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Archive for November, 2008

The topic for the 60th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is Alzheimer’s DiseaseNovember is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and it’s a good time to reflect on the impact that Alzheimer’s Disease (dementia) has had on your family history. An estimated 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. A new case is diagnosed every 72 seconds. Undoubtedly someone you know will or has some form of this debilitating dementia. Alzheimer’s robs people of their memories and all that they could have passed on in the way of family history. What does that mean to you? If you are fortunate enough to have not been effected by Alzheimer’s Disease in your family, perhaps you will share the impact of another serious medical condition that has impacted your family. How have you gone about researching your family’s medical history?

Luckily, my family has been left untouched by this horrible illness that wipes out a person’s memory and leaves them debilitated and the family struggling to cope.  My mother used to work for one of her local Senior Day Centers as a grant writer as well as being there to help the Seniors.  During the day most of the people who were there were “dropped off” just as you would a child at a day care facility.  These people were mostly living with family members who needed extra eyes on their parents/aging family members while they were at work.  Because of Mom’s time working with some of these people afflicted with this progressive illness, she takes offense when someone who forgets where their car keys are says offhandedly “maybe I’ve got Alzheimer’s.”  She’s seen what this disease can do and knows it is not humorous.

Our family has had it’s share of “Senior Moments” – heck, I’m not even 50, and I get them.  I tend to call it the “busyness syndrome”.  So busy in my daily life and thinking of too many things at once, that half the time I don’t remember what I’ve already related to people.  So now when I begin a story, I always ask if I’ve said this before.  What is worse is when I’ve neglected to tell someone the health condition, etc. of a relative and been called on it.  I forget where the _____________ (insert anything) is but that’s just because I’m not as organized as I should be, and I’ve allowed myself to have too many cluttered thoughts and not care.

I’ve also been pretty lucky in learning about our family medical history.  I have death certificates and oral histories about illnesses to know what I am predisposed to genetically.  No epilepsy, no bleeding or autoimmune disorders.  I do think it’s very sad for a person who has been adopted and can’t find that medical information.  I think if anything else, medical history should be part of open records – even if the biological birth information is not.  I also believe that the doctor’s office is not the place NOT to divulge information that could be crucial for your physician in making a diagnosis or researching other alternatives.  If we can’t be a partner in our own medical care, who else will advocate for us?

My hope is that a cure can be found to slow or stop Alzheimer’s altogether.  A friend of the family’s has a parent with Alzheimer’s. This person spends a lot of time each day visiting their parent and using a “script” as the memory of the person. Repetitiveness can be monotonous, however, I’ve witnessed the parent recall something that wasn’t said that same day and that gives us great joy to hear. I’ve also witnessed the slow decline of this friend’s parent and my heart hurts for this family as they watch their parent deteriorate. I consider myself, my parents, and my grandparents very lucky that we didn’t have to live with this disease but unfortunately not everyone is so lucky.

That is why it is so important – from a family history and genealogy stand point – to gather this information before the disease progresses – or before there are even any signs of it. If your parents are still fairly young and your grandparents are still living and have their memories, now is the time to gather that information before it is lost to either Alzheimer’s, other medical issues, or they are gone.

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I posted a few days ago about my new found cousin, Julie Cahill Tarr, of GenBlog. Today my other new found cousin, Becky Wiseman of Kinexxions posted her line back to Richard Treat – our common ancestor.

When I first entered the genea-blogging world back in the early spring, little did I realize that some of the people who I met in this wonderful community would turn out to be distant relatives – not to mention blogging friends. On GenBlog, Julie writes that she

. . . started this blog to share my genealogy research with others. Mini-bios of family members is my main focus. However, I also plan to share research challenges and successes, hint and tips I learn along the way, and participate in various carnivals and memes to add variety.

Julie is researching and preserving the past of the Cahill, Miller, McMahon, Rottman, Stoffel, Wach, & Webster families (and over 1,000 other twigs)! She is also the owner of Design Write Communications in Central Illinois.

Becky considers herself a GeneaHistorian and is a native Hoosier (which is great since a lot of my ancestors on my maternal grandparents side lived in Indiana!). She served in the U.S. Navy and also writes Whitley County Kinexxions. Becky’s web site is Kinexxions – Kin Connections. Her blog states:

Kinexxions will be presenting the History and Heritage of my ancestors and their kin, many of whom settled in the Northern Indiana counties of Elkhart, Kosciusko, and Whitley.

Maybe I’m a little biased, especially now that we are “kin”, but I urge you to go check out Julie’s and Becky’s sites and blogs. Two very talented ladies that I’m proud to call my cousins!

