terms in the U. S. House of Representatives.  He served two terms as Governor of Tennessee and then was elected as United States Senator.  He fought those who wanted Tennessee to secede from the Union and while unsuccessful he was appointed as the Military Governor of Tennessee and later became Lincoln’s Vice President.  After Lincoln’s death, Johnson became President.  President Andrew Johnson was not well liked – mostly because he wasn’t Lincoln.  Although, I’m sure his diplomatic skills were sadly lacking.  As he began to put in place the Reconstruction policies that Lincoln wanted – the Radical Republicans put in laws called the Reconstruction Acts designed to punish the south and established a law that took the power of the President to appoint or fire members of his own cabinet. (The Tenure of Office Act) He was impeached because of his refusal to honor this law and after much political finagling; the impeachment was unsuccessful at removing Johnson from office.  After his term was over, Johnson returned to Tennessee and traveled throughout the state giving speeches.  He attempted twice to be reelected first to the House and later the Senate and finally successfully to the Senate in 1874.  He died of a stroke suffered at his daughter’s home at Stoney Creek, near Elizabethton, Carter Co., TN.   Johnson’s body was wrapped in a flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution was put under his head and he was buried in Greeneville, TN in what is now known as the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.
Home where Andrew Johnson died in Carter Co., TN
Andrew Johnson's grave.

Andrew Johnson grave - on Memorial Hill.

Early home of Andrew Johnson at the Andrew Johnson Historical Site in Greeneville, TN

For years, my father told us that he had been told of a family relationship to Pres. Andrew Johnson and Mom and I never really believed him.  Mostly because we had been down this road before and had never found any proof…until around 1999 when we received a copy of an article written by Hugh Buckner Johnston that quoted a letter written by Henderson Johnson addressed to Cousin Andy.  In this letter, mention is made of Henderson’s father and brothers and special note about Aunt Mary (Andrew Johnson’s mother) this letter was found in Andrew Johnson’s papers at his library.  So, finally my father was proven correct and the doubt that Mom and I had shared was erased.  However, most people don’t have a document to provide strong evidence as to a connection and so they base what they think they know on family stories.  Out of the dozens of people who have written me about a connection, only one or two have a possible connection from what I’ve been able to discover.  The Johnson name is extremely hard to research and theories don’t measure up very often.  However, I welcome those who ask and when I have the time, I do some research to see if something may match.  Mostly because in the end – it is nice to help someone else and you never know when someone may have something really interesting to share that helps me as well.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jasper Bailey

I’ve always been curious about my great grandmother’s grandfather, Jasper Bailey.   Her mother died a few months after she was born, so my great grandmother never knew her mother – but she must have known her grandfather and I suspect that she was fond of him, since she named her oldest son after him!

Jasper L. Bailey was born on 25 May 1842 probably in Ohio and died 1 Jan 1928 in Denton’s Valley, Washington Co., VA.  I first find Jasper in the 1870 census in North Fork Twp, Ashe Co., NC with his two oldest children, Georgianna Caroline Bailey b. abt 1864 and George Columbus Bailey b. abt 1866, his second wife Margaret and their oldest child, Colorado Bailey b. Jan 1870.  I later discover that he was married to Martha Ellen Church b. abt 1843 and d. bef 1868.  Based on the age of the oldest known child, he probably married Martha abt 1863.  Martha was the daughter of Noah Howard Church and Jencie McCall.  She probably grew up near what is now Watauga Co., NC – I suspect somewhere around Cove Creek.  By 1868, she has died and Jasper has married Margaret.  I have no real idea what Margaret’s surname was nor her parent’s names – at a guess, I suspect that her surname might be Dozier – but I have nothing to confirm that.  This second marriage produces the aforementioned Colorado b. Jan 1870, Buena Vista b. abt Apr 1872 and Jonathan W. b. abt 1874.  Margaret probably dies in childbirth with Jonathan in 1874.  Jasper then marries a widow, Rachel McBride in 1876 and they are the parents of Ninevah Frank b. 1876, Joanna A. b. 16 Nov 1879, Arrinda E. b. 20 Mar 1882, and Luther Jasper b. 29 Feb 1884.  All of this third family were born in Johnson Co., TN.    Rachel McBride was the daughter of Barzilla McBride and Elizabeth “Betsy” Eggers.  She was first married at 13 to George Washington Hilliard, who probably died in the Civil War. She then married Noah Howard Church (the brother of Jasper’s first wife, Martha Ellen Church) in 1865 and after his death around 1875, she marries Jasper.

