Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Vacation

I'm leaving on vacation and will be back in two weeks.  In honor of all of the kids heading back to school, this is a picture of my very first day of school when I started Kindergarten in Fall 1972.  Now you know how old I am :)  I'll be back on when I get back!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dunn Center, ND

In a few days, Dad and I are heading east.  One of our stops will be Dunn Center, North Dakota.  Dad was actually born in Dickinson, ND just south of Dunn Center.  My grandfather wanted my grandmother’s first child to be born in a hospital.  So, when the time came my father was born at St. Joseph’s hospital on Johnson Ave.  Dad likes to say that Dickinson was so proud of him that they named the street after him. 

House in North Dakota
The first time we visited North Dakota was back in about 1999.  Mom, Dad and I were joined by my aunt and uncle and my neice and my aunt’s granddaughter.  We made the trip in August, which wasn’t the best time as we saw more than a few motorcyles motoring their way to Sturgis.  It was a wonderful trip where we were able to meet some wonderful cousins in Washburn, ND and for the first time get a real idea of that part of the family (Pope).  We attempted to locate the burial location of my grandfather’s mother in the Old Dunn Center Cemetery.  When my great grandmother died in 1927, she was buried in the old cemetery…within a few years they started moving people from that cemetery because they found that it was laying on top of a burning coal mine.  There was no money to move my great grandmother, so she remained in an unmarked grave in that old cemetery.  It may have been marked at one time, but by the time we were at the cemetery, there was nothing left.  We were able to make a pretty good guess as to where she was buried as well as her daughter who died during childbirth.  We were also able to find the house that my grandparents lived in while living in Dunn Center.  It wasn’t an easy time.  It was never a prosperous town –but I suspect that the depression hit the area pretty hard and it never recovered.  My grandfather worked at times up to four jobs to try and support his family.  By the time they left in 1943, they had three small children in that house, my grandfather’s father and sister as well as my grandparents.  Dad told me that the last time the grainery had been roofed had probably been done by his father back in the early 1940’s.  Life was not easy – my dad might have been born in the hospital – but his two sisters were delivered by the local midwife.  My grandmother told me one time that they had to live on my great grandfather’s social security check which was about $17.  She found that she could buy syrup cheaper than sugar, so she would buy that instead.  Somehow, she made that money last enough to feed her small family.  When I visited Dunn Center, ND again in 2004 – if anything it looked as if it was in worse shape than before. 
Grainery at Dunn Center
Dunn Center - Looking back from the old cemetery

The last several years have been a period of a great deal of change for the Dunn Center area.  In case you haven’t heard, there is an oil boom in North Dakota and a lot of it is centered around the Williston, ND area and Dunn Center is close by.  I am curious as to what changes have been wrought in tiny Dunn Center.  Is that house that my father’s family still there?  Has the population grown?  Does it look more prosperous?  I guess I’ll find out soon!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Man on the Moon

When my great grandmother was born in 1894, there were no cars, telephones, airplanes or electricity where she lived.  Her life existed around a small geographic distance.  The nearest small town was two miles away and the larger town was about 14 miles away.  I’ve often wondered how she and my great grandfather met as he lived on the other side of the county and even in 1908 when they married that had to be quite a distance away.  At 16 years old, she traveled clear across the country on a train to meet up with her husband in Troy, OR.  She lived in a shack up on Grouse Flats alone through long periods of time while her husband worked on the railroad.  My mother once asked her if she would have wanted to live in any other time in history.  My great grandmother replied that no – she couldn’t imagine a lifetime like hers.  In her lifetime, cars became commonplace, planes could take you clear across the world, phones could reach family across the country and radio and television opened the world to everyone.  She said the greatest thing was that she could think of was that she had seen a man land on the moon live on television. 

Saturday, an American hero died.  For most of his life, he led a private existence but for a few short weeks in 1969, he was possibly one of our greatest heroes. Along with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong fulfilled the dreams of our country and landed on the moon.  It was a “great leap for mankind.”    Neil Armstrong grew up loving airplanes and flying.  As a young man he flew dozens of missions in Korea and worked as a test pilot.  However, he will always be remembered as the first man who stepped on the moon. 

