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My Forefathers

In honor of Father’s Day, I created a collage of my male ancestors – just as I did for the The Women Who Came Before Me on Mother’s Day.

Beginning at the top, left to right:
Joseph Napolean Wilt b. 21 Jan 1868 in Henry county, Indiana and d. 9 Jan 1944 in Nabb, Indiana. Great-grandfather
Israel Wilt b. 20 June 1823 in Timberville, Virginia and d. 9 Sep 1919 in Middletown, Indiana. 2nd Great-grandfather
Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio and d. 10 Sep 1911 in Yale, Nebraska. 2nd Great-grandfather
Peter Stern b. 10 Feb 1810 in Washington, Pennsylvania and d. 12 Nov 1887 in Clarksville, Indiana. 3rd Great-grandfather
James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 in Byrd, Ohio and d. 31 Oct 1917 in Anderson, Indiana. 2nd Great-grandfther
James Emory House b. 2 May 1842 in West Lafayette, Ohio and d. 1 Oct 1924 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandfather
William Amore b. 6 Feb 1828 in Albany county, New York and d. 10 Feb 1896 in Franklin, Ohio. 2nd Great-grandfather
George Peter Werts b. Oct 1801 in Virginia and d. 29 July 1866 in Muskingum county, Ohio. 3rd Great-grandfather
John Lafayette Johnson b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana and d. 28 May 1939 in Greene county, Ohio. Great-grandfather
William Henry Amore b. 10 Mar 1852 in West Lafayette, Ohio and d. 14 Jul 1934 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandfather
Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 in Anderson, Indiana and d. 18 Jan 1985 in Beavercreek, Ohio. Grandfather
Lloyd William Amore b. 5 Mar 1882 in Lafayette, Ohio and d. 25 Feb 1955 in Coshocton, Ohio. Grandfather
Eugene James Amore b. 4 Apr 1921 in Coshocton, Ohio and d. 3 Dec 2015 in Fanning Springs, Florida. Dad

 

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CHARLES E ALBERT

Charles E. Albert was the son of my paternal grandfather’s first cousin – making Charles my 2nd cousin once removed. His parents were Georgia Anna Amore and John Albert. Charles was born on February 14, 1922 in Coshocton county, Ohio. On February 4, 1943, Charles enlisted in the US Army at Columbus, Ohio. While serving in Italy, he was killed in action on October 6, 1944.

WARD LESTER GOUL

Ward L. Goul was my 2nd cousin twice removed – the son of Jesse L. Goul and Alice Edna Rodgers, nephew of my great-great-grandmother. He was born on December 15, 1891 in Marion county, Indiana. Ward enlisted in the US Army on August 31, 1914 at Anderson, Indiana and sent to Columbus, Ohio. He was transferred to the Coast Artillery School in Fort Monroe, Virginia and went overseas in March 1918 where he as assigned to the 56th Coast Artillery. After receiving wounds in battle, he was at Evacuation Hospital No. 28 where he died on January 25, 1919. Sgt. Ward Lester Goul was buried at the American Cemetery in Nantes, France and later repatriated to America. His final resting place is at Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana.

 

FRANK A GIVEN

Frank A. Given was the oldest son of Ivan Andrew Given and Helen Kirk. He was my 3rd cousin – the great-grandson of my maternal great-grandmother’s sister, Rachel Blazer Given. Frank was sent to Viet Nam and arrived the end of December 1962. He was assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. While returning to his unit from R&R in Hong Kong, his plane crashed into the Bay upon taking off. Pfc Frank A. Given is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

FORREST MILTON OGG

Forrest Milton Ogg was my 4th cousin. He was born to Herbert H Ogg and Edna E Brenner on June 7, 1920 in Minnesota. He is descended from my 2nd great-grandmother’s sister, Mary Ann Reed Orr. He entered the Marines while living in Michigan. He was killed while in WWII on June 19, 1944 and interred in the 4th Marine Divison Cemetery, Saipan, Marianas Islands. Later he was removed and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 16, 1949. Sgt. Forrest Ogg has his name on a memorial wall in Saipan.

(Images used with permission – Creative Commons)

This week’s theme is on “Military” so I am writing about the United States Air Force. Not only did my father and maternal grandfather serve but I was born at a USAF Base medical center. As Yoda would say: “The Force is strong with this one.”


Glen Johnson

My grandfather Glen Roy Johnson (whom I’ve written about several times before) entered the Army Signal Corps on February 5, 1918 during WWI. My grandparents had been married not quite 14 months and had a son who had been born in mid-December 1917. He went to basic training at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas before being assigned to the 14th Balloon company with training at Fort Omaha, Nebraska. During training, one of the balloons exploded killing two and injuring over 30. Either then or at another time during training, my grandfather’s hand became injured resulting in a permanent curve to two of his fingers.

