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Archive for the ‘Life and Death’ Category

Not long after 9/11, I wrote an article on my personal web site to express my thoughts and my actions on the events that occurred on that horrible day. Then five years later, I wrote an update. Here are my words:

eaglecrying

FIVE YEARS LATER
September 11, 2006: Five years after the attack that claimed thousands of lives and shattered the illusion of safety that America had strived to achieve for so long, the question seems to be “are we any safer now?”  Most of the editorials seem to believe that we are not.  The threat is still there around the next corner.  We have been fighting the war on terror almost as long now – on the battlefront, in a middle eastern country that some believe we are right to be fighting and some believe its wrong – we fight terror on the information superhighway, over the telephone lines, through our many forms of media, and for some people – in their own homes.  Measures the government and private industry has instituted in the last five years include: airport safety, immigration arguments, thorough background checks of some employees, the Patriot Act and much more.  More importantly – what hasn’t changed?  What safety measures are lacking?  Many entered churches (some for the first time) after 9/11 to pray for the country, for those who had perished, for comfort, and for themselves.  How many of those are still worshipping regularly?  How many have turned away from our Creator as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq continues?  How many mothers have listened in fear to news reports of roadside bombings in an area where their sons and daughters are deployed?  And the biggest question – how do we fight an ideaology that wants only death for free Americans?  We can push education – educate others to be tolerant and compassionate.  America, however, can’t dictate what other countries are teaching their young people.  What does it tell the world, when Americans can’t even begin to be compassionate to one another?  Each day there are still horrendous acts taking place – right in our cities, in our suburbs, in the rural communities, in our companies and industries, and right in our backyards.  Not only do strangers murder each other but parents and children talk to each other with venomous hate.  What do we show the rest of the world when we can’t even get along?
Are we safer today than 5 years ago?  Not really.  We all like to think we are.  We like to cling to that illusion that was shattered so instantly on 9/11 that we are a little safer.  Can we live our lives in fear and terror?  No – because as soon as we start – they have won the battle.  We have to live – go to work, to play, to worship, to school, to enjoy our families, create friendships and be friends – or we aren’t really living.  If we throw up our hands and say “why bother”, we have handed those terrorists our lives.

THEN
This page is dedicated to all those men and women, ordinary citizens, police heroes and fire fighter heroes, airline pilots and flight attendants, business travelers and military personnel who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. And for the families of the thousands of victims – not only has this been your tragedy – but a world’s tragedy – a nation’s tragedy – and for each of us, our own personal tragedy.

I grew up in the home of parents who had both lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They had lived in Japan after the war and saw the aftermath of the bombs. My grandparents had lived through World War I and had visited many cities in Europe and saw the aftermath of the wars there. My great-grandfather, James House, fought for the Union in the Civil War. My grandfather, Glen Johnson, served in WWI and was in the service during WWII and the Korean War. My father served in WWII. Several cousins and family members went to Viet Nam. Another cousin was active during the Gulf War. I grew up listening to stories about the tone of the world before December 7, 1941. I heard and have seen news stories showing the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My family relayed their own personal opinions and how that day affected them. Until September 11th, I never completely understood their words. And unfortunately – at 8:45 a.m. that morning – I realized exactly what their words meant. I realized how their world had changed – just as mine changed that morning. I realized from that moment on – nothing I had ever known would hold the same meaning for me. I realized that I had not been desensitized by the media. I cried and my heart wept for those who died, those who fought the hijackers, those who were left without spouses, those children who lost parents, and the world.

Less than two weeks previous to September 11th, I lost my brother to cancer. I was already feeling sorrow and sadness. As events unfolded on every television channel the morning of the tragedy, I was too numb to put down in words exactly what I was seeing, hearing and feeling. I emailed my husband with each new piece of information. A few days later, when my mind began to sort everything out, I wrote my feelings in a journal I keep.

Emails that I wrote to my husband:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Subject: Bomb at Pentagon
Honey, Now I just heard & am seeing on NBC that a bomb has exploded at a heliport by pentagon. Lots of smoke – said a significant blast.  Looks terrible. Pentagon shook & windows rattled. Reporter said could smell acidic smell (like when a florescent light goes bad) – now they are saying highly sophisticated attack. Later, Love, Wendy

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Now they are saying – might be another plane – that crashed into heliport at pentagon. Getting too scary. White house has been evacuated – Bush is in Florida but he will be leaving soon to get back to DC – reporters are getting jumpy when they hear aircraft. Hope Cheney is underground – just in case Bush’s plane is targeted upon his return trip.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Supposedly the people they’ve heard that are claiming responsibility is people for Palestinian Liberation. One of the airplanes that hit World Trade Center was an American Airlines jet hijacked going from Boston to LA (I’m glad you’re not traveling right now!)