My mother assured me that I watched the moon landing, although at two years old, it didn’t make a huge impression.  When we visited Cape Canaveral in 1978 – the history of space travel became alive for me.  At eleven years old it was thrilling to see an astronaut walk about in a space suit.  The huge Saturn 5 rockets and the space capsules we saw were awe inspiring.  What really made an impression was the sight of the shuttle Enterprise. 

In 1981, I remember watching with my parents and siblings the launching of the shuttle Columbia and five years later I remember hearing in an elevator that Challenger had exploded.  For the next several days, I was glued to the television watching anything and everything about the shuttle and crying at the loss of the crew and the shuttle.  In my lifetime, space flight has been a common occurrence – I can conceive of man landing on another planet in my lifetime.  I don’t think that it was ever something that my great grandmother could have conceived of in her youth.  I think of how awe inspiring it was for her to hear of Wilber and Orville Wright flying the first plane or Lindbergh flying a plane across the ocean.

Just as the Wright brothers were pioneers who inspired a generation to fly planes, Neil Armstrong was one of those heroes who have inspired a generation to dream of space flight and distant worlds.  On that long ago night on July 21, 1969, the population of earth watched a man step on the lunar surface for the first time on live television.   My whole family watched as Neil Armstrong’s boot landed on the lunar surface and he proclaimed that it was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!”  I think of those like my great grandmother who probably never dreamed of seeing such a thing in their lifetime watching the television set with probably more wide-eyed wonder than anyone else…and I think of men like Neil Armstrong who have inspired generations to dream beyond earth’s horizon!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Rose by Any other Name…

Anyone researching the Pennington family or many other surnames will run into problems with names.  There is a lot of wonderful research out there by a lot of good genealogists…but they can’t help you unless you learn a bit about your ancestor.

Let’s say that someone wrote me and said that they are descended from Levi Pennington…in my database alone – I have twenty two Levi Penningtons, seven of those who married Eliza’s or Elizabeth, a few married Alice’s and Rachel and even an Amanda.  The earliest one in my database was born abt 1767 and the latest born in 1898.  My database only includes Group 7, 12, 30, 31, & 32 and usually only if they came out of Ashe County, North Carolina.  If I look further into the John French Master File – there are fifty Levi Penningtons.  So, if you happened to write me looking for information on Levi Pennington I would probably reply that you needed to be more specific.  What I mean by that is give me a year range, a location, name of wife if known or children if known…something more than just a name.   If it is a female it is even more important.  While I have twenty two Levi’s….I also have almost thirty Elizabeth Penningtons. 

Two other names that have caused problems mostly because of their spellings are Micajah and Benajah.  I have seen multiple spellings of each name.  I’ve seen Micajah as Mikager, Macajah, MCkaga and even listed as Mac because they weren’t real sure how to spell the name.  Benajah is mostly listed as Benagah – but then you get some well-meaning soul who thinks that it is supposed to be Benjamin – I have four Benajah’s in my database but also six different Benjamin’s.

No part of the name can really be discounted.  If you have the opportunity to get the middle name – make you make a note of it.  Sometimes middle names were not used in the earlier time periods, but in the 1800’s, they seem to be quite common.  That middle name is sometimes a clue as to what the mother’s ancestry might have been.  Note the siblings of your direct ancestors and who they married and their children…don’t be surprised if you find a marriage between cousins – that is much more common than one would necessarily want. J 

Nicknames can also be very important.  You will sometimes find a Polly in one census and Mary in the next and most times they are the same person.  Libby, Eliza, Beth, Lizzie are all common nicknames for Elizabeth.  Peg is a common name for Margaret, Billy or Bill can sometimes be more commonly used that William.   A John can be a Jonathan in once census, listed as Jn in another document and Johnny in something else.  Be especially careful with anyone listed as Jesse or Jessie or Frances and Francis…Jessie is usually a girl and  Frances is also a female name.  If you have done enough research through names using census records, tax records or other types of documents – you will think you have learned every possible nickname out there…until you find one that is completely different.