Gen Pershing is 5th man from the right

My granddad left for France in July 1918. The day after they landed, General John Joseph Pershing insisted on inspecting the 14th and 15th Balloon companies. Years later in life he was quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “We were just off the transport after 11 days at sea and most of us hadn’t had a bath. He [Gen. Pershing] was quite impressed that we were enlisted men.” (The Fairborn Daily Herald. Lucille Rue. 8 Aug 1978.)


Photo taken of a display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
Caption reads in part: Balloon of the 14th Balloon Company – following Armistice

After returning from France and being discharged as a private, Granddad won a reserve commission while he was a civilian worker. It was to the Quartermaster Corps. At the time he was living in Greene county, Ohio in a town called Fairfield which would eventually become Fairborn (along with the merge of neighboring town Osborn). In 1942 he re-entered active duty in the Army Air Corps which would become the United States Air Force. He retired on December 1, 1958 as a Colonel.


Gene Amore – 1950s – Japan

My father, Eugene (Gene) Amore enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on November 16, 1939. He went to Iceland in August 1942 where he was stationed for 15 months as an airplane mechanic with the air transport command. After he returned and following the marriage of my parents in December 1943, my Dad was stationed in Great Falls, Montana for awhile. In early 1953, he was sent to Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. My mom, brother and sister followed several months later. Most of the 1950s saw my family living in Japan through two tours of duty. He retired from the US Air Force in 1960. After returning to the Dayton area, my dad worked Transporation in Civil Service. During the Air Force museum’s move from a building off Broad Street in Fairborn, Ohio just inside the gates of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, my dad was responsible for the transportation of all of the aircraft, etc. to their new home located off of Springfield Street in Dayton – the present location.

I am very proud and thankful for my Granddad’s and my Dad’s service to the United States and the Air Force. The Air Force is in my blood. Each time I wander through the Museum filled with aircraft, artifacts, and history, I get goosebumps knowing that my family played a part in all of that.

(All pictures – original and digital in possession of Wendy LIttrell. US Air Force Logo – courtesy Wikimedia commons)

All of my life while my mother was alive, I heard the word “Gomennasai.” This was the Japanese word for “sorry.” After living in Japan a total of 7 years in the 1950s, Mom used some of the words she learned quite often. By the time I was in school, I knew by context what gomennasai meant. Another phrase she used was “Doumo arigatou” – thank you. She pronounced it “dom airigato.”

Mary (Johnson) Amore wearing kimono in Japan

I was fascinated by her use of the Japanese language. By the time I was in fifth grade, I knew how to county in Japanese. Then my grandmother taught me to count in German. As a freshman in high school taking Spanish, I could also count in that language. It would be nice to say that I speak four languages – Japanese, German, Spanish, and English – but only if we are talking numbers!

My Spanish classes were only for two years. I had signed up to take a third year until I realized that only Spanish would be spoken and written in class. My problem was that I hadn’t learned to think in a foreign language. I could memorize the words but speaking, reading or writing, I would have to think it in English and slowly translate that to Spanish. So after moving from the midwest to the Dallas area after high school, I really did my best to communicate with people in a factory where I worked who spoke nothing but Spanish all the while they were trying to find the English words to speak to me.

My middle daughter took two years of French so I was completely lost when she would talk. My son took Latin – excelled in it and loved it. And my youngest daughter took three years of AP Spanish who now teaches her children Spanish.

Yet the one language I feel we should all practice is love. Being courteous, polite, helpful, respectful, and kind to one another – no matter what language comes from our lips, forms more of a common bond than words. Go Speak – of Love!

(Top image: Creative Commons. Image of Mary Johnson Amore – digital and original photo in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for private use.)

In honor of Mother’s Day, I created a collage of all of the women who are my direct ancestors. After I was finished, I marveled that I had so many photos to use!

Beginning at the top, left to right:
Margaret Bushong b. 24 Jan 1814 in Ohio and d. 1 Jun 1888 in Hamilton county, Indiana. 3rd great-grandmother
Mary Angeline Werts b. 15 Feb 1855 in Coshocton county, Ohio and d. 5 Dec 1941 in Roscoe, Coshocton county, Ohio. Great-grandmother
Frances Virginia Ogan b. 29 Nov 1846 in Guernsey county, Ohio and d. 18 Feb 1915 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandmother
Margaret Catherine Maple b. 22 Dec 1808 in Coshocton, Ohio and d. 13 May 1851 in Muskingum county, Ohio. 3rd great-grandmother
Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Indiana and d. 21 Dec 1900 in Noblesville, Indiana. Great-Great-grandmother
Melissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832 in Champaign county, Ohio and d. 7 Mar 1907 in Madison county, Indiana. Great-Great-grandmother
Ella Maria House b. 22 Jun 1882 in Coshocton county, Ohio and d. 3 Jul 1946 in Coshocton, Ohio. Grandmother
Louisa Bookless b. 13 Apr 1834 in Muskingum county, Ohio and d. 26 Jul 1912 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-Great-grandmother
Martha Jane Stern b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Indiana and d. 6 Nov 1956 in Leaburg, Oregon. Great-grandmother
Katie J Blazer b. 27 Sep 1864 in Madison county, Indiana and d. 20 May 1930 in Fairfield (now Fairborn), Ohio. Great-grandmother
Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898 in Noblesville, Indiana and d. 19 Jan 1984 in Dayton, Ohio. Grandmother
Mary Helen Johnson b. 21 Sep 1921 in Anderson, Indiana and d. 1 May 2009 in Beavercreek, Ohio. Mother
Me!

