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This past week I shared this photo of the Caquot Observation Balloon that is on exhibit in the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.  I’ve taken many pictures of this balloon over the years.  Rarely do I visit this exhibit and not just stand gazing at it for a long time.  Why?  It’s a connection to my grandfather, Col. Glen R. Johnson. 

When my grandfather enlisted in the Army Signal Corps on February 5, 1918, he was sent to Fort Omaha, Nebraska for training on Caquot Balloons.  I wrote about his service in this post. Taken from his obituary is the following, “In the 1950s and ’60s, he was active as national commander and newspaper editor of the National Association of Balloon Corps Veterans (NABCV) (WWI), and had contributed many artifacts to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.” 

The official website of the Air Force Museum says of the balloon on display: Manufactured in 1944, the balloon displayed at the museum is believed to be the only survivor. The British used it for parachute testing and noncombat aerial observation and photography until 1960. The British Ministry of Defense, Royal Aircraft Establishment, presented the Caquot to the museum after it was located with the aid of American and British WWI balloon veterans in 1975. Assisted by the Goodyear Aerospace Corp. of Akron, Ohio, which had produced these balloons during WWI, museum personnel mended and sealed the balloon fabric and prepared it for inflation. It was placed on display in May 1979.

My grandfather was one of the American WWI balloon veterans who helped locate this balloon.  I remember his excitement especially when it was finally ready for display.  He also contributed many other artifacts to the museum including this:

Piece of WW I balloon fabric manufactured in the U.S.
Donated by Col. Glen R. Johnson, USAF (Ret) Dayton, Ohio

U.S. Insignia removed from the last observation balloon
flown by American Forces in Europe.  The balloon was
assigned to the 14th Balloon Company during occupation
duty in Germany, 1919.
  (This was donated by Evert Wolff, N.Y.)
(Grandson in front)

Ft. Omaha Squadron 2 Flag (donor unknown)

So the next time (or the first time) you visit the Air Force museum, take a look at the Balloon that dwarfs one of the areas and take the time to check out the displays that talk about the Balloon years.  I guarantee that you will learn something that you probably didn’t know before your visit.

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Rummaging through the old photographs at my mom’s house in 2000, I came across one with the name “Chase Noonan and Friends” on the back.  Who is or was he, I wondered. My mom told me he was Aunt Mat’s son.

Martha Blazer, also known as “Aunt Mat”, was the oldest daughter and second child of Franklin Blazer and Malissa Goul.  She was the sister of my great-grandmother, Katie J. Blazer and my elusive great-great-aunt Rachel Blazer Given.

My mother remembers a woman who she called “dirty” – probably because she chewed tobacco.  She said when Aunt Mat would visit they had to get her a “spit” bucket.  My mom thought Aunt Mat had another son besides Chase but I’ve yet to find one.

I came across Martha Hardman in the 1900 Census living in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana on what looks like Central.  She was 39 years old and widowed.  She listed that she had one child who was still alive.  Also in the household was Thomas C. Noonan (born July 1887), age 12.

The Madison County Marriage Index lists that Martha Blazier (sic) married John Noonan on July 4, 1887.  Martha married Peter Hardman on March 19, 1893.  That was about all the information I found for Martha besides her obituary stating that she died on March 10, 1948 in Anderson, Indiana.  It listed her age as 87 and that she was survived by one son, Chase Noonan, of Anderson.

For several years that was all the information I had about Martha and her son.  I did know that Chase had married and had a daughter, Ruth, as I’d come across pictures of “Mrs. Chase Noonan and daughter, Ruth”.  No matter where I looked, I couldn’t seem to find any further mention of Chase, his wife, or Ruth.  That is until I ran across a 1930 Census taken in Bexar County, Texas.  It showed Ruth was living at Ursuline Academy in San Antonio, age 15.  I then looked further into that Census and found Chase, aged 40, widowed, living as a boarder in an unrelated household.