So if you have looked in all the places that you think your ancestor should be…look again.  Consider misspellings that might be rooted in phonetically spelled names or just someone who had poor handwriting and spelling skills and the name was transcribed differently.  If you are asking someone for help…tell them everything you know – don’t just ask if you have a Levi in your database.  One might be the recipient of a lot more information if you frame the question correctly and if you are willing to look at other avenues of pursuit.  Sometimes the name is not spelled the same…or anything close to what you think it should be!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Letter

My internet has been down for a few days on my home computer.  It is frustrating because it seems the only thing I can do is play solitaire.  So much of what I do on a computer is tied to the internet from research, surfing and email.  It seems that it is rare nowadays to handwrite a letter giving either good news or bad news.  It made me think of a letter that one of my ancestors wrote.

William Henry Dollar was born on 22 May 1812 at the Eno River, Orange Co., NC.  He married Jennie Sparks on 22 May 1838 in Orange Co., NC.  Soon after they left Orange Co., NC with their young son and traveled by wagon to Ashe Co., NC.  Henry Dollar owned some land and worked as a blacksmith.  He and Jennie had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood.  After 55 years of marriage, Jennie died in 1893.  It must have been difficult, but William Henry Dollar wrote a letter to his daughter living out in Utah telling her of her mother’s death and that she had been buried near the homeplace.  The envelope itself was edged in black which I’ve been told is a tradition to let the reader know that it was bad news.  William Henry Dollar was 81 years old by this point in life.  He and his wife had raised their children – lost one daughter as infant and another in sickness.  Their youngest daughter lived far away in Oklahoma and their other daughter lived in Utah.  Emeline, the other daughter, had married her sister’s husband after her death.  She raised her sister’s five children plus six of her own.  I can only imagine how hard it was for her father to write that letter and how difficult it was to receive it.

In the 1800’s the only real communication between family members were letters.  It was a time period when adult children married and left their homes.  Sometimes they traveled short distances, but many times they traveled clear across the country never to see their families again.  The only ways to keep contact were letters that traveled across the country on the postal system of the 19th century.  Sometimes these letters would take months to reach their destination.  When a letter arrived it was a special event….seems funny that is almost the attitude that we have today, because so few people write letters anymore.

I remember my great grandmother and grandmother writing letters to family members back in Tennessee and North Carolina as well as fairly close to home.  It was too expensive to pick up the phone to call and many didn’t have a phone readily available.  Those letters were saved and shared with other family members when they came to visit.  In fact, I have a few of those letters that were sent by my grandmother to her sister in North Carolina. 

I imagine that Emeline received that letter and reached out to her father by letter and invited him to come and live with her.  William Henry had his sons around him…but must have needed the comfort of a daughter, because he traveled from Ashe Co., NC to Cleveland, Emery Co., UT to spend his remaining years with his daughter in Utah.  That must have been quite a journey.  In 1840, he and his wife must have traveled hard miles on a wagon to reach Ashe Co., NC from Orange Co., NC.  It still must have been a hard journey to reach the train from where he lived – but infinitely shorter.  Once he boarded the train he could travel clear across the country in a matter of days which had to have been astonishing to him.
After his arrival, I’m told that William Henry Dollar converted to Mormonism – just as his daughter had done many years before.  He died just a two short years later after his wife and his buried there in Cleveland Cemetery in Emery Co., UT.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Facts, Assumptions & Theories

When first joined the PRA (Pennington Research Association) as a young and inexperienced genealogy researcher, I accepted information that I did not critically examine.  I knew better – I had the training in historical research from college, but I hadn’t applied it to my genealogical research.  I remember feeling wonderful that I had taken my family back a few more generations and had a few more names to put on the tree.  I took the research that someone else had done and took it as fact, while I updated the more current information.  At the same time, I noticed inconsistencies but chose not to examine them too closely.
One of the things that forced me to look at the situation more critically was the thoughts about pursing a DAR membership.  Wanting to do this with mother, we chose a line that we thought we could get the documentation for.  It was easy to connect my mother to parents and then to her grandparents.  It got a little harder to connect to the great grandparents and great great grandparents.  However…after that branch we ran into some trouble…here is the line:
  • My Parents –Betty & Gene
  • My Grandparents – Capitola Friddle & Richard Tannahill
  • My Great grandparents – Sophia Dollar & David Carl Friddle
  • My 2nd Great Grandparents – John Dula Dollar & Buena Vista Bailey
  • My 3rd Great Grandparents – Elizabeth Pennington m. Alexander Monroe Dollar
  • My 4th Great Grandparents – Levi Pennington m. Elizabeth Henson

