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Martha – Vesta – Mary – Wendy

For this week’s 52 Ancestors post, I decided to focus on the similarities between myself, my mom (Mary), my maternal grandmother (Vesta), and my great-grandmother (Martha).

Becoming a Mother: All of us were 20 years old or younger when we had our first child. Martha Jane Stern and Vesta Christena Wilt both gave birth to their first child – sons – when they were 19 1/2 years old. My mother was a little more than 18 when she had my brother. I had just turned 20 when I had my first child – a girl.

wilt1Martha and Joseph Wilt with sons Clarence, John and Jesse

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Vesta with son Glen Jr.

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 Mary with first child, Jim

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 Wendy and daughter, Shannon

Number of Children: Martha had six children – four boys and two girls. She was also a stepmother to her second husband’s two children (who were also her niece and nephew). Vesta gave birth to four children – one son and three daughters. The youngest, my aunt Lois Evelyn, died at six weeks of age due to being born when my grandmother was only seven months along. My mother had one son and two daughters but she also miscarried a baby boy. I gave birth to three daughters and one son.

Marriage: Martha married for the first time at the age of 18 years and three months. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 18 years and 7 months. My mom married her first husband at the age of 17 years and 7 months. I married for the first time at 18 years and 24 days. We were all very, very young!

Marriage Duration: Martha and my great-grandfather, Joseph N. Wilt, were married for about 18 years before he left and they were divorced. Her second marriage, to her sister’s widower (W.F. Clawson) lasted a little over 13 years before he died. My grandparents were married for 67 years with a very, very short term rocky part at one point when my grandmother chose to go stay with relatives for a number of months while deciding what to do about her marriage. My mother and her first husband were married a very short time before separating. They eventually divorced just before their two year anniversary. She and my dad were married almost a week shy of 30 years before they were divorced.  I was married seven years before separating and another 10 months before the divorce was final. I have now been married going on 27 years.

Interests: All of us have found hobbies that kept us interested – some of them out of necessity. Sewing, needlework, embroidery were done not only on an as needed basis but as a way to keep hands busy. My mother and I shared a love of theatre – it was only in my mom’s last few years that I learned that she performed in her school’s theatre production just as I had when I was in high school!

Names: As Mary and Martha were fairly common names, Vesta and Wendy weren’t as common. Within my family, there are about three of us with the name of Wendy. I am the oldest. The only other Vesta in my family is on my grandfather’s side – one of his cousins.

Ages at Death: Of course I can’t speak for myself (thank goodness!). Martha was 84 years and 4 months when she passed away from congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes in 1956. My grandmother was 85 years and 8 months when she died in January 1984 due to heart failure. My mom died on May 1, 2009 of respiratory failure (lung cancer) at the age of 87 years and 7 months. They were all in their 80s when they died.

Residence: We all did not live most of our lives in the same place we were born. Martha was born in Hamilton county, Indiana but spent most of her life living in Leaburg, Oregon. My grandmother was also born in Hamilton county but considered her home the Fairborn and Dayton area of Ohio. My mother was born in Anderson, Indiana but spent most of her life in Greene county, Ohio. I was born in Greene county but have lived most of my life in the Dallas area.

Siblings: None of us were “only” children. We had siblings. Martha was one of eight. My grandmother was one of six. My mom had an older brother and sister – just like me.

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 Four of six siblings: Clifford, Vesta, Nellie and Clarence

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 Siblings: Genevieve, Glen Jr. and Mary

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 Me and my sister and brother

Becoming a Grandmother: Martha became a grandmother for the first time at the age of almost 46. She was the oldest of us. When my mom gave birth to my brother, my grandmother was almost 42 years old. When my nephew was born, my mom was almost 44 years old. When my first grandson was born, I was 39 years old.

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 Vesta and oldest grandson

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 Mary with her second grandchild

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 The day my first grandson was born

Although there are many ways in which we had very different lives, it means quite a bit to find the similarities.

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for this week is “Same” – same name, most like you, etc.

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52ancestors-2015

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for this week is “Luck of the Irish” and can be about an ancestor who was lucky or an Irish ancestor.

I have not discovered a single Irish ancestor lurking in my family ancestry. So it leads me to wonder – where does the red hair come from? My paternal grandmother had red hair and so does my niece. My sister, my daughters, and I all have auburn in our hair. My grandmother, Ella House Amore, was the daughter of James Emory House and Frances V. Ogan. Yes, that woman – whose parentage is a complete mystery. (See Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan).

So, if she wasn’t dropped on the doorstep by aliens – perhaps her parents were leprechauns. I’m all out of ideas at this point. I suppose it would be too much to ask that maybe Frances and Maureen O’Hara share the same biological ancestors? Nah, probably not.