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
FAA has shut down ALL air traffic Nation Wide

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001

Subject: Another one
Reporter just said & just showed on NBC – another explosion at WTC – don’t know if this is residual or not. Another explosion on both sides (left & right) buildings of WTC. Felt 2 blocks from there. Manhattan is covered in smoke right now. Pictures are horrible. People are running – reminds me of Independence Day when everyone starts running away.. Now showing from harbor view. Confirmed that a plane was what went down at the Pentagon. Can’t even see one of the WTC buildings – only smoke & flames. Evacuating all critical buildings (probably in DC as well as NY).

Emails I sent others:

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Watching the news this morning – very disturbing. Pretty scary as well.

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
I know this will sound horrible – I’m glad none of this happened last week or we would have had to figure out another way there.[referencing our brother's funeral] Very hard to comprehend. People are filling reunion arena to donate blood.[referencing the big arena in the area] My mother-in-law called while I was at work to make sure Charlie wasn’t traveling. I called her back & told her we were all here & okay & no one was in the air. Later, Wendy

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Emailed one of the Johnson cousins – Virginia – she’s an atty in DC. She’s okay & emailed me about leaving one courthouse & going to another one when they closed it & listening to the military jets overhead. Charlie has flown on Flt 11 from Boston Logan before – I thought it was one of those that he’s been on before. Told him I was glad today that he’s not with Nokia or traveling at this point.

To one of my genealogy cousins – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Thanks for replying, Virginia. I’ve found out everyone I’m related to or know who are in / around NY or DC or flying are okay. My niece is a flight attendant with Frontier & she was on the ground in Portland when all you know what broke out. Wendy

To my sister – Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001
Well – I had to get out of the house for awhile today. This morning during a lull in getting stuff done around here – everything just hit me from the past couple weeks, . . .  what is going on in this country. Went to the library & looked at all their genealogy stuff. Just needed to do something else with my mind.

To my sister – Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001
Only worked until noon today. My heart just isn’t in it. The church was also opened for anyone to come in during the noon hour for prayer. I went into the sanctuary after I turned my computer off & there were already several people there including a couple who just happened to wander in – glad they felt they could.

From my Journal:

14 Sept 01
Three days ago the world fell apart. 9-11. After dropping [my son & daughter] at school & getting gas, [my youngest daughter] & I were at Main St. crossing the bridge over I-35E when the breaking story hit KLUV that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trace Center towers in NY. First they thought it was a small plane & not even a jet. I immediately told [my youngest daughter] that terrorists had struck the center again. That they’d tried to bomb it in 93 and now this. She wanted to know what that would do and why there. Tried to explain world economics, etc. No way could I believe it was an accident. Once back at home I called [my husband] to give him news & then turned on NBC news. The pictures were bad. Smoke pouring out of the #1 tower not quite at the top. Then horribly as I & the nation watched 20 minutes after the first crash came a 2nd one into the 2nd tower. How many had died just in those 2 crashes? As I typed on the email my thoughts could not begin to comprehend the destruction. 20 minutes from that 2nd attack came a 3rd – directed this time in DC at the Pentagon. Bush had already spoken to the nation from his stop in Sarasota, Florida. My concern was to get the Pres. someplace safe as well as VP Cheney. If terrorists could strike the Pentagon, they could hit other DC places. Air travel was stopped. All planes grounded. Then word came that a missing flight had crashed in PA. In an empty field. People on board that plane had decided to stop the terrorism at the cost of their own lives but not taking the lives of other innocent people. I hadn’t been at work too long when not only the 2nd building that was hit collapse to the ground but so did the 1st one. How many rescuers were already in there? How many lives lost? The reporters kept calling it surreal because that was the only description. It looked like something out of a spy movie. Except it was all real. No Spielberg behind the camera. No Bruce Willis or Rambo who was going to take out the men responsible. No good guy to win over the bad. The 1st name on everyone’s lips was Osama bin Laden – the mastermind. Not Carlos the Jackal this time unless he was doing this from wherever they have put him. No Harvey Keitel in a movie costume. Just pure evil. I wasn’t alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I’ve heard about it all my life from parents who were alive then. But I don’t think this could compare. Then we knew who had hurt us. We had a geographic location to strike back at. This is not a country who has struck. It is a faction. I wasn’t sure if Hollywood had desensitized me against such brutality, destruction & evil but it hadn’t. Yesterday it felt as if my life had crumbled. I lost Jim over a week ago on Aug. 31st. My family was emotionally torn by other stuff this week. I just cried & cried & cried. Keeping busy at home wasn’t helping. I left the house for the quiet of the library. No TVs there & no radios. For over an hour I poured over immigration lists and settler books. Those ancestors of mine, long dead – who faced war in the form of the Revolution – the war that created the Patriotism we are witnessing today. The Civil War – which tried to bring a nation torn apart by different political views together. The wars of the 20th century. WWI which Granddad was a part of. WWII – which my father was a part of. Korea – Viet Nam – the Persian Gulf War. What type of war will this now be? Can we stop the terrorism for future generations? Can we ever return to the carefree life we had before Tuesday morning? Can we ever see a plane overhead & not wonder or think about the 4 planes that were hijacked? Can we ever see a new picture of the Manhattan skyline & remember the twin towers that graced the picture & remember those who lost lives & loved ones in that terrorist massacre?

