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Posts Tagged ‘Wilt’

Twenty seven years ago today, I was at work when my boss, the owner of the printing company for which I worked, opened the door to the graphics room and told me I had a phone call.  It was early afternoon and I still had an hour or so of work yet. No one usually called me at work.  As soon as I heard my brother’s voice, I knew.  I knew because that was how I had envisioned it happening a week or so before.  It wouldn’t be my mom calling me or anyone else – it would be my brother.  The words he spoke brought forth too many polarizing emotions.  I didn’t have to wonder anymore about when it would happen.  I knew that a life lived had been to the absolute fullest.  I knew that while everyone else in the family would be falling apart, that I would draw on my inner strength and remain strong for them.  This woman we spoke of had been a constant in my life since birth – the only grandmother that I knew.  When it seemed that my life was falling apart throughout different periods, she was my champion. When I was at my absolute lowest and disappointing everyone else, she hugged me and let me know that no matter what she wouldn’t be mad at me and would love me unconditionally.  Walking into my grandparents’ apartment later that evening and seeing my grandfather all dressed up in a suit – for he had been waiting to go see his beloved wife – stabbed my heart.  My mother expressed that my grandmother had really wanted to see her newest great-granddaughter, my baby, just a little over a month old, and had never gotten to.  I broke down in grief.

Within a week the family gathered to remember this matriarch of our family.  We laughed and we cried.  Six of us – grandchildren and great-grandchildren – were pallbearers.  It was such a cold day – the day we carried the casket out of the church into the waiting hearse.  Snow covered the ground.  We traveled to the cemetery and had a final service in the chapel.  It would be several more years before I went to the gravesite.  When I did return, it would be to visit not only my grandmother and my mom’s baby sister, but also my grandfather, who wasn’t able to go on after the love of his life was gone.  He passed away a year less a day after she did.

Like me, my grandmother was a child of divorced parents.  When I was young and going through the rough patches of my parents animosity, she would always comfort me and tell me she knew what I felt.  As a young child, I used to spend weekends with my grandparents.  I was the youngest of their eight grandchildren – by fourteen years – so to say that I was spoiled by them is an understatement!  In my defense, I never asked for them to spoil me and in their defense, during the time the others were young and growing, my grandparents lived in Germany and were always traveling due to my grandfather’s military duty or for pleasure.  They missed a lot of holidays and birthdays with my siblings and cousins.

Vesta Christena Wilt was born on May 7, 1898 in Noblesville, Indiana to Joseph N. Wilt and Martha Jane Stern.  She was the oldest girl and fourth child.  Another daughter and son followed her.  Before she was 12, her parents had divorced.  Her mother married her widowed brother-in-law, Frank Clawson.  The family moved from Noblesville to Anderson, Indiana and on Easter Sunday 1916 she met the man she would spend the rest of her life with.  Vesta dated Glen Roy Johnson for several months and the two got married at Martha and Frank’s house on Christmas Eve 1916.  The following December their first child, a son named after his father, was born. As the years went by the family added their first daughter, Genevieve, and then a second daughter, Mary (my mother), and lastly baby Lois Evelyn who was born prematurely and died just a little over 2 months later.

 

My grandmother knew her own heartache. She was separated from her beloved Glen for quite awhile while he went to training for the Signal Corps and then went overseas to France during WWI.  She had been separated from her mother and two youngest siblings after Martha moved to Oregon before my mother was born.  She lost a baby and then much later watched her oldest daughter suffer from a brain tumor and ultimately succumb to another inoperable one.  She lost the father that she hadn’t seen for so long without having that estranged relationship mended.  As the years wore on, she watched her youngest daughter struggle and grieve for the end of an almost 30 year marriage.  She lost her mother and three brothers.  She sat by her husband’s hospital bedside for months as he recuperated from a blood cot on his brain that he had suffered in a fall.

Then her health began to fail.  She wasn’t a stranger to health issues – having one ailment and surgery or another throughout her adult life.  But after she broke her elbow in the early 1970s, she was never as healthy as she had been.  All too soon she was experiencing a heart attack every three months.  I was very scared about losing her – not only for myself but for what it would do to my mother. After hospital stays and a change in her diet and medication, it seemed she rallied from the heart issues (although they were still there). 