What happened to Chase’s wife?  More importantly what was her name?  And how did the family get from Indiana to San Antonio?

Thanks to my local library, I can access the Census records from Heritage Quest, and found Chase (listed as Charles T.) – age 30, his wife, Agnes – age 28, daughter, Ruth Martha – age 3, and son, William E. (looks like 14 but I believe it’s 4) born in Ohio, in San Antonio in the 1920 Census.  Chase’s occupation was a machinist.  I finally had a name for his wife plus I located a son!

When Familysearch digitized Texas death records, I learned that Agnes Hughes Noonan was born on Oct. 2, 1891 in Mayo, Northern Ireland.  That corresponds to the 1930 Census for Ruth where she lists her mother being born in Northern Ireland.  She was the daughter of John Hughes and Mary (no maiden name listed).  Agnes died on Feb. 23, 1923 at her home at 221 E. Georgia Ave., San Antonio, Texas of what appears to be chronic myocarditia.  On the death certificate Chase is listed as “Chase T. Noonan”.  Agnes was buried at Mission Burial Park in San Antonio.

Then I found William Emmett Noonan at Kelly Field, San Antonio in the 1930 Census.  He lists his birthplace as Ohio (which I found out later is probably correct as it has been claimed that Chase and family lived in northern Ohio for a short time).  William’s age was 26, he was in the Special Services, a soldier in the U.S. Army, and it looks like it reads 44th School Squadron.   I believe I also located a death record for William that shows he passed away on March 15, 1956 in Bexar County, Texas.  Unfortunately, I can’t get into the death record to find out if this is the correct person.

Through some newspaper clippings, I located Ruth’s graduation from Ursuline Convent when she took her vows to become a nun.  She took the name Sister Mary Rebecca in June 1939.  She was teaching at St. Patrick’s Parochial School in Galveston.

When Ancestry had free access to military records a couple months ago, I found a WWII Registration card dated April 27, 1942 for Chase that lists his full name as Chase Thomas Noonan, born July 9, 1888 in Anderson, Indiana.  He was living at the Stillwell Hotel in Anderson, Indiana and his telephone exchange was 5596.  He was also employed by the Stillwell Hotel.  Chase listed that his daughter would always know his address and he listed her as Sister Mary Rebecca, living at the Ursuline Convent in Galveston, Texas.  He stood 5’ 5½” tall and weighed 150 lbs.  Chase had light complexion, brown eyes and black hair. 

When I contacted the Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library, I was pleasantly surprised to receive via email several news clippings concerning Chase, his father, John Noonan and Aunt Mat.  They detailed that John had been ill and hospitalized and then his subsequent death on Oct. 16, 1921 at St. John’s hospital.  It was also thought that he had never married and had no known heirs (other than his late sister’s widower) to his estate that was estimated over $60,000.  Aunt Mat apparently read that news article and went straight to work.  She put out a search for her son, whom she had not seen since one visit in 1910 after he’d left Anderson.  She revealed to the Anderson newspaper that she and John (Jack) Noonan had married in 1885 and divorced less than two years – although Aunt Mat said Chase was born in 1886 less than a year into her marriage.  She said that her son had been employed by an auto company in Cleveland in 1910.  Jack and Chase had seen each other from time to time and remained on friendly terms throughout his childhood but Mat had not seen or spoken to her ex-husband after Chase left Anderson in 1907.  Mat also appealed to the War Dept. hoping they had a record for her son.  In the same news article, she revealed that she had been married not twice, but three times.  Her second husband, Peter Hardman, she married in 1891 and he died in 1900.  During a trip to the East in 1905 she met and married a man named Matoon.  She left him very soon after that and returned to using her second husband’s name.

An article also emailed to me dated Dec. 5, 1922 claims that Chase had been located and would receive $2,500 from his father’s estate.  The rest had been gifted to friends and in-laws shortly before John Noonan’s death.  When he returned to Anderson, he brought his eight year old daughter, Ruth, with him.

