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Not too long ago, I read a Facebook status (and I’m sorry but I don’t remember who it was) that mentioned their ancestors had traveled less than 50 miles over several generations. The revelation prompted me to think about how many miles my ancestors traveled before landing at the place they called home until they died.

Instead of going back many, many generations, I will begin with my maternal 2nd great-grandparents.

emanuelstern_nancy

Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio. Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Wayne county, Indiana.  Emanuel had traveled approximately 105 miles from his birthplace in Ohio. Nancy had traveled about 68 miles from her birthplace. The family remained in Hamilton county. After my 2nd great-grandparents divorced, Emanuel traveled to Yale, Nebraska to visit one of their children and was found living there in the 1910 census. He traveled (probably by train) about 787 miles.  Nancy died (21 Dec 1900) in the same county that she had lived with her husband. Emanuel was buried (after 10 Sep 1911)  in Hamilton county so he (or his remains) had to travel back from 787 miles to Hamilton county, Indiana.

isrealwilt

Israel Isaac Wilt b. 20 Jan 1823 in Rockingham county, Virginia was in Prairie township, Henry county, Indiana by the time of his marriage to Christena Nash on 2 Feb 1857. He had traveled about 503 miles traveling through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Christena was b. 1837 in (probably) Beaver county, Pennsylvania. She had traveled with her family 316 miles.  They lived in Henry county the rest of their lives. Israel died 11 Sep 1919 and Chrstena died 18 Aug 1876.

joewiltfamily

The Stern’s daughter, Martha Jane Stern, b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton county, Indiana married Joseph Napolean Wilt (b. 21 Jan 1868) on 10 Sep 1890 in the same county both were born. By the 1910 census, Martha and Joseph were divorced and she was remarried and living in Anderson, Madison county, Indiana – 29 miles away. By 1923, Martha and her second husband, William Frank Clawson, moved 2,257 miles away to Lane county, Oregon. Both of them died in Oregon and were buried in Leaburg. Joseph Wilt. By 9 Jan 1944, when Joseph died, he was living near Nabb, Indiana – about 102 miles from his birthplace.

My other sets of great-great-grandparents (ancestors of my grandfather) were James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 and Amanda Evaline Mullis b. 1833 and Franklin Blazer b. 2 Jun 1836 and Malissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832.

James Wilson Johnson, I think

 

James W. Johnson was born in Brown county, Ohio and by the 1850 census, he had moved to 137 miles away to Rush county, Indiana. Amanda was born in Wilkes county, North Carolina and had traveled with her parents and family to Rush county, Indiana – 519 miles. Amanda d. 21 Mar 1868 in Rush county. After her death, James moved around, reportedly through Howard county, Indiana and finally settling in Anderson, Indiana – a little over 40 miles away. 

malissa_blazer

Franklin Blazer was probably born in Madison county, Indiana and stayed in that county until he passed away on 27 Aug 1873. Malissa was born in Union, Champaign county, Ohio and by the time she married Franklin before 1859, she was living in Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana – a little over 125 miles away.

johnson_john_katie

The Johnson’s son, John Lafayette Johnson, and the Blazer’s daughter, Katie J. Blazer married on 4 Jul 1883. John was b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana. Katie was b. 27 Sep 1864 in Stony Creek, Madison county, Indiana. By the time of their marriage, John was living close to her. They remained in Anderson, Indiana – 40 miles from John’s birth and 9 miles from Katie’s birth until 1930 when they moved to Greene county, Ohio to live with their son (my grandfather). That move took them 109 miles from their home. Following each of their deaths, they were buried back in Anderson, Indiana.

glen_vesta_friends

My grandparents, Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 and Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898, were both born in Indiana. He was born in Anderson, and she was born in Noblesville. When her mother and stepfather moved 29 miles away to Anderson, she was still young.  After they were married on 24 Dec 1916, the couple moved 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio (the town merged with Osborn and became Fairborn many years later). As my grandfather was in the military, he was at Ft. Omaha in Nebraska; Kelly Field in San Antonio, France during WWI; Wiesbaden, Germany during the early 1950s; and by the time they returned to the states and my grandfather retired from the US Air Force, they lived on Devonshire in Dayton, Ohio. So even though they had traveled over 4200 miles and then some, they moved 18 miles away from Fairborn. When I was a baby and small child, they had moved to a home on Rahn Road in Kettering – 14 miles away. Before my grandmother died 19 Jan 1984 they had spent many years living 9 miles away at the Park Layne Apartments at 531 Belmonte Park in Dayton. After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather moved almost 13 miles away to the Trinity Home on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek, Ohio. He was there at the time of his death on 18 Jan 1985.