It was the 5th Great Grandparents that caused the most trouble.  You see – I had been told that Levi Pennington b. 1794 was the son of Levi Pennington b. 1767 and the grandson of Micajah Pennington and Rachel Jones.  Besides the common name, I could find nothing that connected Levi b. 1794 to Levi b. 1767.  There were no land documents to look at, no census records to examine – only a few tax records that were somewhat ambiguous.  Levi b. 1767 seemed to disappear about 1815 and is not found in the Ashe Co., NC area again, however Levi b. 1794 lives there and remains there his entire life.  Micajah and his sons seemed to move off to Lee Co., VA or at the least the Grayson Co., VA and then in to Harlan Co., KY.  They did not stay in Ashe Co., NC – in fact the only member of the family to stay there was Johanna Pennington and her husband Douglas Dickson. 

Now it became time to start looking at this situation a bit more critically.  Levi b. 1794 is recorded in every census until his death and stays in the same area.  One researcher pointed out to me that not only did he stay in the same area, but that he mostly likely was on the same land that his father had.  It is a reasonable assumption to look at land records and believe that two men who owned the same piece of land might be related.  This area of land in the Little Laurel area was not owned by Micajah Pennington or his son Levi, in fact it looked as though it came through an Ephraim Pennington.  Later a letter was uncovered which spelled out the relationship more clearly and the 1850 census listing an Ephraim Pennington b. 1769 still living within the household of Andrew Pennington in Ashe Co., NC was even more proof.

So now I have my line from Levi b. 1794 to Ephraim b. 1769 – this is when the theories come in.  There are groups of Pennington from the same region who share some of the same DNA.  Theoretically these common lines probably go back about 8 generations.  If you theorize that Ephraim b. 1769 is likely a son of another Ephraim likely born about 1745, you have an interesting theory.  The Ephraim b. abt 1745 probably dies about 1800 and the Ephraim b. 1769 probably dies about 1852.  Ephraim b. 1745 looks almost as if he might have a tie in to Micajah b. 1743 – one wonders if they might have been brothers or cousins.  Furthermore, there are several  Penningtons that could possibly be connected.  There is Wells Pennington (Group 32) who might be a brother of Ephraim b. 1769 and perhaps Benajah b. 1770, Abel b. 1768, Abram b. 1775 and possibly Aaron b. 1786.   All of these men were born in a span of 17 years.  Theoretically, they could all be connected.  Is there proof?  Absolutely not!  However there are similarities that are interesting.  Someone in each of these lines has had their DNA tested and we know that there is a common link between these descendants.  If Ephraim Pennington b. 1745 is my direct ancestor, then that is 8 generations ago.  The theory about common names in a family is not terribly helpful – there are enumerable Ephraim’s, Benewah’s, Micajah’s, Abel’s, Levi’s, Abram’s and Aaron’s – you cannot make a connection based on names.  This was done with my Levi b. 1794 and Micajah’s son Levi b. 1767 and they turned out to be not connected. These families seem to travel to the same areas of Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky – is that because of family connections or economic opportunity or a combination of both.  They all probably connect to the progenitor of Group 4, Ephraim b. 1720 because DNA has shown the connection.

The biggest problem is that there seems to be no documentation to back any of this up.  If the records ever existed, they were probably destroyed in a fire or war.  DNA can show you a relationship – but it isn’t proof as to what the relationship is.  So, all you can do as a researcher, is look at the facts and let them take you back as far as possible.  It is those facts that you must rely on – not the theories or the assumptions.  There are people out there who will connect any ancestor on the flimsiest of threads, so it is up to the individual researcher to decide if what they are looking at is a fact, an assumption or a theory and take it as such!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Small Friddle Family

My grandmother was the middle child in a family of five which included her parents and older and younger brother.    When my great grandparents came out from Tennessee in 1910 with their small son – only Pop Friddle’s brother and sister lived nearby  and provided much needed support when they moved west – however, by the time my grandmother was in high school there were only a few cousins left and all they had was their small family.

Grandma Cappy’s family moved to Pomeroy, WA in the early 1920’s so Cappy’s older brother, Jack could go to high school.  After he graduated, the family moved to Lewiston and later bought a good sized chunk of land in the Lewiston Orchards on the corner of Thain and Stewart. Grandma Cappy was in the first class that went through and graduated at the new high school.  This is the same high school that my mother graduated from, as well as all of my siblings and myself.

