Friday, December 18, 2015

Popcorn Balls at Christmas

I was making some cookies at Halloween and wanted to make the frosting orange.  I have several types of food coloring in the cupboard, but I found an old combination box of food coloring that I thought must be pretty old.  I forgot about it and finished my cookies.  Just about a week ago, I was at the store and saw the combination box of food coloring on sale and decided that I should get a new box.  When I got home and put away my groceries, I decided that I needed to get rid of that old box...and I was curious as to how old that box really was.  I looked all around for a date and found a date of 1975.  The more I thought about it...the more I started to remember what we used that food coloring for.

When I was a little girl, my Mom taught music lessons for piano and voice from about one o'clock in the afternoon to as late as seven o'clock in the evening.  Most of the time, she would have a casserole ready or something in the crock pot so we had dinner ready, when she came upstairs.  Mom did that so we would be able to be in swim team, boy scouts, girl scouts, camp fire girls or anything else we were involved in.  Mom also did that, so she could spoil us at Christmas.

Mom made Christmas special at our house.  I can still remember the tree dripping with tinsel that we had gone out in the woods to get.  It was never perfectly shaped and it seems that Dad was called on to drill holes in to insert branches.  Nothing was perfect...because she let us help with the decorating. Mom also did a lot of different candy and cookies.  I still do that, but I have never been able to make divinity successfully.  One of the things that I can remember is making popcorn balls at Christmas.

This was a relatively cheap gift but it was a lot of fun to make.  Mom would do the popcorn and the candy to make the popcorn stick.  She would use that food coloring to make any color combination that you could think of with those four basic colors of red, green, blue, and yellow.  I can remember having a popcorn ball Christmas tree that we decorated.  I can also remember popcorn balls wrapped up in plastic wrap that we could give to our friends as gifts.  The process was kind of fun.  We would rub butter all over our hands, then take the hot gooey popcorn and form balls.  We would finish one batch and color, and start the process all over again.

I have so many memories of Christmas that are wonderful and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the wonderful childhood that my parents gave us.  I hadn't thought about those popcorn balls for years...I would have a hard time eating them these days.  I can't have all the sweets and popcorn isn't very nice to my teeth.  I almost wonder if I should keep that old box of food coloring for posterity.  It is a nice reminder of Christmas popcorn balls and the fun we had making them!



Monday, December 7, 2015

A Pearl Harbor Pennington

Yesterday, I was watching the Fox broadcast for football from Pearl Harbor.  I had DVR'd it so I could watch it when I got home.  Even though many of the games had already been played, I wanted to see what they had highlighted from Pearl Harbor.  They listed all the names of those who had died that horrible day on 7 Dec 1941.  I looked for Elmer Hicks...because he was a classmate of my grandmother and great uncle from the 1939 class of Potlatch, ID.  After that, I kept glancing down at the names and to my surprise, a Pennington showed up...something I hadn't known.

Raymond Pennington was born on 3 Apr 1924 to Harry Spears Pennington and Frances M in Colorado.  By 1930, he is recorded with his parents in Los Angeles, CA and in 1940 he is in Inglewood, CA and it is just Raymond and his father Harry...his mother had died in the intervening years. Raymond is listed in the 1942 Inglewood High School yearbook as having died on Pearl Harbor day and is listed as a Marine private.  He was originally buried at Oahu Nuuanu Cemetery in the Hawaiian Islands and his remains were moved and interred at Golden Gate National Cemetery on 21 May 1948.  (Find A Grave #3619767) This was according to the forms from the US National Cemetery Internment Control Forms.

I was able to establish that Raymond was the son of Harry Spears Pennington and Harry was the son of William T Pennington and Martha "Mattie" Crockett.  Harry was born 4 Dec 1890 in IL and died on 5 Sep 1943 and is buried in the same cemetery and listed as a Chief Radioman US Navy (Find a Grave # 3619765) I find it ironic that he died just a few years after his only child died in the same war.

I did a quick search to try and figure out which group this Pennington came from...it was a quick search.  This is the line I was able to find:

Raymond Pennington
Harry Spears Pennington m. Frances M
William Thomas Pennington m. Martha Ray " Mattie" Crockett
John Pennington m. Matilda Coon
William Pennington m. Anna Maria Brown
Jonathan Pennington m. Oscie Doty
Timothy Pennington m. Mary McCallister
Ephraim Pennington III m. Johanna Davis
Ephraim Pennington Jr m. Mary
Ephraim Pennington

I believe that this is Group 1...but it certainly deserves a lot more research!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Genealogy Wanderings - Harden

Genealogy research is so different today than when I first started almost 20 years ago.  I think that I have it so much easier than those who first started researching before the age of computers and the internet.  I can remember the struggles that I used to have to find information that is now at my fingertips.  There are more and more databases available at places like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com – and I have learned a lot of things that spur me forward.  I am going to try and write a few blogs about some of these curious things that I have found of late.


