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Archive for the ‘geography’ Category

This is a continuation of Part One so please go to that if you haven’t read it yet.

July 9 – I woke early in order to go to Glen Haven Memorial Gardens in New Carlisle, Ohio. I wanted to visit the graves of my mom, maternal grandparents, uncle and aunts. Before I did anything, I posted birthday greetings for my son on Facebook. As I looked at my list, I decided to go visit my dad’s grave one more time. The ground had been put back, and it appeared as if it hadn’t even been touched. The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I spent time talking to Dad before saying goodbye and heading east on Route 40 (National Road) toward Glen Haven.

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I was a bit disappointed that my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, did not have a flag placed at his grave but many others did. Since he is buried in the Veteran’s section, I would think there would be a high probability that his would not be overlooked. Only my mother’s grave had flowers as my sister and I make sure we order a silk arrangement every spring. It was a shame that the others did not have flowers. (Photo above: upper left clockwise – “J” – the Johnson plot, my uncle and aunt Glen R Johnson and Mary Van Tuyl Johnson, my mother Mary H Johnson Amore, my grandparents Glen R Johnson and Vesta Wilt Johnson, my aunt Lois Evelyn Johnson, and the four gravestones.) I spent quite a bit of time there talking to Mom and my grandparents. Then I took my leave and headed toward Fairborn in Greene County close to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. My grandparents raised their family in what used to be Fairfield until the town merged with neighbor Osborn to become present day Fairborn. I wanted to take a picture of the home where my mom spent her youth. Unfortunately, not only was the street torn up and barriers marked “No Thru Traffic” were in place (which I disregarded!) but the trees in the front yard of the house made it impossible to take a good photograph. With a police vehicle at one end of the street and too many cars in the driveway, I didn’t think it would be proper to stop the car, get out and try to get a good camera shot so I just turned around and left. This – below – is what the home looked like many years ago.

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After returning from my morning journey, my cousin and I hit the local supermarket. I wanted to purchase items that can only be found in the Dayton area – Mikesell’s potato chips, Esther Price candy, and also some Buckeye candy. Think I bought enough chips? (As of today, we’ve eaten all but two bags!)

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After our grocery run, my grandson and I bid goodbye to my cousin and went over to her mother’s (my first cousin) for the remainder of our Dayton visit. I enjoy our conversations. She and her late husband had been very sweet to me when I was a child, and I was flower girl for their wedding. The food she fixed for our supper was delicious.

July 10 – my grandson and I left before 10 a.m. to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force just off of Springfield Street in Dayton. The museum is very special to me as the Caquot Balloon hanging in the Early Years Gallery is similar to the balloon my grandfather worked with in the Signal Corps during WWI. He and several other balloonists and those of the Royal Air Force helped to locate the balloon for display in the museum. He had also donated some artifacts. Another family history fact: when the museum moved from the Base located off of Broad Street in Fairborn to its present day location, my dad was in charge of the logistics of moving all of the equipment/aircraft/etc. Fun fact: I’ve visited the museum more since I moved away from Ohio than I ever did as a kid!

air-force-museum-collage

Following our full day at the Air Force museum, we traveled back toward my hometown and stopped one last time at Ritter’s for frozen custard before heading over to my other cousin’s house for a visit. The evening back at our hostess’ home was spent catching up on laundry and more conversation. We tried to cram in as much as we could in our chat. For all too soon, it would be time to hit the road in the morning for the next leg of our trip – one I was very much looking forward to be headed!

Next – my dad’s hometown!

(All photos – digital scans and originals in possession of Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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fireworks

July started off with a bang! Just like many families around the nation, we went to a local park to watch the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. We are also fortunate to live amidst cornfields and rural areas and can shoot off our own sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and other types of fireworks. For me the holiday was full of mixed emotions since I knew that just two days later, I would be on my way to Ohio to have my dad’s ashes interred – and – I would see cousins and begin the genealogy adventure that I’ve been waiting to do.

July 6 – Started very early in the morning as my fifteen year old grandson and I finished loading up the car to begin our trip eastward. As we neared the Mississippi River to cross in to Illinois, the sky was full of gray clouds. We drove through Springfield in the rain which turned to sprinkles close to Decatur. By the time we arrived in Brownsburg, Indiana, the sun was out, and it was time for lunch. We arrived at my cousin’s home located south of Dayton before 4:30 p.m.