The family would gather for a surprise birthday we had for her at our house.  She was so surprised when she walked in through the garage to the dining room and most of her family.  Then there was the 60th wedding anniversary celebration at their apartment complex.  Long time friends, church friends, military friends, and the family and extended family came to honor them.  We were only missing one of my cousins and her family.

I moved away for awhile and when I returned back to my hometown, I realized just how she had aged – my grandfather too.  I knew that as the years had ticked by, time was winding down for their life among us.  My grandfather had been the one who had several health issues before I had moved away and I guess I had thought that he might be the one to go first.  Then she was hospitalized and then again several weeks later.  That visit was one she wouldn’t return home from.  I learned later that she had told the apartment manager as the EMTs were wheeling her to the ambulance to make sure her husband would be okay.  Did she know she wouldn’t come home? Did she decide that it would be okay to go if it was her time?

My grandmother – Vesta Wilt Johnson – born on May 7, 1898 – died on January 19, 1984.  My grandfather – Glen Roy Johnson – born November 21, 1898 – died on January 18, 1985.  They were the glue of the family.  There are times during holidays and celebrations, the family left an empty chair – in honor of our grandmother.  Our Beloved Nana – the woman whose “grandmother” moniker I have assumed for my own grandchildren – the woman whom I will never live up to as a grandmother – the woman who is always beside me in times of trouble – smiling and cheering me on.

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The parents of my great-grandfather – Joseph Napolean Wilt – were Israel Isaac Wilt and Christine (or Christena) Nash.  I haven’t delved into the Nash family very deeply and wonder if I’ve really scratched the surface.  One of my resolutions, posted in I Resolved To . . ., is to pick another branch of my family to research. After all, my grandmother’s middle name was Christena – after her grandmother. 

Christena Nash was the daughter of Alexander Nash and Elsie.  Elsie’s name has been spelled Elcie, Elsy, and Elsie.  Her surname has been listed as Winninger or Winger – and several variations of those names.  Christena was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. 

Alexander Nash was born the end of May in 1808 in Pennsylvania.  His parents remain a mystery to me although in the 1880 US Census, Alexander listed his father as born in Maryland and his mother as born in Pennsylvania.  A man named Alexander Nash is in the 1840 US Census enumerated in Beaver Township, Green County, Pennsylvania with 1 male age 0-5, 1 male age 30-40, 1 female age under 5, 1 female age 5-10, and 1 female age 20-30.  This leads me to believe – although not documented – that Alexander is the older male as he would have been 32 in 1840.  Elsy born in mid-July 1813, would have been 27 years old.  Their oldest three children are reportedly: Sarah Nash, born in 1829; an  unknown son born between 1835-1840; and my 2nd great-grandmother, Christena, born in 1837.  I found Sarah’s information through the Henry County Genealogical Society on an index of the Lebanon Baptist Cemetery in Henry County, Indiana.  She had died on August 21, 1850 at the age of 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days and was listed as the daughter of Alex and Elsie Nash.  Her mother was only 15 when she was born.

Alexander and Elsy were enumerated on the 1850 US Census in Prairie Township, Henry County, Indiana.  His age was listed as 42 and her age as 38.  Children in the household included: “Christy Ann” (Christena), Sarah, Alexander, Catherine, and Nancy and Elsy (appearing to be twins).  If the young male enumerated in the 1840 Census had been their son, he had died prior to the 1850 Census.  Sometime between the two censuses, the family had moved from Pennyslvania to Indiana. As the younget girls, Nancy and Elsy, were listed as born in Pennsylvania and were age 4 in 1850 – their move to Indiana had been recent.

The 1860 US Census shows the family living in the same place.  Even though Sarah was to have died in 1850, there is a Sarah still enumerated with the family – something further to be researched.  One thought is that she actually died in 1860 and the indexer either made a typo when putting the date online or couldn’t read the headstone.  That would also mean that there was an unknown daughter in the 1840 census and Sarah was actually born in 1839 and Elsie hadn’t been as young as if Sarah was born in 1829.  It might also explain why the family didn’t show up in the 1830 Census – they might not have been married yet and still residing with their respective families.  Children, besides Sarah, included in the 1860 Census include Alexander, Catherine, Nancy, Elsy, and Mary.