Which leads me to gush over how I adore Ms. O’Hara! I love her pairing with John Wayne in “The Silent Man” or “McLintock!” or “Big Jake” or “Rio Grande” – she was stubborn, strong-willed, and passionate in her beliefs. Well, now that I think about it . . .

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(My note: apparently real life intruded on my blog writing over the last week and a half! My apologies that this is several days late!)

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for the week of March 5-11 was “Stormy Weather.”

It seems as if I’ve encountered some members of my family who had bad luck when it came to lightning. My great-great-grandfather, Franklin Blazer, was killed by lightning at the age of 33. I wrote about this recently at What Happened to Franklin Blazer? so feel free to go read it if you haven’t.

Another relative who lost someone due to lightning was my Great-Uncle Herbert I. Amore’s wife, Fannie Coder. I knew Aunt Fannie when I was a girl and saw her every year at the annual Amore-Baker reunion in Coshocton, Ohio.

Fannie Coder Amore

Fannie Kathryn Coder was born to Jacob Coder and Ida May Huff on March 3, 1895. When she was born, her parents were not married and her birth was recorded as Cora Huff (illegitimate). The record was corrected at some later date as Fannie Coder. As yet I still have not located a marriage record for Ida Huff and Jacob Coder. On Christmas Day 1898 Ida married Hiram Thornton in Tuscarawas county, Ohio. Fannie is listed as “Fannie Thornton” living in the Hiram and Ida Thornton household in the 1900 census along with her infant half-brother, Robert Thornton.

On July 15 or 16 in 1901, a severe electrical storm must have caught several members of the family by surprise. Ida Mae, Fannie, baby Robert, along with Ida’s mother, Caroline Smailes Huff, and her 15-year old sister, Myrtle, took shelter under a straw shed. Lightning struck the straw and killed all but Fannie. Twenty-five years later, a small paragraph in The Coshocton Tribune (July 16, 1926; pg. 4) mentioned the tragedy.

Fannie Coder family NEWS-OH-CO_TR.1926_07_16_0004

Ten years after losing her mother, aunt, grandmother, and baby brother, Fannie married my grandfather’s brother, Herbert I. Amore. She needed approval due to her age (16). The Coshocton Morning Tribune reported (since both her parents were deceased) that a guardian was appointed in order for a license to be issued.

When Bert and Fannie celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, the April 21, 1946 edition of the Coshocton Tribune ran an article about the milestone. Concerning the tragedy that happened, the paper reported:

Mrs. Amore relates that 45 years ago on July 15 she almost lost her life when lightning struck a straw shed in which she, her grandmother,
mother, aunt and brother had taken refuge during an electrical storm, about one mile north of Newcomerstown. The lightning killed all the others. She was reared in the home of her three uncles and their wives.

Fannie lived to the age of 96 years and passed away on April 26, 1991 in Coshocton, Ohio – 9 years after her husband died. The couple are buried at South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton.

 

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Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Close to Home.”

I had started this post in a completely different direction but realized it will need to be used for something else as it has been quite time consuming. So in keeping with the prompts that Amy has suggested: “Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits ‘close to home’?” – I have decided to write about an ancestor who has lived close to where I live.

After high school, I moved from the area where I was born and raised in Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. All of my closest direct ancestors were either Ohio or Indiana born and raised. Very few of them ventured far from there – except my maternal great-grandmother who moved to Oregon. Since I still live in Texas, I will have to go “off-roading” – in other words, find a distant, collateral relative and not a direct ancestor.

e a johnson

Elbridge Arno Johnson and I share the same kinship three times! He is my second cousin twice removed on my maternal grandfather’s Johnson side.  The common ancestor we share would be Jacob Johnson who is Elbridge’s great-grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. Elbridge’s grandfather, John J. Johnson, and my 2nd great-grandfather, James W. Johnson, were brothers. Elbridge’s grandmother, Dolly Mullis (John J. Johnson’s wife), and my 2nd great-grandmother, Amanda Mullis (wife of James W. Johnson), were sisters giving us a common ancestor of John Mullis – who would be my 3rd great-grandfather.  Still second cousin twice removed through the Mullis line! And now for the third line – we share the common ancestor of John Blazer who is the grandfather of Elbridge’s mother, Rosa Jane Hawkins, and is the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Katie J Blazer – making John Blazer my 3rd great-grandfather!

