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Anillos

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 5: “How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?”

I do know how my parents met – mom was working at Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) outside of Fairborn, Ohio (back then it was Fairfield) in Greene County, Bath Township. She met my dad in early 1941 when he was stationed there. They spent the next couple of years dating until they married in December 1943.

On Easter Sunday 1916 (April 23), my maternal grandparents, Glen R Johnson and Vesta C Wilt, met at church. Life would never be the same for either of them again! Such began months of daily correspondence for even though they lived in the same town, they sent letters to each other every day – and since the mail service ran twice a day – it wasn’t just one letter they sent, but two! Luckily for me, I have each and every one of those letters. To me they are priceless! A window into their lives that helped me witness them falling in love with each other (although I suspect, it was love at first sight for both of them!).

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The following is parts of a letter from my grandfather to my grandmother that he wrote to her on May 31, 1916 – a little over a month after their initial meeting.

You told me that you were not cold last night but I think you were. I am afraid you (my little girl) will be sick. But I hope not. Do not work to hard to-day. I hope you had a good time yesterday. I did I know. So good-bye Dear
I still remain yours forever
                                       Glen
To the one I love best Miss Vesta Wilt signed Glen

Later that summer – apparently after my great-grandmother, Martha, had words about Glen with my grandmother, he was very scared and wrote the following to my grandmother:

Vesta Dear I am afraid your mother will make me quit going with you. Oh! I can’t stand to think of it. I have cried all evening. But listen Dear you have a good time, don’t think of me. Whatever happens I will take it as best I can, I can go west or some other place and die. But I never will forget the Little girl of Mine. Vesta. The dearest girl there ever was. Hoping you will forgive me for all I have said and done. I will never do them again. After I leave you can forget me and find some one just as good and better than I am. Hoping you will not think hard of me for all this talk, but I think it will happen. I had a dream I never told you of. I don’t know whether I will tell you now. I think you can guess it. And just think I caused it all I am simply crazy. Well dear I have told you all I know and more to. I will be there Sunday morning if I am alive. Hoping you will not worry. Let me do all the worrying. I will close. Forgive the writing. I will close again with lots of love and kisses.
I still remain your lover and sweetheart, bit I am afraid never yours to be.
                    Glen
                 The broken hearted boy.  9:30 P.M.
5:30 A.M. Aug. 4, 1916
P.S. Well Dear I past through the awful night. I got about one hour sleep. I was thinking or crying the rest. Crying the most. Well Dear I guess I will try and work to-day. I don’t know whether I can or not.
                    Glen

My grandfather needn’t have worried because just a few short months later, they were engaged and married on Christmas Eve 1916 – eight months after they met. They were married 67 years before my grandmother passed away. My grandfather wait a year and then joined her. I am so very fortunate to have boxes and boxes of their letters to each other that allows me to feel their deep abiding and eternal love for one another.

I don’t have any idea how my paternal grandparents met – that is something I will have to ask my dad about! (Took a 15 minute break and called my dad!) Loyd W Amore and Ella M House were introduced to each other by his brother Isaiah H (Zade) Amore and wife, Lula (St. Clair). Lula was a sewing teacher and was teaching my grandmother how to sew. She asked my grandma if she wanted to meet someone and she said that would be ok (or as my dad said “Whatever they said back then.”) So they were introduced about 1901-02 and were married on April 11, 1903 in the Presbyterian Manse in Coshocton, Ohio.

Photos: Wedding rings from Wikimedia Commons. Glen and Vesta Johnson – photographer: Wendy Littrell, original and digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for private use).

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 4: “Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.”

I am lucky enough to have original my maternal grandparents’ original marriage records as well as her parents (Joseph N Wilt and Martha J Stern) and my great-grandparents’ (Emanuel B Stern and Nancy Caylor). I don’t have wedding pictures of either of those couples, but I do have a wedding picture of my maternal grandfather’s parents (Katie J Blazer and John L Johnson).

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John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J Blazer – married on Wednesday, July 4, 1883
Katie was not quite 19 years old.

