Thursday, August 31, 2017

Goodbye Uncle Karl

It was just about a month ago I was thinking that I needed to have my uncle over for dinner.  My plan was to wait until it cooled off as we were in the middle of a heat wave.  Uncle Karl was very fond of my meatloaf and that seems like a meal for fall rather than the hot summer.  However, it looks like it was not to be as he passed away on Aug 14, 2017.  Life had been harder for Karl the past few years.  For 56 years of his life, he was half of a pair, and when his wife Shirley passed away 2 years ago on July 1, 2015, it seemed that the light when out of his life.

Karl grew up in Moscow, ID.  I don’t suppose life was all that different than any other kid who lives in a rural area.  His Dad worked at the University of Idaho in the farm area and Karl and his siblings played around the various farm animals.  His sister, Paula, relates how they ran around as kids wearing only cotton overalls, cowboy hats with cap guns in their holsters.  Playing around as if they were members of the Jesse James gang.  They moved to another house that had a creek running through it.  The kids enjoyed playing baseball in the cow pasture.  As Paula relates it, they used cow pies as bases so when the game was done at the end of the day, big brother Karl would strip them down and hose them off before they were allowed to go into the house.

I can honestly say that those stories don’t surprise me but they were nothing like the Karl I knew.  That is mostly because I didn’t really get to know Karl until I was an adult.  I didn’t have time for adults when my cousins were around to play with.  In fact, it is sometimes difficult to see an older member of the family has a child or a young man.  I can remember Karl relating a story of he, my Dad, and uncle Bill taking a trip down to Mackay Bar (remote area along Salmon River, Idaho) Evidently it was quite a narrow and treacherous road – if you asked my Dad, he would tell you it was a good road.  Anyway, the three guys, all in the 20’s, were three abreast in Dad’s car and one of them was holding a bag of potato chips.  My Dad (Gene) was driving and kept reaching across to grab some chips.  Karl had the opinion that Dad should keep his hands on the wheel!  It was funny listening to Karl, Bill and Dad squabble about the relative safety of that road trip 50 years after it had happened.  Parts of the story never changed – Karl’s opinion that Dad needed to keep his hands on the wheel and the problem they found at the bottom of the road.  Somehow, they were out of gas and the only gas available was some old airplane gas at the bottom of the hill. 

Left to Right - Anne Johnson Bell, Shirley & Karl & Eugene
Anne and Eugene are Shirley's siblings.
Karl married Shirley on January 24, 1959 and he became a part of the Johnson/Gage clan, whether he wanted to or not.  My Dad was always closer with his two older sisters and they were geographically closer together than his other two siblings.   It was Gene and Betty (my folks), Karl & Shirley and Bill & Anne.There were a lot of shared memories with my Dad (Shirley’s older brother) and Uncle Bill (married to Shirley’s younger sister, Anne).  Karl, Dad & Bill essentially became brothers.  So, the three couples joined together for a lot of dinners and visits. They hadn’t had much time after they had been married a while.  Between 1958 and 1967 there were 13 kids born between the three families. However, when the kids were all out of the house, the three couples had many dinners together.

Karl was always willing to lend a hand and when you thanked him, he would reply “This is what you do for family!”  There were a lot of occasions when Karl & Shirley showed up to help out with one project or another.  I especially saw this the last 20 years or so.  The Karl I knew had a gentle smile.  He was a bit on the crochety side occasionally, but that was something Shirley could usually charm out of him.  Karl and Shirley spent a lot of years as camp hosts up on the Lochsa.  It appealed to both of them – Shirley enjoyed the social side of it and Karl enjoyed the camping and spending time wandering around the land.  The two of them went on many adventures on the 6x6.  Those wonderful adventures ended much too soon as Shirley passed away rather quickly two years ago.  It was though the light went out of his eyes, and I wondered how long we would have Karl.  Life wasn’t much fun without his life partner.  However, Karl made an effort – mostly because he knew Shirley would want him to.  I remember when I had some medical issues last year, I picked up the phone and Karl was on the other end.  I assumed he was calling for Dad, but he stopped me and asked me how I was feeling.  Then he told me to let him know if there was any way he could help.  I suppose in the end that is the way I will think about Uncle Karl…offering his help if he was needed!  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Early Tannahills & Jones in Idaho - Sam Tannahill

Brothers - John Lyons Tannahill sitting and
Samuel Oliver Tannahill standing behind.
Taken about 1930
I have always been interested in local history.  I knew that my mother's family came to the Lewiston, ID area in the 1920's and my Dad's family was in the Princeton, ID area in 1935.  However, if I look a little deeper, I find that I actually have family on my mother's family that was here much earlier.  If you work on the premise that one of the reasons an individual or family moves to an area because they relatives already there, I suspect that it is a significant connection.