16 Sept 01
Sunday morning. I’m sure the church will be full today. There was a prayer service Friday at noon. Pres. Bush declared that a National Day of Prayer and Mourning. I stopped work at noon & went into the sanctuary. There were already several folks there. I prayed and cried. Then I went home. We watched “Independence Day” – at least in that movie we know what & who we are fighting. Couldn’t get to sleep last night. Tossed & turned. Last night took me a long time to get to sleep.

30 Oct 01
This weekend will be 4 weeks since the US started bombing Afghanistan. That really doesn’t bother me. I’m just hopeful that all the “new” security measures we are implementing don’t go too overboard & encroach on the freedoms we do have. Isn’t that the reason we are trying to defeat the terrorists? So we can keep our freedom? Feel like October has just whooshed by. People are still rasing money to send to the victims of the 9-11 terrorists attacks. Only problem is that it becomes such a normal part of every day life that people may start to forget the terrible thing that brought us to where we are. At least I’m back to sleeping at night.

11 Nov 01 Veterans Day.
Time to think about all those military persons who have gone before us making sure our nation is safe. My g-grandfather, James House, who I never knew, fought for the Union in the Civil War. Granddad – active roles in WWI, WWII & Korea. Dad who served during WWII – his brothers doing the same. My cousin in Vietnam as well as [other cousins].

TODAY – 12 Years Later

Not long ago we were watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel about 9/11 and before too long I felt tears in my eyes. Even though twelve years has passed, I still feel the sorrow that I did on that day. Though I didn’t lose anyone in that attack, it was personal. Less than two weeks prior to 9/11, my brother passed away (I have referenced this above). I never wanted to lose my brother but if he had passed away at any time after 9/11, we would never have been able to grab a flight, get to the airports at the last minute and make the funeral the day after his death. My niece was a flight attendant for Frontier Airlines during that time. I spent that morning with my heart in my throat until I knew that she was on the ground and safe. The fall of 2000 my husband had accepted a job with another company. He really didn’t want to leave Nokia but the salary offer, benefits, and signing bonus was too much to walk away from. The job ended in 2002 – but – if he had stayed with Nokia, he quite possibly could have been on one of those doomed flights as he had flown on EVERY SINGLE ONE of them prior to leaving Nokia. My first born grandson – born just months prior to 9/11 – has only known America after 9/11. He will never know what it’s like to have loved ones see him off from the terminal of an airport. He won’t be able to carry a pocketknife – something most men just always did – even on an airplane. It was as common as carrying their wallets. The term “Al Queda” will always be a part of the world’s vocabulary.  Each time people see a low flying aircraft – especially over New York City or Washington D.C. – they will fear another 9/11.

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fred wilt track and field

Frederick Wilt was born the middle of December in 1920 in Madison county, Indiana to Jesse and Inez (Franklin) Wilt. He was my mother’s first cousin as his father and my grandmother were siblings. He attended Indiana University and went on to Purdue for his Masters. At the age of 28, he competed in the Olympics held in London and then four years later, in Helsinki, Finland. Google him – “Fred Wilt” and Olympics and see what you find. My grandmother was quite proud of her nephew. His book, Run Run Run, is in my collection. Talented, breaking records in track, and then going on to a successful career as a Special Agent in the FBI. I saw Fred, his wife, and his three daughters each year in Indiana at the annual Wilt family reunion. He was tall (at least to me as I was a child), had red hair, and a smile on his face.

Wilt Reunion - Fred Wilt family

Here is a picture of him in October 1969 with his wife, Eleanor and their daughters at the Wilt Reunion in Noblesville, Indiana

When he passed away in 1994, a very nice biography was printed on his memorial page. I have a memorial bulletin, and I would suspect that his wife and daughters were the ones who wrote the memorial. I give them all the credit for the written biography and the funeral home  the credit for placing it on the bulletin and printing them. I do not intend to devalue their words or make them my own by using the following information.  In part, this is what it reads:

Mr. Wilt, a prolific author, wrote over twenty books on the subjects of Track and Field athletics and physiology. His programmed physiology text Mechanics Without Tears is used in many colleges. Mr. Wilt received numerous accolades During his lifetime. He was chosen the 1950 James E. Sullivan Award winner, presented to the outstanding Amateur Athlete in the U.S.A. He was named to the Indiana University Hall of Fame, Purdue University Track & Field Hall of Fame, the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, and in 1992, to the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame. He represented the USA on two Olympic teams, London in 1948 and Helsinki in 1952. He held the world record for the indoor two-mile run in 1951. He won the NCAA two mile and cross Country titles in 1941 while competing for Indiana University. He won eight national titles in cross Country, the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and the U.S. indoor mile from 1949-1954, running for the New York Athletic Club. He established Five American records at distances from 3,000 to 10,000 meters.

