Archive for the ‘personal’ 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.


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.


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!)


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!


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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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!


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.


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!

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.


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


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


My mom’s former townhome


My grandparents’ house in Kettering, Ohio.


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.


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.


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.


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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Pendleton 16 July 2016 Falls Park Monarch Butterfly Garden flowers

Readers may notice that there has been a lull in recent blog posts. This is in part to several things but the most important was a road trip I took in the early part of July. The main purpose for my trip was to fulfill my dad’s wishes to have his ashes interred beside his second wife, Dottie, at Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio – just outside of Dayton.

Once my time in the Dayton area was complete, my 15 year old grandson and I traveled further northeast to my dad’s hometown. I hadn’t visited Coshocton, Ohio since I was a child so it was a joy to be able to see it as an adult especially after extensive genealogical research on the paternal side of my family. After spending a week in Coshocton, I headed west toward home with a three day stop in Anderson, Indiana – my mom’s hometown as well as her dad’s.

Following our twelve day vacation, we began our journey home – stopping in Springfield, Illinois to visit President Lincoln’s home and his tomb.

It was a welcome break for me and even though he wasn’t too thrilled with spending seven hours at the library on one day and two hours another, my grandson enjoyed some perks.

There will be more blog posts to come with details of the what, who, where, why, and how! It was a trip filled with many blessings!

(Digital Photo: Monarch Butterfly Garden at Falls Park, Pendleton, Indiana; 16 July 2016; photographer: Wendy Littrell; copyright 2016. No unauthorized use of photo. Original digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell – Address for private use.)

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baby mary

By the time I was born, the only set of grandparents still living were my mom’s parents – Glen R and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. Forget about great-grandparents. My grandmother had four siblings still living: John and Clifford lived in Oregon, Nellie lived in Washington, and Clarence lived in Indiana. John Wilt died before I was old enough to meet him. As far as Clifford, I don’t remember meeting him but I may have as a small child. I knew Nellie from staying at her home in Washington when my parents and I toured the western states and because Aunt Nellie and her husband John Lilly visited Dayton many times. I also remember visiting Uncle Clarence in Indiana almost every year.

It wasn’t until I was almost a teen, that I even learned that my grandfather had an older brother who had died young as well as a younger foster sister, Eva. Apparently, everyone thought Eva had died as well (later I found out that Eva outlived my grandfather). But it never dawned on me until many years ago, even when I had seen her gravestone, that my grandfather had a baby sister named Mary who died before she celebrated her first birthday.

Several days ago, Ancestry published three new databases – Indiana marriage, birth and death records. I immediately began going through them for any new or correct information. Mary appeared on the 1910 census and the Indiana death index (no images) listed her date of death as July 1910. The search term of Mary Johnson 1910 did not bring her up. I tried various ways to find her until I gave up and just entered the month and year of death. Finally, her death certificate was located under Marry L Johnson (her gravestone reads: Mary A Johnson). She is buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson.

Mary died at home – 432 W. 17th street – in Anderson, Indiana at the age of 8 months and 14 days on July 17, 1910. The cause of death was listed as brain tumor and contributory cause was cholera infantum. I had to look that up. Merriam-Webster online defines it as “an acute noncontagious intestinal disturbance of infants formerly common in congested areas of high humidity and temperature.” I am left wondering if the brain tumor killed her or if she had become so dehydrated that her condition deteriorated rapidly.

An interesting thing to note is that my mother’s sister, Genevieve, died from a benign brain tumor. My aunt’s tumor was not cancerous but it was inoperable and 48 years after her baby aunt breathed her last, so did my Aunt Genevieve.

I am also left to wonder if my mother was named after my grandfather’s baby sister. I never heard him speak about his sister or how he felt at her death. He had just turned 11 when Mary was born so he was old enough to remember her short life.

Years ago, I found a crate of large pictures. One of them was of a baby that my mom thought was baby Mary. I don’t know if it is but I have included it above. It seemed that for so many years, she wasn’t talked about. Perhaps my Grandad thought about her when he lost his own daughter, Lois Evelyn, at just six weeks old or when Aunt Genevieve was so ill. But documents pertaining to Mary’s short life have been found – she did live, she did breathe, and she was loved.

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On this Memorial Day, I remember those collateral relatives who paid the ultimate price in order to protect the freedom we have in this great nation of ours.

My second cousin once removed, Charles E Albert died in Italy on October 6, 1944 during WWII. Charley enlisted in the Army on February 4, 1943 at Columbus, Ohio. Three weeks after his death, his mother, Georgia Anna Amore Smith, received a telegram that was delivered by the Adjutant General, J A Uho. It read that Charley was killed in action. He was survived by his mother, stepfather William Smith, and ten siblings. He is buried in Greenfield, Ohio at Greenfield Cemetery.

