Friday, October 26, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anyone for Baseball?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Micajah b. 1743

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Great Resource…

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Curious Case of Lytle

I have spent a lot of time looking at the significance of names in my genealogy research.  Many times I find a son in a family named after either the paternal grandfather or maternal grandfather.  Sometimes that same son has the mother’s maiden name as his first name.  Those are fairly easy to recognize…but I have always been curious as to the significance of the name “Lytle Woods” our Johnson family.

I would make the assumption that the individual has something to do with the trip that my great great grandparents made in the middle of night.  They left Tennessee to avoid being roped into the Civil War and brought their children up north to Iowa, where Washington Abraham’s brother, Henderson lived.  I know that the family was in Kirkman, Shelby Co., Iowa by December 1865 and that they were still in Jefferson Co., TN in June of 1861.  However, when their son Lytle Woods Johnson was barn on 1 Oct 1863 – I don’t know if he was born in Jasper Co., IA where Henderson lived or if they had moved to Shelby Co., IA by that point.  I’ve always suspected that a Lytle Woods possibly helped the Johnson family move north, perhaps hid them from the army or gave them food for their family and shelter.  I may never know…but whatever the story was – his name shows up in the family a few times.

  • Lytle Woods Johnson b. 1 Oct 1863 in IA d. 28 Apr 1915, Hill City, Camas Co., ID – never married (Son of Washington Abraham Johnson & Mary Ann Smith)
  • Lytle William Johnson b. 8 Jun 1889 Manilla, Crawford Co., IA d. 28 Feb 1976, Shelton, Mason Co., WA (Son of William Edward Johnson and Nancy Eudora McMillan)
  • Edward Lytle Johnson b. 19 Apr 1916 in ND d. 10 Sept 1995 Hoodsport, Mason Co., WA (son of Lytle William and Helen Albrecht)

Lytle Woods Johnson moved out to Idaho sometime before 1910 as he is recorded in the census in Soldier, Blaine Co., ID as a Livery worker.  I suspect he came out with the railroad perhaps as early as the 1890’s, but since I have been unable to find him in the census in 1900, I am unsure.  I know that his older sister came out with her family and first lived in Colfax, Whitman Co., WA but later ended up in Hill City, ID.  You wouldn’t know it by what is there today, but at one point Hill City was one of the largest sheep stations in the United States and there was quite a rail line there.  I suspect that Lytle came out west as did his older brother, John Sira Johnson.  None of them lived very long.  Lytle died on 28 Apr 1915 in Hill City, Camas Co., ID and John and Nanny both died 1918.  I think that the flu epidemic took John Sira Johnson and Nanny Eleanor Johnson Gill – but I am not sure what Lytle Woods Johnson died of.  I can find no cemetery stone or marker at all.  I suspect that all three are buried at the Hill City Cemetery but it is almost impossible to tell as most of the graves are unmarked.  I suspect that the flu epidemic might have hit this community quite hard and it might never have recovered.

Not too long ago, I was looking at a photo of Lytle Woods Johnson that was taken probably around 1912.  It was a postcard that was sent back to a family member in North Dakota or Iowa and showed Lytle Woods Johnson driving Idaho Governor Hawley in a car – my car experts tell me that they think it is 1912 Chrysler and scribble on the top is Lytle’s name identifying him in the car.  I think it is rather interesting that the only picture I have of Lytle as an older man is taken in a car with the Governor of Idaho sitting in the back.  I suppose this is what happened to someone who worked in the livery in 1910 – they became drivers for other people.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Momma!

A birthday celebration in her signature red!

My mother would have been 71 today.  Mom always enjoyed the presents and the cake…but not the age.  I remember on one occasion when she made the comment she was going to celebrate her 29th birthday that year…but she said it in front of her step father who was well aware that she was closer to fifty at the time.   He told her that if she was going to lie…at least make it believable.  Especially since her oldest daughter was about that age.

Mom will have been gone seven years come the day after Christmas.  Dad and I went over and bought red roses to place on her grave for her birthday.  You might say that Mom’s signature color was red.  She always wore bright red lipstick, loved red clothes, and even created a bathroom that was a tribute to the color red…so it is fitting to give Mom red roses.  Time has given me the ability to think about Mom with a smile.  I can still hear her voice in my head telling me what I should or shouldn't do.  I remember just before Mom died…she had me go and put a silk poinsettia on her mother's grave because her favorite flower was a poinsettia.  Mom and I talked at the time that even though it had been 30 years since her mother had died…she never stopped missing her or thinking about her.  I didn't realize that I would find out how true her words really were. 