(Original photos, slides, and digital images owned by Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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Mom & I, 1969

I have many names and titles:

  1. Mom/Mother/Momma/Mommy/that Woman – I have been called one of these or a variation of (and sometimes not in a good way) by one or more of my four adult children from the time they were born.
  2. Nana – the name my grandsons call me because they know better than to call me by the other “G” name (shivers!)
  3. Honey/Sweetheart/Babe/Darling/Bride – these and similar words are  what my wonderful husband has called me since we’ve been married.
  4. Sis – this is what my brother always called me or our sister and since his death, what my sister and I call each other.
  5. Mike-Wendy – It has to be said really fast and the person has to pretend that the first part hasn’t been uttered.  I was many years younger than my sister (Mike) so growing up, my mother – who only had one daughter for a long time – always called me by my sister’s name before realizing I had my own name. I even have caught my Dad calling me the same thing!
  6. “Aunt” – I put this title in quotes because my niece and nephews and I all grew up together as opposed to being born after I was either an older teen or an adult. One child calling another slightly older child “Aunt” was just too ludicrous to consider so now whenever one of them says “Aunt” – you can hear the quotes around it! However, the quotes come off for my 2 great-nephews and niece and for the children of my husband’s nieces and nephews.
  7. Daughter to my parents.
  8. Sister to my brother and my sister and the name some of my friends and I gave each other as we were growing up.
  9. Granddaughter to my maternal grandparents.
  10. In-law (daughter-, sister-, granddaughter-, cousin-, niece-) to all those in my husband’s family.
  11. Mother-in-law to my sons-in-law.
  12. Cousin to many.
  13. Niece to seven aunts and uncles and their spouses who were living at my birth.
  14. Friend to many.
  15. Wendy – the name given me at birth.
  16. Student – I became a student again (after high school) after my youngest daughter was born for a short time and then again four years ago when I returned to college for a few years.
  17. Woman of faith – Though there were a few years during my young adult life that I was not a member or regular attendee of a church, I have always had a deep faith and have relied on prayer and my relationship with God through most of my life.
  18. Waitress/Clerk/Publications Specialist/Typesetter/Paste-Up Artist/Graphic Artist/Technical Illustrator/Customer Service Rep/After Market Sales Rep/Administrative Assistant – these are all titles I’ve had through my varied employment history.
  19. Girl Scout Leader/Troop Coordinator/Cookie Mom – The different “hats” I wore when I was involved in Girl Scout Leadership.
  20. Group Coordinator/Treasurer/Public Relations Coordinator – More volunteer titles during my seven years with ToughLove International.
  21. Christian Education Board member, Cemetery Board member, Sunday School Superintendent, Board of Deacons member, Women’s Fellowship Secretary, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher, kitchen worker, usher, greeter, refreshment volunteer, and many more – the types of volunteer activities I have participated in at my church as an adult.
  22. Student Council Secretary and Youth Fellowship President – offices I held at my Junior High School and in High School at my church.
  23. PTA Board member and Room Mom – volunteer activities I was involved in when either my kids or my grandson was in elementary school.
  24. Band / Choir Mom – cheering on from the sidelines at all the performances.
  25. Webmaster – for my ToughLove International group and my high school class many years ago, and presently for my church.
  26. Scrapbook artist and designer – a hobby that I loved until I ran out of room or time or desire to participate in.
  27. Digital scrapbook artist – what my “paper” hobby grew into!
  28. Family Historian and amateur genealogist – A “hobby” that I am quite passionate about because I love to seek out and solve mysteries, help others in my family learn new information, and to learn more about those who came before me.
  29. Blogger – I tried a journalistic type of blog many years ago after reading several types of “mommy” or “woman” blogs but I soon realized that not everything in my life is blogger material. For one thing, I don’t need to write about every aspect of my life and for another, I’m not as comedic as the ladies whose blogs I really enjoyed. I didn’t have that X-factor type of material to bring traffic to my blog. On April 19, 2008 I wrote the first post for this blog and “officially” became a member of Geneabloggers!  Participating in genealogy memes, carnivals, and other blog prompts, helped drive traffic to my blog. Those looking for a surname would find my blog. I realized that what I was doing was also “cousin bait”!  What a great feeling it is when a distant cousin contacts me and lets me know that I have given them information that they’ve been searching for over a long period of time!
  30. Cook/cleaner/laundress/chauffeur/referee – Cooking for a large family, cleaning up after children and grandchildren, chauffeuring kids and grandkids to their respective activities or even to their jobs, and refereeing arguing children or a neighborhood squabble.
  31. Dreamer!
  32. Wannabe writer/actress/teacher – growing up my “real” career field was always going to be teaching elementary school but my “dream” careers were always being a best-selling author and actress.
  33. Me!