E.A. Johnson was born to John Marshall Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins on January 15, 1883 in Cicero, Indiana. In 1900 at the age of 17, he is still residing in Indiana with his parents, three brothers, and a sister as located on the census of White River, Hamilton, Indiana. Sometime between that census and February 1, 1905 – perhaps to attend college – Elbridge moved to Houston, Texas. There at 22 years old, he married 25 year old Elpha Rhoda Stewart, daughter of John T Stewart and Anna M Keifer. Elpha was born in Ohio but by the 1900 census, the Stewart family was living in Greencastle, Indiana. She gave birth to their first child – a daughter, Lucille Agnes Johnson, on August 4, 1906 – probably in Houston. A few years later on September 22, 1909, the couple’s second child, a son, was born. He was named Stewart Arno Johnson.

By the 1910 census, the family of four is living in Texas City near Galveston, Texas. Elbridge lists his occupation as a laborer doing “general laboring” while Elpha is listed as a housewife. On April 28, 1915 the couple’s third child and second son arrived. On the boy’s birth certificate, E.A. is listed as a Construction Foreman. A few months later on the Military Registration Card (WWI), his occupation is listed as Foreman at Pierce Oil Corporation. A few years later, it would become the Pierce Petroleum Company. On the 1920 Census the family of five is living in a rented home located on Broadway in LaPorte, Texas. Elbridge is listed as a Superintendant at an oil factory.

Ten years later, the family owns a home worth $6500 in Webb county, Texas and has the same occupation as in 1920. A year later, on October 24, 1931, Lucille married Samuel McInnis Campbell in Vernon, Louisiana. By 1935 the Johnson family returned to Texas City and purchased a home located at 231 11th Avenue valued at $5000. On April 18, 1936 Stewart Arno Johnson (also called Arno Stewart Johnson) married Lorrain Adell Johnson.  Elbridge and Elpha continue to reside on 11th Avenue through the 1940 census.

E.A. Johnson was elected Mayor of Texas City and served until 1946. Before his death, he and Elpha were residing at 1107 10th Street North in Texas City. He died on January 18, 1970 at the Texas City Nursing Home and was buried at Galveston Memorial Park. His death certificate gives the cause of death as acute pulmonary infarction due to acute recurring pancreatitis; generalized arteriosclerosis. Elpha died a day short of the third anniversary of her husband’s death – January 17, 1973. Their daughter, Lucille, died on March 8, 1984 and then on July 29 her husband, Samuel, died – and their daughter, Carolyn, died a few months later on November 24. Stewart Arno Johnson died on June 17, 1988. As far as I can tell, the third son is still living as are the children of Stewart Arno.

These are the closest “shirt tail” relatives I have found living in Texas (this does not include a really, really close relative – my sister!)  It is also interesting to be able to have a distant cousin who I am related to in the same kinship fashion via three different lines!

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52ancestors-2015

I knew – based on my grandfather’s genealogy notes – that his maternal grandfather was Franklin Blazer. Close to fifteen years ago, a close friend took me to the Dallas Public Library so we could peruse census records on microfilm. She showed me how to check in to the Genealogy area, where to locate index books, and then how to find the correct microfilm. I will be forever grateful to her because I wouldn’t have gone by myself. What I learned that day kept the fire alive to find out more and more information!  That was a very good deed on her part!

Looking in Madison county, Indiana for a Blazer family in the 1850 census, I only located one. Within that household I saw the name of Franklin, age 14, putting his birth about 1836. My second great-grandmother was born in 1832 so Franklin’s birth year seemed probable. He was living with John and Mary Ann Blazer. The other children included Elizabeth, John P., Mary Jane and George. Unfortunately, the census did not give a location for Franklin’s birth.  I noted the ages of all inhabitants and went forward to the 1860 census. I found John and Mary Ann but no Franklin or Frank Blazer living anywhere in Indiana (nor did I find my 2nd great-grandmother, Melissa Goul). Oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was no longer living in the household but John P., Mary Jane, and George were still there. Father, John, was born about 1810 in Ohio and Mary Ann was born about 1813 in Virginia.

In order to determine who John Blazer’s parents were in order to go back one more generation, I had to wait. There were several people researching ancestors with the surname Blazer, but I couldn’t connect my third great-grandfather with any of them. Maybe if he had a very unique first name I might have been able to but with the given name of John, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack!

I ran across a biography of Samuel Blazer printed in The Biographical and Historical Record of Jay County, Indiana published in 1887 by the Lewis Publishing Company in Chicago. Located on page 353 was this little tidbit:

Samuel BLAZER, one of the old and honored pioneers of Greene Township, has been identified with the interests of Jay County since 1838. He was born in Gallia County, Ohio, August 2, 1813, a son of Philip and Elizabeth BLAZER, who were natives of Pennsylvania, and of Dutch descent.

