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Posts Tagged ‘Blazer’

There have been several times in the past where I’ve come to a brick wall – more like a cement wall – unmovable and indestructable.  When I’ve come to a screeching halt in my research, I’ve generally focused on either other activities or other names in my ancestry.  I think it is usually a case where I’m looking so hard at one thing, I can’t see what’s right in front of me.

However, there are still some brick walls that I haven’t been able to even knock one brick out of in order to see a little glimmer of light from the other side.

Parents (and therefore their ancestors) of:

  • William Amore (my 2nd g-grandfather) b. Feb. 6, 1828 in Troy, albany, NY d. Feb. 9, 1896 in Franklin Twp, Coshocton County, Ohio.
  • Charlotte Imons (my 2nd g-grandmother, wife of William Amore) b. Aug. 4, 1828 in Ohio d. Oct. 9, 1862 in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  • Frances Ogan (my g-grandmother, wife of James Emory House) b. Nov. 29, 1846 in Ohio d. Feb. 18, 1915 [I posted about her story here.]
  • Julia Lewis (my 2nd g-grandmother, wife of Florus House, mother of James) b. Dec. 24, 1815 in Ohio d. Oct. 6, 1899 in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  • John Blazer (my 3rd g-grandfather) b. abt. 1812 in Ohio d. Unknown probably in Indiana.
  • Martha McManaway (my 3rd g-grandmother, wife of John Goul) b. abt. 1801 in Germany or Rockingham, Virginia d. Oct. 7, 1855 probably in Indiana.
  • Frederick Goul (my 5th g-grandfather) b. in Germany. (No information on his wife either.)
  • Jacob Johnson (my 3rd g-grandfather) b. Dec. 11, 1787 in New Jersey d. May 2, 1855 in Center Township, Rush County, Indiana.
  • William Shields (my 4th g-grandfather, father of Ann Shields, father-in-law of Jacob Johnson).
  • Thomas Stanley (my 4th g-grandfather).
  • Sarah Smithey (my 4th g-grandmother, wife of Thomas Stanley).
  • George Mullis (my 4th g-grandfather) b. 1768 in Wilkes County, North Carolina d. 1833 in Surry County, North Carolina.
  • Johnathan Wilt (my 3rd g-grandfather) b. abt. 1800 in Virginia.
  • Catherine Hollinger (my 3rd g-grandmother, wife of Johnathan Wilt) b. 1799 in Virginia.
  • Alexander Nash (my 3rd g-grandfather) b. about 1808 in Pennsylvania. (No information on his wife, Elsy’s, family.)

My research has included checking the census records for the areas in which they died and going backwards as well as any other on-line documentation – wills, marriages, births, deaths, obituaries and newspaper articles.  I’ve also asked living family members what they have heard about ancestors in case oral histories have been passed down.

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Is This Rachel?

I wrote about my great-grandmother’s two sisters, Martha (Mat) Blazer, in “A Case of Chase” and Rachel Blazer Given in “Elusive Great-Great Aunt Rachel”.

I’ve located a photo recently that my mom seems to think may possibly be Rachel.  I am posting these photos in order for everyone to give their opinion.

  

These two photographs are of Malissa (Goul) Blazer at two different ages.

Martha (Mat) Blazer

James (“Oakie”) Oakland Goul

Katie Blazer Johnson

Could this be Rachel Blazer Given?

Lineage: Malissa Goul Blazer mother of John Oakland Goul (first child by James Goul) and Martha, Katie, and Rachel Blazer (also John and Wesley Blazer – I have no photos of them).  As I compare the photos, I notice the chins look similar. 

I will continue to compare this picture of the person thought to be Rachel with other family portraits in order to figure out if this really is a member of the Blazer family.

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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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Before I get into the “meat” of this post, let me say that for the last few days I’ve been frantically searching for the text of this.  I knew I had written it, searched all through this blog looking for it, searched through my document files on my hard drive in case I’d written it but not posted it, and then today decided that I might have posted it pre-genealogy blog on my personal blog.  Voila!  Found it!  Most of the following was posted to Hello . . . Is This Thing On? on February 25, 2008 and is titled Searching for Rachel.