Whew! That list makes me very tired! Have I really worn all those hats? Some I still try to balance. Yet, if it wasn’t for all the strong women who came before me, I may have never had the possibility of doing some of those things. For instance:

mom_xmas8Mary Helen Johnson Amore
Born to Glen R Johnson and Vesta C Wilt in September 1921 a year after women won the right to vote, she had never know what it was like to not be able to vote for the person of her choice. The first president she voted for was FDR during his second run for the White House, and he was her choice the following two times. I believe she only voted for one or two Republicans in her lifetime because she was a Democrat through and through. Mom worked from the time she was old enough and most of her early adult career was spent in civil service and then in middle age she engaged in hard physical labor sewing draperies or cargo covers for a company contracted by the military. In her later life she worked in accounts receivable and in office environments. The only time she wasn’t working outside of the home was after I was born until I was about nine, a few times when she was laid off and looking for another job, and when she finally was forced into retirement at the age of 70+. My mother also did a lot of volunteer work for Girl Scouts during my sister’s younger years and when I was in Brownies, for her church, for her Parents Without Partners group, for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, and for school and community programs. She was opinionated, blunt to a fault, loved deeply (and consequently was hurt deeply many times over the course of her life), and was a brilliant seamstress and homemaker. When she was in high school she was on the girls’ basketball team and enjoyed watching sports of all kinds. Before she died, I found a photo of her on stage in her school’s drama production. Color me amazed as I didn’t know that she and I shared the love of theater. Divorced twice – the first time as a very young adult with a small son to support – she learned to “do” for herself and not depend on someone else. She loved to travel but wanted to put down roots where she grew up. And my mom was always right – always! That was just something those of us who loved her knew. She was the main caretaker for her parents in their last few years. Many things I learned from my mom, I learned from her example (well, except sewing – she will always be the best in my eyes).

wilt_vcVesta Christena Wilt Johnson
Her parents, Martha J Stern and Joseph N Wilt, divorced when in 1909 when she was just over 10 years old. My grandmother knew what it was like to be a child of divorce so as I struggled during my parents’ divorce when it seemed as if all the other kids I knew didn’t know what it was like, my grandmother would offer me words of love, support, and encouragement. She really never held a job except to help her step-father run his store when she was an older teen and before she married. One thing I ended up with in her honor was her grandmother moniker of “Nana.” She was the only grandmother I knew who did not go by “grandma” (that is until my own mother became a grandmother – she was “Grammy”). Each time one of my grandsons say “Nana” – I think of her – so that means I think about her about 100 times each day! And when I introduce them to her via her photo on a table in my living room, I tell them that she was my Nana and she is their Great-Great Nana!  And she was pretty terrific!  Nana was loving and patient. My cousin recently expressed that she remembers the “unconditional love she showed to us” and that was true. I don’t think there was anything any of us could have done to make her withdraw her love and affection for us. During some of my darkest days as a teenager, she always made sure I knew just how much she loved me and was in my corner. I think that was one of the reasons I didn’t go completely off the rails. Nana kept a very neat home. She had oodles and oodles of “stuff” but everything had a place. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of living through the depression, was the tendency to keep everything. Recycling, upcycling or re-purposing items are wonderful and frugal. But saving every piece of wrapping paper – even ironing it to make sure it folded nicely to be used the next time – is a little much. Saving every dry cleaning bag she ever had was also a little much. But that added to who she was plus it gave some of us stories to tell. As the wife of a military officer, she learned to live wherever my grandfather was sent. From being a girl from a small town in Indiana to a world traveler, entertaining other officers and their wives, she made the transition seamlessly. She was always concerned with the impact she had on others. When she was ill and hospitalized, she was always “sorry” to interfere in everyone’s lives and take away their time when they visited her in the hospital. When she relied on others to drive her and my grandfather somewhere, she felt like she was putting others out. But her loved ones and friends gave willingly because she had given of herself so effortlessly and willingly.

