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Archive for September, 2008

My First Gnome Visitor!

This little fella came to visit recently!  He’s the Genea-Blogger Gnome!  You’ll probably see lots of his clones on other genea-blogs!  We are celebrating our “Getting to Know You”  Round-up that will be posted VERY soon!  If you would like to see who participated in this challenge, please visit Hill Country of Monroe County and give a round of applause to Terry Thornton who organized this wonderful opportunity for all of YOU to get to know all of US and for all of US to get to know one another! Perhaps we’ll be seeing you and your blog in a round-up, challenge, meme, or Carnival real soon!

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In Searching for Buried Treasure I listed my course of action to find some “buried treasure” in my genealogy files/ephemera.

My search took me a little off course – which is nothing unusual for me.  Before I actually pulled out the box of letters that I was going to look through, I noticed a box on my vanity that I’d only looked inside of one time.  That was a few years ago when my dad first gave it to me.  So I decided to open it back up to see exactly what was inside of it.

Upon opening the clasp and lifting a lid, there was an envelope on the top of the stack.  It was addressed to my grandmother, Ella Amore, and was from the US Army Recruiting Office at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio.  Apparently it was sent upon my dad’s enlistment in the Army Air Corps and wanted to make sure that all of his statements were true.

  

Behind that were other envelopes containing pictures I had actually sent to my dad many years ago as the kids were growing up.  He returned the pictures to me.

Next were two handkerchiefs.  One was sent from my dad to his mother when he was stationed in Iceland and the other was one that he had given to her when he was a young boy.

Underneath the hankies was a Webster notebook.  My dad had used it in 6th grade.  Apparently it was for History as he had pasted a photo from a magazine, book or newspaper on one page and opposite that wrote a brief explanation that related to history.

On the right hand side next to the books and documents were a horseshoe, a film canister filled with sand that was labeled White Sands, New Mexico 1933, a tiny lapel or tie pin that was labeled with my Uncle Paul’s name, a small lock, a watch without the wristband, a mother of pearl handled pocket-knife, a ceramic ashtray and a football with something inside.  My dad told me that he hasn’t opened that football in over 50 years.  He thinks there is a pecan or a nut inside the football. 

 

Underneath the notebook was a book on Agriculture.  I think my father either had an Ag course in high school or he bought it to read.

This gave me just a small glimpse into my dad’s younger life.  Items that he thought were important – or at least important to him.  And if they were important enough for him to keep in a trinket box, then they are important enough for me to hang on to in order to always have a part of my dad with me in the years to come.

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Alva Lester House buried his wife, Mary Lucy Besser, on February 17, 1920 with their stillborn son and next to their two babies – Arthur and Esther – in South Lawn cemetery, Coshocton County, Ohio.

With his two surviving children, Evelyn and Jarold, recuperating from the flu, and feeling as if life has dealt him a losing hand, Lester had to find a way to move forward especially when a few months later his older brother, James W. (Willie) House, died from bronchial asthma.

 

Marriage Permit of Lester House and Pearl Davidson

A little over four years later, he married Pearl Davidson on June 14, 1924.  She was the daughter of Isaac Newton and Mary Davidson of Keene, Coshocton County.  Born the youngest of four children on April 6, 1893, she had lived in Keene until her marriage.  Immediately she became a second mother to Evelyn, age 10, and Jarold, age 8.

Even though Pearl was 31 years old at the time of the marriage, it is unknown if the couple tried to have children or if she had any pregnancy complications. 

Several months after their wedding, Lester’s father, James Emory House, passed away. He was 82 years old. The year following their wedding, Pearl lost her mother, Mary Davidson, due to diabetes.
 
Several years later, Lester’s son, Jarold, went into the U.S. Army.  He enlisted on July 19, 1940 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.  During his duties, he was sent to Trinidad in the British West Indies, stationed at Camp Robinson in Arkansas, and also Italy.  In August 1943 he married Elizabeth Johnson.  When she went to visit him a few months later in Arkansas, she found him “leading an improper life and associating with other women”.  Soon she had filed for divorce.  It took over a year for the divorce to be finalized.  There hadn’t been any children born to this union.
 