mom

My mom, Mary Helen Johnson, was born in Anderson, Indiana and moved with her parents 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio when she was very young. She remained there until she married my dad in 1943. They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (close to 400 miles away) before moving to Great Falls, Montana – about 1300 miles away. My dad was in the military, and they moved to Japan and back twice – over 6500 miles from Columbus, Ohio. In fact my mom drove my brother and sister from Dayton to Washington to catch the ship for Japan the first time they moved to Japan – a trip of over 2300 miles – very lengthy for a young woman with two little kids in 1953. By the time they returned to the states for the final time, they moved to Panama City, Florida – about 780 miles from Dayton. In 1960, they moved back to Ohio and bought a house in Beavercreek. This was the same house my mom lived in until 1977 when she moved a little over 5 miles away to the town home she lived in for the remainder of her life. (My father is still living so I will not disclose all the places he has lived.)

Below is a list of how far my ancestors traveled in order from who lived (and/or) died at a location farthest from their birthplace to the shortest distance:

  • Martha Jane Stern – 2246 miles
  • Amanda Evaline Mullis - 519 miles
  • Israel Isaac Wilt – 503 miles
  • Christena Nash – 316 miles
  • James Wilson Johnson – 190 miles
  • Malissa Goul - 125 miles
  • Glen Roy Johnson - 115 miles
  • Mary Helen Johnson - 115 miles
  • Vesta Christena Wilt - 113 miles
  • Katie J Blazer - 113 miles
  • Emanuel Bushong Stern – about 105 miles
  • Joseph Napolean Wilt – 102 miles
  • John Lafayette Johnson - 95 miles
  • Nancy Caylor – 68 miles
  • Franklin Blazer - less than 5 miles

According to Wikipedia, History of Indiana, the “state’s population grew to exceed one million” by the 1850s, and several of my ancestors had either made their way to Indiana or were born there. My Wilt/Nash great-great-grandparents likely traveled over the National Road in their westward migration from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Indiana. The Mullis family would have likely traveled by wagon through the wilderness to either the Cumberland Gap/Wilderness Road or to the National Road to get to Indiana.

There were probably several reasons for my ancestors to move north and west – better economy, more fertile farming land, more opportunities, and different political and social climates.

Though my maternal roots run deep in Indiana, I am partial to the state of my birth – Ohio. Even then, I didn’t stay there to live, work, marry and raise a family. I moved over 1000 miles away! Just as my ancestors left the places of their birth in search of something better, that is what I did. I moved (and stayed) due to job opportunities and warmer climate.

Have you tracked your ancestors?

joshua & jennette smutz stone

Today’s tombstone is located in Brunswick, Missouri and belongs to my husband’s great-grandparents, Joshua and Jennette Smutz. I took the photo of their gravestone in June 2013 while we were in Missouri on vacation. My sister-in-law has done quite a bit of research on the lines of my husband’s family.

Joshua was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania to Isaac Smutz and Sarah Stauffer on November 21, 1855. He married Jennette Herbert, daughter of John Herbert and Jennette Smith, on February 26, 1878. The couple had two sons (Earl and Layton) and four daughters (Maggie, Ora, Eva and Della Beryl – my husband’s grandmother). Joshua died on November 21, 1921. Jennette died almost twenty years later on July 25, 1941. They are buried in Elliot Grove Cemetery.

Home

This is the only house I lived in until the spring before I turned sixteen. The picture above, taken in the winter time, shows how young the plants and trees are.

    ????????????????????????????????????????????   60s 57

As time went by, the landscape changed. A blue spruce and pine trees were planted in the front yard. The vast backyard changed to include plants, places for a child to play, and an in-ground swimming pool.

60s 97   60s 124

60s 105  

     

Where there wasn’t really an entry way, my dad built in a barrier with a bookshelf and wrought iron railing and tiled the floor.