I have digital copies of marriage records via FamilySearch for John L Johnson’s parents (my 2nd great-grandparents), James Wilson Johnson and Amanda Eveline Mullis, and for Amanda’s parents – John Mullis and Darlett Stanley (married in Wilkes county, North Carolina) on February 22, 1811. Recently, I found the marriage license and certificate (digital copy) for my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and his second wife, Anna Park. On the line that asked if he had been married before, he listed “no.” When I saw that, I exclaimed “Liar!” at my computer screen (he had walked out on my great-grandmother, Martha, and 6 kids under 14 years old). Perhaps, he didn’t know if the divorce had ever been finalized (it had) and didn’t want to have to legally be bound to getting that information.

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 2: “Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?”

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This is a picture of my mom – Mary Helen (Johnson) Amore – when she was a young child – about 1924. The reason I picked this photo is because it was one of the first pictures of her as a little girl that I ever saw. When I first looked at it, I could see myself in her face. I wonder what she was looking at when the photo was taken, what she had been doing, and where she would walk to afterwards. Was she having a good day? Did she feel well? How warm was it? Questions I won’t ever have the answers to now that she’s gone. Questions I didn’t even think about until I looked at it recently.

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The month began with this prompt: “Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.”

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It isn’t easy for me to pick a favorite female ancestor however I must choose my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christina (Wilt) Johnson – the woman I knew all my life as “Nana.” She was a large part of my life and lived close to us so I saw her at least once a week if not more. As a young child, I spent some weekends at her and my Granddad’s home and then later – their apartment in a senior citizens high rise building by the river in Dayton. I have letters that she wrote to my folks when my dad was stationed in Japan in the 1950′s. I have letters she wrote when she and my grandfather lived in Wiesbaden in the early 1950′s. I have letters my grandparents wrote to each other when they were courting and later when my grandfather was in training with the signal corps & after he was shipped to France in WWI. I have pictures of her when she was a child and a young woman as well as all the pictures she was in after she was married, had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

If I had to list items that I would like to learn, it would be about her relationship with her father. He left the family when my grandmother was about 10 and her youngest brother wasn’t very old. I know she heard from him after she was married but I don’t know if she went out of her way to try to maintain that father-daughter bond or if she realized it was up to him. I know she was at his funeral and my grandparents helped pay for some of it. I have a picture of her and her siblings at his grave. Even without her father in her life. she kept close to her Wilt family members especially later in life by attending the family reunions once a year and traveling to Indiana to visit with her cousins at least once or twice more through the year.

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Oreo

Not really – but then again I guess it all started with her – my Nana, Vesta Christina Wilt Johnson (my mom’s mother). I could also blame my grandfather – yes, I’m sure he had a hand in it too. Most of their great-grandchildren (my niece, nephews, and children of my Johnson 1st cousins) would probably concur. We are all addicted to the food memories that Nana and Grandad are connected to. Candy jars with M & M’s, ribbon candy at Christmas, hard tack candy – all the time! Sometimes peanut brittle. And the bottom drawer in the kitchen – COOKIES! Not just any cookies but large sugar cookies, soft Oatmeal cookies, and the sweetest of all – Oreos! We didn’t have Oreos in my house because my mom didn’t like the way they tasted. No, our house had something just as deviant – chocolate sandwich cookies that are very hard to find anymore. But I digress. Oreos – if there ever was a reason to turn into an addict – those delicious creme filled sandwich cookies are the reason. And I fell into that addiction – hard – all the way to the bottom. Oh, it didn’t happen overnight and not right then as a child, young teen or young adult. I had a taste of those cookies, and that was all it took. As the years passed and my grandparents passed on, every time I had an Oreo, sweet, delicious memories were revisited. Memories of the warmth and tenderness shown to me by my Nana. Her gentle touch and beautiful smile. If a scent can trigger a memory, I believe food can do the same thing. Soon, I had four young kids and a very busy household. Of course I purchased Oreos for the family. Oh, no, soon I was hiding the Oreos. The addiction had me in its tight grip. I could eat half a bag in one sitting and feel absolutely dreadful afterwards. Finally, though it took awhile, I had to face the fact. I stook in front of my mirror and said, “Hello, I’m an Oreo addict.” My reflection just stared back. Yep, I knew that I could not – absolutely not – ever purchase anymore packages of Oreos. My kids thought it was funny. We’d be at church and during refreshment time, they would taunt me. “Look, Mom, an Oreo. You know you want some.” But I always remained resolute. That’s been so long ago, I don’t even know the number of years it’s been. The only Oreos I’ve eaten are those crushed and used for dirt cake. There have been a few packages in my pantry – but I haven’t eaten any of those. However, it doesn’t take the taste of Oreos anymore to bring me back to my childhood and the visits to my grandparens’. Just today, I was eating Club Crackers – their “go-to” cracker. I grew up on Zesta crackers and as an adult, have always kept Premium Saltines. But my Nana and Grandad – it was Club that we used at their home for the homemade vegetable soup. Soup that had tomatoes in it and my mom ate but it wasn’t her favorite. In honor of my grandmother, I add one fresh tomato to my vegetable soup. When my niece and nephew and I talk about them, we inevitably discuss the foodstuffs they had. Wonderful memories!