In April 1942 Lester was required to register for WWII.  Called the “old man’s draft”, he completed the registration card at age 55.  He listed Pearl House as the person who would always know his address.  He lived in the same house he’d grown up in: 423 N. Eleventh Street, Coshocton, Ohio (the home that was willed to him by his parents).  He was working at the Warner Brothers Theater on N. 6th Street in Coshocton and listed that he had distinguishing characteristics of both his thumb joints.  He was 5’10” and weighed 160 lbs. with blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

In December 1944, Pearl became ill, possibly having a mental breakdown.  Lester took her to the doctor.  Requesting that he take his wife to a hospital in Columbus, Pearl was hysterical.  She threatened to end her life as well as her husband’s.  Thinking that he would try to prevent any suicide attempt, Lester took the firing pin from the shotgun he owned and went to work as a janitor at the Bancroft school building on the morning of April 5, 1945.  Not too long after her husband left for work, Pearl figured out how to work the shotgun and killed herself.  Lester had called the doctor and then went back home where he found his wife’s body.  The coroner listed her official cause of death as multiple lacerations of brain due to discharge of shotgun in head, self-inflicted.

With his son in the service in Italy, Lester and Evelyn had to come to terms that Pearl had ended her own life in the community they had lived in all their lives.  She was buried in Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Coshocton County, Ohio two days later.
 
 
Once again, a devastating tragedy had left Lester looking for a way to pick up the pieces of his life.  He had hardly gotten his breath when his older brother, John, died on October 22, 1945 due to coronary thrombosis.  He had already lost another brother, Florus, in 1941 and a half-sister, Lucina, in 1937.  His oldest sister had died in childbirth in 1907.  There were only a half-brother, half-sister and one sister left. 
A month after John died; Lester celebrated the marriage of his daughter, Evelyn, to Ellis Murray close to Thanksgiving 1945.  The joy soon turned to more grief as Lester’s half-brother, Ed House, died three days after Christmas of a cerebral hemorrhage.  It had been so quick and sudden that it was initially reported that he’d died of a heart attack.  Lester’s family was dwindling and more people he loved were dying.
 
Then came the news in 1946 that his son had been wounded serving with the United States 5th Army in Italy.  He’d received wounds to his right arm, chest and thigh and received a Purple Heart.  In July of that year, Lester’s only remaining sister passed away of breast cancer. 
 
A bright spot came in June 1947 when there was a wedding to celebrate.  Jarold and Margaret Ruth Wohlheter married at the Zion Methodist Church in Adamsville, Muskingum County, Ohio.  Within several years, the couple’s family had grown as their children were born. 
Lester then lost his last surviving sibling, his half-sister, Belle Dora (House) Ruby, on November 12, 1951.  He was the last one left of his father’s children and time was slowly catching up to him.
At some point, something must have changed within Jarold.  Something so unsettling that Lester had even more to be concerned about.  In 1958 his son was arrested on morals charges and sent to the State Mental hospital for a sanity hearing.  Finding him sane, he was released back to Coshocton County to be arraigned.  In March he was sentenced to 1-20 years in prison at the Ohio Penitentiary.  A month later, Margaret filed for divorce.  The judge hearing the case found no evidence of cause and dismissed the divorce.  It is unknown the length of Jarold’s sentence or if a divorce ever occurred.
At the age of 76 years, he responded to a letter from his niece.  In the text of the letter he wrote, “I can’t write much as I have a crippled right hand with arthritis.  I am only one of all the children left. And I will be 77 May 9.”
Lester died in January 1968.  He was survived by his son, Jarold, his daughter, Evelyn, and four grandchildren.  Services were held at Gibson and Bontrager Funeral Home and was buried next to his wife, Pearl, at Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  

Epilogue: Jarold died in August 1980 and Evelyn died in 1985.  It is my wish that my Great-uncle Lester finally found some measure of happiness in his later years.  He had endured so much tragedy and loss in his lifetime that he deserved some bright spots.

