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Jacob Marion Wilt is my great grand uncle. He is the oldest child born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Isreal Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash and oldest brother of my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Napolean Wilt.  Jacob was born on February 21, 1858 in Indiana. On August 6, 1881 Jacob and Scena Gibson were married in Newcastle, Henry County, Indiana. They had a son, Russell Ray Wilt, born September 6, 1890 in Newcastle. The family is found in the 1900 Census living in Jefferson township in Henry County.  They reported that they had been married 18 years. By the 1910 Census, Russell was already out on his own.  Jacob and Scena were living in Sulphur Springs in Henry County.

And there begins the mystery.  It was reported by a distant cousin (Jacob is their great grand uncle also) that Jacob and Scena moved to California. I have not located either one – however, according to the 1920 Census, Russell is married to Ferna (LNU) with a young daughter, Thelma, and living in Modesto, California. In 1930 the Russell Ray Wilt family is in Oakland, California and in 1940 they have moved to Pierce County, Washington.

There is a Jacob Wilt listed in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses in San Bernadino, California – but his age is off by a couple of years and the listing for his father’s birth place is not Virginia. In the 1920 Census, that particular Jacob reports that he is divorced and in the 1930 Census, it shows he is widowed. I need to pinpoint the exact locations in the enumeration districts where both this Jacob and also Russell were living. If they are close by, then these two “different” Jacobs may just be one and the same. I haven’t located any further information on Scena (whose name has also been spelled Sena and Cena and mistakenly reported as Lena – depending on who was reading the writing!) nor on Russell’s wife, Ferna, or their daughter, Thelma. The Wilt branch of the family still living in and around New Castle, Indiana, didn’t seem to know any further information.

Sources: All Census information came from www.familysearch.org indexes.  Jacob and Scena’s marriage information came from the same website – the “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959″ database (digital image).

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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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In case you are just now joining this series and need to catch up, you can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Go ahead and read – I’ll wait.

Okey, Dokey – all done and ready for the 4th installment now? Good!  Any questions so far?

We have just left Northern California and are headed toward DISNEYLAND!!! To put everything into perspective, Disneyland (the original in Anaheim, California) opened its gates in July 1955 (Source: Wikipedia). A few months before we arrived in the fall of 1966, New Orleans Square had opened at Disneyland. Little did I realize as a child of not quite five, that Main Street U.S.A. was inspired from Walt Disney’s childhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri.  And even less did I realize that after I was all grown up, I would marry a man who grew up not too far from Marceline and would drive me through the town when we visited his folks just down the road in Mendon, Missouri. (As Walt would say, “It’s a small world, after all”!!!)

I’m jumping way ahead of myself. We arrived late in the evening and checked into our motel just beyond the parking lot. We would traverse that lot the next morning to begin our day. Just as we entered the gates, this is what happened:

I got a big hug from Pluto! 

And then we saw:

this!

And this (below):

Pirate Restaurant, teacup ride of the Mad Tea Party, and the Skyway ride over the park.

In Fantasyland, we rode in the teacups, Dumbo, and rode in the boats through Storybrook Land (see below). We went on the Small World and Peter Pan ride and much more!

We saw attractions in Frontierland, Adventureland (see below) and Tomorrowland.  BUT – the rocketship to the moon was not there or open. I remember a big hole with a lot of dirt. So to keep from being too disappointed, I told my parents that the rocket must have already taken off and maybe it would be back the next day.  We did go on the Submarine adventure – I was so excited thinking that we were really going deep into a big ocean. 

The next day we returned to Disneyland for part of the day.  Below you will see a picture of Mom and I sitting outside a shop.

All too soon our “Disney Adventure” was ending. It was time to move on to other attractions in the area.  At Knotts Berry Farm, we saw the train.

Met an “old west” type man.

I also saw a shoot out that left me crying and very frightened for my dad.  As we were getting ready to board the train, two men started “shooting” at each other. One was “killed” and the other loaded the “dead” man up into a wheelbarrow and hauled him off. I was so scared that my dad was going to get shot and killed while we were waiting on the train. I cried for a long time but finally my parents made me realize that it was all pretend and my dad was going to be ok. It was just like being in a movie! Everything was pretend!  Even the “snow” (below) . . .