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As I was re-reading my post on Presidents In Her Lifetime I discovered that I needed to make a correction. Instead of 4 “war” time Presidents in my life there have been more. Let’s look: Kennedy, Johnson & Nixon – Viet Nam war; George H.W. Bush – Gulf War (1st); George W. Bush (War on Terrorism) – not to mention that Ford, Carter and Reagan were also “Cold” war presidents.  Carter also had to deal with the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  Clinton had peace keeping troops in places such as Central Europe and was hunting Bid Laden even back then due to the first attack on the WTC.

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My Cousin, Julie!

Last week, I posted this post about finding new cousins and included my line back to Richard Treat. Yesterday, Julie Cahill Tarr of GenBlog posted Found Cousins that included her line back to our shared ancestor. So if you are curious just how we are related, go check out Julie’s post! Perhaps you too are one of our distant cousins!

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In the last few weeks I’ve been able to plow through some of the brick walls that I’ve run into during my research.  I mentioned some of them in this post, however, the ancestors I’ve found, weren’t listed.

  • My paternal 2nd great-grandmother Louisa Bookless (b. 13 Apr 1834 d. 26 Jul 1912) and her:
    • parents: David Bookless (b. 1808 d. 1848) and Mary Cartmell (b. abt. 1805 d. Sep 1839)
    • paternal grandparents: William Bookless (b. Unknown d. 1825) and Ann Cartmell (b. Unknown d. after 1842)
    • maternal grandparents: John Cartmell (b. abt. 1760 d. abt. 1813) and Ann Pierson
    • maternal g-grandparents: Nathaniel Cartmell (b. abt. 1732) and Sarah Russell and Alexander Pierson
    • maternal 2nd g-grandfather: Nathaniel Cartmell (b. abt. 1710)
    • maternal 3rd g-grandfather: Martin Cartmell (b. abt. 1685 d. 1749) and Esther
    • maternal 4th g-grandfather: Nathaniel Cartmell (b. abt. 1660) and Dorothy Poole
  • My paternal 3rd great-grandmother, Margaret Maple (b. 22 Dec 1808 d. 13 May 1851), and her:
    • parents: William B. Maple (b. 16 Jul 1778 d. 6 Mar 1848) and Mary Fuller (b. Apr 1782 d. 9 Apr 1850)
    • maternal g-parents: Thomas Fuller (b. abt. 1756 d. abt. 1824) and Lydia Hayes (b. abt. 1751 d. abt. 1817)
    • paternal g-parents: Jacob Maple (b. abt. 1734 d. bet. 1820-1822) and Elizabeth Stanford (b. 1749)
    • paternal gr-grandparents: Benjamin Maple Jr. (b. abt. 1696 d. 26 Nov 1777) and Sarah Clare Lee (b. 1700)
    • paternal 2nd gr-grandparents: Benjamin Maple Sr. (b. 1663 d. 13 May 1727) and Mrs. Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) Lee (b. bef. 1676)

It appears that Benjamin Maple Sr. (my 7th great-grandfather) was born in Ipswich, Suffolk County, England and immigrated via Barbados to America as an indentured servant.  He arrived in America in 1688 at the age of about 25 and married the widow, Elizabeth Lee, about 1694 in Burlinton, New Jersey.  Elizabeth had one son, David, from her previous marriage and the couple had three children – son, Benjamin Jr., and daughters, Ruth and Catherine.  If he and his wife had other children, they were not mentioned in his will.

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The recent election made me wonder which presidents were serving or elected to office during the lifetime of my great-grandmother, Nancy Caylor.  She was born on May 10, 1840 in Wayne County, indiana.  She married Emanuel Bushong Stern, son of Christian and Margaret (Bushong) Stern, on Feb. 6, 1857 at the age of 16.  Between May 1858 and Dec. 1874 the couple had eight children – 4 daughters and 4 sons.  Nancy and Emanuel were divorced before 1900, and Nancy died 4 days before Christmas 1910 at the age of 60 years 7 months 11 days.

Nancy would have been alive through 18 Presidents.

  1. 1837-1871: Martin Van Buren was the President when Nancy was born
  2. March 4 – April 4, 1841: William Henry Harrison was elected President; First President to die in office
  3. 1841-1845: John Tyler succeeded Harrison as President
  4. 1845-1849: James Polk elected President
  5. 1849-1850: Zachary Taylor elected President; died of acute gastroenteritis 16 months into his term.
  6. 1850-1853: Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death.
  7. 1853-1857: Franklin Pierce was the only President elected from the state of New Hampshire.
  8. 1857-1861: James Buchanan elected President and was the only President to never marry.
  9. 1861-1865: Abraham Lincoln served as President during the Civil War and was the first president to be assassinated while in office.
  10. 1865-1869: Andrew Johnson succeeded to the Presidency after Lincoln’s assassination and was the first president to be impeached.
  11. 1869-1877: Ulysses S. Grant was the first President to serve two full terms since Andrew Jackson.
  12. 1877-1881: Rutherford B. Hayes won the Presidency by one electoral vote.
  13. March 4, 1881-Sep. 19, 1881: James Garfield was assassinated just a few months after taking office.
  14. 1881-1885: Chester Arthur succeeded Garfield
  15. 1885-1889 : Grover Cleveland is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
  16. 1889-1893: Benjamin Harrison is the only President from Indiana.
  17. 1893-1897: Grover Cleveland served his second term as President.
  18. 1897-1901: William McKinley was the President serving when Nancy Caylor died.