Alexander died on April 14, 1883 and Elsie died on May 3, 1890.  They are both buried in the Lebanon Baptist Cemetery.  They had a son, Wilmot Nash, born on April 9, 1848 who died at age 2 on June 11, 1850.  He is buried close to them.  Their daughter, Christena, also died before they did – on August 18, 1876. 

Further research will include the 1870 and 1880 US Census records for Alexander and Elsie; Indiana marriage records on their children; headstone transcriptions; other Indiana county records; and looking into Nash families in the Beaver Twp and Green County areas of Pennsylvania.

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The topic for the 79th Carnival of Genealogy is Family Reunions.  Since I have posted several topics about this subject, I won’t repeat! 

My first post was Family Reunions. This was an article concerning preparations for the big event. I also included information about the reunions I attended as a child.

This post, Past Reunions, concerned the newspaper articles and a Reunion Minutes book that was kept. It never ceases to amaze me the gems we find in news articles or through our ancestors’ careful note taking!

In the article, Wilt Cousins, I mentioned the reunions my maternal grandmother’s side of the family had each year and added more information about those in that branch. Toward the end of the article I urged everyone to document the pertinent points of the reunion – who, what, where, why, and how. If our ancestors had done this, we might not have so many questions now!

I’ve included several photographs scattered throughout all the articles – a mixture of very old to new.

Oftentimes reunions aren’t just large everyone-from-each-branch type of events.  More than not they are get-togethers for scattered members of the family when they come together for graduations, births, weddings, and funerals.  Such was the case for my family this past spring as we gathered for my Mom’s memorial service. 

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My first cousins – Jane, Judy, Jack (siblings), and my sister and I.  Two of our cousins weren’t able to attend and of course, my brother, was in our hearts.  We are the ones, now, to move forward and make sure our parents and grandparents and all those who have gone on before us, are kept in our hearts and memories.  We will be the ones to share stories, to reminisce and provide family “lore” for our children and grandchildren.

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I wrote this post about wanting to meet Maureen Taylor of Photo Detective fame and show her the portraits I’ve acquired.  Yesterday I had an opportunity to photograph the portraits – since they are way too large to scan – and look them over a little more.  I had to experiment a little because each time I used a flash, it would create a glare on the picture.  Thinking I might need to have my photographer daughter set up her studio lights & take pictures just so I can have better quality digital shots.  I don’t want to expose these fragile pieces to harsh lights any more than I should though. 

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This is a crayon/charcoal rendering of my 2nd great-grandmother, Malissa (Goul) Blazer.  The portrait is at least 16×20.  There aren’t any artist’s marks or other identifying features.  I think the drawing was made from a photograph rather than at a sitting. 

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This is another large rendering of my great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson.  She is young and it is my thought that she wasn’t married yet.  Below is a photo that shows Katie about the same age – quite probably the photo that the drawing was made from.  The “smudge” on the lower corner of the picture appears to be an artist’s mark – except it really is just a smudge of some sort.

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This portrait of the Johnson family (below) appears to be an enlargement of a regular photograph.  It was very difficult to photograph.  Whatever material or chemical process was used, made areas of it too shiny to capture correctly.  This picture is poster sized.  The original photograph would have been made between 1906-1908.  I don’t know what year the enlargement would have been made.

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This is the only picture I have of my maternal great-grandparents’ (Katie and John Johnson) family that included both my grandfather (younger boy), Glen Johnson, and his older brother, Letis.  In fact, this was the first picture I saw of my great-uncle.

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Above is my other maternal great-grandfather, Joseph N. Wilt.  Written on the back of this 16×20 is my great-grandmother’s name (Martha Wilt) and her address.  There are also indications on how much brown, gray and black to use on the drawing.  All indications to me that they were still married at the time – which would have been before 1909.

Below are other renderings that were packed with those above.  Some of these people are still a mystery to me.

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This is actually a photograph (above) that is 16×20.  My mother seemed to think this was my grandfather’s baby sister, Mary, before she died.  Others seem to think it is a little boy – not a little girl.  When I look at this picture, I see resemblences to other member of my family in the eyes and mouth.

