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Archive for the ‘Carnival of Genealogy’ Category

In my post for the 51st Carnival of Genealogy - Independent From Birth, I wrote about my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva. Toward the end of my post I wrote, ” wish I could have met this woman – my grandfather’s younger sister – as she lived for many years after his death. Whenever the family discussed his relatives, we all knew he had a younger sister but I truly think that they had fallen out of touch many years earlier. It isn’t known who stopped communicating. Possibly it was a bit of both. Knowing my grandfather he would have talked and talked until he was blue in the face about “straightening up” and flying right to her. As independent as she seems, Eva probably decided to do what she’d always done – dance to her own music and “if all you’re going to do is lecture me, I’m not listening anymore.” Theories that are probably closer to the mark than not. It seems rather sad to me that no one contacted her – or knew where to reach her – when my grandfather passed away. We never sought to visit her when we were in Indiana. I hope that in her later years, she finally found what she was searching for. Life is really rather short in the grand scheme of things and family ties – no matter how strained or tenuous – should never be broken.”

During my trip back to my mom’s house, I asked her why no one ever contacted Eva when my grandfather died.  Her response was, “She had died about 30 years before.”  When I told her that wasn’t true, she was surprised.  I told her what I knew about Eva’s later life and how she and her son had a falling out about the time Eva realized she was going to be an older, single mother.  My mom then figured that her son said that she’d died because he wasn’t on good terms with her anymore.

So that solves the mystery on why we never contacted her or saw her.  I would guess that Eva really did feel as if she was all alone in the world.

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The theme for the 52nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is AGEAs family historians, we take time to carefully mark the birthdates of our forebearers. We print out family tree charts including this all-important data. We make it a point to note at what age family members have married, had children and passed away.  Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us for the upcoming edition of the carnival. Do you have a member of the family who went to work to support the family while still of a tender age? Someone who accomplished something that was typically done by others beyond his or her years? A couple who married young? A couple with disparate ages? A family member who accomplished something of note at an advanced age? How about family members that lived many years, outlasting many of their relatives and friends? With the understanding that “age is often a state of mind”, share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.

I found myself thinking “what am I going to post about?”  How about some statistics concerning age within my family tree?

Marriages:

  • My parents were married when they were both 22.
  • Glen Johnson and Vesta Wilt (maternal grandparents): 18 [1916]
  • Lloyd Amore and Ella House (paternal grandparents): 21 & 20 [1903]
  • John L. Johnson and Katie J. Blazer (maternal g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1883]
  • Joseph Wilt and Martha Stern (maternal g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1890]
  • Henry Amore and Annie Werts (paternal g-grandparents): 20 & 17 [1872]
  • James House and Frances Ogan (paternal g-grandparents): 24 & 26 [1873]
  • James W. Johnson and Amanda Mullis (maternal g-g-grandparents): 24 & 19 [1852]
  • Frank Blazer and Malissa Goul (mat. g-g-grandparents): abt. 22 & abt. 26 [abt. 1858]
  • Isreal Wilt and Christena Nash (mat. g-g-grandparents): 29 & 20 [1857]
  • Emmanuel Stern and Nancy Caylor (mat. g-g-grandparents): 22 & 16 [1857]
  • William Amore and Charlotte Imons (pat. g-g-grandparents): 20 & 22 [1851]
  • William Werts and Louisa Bookless (pat. g-g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1852]
  • Florus House and Julia Lewis (pat. g-g-grandparents): 25 & 23 [abt. 1838]

I didn’t go as far back as I could, but I thought that information would give a sampling.  A few things I noticed: most of the time they were married at or before age 20 or in their early 20s.  Only in two cases are the wives older than their husbands by at least a year or more.  There isn’t too many years difference between a husband and wife.  Even though the time spans over 100 years, there isn’t many changes in how old/young the couple was upon marriage.

AVERAGE AGE AT DEATH

  • Grandparents: 76 3/4 years old
  • Great-grandparents: 77.5 years old
  • Great-Great-Grandparents: 57 years old

There is a span of average age at death of almost 20 years between my g-g-grandparents’ generation and my g-grandparents’ generation.  There were several who died at a young age: Charlotte Imons died at the age of 34; William Washington Werts died at 27; Christena Nash died at 39; Franklin Blazer died at 33; Amanda Mullis died at 35. 

Then I looked at my dad’s line and discovered another interesting fact.  My Grandpa Amore’s brothers lived long lives.  Isaiah (Zade) Amore: 100;

Roy Amore: 95; Rollo Amore: 87; Herbert Amore: 93; Clarence Amore: 80.  His sister, Clemmie Amore, died at the age of 82.  Only my grandfather, Lloyd, died before the age of 80, when he was 72.  My dad’s siblings also have lived long lives: Gertrude: 98; Paul: 91; Norman: 86; Bervil: 81.  My aunt is still living and she is 99.  Only my Uncle Gail died in his 70s from cancer. 