Jasper Bailey - taken around 1900
These are the facts that I know of Jasper’s life…which has taken about 15 years to ascertain from research.  I know from census records that he was born in Ohio and that he lived in North Fork Twp, Ashe Co., NC in 1870, Dist. 1, Johnson Co., TN in 1880, Neva & Vought’s Gap, Johnson Co., TN in 1891 according to the Veteran’s schedule and is in Washington Co., VA by 1900 and lives there until his death in 1928.  I’ve tried to locate a death record for him and have been unsuccessful as well as marriage records which I am not sure they exist any longer.   Jasper served in the 3rd NC Infantry, Co B in the Union army and was injured at the skirmish at the Red Banks of the Chucky River.  He served from August of 1864 to August of 1865 and the copy I have of his pension is the best documentation that I have of him and his life.
Several years ago, I met his granddaughter in law who I believe is still alive and in her 90’s.  She told me at that point that Jasper was in pretty bad shape by the time he passed away.  The injury that he had received in the war had permanently damaged his leg and by the time he died he was pretty crippled.  I know from other family stories that Jasper helped support his family by hunting bear and also as a farmer.  I suspect that he was well beloved by his family.  My great grandmother was raised by her paternal grandfather, Alexander Monroe Dollar and his second wife, Lulu Pearce.  When she married and had her first child, she named him Jasper James Friddle.  The Jasper was obviously for her grandfather and the James was for her husband’s brother.  (Interesting enough, Jack never liked the name Jasper and changed it legally when he graduated from high school.)  For Mom Friddle (my great grandmother) to name her son after her grandfather I think that I can make two conclusions – one that she saw him fairly often and that she was quite fond of him.  She was an excellent judge of character so I suspect that he was well loved by her.

Bailey Home Place in Denton Valley, Washington Co., VA
Jasper Bailey & Rachel McBride's grave at Montgomery Cemetery, Washington Co., VA.
During that first trip back to TN/VA in 2001 – I was fortunate to be shown where Jasper was buried which showed his birth and death dates and the location of his home place in Denton Valley.  I’ve also met via email a few other descendants of his who have shared stories and photos of Jasper and his family.  I am still frustrated that there is so much still undiscovered about him.  His second wife, Margaret is particularly frustrating.  She is my great great great grandmother and all I know about her is her first name and a general idea of the dates she was born and died.  I suspect that her surname might have been Dozier, but I have never discovered anything to back up that theory.  Mom Friddle had a sister named Bessie Margaret Elizabeth Dozier Dollar.  She was obviously named for her two grandmothers (Elizabeth Pennington was the wife of Alexander Monroe Dollar and mother of John Dula Dollar and Margaret was the mother of Buena Vista Bailey)…but I still wonder where that Dozier came from.  Perhaps someday someone will be able to assist me in finding something new about Jasper and Margaret…in the meantime, I will keep searching and trying to unravel the puzzle further!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Connections – Gallups & Shawvers

One of the most fascinating things about genealogy research is the discovery of connections between individuals with your database and sometimes you find them by accident and other times it is merely the exercise of putting the pieces together.  For example – my great grandfather’s uncle Hugh and my great grandmother’s older sister Jessie; an interesting picture is made when you look at their connections.
Hugh Gallup was the youngest son of Silas Gallup and Phebe Ann Montanye and was born on 28 Feb 1886 in Duanesburg, Schenectady Co., NY – my great great grandmother Edith was his oldest sibling born on 28 Jan 1860.  Edith married Orlando Gage and their oldest surviving son was my great grandfather Ora Silas Gage who was born on 5 Apr 1892.  After the death of his parents within eight days of each other in 1908, Ora brought his younger siblings west to live with their maternal grandmother, Phebe Montanye Gallup.  Silas and Phebe came out west in 1887 when Hugh was a young child.  So…here is the interesting connection – Hugh married Jessie Shawver on 7 Oct 1909 in Burt Co., NE and Jessie was the older sister of my great grandmother, Florence. 