So I spent part of the weekend looking for Rachel – she is (or was) technically my great-great aunt.  My maternal grandfather’s, mom’s sister.  All I knew about Rachel is the year she was born and that at the time of my great-grandmother’s death in 1930 she was listed on the obituary as Mrs. Rachel Givens from Missouri.  No one knew what her husband’s name was and typically at that period of time if a woman is listed as Mrs. (her name) Surname – that generally means they were widowed or divorced.  Awhile back I finally found her in the 1900 census living in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Morris and 2 step-sons, William and Wheeler, and a 1 yr old daughter – (looked like) Shawn.  So yesterday after realizing that I was going to have to spread the net out a little trying to find her in the 1910 or 1920 censuses, I started using variations of the Givens.  Finally after I spelled it without the “s” on the end, I found Rachel and Maurice (spelled differently) in 1910 about the same place they were in 1900.  This time there were additional children.  Wheeler was now listed as Charles W., “Shawn” was no where to be found but Mary (about the same age as “Shawn” would have been) was there along with a son, Nathaniel and a son Arthur A., and twin daughters, Pearl and Mearl.  Rachel had listed that she was the mother of 6 children but only 5 were living – so somewhere in there was a child who was stillborn or died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  In fact I ran across the Missouri death certificate (thank you Missouri for digitizing the old death records!) so I now have a more complete look for this elusive branch of the family.  I found William in the 1920 census already married with children.  Now in 1920 Morris and Rachel were living in Wyandotte County, Kansas – so they hopped the state line somewhere in the 10 years previous.  I’m not sure my great-grandmother ever saw her sister after Rachel moved to Missouri from Indiana (where she was born and grew up).  So now I’m trying to locate Morris or Maurice in the 1890 census to see who he was married to before Rachel when the 2 oldest boys were toddlers.  Since Rachel grew up in Indiana, need to figure out if she was in Missouri visiting other relatives when she met Morris or if he was living in Indiana when they met.  I did find a Givens family living down the street from some of her relatives – but no Morris in the family – maybe he was visiting them (his relatives) when they met and he whisked her off to marry & mother his 2 children. 

Update on this post: When I wrote this, somehow I completely forgot that I won’t be locating the 1890 census anytime soon since almost all of it was destroyed in a fire. 

I’ve found Maurice (born September 1857) living in his parents’ household in the 1860 Census in Columbia Boro, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Parents listed are Nathaniel and Catherine Given.   Catherine’s maiden name was discovered to be Waltman as listed in Familysearch.org.  The couple was married on March 22, 1853.  They had four sons and two daughters (George, David, Maurice, William, Laura and Saloam).  The marriage ended (probably by Catherine’s death) and Nathaniel then married Sarah Emma Stout on April 16, 1867.  They had four daughters and three sons (Carrie, Florence, Grace, Annie, Franklin, Washington and Walter). 

Maurice was found in his parents home in the 1870 Census living in 8-WD Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  He was not found in the 1880 Census even though his parents are still in Dauphin County. 

On October 17, 1887 his first son, William Albert Given, was born in Strong City, Chase County, Kansas.  According to his death certificate, William’s mother was Elizabeth Rose.  She is also thought to be the mother of Charles Wheeler Given, born December 22, 1889.  It is likely that Elizabeth died in the next few years.

Maurice went on to marry my great-great aunt, Rachel Blazer and their first child, Mary, was born in Oct. 1898 according to the 1910 Census (this is probably the child listed as “Shawn” or a misspelling of “Sarah” in the 1900 Census born Oct. 1898).  Mary is listed as age 12 on the 1910 Census which would put her birth around 1898.  The family is living in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses. 

Also in the 1910 Census Maurice lists that he has been married twice and Rachel lists one marriage.  They report that they have been married 13 years putting their marriage date about 1897.  Rachel also lists that she has given birth to 6 children with 5 of them living.

The 1920 Census shows the family living in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas with their two sons and two daughters (Arthur, Nathaniel, Pearl and Mearl).  Throughout the Censuses, his first name is spelled as both “Morris” and “Maurice”.  The surname varies from Givens and Given. 