Some pictures that a cousin took for me of Middleburgh Cemetery, in NY
My fourth great grandfather was Ebenezer Gallup.  He was born in 25 Sep 1795 in Middleburgh, Schoharie Co., NY and died there on 8 Oct 1865.  He is buried there at Middleburgh Cemetery with his wife, Susan Harden.  Ebenezer’s parent’s died when he was quite young (Father Silas Gallup b. 9 Mar 1749 d. 28 Oct 1796 and mother Sarah Gallup b. 29 Dec 1751 d. 18 Aug 1799 see Silas Gallup & Sarah Gallup in NY) and based on family stories, I know that he was raised by his sister Silence Gallup Brewster (See Silence Gallup Brewster and Silence Gallup Brewster – Part 2 – A Further Exploration)  I have always found his family interesting.  I wonder why his parents died…I am sure it was some disease and somehow he escaped it.  Was there something genetic in the family that caused five of the ten children to die young?  Ebenezer’s siblings Silas Gallup Jr b. 1782 d. 1783, Lois Gallup b. 1784 d. 1784, Hannah Gallup b. 1785 d. 1785, and Silas Gallup Jr b. 1789 d. 1790 all died very young.  Perhaps there were more siblings between Eli b. 11 Feb 1791 d. 4 Apr 1882 and Ebenezer b. 1795 or perhaps Ebenezer was a surprise.  His mother, Sarah Gallup, would have been 45 years old.  Sometime between 1791 and 1795 the Gallup family moved to New York.  I know there was a family group of cousins and brothers who moved their families and I wish I knew what prompted them to move from Connecticut to New York.  I can guess…but I don’t know if I will ever know.

Susan Harden hasn’t been an easy person to search.  She was born 8 Jul 1808 in Duanesburg, Schenectady Co., NY and died 9 Nov 1884 in Middleburgh, Schoharie Co., NY. Susan married Ebenezer Gallup on 19 Nov 1826 in Middleburgh, NY.  Since she died as late as 1884, I spent the big money and got her death certificate (I think the NY death certificates are $27 – which are quite expensive and took the full 8 weeks to receive it)  From that I learned that her parents James Harden and Margaret.  I have found a James Harden who was born in 1788 in Duanesburg, NY and died in 1849 in Tioga, NY.  I think that he is the likely father of Susan and according to links in Ancestry to “The New England Historical & Genealogical Register” he is the son of James Harden b. 1755 VT d. 27 Apr 1828 Schenectady Co., NY and Susannah Manard b.  1764 d. 4 Mar 1826.  They were both buried at Tripp Cemetery in Schenectady, NY.  Finding that little bit of information made me wonder what the significance of the Tripp family was to this James and Susannah.  It is a family name that I am familiar with as it is one of my ancestors on my Gage family.

So my genealogical wanderings have now taken me to completely different place.  I did a search on Find A Grave to see what other Harden’s were buried in Tripp Cemetery.  There I find a Benjamin Harden who was a listed son I had found for James Harden and his wife Susannah.  This Benjamin Harden turned out to marry a Phebe Tripp, so that explains why they are buried in that cemetery.  Only problem is now I have to figure how Phebe Tripp fits in.  

So, as you can see, these new records take you on completely different avenues to search.  I am not sure that James Harden and Susannah Manard are my 4th great grandmother’s grandparents – but it seems likely.  The biggest lesson that I have learned while doing genealogy is that the family patterns are important, and don’t be surprised to see your family lines mixing together a little too closely for comfort

Monday, October 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my mother’s 74th birthday or as she might have put it “the 45th anniversary of her 29th birthday!)  Mom (Betty Jean Tannahill Johnson) died on 26 Dec 2005 of lung cancer, so this is the 10th birthday that we have been without her.  So much has happened in the last 10 years but in some ways it feels like we just lost her.

My Mom was many things.  She was probably one of the most creative and intelligent people that I have ever known.  Anything that she turned her attention to – she did well.  Mom was known as spectacular musician whose voice and talent is still remembered by those who heard her sing and play.  We had some of the most beautiful flowers and roses at our house when I was a teenager and young adult.  Like most things, it was impossible for Mom to only to what was necessary, she had to put her own touch on everything.  Mom got a computer for Christmas one year from Dad – it took her just a few weeks to get past the possibilities of that computer and pretty soon, Mom and Dad were taking a loan out for a state of the art computer and printer.  (This was back in 1980 – I think it cost $ 5,000 for the computer and the printer)  She did things on that computer that most people would never have attempted.  Mom was an early user of the internet, she scanned pictures, she did databases and spreadsheets and publishing all on a computer that operated on two 5 ¼ inch drives.  Mom was talented when it came to organization and used to organize her class reunions and managed the swim meets when I was a child.