What that tells me is that especially on my paternal side – longevity is more than likely in the genes as opposed to the environment.  For the Amore’s grew up close to coal mines and many of them lived a pretty hard life. 

All in all – age is only what we make of it.  Whether we marry young or in our maturity; have our first child young or as an older, more patient parent.  If we live very long lives, are we making the most out of our time or just passing through?

(Photos: Top – Henry and Annie Amore; Center Right: Emmanuel and Nancy Stern)

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Please go to Destination: Austin Family to read the 51st Carnival of Genealogy post. This Carnival was hosted by Thomas MacEntee. Thanks, Thomas! The Carnival was a tribute to Independence Day with the topic: “Independent Spirit. There are so many great posts about men and women who took a different path than others. They set out on their own and did things their way even when others said “it won’t work” or “are you crazy?

I urge everyone to read all the entries and please leave a comment on those you visit!  As a recent contributor to the Carnivals, it really helps to know what people are thinking when they read the posts and lets me put a (blog) face with a name!  Remember if you leave a comment on my blog, I will include you (if I haven’t already) in my Genealogy Links or Genealogy Blogs link in the hopes that you might get more visitors coming to your site. 

Once again, thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy my contribution to the 51st CoG – Independent From Birth about my great-aunt, Eva Johnson.

Happy Fourth of July!

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The topic for this edition of Carnival of Genealogy is:
INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?”

I’ve spent quite a bit of time going through my family files looking for someone who I think fits this description.  There are two people who come to mind immediately – my great-grandmother and my mom – however, I’ve already written posts about them and felt the need to expand my search.  My only challenge is writing about someone who still has living children.  I don’t want to offend anyone nor write something that will give too much information.  With that being said, I hope to not only portray this person in a way that will honor their memory but possibly encourage surviving family to reflect more fondly about this person.

Eva was born to an unwed mother on an interurban car in Fortville, Indiana, on October 2, 1910.  They were taken to St. John’s Hospital where the young mother pleaded with a woman to take her infant daughter and raise her as her own.  The mother wasn’t able to care for her baby and knew that letting her go was in the best interest of the child.  Katie and John Johnson took her in and raised her practically from birth on just as their own child.  They were never able to adopt her but gave her their last name.  She was 12 years younger than their youngest son, Glen, and the daughter that Katie had prayed for. 

Eva was a very strong-willed child – following the beat of her own drummer.  She liked to imitate her favorite screen star – Clara Bow – in dress.  Apparently Eva was unaware that she wasn’t the birth daughter of Katie and John until years later yet perhaps there was something inside of her that made her go “searching” for whatever it was that would give her peace.  Since she was so much younger than Glen it was as if she was an only child without benefit of really strong family bonds a closer-in-age sibling might have yielded her. 

When Eva was a teenager, she married and her son was born in 1929.  After her foster mother, Katie, died, Eva began searching for her birth mother.  As a fairly new mother herself, it is possible that she was searching for that parent-child connection in order to understand her own standing as a mom.  A woman saw a notice printed in a magazine and recognized Katie’s name as the woman she had given her daughter to.  The woman, Clara  Badgly Grennells of Chicago, got in touch with an Indiana newspaper and requested that her appeal to meet Eva be printed. 

There are conflicting stories that Eva did meet her birth mother and learn the name of her biological father.  Another story is that Eva’s birth mother died prior to their meeting but that she did meet her father. 

Eva’s relationship with her husband was not all glamour, champagne and happily-ever-after.  It is reported that she was always searching for something – many times in the arms of someone else.  She and her husband split up and divorced and when Eva was in her early 40s, discovered that she was pregnant.  The specter of what lay ahead of her would surely be weighing on her mind: an older mother, a single mother, a mother of a grown son, a woman who had limited income.  Any number of reasons would have aided her in her decision to give up her daughter – just as she had been given up.  It was only many years later before Eva died, that she would be reunited with her grown daughter.

I wish I could have met this woman – my grandfather’s younger sister – as she lived for many years after his death.  Whenever the family discussed his relatives, we all knew he had a younger sister but I truly think that they had fallen out of touch many years earlier.  It isn’t known who stopped communicating.  Possibly it was a bit of both.  Knowing my grandfather he would have talked and talked until he was blue in the face about “straightening up” and flying right to her.  As independent as she seems, Eva probably decided to do what she’d always done – dance to her own music and “if all you’re going to do is lecture me, I’m not listening anymore.”  Theories that are probably closer to the mark than not. 

