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So sorry that there has been a bit of a lag between Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. This should be the final chapter of what I call “My Trip Out West” – or as the title suggests – “Over the Rainbow.”  After all, I was only four years old – almost five. So everything about this trek from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean and back was magical!

In the last installment, Mom, Dad, and I were finishing up our time at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Marine Land in California. From there we drove to Victorville, California which sits on the edge of the Mojave Desert in San Bernadino County.

We spent September 21 and 22 at the home of Captain and Mrs. H.B. Alexander, friends of my parents. September 21 was my mother’s birthday. I thoroughly believed my mom was 29 because as is common, once she passed a “certain” birthday milestone, she always said she was only 29. Wow – imagine my surprise a couple of years later when I realized that she was much older than 29!  I was also confused when I realized my grandparents were also in the area!  They were on a tour of the western United States as well and it was probably by design that they were able to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

     

Leaving the Alexander home, we traveled to the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking, beautiful, scenic, awesome are only a few words to describe what a magnificent wonder it is. When we had left California, the temperature was over 100 but as we got to the rim of the Canyon, the temperature had a drop of over 40 degrees. I remember wearing a sweater as we stood gazing out over such a majestic sight.

Leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove northeast toward Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. We stayed with the R.G. Schuster family and toured the Academy.

  

While there we saw 1800 cadets marching in formation and the beautiful Chapel. It is one building I will never forget being inside. On September 26 our western trip was complete and we began the drive back to Ohio, arriving on September 28.

There are many things I remember very well about the trip – items that weren’t part of a tour or a national park or a wonder of the world. Mom had packed a hot plate because even though we were able to stay in the homes of so many family and friends, we were also in a lot of motels!  The hot plate enabled her to heat up oatmeal for breakfast or a can of soup for lunch.

A lot of my breakfasts (when not at a home or in a restaurant)   were Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers and milk (hey, I loved it and still eat it!!). I can remember restaurants we ate at or purchased food to go from: Jerry’s (I think it was like Denny’s), Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it went by it’s initials!), and Howard Johnson’s (which is a hotel chain but we’d eat at the restaurant). I remember laundry mats – and oh goodness, there were many laundry mats that Mom and I were at washing clothes. Well, she washed and dried, and I sat and watched. I believe a lot of them were a dime. Mom would always need dimes. I remember lying across the backseat of the Pontiac either sleeping or trying not to give in to my car sickness. Every once in awhile, Dad would rouse me so I could “see the sights” – something he knew that I just had to see!  Except for the accident. I don’t know where it was but we were bumper to bumper on the road.  As we got closer, and my parents saw the ambulance (back then, they looked like a hearse) and the emergency vehicles, my Dad realized that whatever it was – was very, very bad. He told me to keep lying down and not to look.  I think later after I was older, Mom told me that it was a fatality and there was lots of blood. I also remember the little Wet Naps we always got – especially at KFC. And guess what I thought those little sudsy napkins were for? Cleaning the car windows!!  That was a big mistake!  Those windows I so carefully “cleaned” were loaded with streaks and probably were dirtier than when I started!

Oh – and going over the rainbow? Yes, I feel as if I certainly did!  At one point, after my mother could not stand to listen to me asking if we were in Kansas and where was Dorothy’s house, she pointed to a run down farm house and said – “That’s Dorothy’s house!” I spent many years believing that I saw the actual house!  (Ok, then I thought that maybe it was the “actual” house from the film until Mom told me she just could not stand to hear me ask that question one more time!)  So I don’t know if we were in Kansas (which would have been on the way back to Ohio – so I think we were probably in Montana or Idaho when she did that!).  I was young enough to see Disneyland as a child would but old enough to be able to remember quite a bit about that trip. And I have tons of pictures to help me remember!

I hope you have enjoyed my Travel Thursday series of Over the Rainbow!  I hope to begin a new series soon!

Sources: 

Personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Wikipedia Article online for “Victorville California”, 27 July 2012.

Photo of Cinnamon Graham Crackers: Keebler.com, 2012. Kellogg.

Photo of Rainbow: Rainbow in the sky by Jonathon Coombes (Public Domain)

All Other Photos taken by Gene or Mary Amore, digital or original slide/print owned by Wendy J Littrell, address for private use. 

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog

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There are some blogs and geneabloggers that I want to introduce to you. They aren’t new to me as I’ve been reading their columns for quite some time; however, I want to put them in the spotlight this week.