Everyone in Mom's small family is gone.  Her father (Oliver Richard Tannahill) died in 1947 and stepfather(Gwen Dean Shearer)  in 1987.  We lost Grandma (Capitola Friddle Tannahill Shearer) in 1985 and Mom's sister (Joan Tannahill Kemp Towle Keeler) survived her by several years, but we lost her three years ago.  


Mom could also be incredible stubborn and impossibly demanding.  She was never satisfied with whatever she did and always wanted to improve on what she was doing.  I wish she would have stopped smoking many years before she did.  Even though she had quit 15 years before she died, it was still a smoker’s tumor that killed her.  We missed Mom so much during these past 10 years – at her grandchildren’s graduations from high school and two from college, two of their weddings.  I don’t have to pick a day to remember Mom, she is always there in my mind.  She has helped me make countless decisions through the years because of the things she taught me.  I have had several friends who have lost parents through the past years and I usually tell them that they will never stop missing them.  I then point out how lucky they were to have a parent like they had.  My mom was unique and only my siblings and I know all that she did for us.  I know that each one of us is thinking about her today and there might be a tear, but there is also a smile!

Probably the way I will always remember Mom - in red with her signature red lipstick!

Earliest picture of my mother - probably spring 1942  (She was born in 1941)

I am guessing Summer 1942 - Everyone has a bathtub baby picture, right?


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Belinda Willey Pope


Belinda Willey is my 3rd great grandmother (Find A Grave site with Gravestone).  She was born 10 Mar 1817 in Orleans Co., VT to Eber Willey and Elizabeth McFarland.  
She married Francis Pope in 1835.  

Francis was born 18 May 1812 in Shipton, Quebec and died 7 Feb 1888 in Danville, Quebec.  He was the son of Winslow Pope and Mary Wheelock. 

They are the parents of: 
  • Leander Pope b. 1835 d 1914 m. Ann Maria Braidy
  •  Polly Pope b. 1836 d. 1910 m. Jasper Edward Emerson 
  • Sherman Thomas Pope b. 1839 d. 1919 m. Hannah Nottingham 
  • Winslow Lonsdale Pope b. 1839 d. 1842 
  • George Luna Pope b. 1841 d.1908 m. Elsie Avery Blake 
  • Hiram Pope b. 1843 d. 1894 
  • Nancy Maria Pope b. 1845 d. 1914 m Thomas Hewes Hunkins 
  • Winslow Lonsdale Pope b. 1847 d. 1928  m. Martha Rutherford m. Nancy Ann Marie Lyons m. Susan Emma Cutter 
  • Charles Henry Pope b. 1849 d. 1932 m Ellen Eliza Williamson 
  •  Adelaide Lutheria Pope b. 1851 d. 1865 
  • Plumer Francis Pope b. 1854 d 1928 m. Florinda Lane 
  •  Viola Belinda Pope b. 1857 d. 1888 m. Freeman Austin Lyons
When I first started learning about Belinda Willey and Francis Pope, I found it interesting to find that they seemed to move back and forth between Canada and the Vermont/New Hampshire.  At first glance, it would be easy to assume that her family were on the side of the British during the Revolutionary war – but that can’t really be the case.  Belinda’s grandfather was a Revolutionary War soldier…so why did they move back and forth between Canada and the United States.  

I asked a cousin about this migration between the US and Canada.  It was a very simple explanation…economics.  These families were going where there jobs were.  They were loggers following the jobs.  That makes sense to me.  
Winslow Pope - taken about October 1928 shortly before his death
Her son, Winslow Lonsdale Pope, was a wanderer who lived in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and eventually back to Massachusetts.  Perhaps it was a family trait.

I am still learning about her family and thus far it stretches back several more generations.  I feel as if I have much more to learn.  I am still wondering what I will find! 


Monday, August 17, 2015

40 Miles From Town

One of my grandmother’s favorite memories was the visit to her Uncle George’s in 1934 as they were traveling to Idaho.  My great grandparents had sent their furniture on a train to Idaho and they were driving their Model T from Philip, SD to Dover, ID. This was a trip that was accomplished in 1934 without paved roads (or interstates) and in a vehicle that had few of the modern conveniences that we enjoy today.  Not only that, they had seven children in the vehicle as well.  So, in November 1934, my great grandparents made a stop at the George Shawver ranch.  The nearest town of any size was Jordan…and it is 40 miles away.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Jordan, MT and the George Shawver ranch (part of a family reunion).  This visit has convinced me that I am glad that my great grandparents went on to Idaho.  Not that it isn’t beautiful country – but it is very different than what I am used to.  We had a wonderful time visiting and meeting various family members.  This reunion was organized to mark the 100th anniversary of the George and Clara “Midge” Shawver homestead.  One of the activities was to visit the original home place. So, as we traveled the road to ranch, I tried to picture what it must have been like to travel there in 1934 in November near Thanksgiving.  There was a concern that we wouldn’t be able to make the trip because they had a rainfall that morning.  This made me wonder if we were having that problem in the middle of the summer, what occurred in November?
Pictures I took along the drive to the ranch.



