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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.)

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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.

Ten years have passed since I started All My Branches Genealogy blog as a way to share stories about my ancestors, collateral relatives, and me. Cousins have found my blog and learned new things about our shared family. In turn, I’ve been able to collaborate with them about information that I didn’t have. 

I hope you’ll stick around for another ten!


Not my life – just my blog posts! In the last two months since my last blog post, life got busy. We had family in town, celebrated the baptism of the youngest granddaughter, found ourselves dealing with more snow, started preparing for our grandson’s prom, worshiped most of Holy Week, and dealt with more snow. My volunteer activities picked up speed – which meant I was in charge of presenting two different programs plus arranging programs for the local historical society.  

In the midst of everything, RootsTech happened. I watch the live stream keynotes and sessions from home. As has happened in the past, I became so caught up in new ideas of research and telling my family story, that I’ve failed to blog!

I have compiled a tour on Google Earth Pro of my great-great-grandfather’s travels from birth to death. Now to figure out how to share it with family. I’m also working on a PowerPoint presentation of the same person with added information.

I apologize for the break in posts, but I’m thrilled to have new storytelling ideas!

(Image from Wikimedia – Creative Commons license)

My family tree has many Johns, Josephs, James, Peters, Williams, Marys,Marthas, Sarahs, Elizabeths, and Catherines but not too many Clementines. There are exactly two. Clementine Romaine Adney, daughter of Henry Harrison Adney and Elizabeth Jane Blazer was born in Holt, Missouri on January 29, 1873 and died on December 23, 1952 in Benton, Oregon. Clementine was my second cousin three times removed. Our shared ancestors are Philip Blazer and Elizabeth Kingsley.

The other Clementine is my great-aunt; sister of my paternal grandfather. Her birth name was Louisa Clementine Amore. Her first name was in honor of her mother’s mom – Louisa (Bookless) Werts Simon. Yet, she was “Clemmie” to everyone else.

Aunt Clemmie was born on March 12, 1874 in Lafayette township of Coshocton county, Ohio to William Henry and Mary Angeline (Werts) Amore. She was the oldest of seven and the only girl. When she was 12, she was an exemplary student with perfect attendance and a grade of 100. Unfortunately, her education went to 8th grade but not beyond according to the 1940 census.

At the age of 19, Clemmie married Benjamin F Baker on December 7, 1893 in Coshocton, Ohio. The couple had four children: Donald Francis, Anna Belle, Clara Ethel, and Charlotte (Lottie) Christina. Ben Baker died on May 19, 1936 leaving Clemmie a widow. Their children were all grown and married by then. The 1940 census lists Clemmie living in the Curtis Davis household on S. Eureka Avenue in Columbus, Ohio as a housekeeper. She had worked every single week of the previous year with an annual income of $260.

At the Amore-Baker reunion in 1951, Clemmie posed with her six brothers for a photo. Left to right: my grandfather Lloyd, Rollo, Clemmie, Zade (Isaiah), Roy, Clarence, and Herbert. It is one of only three I have of Clemmie and her brothers. She died on April 4, 1956 in Springfield, Ohio at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Harrie Foster. Her brother (and my grandfather) Lloyd had passed away the year before. Her obituary stated that she was survived by her four children, 12 grandchildren, several great-grandchildren, and five brothers. Aunt Clemmie was laid to rest next to her husband at Sunset Cemetery in Galloway, Ohio.

This is a post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for Week 6. For more information or to sign up to participate (all free!!), check out Amy Johnson Crow’s post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

(Clementine graphic: Wikimedia Commons – public domain. All other digital photos in possession of Wendy Littrell)