Marian Pierre-Louis

Marian is the author of several blogs: Marian’s Roots and Rambles, The Symbolic Past, and The New England House Historian. According to her “About Me” page: she “is a full-time House Historian and Professional Genealogist who focuses on New England research.” Marian “specializes in probate, deeds, New England town records and brick wall research.” She is the “Publicity Chairperson for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) and is actively involved with the New England chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Her Roots & Rambles blog was nominated to the Family Tree Magazine 2011 Top 40 Genealogy blogs contest.” Recently, she posted a question to others on her Facebook page that asked how others manage to attend genealogy conferences all of the time. Some 70 responses later – and after many requested that she blog about that subject – Marian did just that. How Do Y’all Manage to Go to Conferences All the Time? is the article she wrote. I suggest you head over there to read it and the comments she received. Perhaps you have your own suggestion. Marian’s twitter is @marianpl.

Carolyn Pointer

Carolyn is the author of Your Family Story. She writes her family’s stories and says, “I like to listen and write their stories down. Sometimes their stories are sad. Sometimes they’re happy. And sometimes they’re downright naughty [if I'm lucky].” Earlier this week (ok, yesterday!), Carolyn wrote A Baby Boy!. She was looking for someone and ended up receiving information about a baby she hadn’t known about.  She gives some links to helpful sites that she used to figure out what the Latin records meant. Carolyn also authors Pearl’s Day Books. Her twitter is @FamilyStories.

Jenna Mills

Jenna is the woman behind Desperately Seeking Surnames. She says that losing both of her parents in 2001 prompted her to start searching for her ancestors. Jenna says that, “While going through their belongings the questions started to pile up, who was this? who was that? etc. Ultimately, I decided I would try to get the answers to the question and find our ancestors. I have been working my way back in time ever since.” One thing I like about this blog is the banner for her title – it looks like she scrapbooked it!  Her Independence Day post is beautiful! You can find it at Happy Independence Day America. Jenna’s presence on twitter is @SeekingSurnames.

Lisa Alzo

Lisa is well known throughout the geneablogger world (as well as those who read genealogy publications and books)!  She speaks at conferences and has published many articles as well as several books. You can find out everything you want to know about Lisa at Lisa Alzo. Her genealogy blog is The Accidental Genealogist. Recently, Lisa’s written articles concerning her return trip to Slovakia: Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel; Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel. Preparing for the Trip; Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel. Departure Day; Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel. Day 1. Stay tuned – I’m sure Lisa has future articles that she will post concerning her trip. You can find her on twitter at @lisaalzo.

 

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*** Disclaimer: I am NOT an official Rootstech blogger.

*** Furthermore, I am NOT at Rootstech.

(I am not even near Salt Lake City, Utah, or a Family History Library)

BUT – I am reading blog posts from “official” Rootstech bloggers and others, like me, who are not there, but wish they were!

I am playing “Words with Friends” with Sheri Fenley of The Educated Genealogist, who in turn is also playing WwF with Colleen McHugh of Genealogy Wise. And the madness continues . . .

I am scouring Facebook for photos – found some of Elyse Doerflinger of Elyse’s Genealogy Blog and footnoteMaven. Waiting to see a picture of Elyse in her tiara. Will Sheri post her tiara picture? Does Randy or Thomas have tiaras? Or Crowns?

If you are looking for the secret treasure clue – I do not have one on my blog because (in case you missed the beginning of this post) – I am NOT an official Rootstech blogger. 

Apparently, there will be no sleeping at Rootstech.  (see I am reading Facebook status updates – this just in from Elyse).  Can you imagine what 4000 sleep-deprived genealogists will look like on Sunday morning when everything is said and done?  Those are the pictures I want to see!

I can’t wait to see how the Genealogy Idol contest plays out. Will it be Elyse? Marian? Elizabeth? or Michael? Two from home and two at the conference. Will one of the judges be mean and nasty like Simon? Oops, sorry, he’s no longer on THAT show.  So if Steven Tyler shows up and I wasn’t informed, I will not be happy!  Will Thomas channel Bert Parks and sing: “There he/she is . . . Ms/Mr Genea-Idol . . . “

For the rest of us . . . I guess we”ll just sit at home, watch streaming video from the conference, read Facebook status updates and blog posts from official bloggers, play Words with Friends, and dream about attending the conference in person . . . one day.

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The USA Today article, Orphan Train Riders, Offspring Seek Answers About Heritage, (posted 25 Jan 2012) by Judy Keen, describes the search that descendents of those who rode the Orphan Trains in the early 20th century find themselves on. They want to find out more about those train riders, their parents, siblings, and heritage. Even some of the Orphan Train riders themselves are searching.

While researching my own family history, I came across two brothers who rode the train from New York until they arrived in Columbus, Kansas and were adopted by James William Goul (my maternal grandfather’s relatives). J.W. Goul was born in Ohio about 1839 to John and Martha (McManaway) Goul.  James William was the 2nd to youngest brother of my 2nd great-grandmother (Malissa Goul). He married Mary McAdams (b. 16 Sep 1840) and they had Martha E. and George Edward Goul. Before 1894, the family moved to Cherokee County, Kansas.