As of this time of my life, I have been alive through nine presidents (4 Democrats and 5 Republicans)and and one President-Elect (Democrat).  One President, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in office; one President, Richard M. Nixon, resigned before the end of his second term; one President, Gerald R. Ford, was never elected; and one President, Bill Clinton, was impeached but not removed from office.  Four presidents  were “war” time Presidents. 

 presidents1

I often wonder – especially at this time of year when we go to the polls to elect the leaders of our community, city, state, and national government – what opinion my ancestors had of their elected leaders and what they would think about our latest historic campaign and election.

Source for President Information and Pictures: Wikipedia

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Our neighbor’s tree
Photographed by Wendy Littrell, November 2006
Digital photo owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use)

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gwlittrell-cemetery4

This is the very small family plot for George Washington Littrell, his wife – Kitty O. Blakely – and their young daughter – Annie Elizabeth Littrell.  The plot is now located on privately owned land in Chariton County, Missouri outside the city limits of Mendon.  Luckily, the owners are aware this is a family plot and allow the family to visit the small burial ground.  George Washington Littrell is the 2nd great-grandfather of my husband.  He was born in 1828 and died just prior to turning 40 years old in 1868.  Kitty was born in 1837 and died at age 42 in 1875.  Little Annie was born in 1863 and died two years later in 1865.  They parented many children who went on to produce many descendents.

gwlittrell-cemetery

The first time I visited this sacred place, weeds had grown tall and obstructed the stones and littered the ground.  My husband and I went back later to clear it all away.  Each summer when we visit, we try to make sure the cemetery is cleared of debris and weeds.

Most of my husband’s other ancestors, uncles, and grandparents are buried in Mendon City Cemetery located just next to his parents’ home.  My children have visited that cemetery each year and taken countless photos of all the headstones. 

Photographed by Wendy Littrell in July 2002.  Digital photo owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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As I was checking out all the updated census records on Family Search yesterday, I made a new discovery – my paternal great-grandmother had a half-sister I hadn’t found before!  My 2nd great-grandmother, Louisa Bookless, married William Washington Werts in Coshocton County, Ohio on August 24, 1852.  Their first child, George Wesley Werts, was born on January 27, 1853, five months after they were married.  My great-grandmother, Mary Angelina Werts, was born on February 16, 1855.  When Great-Grandmother Annie was three years old her father passed away.  Louisa than married neighbor, John Simon (or Simons depending on the document), April 28, 1861.  All of that I had discovered through the census records or information passed down through the family.

Yesterday, I was looking at the Ohio Death records on Family Search and came across a name – Sarah Ellen Jenning (or Jennings depending on the document), whose parents were John Simon and Louisa Bookless.  So I dug further into the census records.  There she was in the 1870 US Census living in Lafayette Twp, West Lafayette, Coshocton County, Ohio.  They were enumerated as the 105th dwelling and 88th family visited and are listed as John Simins, Louisa, and Sarah E.  When I went to check the 1880 Census, Sarah was no longer in the household.  But I knew she was alive because the death certificate said she died in 1936 – so where was she?  I thought maybe she was living close to the Jennings family since she had eventually married Alexander Jennings.  Not exactly close – she and Alexander were already married.  Sarah listed her age as 16 and the couple had a one year old daughter, Lucy.  I wonder how John and Louisa felt about their daughter marrying a man who was 28 years old at such a young age?  Apparently the marriage lasted, for they went on to have 12 children – 7 who were living at the time of the 1920 Census.

So I went back and re-read the news clipping I had of the first Amore-Werts reunion in 1924.  The lists of guests included: “Alex Jennings and family, Mr. and Mrs. John Jennings and family, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Jennings and family.” 

I found the death certificate for Alexander – he died two years after Sarah.  Their son, Sheldon Leroy Jennings, died in 1916.  His was the only other death certificate I found so I think the other children died prior to 1908 or died outside of the state of Ohio. 

Sarah wasn’t listed as a “sister” on Great-Grandmother Annie’s obituary because Annie died 5 years after Sarah. 

So I think I need to look at the reunion attendees again and see if I can figure out how the other guests might be related – just in case!

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Glen Roy Johnson, Jr. being held by his mom (my grandmother), Vesta Wilt Johnson

Genevieve Vesta Johnson (my aunt)

My mom

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