Our first evening together since the summer of 2010 was full of laughter and catching up. Her two boys are a year older and a year younger than my grandson so the boys disappeared to play video games in the basement. We had a great dinner and then in the late evening, she told me that we needed to go to Bill’s Donuts. Wait a minute – a donut shop – at night? Let me just say that every town across the United States needs one of these places that are open 24 hours! It appeared to be the local hangout for not only teens but families. Picture the very best ice cream shop you’ve visited – but instead of ice cream, it’s donuts! We left there with a baker’s dozen of a variety of sweet treats for breakfast (some of them were still left at breakfast the next morning too!). On second thought, it’s probably not a good idea for one of those to be close to where I live!

July 7 – I used the Keurig coffee maker for the very first time and then headed to the cemetery in order to sign all the necessary documents pertaining to my father’s ashes and the interment. With some heartache, I left the ashes with the cemetery office in order for them to have everything ready for the next morning. After having them in my possession for six months, it felt odd that he wasn’t coming back to the house with me.

For lunch, the boys thought my grandson and I needed to see what all the hype was over Rapid Fire Pizza – so off we went. I love pizza – and I especially love pizza that I can create just for me! Think Subway – but pizza! I absolutely loved this restaurant and this is another place I believe all towns should have (well, on second thought . . . – see my response about Bill’s Donuts in above paragraph!)

That evening was our cousin get-together at Marion’s Pizza (more pizza!!!). We were missing a few but did have a very enjoyable time. Luckily, even though some left after eating, I was able to spend some time chatting with my three first cousins (children of my mom’s sister). This time, I was the one who asked the questions. I wanted to know more about my aunt – as their mom – instead of my mom’s sister. They shared some stories that made me see Aunt Genevieve in a whole new light! I didn’t realize that she pulled pranks and had a wicked sense of humor!

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My 3 first cousins and myself

marions-pizza-7-july-2016-family-gathering-judy-karen-wendy-ann-marie2 My first cousin and 2 first cousins once removed

July 8 – cousins all met at the house where I was staying and followed each other to Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio. When we arrived, I noticed that the gentleman who was handling the arrangements had set up a nice table to hold the container of ashes. They had even placed a flag next to my father’s headstone since he was a veteran. It was a wonderful gesture, and I was very touched. My dad didn’t want a memorial service so I knew that our time was going to be brief. A few of us recounted a couple of stories about my dad, I read the obituary I had written, and then we drank a toast. My dad’s drink of choice was vodka and lemon-lime so some of us (adults) either got a small amount of vodka or both vodka and sprite and the three boys got the soda. We raised our glasses (dixie cups!) and said good-bye. I think my dad would have approved.

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When we left the cemetery, we headed back to the Dayton area to have lunch at Frisch’s (Big Boy). I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to this lunch because my favorite sandwich is the Swiss Miss – a hamburger pattie on a rye bun with swiss cheese and tartar sauce. Can not get this sandwich anyplace else except Frisch’s!

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My cousins, grandson, and myself at Frisch’s Big Boy

After lunch, my grandson and I took off to drive by important places of my childhood. I had a list of addresses and with the help of a loaned GPS, I knew there wouldn’t be any problem finding them. We stopped by my childhood home in Beavercreek, the townhome where my mother spent the last 32 years of her life, two houses my maternal grandparents had lived, and my three schools.

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My childhood home – left (1960s) and right (July 2016)

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One of my grandparents’ homes in Dayton (left – 1950s & right – July 2016)

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My mom’s former townhome

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My grandparents’ house in Kettering, Ohio.

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My elementary, junior high (now a middle school), and high school

When I pulled through the parking lot of my high school (which is now the “back” of the school even though it faces the road), I was pointing out windows of the classes I had been in and what the new parts of the school were when a man came to the car and asked if he could help with anything. As soon as I told him I was a graduate and showing my grandson where I went to school, he had me park so he could give us the nickel tour since so much of it has changed.