Uebra Post Office
They took us to the local post office that served the area.  It was an old cabin that wasn’t in top condition.  We found that the name of the post office was “Uebra!”  It turns out that whomever made the application for the post office had handwriting that was difficult to read…and instead of “Nebra” (for Nebraska) it came out as “Uebra!”  This little post office served about 10 families and the mail came in once a week.  Each family would travel to the post office once a week to get their mail…and in the case of the Shawver family it was about 10 miles on a horse…and for a number of years the postmistress was Clara Bacon Shawver aka “Aunt Midge” and later her daughter in law, Marguerite.

After we had stopped to learn the story of the post office, we moved on to the ranch.  The landscape reminded me of the badlands – lots of sandstone that had been shaped by the wind and rain.  I can understand why there are a lot of fossils found in the region.  We also saw a lot of areas that had hay bales scattered throughout. I asked the question later of how many cuttings of hay they got in a year (near Jordan).  We (Lewiston ID) generally get two and in some areas three cuttings – I was told that they got one cutting.  In land area, the ranch was very large.  I was told that they had 13 – 640 acre plots which equals 8,320 acres.   I know that this was a cattle ranch and I have pictures from my great grandmother of her brother, George, and his Charolais cattle, which I have been told were prize winning cattle.  When George & Midge first moved to the ranch, we were told that they lived in a dugout on the ridge for a few years.  I can understand that it was probably the easiest and most accessible form of shelter, but I certainly have a hard time imagining living in such a place.  They had also built a ranch house after a few years and that has been torn down to make way for a manufactured home.

The comment was made several times “I am glad the grandfolks came to Idaho,” however, I am sure many of my Montana Shawver cousins feel differently.  It is a beautiful landscape and being that remote would be ideal for many people.  It reminds me how different our lives are as Americans.  You have people who live in bustling cities and couldn’t imagine living somewhere so far from civilization and others who live in remote areas and couldn’t imagine living so close to so many people.


Shawver Ranch from above


Uncle Duane in front of the old barn
I remember meeting Uncle George when I was a little girl.  He had come out to Idaho for a celebration of my great grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary.  My great grandmother was one of 17 children and she was especially close with the 10 siblings that she grew up with.    I think at that point, only one of them had passed.  I think that it is rather remarkable how many times our families from near and far have gathered for a family reunion.  In our case, we drove the distance to Jordan, MT for the 100th Anniversary of the homestead for George & Midge Shawver.  It was a little different for me…there were many new faces and I only had an inkling of who many of the cousins were. I am used to knowing nearly everyone at family reunions.  I think that we figured out that we had members from Jessie Shawver Gallup Bacon’s family, Dewey Shawver, Florence Shawver Gage (my line), Harold Shawver and of course many members of George & Midge Shawver’s family. 

My grandmother would have enjoyed this family gathering so much.  It wasn’t hard for me to imagine her sitting there visiting her dear cousin Mary in person instead of email or the phone.  Mary was there for some brief periods and along with her sister, Clara. They are the last surviving children of George Shawver and Clara Bacon.  (Mary has just recently passed away.)  I couldn’t help think of that long ago trip that my great grandparents had made.  It was memorable time where the older children had the chance to go and play…whether it was horseback riding or a few local dances with some of the locals providing the music. 

Full house - when time to eat!
There were probably at least four generations of Shawver family members at that reunion in Jordan, MT.  I missed out on the group picture – had run back to town to get my computer.  (This time it wasn’t on purpose on my part )  There were members who were in their 80’s and even 90’s and young babies and even a pregnant momma.  As someone who spends a great deal of time studying family history, it is a visual tableau of what a family is.  For that special few days – it was a time to share stories and perhaps a few tall tales as well as pictures and a potluck to share a few special recipes.  It was everything that family reunion should be.
The handwritten tree - to try and explain the branches of the family who were present!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shirley, Never Forgotten!

Shirley & Gene - 1941
Anne, Shirley & Gene in back
Ever since I was a young child, I have been fortunate to experience the warmth of not only a close family but a close extended family.  My youthful memories are tied up with so many wonderful people from my great grandparents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins, and my aunts.  There are a few of these people who always stand out – and my Aunt Shirley was one of those people.