 

After losing a mother, it is especially difficult that very first Mother’s Day following her death, but it is especially trying when it happens all at the same time.

My mom died on May 1, 2009 – a Friday. Her memorial service was held on May 6 – a Wednesday. As soon as we returned to her home that day, the funeral home called – her ashes were ready to be picked up. Such a beautiful urn we had picked out for her – which was still sitting on the dining table when Sunday – May 10 – Mother’s Day – rolled around. In one sense, Mom was still there with my sister and me, and in another, she was now gone. We’d walk by the table – a room we had to walk through no matter what – and touch the urn lightly and say “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” Bittersweet phone calls came from our own children to wish us the same. Yet, on that first Mother’s Day, without my mother, “happy” was not the right word.

A year later as a crisis unfolded among my family, it still didn’t feel like it should be “Happy Mother’s Day.” I was sad for many and had found it difficult to even look at greeting cards that year. Yet, I needed to find cards for my mother-in-law and my stepmother.

The years began passing by, always with the thought of Mom, but I kept busy and life was good. The middle of April in 2013, my mother-in-law had to be admitted to a local nursing home for hospice care. Her cancer was winning, and her fight was coming to an end. During my daughter’s baby shower on May 4 before we all left, we received the news that she was gone. What had been a joyous day filled with anticipation of the new little boy soon to be gracing our family turned into sorrow. The next morning – Sunday – we headed from Texas to Missouri to say our final goodbye.

Mother’s Day 2013 was on May 11, just a few days after my mother-in-law’s funeral. Instead of two cards that year, I only had to buy one to send to my dad’s wife.

Now, it has been nine years since that first Mother’s Day without my mom and five years without my mother-in-law. My dad’s wife is still with us – and so I continue to buy one single card. I am blessed that my three daughters are all mothers so I do send them cards. I am able to read Mother’s Day cards now and instead of grief, I smile and know that both Mom and my mother-in-law are aware of what they both meant to me.

My maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson, was the middle child (and oldest daughter) out of six children born to her parents Martha Jane Stern and Joseph Napolean Wilt. She had three older brothers – Clarence, Jesse, and John, and two younger siblings – Nellie and Clifford. My great-grandparents divorced before my grandmother was ten. Martha went on to marry her late sister’s widower, William Frank Clawson. They did not have any children together; however, Joseph married Anna Park and they had a son named Albert – my grandmother’s younger half-brother.

It was apparent throughout the letters my grandmother wrote to her siblings as adults that none of them spent any time with their father or his new family following the divorce. I’m not sure if my grandmother ever met Albert, but she did have a picture of him at about 16 years of age. There was also a picture taken later of a tombstone shared by Joseph and Anna as well as Albert who died in 1933. The birth year listed 1917.

As new records were added to online databases, I discovered that Albert’s age was listed as 5 years old in the 1920 census and as age 15 in the 1930 census. At least a two year discrepancy according to his tombstone. Then I discovered his birth certificate showing that Albert was born on October 21, 1914! That meant that someone made a big error on his birth year listed on the tombstone.

Then I discovered Albert’s death certificate. Joe was the informant listed on his son’s death certificate and listed August 1, 1914 as the date of birth. There was an inquest to find cause of death. And that is when I read the horrible information. Albert died due to his skull being crushed; struck by a railway train as he was walking along the tracks. No wonder some of the information was off – as a grieving father, Joe may not have been thinking clearly about his son’s birth when his tragic death was fresh on his mind.

How did Albert not know a train was coming? Not paying attention? It happened too fast? Or could he have been deaf and not felt the vibrations in the ground soon enough? I bring up deafness because an earlier collateral relative on the Wilt side – brothers Charles and Absolam Hottinger, “deaf-mutes” according to the Rockingham (Virginia) Daily Record on November 9, 1912, were struck by the Chesapeake Western freight train near Penn Laird. Absolam was killed almost instantly, and Charles had extensive injuries.

I find it quite sad that my grandmother did not have a relationship with her younger brother, and instead of stories and her memories, all we are left with is one close-up photo of him.