    60s 83

After moving away in the spring of 1977 – to a town home across the highway, we’d have occasion to go down the street and see our old house. It really never changed. Then after I left Ohio and moved away, it seemed that when I did visit the area, the fir trees in the front yard had grown taller and taller.

53 cherry hill pic   my house cherry hill 2008

Until I moved to the house I’ve now lived in for over 26 years, the house above was what I always thought of when I thought of home.

Happy Grandparents Day!

fmnots-gparentsday

On August 3, 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day (Wikipedia). So if you are a grandparent – Happy Grandparents Day! If you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents living, make sure you give them a call today and thank them for all they have done for you! If you are a parent of young children, call your own parents to recognize them today.

AARP has stated that “almost 7.8 million children are living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the householders, with more than 5.8 million children living in grandparents’ homes” and “2.5 million grandparents are taking on the responsibility for these children” (AARP, Grandfacts, January 2014, http://www.aarp.org). According to the American Grandparents Association (AGA) the average age of first time grandparents is 48 (grandparents.com, Surprising Facts about Grandparents, AGA, 2014, http://www.grandparents.com). My family is a part of the statistics. Not only do we have three generations under our roof, but have been primary caregivers for one of our grandsons since he was a year old.

Nana & Christopher

The day I became a first time grandparent!

I was much younger than the average age the first time I became a grandparent at age 39. Too young to be considered a “grandma,” I decided that I did not want that as a moniker. I flirted with “Granny” but that was mainly because on the Robin William’s version of Peter Pan (“Hook”), Dame Maggie Smith was called “Granny Wendy” (and if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you are aware of my affinity with “Peter Pan!”) My kids laughed at me and said it made me sound older than what “Grandma” would. As I had read in several publications about grandparents, grandchildren are the ones who eventually give your the name. I can still remember the day that I walked through the living room and my grandson said “Nana” and looked straight at me. So that’s what I am called by all the grandsons! My husband was not so particular – he was a Grandpa and that’s what he was going to be called. Well, my grandson could say the “pa” part so he doubled it. My husband became Papa!

vesta_glen_devonshire

Vesta (Wilt) and Glen R Johnson – Nana and Granddad

My parents – also not conventional – didn’t want to be Grandma or Grandpa either. My mom was under 50 when my sister had her first child so my mom became “Grammy” and my dad became “Gramps.” My maternal grandparents – Glen R. Johnson and Vesta C. (Wilt) Johnson – were Nana and Granddad to their many grand- and great-grandchildren. When I show my grandsons pictures of them, I say that they are their “Great-Nana” and “Great-Granddad.”

Lloyd & Ella Amore

Lloyd & Ella Amore

My paternal grandparents had passed away before I was born so I really didn’t call them anything – other than “Dad’s parents.” Of course, researching family history, I’ve become more personal with them and call them “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Amore – and sometimes their first names.

One of my cousins is “Mimi” to her grandsons and her late husband was “Poppi” while another cousin (my first cousin’s daughter) goes by “Grandma” which is hard for me to believe that she is a grandmother! An older couple from our church use the German monikers of “Oma” and “Opa.” Someone I knew years ago called their mother-in-law “Honey” as her grandmother name.

grandsons and charlie aug 2 2014

Papa with five of our six grandsons!

It isn’t what a grandparent is called, it is the relationship. Two of my grandsons live in our home. Two others I see if not once a week then at least twice a month. Two others are our new grandchildren that we were blessed with upon the marriage of our daughter to their father. One is now away at college and the other we get see at least once a month. That is a blessing that we are so close to them, see them, and have a real relationship with them.

So what are you waiting for? Call those grandparents – even the honorary ones (aunts, uncles, the older couple at church that has taken you and your family under their wing) – or grandparents – call your grandchildren! Without you – those grandchildren wouldn’t be here!

death certificate image

In 2000, a year after I began researching my family history, I was on vacation at my mother’s in Ohio. During that trip, I realized that I should make sure I had a copy of my birth certificate in case it ever came to pass that I could travel with my husband out of the country requiring a passport. When I was at the Health Department in Xenia, Ohio – county seat of Greene county, I asked if it would be possible to purchase (cheaply) an uncertified death certificate for my maternal grandfather. After all, what would a genealogist (even an amateur one) be without a real document? The lady at the counter was very helpful and produced a copy for me. When she asked if there were any other relatives that had died in Greene county, I realized that I could also get my great-grandfather’s death certificate as well. (I could have bought more but I couldn’t remember dates off the top of my head.) I especially wanted that one in order to get the name of his father. Sadly, I had a lapse in judgment as the information on a death certificate is only as good as the memory and knowledge of the informant.