Jessie Mabel Shawver was born 13 Oct 1891 to George Christian Shawver and Rebecca Jane “Frankie” Pitsenbarger. When she married Hugh Gallup in 1909, I have to wonder if it was an opportunity for Hugh’s nephew Ora and Jessie’s sister Florence to meet – which you might guess by now would be a significant connection in my family.  Evidently both Hugh and Jessie thought very well of Ora and Florence because they named their second daughter, Florence Oriana Gallup for both of them.  (Granddad Gage and Grandma married on 4 Sep 1917)  Evidently thought, Hugh and Jessie did not have a successful marriage and divorced sometime after 1916.  Hugh left Nebraska and went back to New York and left Jessie with four young children to raise.  Within three years, Jessie has remarried.

Jessie’s younger brother, George married Clara Adele “Midge” Bacon on 10 Feb 1915 in Lyons, Burt Co., NE and Midge was the daughter of John Francis Bacon and Emily Simpson.  Not too long after their marriage, Emily Simpson Bacon dies on 2 Nov 1917.  As I am sure that it is common in small towns, families know each other and some interesting connections can sometimes occur.  Within a few years Jessie Shawver and John Francis Bacon marry on 14 Jun 1919 probably in Lyons, Burt Co., NE.  So…Jessie has been married to one sister’s uncle-in-law and is now married to her brother’s father-in-law.  John Francis Bacon and Jessie have five children and poor Midge now has nieces and nephews who are her half-brother’s and sisters and a father who is her brother in law. 

However…we aren’t quite finished with Hugh Gallup.  After Hugh returned to New York, he went back to the Albany, NY area and worked as an engineer.  There he met and married a spinster named Marilla E. Latta on 12 Oct 1935 in Delmar, Albany Co., NY.  For several years, that is all I knew about her was her name and after some research, I was able to figure out her birth date and death date and her parents.  She was born 16 May 1889 in Clarksville, Albany Co., NY and died on 5 Jul 1938 in Albany, Albany Co., NY and was the daughter of George W. Latta and Julia Ann Hotaling.  Both the Latta and the Hotaling names were red flags to me.  Granddad Gage’s father, Orlando was married first to a Charity Hotaling.  Their oldest son’s name was Burton Latta Gage.  Somehow those names were connected.  After more research, I found out that Julia Ann Hotaling and Charity Hotaling were sisters and the daughters of Michael Hotaling and Ellen Robertson.  So I would assume that Charity Hotaling had a significant fondness for her brother-in-law to give her oldest son the middle name of Latta.  I can find no other connections other than that. 

So – here is an interesting lesson.  Don’t forget to research the siblings of your ancestors…you never know what stories may emerge!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is it Pitsenbarger or Pitsenberger?

When you have German ancestry coupled with a strange name – you come across some interesting spellings.  My great great grandmother’s name was Rebecca Jane “Frankie” Pitsenbarger.  She was the youngest child of William Pitsenbarger and his wife Mary Amick.  During my research into her family – I have seen the name Pitsenbarger spelled numerous ways.
Rebecca Jane "Frankie" Pitsenbarger - my great great grandmother

The earliest known ancestor of my great great grandmother was Abraham Pitzenberger who arrived sometime before 1766 probably from either Germany or Switzerland.  He married Elizabeth Teysinger whose family came from the Alsace Lorraine region for France which is an area that contains a lot of German people.  Abraham and Elizabeth married in Lancaster Co., PA and moved soon after to Virginia.  They named their children typical German names like Johann Jacob, Abraham, Johann Peter, Elizabeth Ann, John and Philip.  Abraham fought in the Revolutionary War and dies aft 15 Apr 1781.  I am descended through his son Abraham, Jr.  By this time, the name has morphed from Pitzenberger to Pitsenbarger.  Abraham married Mary Magdaline Cowger in 1795 in the Shenandoah Co., VA and their son, Peter is my 4th great grandfather.  The family has moved by this time to what is now Nicholas Co., WV and Peter and his wife, Elizabeth Amick have a large family of 11 children.  We are now down to William Pitsenbarger and his wife Mary Amick.  You might have noticed that William’s wife and mother have the same last name.  I noticed it too…it took me 6 months to track down how they were connected.  Mary’s father, Jacob and William’s mother Elizabeth were the children of Henry Amick, Jr. and Elizabeth Barbara Niemand…so therefore William and Mary were first cousins. 