Jack was Grandma’s older brother.  He was a typical older brother.  He was a terrible tease and very protective.  Knowing my grandmother, she probably resisted most of his protective instincts.  She might have been small, but she could take care of herself.  When Jack and Grandma Cappy’s younger brother was born in 1924 – Jack was initially horrified that his parents could have another child.  When Claude was born, Jack became the most adoring of big brothers.  On the other hand, Grandma Cappy became a strict older sister.  Claude once told me that “Sis, paddled him more often than his mother did.”  She took her responsibility towards her younger brother seriously and doled out as much affection as discipline.  The two brothers and their parents all shared the love a good story and wonderful sense of humor.  I’m not sure my grandmother really got their jokes and I suspect that she was a target of many of Jack’s schemes.

Cappy & Claude
As they grew older – Jack married and moved away but the close ties remained.  When Grandma Cappy married in 1934, it was Vancouver, WA where they got married near where her brother lived.  Since it was the 1930’s and she was teacher, it was frowned upon for her to be married, so they kept it secret.  So when Grandma married – her brother and mother road to Portland, OR on a bus – Grandma Cappy married Richard Tannahill – they had a short honeymoon at Multnomah Falls and Mom Friddle and Claude road home with them to Lewiston, ID.

Their small family was torn apart with World War II.  Jack was parachuting out of planes and fighting in the Pacific with the airborne and Claude was driving a tank towards Germany in the European theater.  Mom Friddle and Grandma Cappy agonized over every news report and letter and tried to keep track of their soldier sons and brothers.  There was a lot of celebration when they both arrived home safe.  Mom remembers Jack and Claude calling her and her sister their “Blonde Bomber” and their “Geisha Girl!” 
Their small family spent a vacation together each year somewhere between Portland and Lewiston where they enjoyed and maintained their close family ties.  Mom remembered those vacations as wonderful including food, laughter, probably a bit of drinking and a lot of stories.  When Pop Friddle died in 1955, the family while very close was starting to lose its members.
Claude, Mom Friddle, Pop Friddle, Jack, Cappy - Joan and Betty in the front.

Mom Friddle passed away in 1979 and only the three siblings remained.  Grandma Cappy died on 24 Aug 1985.  I remember sitting next to Jack at my Grandmother’s funeral.  I found myself wanting to comfort him and held his hand throughout the service.  I could tell that part of his heart was broken…a few years later, he died on 2 Aug 1987.  My mother’s sister wasn’t around so the only person that my uncle Claude could talk to who remember so many of the same stories as he was my mother.

Claude, Cappy & Jack
Mom died of lung cancer on the day after Christmas in 2005. Claude seemed to be the only one left and must have felt that his entire family had left him behind.  Last year, Claude died on 16 Aug 2011.  He had lived a successful life was married over 50 years and three daughters and several grandchildren – but towards the end of his life, I think he was lonely for his siblings and his parents and was ready to go.  I find it interesting that all three of Friddle siblings died in August.  I don’t know that there is any meaning to it except coincidence.  I rather hope that they are joined together again and telling stories and jokes and making every one laugh.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Levi Pennington Family & the Civil War

The Civil war was as devastating for the Pennington family.  They had three sons who fought in the war and two son-in-laws.  They all fought for the Confederacy as did most of those who lived in Ashe Co., NC.  These weren’t families who had slaves but probably most likely fought for their homeland.  It left a devastating effect on the Levi Pennington family.

Andrew Pennington was born about 1834 in Ashe Co., NC and married Mary Little on 5 Nov 1857 in Ashe Co., NC.  Andrew enlisted on 10 Aug 1861 as a Private and later on 25 Oct 1861 enlisted in the 34th Infantry Regiment North Carolina.  He was mustered out on 27 Aug 1863.  From that point he disappears from history.  It is thought that he died soon after.  Andrew left a wife, Mary Little and two small boys, the youngest only a few months old.