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My mother told me the child above is her brother, Glen, as a baby.  I have no reason to believe otherwise.  This is a drawing – slightly smaller than 16×20.

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The drawing above is of an unknown woman.  My mother told me she thought it was a sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Malissa. I’m more inclined to believe it is my great-grandmother’s sister, Rachel (Blazer) Given.  I’ve seen pictures of her other sister, Martha “Mattie”, and this isn’t her. 

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My grandfather, Glen Johnson (baby) and his older brother, Letis, with the family dogs. 

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This is another photograph that has been enlarged.  It is of my grandfather, Glen Johnson, at Shadyside Park, close to his home in Madison County, Indiana.  Again this was very hard to photograph due to the materials or chemical used in the process.  The size is smaller than a 16×20.

My biggest challenge will be to figure out what to do with these rather large pictures.  I don’t have enough wall space to have them framed and hung.  Nor would I want them exposed to bright sunlight.  I’ll gladly accept any recommendations and suggestions.  Perhaps Maureen Taylor herself might give me some pointers!

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In Part 1 I explained what a valuable resource Military Records can be in locating vital characteristics of ancestors and collateral family members. I was able to deduct that most of my Grandpa Amore’s brothers and cousins were similar in height, build and eye color. That gives me a clearer perspective on how I ended up with blue eyes and being “vertically challenged”. I also discovered how my grandfather signed his actual name – even though it had been spelled or listed differently in other places – though not by him.

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In this article, I will give examples of how I was able to place certain individuals with the correct spouse or parents. Some of them I was unsure of and some of them I had listed as “unrelated” in my family file until I discovered documentation placing them in the correct family.

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Adam Christian Goul (3rd cousin of my maternal grandfather, Glen R. Johnson) was located as part of the C.M. and Elizabeth Goul household in the 1900 US Census – except I only knew that his middle name began with a “C” and the month and year of his birth.  Once I located his World War II Draft Record (called the “Old Man’s Draft”), I discovered his middle name was Christian (obviously after his father).  Since I have discovered that there are many people named “Adam Goul” in my maternal grandfather’s family, I was firmly able to say that this was the same person as in the 1900 US Census by comparing the date and place of his birth and location of residence given on the Draft Record and place this Adam Goul with the correct parents. 

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William Harrison Goul (another cousin of my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson) has been listed in my family file as William Harry Goul until I found his WWII Registration Record.  Since I also have a William H. Goul and many men with the name “Harry Goul” in my file, I wasn’t sure which one this was. This particular gentlemen is listed as Harry W. Goul in the 1900 US Census and as William H. Goul in the 1910 US Census.  On the Registration record he listed his daughter as Geraldine and that cinched it for me since she was listed as his child in the 1910 US Census.  william_h_goul_military

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1900 US Census

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1910 US Census

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John Monroe Wilt (1st cousin of my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena Wilt Johnson) has been listed as John Wilt, son of Charles and Margaret Wilt, in my family file.  I did not have a middle name nor a correct birth date.  His WWI Military Registration Record listed his age as 18, birthdate as Feb. 4, 1900 and his wife as Elizabeth.  His employer was his father, Charles.  With at least three different men named John Wilt in my file, this record allowed me to place the correct information for this particular man.

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If you have added individuals as “unrelated” in your Family File because you are sure they are related to someone somehow and have some basic information (birth date/location or wife’s name) – study the information presented on Military Records concerning nearest relative, employer, birth date and location in order to turn them into a “related” individual. 

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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It is with wonder and thanks that I am able to see photos of the houses that my family and ancesters have resided through time.  As I locate addresses, I look them up on Google Maps in order to see what type of terrain they may have lived amongst.  Here is the “Parade of Homes”.

clawsonstoreAt left is the home my grandmother, Vesta Wilt, spent most of her late childhood and teen-age years living in.  It also contained the store run by her step-father, W. Frank Clawson.  It was located on Arrow Avenue in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  By the early 1920s, Martha and her youngest two children (Nellie and Clifford) moved to Leaburg, Lane County, Oregon.  Their home sat off of the clawson_house_oregonMcKenzie Highway.  My grandmother didn’t visit her mother “out west” until the early 1940s.  My mom didn’t even meet her grandmother until the late 1940s – after she’d married and had two children.  My Grandma Clawson lived in this home until her death on November 6, 1956 (several years before I was born.)