Another newspaper article suggests that Chase had married for a second time to a woman named Pauline Elese (maiden name unknown) as a Divorce Proceeding Listing was located in the San Antonio Light, March 8, 1932 edition.

In that email there was also a death notice for Chase (whom I was unable to locate in the Texas death records).  He had returned to live and work in Anderson (as listed on the April 1942 military registration) and was employed by the Delco Remy plant as an inspector.  He died on Feb. 2, 1949 from a skull fracture after an accidental fall.  His daughter, listed as Miss Ruth Rosaleen Noonan from Chicago, was reported as his survivor.  He was taken back to San Antonio and buried in the family plot at Mission Burial Park.

I think I’ve documented many facts in my research into Aunt Mat and Chase Noonan.  I haven’t been able to locate any further information on either Ruth or William.  It looks unlikely that they had any children which leaves me with a cold trail up to the present and several unanswered questions.

I’ve also discovered that not everything can be found at one time.  It might take several years, the kindness of strangers, and pieces of information that had seemed unlikely at first in order to piece together enough of the puzzle to be able to tell what the full picture probably is.  I believe I’m done chasing Chase.

(Photos from Top – Chase Noonan (L) & Friends; Aunt Mat (Martha Blazer) and son, Chase Noonan; Mrs. Chase Noonan and daughter, Ruth; Agnes Hughes Noonan’s Death Certificate; WWII Registration for Chase Noonan.)

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Yesterday I spent a few hours scanning letters that my grandparents wrote to my parents while my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany.  It has been several years since I read them so it was a chance for me to re-read while I was scanning.  I try not to handle these pages from the early 1950s very much in a way to keep them from picking up too much acidic content.  When I received them from my mom, they had been placed in a large manilla folder and kept in her basement.  To be clear, my mom’s basement is finished and air conditioned so they haven’t been in damp, musty or too hot conditions.  All of them are still readable and intact which is rare since most of them were handwritten or typed on very thin onion skin paper.  Remember, they were being sent from Germany to the United States so to pack a lot of pages into one envelope for the regular price of a stamp, they used very thin paper.

My grandparents wrote letters at least once or twice a week and they were in Germany for three years so I have many – MANY – letters to scan.  And that’s just of the Germany letters.  There are also letters they wrote to my parents when my parents were stationed in Japan twice.  Letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote to each other while they were courting, when my grandfather entered military training after they were married, when my grandfather went to France during WWI, and letters from my grandmother’s siblings and mother to her.

Here are some excerpts from the Letters from Germany.

 

Most of the letters are little more than reciting the more mundane chores of daily life or the functions that my grandparents attended.  For genealogical purposes, they provide a window into their lives that I wouldn’t have if not for these letters. My grandparents also took several weekend trips into other regions or countries during their time in Europe.  My grandfather took my grandmother to the area he was in during WWI in France and showed her spots she had only read about in his letters.  My grandmother saw what was left of some of the concentration camps from WWII.  They went to Holland and saw windmills and tulips.  They shopped in Garmisch. One thing that was always consistent in the letters they wrote from Germany: they missed their children and grandchildren terribly.  No matter where the military sent them, their hearts were always wherever their family was.

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As referenced in the post “A Butcher, A Baker, a . . . Harness Maker?” my family consists of several ministers.  My great-uncle, Rollo Werts Amore, was commissioned in the Salvation Army in 1918.  He performed many duties as an officer in the “Army”.  One of those was to officiate at my parents’ wedding in 1943.  He retired as a Senior Major in 1950 after serving in several Ohio cities.

My dad’s first cousin, Raymond E. Amore, son of Herbert Irwin Amore, went to seminary and received his theology degree in 1953 from the Olivet Nazarene College in Illinois.  He served the Warsaw Church of the Nazarene for about three years and the Hebron Church of the Nazarene for at least ten years.

My dad’s sister, my Aunt Marie, went to the Salvation Army Training College in New York in the late 1930’s and became an officer.  She is currently (I believe) a Major.

