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Posts Tagged ‘Johnson’

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The month began with this prompt: “Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.”

nanayoung

It isn’t easy for me to pick a favorite female ancestor however I must choose my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christina (Wilt) Johnson – the woman I knew all my life as “Nana.” She was a large part of my life and lived close to us so I saw her at least once a week if not more. As a young child, I spent some weekends at her and my Granddad’s home and then later – their apartment in a senior citizens high rise building by the river in Dayton. I have letters that she wrote to my folks when my dad was stationed in Japan in the 1950’s. I have letters she wrote when she and my grandfather lived in Wiesbaden in the early 1950’s. I have letters my grandparents wrote to each other when they were courting and later when my grandfather was in training with the signal corps & after he was shipped to France in WWI. I have pictures of her when she was a child and a young woman as well as all the pictures she was in after she was married, had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

If I had to list items that I would like to learn, it would be about her relationship with her father. He left the family when my grandmother was about 10 and her youngest brother wasn’t very old. I know she heard from him after she was married but I don’t know if she went out of her way to try to maintain that father-daughter bond or if she realized it was up to him. I know she was at his funeral and my grandparents helped pay for some of it. I have a picture of her and her siblings at his grave. Even without her father in her life. she kept close to her Wilt family members especially later in life by attending the family reunions once a year and traveling to Indiana to visit with her cousins at least once or twice more through the year.

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Oreo

Not really – but then again I guess it all started with her – my Nana, Vesta Christina Wilt Johnson (my mom’s mother). I could also blame my grandfather – yes, I’m sure he had a hand in it too. Most of their great-grandchildren (my niece, nephews, and children of my Johnson 1st cousins) would probably concur. We are all addicted to the food memories that Nana and Grandad are connected to. Candy jars with M & M’s, ribbon candy at Christmas, hard tack candy – all the time! Sometimes peanut brittle. And the bottom drawer in the kitchen – COOKIES! Not just any cookies but large sugar cookies, soft Oatmeal cookies, and the sweetest of all – Oreos! We didn’t have Oreos in my house because my mom didn’t like the way they tasted. No, our house had something just as deviant – chocolate sandwich cookies that are very hard to find anymore. But I digress. Oreos – if there ever was a reason to turn into an addict – those delicious creme filled sandwich cookies are the reason. And I fell into that addiction – hard – all the way to the bottom. Oh, it didn’t happen overnight and not right then as a child, young teen or young adult. I had a taste of those cookies, and that was all it took. As the years passed and my grandparents passed on, every time I had an Oreo, sweet, delicious memories were revisited. Memories of the warmth and tenderness shown to me by my Nana. Her gentle touch and beautiful smile. If a scent can trigger a memory, I believe food can do the same thing. Soon, I had four young kids and a very busy household. Of course I purchased Oreos for the family. Oh, no, soon I was hiding the Oreos. The addiction had me in its tight grip. I could eat half a bag in one sitting and feel absolutely dreadful afterwards. Finally, though it took awhile, I had to face the fact. I stook in front of my mirror and said, “Hello, I’m an Oreo addict.” My reflection just stared back. Yep, I knew that I could not – absolutely not – ever purchase anymore packages of Oreos. My kids thought it was funny. We’d be at church and during refreshment time, they would taunt me. “Look, Mom, an Oreo. You know you want some.” But I always remained resolute. That’s been so long ago, I don’t even know the number of years it’s been. The only Oreos I’ve eaten are those crushed and used for dirt cake. There have been a few packages in my pantry – but I haven’t eaten any of those. However, it doesn’t take the taste of Oreos anymore to bring me back to my childhood and the visits to my grandparens’. Just today, I was eating Club Crackers – their “go-to” cracker. I grew up on Zesta crackers and as an adult, have always kept Premium Saltines. But my Nana and Grandad – it was Club that we used at their home for the homemade vegetable soup. Soup that had tomatoes in it and my mom ate but it wasn’t her favorite. In honor of my grandmother, I add one fresh tomato to my vegetable soup. When my niece and nephew and I talk about them, we inevitably discuss the foodstuffs they had. Wonderful memories!

(Image of Oreos downloaded from Wikimedia Commons: Fritz Saalfeld is the creator of the image)

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1255569314868534717New_Jersey_state_seal_svg_med

Jim Sanders, author of Hidden Genealogy Nuggets, started a weekly blogging theme – Genealogy by the States. This week’s theme is “New Jersey.”

