Friday, August 17, 2018

Martha Pennington Gilley Family

A census record is snapshot in a moment in time. My experience has taught me that sometimes we pay too much attention a detail and sometimes not enough. I was doing a bit of "wandering" in my database and took a closer look at Martha Pennington. She was the youngest daughter of Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson. Martha was born on 29 Mar 1843 in Hemlock, Ashe Co., NC and died on 21 Dec 1926 in Eldreth, Ashe Co., NC. She married a widower, Marshall Gilley on 21 Mar 1872. These are the basic dates of her life...but if you look a little closer, there is some interesting things to consider.

Martha is the youngest of the 13 children of Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson. Everything looks pretty normal in the 1860 census. Martha is the only child still in the household with her parents and his recorded as a 18 year old. It is the the 1870 census where questions arise. Martha is recorded with her parents as his her brother, Daniel Pennington (Levi Daniel Pennington). However, there are two children also recorded - William Pennington as a 6 year old and Mary as 4 year old. You find in the the same two children in the 1880 census recorded with Marshall Gilley with the surname of Gilley.

I would love to say that I knew this the whole time. I think I heard or knew about it when I first started looking more seriously at the census records. However, I didn't really go back and look at it more closely. Like most people, I don't really think about women of that area having children outside of marriage that seriously. Marshall married a Lucy Denny on 9 Oct 1866. I haven't been able to locate Marshall in the 1870 census and my supposition is that Lucy likely died sometime before 1872, as that is when Marshall and Martha Pennington get married.

Marshall was born Apr 1835 to Francis Gilley and Dorcas Jones and died sometime between 1910 and 1920. Marshall was of an age to fight in the Civil War and like most in his area, he fought for the Confederacy. Marshall enlisted in Company 2nd B, North Carolina 32nd Infantry Regiment on 13 Mar 1864 as a Private. He also turns up on the list as a prisoner of war in Elmira prison in NY. So, if I look closely at the dates, Marshall likely left Martha Pennington pregnant before he went off to war (William) and perhaps when he arrived home (Mary or Mollie). So we are left to consider if Marshall is the father of Martha's children. They are listed as his children in the 1880 census. Since, we don't have access to the 1890 census, we are left with more questions than answers. According to census records, Marshall and Martha had the following children:

  • William Pennington/Gilley b. 1864 d. aft 1920 
  • Mary/Mollie Pennington/Gilley b. 1867 d ? 
  • Wilson Gilley 1 Jun 1873 d. 28 Dec 1936 m. Ollie Jane Osborne m. Nora Amanda Shaw 
  • Amanda Elizabeth Gilley b. 4 Aug 1876 d. 6 Jan 1968 m. Winfield Kelly Harris 
  • Olive Gilley b. 1876 d. 1879 (of a fall according to mortality schedule) 
  • Adah Gilley b. 1883 d. ? 

Here is why I am still a bit uncertain as to the names. The oldest son, William stays with the name of Pennington and is recorded as getting married to Mary Caroline Derham 27 Aug 1884. In the 1900 census, Mary is recorded with her maiden name and several children and William is recorded with his mother. Mary is recorded in the 1910 census and divorced and widowed in the 1920 census. William is listed as married in 1910 and widowed in 1920. Only one of the children lists William Pennington as her father in the records. It is also interesting to note that one of those children died in 1916 of tuberculosis. The father's name is listed as unknown and he is listed as white in the death record but "colored" or black on the burial record. Makes me wonder if there was something else going on. William stayed in Ashe Co., NC and is the informant on his mother's death record. I don't find him in the 1930 census, so I assume that he probably passed away.

It seems that every few years you can learn a little more with the additional records that seem to be added. I suppose the only way we will ever know if William and Mary are Marshall's children is if it shows up in DNA records. It would be lovely if you could answer all the questions instead of finding more mysteries. I suppose that is why I enjoy genealogy so much, there is always more to the story and you are unlikely to ever discover the full story.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Great Great Grandparents - Orlando Gage & Edith Gallup

My great grandfather was a remarkable person.  The man I knew had a bit of a gruff exterior, but put in a baby in his lap and he melted.  I know him to have been an incredibly hard worker who supported his family during some of the darkest times of the last century.  I knew him to be a man of courage, values and strength. It makes me think about the parents who gave him the foundation to be the man he was.

Ora Silas Gage was born 5 Apr 1892 in Esperance, Schenectady Co., NY.  He was the second child of Orlando Gage and Edith Phoebe Gallup.  I say he was the second child because his older brother, Allen died rather tragically at 22 months old.  He had been in one of those toddler contraptions with wheels.  Allen had walked under a table and stood up and hit a nail that was under the table and died.  Needless to say, my great grandpa was very watchful of any babies walking under tables.