It seems rather sad to me that no one contacted her – or knew where to reach her – when my grandfather passed away.  We never sought to visit her when we were in Indiana.  I hope that in her later years, she finally found what she was searching for.  Life is really rather short in the grand scheme of things and family ties – no matter how strained or tenuous – should never be broken.  She left this world almost the same as she entered – alone and unwanted – except by those who truly did wish to be a part of her life – her foster parents and her only daughter.  Rest in peace, Eva.

(For information on Clara Bow go to The Clara Bow Page)

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Please check out the 50th Carnival of Genealogy – Family Pets hosted by Bill West (West in New England).  There are 29 authors and 30 stories about pets we or our ancestors owned.  And when you visit each post, please make sure you leave a comment so that the authors know you visited and how much you enjoyed reading the stories. 

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I’ve just uploaded some photos to previous posts. 

A picture of my mom and aunt sitting in front of the house they grew up in: The Old House

A picture of my mom in her cap and gown: Graduation Past and Present

Update: A picture of Slick climbing a lader and a picture of one of the dogs my mom had as a child: Furry and Feathered Family Members – Carnival of Genealogy

Possibly more later!

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My mom recalls with fondness the two dogs she grew up with.  Queenie was an Airedale Terrier and Jewel was a St. Bernard.  (Photo at left shows my aunt, uncle & mom with Queenie.)  

 

In the 50s after she and my dad were married, they had a bull terrier – Slick.  He was black and white and could climb ladders (below left).  When my dad was transferred to Japan, Slick had to stay with my grandparents.  My sister still has fond memories of Slick.  The picture at right of the two of them out in the snow.  I’m not sure how old he was when he died of heart problems.  Along the way my mom also had a bird (I never knew she liked birds until I was older). 

 

Yes, dogs were the main pets in our family.  Cats – well, not so much.  As a child, I always wanted a cat but mom wasn’t a cat person.  Didn’t like the whole litter box idea nor would she have wanted to let a pet “roam” outside and possibly get hit by a car.  She told me a story about what happened when she was a young girl.  Either she or her sister (or both) took a bunch of kittens and threw them down the outhouse.  Needless to say whoever did the deed, had to retrieve them and clean them up.  I’m sure that soured them more on cats!

 

Before I was born, my parents had a dachshund (Gretchen).  She had two puppies – one we gave to my grandparents (Lisa) and one we kept (Bridget).  Those were my dogs!  When I was about three, my parents had a sitter stay with me one evening.  I remember they put Gretchen in the car and drove away in the dark.  The poor dog had broken her back and for a dachshund, that was a death sentence.  From what I’ve been told, she died quite peacefully at the vet’s office.  It wasn’t long after Gretchen’s death that I began to insist that we needed to get another dachshund – as a playmate for Bridget. 

 

We drove to Marysville, Ohio to a dachshund breeder’s home and picked out a cute little red shorthair puppy.  In keeping with the tradition of naming them with German names, I wanted to call her Gretel.  I joked with my parents that if we got a male, we could name him Hansel.  But we just got the little girl.  Not only were the two dogs friends but they were my playmates.  No matter where I went they were there too.  When I played in my room, they slept under my bed.  When I took a bath, they sat quietly in the corner waiting until I was done.  When we had parties, I’d put a party hat on them!  And those poor dogs allowed me to dress them up in doll baby clothes and wheel them around in my doll buggy!

 

We bred Gretel when she was a couple years old and the result was seven little puppies!  There were five males and two females.  My brother and his family took one of the little girls – Heidi (again keeping with the German naming tradition!)  Here is a shot of the puppies in the whelping bin. 

 

Then Bridget got sick when I was about 9.  She died soon after she got sick.  I don’t think I ever knew what was wrong.  When my mom asked me if I wanted to see her, I said no.  I wanted to remember her as my energetic friend. 

 

Gretel became my confidante.  I could tell her anything and she’d just sit there and absorb everything.  I just knew she understood everything I said because when my grandparents had to stay with me for awhile when my mother was in the hospital, I heard my grandfather get upset because of her barking (she really didn’t bark all that much).  So I told her that when she wanted out to just go to the door and if no one noticed, to give a “quiet” bark.  Then when she wanted in, to bark twice.  I don’t think it was my imagination that from then on, that’s exactly what she did. 