jljohnson_homeThis large home on Indiana Avenue in Anderson, Indiana was my grandfather’s home for many years.  Glen Johnson is seen as a child with his parents, Katie (Blazer) and John Lafayette Johnson.  After my grandparents were married, they spent their early married years living here.  This is where my grandmother spent long hours and days waiting on letters from Glen when he was in basic training for the Signal Corps in the early months of 1918.  This is where their oldest son spent his first years while his father was in France serving his country in WWI.johnsonhome_devonshire

Glen and Vesta lived in many different locations – Fairfield, Greene County, Ohio (now Fairborn), Washington D.C., Wiesbaden, Germany, Kettering, Ohio and Dayton, Ohio.  This is one of the homes they lived in during the late 1950s.  It is located on Devonshire in Dayton, Ohio.

Henry & Annie Amore's house in Roscoe
Henry & Annie Amore’s house in Roscoe
Cobbler Shop in Roscoe
Cobbler Shop in Roscoe

 

 

My great-grandparents, William Henry and Mary Angelina (Werts) Amore lived in this house (above left) on Center Street in Roscoe, Coshocton County, Ohio.  Above right is the shed that Henry used as his Cobbler shop.  He was a shoemaker by trade.  This was also the scene of the very first Amore-Werts reunion in May 1924. 

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My grandparents, Lloyd and Ella (House) Amore, resided above Roscoe Hardware Store in the early years of their marriage.  lloyd-amore-houseTheir first few children were born in the apartment on the upper floor.  They also lived in these homes – one in Coshocton and one in West Lafayette, Coschocton County.westlafayettehouse One of the homes they lived in on South 7th Street was built in 1900.  It was a two story, 1259 sq. ft. home with a full basement, two bedrooms and one bath with a detached garage.
amorehouseMy parents lived here when they were stationed in Japan in the early 1950s.  They had also resided in Milwaukee; Great Falls, Montana; Cincinnati and Columbus.  When amore-house-tyndallthey left Japan, they resided at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida.  They lived in this house (right) not quite a year.  My dad retired from the Air Force and they moved to what would become a suburban town outside of Dayton, Ohio.  It was in this home (below) that I grew up.
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By going to the county’s tax assessor’s web site, I was able to find out the particulars of this home.  The three bedroom, 2 bath, single family residential home was built in 1958.  It has a fireplace in the living room and one in the finished basement.  Heating is by oil and it has central air.  An inground swimming pool was installed in 1967 and improved again in 1977 (after my mother and I moved out).  The person who owns the home now bought it seven years ago.  They are the fifth owner since June 1989.  I believe there was also one other owner prior to that and after my mom.  Contrary to what the Residential information states, the house does have an attic.  It’s not one to walk around in, however that is where all of our Christmas decorations were stored through the year.  It also states it has gas – which it didn’t – unless something changed since 1977.  It is on city water although it does have a sump pump and most of my growing up years, we had a well (the water was much better!).

I am still trying to figure out how to determine where to find addresses that have changed over the years in order to get more information on some of the other homes of my grandparents and great-grandparents.  When I was a young girl, our house number changed – but I’m not sure where to find out that information (any tips?). 

If you know the address and the county of the home, some of the county websites or tax assessor/auditor sites have quite a bit of detailed information on the home.  There will be informaton on taxes, square footage, the current owner, number of rooms, bedrooms and baths, and perhaps a current photo.

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In the late 1950’s through the early 1980’s, my grandmother’s paternal side gathered together each fall for the annual Wilt Reunion.  I knew names of these relatives but not really who they were or how they fit into the family.  As a young child (and then a young teen), I felt somehow on the “outside” of this family for I saw them once a year. 

Sometimes my grandmother’s first cousins would travel from Indiana to Ohio to visit her and sometimes my mom and I would accompany my grandparents to Indiana to visit them.  That was the extent of my interaction with my Wilt Cousins and extended family.