The Pitsenbarger family is still fairly prevalent in the West Virginia and in Darke Co., OH.  While researching this family you have to look for a number of spellings – there is Pitsenbarger, Pittsenbarger, Pittsonberger, Pitsonbarger, Pitzenberger, Pitsenberger and I’m sure many more that have escaped my memory.  It must have been a very challenging name for the census takers, because you are never quite sure which spelling that you will find.  They will even have brothers who have their families on the same census page with different spellings for each one.  I finally came to the conclusion that I would standardize the spelling for my line as much as I could. 

I am not alone in my struggles to find common spellings of names.  In some ways, I probably have it easier than most.  At least you can figure out the name by sounding it out… there is a reason that my favorite college basketball coach is known as Coach K…can you imagine trying to spell Krzyzewski at all…it doesn’t really sound at all like it is spelled.  

Here is my line from Abrahm Pitzenberger...

Abraham Pitzenberger b. bef 1750 d. aft 15 Apr 1781 m. 22 Apr 1766 Lancaster Co, PA, Elizabeth Teysinger b. Apr 1750 d. bef Apr 1794

Abraham Pitsenberger, Jr. b. 14 Feb 1771 d. bef 1840 m. abt 1795 Mary Magdaline Cowger b. abt 1770 d. abt 1812

Peter Pitsenbarger b. 1798 d. abt 14 June 1864 m.7 Mar 1820 Elizabeth Amick b. 1801 d. 28 Sep 1857

William Pitsenbarger b. Nov 1827 d. Oct 1901 m 2 Nov 1854 Mary Amick b. 11 Apr 1832 d. 5 Jan 1926

Rebecca Jane Pitsenbarger b 28 Jan 1870 d 10 May 1904 m. abt 1891 George Christian Shawver b 6 Aug 1867 d. 13 Apr 1931

Florence Christine Shawver m. Ora Silas Gage - my great grandparents

Monday, January 16, 2012

Piecing it together…

I have a pretty good database of Penningtons from Ashe Co., NC.  I have been a member of the Pennington Research Association for about 15 years now and have been head of Family Group 7 within that group for almost the same amount of time.  In the beginning, I spent most of my time gathering information about my specific branch of the family moving beyond that within a few years.  I concentrated only on the descendants of Micajah Pennington for a few years (Micajah is the head of Group 7 – b 1743 NC).  Since then I have branched out even further to look at all of the Penningtons in Ashe Co., NC and their surroundings.  This goal at times – has forced me to try and figure out where a family belongs. 

I am a member of the New River list (Yahoo Groups newslist)…and every few weeks someone posts local obits from the area.  These obits usually come from North Carolina, Virginia, or Tennessee.  The Pennington families from that area are primarily the descendants of Group 7 – Micajah Pennington, Group 12 – Samuel Pennington, and Group 30 – Abram Pennington.  If you want more information on these groups…please check out the PRA website at www.penningtonresearch.org. Anyway, a few weeks ago, someone posted an obit on a Joseph Max Pennington b. 8/15/1941 d. 1/2/2012. 
Max was born at Independence, VA, the Saddle Creek Community to the late Joe Pennington and Grace Ward Pennington. Surviving, brother-in-law, John Williams of Lynchburg, VA and several cousins also survive. Graveside service will be held at 3:00 p.m., Thursday, January 5, 2011 at Saddle Creek Cemetery, Independence, VA Elder Curtis Hash officiating. Military rites conducted by Grayson County VFW Post 7726. There will not be a visitation at the funeral home.
It gave me the information that he was the son of Joe Pennington and Grace Ward.  Since he was born after 1930 – my search is automatically made a bit harder.  Here is what I do when I am trying to figure the lineage out:

  1. Check my database.  Sometimes, I already have him in my database and I just need to add the additional information.
  2. See if I have his parents – I usually try the father first and then the mother.  It is sometimes easier to search for the mother because the Penningtons made a habit of naming their children family names that got duplicated many times.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out who is who.
  3. If I don’t have either the individual or the parents in my database, now I have to do a bit more research.  One of my best places to search is www.findagrave.com – which people have posted gravestones of those who have passed.  The first place to look is the cemetery where Joseph Max is to be buried.  Using this method, I am able to locate his parents as well, because he is to be buried in the same cemetery as his parents.  At this point, I still am not sure which group Joseph Max belongs in, so I keep searching.
  4. I will then probably logon to www.ancestry.com (a paid resource) and look up census records on the parents and see if I can figure out who his parent’s families are.  I figure out that Joseph C. Pennington (Joseph Max’s father) is the son of William Columbus Pennington and Bena Phipps and checking out www.findagrave.com, I discover that they both are also buried in the same cemetery.  This method takes me back to William Columbus Pennington’s parents, Johnson A. Pennington and Elizabeth Poe.  All this time, I am adding details such as census data, additional siblings and death dates as I find them.  I never know when this information might be useful. 
  5. At this point, I may check out WorldGenconnect on www.rootsweb.com and see if someone else has posted information on this family.  This information can point me in the right direction to find more information on the family.  While doing this, I notice a curious coincidence.  I already have William D. Pennington and Sarah in my database (Johnson’s parents).  I don’t however; have Johnson Pennington under that family.  I notice a curious coincidence though – I have a Jonathan Pennington and Johnson Pennington under the same family with the same birthdate.  I look further to see what other information that I have because this could be the same person or they could be twins.

a.       Jonathan is married to Jane Gincy Hash on 3/15/1874 and she dies on 7/14/1886.
b.      Johnson is married to Elizabeth Poe abt 1877.

Until I have further information, I will leave both in my database with a note reminding myself of what I have found.  My best guess is that I might be dealing with twins, but I can’t be sure with what data is available to me at this time.

I have come across this family before and at that point, I could not make a conclusion as to which family group that they belonged in.  I can make an educated guess that it is probably Group 30 – but William D. Pennington b. 1806 doesn’t fit there.  So – where does he fit?  The answer is “I don’t know?”  However, I have put in the data that I have been able to find at this point and the family will come up again during my research, and perhaps someday I will be able to find that final piece.

Friday, January 13, 2012

John Dula Dollar

I’ve always loved the song Tom Dooley…I can remember hearing the song with the Kingston Trio’s smooth voices imploring Tom to “hang down his head.”  I used to think that my great great grandfather was named for Tom Dooley…but I doubt that the connection.  My great great grandfather was named John Dula Dollar…sometimes it is spelled John Dooley Dollar.  I’m not sure what is exactly correct, but I suspect that Dula might be correct.  From what I have read about the name Dula is pronounced Dooley and it is the Appalachian pronunciation.  It is possible that John Dula’s parents knew of or knew Tom Dooley.  That in itself is an interesting coincidence.

John Dula Dollar was born 3 Oct 1863 in Creston, Ashe Co., NC and died 6 Dec 1933 in Atlanta, Fulton Co., GA.  He was the son of Alexander Monroe Dollar and Elizabeth Pennington.  Alexander Monroe Dollar was a confederate soldier who served in the 58th North Carolina Infantry which was one of the units that had the most desertions in the Confederate Army.  Tom Dula also served in the Confederate Army and was in the 42nd North Carolina Infantry.  Tom Dula was from Wilkes Co., NC and Alexander Monroe Dollar lived in Ashe Co., NC near the Tennessee border.  Sometime in the early 1880’s Alexander Monroe Dollar, his wife Elizabeth and three of their children moved to Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN.  Now…I don’t really think that John Dula was named for Tom Dula but it is in interesting coincidence…especially since the notorious murder occurred in the same stomping grounds.