 

When I was in 7th grade, I got up one morning to discover that Gretel was sniffling.  I really wanted Mom to take her to the vet then.  But Mom couldn’t miss work or she wouldn’t get paid.  I think we both talked ourselves into believing she just had a cold.  Since Gretel stayed in our “mudroom” area when we were gone, I left the door open a little as I left for school that morning.  I talked to her and petted her and then I left.  I usually arrived home from school about 30 minutes before my mom did.  When I walked in the door, I immediately called her name.  I heard nothing.  Somehow I knew before I got to her bed that she was gone.  The shock of seeing her lifeless body was more than I could bear.  I called my mom’s work, told them it was an emergency & when Mom got on the phone I exploded in sobs begging her to come home RIGHT NOW.  She said she would, however, knowing she only had five more minutes before her day was over, I’m sure she stuck around for those five minutes.  Nothing would change if she had left right then other than she would have been docked about 15 minutes worth of work time. 

 

After she arrived home, we took poor Gretel to the vet.  She wanted to make sure she hadn’t been poisoned and asked for an autopsy.  Mom said all she saw were dollar signs wondering what she had asked for!  It was concluded that Gretel had contracted bronchial pneumonia and her lungs had filled with fluid.  We had her buried in a pet cemetery in the Dayton area (I don’t even think I know where it is).  Luckily, the autopsy and burial weren’t as expensive as my mom had thought.

 

From that time on, she said no more animals. That it wasn’t fair to them to be alone most of the time – with her at work and me at school.  I think she was also trying to protect her heart and mine from any other pet losses.

 

Intermingled in all that time, my sister and her family had a dog and cat.  When they’d go on vacation, they’d board the dog but asked mom to watch their cat.  Remember the whole “not a cat person” story from above?  Well, I will say that at first Kitty liked Mom more than Mom liked Kitty.  But I think that changed.  Mom finally said she didn’t mind Kitty because she didn’t rub around on her legs or get under her feet.  She was a pretty laid back cat. 

 

As an adult, I’ve had several dogs and cats and birds.  No fish – I’m not a fish person!  The best cat I ever owned was found in a diesel truck yard – covered in black soot.  He wasn’t very old.  The first thing I did was throw him in a bath to get all that soot off of him.  He turned out to be a beautiful gray and white cat.  We called him “T.C.” for Tom Cat.  He quickly learned where he could sit (not on my kitchen counters or table), where he could scratch (on his cat post, not the furniture or carpet), and that he needn’t be afraid of people.  When my oldest daughter was an infant, he would sit at the foot of her infant seat and hiss at anyone who came near to her that he didn’t know.  We soon learned to “introduce” T.C. to people and tell him it was okay that they get near the baby. 

 

We had been in our present home a little over a year; listening to our son wish he had a dog.  His sisters were old enough to run off and play without him and he was still so little he could only go in the backyard – not in the front.  So one weekend the kids and I went to an Adopt-A-Pet event.  There was a little white dog who seemed so excited to see people who were interested in her.  We were told she was at least 2 years old, housebroken and spayed (all not true).  She was part terrier, part poodle – but her fur was shaved close to her body so she wasn’t all fluffy and hot.  After she arrived home with us, she found the kitchen floor and decided she wanted to mop it up for us.  That’s how she got her name – Mopsey.  We determined she was probably at least 6 months old.  But when she started chewing on everything we owned, it was outside for her.  I was working full time and with three kids, there wasn’t any time to housetrain her or anything else.  She had a carpeted dog house and was an outside dog for a long time.  My son had his friend.  He’d sit on the edge of the patio with his arm around her.  After our last child was born, she was very careful not to jump on the baby.  Finally we brought her in to let her have a place on the inside.  She had matured so that she wasn’t chewing on anything and was pretty laid back.  Mopsey was part of our family for quite a long time.  The spring before our son graduated high school, we could tell she was going downhill.  After all she was at least 17 years old.  She went blind and have a seizure every once in a while.  The weekend of graduation, we already had her on medication & a special diet hoping to halt any further damage to her kidneys.  But a few days later – she started seizing constantly.  We all knew it was time.  In the morning, my youngest daughter, grandson and I took her to the vet.  He examined her and told us that we really only had one choice to spare her any further indignity as he didn’t think she was aware of any pain anymore.  I called family to let them know and give them the option of being there at the last moments.  So with soothing words of comfort and love to our beloved Mopsey, we waited for the end. 

 

It took quite a while before we wouldn’t cry anymore every time her name was mentioned or a memory about her was shared.  She had been an important part of our family life and I believe she had waited until she got to see everyone one last time before giving it up. 

 

Almost a year later, our youngest daughter was ready for another friend.  So for her 15th birthday, we found a medium sized mixed breed named Oreo.  She was a year old, housebroken and spayed (all true this time).  She’s been a best friend to my daughter and we often wonder just who gets the bed as Oreo loves to lay her head on pillows and be covered up – just like a person!  She is smart and has similar traits to her human! 

 

Yes, pets have been an extension of not only my immediate family, but of my mom, my sister, and my grandparents.  They have only enhanced our lives and helped us be better people because of their unconditional love for us.

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