The Star-Courier newspaper of Columbus, Kansas of June 21, 1894 mentioned that two young brothers who did not want to be separated from each other were taken by “one kind hearted man.”  These two brothers were Matthew and Clarence Brown of New York.  Matthew was born about 1887 and Clarence was about 3 years younger.  Both reported on the 1910 Census that their parents were born in Italy.    

Discovering there were Orphan Train riders in the family history, led me to find out more about these children and the reasons they were sent from New York to other parts of the country.  The short version of the “why?” includes the fact that these children were abandoned or orphaned so the Children’s Aid Society and New York Foundling Hospital decided these children needed homes somewhere else.  Children were sent to Canada and the other 47 states. Some were adopted while others were foster children. Others were made to be “servants” to whomever chose them.  Children were picked the same way that slaves had been a century earlier – checking their muscles, sturdiness, and temperament. Some were loved dearly while others were beat constantly.

There are many places on the internet to read the history and stories of the Orphan Train movement including: Orphan Train History (has many links included), Children’s Aid Society, PBS Documentary, Iowa GenWeb Orphan Train project, Orphan Trains of Kansas, and Adoption History: Orphan Trains. There are some videos: Orphan Train in Michigan and Orphan Train Movie (1979).

With all of the newly digitized records on free and subscription databases, I sincerely hope that the descendents of the “riders” will find the answers they so desperately seek.  Perhaps they will be the recipients of Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

Do you have Orphan Train riders in your family? Have you learned about where they came from? Did they remember their background and parents? Were they treated like members of the family upon their “adoption” or was their life very difficult?  And what about the family they left behind or were torn from? What is their story?

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Before I started school, it seemed as if my parents and I were always going somewhere – to see my three uncles in Michigan (my dad’s two brothers in the Detroit area and my mom’s brother in Battle Creek), my aunt in Zanesville, Ohio, my aunt in Philadelphia, or my sister after she married and moved to Georgia.  Then there were the short trips around Ohio and Indiana – to reunions or just to “sight see” (Hueston Woods in Ohio, Indian Mounds in Ohio).  My dad’s civil service job at the base sent him on many trips (seminars) so I would find myself traveling with my parents to other places like St. Louis (loved the city from the first moment!). Even with all those trips, Mom and Dad wanted to take a long vacation before I started school so in the fall of 1966 – just before I turned five, we set out on a month long journey that would take us from our home east of Dayton north and west and back south to the Pacific Coast before heading east again for home.  Our destination: Disneyland!  More importantly, we were going to go through Kansas at some point and as a small child, I just knew we were going to see where “Dorothy” lived and perhaps see what was “over the rainbow” too!

On September 1, 1966 the three of us left our home and traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan where we visited my Uncle Glen and Aunt Mary. 

 (Facing the back of the house from the Lake; Mom and I sitting on the dock)

 

 

The next day we went north through the Locks at Saint Sault Marie and into Canada. We took the Trans-Canada Highway into Alberta. (Apparently Norm was there too!)

While we were on the Canadian side, we saw Niagra Falls.

We went to Great Falls, Montana, where my parents lived in the mid-1940s while my dad was stationed there with the Army Air Corps.  We stayed with the George and Grace Kelso family with daughters Sandy and Colleen nearby (on a side note as I was just googling these people, I ran across Sandy’s obituary on Findagrave – she and my brother had played together as young children).

Above: Mom and Grace Kelso

After spending a few days with the Kelso’s, we traveled into Idaho and saw the Big Southern Butte, Craters of the Moon, Shoshone Falls and the Twin Falls.

 

Above Left: I’m getting a closer look at Craters of the Moon.
Above  Right: Mom and I at the Big Southern Butte sign.

Stay Tuned for the next installment – where are we headed next?

Sources: personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Photos: Photographer on all photos – Gene Amore; all photos – print, slide, digital in the possession of Wendy Littrell to be used as needed.  No reprints without permission.

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog.

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Locating the maiden name of my second great-grandmother has taken over ten years.  If I had been able to order film from my local Family History Center, it could have taken several years less. However, thanks to the digitized Ohio death and marriage records on Familysearch.org, I was able to put a surname to the woman who married Florus Allen House (born Jan 5, 1813 in Connecticut, died June 25, 1891 in Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Ohio) on April 14, 1836.

From the death record of their daughter, Nancy Elizabeth House (m. Oscar DeLong), the informant, Mabel Harding (her daughter), listed Nancy’s mother’s name as Julia Lewis. Another family member’s death certificate also listed the name Julia Lewis. When I looked up the marriage record, on the off chance it had been digitized by Familysearch.org, I looked for Michigan marriage records because the story had been passed around that Florus and Julia Ann were married in Michigan. I found the marriage record – but not in Michigan – in Muskingum County, Ohio. Florus House and Julia Ann Lewis were married in that county!