Tom Dula was supposed in love with Ann Melton (maiden name Foster) and was also involved with her cousin Laura.  He was carrying on an affair with Ann and was supposedly engaged to marry Laura Foster.  Laura and Tom were supposedly going to elope and get married.  Laura left with some clothes and her father’s horse.  She disappeared and was found a few months later stabbed and dead with only the clothes that were with her to help identify her.  Soon after, Tom Dula was considered to be the main suspect and he took off to get out of town.  He was captured in Trade, Johnson Co., TN and taken back to Wilkes Co., NC to be tried.  A local lawyer took his case and got the case moved to Iredell Co., NC.  Tom Dula was hung in Statesville, NC in 1868.   His lover, Ann was also held in jail and considered to be his accomplice.  She died two years after Tom Dula having gone insane despite being acquitted based on a letter that Tom Dula wrote that absolved her.   Sharyn McCrumb wrote an interesting article about that Tom Dula story  which is an interesting read and located at http://blueridgecountry.com/archive/tom-dooley.html

John Dula Dollar holding Sophia - Claude on the left and Bessie on the  right.  Probably taken in 1895.
It is a great story and became the stuff of legend and song.  I’m not sure that my John Dula Dollar was ever quite that interesting.  John married 16 year old Buena Vista Bailey in 1889 and had three children within five years.   Buena Vista died at the age of 21 about 3 months after giving birth to my great grandmother.  John left his children with his father and step mother and went out to work.  He married Cleopatria Josephine Gentry and had 7 more children with her.  He brought his older two children to live with him and left the youngest with his father.  John Dula worked as a logger and builder and eventually ended up in Atlanta, GA where he died at the age of 70.  John Dula was 3 years old when the murder occurred and 5 years old when Tom Dula was hanged.  I wonder if Alexander Monroe Dollar’s family knew the story and if they did – did they find out by gossip or by newspaper.  I’m not sure which version was more salacious.  When I first did a little a research on the story – I was surprised to learn all of the details that were involved.  If anything, the song is a pretty sedate version of the whole ugly episode....the real story is a whole lot more complicated and would be fit for today’s tabloid reporting.  It certainly was a major topic in the newspapers of 1868.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gallup Trails - Silas

Back in the late 1700’s, 4 brothers and a cousin moved from Stonington, New London Co., CT to Albany Co., NY and helped establish the towns of Knox and Berne, NY.  Silas Gallup and his wife Sarah Gallup – and yes they were second cousins. My great great great grandfather was named for this Silas Gallup who made the move from Connecticut to New York…and he made his own move from New York to Nebraska arriving by train with his four youngest children on Thanksgiving in 1887.

Silas Gallup was the second born son of Ebenezer Gallup and Susan Harden.  He was born on 2 Aug 1831 in Middleburgh, Schoharie Co., NY and died on 13 Sept 1897 in Oakland, Burt Co., NE.  As a young 28 year old farmer and schoolteacher, Silas married his 15 year old student, Phebe Ann Montanye on 12 Feb 1859 in Duanesburg, NY.  As the story goes, it was a custom to ring the school bell to announce the marriage – since no one paid attention; they kept their marriage a secret until the end of the school term.  Phebe was the daughter of Abram Montanye and Hannah Conover and was born on 12 Jan 1844 – ironically 168 years ago today in Glen, Montgomery Co., NY and she died on 21 Jun 1927 in Oakland, Burt Co., NE.  The big question is what prompted Silas and Phebe to move from New York to Nebraska? 

Silas never enjoyed good health in New York and was told by his brother that there was a more healthful climate in Nebraska.  I would also guess that their economic circumstances prompted them to make the move and make a new start.  Silas and Phebe’s youngest 4 children (Elizabeth b. 1877, Irena b. 1881, Alice b. 1883 and Hugh b. 1886) came with their parents to Nebraska.  Later they were joined by their children Albert and Susan who were both teachers, and Everette Henry who was a farmer.  Their oldest daughter, Edith Phoebe Gallup, refused to make the move as she was fearful of the Indians and instead stayed behind and worked as a teacher.  Later she married Orlando Gage and had children of her own…one of whom was my great grandfather, Ora Silas Gage.