The first item that came to mind at this prompt concerns my 3rd great-grandfather, Jacob Johnson. He was born in New Jersey on Dec. 11, 1787. By 1816 he was living in Ohio and had married Ann Shields. I do not have any information as to where he was born in New Jersey or the names of his parents.

Secondly, my 7th great-grandfather, Benjamin Maple, who was born in England 1663 and arrived in Colonial America (what would have been New Jersey) in 1684.  He married Elizabeth Lee in Burlington on June 4, 1695 at the Revell House. Benjamin died on May 13, 1727 in Middlesex county.

Consequently, the next several generations of the Maple family (& my ancestors) were also born in New Jersey: Benjamin Maple Jr., Jacob Maple, and William B. Maple.

A few years ago I provided some research assistance for some friends who were born in and had ancestors in New Jersey. It was the first time I had done “outside” research. It was enjoyable to watch them look at the material I had put together for them.

(New Jersey State Seal Image above courtesy of Clker.com)

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WELCOME TO BREMERHAVEN

My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, was transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1950 (before the Army Air Corps became the Air Force). Upon arriving at the Port of Bremerhaven aboard the Gen. Patch on July 20, 1950, the U.S. Band greeted him and my grandmother, Vesta. Wikipedia says that Bremerhaven means “Bremen’s Harbor” in Bremen (which was in the free Federal Republic of Germany).

The ship – USNS General Alexander M. Patch (T-AP-122) (picture of it as it is berthed at Bremerhaven in 1950 can be found here – exciting to think that this might just be at the same time my grandparents had arrived!) was named after the General who took “command of the Allied Forces in New Caledonia” in 1942 (from NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive; 2012; NavSource Naval History)

Luckily, while they were in Germany, they were able to take side trips to other places on the weekends. The picture above was taken on August 5, 1950, when they went with another lady, Mrs. Mulligan, along with a Bavarian guide to see the Nymphenburg Castle, Home of the Bavarian Kings.

Besides all of the photos, I also have several years’ worth of letters my grandparents wrote my parents. Those letters detail all the little trips around Europe they took as well as their day to day life in Wiesbaden.

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John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J. Blazer

My maternal great-grandparents (on my grandfather’s side), John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J. Blazer, were married on July 4, 1883, in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  He was a few months over 22 years old and she was close to 19. Since both were “of age” according to the laws of the time, neither needed a parental signature.

The couple was just shy of celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary when Katie died on May 20, 1930 (trivia: my wedding anniversary is on the anniversary of her death – May 20!).

Below is a picture of the couple in older age.

(Source 1: Anderson, Madison, Indiana, 1880-1920, Book 1, Page 393; County Clerk’s Office, 16 East 9th, 2nd House, Box 19, Anderson, Indiana, 46016. FamilySearch – Indiana Marriages Database

Source 2: Glen R. Johnson, Sr., personal genealogy notes, in possession of Wendy Littrell, address for private use)

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I never got to meet my mom’s older sister. She passed away three and a half years before I was born. Genevieve Vesta Johnson was born on June 9, 1920 in Anderson, Indiana. She married John F. Steffen in May 1942. My aunt was a nurse – a profession that her granddaughter and great-granddaughter also chose – women she never got to meet. Aunt Genevieve died on Friday, May 2, 1958 in Dayton, Ohio. Her funeral was held at St. Anthony’s in Dayton. She was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Kettering, Ohio. She was survived by her two young daughters and son as well as her husband, her parents, a brother (my Uncle Glen) and her sister (my mom) along with two nieces and two nephews. She was always remembered and spoken of very often.

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The photo above was taken by a friend of my grandparents pre-1920 in Anderson, Madison, Indiana. Glen R. Johnson (my maternal grandfather) is standing in between the two headstones and my grandmother, Vesta C. Wilt, is leaning on George Hefler’s headstone. The gal on the right, leaning on Sarah Boltin’s headstone, is a friend of the couple.

When I checked Find a Grave, I noticed that the current picture of George’s stone is very difficult to read. Time and weather has deteriorated the readability – at least via a photo. At the time of the above photo, Sarah Boltin (George’s second wife), was still living. Currently on Find a Grave, it shows that her tombstone has broken off at the base and is laying on the ground. I have cropped a picture of each stone in the above photo and added them to Find a Grave.

I do not believe that George Hefler nor Sarah Boltin are related in any way to my grandparents – the names have not come up in my research. The cemetery –  Grove Lawn in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana – is also the final resting place for many of my grandfather’s relatives – Johnson’s, Goul’s, and Blazer’s.

 

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