Orlando abt 1875
Charity abt 1875

Orlando worked as a carpenter and as a farmer.  He was born 2 Apr 1850 in Knox, Albany Co., NY to Gilbert and Phoebe Allen Gage.  Orlando was the oldest of 5 children. His mother was 20 years old and his father was 26 years of age.  I have thought that 1850 would have been a curious time to be born in this country.  Orlando wouldn't have been old enough to fight in the Civil War but was old enough to understand what was going on.  I suppose if had been in different circumstances, he probably could have slipped in when he was 14 years old.  Gilbert was not a Civil War veteran either.  I would suspect that he might have been more valuable as a farmer.  Orlando married for the first time to Charity Ellen Hotaling on 12 Jan 1875 at the United Methodist Church in Delmar, NY.  Charity was the 19 year old daughter of Michael Hotaling and Ellen Robertson. Orlando and Charity had the following children:
  • Burton Latta Gage b. 8 Oct 1876 d. 27 Sept 1949 m. Bessie Margaret Young
  • Edwin Welsh Gage b. 7 Jun 1879 d. 3 May 1959 m. Flora Mae Sidney
  • Leroy James Gage b. 22 Dec 1880 d. 14 Oct 1910 m. Effie M. Butts
  • Nellie Mable Gage b. 10 Sept 1885 d. 11 Sept 1972 m. Harry John Lewis
Charity died a few weeks after Nellie's birth on 9 Oct 1885.  I don't know if she died of the after effects of childbirth or if her death was as a result of something else.  Orlando was left with 4 children all under the age of 10.  I believe that Nellie might have been left with her grandmother, Phebe Allen Gage.  It is difficult to know for sure.  She is recorded in the 1900 census with Phebe and her maternal grandparents passed away in 1891 & 1892, so they may not have been in the best of health.  On 05 May 1886, Orlando married 26 year old spinster teacher, Edith Phoebe Gallup.

Edith Gallup - abt 1880?
Edith Phoebe Gallup was born 28 Jan 1860 in Duanesburg, Schenectady Co., NY to Silas Gallup and Phoebe Ann Montanye. Edith was the eldest of 12 children and was born just 11 months after her parents eloped.  Silas was the local schoolteacher and Phoebe was his 15 year old student.  Supposedly a couple rang a bell to announce a marriage, since no one paid attention, they kept it secret until the end of the term.  From what I have been able to gather, Edith boarded with some of her student's families and was a schoolteacher.  She had likely been teaching close to 10 years when she married Orlando.  I have to wonder if she hadn't been a teacher to one or two of Orlando's children. I think that we have a different view of marriage and parenting today that doesn't really fit that period of time.  It must have been difficult for a widower to have four children, continue to take care of the farm work and work as a carpenter.  So, when Orlando married Edith on 5 May 1886, there might have been more of what we might call a marriage of convenience.  I know that 26 is considered to be somewhat older for a woman to marry for the first time, and Orlando certainly needed a mother figure for his rambunctious three boys. Edith probably also knew she would be quite alone as her family was planning on moving to Nebraska and she had no intention of going with them.  In fact, Edith's family left New York for Nebraska and arrived on Thanksgiving day in 1887.

Here are the children that Orlando and Edith had:

Allen G. Gage b. 10 Dec 1888 d. 12 Oct 1890
Ora Silas Gage b. 5 Apr 1892 d. 30 Dec 1990 m. Florence Christine Shawver
Phebe Margaret Gage b. 23 Oct 1894 d. 28 July 1976 m. August Peterson
Peter Z Gage b. 23 Oct 1894 d. 21 Nov 1983 m. Elizabeth Pearl Mathieson
Alice Irene Gage b. 29 Mar 1896 d. 11 Sep 1976 m. Howard E Frey

Gage Family - abt 1896
I know there was the struggle of losing their oldest child.  I also know that with the twins (Pete & Phebe) it was quite a struggle for a while.  Pete was very small, only about 4 pounds.  They kept him in a dresser drawer surrounded by clothes to keep him work.  Thankfully he survived, although his growth must have been curtailed somewhat as he was quite short.  Tall enough to be a soldier in World War I, though!   Sometime around 1907, Edith had a severe fall.  She was unable to do much more than sit in a chair.  Here is a letter that she wrote to her mother in October 1907:

Transcription of a letter written by Edith Gallup Gage to her mother, Phebe Montanye Gallup.    October 23, 1907    Dear Mother:    My twins are 13 years old today and a great deal of help to me.  Monday night after school the girls washed a large washing besides getting supper. (I don't pretend to do anything only what I can do sitting down.)  Tuesday morning they rinsed and starch the clothes done, did the morning work even to making beds and mopping and got things ready for dinner.  They baked (2 apple pies) and got to school in time they were up at half past four.  Orlando killed 5 pigs yesterday, 4 for market.  They only dressed 102 lbs. a price.  We kept one, sold them at Esperance and got 9 cents a lbs. They were late pigs, the last of April and only skim milk, so it was not so bad.  He thrashed in the afternoon, earning $5 and moved his machine today.  He is digging potatoes for us.  He won't have any nuts to send to send you as the squirrels and friends of ours are taking them when the children are gone.  Orlando is away thrashing and I can't stop them.  I can only teeter backward and forward when I try to walk so I don't try much any more, the sides, back, and belly burns like fire when I try although the flesh feels ice cold, Orlando says, when you touch it.  I do not feel heat nor cold just comfortable when I lay still that is something to be thankful and I do not worry.  It will be and is all for the best.  I hope you are better. Here is a slip of a pretty red geranium.  It is near time for the mail so I must quit with love to all.    Edith

On 08 Jan 1908, Edith died of lobar pneumonia after suffering what her death certificate called chronic myelitis (duration of 7 months).  She was 47 years old.  I have been told that Orlando took care of his wife, arranged her funeral and died himself a few days later on 16 Jan 1908 at the age of 57.  Orlando also died of lobar pneumonia.  Here is a transcription of an obit that his pastor, Rev N McLeod wrote:

After brief illness of pneumonia and within a week after the death of his wife from pneumonia, elder Orlando Gage passed to his rewards Jan 19, 1908.  His death caused deep sorrow in the community and especially in the church and ??? where he was a member and regular attendant.
He was born in Knox, NY Apr 2, 1850.  In early life he learned and followed the trade of carpenter.  He lived for some time in Albany and was an attendant at the West End Presbyterian Church.
He married Miss Charity Ellen Hotaling of Clarkesville, NY, from where four children were born, viz, Burton L, Edwin W, Leroy J, and Nellie Mabel, now Mr. Harry Lewis.
Mrs. Gage died Oct 9, 1885 while residing in Knox.
Soon after, Mr. Gage married Miss Edith Gallup of Duanesburg, NY from whom were born five children viz Allen, who died when 22 months old, Ora Silas, Peter Z and Phoebe Margaret, twins, and Alice Irene.  Mr. Gage (with his wife) united with the Church at Esperance, Mary 26, 1891 and was ordained an Elder May 8, 1898, which office he filled till his death.  He was a brother beloved in the Church and the community.

The following Resolution was enacted by the session of the Presbyterian church, Esperance Apr 4, 1908.
Whereas, since last we met, death has claimed our beloved co-worker, Elder Orlando Gage Jan 16, 1908, after a brief illness pneumonia.
That, we sorrowfully record our loss and hereby express our appreciation of his character and efficient service since uniting with this church.
That We Express to the family, bereft of both father and mothers within one week, our sympathy and prayers that the God of their parents may be their God, and that they may find comfort in his sustaining grace. 
May a copy be sent to the committee and the clergy in Albany Presbyterian.
Signed Rev N McLeod

I really never heard my great grandfather talk about the time after his parents died.  I don't know who they stayed with - but I do know that perhaps it was within days or even weeks my 15 year old great grandfather escorted his siblings to their maternal grandmother in Nebraska.  After leaving them there, he struck off on his own.  However, that is a different story!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

US-1978 - Our Family Vacation

1978 was a banner year for our family.  My parents took us on an unforgettable trip around the United States.  I would love to say that we had a ton of pictures...not really.  Film wasn't cheap back then.  Our clothes look horrible (1970's remember???)  The only photos I can find of my Mom is her facing away.  She would haunt me if posted pictures online of her backside. Traveling around in a pickup camper with 3 teenagers and one preteen sounds like a nightmare for most parents,  however, it was one of the most memorable and wonderful trip you could imagine.

Our Pickup & camper at Crater Lake - 1978
My Mom was an organizer at heart.  She spent months researching through atlas’s, writing for information, and planning for this trip.  My parents bought a new truck and camper.  I think that was the first new truck my Dad had ever had, and he had it for over 27 years.  We took the truck and camper for a trial run on spring break that year and went down to the California Redwoods.  We stopped at Crater Lake on the way home and the snow was clear up to the top on the sides of the road.  It was quite a trip on its own. 

As the first of June crept closer, my Mom turned it on high gear.  All of us had duffel bags, and Mom supervised our packing.  We couldn’t take too much – weight on the camper was an important consideration.  Mom went through the camper and only packed a certain number of utensils, plates, glasses, bowls, etc.  This might have been the only time that she didn’t over-pack.  Everything had its place, and everything had to be put away at all times.  As the youngest and a girl, I slept in the bunk bed over the table, my oldest sibling Gwenda slept on the table bed.  My oldest brother, Bub, slept on the floor, and my other brother Chris slept in the cab of the truck.  My parents had the overhead bed.  When we were traveling on the road, my sister and I spent most of our time to the table and my brother took over the overhead bed on top of the truck.  I am not sure anyone is allowed to even ride in a camper nowadays and I know that they can’t be on the camper bed.  However, this was 1978, and there were different rules.

As we set out, the rules were very clear.  No squabbling!  Our first stops were in Montana at the “Battle of the Little Bighorn”, Devils Tower in Wyoming, the Badlands in South Dakota and Mt Rushmore.  I think my brothers and Dad were most interested in the “Battle of the Little Bighorn” national monument, I am not sure, but I wonder if the visit to the Badlands was for me.  I was so fascinated with geology.  I had a rock collection and had even dabbled a bit at trying to polish them with a kit I got for Christmas.  The Badlands was the most memorable for me on that first part of the trip.  We then traveled down through Iowa and had the misfortune to have a few tires blow.  While we got them replaced, it cut into our “time!”  As Dad was off for 4 weeks and we had a long way to go, Mom and Dad made the decision to cut off Boston and New York because we had already lost too much time.
Badlands - Me (Carmen) lost in wonder

Left to Right - Chris, Bub, Gwenda, Dad aka Gene me in front.