I am not sure who arrived in Nebraska first – Silas or his older brother, James.  However, they both lived and died in Burt Co., NE.  Their father had made and sold Gallup Salve.  Both sons knew how to make the salve and made extra money making and selling the salve.  The recipe, as far as I know, has been lost…but I can remember my grandmother telling me that she remember the salve being used in the family when she was a girl.  I’m not sure that Silas every enjoyed good health even after his move.  He died in 1897 of cancer.   He is buried in the Lyons Cemetery in Lyons, Burt Co., NE and is buried next to his wife and son, Everette.  So…in 5 generations – my Gallup family moved from Connecticut to New York to Nebraska and eventually to Idaho.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pancake Quirks???

Every family has some unique ways to eat meals.  Almost every meal of my childhood involved meat and potatoes with the usual gravy accompaniment.  Even at that age, I never liked the gravy…I learned how to make it…but to this day, I don’t eat gravy as a rule.  I’m also not overly fond of peanut butter…I like the flavor, but my favorite meal definitely doesn’t involve peanut butter on bread or anything else.  I am definitely not the norm in my family.

Many years ago, my mother went with her boyfriend (my father) to breakfast with his uncle and aunt.  Dad’s uncle was only a few years older than he so he was more like a brother.  Dad spent a few years working for Duane building boats.  On this particular morning, Dad and Mom sat down to a breakfast with sausage and pancakes and much to Mom’s surprise, sausage gravy!

Mom looked around trying to find the syrup which was her normal accompaniment to pancakes and there was none to be found. Annie, Duane’s wife, noticed her confusion and simply smiled and stood up and reached for the syrup out of the cupboard and placed it on the table.  With relief, Mom grabbed the bottle and fixed her pancakes.  Mom had just experienced a uniquely Gage way of eating breakfast.  The sausage wasn’t just meant to be eaten – it was also used to prepare the gravy to top the pancakes.  This was something that Mom never got used to, but it was the way that my great grandfather liked to eat his pancakes.  I’ve always thought it must be an eastern thing…but who knows it could have been something from the midwest.  Throughout his life…when pancake were served at breakfast so was sausage gravy. When my great granddad was in the hospital at the end of his life, my great aunt made the sausage gravy and took it down to the hospital so he could have sausage gravy for his pancakes.

Another strange pancake/French toast topping evidently came from my grandpa Frank Johnson.  My Uncle Byron once told me that it was the best tradition that he brought to the family.  Evidently, Grandpa Frank loved peanut butter just as my father does…and he put peanut butter on his pancakes.  My mother said that Grandpa Frank made some of the best pancakes that she had ever had.  She asked him one time how he made them and he tutored her on the process.  He carefully poured the batter on the hot griddle waiting for the bubbles to start to appear.  He then flipped the pancake carefully – being careful to never touch the top with the spatula.  My Dad never took this same lesson to heart and my mother would always scold him for flattening down the pancake with the spatula.  Seems my mother took her father – in – law’s lessons to heart…and his son didn’t.  Uncle Byron said that he remember the first time that he saw my Grandpa Frank put peanut butter on his pancakes.  He was a boy and was used to seeing the gravy on the table…but when he saw Grandpa Frank put the peanut butter on his pancakes…he tried it and fell in love with the taste.  My father puts peanut butter on both his French toast and pancakes. 

Every other year, we gather for our Gage family reunions.  Several of us pool together and eat breakfast together…the normal things appear on the table like juice, fruit, bacon, sausage, hash browns…and peanut butter for the pancakes.  Turns out that the in law who came into the family in 1939…made an impact.  Peanut butter has taken over for the sausage gravy as the favorite pancake topping.  Myself…I won’t eat pancakes….but when I eat French toast – I much prefer syrup and butter.  The smell of the gravy or the combination of peanut butter and syrup doesn’t smell too good to me. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Strange Names....

New parents spend a great deal of time thinking of unique names for their children.  Sometimes they are meant to honor a relative or just names that the parents like.  A lot of modern Hollywood couples have used names like Apple which don’t make a great deal of sense to me.  I suppose that it isn’t really important for it to make sense to me…but it got me to thinking of some of the unique names I have come across in my genealogy research.