It was really flakes of soap. My mother hated that!  For many, many years, she would talk about how hard it was getting all those particles of soap out of my hair. It wasn’t as easy as just washing it out. And my hair was naturally curly to boot!

We saw a “burlesque” show – remember this is a family park so it wasn’t too risque!  Lots of old buildings and fun activities to participate in.

Another day it was off to Marine Land!  We saw Flipper (if you do not know who or what that is, go google “Flipper TV show”)!  We saw big whales, trained dolphins, fish, and penguins.



We also went to Universal City (it was nothing like it is today!). I got to see the set of “The Munsters” (go ahead, google it, it’s ok!)

And I even got to “meet” Herman Munster (above)! (disclaimer: this was not the actor who portrayed Herman Munster, it was someone who wore a mask and just did the PR pictures with tourists and guests! But I didn’t care!)

Stay tuned for more of the Journey!

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

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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This is the third installment on my “Travel Thursday” series of “Over the Rainbow” and our journey from Ohio to California and back in 1966. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

It was mid-September, and Mom, Dad, and I had just finished visiting their friends, the Manning family, and my great-aunt, Nellie Lilly, in Washington state. We were on our way south toward California. Next stop was Crater Lake National Park in Klamath County, Oregon.  The lake was formed from a massive volcanic eruption about 5700 B.C. (according to Wikipedia). We arrived just before the snow covered everything, and the view was breathtaking . . . 

. . . even to a four year old child.

       

We checked out the view, took lots of photos, and encountered local wildlife. It seemed the chipmunks had no fear – especially if they were fed – and the deer was injured, but didn’t get too close to us.

As we drove through Oregon toward California, we encountered logging operations.

On toward Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. According to the newspaper article, trees at Sequoia were over 3500 years old with the General Sherman being the tallest at a little over 270 feet high with a circumference of a little over 100 feet.

     

   

We were in awe at the size of those trees!  One hollowed out tree was on its side, and I thought it was really neat how people walked into the tree without having to duck! It was that big around!

And as we traveled on toward southern California, we saw these sights:

Olive trees and citrus trees – along with trucks taking fruit to wherever they needed to go in order to be processed and shipped.  We saw grapes going to wineries.  Some of this I remember and some I don’t.  Mainly we saw long stretches of highway!

But the journey is only beginning for me – soon we will be “Over the Rainbow”! Stay tuned for the next installment!

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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And the journey continues . . .

In my previous post, Moffitt Mystery, I told about how I discovered that the family of C.C. (Christopher Columbus) Moffitt was related to my maternal line, the Johnson family. I found the reunion minute book and the letter I wrote about. I also found another letter in the book that I had forgotten about.

In a letter from Bess Lukens, daughter of C.C. Moffitt and Elenora Johnson, and wife of Ben Lukens, written on August 21, 1940, to those at the reunion and addressed to my grandmother (who was secretary of the reunion committee at the time), she said:

Dear Johnson & Shively,
Would like very much to be with you this year and enjoy the day, but am sorry to say it will be impossible to do so.  Will send you the names of my children and their families. My eldest son, Robert, his wife Jane and children, Bobby, Billy and Janene, then my daughter Doris Dalrymple, her husband Lawrence and their daughter Carol Ann – they all live in Knightstown.  My youngest son Eugene is in the Marine Corp at Great Lakes, Ill.
Hope this will help you out, should you wish any more information that I can furnish you, please write me.  Hope to with you all some day.
I remain, a cousin
Bess Lukens
Knightstown, Ind.

That letter provided me with other names I had seen in the past – either connected to the Johnson-Shively reunion or letters of my grandparents.  It didn’t tell me anything other than somehow Bess was related to the Johnson family. It would take more information for me to discover just who she was.