Levi Daniel Pennington also enlisted in the military and fought for the Confederacy.  He was born in 1837 and married Elizabeth Osborne on 17 Dec 1854 in Ashe Co., NC.  Levi Daniel and Elizabeth had three children, the second one dying as an infant.  Levi Daniel was injured in the Civil War and the doctors inserted a ceramic plate in his head.  By the 1870 census, Levi’s wife and children are no longer living with him and he is listed as insane, living with his parents.  By 1887, he was put in a Mental Hospital in Morganton, Burke Co., NC where he died on 17 Jan 1909.  I’ve heard from a descendant that Levi Daniel had turned extremely violent and unpredictable and had tried to strangle his wife.  It is no wonder that she took her children and left him in order to protect herself and her children.

Harvey Pennington seemed to have escaped the Civil War without long lasting damage.  He was born on 29 Feb 1828 in Ashe Co., NC and married Easter Little.  After her death in 1894, he married again to Martha Brooks.  He had 10 children with Easter, and 1 child with his second wife.  He served in the Whitman’s North Carolina 66th Infantry Regiment and returned from the war seemingly whole.  He lived to be 94 years old and was the longest lived of his siblings.

Alexander Monroe Dollar was the husband of Elizabeth Pennington.  He was born about 1838 and enlisted in the 58th Infantry Regiment of North Carolina on 20 Jul 1862.  Within a short time, he did something that was pretty common in for those in the 58th North Carolina – he deserted and later took a oath of allegiance to the Union.

James Emmett Lewis was born in 1817 as the son of Nathan Lewis and Eleanor Roark, he married Hiley Pennington in August 1837.  Unlike his brother-in-laws, James Emmett Lewis served in the 13th TN Calvary and fought for the Union. Upon his return, he was murdered by a Thomas Royal in Ashe Co., NC on 3 April 1865.  One wonders if he was murdered because of his allegiance to the Union.  He left his wife with 8 children.  His wife, Hiley, received his pension and she died on 4 Nov 1895. 

So with three sons, and two son in laws – the Levi Pennington family lost one son in the war, another son to insanity, a son in law to murder and the other two survived to live long lives.  One wonders how many other families suffered the same types of hardships.  It is no wonder that the Civil War changed the fabric of our society and so many families.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Uncle Dewey

The first family reunion that I remember clearly was in 1977 when the Gage & Shawver clan gathered for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my great grandparents.  Before that time, I have images and some memories…but that is the first one that I remember the most detail from during my childhood.  I was 10 years old and probably a bit too precocious and lively as 10 year girls are.  I was enthused about playing with my godmother and Cousin Patti’s little girl.  I think she was about 15 months old and just the right size to play with.  I remember sitting on a blanket with her and playing peek-a-boo and talking to her.  It must have been my first experience with a baby that age.  I then engaged a bit tom foolery with an older cousin.  I dumped some ice down his back and he retaliated by grabbing my shoes, filling them with water and dumping that over my head.  We called a truce for a short time…and then the combat really started.  We found a stash of acorns and started throwing them at each other.  He was much older and was careful not to hurt me…but he also wasn’t going to let me get away with my pranks without some retaliation.  Evidently, my great great uncle decided that it wasn’t quite fair and joined me in attacking my cousin with the acorns.  I thought this was pretty remarkable at the time…because to me he was probably was an old man who I know was related to me but really wasn’t sure of his name…from then on, I knew he was uncle Dewey.

Dewey Dountain Shawver was next in age to my great grandmother.  He was born on 25 May 1899 in Decatur, Burt Co., NE to George Christian Shawver and Rebecca Jane Pitzenbarger.  I think he was named for a cousin of Chris Shawvers who lived back in West Virginia, because that is the only time that I have seen the name Dountain.    Chris Shawver’s older son left home not too long after he turned 18 – first to the military and World War I and then married moved to Montana.  Dewey stayed and lived near his father and helped him work the farm and was probably a partner as well as a son in many ways.  I know they were very close.   Dewey married Alice Elizabeth Davidson on 28 Sep 1919 in Lyons, NE.  His sister, Nettie had married Alice’s brother a few years before.   For the rest of their lives, they were never apart.  After Chris Shawver died in 1932, Dewey lived in Nebraska another 20 years before following his sister out to Idaho to Princeton where he and Alice made their home.