I’ve located Maurice’s death date on the Kansas Historical Society website under Fraternal Necrologies.  He was a member of the I.O.O.F. and died March 6, 1930 (which would have made Rachel a widow at the time of my great-grandmother’s death in May 1930).

William, the oldest son, died on December 17, 1946 of carbon monoxide poisoining (ruled accidental on the Death Certificate).  According to the Social Security Index, Charles died in September 1976.  There is no other information on Mary.  Arthur died in June 1959 according to the SSDI.  He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.  His obituary lists those who survive him as his wife, Maude; daughters, Juanita and Alice; and sons, Lawrence, William, James and George.

Daughters, Mearl and Pearl, have not been located past the 1920 Census.  Nathaniel was located in news articles and died on May 1, 1984 in Topeka, Kansas.

A listing on the Missouri Birth and Death Records Database shows that Rachel (spelled Rachael) and Maurice Givens had a daughter born July 17, 1908 at 1650 Madison in Jackson County, Missouri.  This record shows Maurice was born in Pennsylvania and Rachel was born in Indiana.  Since a daughter wasn’t found on the 1910 Census born about 1908, I’ve made the deduction that this is the child that had died. 

Did Rachel ever return to Indiana to visit her mother, Malissa Goul Blazer, before Malissa died on March 7, 1907?  Did she ever see her two sisters, Katie Blazer Johnson, or Martha (Mat) Blazer Noonan Hardman, again?  Or her brothers, John and Wesley (who had moved to Champaign County, Ohio before 1900)?  Did her children or grandchildren ever travel East to meet or visit with their Blazer or Goul relatives?  And what did Rachel look like? (This mystery may be solved!  Stay tuned for a future post!)

And why does Rachel interest me if she’s just my great-grandmother’s sister?  I think it has to do more with the solving of a mystery than anything else.  I found one of Rachel’s grandson’s still living and have a letter to be sent off to him.  Possibly he can fill in some of the blanks or put me in touch with other descendents of Rachel and Maurice.

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The theme for the 52nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is AGEAs family historians, we take time to carefully mark the birthdates of our forebearers. We print out family tree charts including this all-important data. We make it a point to note at what age family members have married, had children and passed away.  Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us for the upcoming edition of the carnival. Do you have a member of the family who went to work to support the family while still of a tender age? Someone who accomplished something that was typically done by others beyond his or her years? A couple who married young? A couple with disparate ages? A family member who accomplished something of note at an advanced age? How about family members that lived many years, outlasting many of their relatives and friends? With the understanding that “age is often a state of mind”, share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.

I found myself thinking “what am I going to post about?”  How about some statistics concerning age within my family tree?

Marriages:

  • My parents were married when they were both 22.
  • Glen Johnson and Vesta Wilt (maternal grandparents): 18 [1916]
  • Lloyd Amore and Ella House (paternal grandparents): 21 & 20 [1903]
  • John L. Johnson and Katie J. Blazer (maternal g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1883]
  • Joseph Wilt and Martha Stern (maternal g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1890]
  • Henry Amore and Annie Werts (paternal g-grandparents): 20 & 17 [1872]
  • James House and Frances Ogan (paternal g-grandparents): 24 & 26 [1873]
  • James W. Johnson and Amanda Mullis (maternal g-g-grandparents): 24 & 19 [1852]
  • Frank Blazer and Malissa Goul (mat. g-g-grandparents): abt. 22 & abt. 26 [abt. 1858]
  • Isreal Wilt and Christena Nash (mat. g-g-grandparents): 29 & 20 [1857]
  • Emmanuel Stern and Nancy Caylor (mat. g-g-grandparents): 22 & 16 [1857]
  • William Amore and Charlotte Imons (pat. g-g-grandparents): 20 & 22 [1851]
  • William Werts and Louisa Bookless (pat. g-g-grandparents): 22 & 18 [1852]
  • Florus House and Julia Lewis (pat. g-g-grandparents): 25 & 23 [abt. 1838]

I didn’t go as far back as I could, but I thought that information would give a sampling.  A few things I noticed: most of the time they were married at or before age 20 or in their early 20s.  Only in two cases are the wives older than their husbands by at least a year or more.  There isn’t too many years difference between a husband and wife.  Even though the time spans over 100 years, there isn’t many changes in how old/young the couple was upon marriage.