Upon picking apart the short marriage detail in the book, I saw that after Julia’s name it read: “from Falls Township, Muskingum County.” Since they were married in 1836, I realized I should look at Census records from 1820 (when Julia was about five years old) through 1830.  In the 1820 Census records from Fall Township, I found the household of Able Lewis that had 2 females under the age of 10. In the 1830 Census in Falls Township, there were 2 females 10-15 years old. Both records fit Julia’s age. So who was this Able Lewis? Who was his wife?

In the Muskingum County Rootsweb archives list, I found a query from Nan E. Sabulsky, who posted on August 9, 1998:

Searching for decendents of John LEWIS b.abt. 1810 Muskingum co., Ohio married Eliza MCVAY in abt.1835 in Cochocton Co. I believe they lived in Falls Township,Muskingum Co. John’s father was Able Lewis and mother was Nancy ROBINSON of Falls Twnshp., Muskingum Co. John had a brother George and brother Edwin. He also had a sister, however I do not have her name.

Could this be the same family that I was looking for?  In the 1860 Census of Falls Township, Muskingum County, I found a George Lewis who had an eight year old daughter named Julia Ann. Could this George be the same person Mrs. Sabulsky referenced in her post? If he was Julia Ann’s brother, then possibly he named his daughter after his sister.

Digging further into the Able Lewis and Nancy Robinson family, I discovered that the spellings of the first name could either be Able or Abel. I also noticed that Robinson was Nancy’s name after her first marriage – her maiden name was either Johnson or Johnston, and she either went by Ann or Nancy.

Mrs. Sabulsky also lists a first wife for Abel Lewis, along with three children born before 1810.  She lists Abel Lewis birth as before 1775 in Pennsylvania and his death after 1825 in Ohio.  In another article (Schneider, Norris F. “Lodge of Amity”. Soldier Ant. 2 May 2003. Web.) was this information:

Abel Lewis became a Mason in White Horse Lodge No. 50 in Pennsylvania and worked as a visitor at American Union Lodge before coming to Zanesville. He was the first clerk of the court of common pleas in Muskingum County and postmaster of Zanesville in 1805. He became insane in 1813 and was supported by his Masonic brethren in the county jail until he escaped in 1826. He was never heard from again.

In a digitized book accessed on Google Books (Parker, Leonard Fletcher. “History of Poweshiek County, Iowa: a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, Volume 2.” 1911. Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing co. Original held by New York Public Library. Digitized 24 January 2008. Web.) was this article about Judge W.R. Lewis, son of John Lewis and Louisa A. Ramey, grandson of Abel Lewis:

JUDGE W. R. LEWIS.

With the work of framing as well as interpreting the laws of Iowa Judge W. R. Lewis has been closely associated, serving at different times as a member of the upper house of the state legislature and as judge of the circuit and district courts. Aside from this he has won a wide and enviable reputation as a learned lawyer, seldom, if ever, at fault in the application of a legal principle. For more

 

than a half century he has been a resident of Poweshiek county, having come here in the days of his early manhood, his birth having occurred near Zanesville, Muskingum county, Ohio, on the 12th of October, 1835. He was, therefore, about twenty-two years of age when he arrived in Poweshiek county and nine years later was admitted to the bar.

He comes of Welsh and German ancestry. His father, John M. Lewis, was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, his natal year being 1811. He was a son of Abel Lewis, who was born near White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, and was a college graduate. In the latter part of the eighteenth century he removed to Ohio and became a government surveyor in Muskingum and Coshocton counties. He took part in several of the Indian wars and was closely associated with many of the events which led to the reclamation of Ohio for the purpose of civilization. Following his marriage he established his home in Zanesville and there served as clerk of the court for four years. He was also the author of some mathematical works. Entering a large tract of land, he became interested in agricultural pursuits, took up his abode on his farm and spent the residue of his days there. For many years he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and his entire life was the exemplification of his Christian belief.

John M. Lewis, the father of Judge Lewis, married Louisa A. Ramey and settled upon a part of the old homestead, five and a half miles from Zanesville. Subsequently he took up his abode at New Castle, Coshocton county, Ohio, and engaged in merchandising as a member of the firm of Thornhill, Berry & Lewis. The discovery of gold, however, attracted him,to, California in 1851, the journey to the coast being made by way of the’ jsthrmts of Panama. He spent two years in prospecting and mining, in whicline was cf afcljj successful. He then returned to New Castle and soon afterward retired from business. He, too, belonged to the Methodist Episcopal churclT,-<and,,hisj)Qliiical allegiance was given to the republican party. His wife was born”in Muskingum county, a daughter of Sanford Ramey, a native of Virginia and of German descent. He became one of the early settlers of Ohio and his daughter Louisa was born and reared in that state. Her death occurred in 1886.