 A great-niece of my maternal great-grandmother went to school at the Ursuline Academy in San Antonio in the early 1930’s and went on to take her vows and become a nun.  A first cousin of mine was all but short of taking her final vows to become a nun when she and a man about to take his final vows to become a priest ended up getting married.  They serve the Lord now as lay persons in their parish.

My great-uncle, Isaiah “Zade” Henderson Amore, was a minister in the United Evangelical Church and the Methodist Church.

 

My paternal side – the Amore and House families – was pretty consistent on what churches they attended and the denominations they affiliated with.  William Amore – the first of my family of Amore ancestors I have located – attended the Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Coshocton County before switching over to the Salvation Army.  That became the primary denomination within that family although others attended churches that were Baptist, Methodist or Nazarene.  One thing is for certain – there was a calling within members of the Amore family to attend seminary or theological training to minister to others.  My House ancestors primarily were affiliated with the Nazarene Church.  My paternal grandmother, Ella House Amore, devoted much of her life to the Nazarene Church. 

The Johnson family on my maternal side was primarily of the Reformed or Christian faith.  In 1957 the Evangelical and Reformed churches and the Congregational and Christian Churches merged to form one denomination – the United Church of Christ – of which I have been a member since my confirmation in the mid-1970s. 

The Stern side of my maternal branch came from the old German Dunkards or the Church of the Brethren.  The men grew their beards and were conservatively dressed in dark clothes.  The women didn’t cut their hair, wore no make-up, little or no jewelry, and wore modest dresses and covered their heads.  They didn’t conform to the world’s ways nor didn’t allow instruments in worship.  They frowned on those who enjoyed frivolity for its own sake or women who dressed “immodestly”, and those who enjoyed alcoholic drinks. 

 

In my previous post, I questioned how our ancestors’ views on religion and faith shaped our lives and the lives of their descendents.  I can only say for sure how my grand and great-grandparents’ views have played a part in my own life.  From the more conservative traditions of the Brethren, I was taught by words and actions that your reputation can be ruined just by one improper deed.  That a person could and probably would be judged by the way they dressed, wore their hair, how they spent their leisure time, and talked to their elders.  I learned at a very early age to speak to those older than I with respect and that persons in authority were to be held in high regard.

My father with both the Salvation Army and Nazarene background, attended some sort of church or religious service more days of the week than not.  He learned by listening to the strict doctrine of what to do, what not to do, how to behave, how not to behave and then once leaving the place of worship seeing all those rules broken, that there is much hypocrisy within the church.  To hear a sermon on how to love everyone and that God should be the only judge and then being faced with gossip and judgments behind others’ backs, was what prompted him as he got old enough to decide that organized religion wasn’t for him.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t ever been able to find that “happy medium”. 

 

My mother’s sister converted to Catholicism upon her marriage so many of my cousins are members of the Catholic Church.  From that, I’ve learned tolerance for other denominations.

 

While the United Church of Christ (UCC) seems quite liberal, there are many congregations that are still very conservative.  Our Synod meets every two years and votes on items that have come up for review.  Some of those items are very controversial and unfortunately the press reports on the votes as if the delegates at Synod are speaking for the entire UCC – they are not.  Our denomination is autonomous on each level.  The Synod doesn’t tell the prior levels what the “creed” is, the Conference level doesn’t speak for the Association or the individual congregations nor does the Association speak for the churches within it.  In the UCC we are primarily free to follow our Christian faith based on our previous faith experiences.  My congregation consists of families whose members have come from different denominations yet neither will “give in” to the other’s creed or doctrine. 

No, I do not keep my head covered as my great-great-grandmother, Nancy Caylor Stern, did.  Nor do I wear remarkably conservative dresses.  I do wear (sometimes) flashy jewelry and I enjoy hearing the piano, organ or other instruments during Worship.  I like to dance and just have fun – just for the sake of having fun.  However, I respect my elders (and not just those who are related to me), I strive to serve the Lord in word and deed, and I hope my actions speak toward my reputation.