Many years ago I was talking to my uncle on the telephone.  Mom was in the same room and we were both asking questions.  Uncle Claude wasn't the most vocal person when it came to communicating how he felt – he could tell the best stories, but the “I love you!” wasn't easy for him.  As we were getting off the phone, I told him that I loved him.  He got a little emotional and replied that he loved me too.  Mom was getting a little teary eyed and told me to tell him the same thing from her.  Claude being Claude…had to interject some humor.  He replied that she had better love him…he helped bring her into the world!

I knew there was a story here…that I had never heard.  “What do you mean…”I asked.  It turns out that when it was time for Grandma Cappy to give birth to Mom…her husband was out hunting.  So…Grandma had to draft her little brother to drive her to the hospital.  So, there he was – a 17 year old kid taking his big sister to the hospital.  Grandma Cappy had to leave her older daughter at home with her mother.  It isn't really as if the father was with the mother in the delivery rooat at the birth during that time period, but Grandma Cappy correctly believed that if Grandpa Richard was present at the conception, he certainly needed to be  there at the birth.  If he couldn't manage that….then there were going to be no more children. 

Mom’s last birthday was 64, which was much too young.  Mom was a wonderful musician, gifted organizer, cook, crafter, and avid computer operator.  However, I think she was most proud of being a loving and loved wife, mother and daughter.    There are many adjectives that I could use to describe my mother – intelligent, funny, wacky, stubborn, and opinionated. So today I celebrate my Mom and all the things that she was to everyone who loved her and she loved.  I understand what she told me on her mother’s birthday’s back in 2005 – that you never stop missing your mother, and I know I never will.  Happy Birthday Momma!
Mom was about 15 and getting ready for a violin recital.
Mom (Betty)  is pictured here with her mother, Cappy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Cemetery Adventure

Cemeteries are interesting places to me.  Possibly because they are places that have the possibilities of answers for genealogists.  I’ve had a few interesting adventures…but one of my favorites had to do with Star Gap Cemetery in Johnson Co., TN and a chance meeting with an online friend.

The day started out with my cousin letting me borrow her Ford Explorer to go over to Johnson Co., TN on my own.  Her one prerequisite was that I took the long way around through Boone, NC and not through the mountains and Shouns Crossroads.  Truth be told…I was perfectly comfortable with mountain roads – but she didn’t know that.  My first stop was the library at Mountain City.  I walked in and sat down and made my spot at the table and began to peruse that information available.  After a short time, I struck up a conversation with the woman across from me.  We began talking about our Tennessee family and after a while, there were a few common threads that seemed to show themselves.  This was someone familiar with the internet and computers. 

Most of the people that you converse online through newslists are email addresses, names, and common surnames.  You have a in common a county of research and the newslist that you communicate through.  The Johnson County newslist was run by a lovely woman named Mary Floy Katzman.  I will be always grateful for her work on behalf of the “The Original Johnson County Tennessee Genealogy Page” and the JCTCuzins list.  Mary Floy died several years ago…but there have been others who have kept it up beautifully.  But back in 2001, the newslist was a place where researchers could exchange information and ideas.  One of those researchers was someone I knew only by her email address.  It turned out that Jenny was someone who I had corresponded with quite often.  We easily recognized each other.  At the time she was also visiting Johnson Co., TN – and was actually living in a city only two hours from where I lived in the northwest.

Now the adventure began…since I had someone who was familiar with the landscape – we took off and began exploring.  One of those places was the cemetery at Star Gap also known as Acre Lawn Cemetery. You can take a look at photos and information by clicking the link on the name.  Jenny and I drove towards Laurel Bloomery and turned off at the Star Gap road.  We began traveling up the dirt road through a thick wall of trees on either side.  As we progressed slowly down the road, we could nothing that resembled a cemetery.  Much to my dismay, another vehicle was coming straight towards us.  Driving in reverse is definitely not one of my strong suits…never the less, I had to back up for several yards before we could find a place for the other vehicle to pass.  When they came along side of us – we asked if the cemetery was very far away and were told that it wasn’t much further.  As we continued up the road, the trees opened up and we came across a clearing and we had finally arrived. 

It was a beautiful spot (Check out the pictures of the cemetery at their website.  I can’t find mine or I would post them).  Although we never found the grave of Charles Dollar (my great grandmother’s younger brother) – it was quite a trip.  Thanks to Jenny  and her knowledge of the area, we also went to the Phillipi Cemetery and attempted to find the Hawkins cemetery where my great great grandfather was buried.   (Moses Friddles)  However, I will never forget that trip up an unknown dirt road with my new friend.  I haven’t seen Jenny since that day and she has moved back to Mountain City, TN,  but, I made a great friend that day and we both would love to go on another cemetery adventure someday!