Judge Lewis, the eldest in a family of ten children, spent the first ten years of his life in his native county and then removed with his parents to Coshocton county, Ohio. For four or five years he attended school during the winter months, the remainder of the year being spent in assisting his father in the store. He was also at intervals engaged in farm work and took up the study of surveying. He read law in New Castle and while thus engaged followed the profession of surveying for several years. In 1856 he took the first step in the removals which brought him eventually to Iowa. In that year he became a resident of Southport, Peoria county, Illinois, where he worked at the carpenter’s trade and also spent a month in farm labor. During the winter he taught school at Southport and in the spring of 1857 he came to Montezuma, then a little village of four or five hundred inhabitants. Since that time he has continuously resided in Poweshiek county and has made for himself a high and eviable position in the regard of his fellowmen. Through the summer months he worked at carpentering or at other employment which he could secure and his evening hours were devoted to the further study of law. He thus soon qualified for admission to the bar but he determined not to seek admission until he felt that he could give his entire attention to law practice. He recognized the fact that to do this he must have a certain amount of capital to tide him over that initial period in the life of every lawyer when he must spend some time in waiting for clients.

In the fall of 1857 Judge Lewis secured the position of principal of the public schools and did splendid works as one of the early educators of Poweshiek county. While active in that capacity he was largely instrumental in organizing the teachers’ institute and he also graded the schools of Montezuma. This work alone would entitle him to the lasting gratitude of his fellow townsmen. In 1862 he was elected county superintendent of schools and before the expiration of his term was chosen by popular suffrage for the office of clerk of the county and district courts. In the latter position he served acceptably for a term, after which he resigned to form a partnership with Hon. M. E. Cutts, former member of congress, to conduct a milling business, which was carried on successfully for a great period, after which he sold out. For a year he occupied the position of deputy treasurer and for two years as a member of the county board of supervisors served as its chairman. He has ever regarded a public office as a public trust and it is well known that no public trust reposed in Judge Lewis has ever been betrayed in the slightest degree. Capable, diligent and loyal, he won the confidence and good-will of the public through his devotion to duty in the offices which he was called upon to fill in the earlier years of his residence here.

At length, feeling that the time was ripe when he might give his attention to his profession, in 1866 he applied for and secured admission to the bar and entered upon active practice, being associated for a time with the Hon. D. H. Emery, while later he became a partner of C. R. Clark. He won success because he wisely and conscientiously used the talents with which nature endowed him. An analytical mind enabled him to bring a trend of reasoning to its logical conclusion and to accurately apply the principles of law to the points at issue. His successful handling of cases early in his legal career awakened public confidence and brought him an increased clientage. In the fall of 1880 he was honored with election to the circuit court bench for the district embracing Poweshiek. Jefferson, Washington, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion and Jasper counties, becoming the second circuit judge, his predecessor having been Judge Blanchard. After filling the position for four years the district was divided and he was elected judge of the first circuit, which included Jefferson, Washington, Keokuk and Poweshiek counties. He continued upon that bench until 1886, when, upon the abolishment of the circuit court, he was made one of the three judges for the district. There was keen strife for the office and Judge Lewis was not renominated by his party at the time but in response to the unanimous wish of his constituents he permitted his name to be used as an independent candidate and was elected by a sweeping majority. There was a prevailing belief that his defeat in the convention was due to unfair means and this contributed to his success at the polls. He retired from the bench in 1890, after a judicial service of ten years, and resumed the practice of law in Montezuma. A contemporary biographer has said of him:

“He is a man of great legal ability and while on the bench was a warm friend of the young practitioner. He never permitted a young lawyer to sacrifice his client’s interest if a word or suggestion from the court could help him. His decisions were rarely reversed. No district or circuit judge has a better record in the supreme court than Judge Lewis. So unerring were his views, especially in equity cases, that the attorneys in his court learned it was next to useless to appeal as he was nearly always sustained. He was slow in deciding but his work never had to be done a second time. As special counsel for the county in the famous cases against the Rowes and against the bondsmen of the defaulting treasurer he earned new laurels.”

Following his retirement from the bench Judge Lewis during the year 1891 acted as general manager for the Hawkeye Electric Manufacturing Company, with headquarters at Davenport, but in the fall of 1891 again took up his abode in Montezuma and has since been actively associated with the work of the courts and at seventy-five years of age has a large and lucrative law practice, doing as much court work as he ever did in his younger days. In addition he has proved his worth in the management of commercial interests. He was one of the organizers of the Montezuma Electric Light & Power Company, superintended the construction of the plant and took up the management of the business. He also superintended the erection and installation of the electric light works at Bloomfield and at Sigourney and assisted in surveying the route for the Grinnell & Montezuma Railroad. He made and published the first map of Poweshiek county and at all times has been closely associated with the growth and progress of the county not alone by reason of his connection with industrial and commercial affairs or with the legal profession but also because he has been the champion of every project and measure which he deemed of value in the public life of the community. He was again called to office in the fall of 1897, when he was nominated by acclamation for the state senate at the republican convention of the twelfth senatorial district, comprising Poweshiek and Keokuk counties. The election showed that he was the popular candidate and for four years he remained a member of the upper house. He gave careful consideration to each question which came up for settlement and left the impress of his individuality and ability upon the laws enacted during that period.