(Image of Oreos downloaded from Wikimedia Commons: Fritz Saalfeld is the creator of the image)

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Each Saturday evening, Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings challeges other geneabloggers to participate in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Tonight, the theme is Ancestor Fun. The mission (should we choose to accept it!) is to pick a great-grandfather, divide his birth year by 100 and round up to the next number. Then, go to the ancestor on the ahnentafel list and find the ancestor with that number and give three facts about that person.

I chose my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Napolean Wilt (father of my maternal grandmother), who was born in 1869. After dividing his birth year by 100 and getting 18.69, I rounded up to 19.  I use Family Tree 2011 as my genealogy program. I am the home person so I clicked on Publish at the top, then under “Charts and Reports” I clicked on Genealogy Reports. I chose the Ahnentafel Report. After the report came up, I scrolled to number 19 to see which ancestor I would write about. It was my 2nd great-grandmother, Louisa Bookless.

The line from me to her is as follows: my dad, his dad (Lloyd William Amore), Lloyd’s mother (Mary Angelina Werts Amore), “Annie’s” mother was Lousia Bookless. She was born to David Bookless and Mary Cartmell on April 13, 1834 in Muskingum county, Ohio. She married William Washington Werts (my 2nd great-grandfather) on August 24, 1852 in Coshocton county, Ohio.  I found the marriage entry on FamilySearch.org in the database – “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994″ and downloaded the digital image. Louisa married a second time after William died to John Simon on April 28, 1861 in Coshocton county, Ohio. Louisa died of “apoplexy” on July 26, 1912 in Coshocton, Ohio and was buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Coshocton.

Three facts about Louisa Bookless:

  1. Most of the documents I have found concerning Louisa, has her maiden name spelled “Buckless” – especially census records.
  2. Louisa’s parents died when she was young, so she is found living with relatives in the 1850 and 1860 censuses. In 1850, Louisa and her older brother, William, are living in the James Rice household in Franklin Twp, Coshocton county, Ohio. I have not discovered if he was related to Louisa. In the 1860 census, Louisa is living with her late husband’s sister, Susannah (Werts) Shirer and her husband, Quincy.  The two children she had borne while married to William Werts were living in other households which seems to indicate that Louisa did not have any means of supporting her children and needed to rely on family for support.
  3. Louisa’s first husband – my 2nd great-grandfather, passed away five years after they were married. Their oldest child, George Wesley Werts, was born five months after their wedding and my great-grandmother came along two years later. Four years after William’s death, Louisa and John Simon married.  They became parents of a daughter (Sarah Ellen Simon) three years after they married.  I did not realize my great-grandmother had a half-sister until I kept coming back to the census listing her in the same household as Louisa and John as their daughter. When I checked the newspaper account for a reunion held at my great-grandparents, I discovered that Ellen’s family came to that reunion.