john_johnson_deathcert

Death Certificate for John Lafayette Johnson

  1. The document was stamped UNCERTIFIED COPY – this could not be used for official documentation to receive compensation, benefits, or for legal matters. It does not have a raised seal.
  2. At the top, the document reads that it is from the STATE OF OHIO (names the state), DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (which agency issued the certificate), DIVISION OF VITAL STATISTICS (in charge of birth and death certificates as opposed to checking the cleanliness of restaurants, etc.), CERTIFICATE OF DEATH (not to be confused with a Birth Certificate)
  3. Under place of death – not to be confused with where the decedent was living – the information is recorded as to County: Greene; Registration District is 2471. Under section 3709.01 of the Ohio Revised Code it means a “city or county health district” (Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3701-5 Vital Statistics). The file number is 419 (used for file management).
  4. The township is listed as Bath, Village as Fairfield (this location and it’s neighbor, Osborn, merged in later years to become the City of Fairborn). The city is left blank because it was an incorporated area.
  5. The Primary Registration District is left blank indicating that the Registration District was the only one and not part of another.
  6. The Registration Number is 5 (used for file management).
  7. The fields pertaining to an exact location of death (house number, street, ward, hospital) are left blank.
  8. The length of time at the death location is also left blank. If the location had been filled out, it would have listed my grandfather’s address as well as the time of 9 years at the location.
  9. How long in the U.S. if foreign birth was not complete because he was born in the United States.
  10. The fields asking about military service are not filled in – either because the informant (my grandfather) was not asked or the answer was no so it didn’t seem pertinent to fill it in.
  11. Full Name of Deceased is listed as John Lafayette Johnson. I was pleased to see this because so many death certificates have initials or no middle name.
  12. Residence/Usual place of abode was also not completed. Had it been, it would have listed my grandfather’s address of 40 Ohio Street in Fairfield, Ohio.
  13. Sex: Male (self-explanatory)
  14. Color or Race: White (self-explanatory)
  15. Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced: Left blank (he was widowed as my great-grandmother had died 9 years earlier). I don’t know why that wasn’t filled in.
  16. Name of spouse (if married, widowed or divorced: Katie J Johnson
  17. Date of birth: March 2, 1861 (hoping my grandfather knew his father’s birthdate).
  18. Age: (this is inferred as at the time of death) 78 years 2 months 26 days
  19. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work: Fruit merchant (he owned a truck that he used as fruit vendor).
  20. Industry or business in which work was done: Left blank (he was self-employed)
  21. Date deceased last worked at this occupation: left blank (so I have no way of knowing if he was selling fruit up until he became ill)
  22. Total time (years) at this occupation: left blank (did he do this the whole time he lived in Ohio from 1930 or did he also sell fruit when he had lived in Indiana?)
  23. Birthplace (city or town) (state or country): Howard county, Indiana (I do not have any other documentation to prove this information)
  24. Father’s name: George Wilson Johnson (this has been found to be incorrect and my grandfather knew his grandfather so I don’t know how he ended up giving an incorrect answer – unless he said James Wilson Johnson and it was written down wrong)
  25. Father’s place of birth: Galipolis, Ohio (I have more information that places James Wilson Johnson’s birth as Byrd Township in Brown county, Ohio)
  26. Mother’s maiden name: Don’t know (again, I have my grandfather’s type written family history that gives his grandmother’s name as Amanda Mullis so I don’t know if he was not privy to that information prior to his father’s death.)
  27. Mother’s birthplace: Don’t now (see #26)
  28. Signature of the Informant: Glenn R. Johnson (my grandfather did not spell his name with two “n”s and it doesn’t resemble any signature I’ve seen of my his!)
  29. Address (of the informant): Fairfield, Ohio
  30. Burial, Cremation or Removal – Place: Anderson, Ind; May 31, 1939. This indicates that my great-grandfather’s body was to be taken to Anderson, Indiana three days after his death and not buried in Ohio.
  31. Funeral Firm: The Morris Sons Co.
  32. License (of the Funeral home): 1294
  33. Address: Osborn, Ohio
  34. Embalmer: Yes (my great-grandfather was embalmed before he was taken back to Anderson, Indiana)
  35. Filed: May 30, 1939 by Fern O. Routsoung, Registrar (it was filed two days of my great-grandfather’s death)
  36. Date of Death: May 28, 1939
  37. The physician reported that he attended the deceased from January 31, 1939 until the date of death.
  38. The physician last saw the deceased alive on May 27, 1939 – the day prior to his death.
  39. Death was said to have occurred at 10:40 a.m. (this information would come from whomever was with John Lafayette Johnson at the time of his death – probably my grandfather or grandmother)
  40. The principal cause of death: Carcinoma of the Pancreas (pancreatic cancer) and the date of onset is listed as six months ago (indicating that he had begun feeling the affects of the cancer in January of 1939)
  41. There were no contributory causes listed.
  42. The section for injury, etc. is left blank.
  43. The answer to was disease related to his occupation was no
  44. It was signed by T.H. Winans, M.D. on May 29, 1939 (the physician who had treated him on the day after death)