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The picture above is of the auditorium from the stage. When I was in high school, we couldn’t perform any theatrical productions there because we did not have such a marvelous stage or auditorium. We had to travel down the road a bit to the elementary school. I’m a tad bit jealous that not only is the stage wonderful but the dressing rooms are pretty nice as well (sure beats getting in costume and make-up in the girls restroom!) Before we left, I had to take a picture of my grandson with our school’s mascot – Bucky Beaver.

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From there we headed to our favorite frozen custard stand just down the road from my high school – Ritter’s Frozen Custard. When my mom was living, and we would visit her, this is where we all liked to come on warm summer evenings. We’d all order our frozen treats and sit on the stone benches at the tables. Good memories.

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Next – the rest of our adventures in Dayton before heading to the second leg of our journey.

(All photos, digital scans are property of Wendy Littrell; address for private use.)

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state genealogy chart

I happen to be Facebook friends with many geneabloggers so when Judy G. Russell (the Legal Genealogist) posted her chart last night, I knew that there would be many others who would do the same. Judy was inspired by J. Paul Hawthorne (with whom I’m not familiar). By morning, I’ve counted no less than five from those I do know.

I had already decided last night that I would do one for myself – boring though it may be – and use it as a blog post. So this is what I created (see above). Pretty repetitive!

The top half signifies my paternal branch and the lower my mom’s. William Amore – my paternal 2nd great-grandfather was born in New York. My dad’s maternal great-grandfather, Florus Allen House, hailed from Connecticut. See the two Virginia blocks on the far right top half? Those are for Evan Ogan and Susanna Fritter Ogan – the couple who raised my great-grandmother, Frances V. Ogan House. I don’t have a biological component to add there but I didn’t want to leave those two spots blank because then the chart would look lopsided.

I have a 2nd great-grandmother who was born in North Carolina – Amanda Evaline Mullis (wife of James Wilson Johnson); a 2nd great-grandfather born in Virginia – Israel Isaac Wilt who married Elsy Nash from Pennsylvania. Other than that – we are all predominantly Ohio or Indiana born!

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green park

My parents, brother and sister called Green Park apartments in Tokyo, Japan their home for a short time when they lived overseas in the 1950s. Built around 1953, the complex had everything families would need under one roof – a post exchange, a movie theater, club for teens, etc.

For more information about Green Park, please visit Green Park photo essay featured on the Japan Brats website (which is also a very cool site to peruse if you happened to spend a lot of growing up years in Japan as a military brat – I’m looking at my sister here!)

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My husband, grandson, and I began a new adventure recently – selling our home and moving 600+ miles away to another state. The knowledge of the move was known for quite awhile but the logistics and details were filled with stressful moments. How long would our home need to be on the market before it sold? How much would it cost to make sure the home was ready to be sold (cosmetic and other repairs)? Would there be enough “profit” for us after the sale? Move ourselves? Hire a moving company? What to take? What to pitch? What to give away? When to start packing? Where to put the boxes that were packed? And for the love of everything – what is this going to cost? (If you have ever moved, you know what I’m saying!)

uhaul june 2015

U-Haul with some boxes in the over cab

Luckily for us, the selling of the house was almost the easiest part – we closed even before we had to move. Then it became a matter of how quickly can we get everything packed. Once we started packing boxes, it became pretty clear that there wasn’t any place to put them and be able to pack more! So we decided to rent a U-Haul truck in order to start getting things out of the house. 

 

My husband very meticulously figured out the best way to maximize the space inside the truck in order to pack everything in to it. There were some (in retrospect) funny moments such as when my husband and son-in-law was moving our reclining sofa and loveseat from the house into the truck. Our daughter mentioned that hers came apart to make it easier to move but since the company who delivered our furniture years ago brought each piece in as one piece and not apart, no one bothered to check. (It was only after they about killed themselves getting it out of our house, into the truck, off loaded from the truck at our new home and just before figuring out how to get it from an outbuilding on the property to the basement of the house, did my husband realize that yep – they did come apart!)

Time seemed to be our enemy on the day my husband had wanted to get on the road. Without any place to sit or sleep, we ended up staying in a local hotel overnight before braving the last bits of cramming more items into the truck or the vehicle I was going to be driving and being sure to leave enough room for our traveling items (luggage and a couple bags of “important paperwork”).