 

 

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Not Really News

As I was going through a newspaper printed the day my grandmother, Ella (House) Amore, was born – June 22, 1882, I was struck by the type of products and services offered.

  • Opium – advertised by a dr.
  • Drunkeness Easily Cured by Leslie E. Kekley, M.D.
  • Make Hens Lay by giving them Horse and Cattle Pills
  • New Rich Blood by taking Parson’s Purgative Pills
  • Noise Collars
  • Kidney – Wort for the permanent cure of constipation
  • Band and Military Uniforms

Other items of interest in the “gossip” section include:

  • A church had to get a prescription in order to have wine for communion
  • A lady sued her ex-fiance for breach of promise and received $700 in settlement
  • A butcher who sold meat from a steer that he killed due to cancer, was bound over for the grand jury
  • A man threatened his wife’s lover until he admitted the affair then was tied to a post and castrated.
  • 1300 men were confined in Ohio’s penitentiary but only 91 for life.
  • The “Sunday” law stopped being enforced in Columbus.
  • A man said his horse was 80 years old.
  • A man was almost sentenced to two years in prison for vagrancy until he admitted he just inherited two million dollars.
  • A baby was found near the railroad tracks after it had been born – someone threw the baby off the train.

What was happening the day one of your ancestors was born?

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My dad remembers his mother’s youngest brother with fondness.  Born Alva Lester House on May 9, 1886 in Coshocton County, Ohio, he was the youngest of James and Frances (Ogan) House’s eight children.  Somewhere along the line, he acquired the nickname of “Doc” even though he went by his middle name, Lester.

 

Lester and Mary Lucy Besser, daughter of Isaac Besser and Mary Thornsley, were married on June 13, 1908.  Lucy, as she was known, was just over 16 years old.  On February 28, 1910 their first child, Arthur Joseph House, was born in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County.  On April 16, 1910 the couple and their son were enumerated in the James E. House household living at 423 N. Eleventh Street in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County.  Lester is working for a pottery company as a kiln worker, possibly at the Pope-Gosser China Company located on Seventeenth Street.

 

 

Lucy’s mother, Mary Lucy (Lucy) and step-father, Noah Deeds, lived on the same street at house number 336.  Lucy’s father had been killed in a coal mine accident when she was still a child. 

 

Four days after the census taker left, little Arthur came down with pneumonia.  At just two months old, he contracted meningitis and died on April 29, 1910.  Lester and Lucy faced their first tragedy as husband and wife.  The baby was buried two days later in South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton. 

 

 

Two years later, Esther Annie House, was born on April 7, 1912.  She lived only 18 hours before dying of lobar pneumonia. She was buried next to her brother in South Lawn Cemetery. 

 

 

Not but a little over a month later, as the couple were enjoying some time at the home of Lucy’s mother and step-father, Lucy Thornsley Deeds, fell out of her chair by the window of her home and died of a heart attack.  The woman was about 42 years old.  Once again, Lucy had to overcome a loss and wade through her grief.

 

 

 

The couple finally had a child they could nurture when Georgia Evelyn House (referred to as Evelyn her entire life) was born on March 11, 1914.  Their joy continued as a healthy son, Jarold House, was born two years later on May 26, 1916.  Unfortunately the year previously, Lester had lost his mother, Frances (Ogan) House, to pulmonary tuberculosis.

 

Lucy wasn’t in the best of health as the family had lived in Colorado about a year but returned to their hometown on account of her health.  The family also lived in Dennison, Pennsylvania where Lester worked in the shops but returned to Coshocton in September 1919. 