I have memories of driving through Ohio and having to stop and pay on toll road, which isn’t something I had ever seen in the west.  We stopped at Gettysburg and spent quite a bit of time going through the battlefield.  I had memorized the Gettysburg address just the year before. 
I wish I had realized the significance of what we were seeing at the time, but I have say I certainly remember it well.  We then went over to Valley Forge.  Very little was original to the time period of the Revolutionary War, which was disappointing.  We made our way to Philadelphia and got to see the Independence Hall and touch the Liberty Bell.  (Remember this was 1978) 
We made our way down to Washington D.C.  What a wondrous experience to see all the memorials that we had only seen on TV.  I was very impressed with the view from the top of the Washington Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial really made an impression.  We didn’t spend as much time in the Natural History museum in the Smithsonian.  Mom made it very clear that we needed to stay together, and we did…but Dad didn’t get the message and we spent most of the day trying to find him.  However, Mom did make sure that I got to see the Hope Diamond.  After we found Dad, I think we went to the Air & Space museum.  I can still remember seeing “The Spirit of St Louis” and the space capsule.  This time, Mom kept a close eye on Dad, so we got to see quite a bit.  Next, we headed down and saw Arlington National Cemetery including the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” the Lee mansion and John F Kennedy’s grave.  Then it was time to travel to Mt Vernon, and I remember the grand old house and seeing the graves of George and Martha Washington.  I certainly noticed the difference in the way the Washington’s lived and the way their slaves lived. 

At this point time was getting a little short and we had to skip seeing Monticello and head down to the Blue Ridge parkway.  My great grandmother was from Mountain City, TN and my Mom wanted us to see the town where our great grandmother grew up.  Mom was bothered when we got into town because nothing was familiar to her.  She was trying to find the courthouse and it wasn’t where she remembered it, so she asked an older gentleman along the sidewalk.  He looked at our rig and us and smiled.  He then told us that he had just moved to Mountain City two years previously from Clarkston, WA.  (I work on the Idaho side of the Snake River in Lewiston, ID – I can look across the river and see Clarkston, WA from our office)  He then told us to ask the young fella at the gas station…he would know!  Turns out that courthouse had been torn down a few years after Mom had been there in the late 1950’s.

We then meandered down through Georgia, saw “Stone Mountain” and then headed to Ft Sumpter and Charleston, SC.  We couldn’t go out to the fort, so we had to settle for looking at it from the shoreline. 
At Fort Sumpter - on Shoreline
We then headed down to Florida.  I don’t know if they still do it on the border, but I remember stopping for free orange juice which tasted and smelled wonderful.  We had three major stops in Florida – Cape Canaveral (Kennedy Space Center), St. Augustine and Disney World with another minor stop at the De Soto National monument.  There are so many memories:  seeing the Enterprise on the tarmac (the prototype to the Shuttle) astronauts walking around in their suits, moon rock.  Then the Castillo San De Marcos at St Augustine and the tiny little mission church “Mission Nombre De Dios.”  I have been to many grand and great churches in my lifetime, but that little church felt as if it was one of the holiest that I had visited. 
We spent three days at Disney World.  We stayed just outside the part at Yogi Berra campground and road the monorail into Disney World.  I can remember very hot and humid days with rainstorm every afternoon.  There were lots of lines waiting to get into the attractions, fabulous fireworks displays at night and one special meal.  My Dad made a special trip to get tickets for a meal in the castle, so his 11-year-old girl got to have dinner in the Cinderella castle.  It was special to me – but I can’t say that my siblings minded seeing all the waitresses in their costumes or having the experience of eating on pewter and enjoying the great atmosphere. 

Visiting plantation at Auburn
From that point on, we headed west to New Orleans. Mom and Dad were of an age to enjoy the night life and tour of New Orleans.  I don’t think it was something that they really enjoyed – strip clubs weren’t really in their “wheelhouse.”  The tour of the city with all the beautiful architecture and the cemetery left an impression.   However, we were now really in a time crunch and we had to cross Texas.  I can remember going for miles and seeing nothing but flat land.  They were going through doubt at the time and the heat was unbearable.  I think we ended the day in Santa Fe, NM.  Dad was getting a bit of itchy feet worrying about getting home.  Laying in that campground that night, Dad couldn’t get to sleep with the Air Force boys nearby having a party.  At three in the morning, Dad was fed up.  Bub and Chris crawled up in the camper bed, Gwenda and I stayed in our beds, and Mom and Dad got into the cab and we started heading north.  I remember waking up at some point in Colorado and getting up.  It was July 4th and Dad needed to be home by July 6th for work.  It was late evening by the time we drove through Salt Lake City, UT and we must have seen at least 6 different firework shows along the way.  We ended that night in Boise, ID.  The next morning, we were heading home, now within six hours of Lewiston.  We stopped for gas at McCall and Dad saw one of his co-workers and discovered that there had been a shutdown at the mill and we would have had a few more days.  There were regrets that we hadn’t seen the Grand Canyon, but we were so close to home.  That trip had a lasting impact on all my family.  There are too many stories to share and too many shared experiences.  There are very few pictures The education that we received on our journey is the best kind.  To this day, we all have a lasting love of history.  I wish every family could have a trip like that was…but you need a father as patient as mine and mother who was an organizational wizard.   

Monday, May 14, 2018

Grizel Carey Fletcher

There is something that is interesting about the name Grizel...perhaps it reminds me of one of Cinderella's stepsisters, Grizelda.  Whatever the case, it isn't the usual name.  I haven't even seen it much in the early colonial times.  So I was interested when I came across her name.

Elizabeth Baldwin would have been my 6th great grandmother.  She married Jesse Swan on the 24 Nov 1766 in Stonington, New London Co., CT.  My line to her is as follows:

Nathaniel Swan m. Harriett Shutter
Cynthia Swan m. Potter Gage
Gilbert Gage m. Phoebe Allen
Orlando Gage m. Edith Phoebe Gallup
Ora Silas Gage m. Florence Christine Shawver
Helen Marian Gage m. Frank Stewart Johnson (my grandparents)

I have found the Swan family line to be a very interesting line to pursue.  I have found a lot of interesting tidbits through the years.  From all the research that I have done through the years, I have the realization that an awful lot of my family comes from New England.  I have family living in Connecticut and Massachusetts from the mid 1600's to the late 1700's.  With that small of a geographic area there is a high likelihood that there are a lot of tangled family connections...and that is certainly the case.