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Husband and I with our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons

With good-byes, hugs, and tears shed, we finally hit the road and left our home north of Dallas in the afternoon of June 11th. We stopped for the night at a nice hotel in a small Oklahoma town and enjoyed a delicious meal at the diner next door. The next morning, we began the last leg of the journey to our new home.

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That picture and the one below is what it’s all about! Big sky, rows and rows of corn, soybeans, and wheat! Gravel roads and country lanes. Barns and tractors. People who wave as they drive by. Neighbors who bring corn, corn, and even more corn! Furry critters and feathered friends to watch and marvel over. Small towns and big hearts.

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Our life is a little more slower paced these days – at least until our grandsons starts high school soon. My deadlines are 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (breakfast, lunch and dinner – oh wait, here it’s called breakfast, dinner and supper!). There’s always laundry to be done, weeds to be pulled, flowers to be watered, and new places to discover. It’s not quite retirement but it’s pretty dog gone close!

Stay tuned for more stories of our life in Missouri – and what this means for my genealogy research (hint: I’m really excited!!)!

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Mid-Hiatus

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I’m just “sort of” back right now. Isn’t that a beautiful sight? That’s our new view looking down the road.

We’ve moved. To Missouri. To a farm. Up-sized – not down-sized. This is land that has been in my husband’s family for 5 generations.

Many stories to tell. Stay tuned.

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train

Not too long ago, I read a Facebook status (and I’m sorry but I don’t remember who it was) that mentioned their ancestors had traveled less than 50 miles over several generations. The revelation prompted me to think about how many miles my ancestors traveled before landing at the place they called home until they died.

Instead of going back many, many generations, I will begin with my maternal 2nd great-grandparents.

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Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio. Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Wayne county, Indiana.  Emanuel had traveled approximately 105 miles from his birthplace in Ohio. Nancy had traveled about 68 miles from her birthplace. The family remained in Hamilton county. After my 2nd great-grandparents divorced, Emanuel traveled to Yale, Nebraska to visit one of their children and was found living there in the 1910 census. He traveled (probably by train) about 787 miles.  Nancy died (21 Dec 1900) in the same county that she had lived with her husband. Emanuel was buried (after 10 Sep 1911)  in Hamilton county so he (or his remains) had to travel back from 787 miles to Hamilton county, Indiana.

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Israel Isaac Wilt b. 20 Jan 1823 in Rockingham county, Virginia was in Prairie township, Henry county, Indiana by the time of his marriage to Christena Nash on 2 Feb 1857. He had traveled about 503 miles traveling through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Christena was b. 1837 in (probably) Beaver county, Pennsylvania. She had traveled with her family 316 miles.  They lived in Henry county the rest of their lives. Israel died 11 Sep 1919 and Chrstena died 18 Aug 1876.

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The Stern’s daughter, Martha Jane Stern, b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton county, Indiana married Joseph Napolean Wilt (b. 21 Jan 1868) on 10 Sep 1890 in the same county both were born. By the 1910 census, Martha and Joseph were divorced and she was remarried and living in Anderson, Madison county, Indiana – 29 miles away. By 1923, Martha and her second husband, William Frank Clawson, moved 2,257 miles away to Lane county, Oregon. Both of them died in Oregon and were buried in Leaburg. Joseph Wilt. By 9 Jan 1944, when Joseph died, he was living near Nabb, Indiana – about 102 miles from his birthplace.

My other sets of great-great-grandparents (ancestors of my grandfather) were James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 and Amanda Evaline Mullis b. 1833 and Franklin Blazer b. 2 Jun 1836 and Malissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832.

James Wilson Johnson, I think

 

James W. Johnson was born in Brown county, Ohio and by the 1850 census, he had moved to 137 miles away to Rush county, Indiana. Amanda was born in Wilkes county, North Carolina and had traveled with her parents and family to Rush county, Indiana – 519 miles. Amanda d. 21 Mar 1868 in Rush county. After her death, James moved around, reportedly through Howard county, Indiana and finally settling in Anderson, Indiana – a little over 40 miles away. 

malissa_blazer

Franklin Blazer was probably born in Madison county, Indiana and stayed in that county until he passed away on 27 Aug 1873. Malissa was born in Union, Champaign county, Ohio and by the time she married Franklin before 1859, she was living in Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana – a little over 125 miles away.