A few lines later, as the article mentioned those children of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer, I saw this:

John, another son, settled in Madison County, Indiana, and died a few years since…

That seemed to confirm for me that my third great-grandfather was the son of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer. I added one more generation and learned the identities of John’s siblings. But it wasn’t until I went to the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records that I found John Blazer who purchased 80 acres in Madison county, Indiana north of Pendleton in 1835. Looking at the image of the Patent Record, I was excited to read: “John Blazer of Gallia County, Ohio…” John Blazer also bought 80 acres in August 1838 located west of Pendleton in Madison county.

I found out who my third great-grandfather was by way of a good deed of my friend and consequently was able to identify my fourth great-grandparents, Philip and Elizabeth Blazer!

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Good Deeds.”

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It’s not just a line from The Righteous Brothers song – it also explains which ancestors I choose to research until the cows come home. Most are not direct ancestors but collaterals. Nieces of great-grandfathers, distant cousins of a 2nd great-grandmother, relatives of an aunt’s in-law, etc. These are people who I have found in newspapers and court documents due to a dispute – sometimes with a neighbor but most times with their spouse. Disputes that turn ugly and full of scandal. Why do I enjoy spending countless hours of research on these people? Because there is so much to find! They are fascinating, full of dramatic details, and even a little sad.

Since my paternal side hails from Coshocton, Ohio, I have found a wealth of news articles on many of those relatives. Skeletons in the closet do not make me bat an eye or shy away from digging deeper. I want to know what type of circumstances – environmental, genetic, or social – led up to whatever scandal or drama happened. Was that a turning point in that person’s life – for better or worse? Did that person ever seem to achieve happiness within their life? Are their descendants aware of these troubles?

I also love to do research to flesh out a mystery. If you’ve been following my Genealogy Mystery posts, then you are aware that I’m trying to solve a mystery for someone – related to me as my grandfather’s foster sister’s biological daughter. Broken hearts prevail in that story as well.

Unfortunately, most of us have had to live through heartbreak – in whatever form it took: the loss of a close family member due to death; watching a loved one suffer through disease or mental illness; a divorce or split in a marriage or partnership; loss of a job that caused a domino affect in everything else; a disaster such as flooding, tornado, hurricane, dust bowl or fire that created a tremendous loss and hardship; or being a victim of a crime. Stories of our ancestors and their families could possibly be our stories – human stories. What we find in researching makes our ancestors real life people – not just a name with dates of birth and death. And that is the main reason that I do this research.

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Love.”

(Image attribution: By Corazón.svg: User:Fibonacci derivative work: Eviatar Bach (Corazón.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

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I have three pictures of my Johnson ancestors with mules – two of them in particular. I can’t say for certain these two mules were used to plow the fields.  The first photo (above) wasn’t easy to scan – it is in a frame, and I don’t want to take it out in fear of damaging it. The only way I could digitize the picture was to take a digital photo of it. The “bubble” glass isn’t conducive to that (and without the flash the photo wouldn’t have come out at all). This is my maternal great-grandfather, John Lafayette Johnson, born in Howard county, Indiana on March 2, 1861. The first census (1880) I found for him shows him as a 19 year old man working as a laborer on the Isaac Goble farm in Rush county. (I have been unable to locate the 1870 census for him.) In 1900, he is married to Katie J Blazer and living at 1524 Forkner Street in Anderson with their two sons, 13 year old Letis, and 1 year old Glen (my grandfather). His occupation is listed as “rod roler.” Ten years later the family is still living in Anderson but at 434 17th Street. This time Letis (age 23) and Glen (age 11) are joined by baby sister, Mary, age 1, and John’s father, (James) Wilson, age 80.  John’s occupation is listed as huckster – a salesman. In 1920, John and Katie have lost their oldest son and baby girl but have added Glen’s wife, Vesta (my grandmother), and a foster daughter, Eva, to the family along with a grandson (my uncle – age 2 1/2). John’s occupation is Vendor – Retail and my grandfather’s occupation is Expressman.

johnson mules 001My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, with the mules
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So about those mules?

The only thing I could come up with is that the family probably did have a garden – more than likely a very large garden. Perhaps they used the mules to plow the garden or maybe they just had mules! Notice that I don’t have pictures of the mules AND a plow. Just mules. Some people have horses – my Johnson ancestors had mules.

I tend to prefer this cute little mule: donkey on farm

Mule and Flower Box on the Littrell family farm in Missouri

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s challenge is “Plowing Through” – do you have an ancestor who had to plow through – fields, snow, a tough time?

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