Elizabeth's parents were John Baldwin and Eunice Spaulding and she was born in 1745 in New London Co., CT and died in 1803 Berne Co., NY.  Elizabeth and her husband Jesse Swan migrated to NY probably in the late 1790's.  I have a few other more family lines who moved about the same time.  Anyway, you take Elizabeth's family back a few more generations you end up with Grizel Fletcher.

John Baldwin m. Eunice Spaulding
Thomas Spaulding m. Mary/Mercy Welch
Joseph Spaulding m. Mercy Jewell
Thomas Jewell m. Grizel Fletcher

Thomas Jewell was born about 1607 in England, immigrated to Massachusetts in 1635 and married Grizel Fletcher around 1640.  Grizel was born about 1618 in Chelmsford, Essex, England.  Her father was Robert Fletcher and her mother is unknown.  I have seen Robert's second wife Sarah Hartwell listed, but since they didn't married to 1631, I find that doubtful.  Thomas and Grizel were the parents of the following children:

Thomas Jewell b. 1639
Joseph Jewell b. 1642
Hannah Jewell b. 1643
Nathaniel Jewell b. 1648
Grizzell b.1651
Mercy b. 1653 (My 9th great grandmother)

Thomas Jewell dies on 21 Jul 1654 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., MA.  I don't know if women were in a shortage or if Grizel needed protection and help, but Grizel marries about six months later on 9 Jan 1655 to Humphrey Griggs.  (He was b. 1610 and d. 1657)  He must have died before 8 Aug 1657, because Grizel marries Henry Kibbee on that date.   Henry passes away on 10 Aug 1661.  They have three children:

Edward b. 1659
Sherebiah b. 1659
Joshua b. 1661

Then, on 12 Nov 1661, Grizel marries John Gerney.    I don't have any birth and death dates, but I would make the assumption that he died before 1667, because that is when Grizel marries John Burge on 3 Jul 1667.  Grizel dies herself on 9 Jul 1669 in Chelmsford, Middlesex Co., MA. 

There is no judgement on my part as to the many marriages.  It would have had to be very difficult to support young children as a woman.  The husband's all had young children and they needed wives to provide food and care for them as well.  Grizel was the mother of nine children by two different husbands and also married two more times.  Grizel was about 21 when her first child was born in 1639 and about 43 when she had her ninth child.  When she died  in 1669, she was 51 years of age.  She left behind 5 children below the age of 16.  I am fairly sure those children were absorbed into other family members families.  My 9th great grandmother (Mercy Jewell) married on 9 Dec 1670 to Joseph Spaulding. 

If the data I have found is correct, it doesn't paint a very pretty picture.  It does paint a picture of woman who was a survivor and did whatever she could to keep hearth and home together.  How difficult it must have been to face the death of three husbands and have nine children to look after and make sure they were clothed and fed.  I am not sure how anyone could call that period of history the "good old days!" 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Gravestone Pics - George William Shawver & Elizabeth Matilda Legg

My great great grandfather moved to Iowa and later Nebraska in the late 1800's.  He likely wasn't there when his parents both died in 1900.  When he visited West Virginia in 1930, he took this photo of his parent's gravestone and it is in a photo album of photos taken during that trip back to West Virginia.

Neither one of these photos is all that cheerful.  I suspect that no one likes to see a picture of a gravestone unless you are interested in genealogy.  However, if you are interested in genealogy, there are two things missing as far as I am concerned.  Those two things are the maiden name of the woman and full dates on the gravestone.  Doesn't seem that important to most...but sometimes it is very difficult to figure out what the maiden name is for a particular ancestor.  Perhaps there wasn't a marriage record available, or no one had a Bible record.  It makes it so much easier to have the maiden name already on the stone.  This caused quite a discussion for my mother and I many years ago.  We decided that women should always have their maiden name on their gravestones because it not only acknowledges the family they were born into but also their own family history.  Plus it would make it so much easier on later generations.  So, when my mother passed away - her maiden name was on her gravestone.

This couple would be my 3rd great grandparents.  The handwriting on the photo is from my great grandmother, Florence Shawver Gage.  The typewritten description also comes from her.  She decided to redo some of her photo albums once upon a time, taught herself to type and typed up the descriptions.  You might call her an early "scrapbooker!"

George William Shawver was born 15 Nov 1824 at Mill Creek Mountain, Greenbrier Co., WV (It was still VA when he was born) and he died 9 Mar 1900 in Prosperity, Raleigh Co., WV.  He was married to Elizabeth Matilda Legg on 02 Nov 1848 in Fayette Co., WV (VA).  She was born 16 May 1830 in Leander, Fayette Co., VA (WV) and she died just a few weeks before her husband on 12 Feb 1900 in Prosperity, Raleigh Co., WV.  He was the son of Robert Shawver and Mary Jane Callison and she was the daughter of Thomas Henderson Legg and Elizabeth Nutter.