clawson_mjMartha Jane Stern Wilt Clawson
My great-grandmother – whom everyone called Grandma Clawson – was born to Emanuel Bushong Stern and Nancy Caylor in Hamilton county, Indiana in 1872. I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet her as she died five years before I was born. What I know is that she did what she could when my great-grandfather up and left her and six children – the youngest was about three. When she couldn’t get financial support, she went to court. Her oldest son, Clarence, was an adult and her second son, John, was living with his paternal aunt, Sarah Wilt Hofherr and her husband, John. The next son, Jesse, was living in another family’s home and on the 1910 census he was listed as “orphan” which was not true but makes me wonder what the thought process was in order to put that down. My mother had told me that John and Jesse had been “farmed out” by Grandma Clawson because she couldn’t provide for them. However, by 1910, she had married her sister’s widower, W. Frank Clawson, so I am not sure why Jesse and John remained living apart from the family. She and Uncle Frank managed to keep the other three children – which included my grandmother, her younger sister Nellie, and the baby of the family, Clifford – under their roof. However, my Aunt Nellie was asthmatic (according to what my mother told me) and the doctor had suggested that she should go “out west” in order to help her pulmonary problems. Finding Nellie in the 1920 census living with friends of the family in Oregon (they had known them when they lived in Indiana), before my great-grandmother also relocated to Oregon, gave me pause as I wondered how Grandma Clawson felt having her 17-year old daughter living so far away. Other things that I know about this woman include the fact that she wasn’t in the best of health herself. She had diabetes and my guess would be that she developed Type II diabetes in adulthood. She died of congestive heart failure due to arteriosclerosis. She spent the last thirty years of her life a widow and with her sons, John and Clifford, living with her in Oregon.  She never had to bury a child as they all outlived her, but she did have to live through the years that her son, Jesse, was away in WWI and in the hospital after he was injured with mustard gas. She met at least five of her grandchildren and eight to nine of her great-grandchildren. I don’t know if she ever met her son, Jesse’s four children or any of their children. I have one of her recipe’s and several pictures.

nancycaylorNancy Caylor Stern
Born to Abraham Caylor and Susannah Miller in 1840, she lived in an age where women didn’t vote and rarely worked outside of the home – especially in any field that men dominated at that time. She and my great-great-grandfather, Emanuel Stern, had eight children, and they all outlived her – almost a rarity to have that many children without a loss in infancy or early childhood from a disease, epidemic, or accident. Around 1898 (just about the time her granddaughter – my Nana – was born), she and her husband divorced. She moved in with her son, Samuel, where she lived until her death in December 1900. My two times great-grandfather was known for wandering around town with his potions and “medicines” and a local paper ran a poem about him called “Doctor Stern” so I wonder if Nancy was fed up with his potion-pushing. I have a picture of her with some of my grandmother’s brothers so I know she loved her grandchildren.

Susannah Miller Caylor
My three times great-grandmother was born to Joseph Holzafle Miller and Catherine Botafield at the turn of the nineteenth century on June 12, 1800 in Dayton, Ohio. She was the oldest of nine children. Until she was an adult and married to my Abraham Caylor, she remained in the Montgomery county area. Then the couple moved to Hamilton county, Indiana during the early part of their marriage where they remained until their deaths. They had eleven children and minus two that I don’t have death dates for, it appears they all lived to adulthood and outlived her.  That tells me that she and her husband probably kept a clean and (as much as possible) germ free home and environment for their family. They lived on a farm so if there were any farming accidents involving the children, they weren’t fatal.  I don’t have very much information about Susannah. When her husband died in 1855, she was entitled to one third of his estate or the sum of almost $346. Since she made her mark in acknowledgement of receiving the money, I believe that she could not read or write. (Source: transcription of Probate in Probate Order Book, Hamilton county, Indiana and posted on Rootsweb)

Catherine Botafield Miller
I don’t know hardly anything about my four times great-grandmother. She married Joseph Holzafle Miller in Pennsylvania about 1798 when she was about eighteen years old. They moved from their birth place of Pennsylvania to Montgomery county, Ohio before their oldest daughter, Susannah, was born in 1900. She and her husband both died in Tippecanoe, Indiana. Joseph died in 1833 and Catherine followed 22 years later. From her move from Pennsylvania clear to Indiana in her lifetime, I would imagine she was a strong and capable woman and prepared to endure whatever hardships that came her way. She was living in a “new” America as she was born soon after the Revolutionary War. Catherine is the last female I’ve been able to trace on my matrilineal line. She was the “mother” of many strong women. She and Joseph are buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Tippecanoe county.

These six women, their life experiences that were passed down to the next, helped to forge the person that I am and will be, whether it was due to the daughters doing opposite of their mothers or by doing the same. Just as I know that these woman and I also have created the people my three daughters are and will be. They will do some things the same as I, some that they will do completely different, and other things a combination (in their minds “better” than I did it).

This was written in honor of these women – Mom, Nana, Grandma Clawson, Nancy, Susannah and Catherine.

(all photos – original and/or digital owned and in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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Florus A House, my grand uncle (brother to my paternal grandmother), was born on April 21, 1873 in Guernsey county, Ohio to James Emory House and Frances Virginia Ogan – who were not yet married.  The marriage would take place one month later. Florus was named after his paternal grandfather (my 2nd great-grandfather).

At the age of fifteen, my grand uncle was very ill.  The “Semi-Weekly Age,” – a Coshocton county newspaper, reported in the April 20, 1888 edition that he was “on the sick list, with symptoms of lung fever.”  At the age of nineteen, he was picking apples at a neighbor’s farm and fell from the tree.  The “Coshocton Democratic Standard” reported in the October 21, 1892 edition that he “broke his fore arm and badly cut his face.”  When his oldest son was nineteen, they both were in a mining accident.  My father remembers that Florus had many facial scars from that accident.