There are several names that pop out at me…my modern sensibility has a hard time with the name of Desire for a girl during the era of the Puritans…but it was a common name. I’m not real fond of Hester but certainly do recognize it as an old fashioned name.  My ancestors Thomas Miner and Grace Palmer had sons named Manasseh, Judah, Clement and Ephraim alongside the more common names of John, Thomas, Joseph, and Samuel. Grace Palmer also had half-brothers named Elihu, Moses, Nehemiah and Gershom.  Elizabeth Miner and her husband had sons named Ichabod and Jedidiah and daughters named Hepsibeth and my ancestor, Mahitabel.  Mahitabel’s grandson, Jesse had a son named Ziba.  I even find an Ebenezer Eastman.  Perhaps one of the oddest names that I have found is Wayte-a-While Makepeace.  She was the daughter of Thomas Makepeace and Elizabeth Hawkredd and was mysteriously born a few months after her parent’s marriage.  She married herself in 1661 to a Josiah Cooper, but even he couldn’t make her first name common.  Then there is poor Salmon Treat born in 1672 and married to Dorothy Noyes…his name sounds too much like food…but I know that Salmon was a popular name in an earlier age.

I recognize that most of these names have some sort of biblical derivation, but they do sound a bit odd.  Then there are the nicknames…I have to wonder why a girl named Margaret has a nickname of Peggy or a Mary can also be known as Polly.  Where did those nicknames come from?  According to www.straightdope.com Meg and Mog were nicknames for Margaret and they were changed into Peg and Pog because of rhymes and were probably from the Scottish.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either way – but I’ve always recognized that Peggy was more than likely a Margaret from experience.

My ancestors have their share of unusual names…Potter Gage is a bit strange as is Buena Vista Baily or my grandmother’s named of Capitola.  If my great grandfather had had his way, my mother would have been saddled with Bettina.  Her mother, Capitola, having lived with an unusual name all of her life, decided that with the last name of Tannahill…she should have a more common first name – hence the name of Betty.  I guess she never thought Mom would marry a Johnson and therefore have one of the more common name combinations out there.  When I was growing up, there was a Betty Johnson who lived just a block away with the same house address but different street name…there were a lot of mix-ups in the mail.  Perhaps that is why some of these unusual names are making a comeback.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Family Reunions

When I was a child, we had family reunions of some sort every year of so.  Sometimes it was my grandmother’s birthday and other time it might be my great grandparent’s anniversary.  Those were favorite opportunities for my family to gather and enjoy each other’s company.  21 years ago, my great grandparents died within a few months of each other.  They had celebrated their 73rd Wedding Anniversary and had the satisfaction of their large and very close family.   Now…it is only the older family members who remember the great grandparents…and a new generation has been added. 

Family reunion from the 1950's.
When my great grandparents died, it was their dearest wish that we continue the family gatherings that we had enjoyed for so many years.  Some of the earliest family reunions occurred in the 1940’s as family members moved from Nebraska to Idaho.  Back then, my great grandmother still had young children as well as grandchildren as did many of her siblings who had moved out west.  These gatherings got bigger and bigger and finally the Gage clan split off to their own group.  Some of us still go to the Shawver reunions, but the Gage reunion is now a rather large gathering.  We held our first formal reunion back in 1991.  We gathered and camped at my great-uncle’s place up on Hatter Creek.  The children played together in the creek and rode their bikes all over the property.  For many, this was their first experience at camping and some lifelong connections were created among these young children.  Those children are now in their 20’s and some have children of their own.  Last summer we saw many of those children gather once again with the older generations to enjoy our family connections.

My great grandparents had 10 children – with my grandmother’s recent passing, there are now six surviving siblings.  The older generation has turned the reins of these reunions to the younger group ad we have added our own twist to things.  My memories of these reunions go back almost 40 years and now I sometimes feel that we have ghosts present - those members that have passed on but are still very much on our hearts and our minds.
Family gathering at Grandma's 80th birthday in 2001.
We will gather this coming weekend for a reunion of another mournful type.  My grandmother’s funeral will probably be a rather large affair.  Grandma Marion was well loved within the family and was beloved my many friends as well.  There will be cousins, siblings, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren and even an aunt of my grandmother will be present as well as many friends.  We will celebrate my grandmother’s life as well as celebrate our family’s closeness.  This is exactly the type of gathering that my grandmother would have enjoyed and appreciated…and I believe that as we gather – my grandmother will looking down with approval as well as all of the other family members who we miss and love.