I don't know when the photo was taken, but I suspect it was around 1890 or so.  My younger relations have commented that he looks friendly enough but she looks rather sour.  Have to remind the younger generations that she probably didn't have many teeth left...and they probably had to sat there for a few minuted to take a photo.  She couldn't really hide behind the beard!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Kelley Maze and the Researcher Who Helped Me Find My Way!

John Ward Kelley & Melvina Robertson - My 3rd Great Grandparents

I have been doing genealogical research for over 20 years now.  Hard to believe that I have been doing it that long…but really I have been doing it most of my life.  I learned at an early age to ask a lot of questions and listen to the stories that many of my older relations enjoyed sharing.  There have been a lot of people who have helped me and taught me through the years.  I learned that one of those people passed away this past summer. 

I think that I met “Lucy” through another researcher.  I don’t think that she ever got online.  She was old school and did everything through letters and phone calls.  I learned so much through those phone calls.  She had grown up on the farm that my great great great grandfather was born on back at Sexton’s Creek, Clay Co., KY.  It is one of those amazing things about genealogy when the young and the old get together.  There is a mix of generations that shouldn’t fit.  Lucy’s father died when she was quite young and she lived with her grandparents, Francis Marion Kelly and Fannie Jane Sparks.  Francis Marion Kelly was the younger brother of my 3rd great grandfather, John Ward Kelly.  (Their parents, William Kelly and Ailey Allen were the parents of eleven children.)  So, I was talking with someone who had memories with her grandfather who was my 3rd great grandfather’s brother and lived on the home-place that William Kelly and Ailey Allen had lived on in Clay Co., KY.

It is my observation that there is a special kind of “crazy” for anyone who decides to dive in on families lines in Kentucky or West Virginia.  I know it occurs in other areas, but in my experience, these areas are some of the most difficult to get the information correct.  I am not only talking about names, dates, and places but connecting them to the correct families.  There are so many intermarriages, similar names and places.  I have some experience doing this…so I know what it is like to go down in that deep hole.  I have always tried to add siblings of my ancestors and once you go down that road, it has endless branches that seem to interconnect.  This is especially true if you are looking in a relatively small geographic area.  You might wonder why I characterize West Virginia and Kentucky in this category…mostly because I have gone into the maze many times and sometimes it is weeks before I get out.  Having said that, it was an enjoyable experience to get lost in that maze with someone like Lucy.  She knew the area, families and connections like no one else, mostly because she had lived there and could personally share the experience.

Lucy and I spent several years pursuing both independently and together the connection between Adoniram Allen and Ethan Allen.  We had both heard the story and wanted to find proof of the connection.  It was surprising when we both came to the same conclusion almost at the same time.  The connection wasn’t through Adoniram and Ethan’s father,s but rather through their mother’s.  They were sisters with the last name of Baker.

Lucy had heard stories from her grandfather who told her that his father had traveled with his parents from the Clinch mountains by wagon out to Kentucky as a young man.  She was also the one who found documentation about the Hammer family traveling from Pennsylvania through the Cumberland Gap to Knob Creek, Washington Co., TN.  While we never found documented proof that our “Kinchen Kelly” and the one that came from Knob Creek were one and the same – we had pretty good circumstantial proof.  I hope that I can give someone else guidance that is as valuable as what Lucy gave me.  I haven’t been able to talk to my friend for some time because she hadn’t been well.  I will miss her and treasure the knowledge that she gave me and will try to pay it forward.  Writing this family reminds me that I need to dig back into this family.  I am sure is more info to add that wasn't available the last time I went researched the family!

This is the family of William Kelly and Ailey Allen that Lucy and I shared.

William Kelly b. 1818 TN d. 9 Jun 1899 Clay Co., KY
 m. Ailey Allen b. 12 Apr 1823 Clay Co., KY d. 05 Apr 1890 Clay Co., KY
  • Rachel Kelly b. 1842 d. aft 1880 m John R Banks m2 Granville Bishop
  • Susan Laura Jane Kelly b. 25 apr 1843 d. 26 Aug 1928 m. Granville Bishop (Yes it is the same one)
  • Drucilla Kelly b. 30 Oct 1845 d. 7 Oct 1884 m. Lunsford Banks
  • James Kelly b. 01 Oct 1847 d. 01 Oct 1923 m. Sarah Ann Bishop
  • John Ward Kelly b. 08 Aug 1849 d. 20 Feb 1910 m. Melvina Robertson m2 Laura
  • George W. Kelly b. Jun 1851 d. aft 1910 m. Elizabeth North
  • Joseph Matherly Kelley b. 16 May 1853 d. 4 Sept 1929 m. Drucilla Alice Morgan
  • Francis Marion Kelly b. 13 Nov 1855 d. 6 Dec 1939 m. Fannie Jane Sparks
  • Kinchen Kelley b. 30 Apr 1858 d. 1930 m. Julia A Sparks
  • Henry Kelly b. 1 May 1861 d. 1 May 1913 m. Nancy Napier
  • Jobe Kelly b. 20 Feb 1864 d. 14 Dec 1941 m. Martha Lucinda Edwards

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Happy Birthday Granddad Gage

It is hard to believe that it has been 28 years since my great grandfather died. I was so lucky that I had him until I was 23 years old.  It is funny because one of my dearest memories of him happened on a spring break back when I was probably about 6 or so.  My family had gone to the Oregon coast to see the ocean...and to visit Grandma and Grandpa Gage.  Somehow or another, I fell into a tidal pool and as was normal - it was cold and rainy during spring break.  I was taken back to my great grandparents home, dried off and changed clothes.  Then I sat on my Grandpa's lap, leaned against his chest and fell asleep.  I didn't know it at the time, but that was probably one of Granddad Gage's favorite things to do - have one of his many grandchildren on his lap.