AVERAGE AGE AT DEATH

  • Grandparents: 76 3/4 years old
  • Great-grandparents: 77.5 years old
  • Great-Great-Grandparents: 57 years old

There is a span of average age at death of almost 20 years between my g-g-grandparents’ generation and my g-grandparents’ generation.  There were several who died at a young age: Charlotte Imons died at the age of 34; William Washington Werts died at 27; Christena Nash died at 39; Franklin Blazer died at 33; Amanda Mullis died at 35. 

Then I looked at my dad’s line and discovered another interesting fact.  My Grandpa Amore’s brothers lived long lives.  Isaiah (Zade) Amore: 100;

Roy Amore: 95; Rollo Amore: 87; Herbert Amore: 93; Clarence Amore: 80.  His sister, Clemmie Amore, died at the age of 82.  Only my grandfather, Lloyd, died before the age of 80, when he was 72.  My dad’s siblings also have lived long lives: Gertrude: 98; Paul: 91; Norman: 86; Bervil: 81.  My aunt is still living and she is 99.  Only my Uncle Gail died in his 70s from cancer. 

What that tells me is that especially on my paternal side – longevity is more than likely in the genes as opposed to the environment.  For the Amore’s grew up close to coal mines and many of them lived a pretty hard life. 

All in all – age is only what we make of it.  Whether we marry young or in our maturity; have our first child young or as an older, more patient parent.  If we live very long lives, are we making the most out of our time or just passing through?

(Photos: Top – Henry and Annie Amore; Center Right: Emmanuel and Nancy Stern)

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The summer months signal the end of the school year, the smell of chlorine as we spend time at our backyard or community pools, the sound of ice cubes melting in the tall glasses of water or iced tea, and the call of our nomadic beginnings as we think about travel plans.

Many families will travel from several locations to the “old homestead” or a centralized location for the annual Family Reunion.  Fundraisers may have been held to help pay for the festivities.  Extra hours worked for the overtime pay in order to purchase the airline or bus tickets or to put that (high priced) gas in the tanks of vehicles.  Invitations via email or internet message boards have been sent or posted and replies received.  Luggage will be packed and travel “entertainment” chosen for the young ones.  Genealogy information has been downloaded, compiled and printed out to be shared.  Photo CDs have been copied for those who have requested them.  The agenda for the reunion has been planned – probably a catered meal or pot luck; games to enjoy; a side trip to the cemetery, homestead or Civil War Battlefield; and the business meeting – how much in the reunion treasury, recording of the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths of the past year, a formal portrait of the participants, the planning of the date and place for the next reunion; and then the good-byes.

For those who have never attended a family reunion or can’t understand why anyone would care who their third cousin twice removed is, this is a mystery they really can’t fathom.  For those who have enjoyed or endured at least one family reunion, there was at least one thing that happened that has stuck with them.  Possibly it was trying to hide from a cousin who always has picked on you or being excited to see your favorite aunt.  Maybe there was a terrible storm and rained everyone out of the picnic area.  Or you collected recipes of dishes you’ve been dying to have.  Or you discovered other relatives have the same interests you do and now live close to you.  There is something for everyone.

My experience with reunions was (as the Carpenter’s song goes) Long Ago and Far Away.  As a child I attended at least four reunions a year.  One was a reunion of my dad’s siblings (the descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore).  We would meet at one of the brother’s or sister’s home for a weekend of food, fun, laughter, drinking (if you were of legal age), poker, singing (courtesy of two of my cousins), puppet shows (courtesy of my Aunt Marie), and arguing from someone!  I remember reunions at my Uncle Paul’s and Uncle Gail’s (both in Detroit), my Aunt Gertie’s (in Zanesville, Ohio), my Uncle Norman’s (in Chicago), and my childhood home in Beavercreek, Ohio.  One of my dad’s brothers, Bervil, made it to (I think) one of the reunions but generally just stayed away.  Most of the pictures I have of the siblings don’t include him – so instead of seven there is only six.  One other thing I remember very clearly was there was a scrapbook or photo book that everyone spent time looking at and reminiscing about.  I don’t remember any pictures that were in that book – I do have photos of people looking at it.  I believe my cousin has that book and unfortunately no one has been able to obtain the rights to even look at it in the last 35+ years. 