For it is not those around us who will have to judge us – but the Lord, Our God, has that final say on our lives.  He is the One who knows my heart and He is the One I serve.

For more information on the denominations from above click on any of the following:

 

 

United Church of Christ (UCC)

Dunkard Brethren

Church of the Brethren

United Methodist Church

Methodist Episcopal Church

Reformed Church

Evangelical Church

United Evangelical Church

The Salvation Army

(Picture 1: Rollo Werts Amore; Picture 2: my Aunt Marie; Picture 3: Isaiah (Zade) H. Amore; Picture 3: Central Christian Church, Anderson, Indiana where my Great-grandparents John & Katie Johnson were members; Picture 4: Nancy Caylor Stern with her grandchildren, John and Clarence Wilt) 

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Many of my family members have served in the Armed Forces at one time in their lives.  Most of them volunteered to serve their country while at least one that I know personally – was drafted at a time when big swooping changes were occurring throughout the nation.

My great-grandfather, James Emory House, was a member of Company “H” of the 80th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers during the War between the States.  He enlisted the day after Christmas in 1861 and was honorable discharged on May 27, 1865.  Three and a half years of his 82 years were spent marching through the South.  He was engaged in the famous Battle of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea.  At some point in his life, he shook hands with the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  During his time at Vicksburghe incurred a stomach illness that disabled him later in life.  It is unknown what battle scars he suffered that weren’t visible on the outside but ones he possibly lived with in his nightmares for the rest of his life.  To read his pension application papers, please go to Civil War Papers on my genealogy website.

Glen R. JohnsonMy grandfather, Glen Roy Johnson, enlisted in 1918 – just a couple months after his first son was born.  He went to Omaha, Nebraska for training as part of the Army Signal Corps.  In July 1918, he sailed for France during World War I and the troops were inspected by Gen. John J. Pershing.  Glen (or Granddad as we all knew him) was part of the 14th Balloon Squadron where observation balloons were taken 1-3 miles from the front lines to scout for army artillery.  The men in the observation basket would telegraph information down the cables to the sentinel on the ground.  It was extremely dangerous for an enemy shell could hit the balloon and cause the 38,000 cubic feet of hydrogen to become a raging inferno in an instant.  He survived France and was discharged in 1932 as a Private but he won a reserve commission to Quartermaster Corps eight years earlier in 1924 due to his Civilian work at what used to be called Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio (now Wright Patterson Air Force Base).  When WWII began, he again went into active service with the Army Air Corps which later became the United States Air Force.  He served through the Korean War and was released from active duty in the fall of 1953.  He retired from the Air Force in 1958 as a Colonel.  During his tenure, he spent three years in Weisbaden, Germany as a supply chief. (Photo above left is my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.)

Dad in UniformMy father enlisted in the Army Air Corps in November 1939, a mere 5 months after graduating from high school.  In August 1942 he was assigned to  Reykjavik, Iceland for 15 months as an airplane mechanic for the air transport command.  It was in Reykjavik when he first heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.  He returned to his hometown of Coshocton, Ohio on December 1, 1943 as a Staff Sergeant.  Between that time and 1953, he was stationed in Milwaukee and Great Falls, Montana.  Then he was assigned to Japan for three years and after two years back in the states in Columbus, Ohio as a recruiter, he went back to Tachikawa AFB in Japan for another three years.  While in Japan he was assigned to the 6400th Transportation Squadron.  Upon returning to the states after the last tour, he was stationed at Tyndall AFB outside of Panama City, Florida where he retired from the Air Force after 20 years of military service. (Photo at left is my Dad in uniform.)

 

Norman Amore receiving Bronze StarMy uncle, Norman Amore, entered the Army in December 1942 and was shipped overseas in March 1944.  In Germany his platoon leader was mortally wounded by enemy artillery fire, and Norman, calmly removed his wounded crew member to a station to be treated.  For that brave act, he received the Bronze Star. (Photo at left is my Uncle Norman Amore receiving the Bronze Star.)

