Archive for March 2nd, 2009

The 11th Edition of Smile for the Camera is “Brothers and Sisters”. “Were they battling brothers, shy little sisters, or was it brother & sister against the world?”

Mom (Mary), Glen and Genevieve

My mom was the third child born to Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson.  Glen Jr. was the oldest, born in 1917, and Genevieve born in 1920.  The siblings had a baby sister born very premature in 1927 and who died at 6 weeks.   Mom always felt that her parents considered her brother the “golden boy” of the family and that he could do no wrong.  He was, after all, the oldest child and only son.  Mom and Aunt Genevieve were battling sisters.  One story I’ve heard is that when Mom had to wash the dishes, Aunt Genevieve would dry them but put them back in the “mix” to be washed.  When the two sisters got into it, my grandmother would sit them in chairs back to back and tell them they couldn’t touch each other or talk to each other.  And they they all got older, married, and had their own families.


 Mom, John & Genevieve, Glen & Mary

This was probably one of the last photos taken of the siblings together before my Aunt Genevieve passed away in 1958.  My parents had been stationed in Japan since 1957 so Mom hadn’t seen her sister in at least a year.  As adults, the siblings visited each other for holidays and spent quite a bit of time together.  My mom and her brother grew very close especially after my grandparents passed away in the early 1980s.  Unfortunately, Mom lost her brother in June 2001 – just two months before she lost her only son.


My sister, me, my brother

As the youngest of a family of three children, I felt more like an “only” child since my siblings were older than me.  My brother had been married 9 months by the time I was born and my sister was in high school.  A few years later she would be married and go on to have two children – who were more like siblings to me than my nephew and niece.  How I envied my brother and sister!  They had been able to live in Japan – not once, but twice!  They had gotten to grow up with our first cousins!  They had gotten to learn how to fly a plane!  What I didn’t learn until much later was how they envied me.  I got to live in the same house growing up, go to the same school, keep the friends I made and of course – have a swimming pool in the backyard!  My brother became the male figure in my life after my parents’ marriage ended.  How I did not like my brother telling me what to do!  My sister tried to be a sister but it was awful hard splitting loyalties between a young sister and her own two children.  She tried to mother me when I was an older teen but even that was difficult for her to do.  She wasn’t sure if she should be a sister, mother, friend or what.  We had many rocky moments in my early adulthood.  Even though we worked in the same area of the same building for the same company, it was very rare that we actually were “friends”.  It wasn’t until my first marriage ended that I realized what a treasure I had in my siblings.  Unfortunately my brother was several hundred miles away but my sister was still close.  We became much closer than we ever had.  Then she moved out of state – just when we’d “found” each other again and settled into a friendship.  Luckily as technology grew and we both became email “junkies” – there was hardly a day that didn’t go by that we didn’t email each other.  When she moved back to the area in the mid-90s, I’d spend hours sitting with her at her table just talking about everything and nothing.  We learned so much about each other that we hadn’t known before.  Once again she moved away but we remained close through email and ocassional phone calls.  The day she showed up at my house in March 2005 and told me they were moving back to North Texas, I think I cried continuously – out of joy – for days.  Even now it brings tears to my eyes.  I’m so lucky to have been blessed with such a beautiful, inspiring, and unique sister – who also happens to be my best friend.


my brother – Jim

This was one of the last pictures I took of my brother – Thanksgiving 1998 – at our dad’s house.  Jim had moved away from our “hometown” area over a year before so he was even further away.  It was wonderful for both of us to share a holiday together with our dad.  Little did I realize that this would be one of the last times I saw Jim.  As I became older, he and I settled into a comfortable sibling relationship.  He was always one of the first ones to call me on my birthday.  Always quick with a joke or one of his “tricks”.  I could count on him to make me smile or laugh.  There was no laughing in August 2001 as he was deathly ill with pancreatic cancer.  There would be no more birthday phone calls, no more jokes, no more “tricks”, no more hearing him call me “sis”.  Now my sister and I have taken that mantle.  I don’t think we ever called each other “Sis” until after our brother departed this life.  I think that is our tribute to him and our hope that someday we can hear him call us that again. 