The second reunion was the Amore-Baker reunion (formerly Amore-Wertz) reunion.  These were the descendents of Henry and Annie Amore and their daughter Clemmie and her husband Benjamin Baker.  We would meet every August at the Coshocton Fairgrounds at the Grange for a day or eating, meeting, and playing.  I remember one year (one of the last I attended before my parents’ divorce), I was enthralled watching some other girls about my age playing across the way.  I asked my mom if I could go play with them and she told me they were related to me.  Unfortunatley I don’t remember their names or who they “belonged” to.  They were part of my great-aunt’s clan of Bakers.  I thought it was sad that our two halves of the family never ate together or met together.  We were just sort of at the same spot.

The third reunion I attended was my Grandmother’s family.  This was the Wilt Reunion and we would travel from our home in Southwestern Ohio across the Indiana border to Noblesville.  It was at the same place every year except the last few I heard about.  Up the hill was an elementary school with a playground.  That’s normally where I would spend most of my day instead of listening to the business meetings or folks trying to “entertain” everyone with their singing or joke telling.  As a child, I wasn’t much interested in how anyone was related to anyone else.  I knew who my first cousins were and I even knew who my mother’s first cousins were and who my grandmother’s siblings were.  The rest of them sort of got lost in the crowd.  One year the Wilt reunion was held at my Grandparent’s apartment party room and pool area.  I wasn’t able to attend as I was already living far from home.  Another year it was held at my brother’s home.  I showed up pregnant with my second child which no one had heard about yet.  I just remember that my mother didn’t attend that year.

The fourth reunion I attended was as an older child and teen.  It was my grandfather’s maternal side – the Johnson – Blazer reunion.  My great-grandmother – who I wrote about in Katie’s Story – was Katie J. Blazer.  We met at the Glen Blazer home in Urbana, Ohio or at our home in Beavercreek.  Glen was the son of Katie’s brother – making him my grandfather’s first cousin.  He and his sister, Ada, were the last of my grandfather’s first cousins, whom my grandfather knew about, who were around.

The last reunion I attended was a Cousin’s Reunion designated as such for we are all cousins and descendents of my maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson.  We met the summer following my brother’s death at my first cousin’s home in Ohio.  Three of us who live in other states (my sister and I and the daughter of a cousin) were the only “out of towner’s” to attend.  Two other cousins and their scattered children were unfortunately not able to attend.  Needless to say we didn’t have a business meeting or any agenda to decide how often we wanted to “reunite”.  Several of us started the day out by caravaning to the cemetery where our grandparents and my mom’s baby sister are buried and to the cemetery where my aunt and her husband are buried.  We took dozens of pictures and ate a lot of good food.  There were eight of us “first cousins” and now that my brother is gone, there is seven.  The last time all eight of us were together was my grandparents’ 50th anniversary in 1966 at their home in Kettering, Ohio.  Since then, at least one of us haven’t been able to attend an event.

This year, as you prepare or plan for the big reunion or family event, make sure you make your list of what you want to get out of it.  Do you want to digitally record each family member sharing a story or a memory?  Do you want photos of the whole gang or just the principal family members or the patriarch/matriarch with separate families?  Do you want to share family history research?  Visit a prominent spot of your family history or ancestory?  Then how do you stay in touch the rest of the year? 

Family reunions are important.  It’s a way to connect and actually meet those who share the same ancestors.  However, what’s most important is how do we keep those connections?  We can cultivate them through frequent phone calls, individual visits, or email/snail mail.  One reason is because – someday that family photo book may belong to the individual who has felt “outcast” from the family and you may never see it again!

(Pictures: Top – My dad & his siblings minus my Uncle Bervil; Detroit 1967; Bottom – Amore Sibling Reunion at my house with most everyone in the picture).

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