One of his younger photos back in Iowa in the 1920's
Granddad Gage was born on 5 Apr 1892 in Esperance, NY to Orlando Gage and Edith Gallup.  He had had an older brother who had died as a toddler.  He had been in a walker and had scooted under a table and stood up.  He was killed by a nail poking through on the table.  (Granddad always reminded everyone of that when he saw a child in a walker.)  Orlando Gage had been a widower with another family before he married Edith Gallup. 
Granddad was the oldest of the four living children.  His name was Ora Silas, then the twins Pete & Phebe and his youngest sister, Alice.  In 1908, they lost their parents within 8 days of each other.  Their mother died of pneumonia and father had gotten sick and had died 8 days after their mother.  Granddad brought his siblings to Nebraska to live with their maternal Grandmother,  (Phebe Montanye Gallup) and then promptly left to off by himself and find a job at 15 years of age.  He worked as postman for a while, was in the army and then got work as a hired hand at a farm.  The story goes that he went up to a farmer who was advertising and asked what the pay was.  The farm said something like $5 a day...and Granddad replied that he was worth more than that.  Granddad said that he would work for him for two weeks and if the farmer didn't agree that he was worth $10 a day, he would move on with no pay.  After the first few days, the farmer didn't only agree he was worth the extra money, he paid him to make sure he kept him.  Granddad and Lou Brenner (the farmer) became lifelong friends.

Grandma Gage's 93rd birthday.  Granddad was 98.  This was the last time I saw him!  June, 1990
No one could accuse Granddad of being stupid or lazy.  While Granddad didn't have a lot of formal schooling, he was probably one of the better informed and well read people I have known.  I remember watching him read Herman Wouk's War & Remembrance in his early 90's.  He might have been reading with magnifying glasses, but he was reading it.  Part of that was an innate curiosity about life and a love of learning...perhaps part of was also being married to a schoolteacher.  The last time I saw Granddad Gage was my great grandmother's birthday in June of 1990.  They were still discussing what was going on in the world.  They were also still competing at answering the questions first while watching Jeopardy on TV.

 I have so many wonderful memories of Granddad.  It always reminds me how lucky I truly was.  When I think of a grandfather...I think of him, and he was my great grandfather.  Here are a few blogs that I have written about him through the years.

Grandpa Gage's School Picture 
Bib Overalls
They Lived their Faith
A Lifelong Love Story
A Job Well Done

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cemetery Tales - Star Gap/Acre Field Cemetery

It was 2001 and my first trip to Mountain City, TN.  I was staying over in Ashe Co., NC with a Dollar cousin who loaned me her Ford Explorer.  She didn't want me taking the back road over and wanted me to drive through Boone, NC to get to Johnson Co., TN.  It was funny to me because I had driven more than my share of back roads...but she didn't know it.  I have to admit it was one of my favorite genealogy adventures.

Knowing that the my first stop should be the library, I wandered around the town streets of Mountain City.  I had a general idea of where the library was and this wasn't a big town.  I parked the car and walked into the library, set my stuff down and began to look around some of the books.  I picked a few up and walked back to the table.  Across from me was another woman looking through her own books...and naturally we started a conversation.  We began talking about the family lines that we were looking at (this is a great conversation starter for anyone research genealogy).  She told me her families and I told her mine...and when I mentioned Dollar and Friddle - she told me that I needed to contact Carmen Johnson.  I looked at her and pretty much said "That wouldn't be I am Carmen Johnson."  She then told me her "handle" on the Johnson Co., TN newslist (Back in 2001 - genealogy information availability on the internet and email contact was still in its infancy.  Genealogy newslists were a great way to make contact and get information.) and I immediately recognized her.  I didn't know her real name because I either hadn't paid attention or she hadn't mentioned it.  I learned that her name was Jenny and ironically she lived in Spokane, WA and here we were in Johnson Co., TN sitting in a library when our home towns were only 2 hours apart.

Jenny was actually a native of Johnson Co., TN and was just visiting family.  I decided to take advantage of her knowledge of the area and asked her if she knew where the Star Gap cemetery was.  I think the answer was no...but we got directions and we were on our way.  I will never forget going to that cemetery.  We turned off the road to go to Star Gap cemetery and it was probably a little more of a back road than my Dollar cousin wanted me to travel on.  It was a narrow dirt road but to me it seemed just fine...after all it wasn't on the side of hill climbing a steep road.  This was pretty simple compared to the Idaho dirt roads I was used to.  It seemed like we had been traveling for quite a while and it seemed as if the trees were closing in on us as the road was narrow and the vegetation was thick.  While I am not worried about dirt roads...there is one thing I don't like...when another car is coming from the opposite direction.  I had to back up about 20 or 30 feet to find a spot where I could pull over and let the other car pass.  I did roll down the window and ask how much further we need to go and was advised that it was in another few hundred feet.  It was really rather remarkable...we traveled on this narrow road surrounded by trees and it suddenly opened up in rather lovely meadow with a cemetery just off to the left.  We got out and walked around the cemetery and while I found a lot of familiar names, I didn't find the gravestone I was looking for which was my great grandmother's little brother, Charles Frederick Dollar.  I should have looked further because it was there - see FAG # 74609427 .