My grandfather, Oliver Richard Tannahill moved to Idaho with his father in the mid 1920's.  I suspect it was around 1926 or so.  Why did John Lyons Tannahill (my great grandfather) decide on Idaho instead of another location.  It turns out that he had two full brothers and two half brothers who lived in the area, one of those is Samuel Oliver Tannahill.  

Almira Jones m. John Tannahill & Sam Pennell
Sam's mother

Samuel Oliver Tannahill was the second child of Almira Jones and John Tannahill. His older brother died at birth, so in essence he was the oldest.  Sam was born 10 Aug 1868 in Elden Wapello Co., IA.  He had two younger brothers, George William Tannahill (1871-1917) and John Lyons Tannahill (1873-1945).  Sam's father died in 1873 just before John Lyons Tannahill was born. Almira remarried a few years later on 8 Jun 1875 in Montgomery, KS to Samuel Wesley Pennell.  By all accounts, Sam Pennell treated his step sons well, but they all left home fairly early to make their own way in the world. Almira and Sam Pennell also had four more sons (Robert, Charles, Grover "Pat", Thomas Franklin) and three daughters (Maude, Mollie & Celia).   

The first record that I find on Samuel Oliver Tannahill in the general was in 1889 in Garfield Co., WA (likely close to present day, Pomeroy, WA).  Sam married his first wife, Alice R Cox on 6 Oct 1897 in Nez Perce Co., ID.  According to his obituary he was "a leading citizen of Lewiston and prominent as an attorney in central Idaho since 1905, practicing most of the time since in Lewiston, democratic national committeeman from Idaho and well known all over the northwest." (Obit published Lewiston Morning Tribune 31 Dec 1935)  All I really knew about Sam Tannahill was that he had been an attorney and had been fairly prominent in the Democratic party in Idaho until his death.  His obituary explains that he was elected as assessor in Nez Perce Co., ID in 1894 as well as serving on the city council.  He also worked in a store in Ilo (present day Craigmont, ID) and also worked as an abstractor.  He saved enough money to go to Valparaiso, IN for Law School.  This is yet another example of going somewhere where family is or was located.  I know from my own research that Sam Tannahill likely had Harrington relatives who lived near Valparaiso.  His grandmother's family (Hulda Harrington) grandparents had died in Valparaiso, IN.  It may be an interesting coincidence, but then it may not be either.  Both Sam and his brother, George William Tannahill went to Valparaiso and returned to Idaho to practice law.  Sam ended up being the prosecuting attorney for Lewis Co., ID (Nezperce) for several terms.  He actually had been in partnership with his brother in Lewiston, ID as well.  After George died in a car accident in 1915, Sam returned to Lewiston permanently.  

Sam was involved in virtually every capacity within the Democratic party in early Idaho including be a representative to the national committee.  While I think Sam Tannahill's business life was very good and impressive...I am not sure the same can be said of his private life.  Sam was first married to Alice R Cox on 6 Oct 1897 in Nez Perce Co., ID.  He was still married to her in the 1910 census, but they must have divorced between 1910 and 1917, because Sam marries again on 11 Sept 1917 to Ella Patterson in Spokane, WA.  Alice has not died and in fact remarries to Harry Lydon, the county treasurer sometime before the 1920 census when they are recorded together.

Ella died on 15 Oct 1923.  According to her death record, Ella died at age 46 of an embolism.  Sam marries again on 6 May 1925 to Josephine Krier.  Sam died himself of a cerebral hemorrhage on 30 Dec 1935 in Lewiston, ID.