On August 28, 1941 a letter was written – also addressed to my grandmother – from Helen Land who lived at 217 N.W. 5th St., Richmond, Indiana.  She was Bess’ sister and the youngest child of C.C. and Elnora.  She wrote:

Dear Johnsons:
We received the card announcing the Johnson – Shively reunion and are so sorry we won’t be able to attend, as our plans were made for over Labor day, for several wks. prior to receiving the card, but it is much to my regrets that I can’t be with ou all, and enjoy that scrumptous dinner, you Johnsons and Shivelys can prepare, and to mingle with my mother’s people again.
In some way or another the Johnson blood tie is very dear to me. I believe Mother must have been a typical Johnson. She was surely a fine woman and tho’ she’s been gone most twelve years (will be Oct 26) I miss her every day & miss her companionship. Our Dad has been  gone away now two yrs. last July 8. His last few years were very declining and his going was a great relief to himself & I really miss him – for I was my “Daddy’s baby” and was for 37 yrs and that was a long time you know to be loved so tenderly as he always did me. (Now I told my age.) ha!
Well so much for that. The rest of the girls are well. Our oldest sister, which some may remember, attended the reunion with us several yrs back, when held at Riverside at Anderson, is now located at Goble Oregon and I had a letter not long since & they are well & happy.
Our one and only brother seems to be doing quite well for himself. He is a general contractor in Waldport Oregon. He has two grand children and four children in the west too.
One sister, Elva, whom I really think has never attended a reunion lives at Lafayette. Lena, whom you all know, lives here in Richmond and I see her and her family quite often. Her daughter’s husband (Ernest Fletcher) whom you’ve all met died suddenly a yr. ago last Mar 22 and that was quite a shock to all of us. Lena said to tell you, that they should like to have been with you, too, had like wise made previous plans for over Labor Day.
Bess, Ethel and Hazel all live at Knightstown and Hazel had the misfortune to lose her son Howard Price almost 3 1/2 yrs ago. Bess is a widow now too.
Well now all eight of us are taken care of I think – only to tell you that I think I have three nice kiddies & of whom I’m real proud. My oldest girl is 19. My son most 17, and my baby girl is nost 13, and they are all quite large. Phyllis is working, having graduated in ’40. Weldon will enter the 11A class in Senior Hi. this fall.  Ruth Eleanor will enter the 7A. class in Jr. Hi. Carlos, the husband and daddy is well and working hard on the defense work in the shop and as to myself since having had several surgical operations and one thing and another have gained back a lot of that weight that I used to carry around but I do feel well and why should I let a few pounds worry me. Eh? Anyway mama was stout and I was proud of her & people tell me I look like my mom so why should I let it worry me – I say.
I am wanting to know why and when the Reunion was changed to the last Sun. in August? Was supposed it was over with or  there just wasn’t any anymore. The Moffitt’s have their reunion on the first Sun. of Aug. now. We didn’t attend it this yr either. As to the J-S’s reunion if there should be another, I hope to be able to attend it, and would have this year if I had known about it just a few days earlier but we had made other plans for over Labor Day and again I’m sorry but know you’ll all have a nice time & altho’ I won’t be there in person, I’ll be thinking of you and send all my Love and best wishes to you (all) and hope to be with you next year.
Sincerely yours
Helen M. land
I should be glad to have some of you write to me.
I always will remember the swell times I always used to have with all of you.

 Helen Land’s letter gave me the clues that her mother was a Johnson – and even though that is such a common surname – she was part of this Johnson clan; information about her siblings, children, and spouse; and how regretful she was that she wasn’t able to attend the reunion.  From her sentence about how long her mother and father had been gone, I knew about what year they had died – which corresponded to the date of death for C.C. Moffitt that I’d found in the reunion book.  I also learned the correct spelling for her maiden name – as I have also seen it spelled “Moffett”, “Moffit”, “Moffatt”, and “Moffet”.  Two “f”s and two “t”s and an “i” – not an “e” or “a”.

