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Archive for October, 2008

Churches and Halloween – now that brings up an interesting vision doesn’t it?  First let’s explore the history of this festive holiday. Wikipedia and Britannica Online mentions that Halloween has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain which is celebrated at the end of the harvest season. The Gaels believed that on that date, the window between the living and the dead was very thin and could be crossed easily. In order to pacify evil spirits, costumes and masks were worn. “All Hallow’s Eve” became Halloween – the eve of All Saints Day, a Christian observance.

The date for All Saints’ Day was set at November 1st in the 800s by Pope Boniface IV. The church day began at sunset, so All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints’ Day coincided for a few short hours. In 1000 A.D. the Church made November 2nd – All Souls’ Day. The early Colonial settlers in America disapproved and forbade the Halloween celebration.

In North America churches of different denominations look upon Halloween differently. The Anglicans choose to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day while some Protestant churches refer to it as Reformation Day. Though beginning as a pagan celebration, both pagan and Christian beliefs are intwined in various celebrations from Oct. 31st – November 5th. Some Catholic parochial school children enjoy the holiday by dressing up in costumes. The Boston Diocese has began a “Saint Fest” on Halloween. Others of very conservative or fundamentalist Protestant churches, may see Halloween as trivializing the occult. Others consider that there is no place in Christian belief for Halloween because of the secular origins of the celebration.

One tradition from England that has been varied in America, is the giving of food on Halloween. “All Souls’ Cakes” were given to beggars for the promise that prayers for their deceased relatives would be said. This distribution of these cakes was encouraged by the Church to replace the long held practice of leaving out food and wine for spirits.

As a child, I would always dress in a costume – usually one that was harmless – and with my parents, participate in “Beggar’s Night”.  As a teen, our church youth group would have a Halloween Party, and we would visit the various “Haunted Houses” in the area.  These places were set up by non-profit organizations to raise money for various charities – the March of Dimes and Muscular Dystrophy.  A local television personality, “Dr. Creep” would often be at the Muscular Dystrophy house to welcome guests. Admission was no more than a dollar or two (this was back in the mid to late 70s) so it was pretty easy to hit every Haunted House in a ten mile radius on one evening and not break the bank. I remember how cold it used to be standing outside in the long line waiting to get in. Most of the actors were members of the non-profit or volunteers who worked every evening for a few weeks, sacrificing their own agendas, in order to help raise money. They also knew when enough was enough and who they could really scare and who they needed to be a little extra careful with.

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed having my children dress up for Halloween and either taking them around the neighborhood or (while my husband does that) staying home and passing out candy. When I was a child, people were still allowed to give out candied or caramel apples, homemade popcorn balls or cookies. Unfortunately, due to some pretty foolish people who chose to hurt children by lacing homemade goodies or apples with harmful substances, we rely on pacifying kids with sugar-laced candy.

I’ve also dressed up on more than one ocassion for either an adult Halloween party or our church’s Halloween Festival. Yes for a number of years our church was still celebrating Halloween. We didn’t call it a “Fall” festival like so many other churches or schools or organizations in order not to “offend” anyone. It was a fun time to dress up and have fun.  The Youth would run games and a cake walk and everyone would have a good time snacking and enjoying fellowship.  The kids even got to wear their (not scary) costumes to church on a Sunday before Halloween and have a costume parade through the Sunday School classes. 

Halloween – or any celebration and holiday – with roots in the secular and pagan world – can be as innocent or evil as we make it.

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Tuesday when I posted my submission for the 59th Carnival of Genealogy, I didn’t realize that several of my genea-blogger friends would suddenly realize we are related! Julie Cahill Tarr from GenBlog and Becky Wiseman from kinexxions and Whitley County Kinexxions Blog are my newly found distant cousins! We are related through our ancestor, Richard Treat, one of the first settlers of Wethersfield, Connecticut.  So for full disclosure, I thought I would list how I am related to Richard Treat.