 

The 1920 US Census taken on January 8th, shows that the couple is residing, once again, at 423 North Eleventh Street with Lester’s father, James. The census taker must have asked for the first name of occupants as they are listed as James E. House (head), Alva L. (listed also as Head), Mary L. (wife), Georgia E. (daughter), Jarold E. (son).  There was also another child – one still unborn – as Lucy was pregnant.

 

A little over a month later, the young mother contracted the Spanish flu, which had been the cause of a worldwide pandemic that had begun two years previous and would continue for several more months, then pneumonia set it causing labor.  It is unknown how far advanced the pregnancy was, however, the son that was delivered on February 14th, was stillborn.  Lucy died the following day.  The baby was buried with Lucy next to the other two children, in South Lawn Cemetery. 

 

 

 

 

 

Lester had to pick up what was left of his family and move forward.  His small children were also ill with the flu but would go on to recover.  He had to move beyond his loss and grief.

 

Part Two: How much more loss and grief can this famliy withstand?

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Vesta Johnson at Tomb of Unknown Soldier
(photographed by Glen R. Johnson)
Original photo owned by Wendy Littrell (Address for Private Use)

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This post is written for the 57th Carnival of Genealogy on the theme: I read it in the news!

Our family has always been big on cutting out newspaper articles that relates to anything having to do with someone in the family.  I’ve located small clips on people who have applied for marriage licenses, obituaries, and even larger articles.  As I began my genealogy quest almost 10 years ago, I once again perused some scrapbooks at my mom’s house.  I found the following clipping:

I knew that my parents, my brother and my sister all learned to fly when my dad was stationed in Japan, but I didn’t realize they had been in a movie!  Even if it was for the Aero Club of which they were members.  They flew quite a bit while in Japan and continued once back in the states.  My parents took me up once (that I remember) as a young child, but I wasn’t a very good airplane passenger.  I passed out once in the air and woke up in the car on the way home.  I do much better in commercial airlines.

Another news article my mom clipped and mailed to my grandparents contained information about Japan “Asthma”.  Mom suffered from this while they were overseas and it was hard to explain what it was so she sent this news article.

I also found my grandparents’ wedding announcement which I think is a pretty good treasure since they were married in 1916 in a small town in Indiana.

I also have been blessed that many of my relatives and distant cousins have shared news articles with me – either a scanned copy or a regular copy.  I also feel very lucky that many of these articles have survived over time – especially with standing moves across oceans and across country not to mention just across town.

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After reading Leslie Albrecht Huber’s article in the October 2008 edition of Family Chronicle, I began to wonder how many of us have a favorite ancestor (or two)! As Leslie writes, “There can be no favorite children or even grandchildren. But, the rule doesn’t apply to our ancestors.”

As I ponder this question, I’ll give you a chance to think of who your favorite ancestor might be.  Is it an ancestor who you know quite a bit about?  Or someone who is a complete mystery?  How did you learn of this person?  Post to your site and send me an email at wendy.littrell@juno.com or a message on Facebook with a link to your post.  Deadline will be October 12th and I’ll post a round-up on October 15th.

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Denise at The Family Curator has posted a Treasure Hunt Challege for Genea-Bloggers. The course of action is simple:

  1. Select Your Destination
  2. Make a plan (treasure map)
  3. Post the plan on the blog before September 30 with an email to Denise that includes a link
  4. Tackle the project
  5. Post an article about finding the treasure
  6. Send Denise an email with a link to the final post by October 20

As I began to think about all the ephemera and research notes in my file, on the computer, and elsewhere, I wondered where I could begin looking.  My plan of “attack” is this:

  1. Go through the big box of letters I have
  2. Locate papers on land transactions (I’ve seen them but haven’t paid that close attention to them)
  3. Look for the names of property owners/sellers and the dates and research them
  4. Gather information about the property – where it’s located, if I can get a satellite (or any) image of land
  5. Post my findings

Hopefully I’ll learn some fascinating new information!

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Prairie Chapel Church & Cemetery
Coshocton, Ohio
Photographed by Gene Amore
Original owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use)

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