 

johnson_john_katieJohn and Katie (Blazer) Johnson before her death in 1930

johnson_johnl_bday

John Lafayette Johnson on his birthday in March 1939 – almost 3 months before he passed away
He was already starting to show signs of illness especially the weight loss

 

boxes-3

During the last few years of my mother’s life, I would casually glance through boxes she had stored in her basement, closet space over the stairwell, and in the closets of the guest rooms knowing that someday my sister and I would have to figure out what to do with all of those items. For a good number of years, after my grandparents had passed away in the early 1980s, there was a big box in the furnace room in the basement that contained dry cleaning bags my grandmother had saved as well as wrapping paper that had been ironed in order to re-use it time and time again. I would just shake my head. My sister had asked her once if she could do something with some of the stuff, but my mother grew anxious so nothing happened.

By the time we knew the end was near, my sister and I had already resigned ourselves to taking a good amount of time just to clean out the house. One wouldn’t think that there is that much room in a three bedroom townhome with a basement. One would be very wrong! Mom had lived in that home for 32 years. Between everything she had accumulated and kept throughout her life, she also had items from my grandparents’ estate as well as things that had belonged to me that I never could find or thought enough about to take. There were knick-knacks my grandparents had bought while they lived in Europe, items my mom had brought back from living in Japan, tons of photo albums (hers and my grandparents’), tons of record keeping paperwork, and genealogical treasures!

Since both my sister and I did not live in the same state as our mother, we were far from our homes at her side when she passed away. Neither of us had our husbands with us, except a brief period of time (memorial service), and even though we had cousins close by, that just wasn’t the same. Mom had a reverse mortgage so we knew that time wasn’t on our side. We had to get everything taken care of before the broker figured out that she had passed away and came to collect their money or forced a sale. Funds were low but we were lucky that it gave us not quite a month to get everything done.

Those few weeks after Mom died, it seemed there was blow after blow which compounded the grief and anxiety. There was no legal will which meant we had to find an attorney quickly. The clerks in the Probate office of the county courthouse were not very helpful. They wouldn’t even tell us which forms we needed but instead told us that they could not give legal advice.

Amongst planning the Memorial service, finding an attorney, and dealing with our grief, we managed to contact the correct agencies to remove the items that had pertained to Mom’s care: oxygen tanks, lifeline service, hospital bed, etc. We started with one room at a time. I have heard many stories about people who can’t bear to clean out a departed loved one’s closet to get rid of the clothing, but my sister and I didn’t have a choice. Through the removal of clothes out of the closets and drawers, we shared laughter and tears. Our focus was on emptying the house. This pile was for other family members to go through in case they wanted something. This pile was my sister’s. This pile was mine. Neither one of us could really wear any of her clothes as most of them were several sizes bigger than what we wore. That only brought home the realization of just how much weight she had lost in her final months. Each day we would take at least one or two carloads to the local Goodwill. We held a “look and see” day for our cousins and family to go through items before getting rid of them – an exercycle that Mom had once used religiously; tools – which we realized just weren’t up to snuff; Christmas ornaments and other decorations; dishware; linens; and other household items. My children and my sister’s kids had already told us what items they wanted. Those were in another pile.