Shawver Family - Taken about 1905 - Dewey  is in the front with my great grandmother Florence behind him.
Jessie is in the middle, George is in the back and Chris Shawver has Nettie on his lap.
 I  think that this was taken after their mother died of  Tuberculosis in 1904.
Dewey worked as a logging truck driver from 1952 until he retired in 1965.   From what I have heard from others, Dewey was a great and skillful truck driver.  My memories of him are his gentle smile and kinda goofy looks.  By the time I knew him; he was bald and had a big nose.  He was an example of one those old men that my Mom always mentioned wearing bib overalls.  However to a little girl there was a sweetness and friendliness about him that made him approachable and certainly memorable.  I still remember him at his 70th wedding anniversary with all of his children, various nieces and nephews and his siblings about him.  He pulled my 92 year old great grandmother down on his knee and she put her arm about him and you could see the love and affection that had existed since they were children.

Dewey died at the age of 96 after spending his last few years in a nursing home.  He and Aunt Alice were at the point that they couldn’t take care of a home anymore.  I remember visiting him in the nursing home with my grandmother and watching how he tenderly held hands with his bride of 70 plus years.  She survived him three more years.  They both are buried at Freeze Cemetery near Potlatch, ID.  Whenever, I think of Uncle Dewey – I smile and remember that cool old guy who helped me trounce my cousin with acorns at that long ago family picnic.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

John Barton Pennington - Oregon Pioneer

Group 7 of the Pennington Research Association includes three distinct groups – those that descend from Micajah b. 1743, those that descend from Ephraim b.1769, and those that descend from Benajah b. 1770.  The only one of those groups that stayed in Ashe Co., NC is the descendants of Ephraim.  Micajah’s line mostly left and went to Lee Co., VA and Harlan Co., KY.  Benajah took a different route and ended up in TN and later Alabama and Missouri.  His son, John Barton Pennington traveled even father and was a pioneer in his own right.

John Barton Pennington was b. 25 Apr 1820 in Blue Springs, Roane Co., TN as the fourth child of Benajah Pennington and Matilda Emery Hembree.  On 7 Apr 1841 in Dade Co., MO, John married Sarah Elizabeth Hembree, his first cousin.  Their first child was born in Dade Co., MO in 1842 and on 21 May 1843, John, his wife and one year old daughter (Martha Matilda) left Independence, MO on a wagon train heading to Oregon.  Two of Sarah’s brothers traveled with them and in August of 1843, Sarah gave birth to another daughter (Mary Jane) near South Pass in modern day Wyoming.  In a time when many women were coddled during the last months of pregnancy, Sarah was heavily pregnant and traveling on a wagon train.  The wagon train arrived at Fort Vancouver in November and along with Sarah’s brothers, claimed land near McMinnville, OR with about 400 acres each.  Three more children were born in Oregon until Sarah’s death on 25 Feb 1851.

Two years later, John married Elizabeth Jane Sportsman and in the next 11 years, five more children were born, and in about 1865, John sold his land and moved his family to Visalia, Tulare Co., CA and is recorded there in 1870.  His wife, Elizabeth dies in 1872 and John marries Margaret Fisher, a widow.  In 1880, John and Margaret with her children and his daughter Clarissa Ann are found in Douglas Co., OR near Roseburg.  By 1883, John is back in California and his daughter Clarissa is marrying George Washington Hensley.  John’s third wife, Margaret dies in 1906 and John lives with his stepson, James Fisher until they moved from the Fresno, CA area when John moved in with Clarissa and her husband.  John died on 4 Oct 1910 when he fell from a wagon and broke his neck.

When you look at the history of the Oregon trail and those that first traveled west, one of the most important characters of history is Marcus Whitman.    He was a missionary who came out around 1836 with his wife, Narcissa.  He traveled back east to convince those in power to keep the missions open in Oregon.  I’ve grown up in Lewiston, ID which is just west of the Spaulding mission near Lapwai, ID.  Henry Spaulding and his wife came west with the Whitman’s to found their missions.  Henry Spaulding with his near Lapwai, and the Whitman’s with their mission near Walla Walla, WA. So, I’ve lived my whole life hearing stories about the Spaulding’s and the Whitman’s.  The missionaries came west in 1836 and started their missions.  

Whitman traveled back and helped lead the same wagon train that John Barton Pennington came west with.  He mostly likely delivered the child that John’s wife Sarah delivered near South Pass since he was a medical doctor.  Tragically the Whitman’s were killed by the Cayuse Indians after a measles epidemic in 1847 when about half of the Cayuse Indians and almost all of their children died. 