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The Johnson’s son, John Lafayette Johnson, and the Blazer’s daughter, Katie J. Blazer married on 4 Jul 1883. John was b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana. Katie was b. 27 Sep 1864 in Stony Creek, Madison county, Indiana. By the time of their marriage, John was living close to her. They remained in Anderson, Indiana – 40 miles from John’s birth and 9 miles from Katie’s birth until 1930 when they moved to Greene county, Ohio to live with their son (my grandfather). That move took them 109 miles from their home. Following each of their deaths, they were buried back in Anderson, Indiana.

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My grandparents, Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 and Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898, were both born in Indiana. He was born in Anderson, and she was born in Noblesville. When her mother and stepfather moved 29 miles away to Anderson, she was still young.  After they were married on 24 Dec 1916, the couple moved 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio (the town merged with Osborn and became Fairborn many years later). As my grandfather was in the military, he was at Ft. Omaha in Nebraska; Kelly Field in San Antonio, France during WWI; Wiesbaden, Germany during the early 1950s; and by the time they returned to the states and my grandfather retired from the US Air Force, they lived on Devonshire in Dayton, Ohio. So even though they had traveled over 4200 miles and then some, they moved 18 miles away from Fairborn. When I was a baby and small child, they had moved to a home on Rahn Road in Kettering – 14 miles away. Before my grandmother died 19 Jan 1984 they had spent many years living 9 miles away at the Park Layne Apartments at 531 Belmonte Park in Dayton. After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather moved almost 13 miles away to the Trinity Home on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek, Ohio. He was there at the time of his death on 18 Jan 1985.

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My mom, Mary Helen Johnson, was born in Anderson, Indiana and moved with her parents 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio when she was very young. She remained there until she married my dad in 1943. They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (close to 400 miles away) before moving to Great Falls, Montana – about 1300 miles away. My dad was in the military, and they moved to Japan and back twice – over 6500 miles from Columbus, Ohio. In fact my mom drove my brother and sister from Dayton to Washington to catch the ship for Japan the first time they moved to Japan – a trip of over 2300 miles – very lengthy for a young woman with two little kids in 1953. By the time they returned to the states for the final time, they moved to Panama City, Florida – about 780 miles from Dayton. In 1960, they moved back to Ohio and bought a house in Beavercreek. This was the same house my mom lived in until 1977 when she moved a little over 5 miles away to the town home she lived in for the remainder of her life. (My father is still living so I will not disclose all the places he has lived.)

Below is a list of how far my ancestors traveled in order from who lived (and/or) died at a location farthest from their birthplace to the shortest distance:

  • Martha Jane Stern – 2246 miles
  • Amanda Evaline Mullis – 519 miles
  • Israel Isaac Wilt – 503 miles
  • Christena Nash – 316 miles
  • James Wilson Johnson – 190 miles
  • Malissa Goul – 125 miles
  • Glen Roy Johnson – 115 miles
  • Mary Helen Johnson – 115 miles
  • Vesta Christena Wilt – 113 miles
  • Katie J Blazer – 113 miles
  • Emanuel Bushong Stern – about 105 miles
  • Joseph Napolean Wilt – 102 miles
  • John Lafayette Johnson – 95 miles
  • Nancy Caylor – 68 miles
  • Franklin Blazer – less than 5 miles

According to Wikipedia, History of Indiana, the “state’s population grew to exceed one million” by the 1850s, and several of my ancestors had either made their way to Indiana or were born there. My Wilt/Nash great-great-grandparents likely traveled over the National Road in their westward migration from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Indiana. The Mullis family would have likely traveled by wagon through the wilderness to either the Cumberland Gap/Wilderness Road or to the National Road to get to Indiana.

There were probably several reasons for my ancestors to move north and west – better economy, more fertile farming land, more opportunities, and different political and social climates.

Though my maternal roots run deep in Indiana, I am partial to the state of my birth – Ohio. Even then, I didn’t stay there to live, work, marry and raise a family. I moved over 1000 miles away! Just as my ancestors left the places of their birth in search of something better, that is what I did. I moved (and stayed) due to job opportunities and warmer climate.

Have you tracked your ancestors?

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