In 1865, in Burlington, Vermont, Mr. Lewis was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Cutts, a daughter of Edwin Cutts, of Brandon, Vermont, and a sister of M. E. Cutts, of Oskaloosa. The marriage relation between them was always of a most ideal character and the deepest grief in the life of Judge Lewis came to him in the death of his wife on the 10th of April, 1893.

Fraternally Judge Lewis is connected with Masonry as a Knight Templar and belongs also to the Iowa Legion, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and to the Iowa State Bar Association. He has never faltered in his stalwart support of the republican party and its principles and has served as chairman of the county central committee. He was a member of the first city council of Montezuma and while important political interests relative to the work of the courts and to the law-making body of the state have claimed his attention he has never considered himself above the duties connected with the management of local interests. A lifelong member of the Presbyterian church, he has served as elder and trustee and for a number of years was superintendent of the Sunday school, in which position he continued until his election to the bench. He is today one of the oldest residents of Montezuma in years of continuous connection with the city, and among the men of Poweshiek county who have been long in public service the record of none has been more constant in honor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation.

There is solid documentation that any of these people are the family of my Julia Ann Lewis. However, I have information that I can try to disprove now. The one thing I do know is that Julia Ann Lewis is my second great-grandmother – who her parents and siblings were is still up for debate until I find hard evidence.

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GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

This picture (to the left) was taken in 1954; location – Japan when my parents were stationed at Tachikawa with the Air Force.  My impression has always been – what a sad tree!  I believe this was the only type of tree that would work as a “Christmas” tree – short of buying an artificial tree from the Base/Post Exchange. I hadn’t been born yet but my sister and brother were the children who had “visions of sugarplums” for that year’s Christmas.

This picture (to the right) was taken about 1968 when I was a little over 7 years old; location – the house I grew up in east of Dayton, Ohio.  I obviously have some teeth missing!  Those pants were not purple – from what I remember – but blue. This is the artificial tree we used – it was only a year or two old because I remember having live trees when I was very small.  Mom used this artificial tree at least until the time I was 18 years old and then I think she gave it to my cousin. This tree is set at the corner of the living room and formal dining room. From what I remember, this was the same location it was set year after year. During my childhood, Christmas dinners were always at our house. Those who attended included my maternal grandparents, my sister, her husband, and two kids, my brother and his wife (and later their son), and sometimes my brother-in-law’s parents.

This photo (to the left) was taken in 1991 either before we left or after we returned from Christmas Eve services at our church. This is one of the very few pictures I have of our family by the Christmas tree. Boy, my husband and I look so young!  Our youngest was a few months shy of two years old and our oldest was a month away from 10 years old.  Our second daughter had just turned eight and our son was six and a half.  Over the years, our tree has moved “around” the living room.  We had it in this location for a few years and for the last 10+ years it has been in the opposite corner.  Our Christmas tradition since this photo was taken has rarely changed. There were some years that we went looking at Christmas lights after church. We’ve always had a meal of “finger food” late in the evening – I’ve made sausage balls, cheese and crackers, stuffed shells, deli meat sandwiches, fresh vegetables and dip, and more. The last couple of years we have had Wing Stop chicken wings and tamales from our local tamale factory. The first year we decided on wings, the restaurant was open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve so we picked up the order as soon as church was over. Last year it closed early, so I had to go pick up the wings and fries and try to keep them warm the rest of the day. The french fries did not fair very well – so I don’t think we’ll do that this year. On Christmas Day we’ve had the traditional dinner – turkey (and sometimes ham), dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade giblet gravy (and turkey gravy from a jar for those who won’t eat the other kind), green bean casserole, Christmas cauliflower, scalloped corn, and pies.  There were years that I started making cookies in the middle of December and other times, I just don’t bother!  I’ve made homemade chex mix for gifts to friends and family. The last two years one of our daughter’s has had us to her home for the Christmas dinner. Our oldest daughter hasn’t been able to be with us for Christmas in over seven years. For the last 5 years, we’ve enjoyed being with all four grandsons.

The only picture of our family with my mom was taken at my sister’s home in 1999. Our kids ranged from almost 10 to almost 17. That year we had Christmas dinner at my sister’s home and my contribution was my Christmas cauliflower and something else! See the red plaid skirt that I’m wearing? I wore this at almost every Christmas from 1978 until just a few years ago!