We had jewelry to untangle and sort out. We had a file cabinet and other boxes of papers. Sitting in my mom’s walk-in closet going through items that had been in her “safe,” I found the marriage license and certificate of my second great-grandparents. I found divorce papers, birth certificates of my mom and her parents, and letters. I found my mom’s old medical records, all of her work history information, and her association memberships and information. There wasn’t time to enjoy the finds or do a “happy dance” because of the circumstances surrounding the finds. More often than not, items would end up in the trash – but they were unusable, broke, or not worth taking to Goodwill. Items we were taking with us were packed which meant we had to find boxes.

In between the attorney, Goodwill, and cleaning out the townhome, our cousins made sure that we were fed by having us over for meals or taking us out to dinner. When we ate at the house, we spent time coming up with meals out of all the canned goods and freezer items. Though my sister had to leave before I could, we had most of the house cleaned out. The furniture was over forty years old but we tried to contact people in the phone book who advertised that they bought and picked up old furniture. Apparently, it either wasn’t antique enough or vintage enough. By the time my husband came to pick me up to bring me home, the house was as stripped as it could be. The master bedroom suite was still left – it was such a shame as the dressers were still in beautiful shape. The appliances were left – washer/dryer, refrigerator, microwave, and range. The living room end tables, couch and chair. All of the consumables, clothing, linens, decorations, etc. were gone – either to family, Goodwill or trash. We knew what Mom’s wishes had been as to who got what (which would have been really nice had it all been spelled out in a legal will instead of one of those “do-it-yourself” booklets), so we were able to make sure items went to those people she had specified. At one point, the attorney was all upset because I was taking one of the televisions (I think he was afraid that it wouldn’t be there to sell in order to get more money for his fee) until he found out it was an old television that even Walmart wasn’t even selling anymore.

Now, five years later, I still haven’t had much time to do the genealogy “happy dance” about some of the items I found at that time. I am, however, enjoying quite a few items I brought back from Mom’s – dishes and utensils. I enjoy the knick-knacks that had belonged to both my grandparents and my mom. In many ways, I’m glad that we had such a short amount of time to do an estate clean out because it kept me focused on a goal instead of spending days in a grief-stricken fog. I had a plan and needed to follow through.

Preparing to write this blog post, I came across several other blogs from people who have had to deal with this same thing. Each one gave tips on how to make it easier such as trying to downsize prior to a loved one’s death. Sometimes this is inevitable if the person needs to be moved to an assisted living facility, nursing home, or a long term care center. Other posts advised to “let it go” and that is easier said than done. Parting with some items were much easier than others. I was aghast that no one wanted the wooden, carved desk plaque of my grandfather’s name. It had sat on his roll top desk for as long as I could remember. So I took it. I still have it. I don’t have a clue what I’m ever going to do with it. That was probably something I should have just “let go.” I have huge (and I mean huge) pictures – some sort of photographs – of my grandfather’s family when he was a child. I’m never going to have a place to hang them. Who would want to sleep in a room with huge photographs of these people staring at them all night? But I had never seen them and being the family historian that I am, I had to have them. The advice of “pace yourself” is laughable. That would be good advice if the house had been paid for (not on a reverse mortgage) or even in the same city, county, and state (it wasn’t). It’s hard to pace one’s self when time is not on your side. For me, it was about keeping some of the items “in the family” – didn’t matter if it was my sister or her kids, my cousins, my nephew, or me and my kids. My OCD was that I knew where it was. That was from years of hearing my mother say things like: “It better stay in the family” about certain things or her being upset when something had been given to someone and then they sold it/gave it away without asking. I know, that sounds rather selfish. “Here you can have this but don’t you dare do anything with it even though now it’s yours to do with what you want, unless you ask permission first” – that’s what it sounds like. So rather than incurring my mother’s wrath from beyond the grave, I became a little OCD that way. Don’t judge!

For others, the only bits of advice I will give are these: make sure your parents (and yourself) have a legal will so that way everything that they (or you) want to have happen to your belongings will be done; do it the best way you can – slow, fast, with other family members, alone, cry, laugh, and remember. For in the end, it’s the memories and time spent with the loved one that matters the most – not the stuff.