Shirley was my Dad’s next sibling, younger than him, by a year.  When they were growing up – he, Shirley and their sister Anne were always a trio.  (They also had two younger sisters – but as younger siblings they are not always in the mix with the older siblings – as a youngest sibling, I have experienced that)  They all got married in 1958 and 1959 and began their lives together with their new families.  All of their children were born from 1958-1967 with myself being the youngest.  Between my Dad, Shirley and Anne – there were 13 of us born in that eight year span.  Even though we didn’t see each other as often as we liked – we were close.  During the last 15 years, Dad and his sisters became even closer.  All three couples became close friends as well as siblings and in-laws.  We lost my Mom almost 10 years ago, and Anne lost her Bill in 2012, and yesterday we lost our Shirley.  Mom and Bill had both had illnesses that made their deaths not that shocking – but Shirley, we all thought she would out live all of her siblings.  Her death is a huge shock and has left a huge hole in our family.


Left to Right:  Gene, Karl, Shirley, Marian, Tom w/ Fran behind
Anne with Bill behind - Taken 2010 - Marian's 90th Birthday Party
The best way to describe Shirley was someone with a big heart who would do anything to help anyone.  If you needed something, she was there.  Whether it was a hug, sounding board, or advice.  She was a devoted daughter, adoring wife, loving mother and grandmother and beloved sister.  When I woke up this morning, one of the first things that came to mind – is that for the first time in my life – my aunt Shirley was no longer with us.  I always try to think of people as they are and “not on a pedestal,” and Shirley had her faults – and she would be the first one to tell you that, but she had some of the most wonderful qualities.

Mother's Day 2011 - Fran, Anne, Gene, Mary Kay,
 Shirley with Marian in front
Shirley was happiest when she was doing for others…I don’t know if there was a selfish bone in her body.  She took care of everyone around her and for her husband and children – she was their stable rock and the heart of her family.  I am sorry that those great grandchildren will never know their grandmother personally – they will have to know her through their parents.  Her grandchildren knew their grandmother has a strong loving force in their lives and her children knew her as the hub of their family.  Her love surrounded them all.  Shirley’s husband Karl is a broken man today.  For him – he has lost a loving life partner.  He told me that she would always be with him while he pressed his heart. 


Shirley & Karl - Wedding (24 Jan 1959)
So today, I cry selfishly for losing a much loved aunt who had become my friend and confidante especially during the last decade since I lost my mother.  I weep for my father and his two remaining sisters who have lost a childhood playmate and a sister who was much more than just a sister but a friend.  No more will we be able to shake our heads in disbelief and wonder and the generosity and love that Shirley showed every day of her life.  So this weekend, as we gather for our family reunion, we all will celebrate the niece, cousin, aunt and sister as well as the mother, grandmother and beloved wife.  There is a hole that can never be filled or replaced.  We will not ever see her like again and how we’ll miss her sweet smile, loving touch and generous love.
Shirley's Family - 2010 - Marian's 90th Birthday Party

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Happy 95th Birthday, Grandma Marian!

Baby Marian
Today would have been my grandmother’s 95th birthday.  I can’t really complain about losing her too young though, she died when she was 91 and at the 21st anniversary of her own father’s death.  Helen Marian Gage was born on 10 Jun 1920 to Ora Silas Gage and Florence Christine Shawver.  She died on 30 Dec 2011 as a beloved mother of five, grandmother of 18, and great grandmother of 33 and great great grandmother of 11 children.

As a little girl, I don’t think that I knew my grandmother terribly well.  She lived six hours away and a few days every years wasn’t a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with her.  I remember her visiting us one time and telling my best friend that she had blue hair.  My friend didn’t believe me and had to come to my house to see for herself.  For those of you young enough to not understand…there were a lot of women who put a bluing solution on their hair to make their hair look better…and if went too far, it turned blue.  As I got older, I got to spend more one on one time with my grandmother and truly learned to appreciate the quality of person that she was.  I would come down during college and spend my spring break with her and my great grandparents.  I did simple things with her like sit at her table and visit or take her out to dinner.  I would go over and spend part of the day with my great grandparents as well.  I really didn’t think it was all that unusual.  This was my normal.  As I got older – I found out how lucky I truly was.