Going through the photographs my grandfather took to document the Wilt side of the family, has enabled me to actually put names to faces.  Even though there are an awful lot of pictures that don’t have labels, my grandfather was very good at labeling reunion pictures.

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Ina (Wilt) Wisehart Family

First Row Left to Right: Ward’s son, dau-in-law, Richard Wisehart’s son, Ward Wisehart’s daughter (nurse)

2nd Row L-R: Ward’s son, Mrs. Ward Wisehart, Ward (Ina’s son), Ina (Wilt) Wisehart, Richard Wisehart, Richard’s wife

The above was how the photo was labeled by my grandfather.  I’ve since found the names of these folks.  In the 1st Row: (I think this is) John E. Wisehart, his wife, Wava June Wicker, Ricky Joe Wisehart, the nurse is either Nancy or Janet Wisehart.  In the 2nd Row: not sure of the other son’s name, Ruth West Wisehart, Ward Wisehart, Ina Wilt Wisehart, Richard Wisehart, and Norma Gilmore Wisehart. 

Ina Wilt Wisehart is the daughter of Charles and Margaret (Fadely) Wilt.  Charles is the youngest brother of my grandmother’s father, Joseph N. Wilt, which would make Ina and my grandmother, Vesta, first cousins. 

Ina was the oldest child of Charles and Margaret.  She was born on November 2, 1896 (2 years older than my grandmother) probably in Henry County, Indiana.  She married George Wisehart on December 12, 1914 in Henry County.  (Their marriage record was found in Book 1, Vol. 4 of the Index to Henry County Marriage Records on page 392.)  The couple had 4 children: Ward (married Ruth Louise West), Mary Margaret (married Fred Borror), Linda Lee (married Joseph Daffron), and John Richard (married Norma Gilmore).  George died on May 13, 1959 and Ina died on November 23, 1967.

Mary and Fred Borror along with their ten year old daughter, Mary Lou, all perished in a car accident on May 29, 1952 (source: Freda Pierce, cousin to Mary Wisehart Borror).

Linda Lee (Wisehart) Daffron died at the age of 58 at a hospital in Richmond, Indiana. 

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Ward Wisehart passed away on February 26, 2000.  John Richard Wisehart is the last surviving child of Ina and George Wisehart. 

I’ve often wondered why the Wilt Reunions ended?  Did life get too busy for people to gather together?  After all the “first cousins” died, did their children decide it was too much trouble?  Were there a smattering of family gatherings that only included the immediate families of the first cousins? 

The last Wilt Reunion I attended was in September 1983.  It was held in Dayton at my brother’s home, and I was 6 1/2 months pregnant with my second child.  It would be the last time I saw many of my Wilt relations.

When you gather with family – be it immediate or extended – for a reunion, holiday, birthday, or even funeral – and photos are taken, please make sure to document the event and those in the picture.  That includes listing how each of the people in the photo is related.  Are they all first cousins?  Who is their common ancestor?  Are there in-laws in the picture?   Make sure to list who they belong with.  Are there non-related god-parents or close friends in the photo?  Make sure they are listed out and whose friends they are or why they were considered important enough to be part of the picture.  Write an account of the day especially the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why.  How was the weather?  Did you have to travel?  How? What type of travel experiences did you have?  What activities did you or family members engage in?  What type of stories were told and by whom?  Is there a recording of this event?

Then keep your documentation, photos and recording (DVD) together or list on the documentation (as well as the DVD and photos) where all the necessary elements are.  Someday when your descendents see the photos, the DVD or read your account, they will feel as if they were there and there might not be as many questions as we have about our ancestors’ activities.

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At our first “Cousins” reunion in the summer of 2002, we all spread out in the garage, the kitchen area and the dining area to eat.  At the dining table there was a chair placed at the head/corner of the table with an empty place setting.  I assumed it was set there in case someone else chose to eat at that table.  I asked, “Who’s sitting there?”  My cousins told me that was an empty chair in honor of our grandmother, Vesta (Wilt) Johnson.  So the empty chair became “Nana’s chair”.

On the rare or yearly ocassions that we are together for a pot luck picnic meal, there is an empty chair left at one of the tables.  Sometimes there are two – the other in honor of our grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.