Bessie Friddles Cress - Phillipi Cemetery, Johnson Co., TN
Jenny and I then made our way to the Phllipi Cemetery where I was able to find my great grandfather's niece and her husband's grave quite easily (See above).  It was right along the road.  I think Jenny even remembered her.  I have at some point visited with her daughter.  She told me that when she was a baby, my great grandmother have traveled back to Tennessee and had stopped by to see her mother.  The cousin (Lois) was a baby at the time or at least quite young.  Lois said that her parents didn't have a lot of money and she was mostly dressed in hand-me-down clothes.  My great grandmother, knowing this, went and bought a few outfits to take along on her visit for the little girl.  I think Lois told me that they were still in her cedar chest and had always been treasured.  Just goes to show that one person's simple act of kindness can be remembered for a lifetime.

Moses Friddles - Hawkins Cemetery, Johnson Co., TN
We then attempted to find the cemetery where my great great grandfather was buried.  It was located at Hawkins Cemetery.  I know from what my Dollar cousin said that it was quite a trek to get there and was located across a field full of cows.  She had already gotten a picture (see above) Jenny and I never quite got that far...after a lot of driving we decided to give up as we couldn't find it and Jenny and I both had to make our way back to our respective "temporary" homes.

That few hours was over 16 years ago.  Neither one of us has ever forgotten that day and we never hesitate to remind each other of our adventure.  Life may never give us the opportunity to spend any other time together (I hope that isn't the case) but neither one will ever forget that meeting.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cousin Lowell

I received word last night that a cousin had passed away January 8, 2018.  I first “met” Lowell Johnson on the phone almost 20 years ago.  Back then we were using Family Tree Maker for our genealogy program and they had CD’s that what they called “World Family Tree” which was a collection of family trees that were shared by other members.  I found Lowell’s tree and was quite pleased to find a lot of similar information to my own.  This might seem shocking today, but they these files had the users’s name, address, and phone number on them.  I waited until after five o’clock (we did that then; long distance rates were cheaper) and called Lowell.  I still remember his deep voice as he answered the phone.  I explained who I was and who my parents and grandparents were.  We had quite a close connection as my great grandfather and his grandfather were brothers. 

My mother had gotten most of our information on the Johnson family on a long-ago conversation with my grandfather.  He had been pleased to share what he knew of his famly history.  I am not sure he thought there wasn’t anything terribly interesting about his family and he relayed much of the information that Lowell had, including an “unknown Johnson” who had married Nancy Mayfield.  It was just a few months before I made that phone call that a fellow researcher had sent to my mother the name of that “Unknown Johnson” …Moses Johnson.  I was delighted to spring that little piece of information on him and he was very happy to have that name.

Grace & Marian holding their sons
Lowell and Eugene - 1940.
During the next several years, emails and many phone conversations, we got a chance to know Lowell and his wife, Bonnie very well as fellow researchers.  We also found out that we had a lovely picture of my Dad and Lowell as babies being held by their mothers.  Lowell was three weeks older than Dad and was the closest in age to Dad of any of his cousins.  We also found out that Lowell had a bad heart.

In 2004, we decided that we wanted to go to North Dakota and meet a few of these cousins that we had met through phone and email.  We met up with some cousins from my Dad’s mother’s family (Pope) in Washburn, ND and then we traveled to the small town of Wahpeton to meet Lowell and Bonnie.  This was a big trip for my Mom.  She had had a lobe of her lung removed the previous year for lung cancer and was still on Oxygen.  Going over the continental divide was a bit hard on her as they had to turn up her Oxygen and Mom and Dad had to make arrangements along the way to fill her Oxygen tank.  Mom was determined to make the trip, and I am so glad she did.  Since they had to take more time than I did, I drove over a few days later to meet them.  The whole trip was so much fun for us as we were learning so much about Dad’s family and I am sure my Grandpa Frank was smiling down.  We then went over to Wahpeton and we finally got to meet Lowell and Bonnie.  Lowell had been outfitted with an LVAD (left-ventricular assist device).  Essentially Lowell was walking around with battery pack on his back to keep his heart going while waiting for a heart transplant.  For several hours, we set there sharing pictures and stories.  Mom with her Oxygen tank and Lowell with his battery pack.  We then went to dinner and shared a lovely meal. There was a bond between my Dad and Lowell and a definite family likeness. 
Dad and Lowell - 2004

Dad & Lowell - 2012

Several months later around Christmas, we learned that Lowell had gotten his heart transplant.  What wonderful news!  We lost Mom the next year (26 Dec 2005) to lung cancer.  Dad made another trip back to North Dakota on his own and he and I went back in 2012.  Dad and his girlfriend also saw them a few years ago.  In all this time, Lowell did very well.  His new heart had given him the gift of years.  Lowell still had health problems…but he and Bonnie were able to enjoy a little over 13 more years together.  Lowell was able to enjoy his children and his grandchildren.  He had been living on borrowed time for so many years, and when he received the gift of a new heart, he went about living to the best he could.

I will always be grateful to the family who donated their loved one’s organs.  They gave Lowell and his family the gift of life and time which is priceless.  I am so grateful that I and my parents had a chance to get to know the lovely man that was my cousin.