Top Left:  Don, Duane, Byron, Pauline, Marian, Orland, Bernard
Bottom Left:  Norma, Florence, Ora, & Elaine
Grandma Marian was born the oldest daughter of ten children – she only had one sibling, her brother, Orland Gage, who was older.  She told me once that her childhood was an incredibly happy time for her in Mapleton, IA.  While Orland spent most of his time working with their father, Grandma Marian and her younger brother John Bernard Gage spent a lot of time playing.  In her eyes, she was much luckier than her younger siblings, she had store bought clothes and her life was carefree in her mind.  Things changed with the depression…just as they did for every family.  When her father couldn’t pay the taxes, he signed the farm over to his friend and partner, Lou Brenner.  Granddad Gage refused to put his friend’s financial livelihood at risk, so Granddad packed his family up and took them north to Philip, SD (There were seven children in the family now.)  That new opportunity didn’t pan out and in another year, they were once again searching for a new home.  The Gage family first went north to Montana to Grandma Florence’s brother’s ranch in Jordan, MT where they had a chance to get to know their cousins.  My grandmother told me often how much fun they had running around and playing with each other…I know they spent at least a week there over Thanksgiving.  Then they began their trek across Montana in Model T with seven children.  They stopped every once in a while and they would build a fire and cook some eggs for a meal…sometimes they were scrambled or a hard-boiled egg made into an egg salad sandwich, or some fried eggs.  I can remember my Uncle Bernard remembering the trip fondly…guess he liked eggs!  When they arrived at Dover, ID and spent the winter – Granddad Gage went searching and found land to buy and by the next summer, they had moved to Hatter Creek, ID.
My grandmother never really talked about the hardship that their family must have faced after that move to Hatter Creek, ID.  I think the worst thing she felt that she suffered was the lack of butter to put on her bread – especially since she loved butter.  She didn’t talk about helping out with making clothes, or helping her mother bake 10 loaves of bread ever few days, canning food from the garden or taking care of that garden.  Nor did she talk about leaving her family and working out with other families doing housework or taking care of children so she could bring the money she earned back to her own family.  None of these were hardships for her – it was simply her life.  Now I would never described Grandma as the perfect teenager.  She would have admitted to being hardheaded.  Grandma Marian boarded at the Ursuline Academy in Moscow, ID (a Catholic School) and she had an argument with one of the nuns, and her mother allowed her to come back home….as long as she finished school at the local high school which was nine miles away.  Grandma Marian graduated from high school in 1939, when she was 19 years old as did her older brother, Orland (who was 21) and her younger brother Bernard who was 17.  I wonder if Potlatch High School has ever had three siblings who graduated the same year from high school again.

Marian at Graduation

Within a few months after graduating, Grandma Marian met a friend of Lawrence Chandler who was visiting from North Dakota after serving in the CCC’s (Civilian Conservation Corps).  By July of 1939, Grandma Marian and Grandpa (Frank Stewart Johnson) were engaged and married in October.  Then they traveled back across Montana to North Dakota to Grandpa Frank’s home in Dunn Center.  In the next three years, my grandparents had three children (including my father who was the oldest.)  Grandma did admit to some hardship during that period.  They lived in a tiny two room house with three babies, her father-in-law and sister-in-law.  My grandfather worked up to four jobs at a time to try and support his family.  Many times the only money they had coming in was her father-in-law’s $17 Social Security.  Grandma found it was cheaper to buy syrup than it was to buy sugar…and so she learned to adapt.  I think the hardest thing for Grandma was being so far away from her family and feeling as if there was no way to break out of this cycle they were in.  Finally, in late 1943, she decided to go back to Idaho to visit her family.  I am not sure she really intended on going back to North Dakota.  I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to travel two days on a train with two toddlers and fussy baby that was only few weeks old.  Not too long after, my grandfather left his father and sister in North Dakota and came west.  I am sure that was the hardest thing that he had ever done – his father refused to leave and there were no opportunities for a young family in Dunn Center…so he put his father and sister in the poor house and came west to get a job and take care of his young family.

During the next 50 years, Grandma Marian took care of her family:  from caring for her husband until he died and left her a young widow to providing a home for grandchildren when they needed a place to stay.  After Grandpa Frank died, her parents moved to Canby, OR to live close by and help Grandma Marian.  They did so for many years, but then the situation changed in to Grandma lovingly caring for her parents during their last years.  (Although I must say, it was hard at times dealing with her father – two stubborn people don’t always rub each other the right way.)

2010 - Gage Sibs - Bottom Left:  Orland, Marian, Don, & Duane
Top Left:  Pauline, Byron & Elaine
Grandma Marian moved to Lewiston, ID in 2001 and was prepared to enjoy the family in Idaho that she hadn’t spent as much time with since moving to Oregon in 1965.  It seemed that every week, she had visits from her brothers, Shawver cousins who lived nearby, and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who lived in Idaho or nearby.  For me, this was the opportunity to get to know my grandmother much better.  We spent a lot of hours on the phone and in her living room – her telling me stories of her life and me telling her the newest genealogy research.  After my mother died in 2005, Grandma became even more important for me.  She was the woman I talked to when I needed a sounding board or advice.  Sometimes it was about cooking…and sometimes it was about the way I was feeling.  We became close friends at that point.  We had a wonderful birthday party for her on her 90th birthday.  All of her children were there as well as most of her other descendants.  Grandma took special pride in the number of grandchildren that she had – and while she sat there on the beautiful June day five years ago…we marveled at how many people who showed up.  All of her living siblings were there, her aunt and many of her nieces and nephews of all generations.  There were cousins from Montana, Washington, and Oregon and friends from far and wide.  We estimated that there were about 150 people who showed up to celebrate her birthday.  It was a wonderful day that I know my grandmother relished. 