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Although this photo was taken in 2008, this could be a photo from today. The Christmas tree is in the same spot – although our present tree is a new artificial tree – and I haven’t added any garland to it. This year I will use strands of beads as garland. Our Christmas this year will begin on Christmas Eve when we attend our Worship Celebration at our church of over 20 years. Then we’ll come back home and eat our “finger food” dinner, culminating in the reading of “The Night Before Christmas” (a tradition since the children were all small) and the Biblical Christmas story. We’ll set our presents out under the tree after the grandkids go to bed and then later, Santa will arrive. He’ll find a cold glass of egg nog in the fridge in case he’s thirsty and a couple of cookies with a note to him on the kitchen table. This year Christmas falls on a Sunday – the first one in six years – so our morning will be very early! I have always had a family breakfast before presents are opened and this year, I think I will have a crock pot breakfast casserole that has cooked through the night. After we eat, it will be time to dig into gifts and take pictures. At 10:30 we’ll be at our church, celebrating the real reason for Christmas. Then it will be home to finish cooking the dinner. Hopefully, I’ll get the turkey in the oven before we leave. One of our grandson’s might not be with us that day – perhaps late in the evening. The kids will be playing with new toys, probably have new movies playing on the TV, and the aroma of delicious food cooking.

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME

In the future, I hope that we can still enjoy our grandchildren – and further into the future – our great-grandchildren – and our children and families at Christmas. Wherever we are, we’ll still decorate a Christmas tree – big or small. Some of our traditions may continue and some will be replaced with new traditions. We’ll still have some of our tree ornaments – especially the really nice handmade ones that the kids and grandkids have made. Pictures will still be snapped and food will still be eaten. I may prepare a traditional Christmas dinner, yet I see myself changing it in my golden years – especially if there are only my husband and I sharing the holiday together. No matter the year, we’ll always remember the joy of Christmas’s past and the true reason we celebrate the season!

Merry Christmas!

(written for the 113th Carnival of Genealogy: A Charles Dickens Christmas)

all photos – digital and print – held by Wendy Littrell

 

 

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I don’t know if anyone else has a “travel” day of the week, but I’m going to start one!  This fits really well as I began my latest travels a week ago Thursday, March 31.  I added 3 more states to my list of those I’ve visited or traveled through. One I had been to but only when the plane stopped there and we were able to get off and outside the terminal (pre-9/11).  Didn’t think that really counted.

In early March I started thinking about my dad – he was getting ready to turn 90 years old.  I haven’t seen him in several years – since his and his wife’s last trip from Florida to Texas around Christmas.  Age and some illnesses have curtailed their long road trips so I knew that they probably wouldn’t be back for a visit.  Wishing there was some way I could see him around his birthday, I thought about how I could pull it off – especially with all my responsibilities at home plus my college course.  I thought about checking for an inexpensive flight – but I wasn’t sure what the nearest airport would be and really didn’t want to add the expense of a rental car or having my dad drive any distance to pick me up.  I went to sleep that night thinking that I’d think some more about it in the days to come.  The next morning I woke up with the thought that it would sure be nice if my sister also decided she wanted to see Dad on his birthday and perhaps we could ride together.  Our road trips have become famous (if only between ourselves)!  As I was thinking about it, I checked my email and saw that she had sent me one about 30 minutes before.  Her first sentence said that we needed to take a road trip to see Dad for his birthday because of his birthday and the second sentence mentioned that it felt like she’d been hit over the head with a hammer with that thought while she was out walking her dog.  Sister ESP! 

So with the opportunity, I made the necessary arrangements and she contacted Dad to let him know that we would like to come to visit him – there’s no way you surprise a 90 year old man like that.  I’m not sure who was more excited – my sister and I or our dad. 

So last Thursday morning she picked me up and by 7:30 am we were on the road going east toward Florida.  We traveled through Louisiana – even going through the town of the airport I’d seen briefly back in early September 2001.  Then on through Mississippi and we stopped for the night on the east side of Mobile, Alabama.  We arrived at our Dad’s about early afternoon on Friday.  My sister has been to his home a few times.  I have never been to Florida – it was never a state I really wanted to visit. 

The next day my sister’s daughter – who is only a few years younger than me – drove down from her new home a few hours from Dad’s and spent the rest of the weekend with all of us.  They took us out each evening to the club they go to and the meals fixed at the house were delicious.  We talked and visited and took pictures and relaxed!

My dad’s birthday was the day we left so we all went out to breakfast that morning to celebrate. He had not wanted a birthday cake or party or any fuss and at his age, he can get or not get what he wants.  Yet I ask you – does he really look like he’s 90?

Dad and I

Leaving was bittersweet.  Not knowing if I’d be able to get back and see him soon but so very thankful I had the opportunity to spend just a few days with him. 

Where do your travels take you?

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If you have not read my previous articles: Lester’s Despair – Part One and More Tragedy for Lester House, then I urge you to do that before continuing.