 

 

 

Gail and Lloyd AmoreMy father’s two oldest brothers, Gail and Paul Amore, also served in the military. (Photo at left is my Uncle Gail and my Grandfather, Lloyd Amore.)

Three of my first cousins and a brother-in-law served in the Vietnam War.  Luckily, all four men returned home.  What they saw, I do not know. 

I am thankful that my relatives all came back from Wars and military service alive and in one piece.  These men served their nation honorably and bravely – never knowing what the next set of orders would send them.  They are heroes by being ready to defend our freedoms.  Freedoms that so many take for granted and so many in other countries struggle to attain.  These brave men and women who put on a military uniform, a police uniform or a firefighter’s suit each and every day to keep us safe – whether it’s from evil half a world away, down the block or that out of control fire in our garage – they are heroes and if not for them, we may not know the freedoms and happiness we have today.

As Memorial Day approaches, please stop and thank every hero you see.  Stop in at your local police or fire station to thank them.  Send cards and letters to the men and women around the world stationed far away from loved ones to say thank you.  Write a moving tribute about your hero.  Place flowers and flags on the graves of those who served.  Attend a parade, stand when the flag goes by and place your hand over your heart in honor of those who’ve helped keep us free.  And never, ever forget  

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Yep – you read that right!  A Harnessmaker!  Wanted to list the occupations of folks in my family history file so I spent a little time yesterday evening going through the list.  I haven’t input some occupations yet so this is really an incomplete listing.  Most of the occupations I’ve found either through censuses or obituaries or my own personal knowledge.  Most of the women in the censuses were usually “house keepers” or “house wives” or “homemakers” and that would be a ton of them.  I didn’t count those.  So here are some interesting facts:

The Top Occupations included: Farmer (38), Minister (11), and Teacher (8).  The ministers included 1 Nun, 1 elder in a church, and ministers who were evangelical, circuit riders, Officers in the Salvation Army, “First Church” (don’t know if that was Baptist or what), and Methodist.  The teachers included a principal and a college president.  Other occupations included:

Accountant/Auditor

Attorney           3

Business owner (store, distillery-2, printing, grocer -2, company, billiard parlor, metal fab, )

Military 3

(Indentured-1) servant – 3

Shoemaker       5

Railroad           2

Miner               7

Harness maker/miller-3/

Stone mason

Fireman

Painter              3

Baseball player

Stock buyer

Carpenter -5/farmer

Clerk (store) (office girl)

Teamster-2/blacksmith

Postal worker (post mistress, postmaster)

Doctor

Butcher

Farm hand        3

Steel worker

Seamstress       3

Engineer           3

Salesman (wholesale groceries -2, candy company, herff jones-2, clothing company, paint)

Teaming

Furnaceman (pottery)

Nurse               2

Ran a boarding house

Inventor

Machinist (press operator) 4

Laborer            5

Barber              2

Auto mechanic

Telephone operator      2

Delivery man

Logger             2

Stenographer

Hostess restaurant

Optician

Textile mill worker -2

Institutional cook

Civil service -2

Real estate broker/sales

Truck driver

Automotive

Plumber

Author

Medical receptionist

Patrolman

Singer

Photographer

Graphic artist

Dentist

Justice of the Peace

Casket maker

Office girl

Bank employee

Investment companies

Some people had two or three different occupations in their lifetime.  I’m not talking about doing the same type work at several different locatons.  My grandfather was a coal miner, a machine press operator for a novelty company, and a house painter.  My other grandfather started off as a “chauffeur” – not a limo driver – before going into the military for most of his life.  He also was a volunteer Fire Chief and employed with the Civil Service after his retirement from the military.  I think that researching the occupations is interesting.  Go find out what “chauffeur” was back in 1920 or what a Teamster was (not the same kind that Jimmy Hoffa was!).  Some are pretty self-explanatory.  What did you come up with?

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