I had just started writing these blogs a few months before her death.  Grandma Marian gave me the encouragement to start this process.  She wanted me to tell the stories of our family.  It was important to her that these stories were accessible to later generations.  There are many other stories and life experiences that she shared with me that I could and have told.  We lost her in 2011 at the age of 91, but I am so grateful for that 10 years that we had together here in Idaho.  I still wish I could pick of the phone and talk to her.  Grandma Marian had a wonderful long life with a loving family and friends who enriched her life…and in return she enriched our lives so she would never be forgotten by those she touched.  Happy 95th birthday, Grandma Marian!  We love you and miss you!

Here are a few blogs that I have written about my Grandma Marian!



Friday, June 5, 2015

A Shawver Photo Album

There is a photograph album in our family coffers that include some photographs taken in 1930 back in West Virginia.  My great great grandfather, George Christian “Chris” Shawver, went back to West Virginia to visit family and some of the old places of his childhood.


Chris Shawver hadn’t been back to West Virginia since before 1890 when he moved west to Iowa.  I am sure if I went back home after being away for forty years, there would be a multitude of changes.  It would be bittersweet to go back – mostly for the people who are no longer there.  His parents had both died in 1900 (George William Shawver b. 15 Nov 1824 d. 9 Mar 1900 & Elizabeth Matilda Legg b. 16 May 1830 d. 12 Feb 1900)  Most of his siblings had either died or moved away.


  • Robert Thomas Shawver b. 6 Nov 1849 d. 22 May 1907 m. Annetta T. Morrison
  •  Melcena E Shawver b. 1 Apr 1851 d. 22 Dec 1903 m. William H. O’Dell Jr
  •  Paul Harvey Shawver b. 14 Mar 1853 d. 2 Mar 1917 m. Mary Copeland King m. Mary Francis Fulcher
  • John Morrison Shawver b. 14 Mar 155 d. 25 Nov 1938 m. Elizabeth Medora Boley
  • Alvin Shawver b. abt 1855 d. aft 1870
  •  Henry William D Shawver b. 6 Dec 1857 d. bef 1900 m Margaret Ellen Stowers
  •  Daniel L Shawver b. 6 Mar 1859 d. 20 Oct 1861
  •  Melvina Jane O L Shawver b. 25 Feb 1861 d. 20 Nov 1865
  •  Ruth Elizabeth Shawver b. 5 Aug 1864 d. 17 Aug 1922 m. Mahlen Albert Mills m. Pleasant G Prater
  • George Christian Shawver  (See below for story) b. 6 Aug 1867 d. 13 Apr 1931
  • Felix L A Shawver b. 10 May 1869 d. 19 Oct 1889
  • Christina Signora Janet Lilly Shawver b. 10 Aug 1871 d. 11 Jul 1945 m. William Martin Rogers

The only one still alive and living in West Virginia was brother, John Morrison Shawver.  There are a few photographs of John A Shawver’s children (This was labeled by my great grandmother) and a unfortunately distant picture of Chris Shawver with his brother which I imagine is somewhere close to the home place.



One thing that this photo album prompted me to do was try to find out who some of these families were.  Considering that these photos were taken during the depression and in what is probably a very poor part of the country, it is like looking into the past. 




I can remember when my great grandparents used to visit with one of their siblings.  They dragged them around to just about every family who lived nearby….which usually included our house.  I have no idea how many places they would visit before they were finally able to take a break.  I suspect that this trip must have been a similar experience for Chris Shawver.  There are photos taken with the O’Dells,  Hanson's, Witt's, and the Shawver family…







and there are sad pictures of gravestones – of his parents and brothers. 




Sometimes going back isn’t the wonderful experience that we wish it could be!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

James Blaine Friddles

When you first start doing genealogical research, you start out by putting your direct ancestors in and then you start filling out the list of siblings.  You never know what kind of story that you are going to find when you start looking beyond the names and dates, and sometimes the stories are rather sad.  My great grandfather’s brother, James Blaine Friddles is one of those sad stories.