I learned more about Lester and Mary’s (Besser) son, Jarold, than I really cared to know.  It was concerning why he was sent to the state mental hospital and to jail.  The morals charges were of the worst kind – out of regard for his living descendents I will not post the details.  I will, however, say that it is all spelled out in some newspaper accounts (so if they go looking, they will find the stories). 

Jarold and his wife, Margaret, had four sons.  I don’t believe they were very old before they were sent to live with foster families.  Since some of the sons are still living I will call them Son One, Son Two, Son Three and Son Four (again some of the events of which I will write about are all available to be found in newspaper reports). 

In the mid 1970s, Son Two and Son Three, along with at least one other young man, killed a man.  Apparently there was kidnapping and mutilation involved.  As I perused the newspaper articles, the nagging thought I had, was to wonder if the father’s actions towards his sons had any bearing on their emotional states as young men.  At least their grandfather, Lester House, had already passed away.  This new tragedy would have been more than enough for him after all that he had been through.

Son Two and Son Three were convicted of kidnapping and murder and sentenced to prison.  Son Three was killed in prison and Son Two is still incarcerated.  Son One passed away several years ago.  I haven’t uncovered any information on Son Four – so it seems he has left his family and past behind – and really who could blame him?

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Mary Angeline Werts Amore

Mary Angeline Werts was born to William Washington Werts and Louisa Bookless on February 16, 1855 in Linton Township, Coshocton County, Ohio.  Her father died when she was two years old leaving Lousia to raise Mary and her older brother, George.  In the 1860 Census both children are living with others.  In 1961 Louisa married John Simon and three years later they had a daughter, Sarah Ellen.  On December 14, 1872, Mary married William Henry Amore.  In 1881 Mary lost her brother, George.

Mary – known as “Annie” and “Henry” had seven children – a daughter first, followed by six sons (“Clemmie”, “Zade”, Roy, Lloyd, Rollo, Bert, and Clarence).  The family was very involved with the Salvation Army.  I just didn’t realize how involved Annie was until I ran across an article from the Coshocton Tribune dated December 14, 1941 (nine days after Annie passed away).

In the “Fife and Drum” column written by Al Cline, he stated, “Back a quarter century ago, at the Christmas times even before the first World war, you might have seen a tiny, birdlike woman, her face rosy with cold, standing on one of Coshocton’s snow-swept street corners, ringing a Salvation Army bell.”  He went on to state that before many people knew what the Salvation Army was is when she joined as one of its first members. She was called “Mother” Amore, and as Cline reported, “very few people knew her first name was Mary. And there is no record how many derelicts she took into her little house, gave a bed and breakfast and sent on their way, because the true spirit of Christmas was with Mother Amore the year round.”

There were many Sundays she walked from her home in Roscoe to the Salvation Army home so she wouldn’t miss a service. My great-grandmother (her son Lloyd was my grandfather) saw the new citadel finished in 1929 when she was in her 70s. Unfortunately that was about the time she fell and was hurt pretty bad.  The columnist reported that for more than ten years after her fall, Mother Amore was “an uncomplaining invalid, tied to her bed and crutch.”  Salvation Army Captain Douglas Bethune told Al Cline that he always had a strange feeling in her house; one that felt as if she was comforting him instead of the other way around when he came to call on her weekly after her fall.

Cline summed up his story by writing, “I guess this is a story of faith. Mother Amore had faith, like an imperishable little . . . flame, burning inside her and shining thru her eyes. It took faith and vision to help build the snug Salvation Army citadel, and it took faith to lie calmly in bed, at 86, and wait for the quiet touch of death.”

As I read that article, tears sprung from my eyes.  No, I didn’t know my great-grandmother in the traditional sense (I also did not know my grandfather as he died six years before I was born).  I didn’t even really know her through memories of others.  The only thing my dad has said is that she was in bed all the time.  He was an adult by the time she died – so perhaps I can find out more about this woman from him.

However, I did learn a lot about this woman, just from this article.  It told me that she didn’t complain about any hardship that she encountered.  Whether she learned this at a young age from losing her father and then her brother and being “farmed out” from her mother, I don’t know.  I have a sense that she seemed to always have a sense of purpose – helping people, nurturing them, giving hope to others, and bringing the word of God into the lives of those who didn’t know Him. 

I have three pictures of Annie – the picture above is one that my cousin, Sharon Amore Brittigan, uploaded to Ancestry.  The picture below is one that my family has also shared with me of Henry and Annie and their children.  One other photo I have shows the couple surrounded by loving family members on the occasion of the first Amore reunion held at their home.

Annie died on December 5, 1941 seven years after losing her husband, Henry. Her funeral was held in the Salvation Army citadel and she was buried in Roscoe Cemetery.

R.I.P. Great-grandmother (“Mother”) Amore.

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