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Archive for August, 2009

Have you ever wondered why your grandmother kept a scrap of fabric or wrapping paper but threw out her school records?  Or why your parents saved your baby booties but not your bassinet card from the hospital?

As we research and scour high and low for records and documents, we’ve all come across possessions our ancestors and family have saved that makes us go “Hmm”.  These kept items are indicative of what they thought really mattered. 

Why keep a school report card?  They knew what grades they made in school.  And if the grades weren’t that good, why would they want anyone else to see it?  But the fabric came from a dress Grandma made for her daughter or niece.  The object would eventually be outgrown and either handed down or disposed of – perhaps never to be seen again.  However, there might be a photograph of the child wearing the dress so if you keep the piece of fabric with the photograph, you have a record of sorts.  That wrapping paper?  It came from a wedding gift from her parents.  Whatever it was wrapped in meant a lot to her, and she wanted to save the paper for posterity.  Your baby booties and not your bassinet card?  Your parents knew your name.  They knew how much you weighed and how long you were at birth.  They knew all that information.  But someday, try as they might, they wouldn’t remember how small your feet were.  The booties are a tangible reminder of that.

This holds true for us in the present.  What have you saved over the years?  A flower from your prom pressed in a book.  The program of the high school play you appeared in – even in a minor role.  The rock you found when you and your buddies hiked a trail deep in the forest.  The seashell along the beach at the location you spent your honeymoon.  Are they labeled as such?  When someone else looks at these objects do they know the significance?  Now is a good time to round up all those things and make sure they are documented – who, when, where, why, and what.

These objects might not be official records that tell us maiden names, dates of birth, death or marriage, or the full genealogy of our ancestors, but they do give us a glimpse into their minds.  These things tell us what really mattered to them.

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This picture (from my post, X Marks the Spot) shows a few items I found in a box my dad had kept and given to me. He gave both of these handkerchiefs to his mother – one he sent her when he was stationed in Iceland and the other he gave to her as a young boy. However, I would not have known that if he hadn’t told me or written it down.

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The topic for the 17th Edition of Smile for the Camera is School Days

Unfortunately, most schools now start in August instead of September.  As a child, I always started school the Wednesday after Labor Day – until I was a senior.  After the Blizzard of 1978, when I was out of school a total of about 10 days longer than we had “snow days”, the district decided we should start a little earlier than September. The was my first encounter with the August School start.

I don’t know much about my ancestors’ school years – but I do have some wonderful photos!

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My grandmother, Vesta Wilt, is at the bottom right.  A couple of her brothers are also in this photo, but unfortunately, I can’t put my hands on it to see which is which!

jesse wilt report card

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Here is my grandmother’s brother’s report card from 1906.  Jesse was in 2nd grade.  Apparently he didn’t do very well in spelling or writing his first two months of school with a grade of “F”.  By January 1907, his writing had improved to “P” (passing) while his spelling grade still remained an “F”.  He also passed Deportment (behavior, conduct).  His father, Joe Wilt (my great-grandfather), signed Jesse’s report card.  This is probably one of the few out of a handfull of examples I have of Joe’s handwriting.

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My brother (arrow pointing him out) – probably in 3rd or 4th grade.  I believe this was in Ohio.

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This is from my brother’s Junior Year yearbook.  It reads: Jim is a real traveller! Not only has he attended 15 different schools, but he is enjoying his second tour of Japan. It doesn’t look as though he plans to settle down, for he has his eye on an Air Force career.  My brother had been involved in the Senior Hi-Y club, Warriors Club, Pep Club, Photography Club, Projection Club, was a Library and Boy’s Gym Assistant, and the Science Club.  Unfortunately the Air Force career didn’t pan out due to some medical issues.
coshocton schools

Above – two of the schools my dad went to in Coshocton, Ohio.  I believe the top picture used to be the High School (now it is Lincoln Elementary).