James Blaine Friddles was born 29 Sept 1884 in Mountain City, Johnson Co., TN, the 4th of the six children of Moses Friddles and Martha “Mattie” Brown.  (Moses had at least two other surviving children before this 3rd family was born)  I don’t believe that he likely had a good childhood…perhaps better than his younger brother (my great grandfather – David Carl Friddle) but from everything that I have read, the family was not prosperous.  In the 1880, Moses Friddles is listed as a laborer.  I know that during the Civil War, he was called an “Artificer” and one of his main roles was shoeing horses in the 13th TN Calvary, which is how he was injured.  I doubt he was able to work much and at about 60 years old, he was probably not what one might call an active father.  James’ mother was only 16 years old when she married Moses and would have been about 24 when James was born.  When James was six years old, Moses died (11 Mar 1890) and I am sure that the situation went from bad to worse.  Martha was left with six children, one of whom died about a year later.  From family stories, I think she ended up working for an old judge who lived nearby (I have heard him referred to Judge Vaught.  I believe he was Joseph L Vaught, who served in the area as a Justice of the Peace.  Joseph Vaught was in the Civil War and served with Moses Friddles and his daughter married Moses Friddle’s oldest son, Albert.)  Evidently, Martha worked as an housekeeper and I believe that Judge Vaught took it upon himself to teach at least my great grandfather how to read and write…and this was likely the case with with James’s siblings Roby, Jesse, and Callia.  Judge Vaught died in 1897 and by 1899, Martha aka Mattie was remarried to a John M. Tester.  In the 1900 census, I find Calia and David Carl listed as servants in other households, Roby is in the military in the Phillapines and Jesse and James are nowhere to be found.  I believe that they were in other households as servants just like Calia and David Carl. 

On 24 Dec 1901, James marries Dora Nevada Heck.  (daughter of Albert Heck and Susannah Kidd b. 15 Feb 1884 in Johnson Co., TN) and in a short time, they start their family.

  • George Harrison Friddles b. 1902 d. 1902
  • Jessie Raydell Friddles b. 30 Jul 1903 d. Jan 1986 m. Guy Landrum
  • Bessie Mable Friddles b. 7 May 1905 d. 23 Apr 1996 m. Luther Cress
  • Walter Paul Friddle b. 7 Sep 1906 d. Jun 1976 m. Doshie m. Mattie Brenson m. Evelyn McClendon
  • Martha Callonia Ivalee Friddles b. 6 Mar 1909 d. ?? m. Charles Burnette
  • James Howard Friddles Cleaton b. 1 Jul 1912 d. 10 Jan 1961 m. Bertha Ellen Watson


Tragically, Dora dies on 27 Oct 1912 of Typhoid fever in Greenville, Greene Co., TN and James is left to care for their children with the youngest only being a few months old.  As the story goes, James marries again…but there is a plan to take care of his children.  His new wife and he decide that they are going to farm out their children so they can be taken care of.  So, James does this and marries Emeline Guy on 4 Nov 1917 in Johnson Co., TN.

I have found in the records that Emeline was married to a Thomas Coleman Icenhour and had several children with him.  Thomas Icenhour lives until 1936, so I don’t know if a formal divorce occurred or what process was gone through to end the marriage.  He is found in the 1920 census remarried and with most of his children living with him.  It makes me wonder as to what happened to that marriage.
From what I have gathered from James Friddles descendants, this was not a happy marriage and within a few years, James wants to get his children back.  I know also that his older brother, Albert, had communicated with him and was encouraging James to come west because of the availability of land.  Albert Friddles had come out in the mid 1880’s with his family.  July Friddles Prestwood came out west shortly after 1900 and my great grandfather came out in 1910…so just about all of James’s living siblings were living out west…and the theory is that he was getting ready to bring his family out west.  However, that was not to be.  James was found alongside the road shot to death on 1 Oct 1928.  Officially, he committed suicide but family descendants don’t believe that and say that he was shot to death by his wife, because he was going to leave her.  According to the Tennessee, Deaths and Burials Index, 1874-1955 on Ancestry.com, James was buried at Withs Cemetery in the First District in what I believe was a paupers grave with no marker.  If someone can provide me some additional information, I would appreciate it. 

I have a photo of James Friddle in his marriage photo with Dora Heck and I have a photo that was probably taken about six years later and a later one that was probably taken during the mid-teens.  It is hard to believe that this is the same man – for you can easily see the aging and wear and tear of life on his face.  I don’t think we will ever know what really happened to James Blaine Fridddles – but I do know that when he died my great grandfather suffered the loss of two brothers in less than a week, because his older brother Albert died on 5 Oct 1928 just days after James died.  Grandpa Friddle might have gotten the news on the same day.  Julia Friddles Prestwood died a few years later in 1932.  My great grandfather lived to 4 Jan 1955.  He was relatively young 66 years of age, but he had outlived his entire family by many years.
James Friddles and Dora Heck - 1901
Friddle family - about 1904 - Standing in the back is James Friddles and Callia Friddles, in front,
the older woman is Mattie Brown Friddle, then Dora holding Jessie Friddle and unknown man - possibly husband of Calia.

Probably taken about 1915 or so - James Friddles with his children
Left to Right - Martha, Bessie, James holding James Howard, Jessie, and Walter