I am very thankful that I was able to spend over 20 years of my life living close to my maternal grandparents and getting to know them as more than our matriarch and patriarch.  There isn’t a gathering where we do not tell stories about them or talk about some of the food that was cooked, who has Granddad’s ears or mannerisms, and how Nana made each one of us feel like we were her only grandchild.  They truly were two very special people who shared a great love far and beyond anything those of us who are their descendents could ever imagine or hope for in our own lives.

Photo: Glen and Vesta Johnson, 1967.  Original in possession of Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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On this Veteran’s Day I say a prayer of thanks for bringing those in my immediate family who served in the military safely home. Back in May, I wrote Those Who Served. That post concerned my great-grandfather, James E. House, my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, my dad, and my uncles, Norman and Gail Amore.

I wanted to also list other family members who have served in war and peacetime. My first cousin, Rick, was drafted into military service during the Viet Nam war. I remember how scared I was when I found out. My former brother-in-law also served overseas during the Viet Nam war and was gone about a year (if I remember correctly). I remember my sister lived with us part of the time and whenever he was able to contact her, they said “Roger” and “Over” a lot! Two of my other first cousins also served in the Viet Nam war. One of my first cousin’s sons went into the Navy and served during the first Gulf War.

Going back further, my great-grandfather’s nephew, Jesse R. Amore (b. 4 Apr 1898 d. 4 Sep 1964) was a member of Company I, 166th Infantry regiment in Germany. When the American Expeditionary Forces crossed into Champagne-Marne, France, he was taken prisoner of War and was declared Missing in Action on July 15, 1918 and released five months later on December 6, 1918. He was Honorably Discharged on April 24, 1919. Jesse lived until the age of 66 and died on Sep. 4, 1964.

Jesse’s cousin, Leonard Studor Amore (b. 1895 d. 1972), also served in Germany with the American Expeditionary Forces during WWI.  He was in Company B, 166 Infantry.  He was severely wounded in action on on July 28, 1918.  He was Honorably Discharged on May 17, 1919.  He had full military honors at his funeral.

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My grandmother’s brother, Jesse Wilt (b. 1897 d. 1958 ) served during WWI and was hospitalized after a mustard gas attack. He is buried in Dayton National Cemetery.

Jesse’s son, Fred (b. 1920 d. 1994), served as a Naval Lieutenant and Port Commander in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Fred went on to become a Special Agent with the FBI before retiring after 31 years. He passed away at the age of 73.

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My grandmother’s other brother, John (b. 1893 d. 1964), also served as a cook during WWI. He became a logger in Oregon where he spent the remainder of his life.

My great-grandmother’s great-grandnephew, Pfc. Frank Given (b. 1945 d. 1965), died in the crash of a military C-130 transport in Hong Kong Bay on August 23, 1965.  He was serving with the 3rd Marine Divison in Viet Nam at the time of his death.

And for all those other ancestors and collateral family members who have served in the United States Military from the Revolutionary War through the current War on Terrorism, I give you my thanks and know that words are never enough to express that sentiment.  By loving this country and accepting not only the rights, but the responsibilities, that brave men and women have fought and died for, I hope to honor their memories and their lives.

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My 2nd great-grandparents, Israel and Christine (Nash) Wilt.  Buried in Miller’s Cemetery, Middletown, Indiana.  Israel Isaac Wilt was born 20 June 1823 in Rockingham County, Virginia and died 11 Sep 1919 in Henry County, Indiana.  He married Christine (also documented as Christena) Nash, daughter of Alexander and Elsy Nash, on 5 Feb 1857 in Prairie Township, Henry County, Indiana.  She was born in 1837 and died on 18 Aug 1876 in Henry County, Indiana.

Israel and Christena had ten children – 6 sons and 4 daughters (Jacob Marion, Sarah Christina, George A., Alice Jane, Clement V., William David, [my gr-grandfather] Joseph Napolean, Mary L., Ida Belle, and Charles H.).  George A. and Ida Belle both died close to 2 years old.  The others lived to adulthood.

Tombstone Inscription:

WILT
Israel
1823-1919
His Wife
Christine
1837-1876

(Photograph taken by my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, in September 1959.  Original owned by Wendy Littrell.)

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