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Louisa’s Death Certificate

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Since I’ve lost quite a bit of information that I had entered in my family data program (Family Tree Maker 2011) due to the computer crash on Election Day, the thought of recreating everything I’ve lost has overwhelmed me. (Public Service Announcement: Don’t let this happen to you! Back up! Back up! Back up! And then make sure a copy is in the cloud!)

Some of that lost data was from cemetery information from Find a Grave. My plan of attack – is to begin alphabetically in the list of individuals in my data program – and search for their date of death (if I don’t already have it), cemetery location, and other pertinent information. Needless to say, two individuals in and I’ve discovered children of a couple I didn’t know existed complete with birth and death information. I always finish off by entering the Find a Grave Memorial Number in my database – then I know that I saw the record on Find a Grave.

Generally, as I locate the burial/cemetery information – especially if it’s in Ohio – I go to FamilySearch and search for a death record. Not only will that give me a second source of documentation, but sometimes it gives a burial date and perhaps a more specific death date than what is listed on Find a Grave.

(Public Domain Image downloaded from FreeStockPhotos.biz)

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For the last several days, Denise Levenick of The Family Curator has been on a whirlwind blog tour for her book, “How to Archive Family Keepsakes”, and like many other geneabloggers, I’ve been reading the posts. In the back of my mind I wondered just when I would have time to organize and archive all of the “stuff” I’ve ended up with. The “stuff” being letters (years and years and years of letters), photos, ephemera (brochures, tickets, etc.), and knick-knack type keepsakes (not to mention wall plaques, clothing, books, and dishware). The hours in the day barely give me enough time to do what I’m supposed to be doing (organizing, cleaning & decluttering regular stuff around the house). Then it hit me – all of this “stuff” IS part of the regular items in my household. How would I ever put a dent in organization and the clutter if I DIDN’T work on archiving and organizing the heirlooms! (What a concept, Denise!)

Yesterday, as I was weeding through the stacks of paper and magazines on the kitchen bar area, I decided that as I was dusting the knick-knacks, that I should start an inventory of those items via digital photos. I took 45 pictures!  Some items I took 2-4 photos each depending on the item. I wanted to make sure I was able to see details on each side as well as inside (if there was something there) and the underside – especially markings.

The item above hung on my grandparents’ wall in all of their homes for as long as I could remember. I was probably almost a teen when I made it known to my grandmother that I sure would like to have that item. Every time I saw it, I asked my grandmother to wind it for me (it plays music). (As an aside, I also enjoyed the musical Christmas Bell they had and now it belongs to me!) At some point before my grandmother’s death, she put my name on the back of that plaque. I also think I ended up with it because I was the “baby” (by 14 years) of the grandchildren and most of the other granddaughter’s (there are 5 of us and 3 grandsons) received items like crystal stemware, jewelry, and silver. I feel lucky that I even received a miniature German tea set just like the other girls. My grandparents must have had enough foresight to buy just one more when they lived in Germany!  They bought the item (above) in Garmisch (in Bavaria), and luckily I have the letter written to my mother that detailed their trip to Garmisch and the purchase of that piece!

It may take me some time to document everything I have received but I feel good that I’ve started.

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Jacob Marion Wilt is my great grand uncle. He is the oldest child born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Isreal Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash and oldest brother of my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Napolean Wilt.  Jacob was born on February 21, 1858 in Indiana. On August 6, 1881 Jacob and Scena Gibson were married in Newcastle, Henry County, Indiana. They had a son, Russell Ray Wilt, born September 6, 1890 in Newcastle. The family is found in the 1900 Census living in Jefferson township in Henry County.  They reported that they had been married 18 years. By the 1910 Census, Russell was already out on his own.  Jacob and Scena were living in Sulphur Springs in Henry County.

And there begins the mystery.  It was reported by a distant cousin (Jacob is their great grand uncle also) that Jacob and Scena moved to California. I have not located either one – however, according to the 1920 Census, Russell is married to Ferna (LNU) with a young daughter, Thelma, and living in Modesto, California. In 1930 the Russell Ray Wilt family is in Oakland, California and in 1940 they have moved to Pierce County, Washington.