(Image of boxes courtesy of What’s Your Grief? – no copyright infringement intended.)

maude wilt memorial card

In Remembrance

maude wilt memorial card inside

Maud M. Rummel was born on October 17, 1891 in Ingalls, Madison, Indiana to E.J. Rummel and Mary Olive Sharrett. By the 1900 U.S. Census, she was living in the home of her maternal grandparents, Isaiah and Magdalena Sharrett. She was found in the same household in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Censuses although by 1920, her grandmother had died. Maud married my maternal grand-uncle, Clarence Martin Wilt, on December 18, 1923. The couple lived on their own farm in Fortville, Indiana and never had children.

My memories of Maud consist of visiting them at their home at least once a year and sometimes twice. Maud had injured her hip at some point and each time I saw her, she was in bed. That lady knew how to quilt! She made many. Their home wasn’t much more than a one room shack with a pot-belly stove toward one end of it. Her “bed” reminded me of a window seat but that was probably because she was always laying next to the window. I can’t even recall if the bed was large enough for the two of them with all of her quilting materials. I recall stacks of newspapers here and there. I can only remember a small table and a few hard chairs. My uncle Clarence always attended the Wilt family reunion in Noblesville each fall. He was a tall man and smoked cigars.

maude wilt quilt

Maud and one of her many quilts

After Uncle Clarence was killed due to their house fire and smoke inhalation on October 14, 1975, Maud went to the hospital for awhile to be treated for smoke inhalation. I remember visiting her when we traveled to Indiana from Ohio for the funeral. After not getting proper rehabilitation treatment for her hip problems for so long, the hospital wanted to get her physical therapy in order to improve her quality of life. I didn’t see her after that last visit. She lived her remaining years at the Sugarcreek Convalescent Home in Greenfield, Indiana and passed away on February 18, 1978. Even though I was in high school, I don’t remember hearing that she had died or that my grandparents attended the funeral. We did have her funeral card so I suspect someone sent it to my grandmother. Maud was buried in the Mendon Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana next to Uncle Clarence.

Maud left a half-brother, Claud Rummel, and several cousins. Her brother was almost nine years younger than she was so I suspect Maud’s mother had passed away and her father left her with his in-laws as he might not have been able to care for a young girl. Then he married again and had a son. There is a Claude E. Rummell (sp?), son, age 9, found in the 1910 census living in the household of Clayton Rummell, head of household, in Green, Madison, Indiana. Another child, also listed as a son, Robert G., and the mother of the head, Emma J. Rummell, are also living in the same household. The father, Clayton, is listed as married but his wife is not in the household. Claude’s mother’s birthplace is listed as Maryland. In the 1920 census, he is still living with his father, Clayton, and brother – now going by Glen, and a woman listed as “wife” of the head is also listed. Her name is Margurite, seven years older, than Clayton, and born in Indiana. On this census, Claude’s mother is listed as born in Indiana. Claude is married to Ethel by the 1930 census (for about six years) and is still living in Madison county, Indiana. Clayton Rummell is still living in the same location on the 1930 US Census with his wife, Margurite, but the other son, Robert Glen, is not living with them. The father, listed as Manual C. Rummel, in the 1940 census, is widowed by that time. Claude was born on November 26, 1900 in Ingalls, Madison, Indiana according to the United States Social Security Death Index on Familysearch and died three years after his sister, in February 1981. Robert Glen Rummell is found in Marriage Records for Indiana marrying Mary Dean Wischler on February 24, 1922 in Hancock county, Indiana. I believe that the Claude and Robert I have found are Maud’s half-brothers; however, I don’t have original or digitzed records of Maud’s and Clarence’s marriage license to look at to see if what was transcribed as E. J. Rummell was mis-transcribed from M.C. or perhaps whomever completed the marriage license didn’t know (but thought they did) Maud’s father’s initials. I have not found a death record for Maud’s mother nor her brother, Robert, so it is unknown why he wasn’t listed on her obituary (unless he wasn’t close to her and whoever wrote the obituary wasn’t aware of another brother).

Aunt Maud was always very nice to me. She sent me cards on birthdays. Looking back now, I realize that they didn’t have very much, and I wonder if that extended to their finances as well. If so, she must have thought I was special in order to spend money on a card to send to me. Whatever the reason, I am glad that I knew her from the time I was a young girl.

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