My four kids were pretty close in age.  The oldest girls were 23 months apart, the next two were 19 months apart and then the last two were a little less than 5 years apart.  Traveling was always an adventure – especially after the youngest no longer needed to be in a car seat.  I had to be very careful who sat with whom and where the dog would end up as well!  The youngest and 2nd youngest shared a room and due to their ages being almost 7 years apart, they grew close.  However, they had their fair share of disputes.  They were like the Odd Couple – one meticulous – the other not!  The older three would play games together leaving the youngest one out.  They would all yell “He/She is touching/looking at me!”  Then they grew up.


And became FRIENDS!  After a rocky start at young adulthood and their relationships with one another, I start smiling when I think of the brother finding out what a great oldest sister he had or the youngest and oldest sharing confidences or the fact that they call and email each other more than they do me!  I remember the day a long time ago I told them that someday they would be friends and the looks they all gave me!  

Three generations of “battling siblings” all turned into relationships of Best Friends Forever.  What a wonderful family legacy that is!

Read Full Post »

To spend time searching for ancestors is to time-travel, in a sense. I find that as I find information pertaining to a g-g-grandparent or their siblings and the locales of their residences, I also learn more about the era in which they spent their life. To see the dress of the time period or read about their occupations and hardships is to spend time in the early 1900’s or late 1800’s or even further back.

However, there are still surnames that I’m anxious to locate in the censuses, cemeteries, or ancestral photos. These include:

JOHNSON – Jacob Johnson (3rd g-grandfather) born 1787 in New Jersey. Moved to Brown County, Ohio by 1816. Married Ann Shields (daughter of William and Mary Shields) in 1816. They were living in Rush County, Indiana by the 1850 Census. Jacob was reportedly of a family of 6 brothers. I’ve yet to locate his parents – I mean how many Johnson’s could there be, really?

WILT – Jonathan Wilt (3rd g-grandfather) born about 1800 in Virginia (probably) married Catherine Hollinger probably before 1827 in Virginia. There are reports that Jonathan’s father was Peter WILT – but I have no documentation.

HOLLINGER – Looking for Catherine Hollinger’s parents (see WILT above).

NASH – Alexander Nash (also 3rd g-grandfather) born about 1808 in Pennsylvania married Elsy (or Elcie) – maiden name is reported to be Wininger – probably before 1837 in Pennsylvania. Elsy was born about 1812 in Pennsylvania. Alexander and Elsy have been located in 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 Censuses living in Henry County, Indiana. They had the following children: Christena (my 2nd g-grandmother), Sarah, Alexander, Catherine, Elsy, Nancy and Mary Adelaide.

WININGER – Parents of Elsy (see NASH above).

AMORE – William Amore (my 2nd g-grandfather) was born in February 1828 reportedly in Albany County, NY. He listed on the 1880 census that his father was born in England and his mother in NY. This is not the Italian pronounciation with the stress on the “e” (like amor-ay) – but A (rhymes with “hay”) – more. Or if it was the British pronounciation – could have been a (rhymes with “hah”) mor.

REED – My 2nd g-grandmother (married to William AMORE) was Charlotte Reed IMONS. I have reason to believe that she was married prior to William to a man named William H. Irwins in Coshocton County, Ohio. Charlotte was born in 1828 reportedly in Ohio. William and Charlotte’s youngest child was named Zachariah. Therefore, I believe Charlotte could have been the daughter of a Zachariah Reed found in the 1850 Census of Coshocton County. Would like to find documentation of this and Zachariah’s wife’s name.

LEWIS – Julia Ann Lewis (my 2nd gr-grandmother) was born in December 1815 in Ohio. She married Florus Allen House probably before 1838 probably in Michigan. They spent most of their married life in Coshocton County, Ohio. Florus was the son of Allen House and Editha Bigelow. Looking for Julia’s parents.

Read Full Post »