There is a Jacob Wilt listed in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses in San Bernadino, California – but his age is off by a couple of years and the listing for his father’s birth place is not Virginia. In the 1920 Census, that particular Jacob reports that he is divorced and in the 1930 Census, it shows he is widowed. I need to pinpoint the exact locations in the enumeration districts where both this Jacob and also Russell were living. If they are close by, then these two “different” Jacobs may just be one and the same. I haven’t located any further information on Scena (whose name has also been spelled Sena and Cena and mistakenly reported as Lena – depending on who was reading the writing!) nor on Russell’s wife, Ferna, or their daughter, Thelma. The Wilt branch of the family still living in and around New Castle, Indiana, didn’t seem to know any further information.

Sources: All Census information came from www.familysearch.org indexes.  Jacob and Scena’s marriage information came from the same website – the “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959″ database (digital image).

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After two+ days of labor and delirium, Mary gave birth to her first born child (no, this isn’t THAT story!). The baby boy weighed over 10 lbs and came into the world on January 2, 1940.  His mother was just a mere eighteen – still a child herself. He was the first grandchild for his maternal grandparents who doted on him and cared for him when his mother was working.  In fact, he met his great-grandmother in Oregon before his mother had met the woman!

When he was five and a half, he found himself an older brother to his newborn baby sister.  The family lived in a state far away from the grandparents he loved dearlyjim picture new camera. He made friends with the neighboring family’s children.  As a young teen, he found himself – along with his mother and sister – on a sjim&sandykelso001hip headed to Japan to join the family patriarch who had been stationed there with the United States Army Air Corps (the forerunner to the U.S. Air Force). He made friends, participated in the Boy Scouts, learned to be a photographer, and tried to be a dutiful son and big brother.  Since they were so far from family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – they sent many letters back to the States.  After a few years, they went back to their home state of Ohio, but then once again found themselves back in Japan again. He graduated from the American High School and joined the Air Force. Unfortunately, due to his eyesight and other physical issues, he was discharged before too long.

In February 1961, he married a woman that he met at work.  Soon after they were married, he heard that he was going to be a big brother again!  He and his wife took the new little sister under their wing, and she spent many weekends with them. As his baby sister grew, he found himself in a role that he never expected – being torn between being her big brother and confidante and a father-figure when their father moved away. At the same time, he was enjoying new fatherhood for he and his wife had just adopted their own little boy.

He had found his niche working for a printing company in Dayton and assumed he would be there until retirement. He and his wife had finally found a home they were fixing up and happy with that wasn’t that far away from both of their mom’s. He was an officer with the local Fraternal Order of Eagles and enjoyed the friendships and community service he found within the organization.

There were a series of losses – his beloved maternal grandmother and then grandfather and close friends.  After his son graduated high school, hardship struck when the printing company closed the doors. Dayton was experiencing a major downturn in the jobs market and he had a very hard time finding a job right away so he went to work for a cousin. He and his family moved to another home and proceeded.  Every so often he would find he and his mom on the outs – he avoided confrontation like the plague, and she sought it out.

thanksgiving98_3He found a new love in a far off state.  For a short time, he was remarkably happy. Then his health began to deterioriate. The worst part was that no one could tell him exactly why or what to do about it. By the time the doctors had discovered the pancreatic cancer, it was much too late. He only had a short time left. Too short of time for he and his mother to reconcile – although she tried to tell him while he was comatose. His two sisters were also grief-stricken but tried to remain strong for their mother – who should not have had to see her son succumb to his illness.  Far too soon and far too young, he passed away on the last day of August before the world fell apart and terrorists held the world hostage in horror.

He was survived by his wife, his mother, his father and step-mother, his three sisters and their husbands, his son, many nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends.

Today, he should be turning 73, and I should be able to call him on the phone and say, “Happy Birthday, Jim! I love you!”

 (Photos: Mary and Jim, 1940; Jim and Sandy Kelso - 1945, photographer: Gene Amore; Jim at Christmas in Japan, photographer: Jim Amore; Gene and Jim Amore, Thanksgiving 1998 in Arkansas, photographer: Wendy Littrell.  All photos – originals and digital images held in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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