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This building was the school my mom attended all the way from 1st through graduation.  At the time it was called Bath Consolidated School and was located in Fairborn, Ohio.  Sometime (I think) in the late 1950s it became Central Elementary School and now – after having been empty for awhile – is a Senior Citizen Apartment Complex.

wendy_nursery school

This is my Nursery School picture at Patty-Cake Nursery in my hometown.  I went there for one and a half years before starting a summer school Kindergarten program.  I attended 2-3 days a week.  I’m right in front of the girl next to the teacher (2nd row from the top – 3rd person from the left).  Mrs. Fuller owned the preschool – which she ran out of her basement.  She had many activities and toys to keep all of us busy.  I remember she had one of those aluminum Christmas Trees with the lighted color wheel.  We had an Easter Egg hunt at a local park one time.  I was always getting in trouble for something and being sent to the “bad” chair.  For the life of me I don’t remember why I was always in trouble – probably because I wasn’t sharing or being loud or not listening.  I learned to tie my shoes while I was in nursery school because I kept asking Mrs. Fuller and then her assistant to tie my shoes. I think they finally told my mom that I needed to learn to do it.  I think I was three.  My mom and two other moms took turns driving me, a little boy named Artie and another boy to the preschool.  One of the moms was always late picking us up.  One time Mrs. Fuller came outside and realized we were still waiting for a ride.  Today I am sure that she wouldn’t be leaving 3-4 year olds outside without being watched.  If you happened to attend this same preschool and see yourself in the picture, please let me know because I don’t remember anyone (except one boy I later went all the way through school with).

fairbrook elementary

ankeneyAbove is my elementary school and also my Junior High.  The elementary school went all the way through 6th grade and then 7th-9th in the Jr. High.  I had to ride a bus to both schools because the limit was 9/10 of a mile.  Any further than that and our school district had to bus students.  When I was in 2nd grade, it snowed so hard that our bus was late picking us up.  A friend’s dad took several of us to school.  Very few buses had made it yet so we all waited in the hallway or in our classes.  Finally the word came that we weren’t having school.  Someone called their mother who came and picked us all up. 

What I remember most about the first day of school was the excitement of getting to be in the same class as my best friend.  Unfortunately we were never in the same class together.  And in my 6th grade year, none of my close friends were in my homeroom class.  It was also the year that we were to spend every day of a week at a local science camp.  Unfortunately our class never got to go.  I don’t know if it had to do with funding or some other reason.  But the class before us and the classes after us all got to go.  We were also supposed to take a field trip flying in a an airplane over the city.  Excited and anxious we all waited for the bus to come and take us to the airport.  Mid-morning we received word that we couldn’t do it after all.  However in 2nd grade we were allowed to ride a train.  That was exciting for me as my parents had ridden trains many times when they lived in Japan. 

As a parent, I became the excited one when the start of school approached.  After having four children cooped up all summer with “nothing to do”, I really looked forward to them being at school ALL day long!

School signals the end the summer, beginning of football season, the changing of the weather, the time to cool up with a hot mug of hot cocoa and a good book, and a reason to start making my chili! 

And this year, I will get to experience my own “first” day of school – as I start back to college!

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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.

katie_young

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.

baby mary

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.

baby glen
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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The topic for the 78th Carnival of Genealogy is: Pony Pictures.  I spent a lot of time watching the other neighborhood kids get their pictures taken on ponies instead of having mine taken.  I remember each summer a man would come walking through the neighborhood with the animal and coming on up the driveway wherever he saw kids playing.  One of my friends had three siblings so to save money, the parents put 2 kids at a time on the pony.  Running home, I found my parents working in the yard.  Breathless, I exclaimed that I wanted my picture taken on a pony.  When it was pointed out that it costs money for the picture, my hopes were dashed.  We just didn’t spend money on useless things.  Besides, what I really wanted to do was to ride on it – not just sit there.

I was 17 when I actually got to ride my first horse.  I went with my sister’s family to a relative’s (on her husband’s side) country house in Paris, Texas.  She had several horses and some ponies.  The first time I got on the pony, it promptly ran at a lower limb and knocked me off.  Fall off – get back on.  After riding around for awhile on that animal, I got up the nerve to try to ride a horse.  Wow – it was harder than it looked!  I sure didn’t get my riding skills from ancestors who had rode horses before me.