My research has been online (as I am not able to travel to see the actual documents).  What I found for C.C. Moffitt’s and Elenora Johnson’s children are as follows:

1. Ancestry had census records for the Jesse Virgil Kenworthy family – which confirmed that Myrtle Moffitt (oldest daughter of C.C. Moffitt and Elenora Johnson was his wife.  The 1900, 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census recorded them living in Oregon.  They had two sons.  The 1930 U.S. Census showed that the family had moved to California.  I also found a marriage record on Familysearch in Indiana. They married on August 8, 1899 in Rush County, Indiana.  Interestingly, I found another marriage record for them on June 21, 1925 from Gooding County, Idaho.  So sometime between the recording of the 1920 U.S. Census and then, they divorced but got remarried.  Another mystery – what happened?  Jesse Virgil died on April 16, 1956 in Clackamas, Oregon and Myrtle died on December 12, 1970 in the same county.  So the couple returned to Oregon from California.

2. Lena Moffitt’s married Earl B. Atkins in Knightstown, Indiana on February 12, 1902.  Her mother’s first name is spelled Elnora.  It also shows that this was the first marriage for both.

3. Elva Moffitt married Harry F. Griffith in Henry County, Indiana on March 31, 1909.  Her birth place is listed as Rush County, Indiana.  Mother’s name is listed as Ellen Johnson. Elva and Harry are found in the 1920 U.S. Census living in Deer Creek, Carroll County, Indiana with their two children – Kathryn and Paul.  They are in the same area in the 1930 U.S. Census and Paul is the only child at home.  Harry died in September 1971.  Elva died in April 1979.

4. Carl A. Moffitt – only son of C.C. and Elenora – married Clenna Marie Smith on November 25, 1909 in Henry County.  His place of birth is listed as Rush County. The family is found in the 1910 U.S. Census on Ancestry in Rush County, Indiana.  There are no children.  The World War I Draft Registration Card for Carl is in Missoula County, Montana.  In the 1920 U.S. Census they are in Wayne Township, Henry County, Indiana with their two oldest children – Donald and Juanita. In the 1930 U.S. Census they are living in Portland, Oregon with their three sons and 1 daughter: Donald, Juanita, David and Dick. The Social Security Death Index shows that Carl died in August 1971 with his last residence in Lincoln County, Oregon.

5. Bessie Pearl Moffitt married Benjamin Lukens in New Castle, Indiana on November 26, 1912.  Bessie was born in Rush County, Indiana.  This was the groom’s second marriage and Bessie’s first.

6. Ethel Fay Moffitt married Horace E. Worth in Henry County, Indiana on December 14, 1910. Her place of birth is listed as Henry County, Indiana.  Mother’s name is listed as Ellen Johnson.

7. Mary Hazel Moffitt married Otto B. Price in Henry County, Indiana on February 10, 1914.  Hazel was born in Henry County, Indiana.  In the 1930 U.S. Census on Ancestry, the family is living in Knightstown, Henry County, Indiana with their two children, Howard and Janice.  Also in the household is Hazel’s father, listed as Columbus C Moffitt, age 75.  He is listed as a widower.

8. Also on Familysearch I found the marriage information for Helen Moffitt (spelled “Moffett”) to Carlos E. Land in Rush County, Indiana on July 24, 1921.  The bride’s mother’s name is listed as Ellenora Johnson and the bride is listed as being born in Henry County, Indiana on November 9, 1902.

There are more records to research – still no idea how Elenora is related to my Johnson’s.  I’ll take a look at Jacob and Ann (Shields) Johnson’s children next to see if Elenora was a child of one of them.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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Disneyland, Anaheim, California.  September 1966.
Mickey and Me.
Photo taken by Gene Amore and is now in my sister’s possession.

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This picture (look at the door) reminds me of the homes in the “shire” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Large doorknob in the center of the door!  This picture was taken in California during the trip I took with my parents in the mid-60s.  I don’t remember if this was at Disneyland or Universal Studios.  The original photo is a slide that I scanned.  My dad (I believe) was the photographer.

Why it pertains to “genealogy”: it is part of the story of my travels as a child that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren.  That they may know that I was able to see a vast majority of the United States in my youth, my experiences, the things I saw, and how I remembered them. 

Why I chose this picture?  Kind of freaky – doorknob in the center of the door?  Weird!

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