I don't know as much about Sam from family stories other than a few tidbits I picked up from my mother.  I think that my great grandfather (John Lyons Tannahill) brought his two youngest children when he moved to Idaho, probably sometime around 1926-1928. (Oliver Richard Tannahill & Olive Rachel Tannahill) I can only guess that the reason John Lyons Tannahill came to Idaho was because his only surviving full brother lived in Idaho.  My grandfather, O. Richard Tannahill finished high school in Lewiston, ID.  I have often wondered if Sam had some influence on my grandfather finishing high school and spending a short time in college.  In 1930, life had to be pretty difficult because of the depression.  For Grandpa Richard to have completed his education makes me believe that Sam possibly helped his brother's family financially.  I also know from what my mother said that Grandpa Richard was very fond of Sam and that both my grandparents were quite upset when he passed away.  

Most of my information about Samuel Oliver Tannahill comes from an obituary and a write-up on early Idaho history.  He was a significant enough figure, that there was quite a bit written in an early Idaho history that was published.  I know that he was an important attorney in the area having been the first prosecuting attorney for Lewis Co., ID and was appointed by the governor of Idaho at the time.   In addition, Sam was quite active in the Idaho politics until his death in 1935.  Beyond his personal acclaim as a lawyer and local citizen, I suspect that he must have had an important personal connection with my grandfather and perhaps gave him the type of guidance and support needed to become a good businessman.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Pennington Past - My PRA Membership

I began seriously researching my Pennington family 20 years ago and began that search by joining the Pennington Research Association.  It has been a very valuable contact for me and resource.  Today we would call it networking, but anyone who has done genealogy research has been doing networking for a long time.

Genealogy was a different hobby back then.  Email was available but  most correspondence was done by postal mail or snail mail as most would call it.  Joining a genealogy society or surname association was an important way to share information and gather data and resources.  Those early societies not only provided data via journals or newsletters, but they also provided contacts with other researchers who had similar interests.  It is invigorating to "meet" someone with similar research interests.

My grandmother's embroidered family tree.
As I said, email was available, just not that common.  I think my first email account was in the early 1990's which I still have, although it is not my main fact, I don't even use it that often any more.  The first thing I tell anyone who is starting to do genealogy research is that whomever is beginning that journey needs to get what they know spelled out.  Whether they are using a genealogy program or a piece of paper, you need to spend time getting what you know recorded.  It is only then you can begin to add the various bits and pieces that help you learn more about those you search for.  I had what I knew written down.  It was really that much...I had a simple family tree that had been embroidered on material in a frame on the wall.  On that family tree, my great grandmother's grandmother was listed as Elizabeth Pennington.

Anyone who has spent much time doing genealogy research especially doing surname studies will find that there are certain names that are repeated quite often.  Not only will you find these common names, but you will also find a multitudes of names because they popular during that time period.  If you don't think this happens, ask any teacher what the popular names of the day are.  There are a multitude of Elizabeth's among the Penningtons.  The most important part of my initial contact with the PRA (Pennington Research Association) was the identification of who my 3rd great grandmother was and how she fit into the larger group of the Penningtons.  That information was provided to me by John French who was the Research Director at the time.  He had spent a lot of time building a data file about all the Penningtons that he had come across.  There were a lot mistakes as would be the case on any data file that includes information and theories mixed together.  A great deal of this information was traded back and forth through email which certainly introduced me to one of the best methods of contact for my own research.  John French passed away not too long after we had this contact.

Not everything that John French told me is correct according to my own research.  I have so much more available to me now in terms of data than I did 20 years ago.  I can access census records or death records at my fingerprints through the internet.  I can have instantaneous contact with a fellow research across the country.  Not only can I access the data but I can access digital copies and photos of what other researchers have done.

So, what is the point of being a member of a genealogical society or surname association...I believe an important aspect of that membership is networking.  Just like social networking today - it isn't a valuable tool unless you participate.  There is always new information to learn and perhaps new eyes can see or perceive information than those who have gone before.  It is an opportunity to add to what has been learned, but also help those just beginning their "journey" on their first steps.  There are so many who have done that for me...some that I still correspond and talk to quite frequently to this day.  I would suggest that if you are going to take up genealogy as a serious hobby, you consider joining or participating in some sort of group that can help you along the way.

I am and have been a member of news-lists communicating via email, surname association groups, county and state genealogy associations.  In addition, I run and am a member of Facebook groups, a participant in as well as communicating my research through my websites and my genealogy blog.  It is impossible to even  guess at how much assistance that has been given to me by others and the value of what I have been able to provide for others.  So you might consider joining a surname association like the PRA, and spend time to add to their library of research so you can build better information, make valuable genealogy contacts and perhaps help others as well.  You might find that in the end, you are the one who benefits the most.