My maternal great-grandfather, John “Lafe” Johnson, had horses.  I don’t have a picture of him riding them. (*UPDATED 8/13)  *He also had several work mules.  The photograph below is one with him and 2 of the mules. (This large picture hangs on my hallway wall.)

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Gr-Grandpa Johnson with 2 large mules

My grandmother’s Uncle Dan (Stern) had horses – he used them to pull the wagon.

When my kids were young, we took them to Scarborough Faire Rennaisance Festival in Waxahachie, Tex.  There were elephant and camel rides so the oldest three got to ride VERY LARGE animals!  No horses for them – that would just be kid stuff compared to a camel & elephant!

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I’m a day late, but thought I’d participate in Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun over at Genea-Musings.  This topic was to post informaton about our 16 great-great-grandparents.

 pedigree

1. William Amore b. February 6, 1828 in Albany, N.Y.  d. February 9, 1896 in Coshocton County, Ohio.  On the 1880 Census, he listed that his father was born in England and his mother was born in New York.  Nationality - probably English.

2. Charlotte Reed Imons b. August 4, 1828 in Ohio d. October 9, 1862 in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Nationality – unknown

3. William Washington Werts b. December 25, 1829 in Muskingum County, Ohio d. April 7, 1857 in Ohio.  William’s 2nd g-grandfather was born in Baden and the history documented about the Werts family suggests most of them originated in the German area.  Nationality – German

4. Louisa Bookless b. April 13, 1834 in Muskingum County, Ohio d. July 26, 1912 in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Nationality – probably English

5. Florus Allen House b. January 5, 1813 in New York d. June 25, 1891 in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Nationality – English

6. Julia Ann Lewis b. December 24, 1815 in Ohio d. October 6, 1899 in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Nationality – Unknown

7. Evan Ogan - He was the Foster father of my g-grandmother, Frances Virginia Ogan.  It is unknown if he was directly related to her.

8. Susannah Fritter – She was the Foster mother of my g-grandmother, Frances Virginia Ogan.  It is unknown if Susannah was directly related to her.

James Wilson Johnson, I think9. James Wilson Johnson b. August 16, 1829 in Byrd Township, Brown County, Ohio d. October 17, 1917 in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana. Based on family lore – nationality is English.

10. Amanda Evaline Mullis b. 1833 in North Carolina d. March 21, 1868 in Rush County, Indiana.  Nationality – Scottish

11. Franklin Blazer b. June 2, 1836 probably in Indiana d. August 25, 1869 in Madison County, Indiana. Nationality – English & German

malissa_blazer12. Malissa Goul b. Oct. 1832 in Champaign County, Ohio d. March 7, 1907 in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana. Nationality – German
isrealstern13. Israel Isaac Wilt b. September 9, 1827 in Rockingham County, Virginia d. September 11, 1919 in Henry County, Indiana. Nationality – German

14. Christena Nash b. abt. 1837 in Pennsylvania d. August 18, 1876 in Henry County, Indiana. Nationality – Unknown

emanuelstern_nancy15. Emanual Bushong Stern b. October 7, 1834 in Montgomery County, Ohio d. September 10, 1911 in Nebraska. Nationality – German

16. Nancy Caylor b. May 10, 1840 in Wayne County, Indiana d. December 21, 1900 in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana. Nationality – German

Out of my 16 great-great-grandparents, 2 of them are Unknown – the biological parents of Frances Virginia Ogan.  It is highly doubtful that I will ever find out who they are since she was either farmed out or dropped on a doorstep as a small child.  Four of them are of English descent.  One is of English and German descent.  Three are of Unknown descent.  One is of Scottish descent and the remaining 5 are of German descent.

I am:  31.75% German
            25.5% English
             6.25% Scottish
           36.5% Unknown (although I believe it to be a combination of English, German, Scottish and French)

Interesting facts: William Amore was the only one of my 2nd great-grandparents who was the 1st generation American.

Most of my 2nd great-grandparents were born and/or died in Indiana or Ohio.

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