So John Barton Pennington not only was one of the first to travel the wagon trains west on the Oregon trail he also knew someone who was incredibly important in the settling of the west – especially in the region that I live in.  The life that these settlers encountered when they first came to Oregon couldn’t have been easy.  Fort Vancouver was a well-established trading post but once they left and headed down the Columbia, they left all civilization and had to build a new life.  There were no roads and the only settlements were in Salem and Fort Vancouver.  It wasn’t until after the Gold rush in 1849 in California when supplies were brought in more regularly. So the John Barton Pennington family had to live through a lot of hardship and were truly pioneers. (Special thanks to Stephen Crawford for telling me this story)

Descendants of John Barton Pennington

Generation No. 1

1.  JOHN BARTON4 PENNINGTON  (BENAJAH3) was born 25 Apr 1820 in Blue Springs, Roane Co., TN, and died 04 Oct 1910 in Fresno, Fresno Co., CA.  He married (1) SARAH ELIZABETH HEMBREE 07 Apr 1841 in Dade Co. MO, daughter of JAMES HEMBREE and NANCY PETTIT.  She was born 10 May 1816 in Warren Co., TN, and died 25 Feb 1851 in Yamhill Co., OR.  He married (2) ELIZABETH JANE SPORTSMAN 25 Feb 1853 in Yamhill Co., OR.  She was born Abt. 1827 in IN/MO, and died Abt. 1872 in Visalia, Tulare Co., CA.  He married (3) MARGARET J. FISHER 26 May 1875 in Visalia, Tulare Co., CA.  She was born Abt. 1833 in MO, and died 1906 in Fresno, Fresno Co., CA.

Census 1: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22
Census 2: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116
Census 3: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 437, #3466
Census 4: 1880, Dist. 39, Calapooia, Douglas Co., OR, Pg. 25, #221
Death Cause: 04 Oct 1910, Broken neck sustained from fall from wagon.
Immigration: 1843, One of first to cross the Oregon Trail

Census: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116

Census 1: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 437, #3466

Census: 1880, Dist. 39, Calapooia, Douglas Co., OR, Pg. 25, #221
                   i.    MARTHA MATILDA5 PENNINGTON, b. 28 Jan 1842, Dade Co., MO; d. 26 Mar 1929, Mt. View, Santa Clara Co., CA.

Census: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116

                  ii.    MARY JANE PENNINGTON, b. 06 Jul 1843, Ash Hollow, North Platte, UT Territory; d. 05 Oct 1899, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census 1: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 437, #3466

                 iii.    MINERVA CAROLINE PENNINGTON, b. 1845, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census 1: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

                 iv.    CATHERINE FRANCIS PENNINGTON, b. 27 Mar 1847, Yamhill Co., OR; d. 19 Apr 1929, Fresno, Fresno Co., CA.

Census 1: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

                  v.    MALVINA ANN PENNINGTON, b. 06 Mar 1849, Yamhill Co., OR; d. 01 Oct 1915, Joseph, Wallowa Co., OR; m. JAMES MADISON ISLEY, 16 Oct 1865, Yamhill Co., OR; b. 04 Jul 1825, Gwinnett Co., GA; d. 05 Apr 1893, Pendleton, Umatilla Co., OR.

Census 1: 1850, Yamhill, Oregon Territory, Pg. 18, #116
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

                 vi.    LORINDA O.5 PENNINGTON, b. 1855, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census 1: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

                vii.    SARAH ELIZABETH PENNINGTON, b. Abt. 1859, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census 1: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22
Census 2: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

               viii.    STEPHEN PENNINGTON, b. Abt. 1859, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census: 1860, Lafayette, Yamhill Co., OR. Pg. 438, #3466

                 ix.    JOHN BARTON PENNINGTON, b. Abt. 1862, Yamhill Co., OR.

Census: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22

                  x.    CLARISSA ANN PENNINGTON, b. 28 Aug 1864, Yamhill Co., OR; d. 03 Nov 1933, Fresno Co., CA; m. GEORGE WASHINGTON HENSLEY, 08 Jun 1883, Merced, Merced Co., CA.

Census: 1870, Visalia Twp, Tulare Co., CA, Pg. 4, #22