On July 26, 1899, he married Emma Caroline Stacer, who was born on June 4, 1879. The couple bore 8 children: Harvey J House (born May 18, 1900), Gertrude M House (b. May 7, 1903), Mary H House (b. March 18, 1905), Ralph Frederick House (b. March 15, 1907), twins Wealtha Fay House and Welby James House (b. May 28, 1909), Dorthy E House (b. February 20, 1914), and Betty J House (b. private).

In the 1900 census, the couple and their son, Harvey, were living in Jackson township in the county of Coshocton. Florus indicated that his occupation was that of a coal miner, and that he and Emma had been married less than a year.

The family was living within the city limits of Coshocton at the time of the 1910 census.  Besides their son, Harvey, the family also included Gertrude, (Mary) Helen, Ralph, and Wealtha.  Her twin, Welby, had died less than two months after birth. He had been spina bifida. The July 12, 1909 edition of the “Coshocton Daily Times” mentioned that the baby “had been ill since his birth.”  He was buried at Prairie Chapel Cemetery.

The family stayed in Coshocton until between 1930 and 1935. The 1940 census showed that they were living in Tuscarawas township of the same county and had been there in 1935. Florus listed that he and his wife only had an 8th grade education (different than my grandmother and her sister who both graduated high school). They were members of the Coshocton Nazarene church.

In the spring of 1941, Florus had surgery for a double hernia. That was probably just the beginning of his troubles. Within six weeks, the “Coshocton Tribune” was reporting (July 2, 1941) that his condition was critical. Eight days later the same newspaper reported his death in the Cleveland Marine hospital.  He was 68 years old. His death certificate (image obtained from FamilySearch.org in the “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953” database) lists his cause of death as “hypertrophy of prostate (about 1 year ago); pyelonephrtis, bilateral, chronic.”  The online article “Bilateral Emphysematous Pyelonephritis in a Patient with No Known Risk Factors” from “The Journal of the National Medical Association” explains that it is a “rare life-threatening infection” (Hart, Peter D., Vaseemuddin, Mohammad, Egiebor, Osbert; J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 February; 99(2): 179–181. 29 July 2013).

Funeral services for Florus were held at the Nazarene church, and he was buried at Prairie Chapel cemetery. His wife, Emma, survived him, dying fourteen years later, on December 12, 1965 in Akron, Ohio. She was buried next to him. It is believed that only one of his daughters is still living.

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Born:

  1. Susannah Stern: 1823 Carroll county, Ohio

 

Died:

  1. Hamilton L Goul: 1902 in Coffeyville, Kansas
  2. Eugene Pidgeon: 1922 in Sebring, Ohio

 

Married:

  1. Henry Alexander Goul and Mathilda Kaziah Bates: 1894 in Boise, Idaho
  2. John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J Blazer: 1883 in Anderson, Indiana
  3. Martha Ann Blazer and John Noonan: 1887 in Anderson, Indiana
  4. Hiram W Jennings and Sarah Wilden: 1888 in Coshocton, Ohio

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American_Revolutionary_War_collage

As our nation celebrates its 237th birthday with annual Independence Day celebrations, I wanted to also remember those in my family’s past who participated in the Cause.

William Arbuckle, born March 3, 1752 in Balcony Falls, Rockbridge county, Virginia to James Arbuckle and Margaret Thompson, served under General Andrew Lewis at Point Pleasant, Virginia (now West Virginia). He died on March 21, 1836 in Mason, Virginia (now WV) and is buried in the Craig-Douglas Burying Ground at Grimm’s Landing. 5th Great-Grandfather

Eli Bigelow, born May 29, 1756 in Colchester, Connecticut to Amasa Bigelow and Jemima Strong. He served in Capt. Champion’s Company. He died on March 22, 1836 in Chatham, Connecticut. 4th Great-Grandfather

John ‘Jacob’ Bushong, born February 18, 1754 to John Bushong and Elizabeth Sprinckel in York, Pennsylvania, served as a Private and artificer under Capt. Francis Cowherd and was discharged January 17, 1782. He died on August 16, 1830 and is buried in Grandview Cemetery, Carrollton, Ohio. 5th Great-Grandfather

John Bushong, born August 30, 1732 in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania to John and Barbara Bushong, served as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion in York county, Pennsylvania under Capt. Godfrey Frey. He died December  18, 1808 in Shenandoah county, Virginia. 6th Great-Grandfather

Adam Goul, born about 1761 in Germany to Frederick Goul and an unknown mother, served as a teamster in the Revolutionary War. He died on October 12, 1845 in Mechanicsburg, Ohio and is buried in Treacles Creek Cemetery in Champaign county, Ohio. 4th Great-Grandfather