Richard and Joanna Treat – 9th great-grandparents
 parents of Joanna Treat married John Hollister (8th gr-grand)
   parents of John Hollister Jr. married Sarah Goodrich (7th gr-grand)
      parents of Thomas Hollister married Dorothy Hills (6th gr-grand)
         parents of Hannah Hollister married William House (5th gr-grand)
            parents of Lazarus House married Rebecca Risley (4th gr-grand)
               parents of Allen House married Editha Bigelow (3rd gr-grand)
                  parents of Florus Allen House married Julia Anna Lewis (2nd)
                     parents of James Emory House married Frances V. Ogan (great)
                        parents of Ella Maria House married William Lloyd Amore (grand)
                           parents of my dad married my mom (parents)
                               parents of ME!

Richard was born around 1584 in Pitsminster, Somerset, England.  He was married first to Joanna (maiden name unknown) – who was the mother to several of his children, including their daughter, Joanna (my ancestor).  Many refer to his second wife, Alice Gaylord, as the mother of Robert and Joanna.  Alice outlived Richard and was named in his will.  (Source information:  The Hollister Family of America.  Compiled by Lafayette Wallace Case M.D.; Chicago, Fergus Printing Company; 1886 and The Treat Family, A Genealogy of Trott, Tratt and Treat.  By John Harvey Treat, A.M.; Salem, Massachussets; The Salem Press Publishing & Printing Company; The Salem Press; 1893.)

St. Mary and St. Andrew Church, located in Pitsminster, Somerset, England where Richard Treat was baptized.  (Picture from The Pitminster Church.)

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At Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
(near Arco, Idaho)
on our family’s trip out west in September 1966
Photographed by Gene Amore, digital scan owned by Wendy Littrell (address for Private use)

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The topic for the 59th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: “Politics and Our Ancestors” in honor of Voting Day.  As I thought about this, I knew that I had several ancestors and collateral family members who had served in politics as well as members who were quite vocal in their political affiliations.

My paternal great-grandfather’s brother, George Washington Amore, was a Democrat and served as an Assessor for Linton Township in Coshocton County for three terms in the 1890′s.  In 1909 he ran for Mayor of Plainfield, Ohio.  George’s son-in-law, John D. Woodward, a respected man of Coshocton County, pledged his allegiance to the Democratic party, but held no public office. (Source information from “History of Coshocton County, Ohio: Its Past and Present, 1740-1881″.  Compiled by N.N. Hill, Jr.; Newark, Ohio; A.A. Graham & Co., Publishers; 1881; Carlon & Hollenbeck, Printers & Binders, Indianapolis, Ind.)

My great-aunt (Louisa Clementine Amore Baker) was married to Benjamin Baker who was a Justice of the Peace in Coshocton, Ohio before 1919. (Source information from his obituary published in “The Coshocton Tribune”, Coshocton, Ohio, Page 8, May 21, 1936)

My maternal grandfather, Glen Roy Johnson, Sr., was elected to the Fairfield (now a part of Fairborn), Greene County, Council in 1936 and was instrumental in getting a sewage plant builtHe was a Democrat in his younger years and in his later life affiliated with the Republican party.  He met Richard Nixon about 1972-1973 when he was in Washington D.C. and toured the White House.  (Source information – personal knowledge)

My first cousin, four times removed, John Goul (son of Christian and Ruth Lawson Goul, grandson of my 4th great-grandfather), first vote was cast for John Charles Fremont – the first candidate of the Republican party - who ran against James Buchanan.  John also voted twice for President Lincoln and although he was sought after to run for office in his locale, he refused to have his name put up for any political office.  John’s father, Christian Goul, was a Whig until the formation of the Republican party and then became a life-long Republican. (Source information from “Beers History of Champaign County, Ohio”)

My grandmother’s brother, John Alfred Wilt, was a Republican. (Source information – Vesta C. Johnson)

My 2nd cousin, 3 times removed, George Lewis House, served on the Deshler, Ohio city council and the school board before 1906.  His political affiliation is unknown. (Source information: Jeromey Ward)

My 9th great-grandfather, Richard Treat (d. 1669), represented the settlement of Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut in the first general court in 1637; was a Colonial grand juror in 1643; elected to the general court in 1644 (and was re-elected many times); and was an Assistant Magistrate of the Colony from 1658-1665. (Source information from “The Hollister Family in America”.  Compiled by Lafayette Wallace Case M.D.; Chicago, Fergus Printing Company; 1886).

My maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena Wilt Johnson, was born prior to the passage of the 20th Amendment.  She voted in almost every election after that.  My parents have both voted Democratic most of their lives. 

When I was in 6th grade and Richard Nixon was running for his second term in office, I pasted Nixon/Agnew stickers on my bedroom door so my mom had to see them each time she walked by.  So when Nixon won over McGovern, I teased her mercilessly.  Needless to say, during the Watergate scandal, she had the last laugh over me.  I have voted both Democratic and Republican since I turned 18 and don’t consider myself affiliated with either party.  I am a proponent of voter rights and urge others to vote in order to have a voice in the future of our great nation.  I thoroughly believe that our forefathers and foremothers fought long and hard – either on the battlefield, in elected offices and as Suffragettes – in order to give us that right.  It should not be something we turn our nose up and deny because apathy solves nothing.  To be part of the solution, I believe – as so many of my ancestors – that we must all be active in the future of our community, our school, our city, our state, and our national government – either by voting or running for office in order to affect the change we look toward.

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Gravestone of Sarah C. Wilt born to Israel Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash on Oct. 16, 1859 in Indiana.  Married John Hofherr Aug. 16, 1894 in Delaware County, Indiana.  Mother of Bertha May Hofherr Pierce.  Died Aug. 27, 1928.  Buried at Hawk Cemetery near Yorktown, Indiana.  Survived by husband, two sisters, four brothers and three grandchildren.  Sarah was my great-grandfather’s sister.

Photographed by Glen R. Johnson (my grandfather).  Original owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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Slow Posting

Things have been terribly busy on my end for the last week – which explains why I haven’t posted as much (or what!) I’ve wanted to. Had a toddler grandchild stay with me this weekend so have had extra stuff to deal with. Last week I put over 100 miles on my van in one day – just playing chauffeur. Posting will resume shortly and I’m thankful everyone has been patient with me!

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Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (ca. 1966)
Photographed by Gene Amore
Digital image taken of slide held by Wendy Littrell (Address for private use)

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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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A fellow genea-blogger, Thomas MacEntee from Destination: Austin Family posted this article about candy from his childhood. Without actually challenging anyone or considering it a meme, he said if other genea-bloggers had time this week – to post something about what candy we ate as kids.

So I went to the link Thomas listed showcasing different candy. My all time favorite candy is Hershey bars (plain, with almonds, Mr. Goodbar and Special Dark). Then M&M’s plain comes in a close second followed closely by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

But what were the “odd” or unusual items of candy that I liked? Circus Peanuts! I remember getting a bag of these and eating half of the bag! Others include: Lemon/Orange/Lime slices; Mint Toothpicks (kids at our school used to have moms who would soak toothpicks in cinnamon oil too!); Pixy stix; Raisinettes; Zagnut and Zero bars.

I am not a fan of Tootsie Rolls, Good-n-Plenty (although I like regular black licorice), anything Caramel (although I like Caramel sauce and caramel flavor); Sugar Babies or Sugar Daddy.

I don’t really eat candy much anymore and when I do, I go for the chocolate bars with 70%-80% cacao since that is supposed to be better for cholesterol than regular chocolate.

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Earlier today I became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits!  I will post a link to my Graveyard Rabbit blog on the right.  Soon I will begin posting about Cemeteries, Tombstones, and Burial Customs in South Denton County (Texas).  I hope you’ll stop by and perhaps leave a comment or two!  Please find me also at Graveyard Rabbit of South Denton County!

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