Lazarus House, born April 14, 1748 in Glastonbury, Connecticut to William House and Hannah Hollister, served August and September 1776 in the 6th Company 6th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. He died after 1817 and is thought to be buried in Glastonbury, Connecticut. 4th Great-Grandfather

Jacob Roudebush, born in 1752 in Berwick, Pennsylvania to Hans H Raudenbusch and Anna Maria Becker, may have served under Capt. John Sharp in the York County Militia Company (presently unproven). He died in Washington, Ohio in 1837 and is buried at the family farm in Carroll county, Ohio. 5th Great-Grandfather

Phillip Peter Werts (Wertz), born June 14, 1737 probably in Europe to William Wertz and Anna Catherina (maiden name unknown), served in the Continental Line during the Revolutionary War. He died in Loudon county, Virginia on May 22, 1798 and is buried in New Jerusalem Cemetery in Loudon county. 5th Great-Grandfather

I am so very glad that these men helped fight for our freedoms and am honored to be one of their many descendants!

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image is Public Domain)

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Postwatchletters

A couple of months ago, I pulled out some letters from my genealogy archives to read. Apparently, I missed putting one of them back and found it on the table about a week later. It was written by Dorothy Welch (my second cousin once removed) to her aunt (my great-grandmother) Martha Stern Wilt Clawson.

July 19, 1922
113 E. Ave 58
Los Angeles, Calif.
Dear Aunt Martha,
I received your letter and was certainly glad to hear from you.
Some Muncie people by the name of Cites came out here the other day to visit her brother
who is a friend of ours. They brought word to us from my grand daddy Welch.
I am awfully sorry to hear that Nellie is sick again. I wish she could come out to Los Angeles
if she has to come “west.”
I haven’t heard from Uncle Ralph since March either. I’ve wrote several letters to see what
was the matter but I never got a answer.
I bet Vesta’s children are cute I certainly would like to see them.
Leonore is studying her spelling now so she will pass in her grades next term.
What grade is Clifford in at school?
Well I must close this time with love,
Dorothy

The first thing that stood out for me was the date of the letter – 1922. My mother always said that she didn’t meet her grandmother until she was an adult so I assumed that Grandma Clawson had moved west before my mom was born – the fall of 1921. I really think she meant that she didn’t remember her because my mom and her family moved to the Dayton, Ohio area in 1922.  I looked up Grandma Clawson’s address on Google and the street scene shows a parking lot now at 31 W 12th Street in Anderson, Indiana. There’s a church nearby so I wonder if the house was torn down since 1922. It would have been interesting if it had still been standing.

The “grand daddy Welch” that Dorothy mentions would be Americas C. Welch. A.C. Welch married Sarah C Buzzard in 1875 in Huntington, Indiana (according to the database: “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959″ index on FamilySearch.org). A.C. and Sarah were the parents of Dorothy’s father, George Welch.

Nellie was my grandmother’s younger sister. She was 20 years old at the time of this letter and had been diagnosed with asthma. I had been told by my mother that due to her illness, it was necessary for her to move to the western United States.  She ended up moving to the Oregon/Washington area and lived most of her adult life in Washington.

The “Uncle Ralph” that Dorothy is referring to is her mother’s brother, Ralph Clawson, and my grandmother’s cousin. He was enumerated in the 1920 Census as living in Watertown, Massachusetts in the George C Shattuck household. I know Ralph had gone in the Navy  and he would have been about 24 years old in 1922 when Dorothy was trying to reach him. In June 1923 Ralph married Olive Sundberg in Chicago, Illinois.

Vesta would be my maternal grandmother (Vesta C Johnson nee Wilt). She and my grandfather had already bore three children, my Uncle Glen R Johnson, Jr., my aunt Genevieve V Johnson, and my mom Mary H Johnson.

Leonore was Dorothy’s younger sister. At the time of this letter, Dorothy was age 16. Leonore was probably close to nine.

Clifford, my grandmother’s youngest brother, was born April 20, 1906 making him a little over 16 when Dorothy wrote this letter. The 1940 US Census shows that Clifford only completed the first year of high school (generally 9th grade) – so he was not attending school any longer. If he had remained in school, he would probably have been going into his sophomore year when school began that fall.

I am under the impression that Dorothy wrote this letter as a reply to her Aunt Martha’s correspondence to her. I haven’t run across any other letters written by Dorothy so I don’t think it was a regular occurrence.

I greatly enjoy reading old letters that were sent back and forth from family members. It enables me to glimpse a window into their lives at the time of the letter. I noticed that Dorothy didn’t volunteer very much about herself such as her social activities, friends, work, or suitors.  She also didn’t ask how her grandfather was – as after her grandmother Margaret Ellen passed away, her aunt Martha (Ellen’s sister), married her widower, W. Frank Clawson.

If you have letters or post cards like I do, a good way to understand their deeper message or the lives of the people then, is to do an analysis on them as I did with this letter.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

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