My second cousin twice removed, Ward Lester Goul, died from wounds received in battle during WWI. He died on January 25, 1919 at the Evacuation Hospital and was buried at the American Cemetery in Nantes, France. Ward had been assigned to the 56th Coast Artillery after he was shipped overseas in March 1918.

Bill Amore and Wendy
Wendy and Jim (Bill) Amore 1969

My first cousin, James Amore, did not die during battle but during his service in Viet Nam, he was exposed to Agent Orange which caused him to die at a young age. Jim (or Bill as I called him) was the son of my uncle Paul Amore. He was born in October 1946 and died May 17, 1974 at the age of 27 years.

May we never forget those who served and died in order to keep our country free.

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Wedding Wednesday

“Abel Lewis taking the said Elizabeth Jones by the hand did in a solemn manner openly declare that he took the said Elizabeth Jones to be his wife.”

Those written words could belong to any number of couples who are marrying, but Abel Lewis and Elizabeth Jones aren’t just any couple. They are my four times great-grandparents. The words above explain in detail the union of this couple who would go on to produce several children – one being my ancestor, Abel Lewis Jr. I’ve often come across marriage records for ancestors that just give their names and the date of marriage. Not very many record what transpired at the wedding.

I have to admit that as I read the rest of the marriage record, I was overcome with emotion. It was only recently that I learned their names. They aren’t as familiar to me as some of my ancestors. Yet, reading about the union of Abel and Elizabeth caused me to be very thankful that they were married – or I wouldn’t be here. It’s sort of silly getting a little misty over a wedding that took place on October 10, 1759.

Except . . . the groom would only live seven more years and die six months after his youngest child – my ancestor, Abel Lewis Jr, was born. Abel Sr wouldn’t see his children grow up or know his grandchildren. He wouldn’t live to a ripe old age with his bride, Elizabeth.

“Promising with the Lord’s assistance to be unto her a loving and faithful husband until death should separate them.”

Source: U.S., Quaker Meeting Records. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; Ancestry.com. Citing Abel Lewis and Elizabeth Jones. Accessed 23 May 2016.

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A few weeks ago, I received the results of my AncestryDNA test. Some of the information was just as I expected – more than 50% Great Britain and quite a bit from Western Europe. Knowing the amount of ancestors that came from England as well as Germany led me to realize that the test was pretty accurate. Then there was that 12% Scandinavian. Scandi-what? I couldn’t quite figure where that DNA came from unless it was so far back in history when the tribes from that part of the world went out to the area of Great Britain and Germany. The other explanation was that it came from those few brick wall ancestors that I had yet to go further back in time past the early to mid-1800s.

Comparing my tree with those people who were a DNA match resulted in quite a bit of Scandinavian surnames. Who are these people and how did we match? I was at a complete loss. Until Saturday. Yes, that explosion you heard coming from Mid-Missouri was a brick wall that imploded, tumbled down, and shook the earth with a magnitude large enough that it would have finally shaken California from its roots.

My brick wall ancestors include my 2nd great-grandfather’s (William Amore) parents. I have no names for them except that William had listed on the 1880 census that his father was born in England and his mother in New York. Then there is my great-grandmother, Frances V. Ogan (or Foster – depending on which census is used) who was married to James Emory House (parents of my paternal grandmother). Reports are that Frances was left on a doorstep. She was raised by Evan and Susannah (Fritter) Ogan who were old enough to be her grandparents. Then there is Abel Lewis (who I learned is a Jr) and his wife, Nancy (or Ann) Johnson (or Johnston).

Within the last six months, I have found enough documentation that Abel and Nancy Lewis were my 2nd great-grandparents. Their daughter, Julia Ann Lewis, was married to Florus Allen House and became parents to my great-grandfather, James Emory House. However, information for Abel Lewis was sketchy at best. Luckily, I found someone else who had been researching this particular Lewis family and contacted him. Not only has he provided more information and documentation but as soon as he did that, other doors opened.

Nancy Johns(t)on, Abel Lewis Jr’s wife, was the daughter of James Johns(t)on and Catherine See. I had come across the See surname in several of the trees of people who were a DNA match. It was beginning to make sense. Catherine See, my 4th great-grandmother, was the daughter of Johann Frederick Michael See (or Zeh) and Catherine Margaret Vanderpool. Going back one more generation, Catherine was the daughter of Wynant Malgertsel Vanderpool (or Van der Poel) and Catherine de Hooges – both born in New York in the 1650s. But in the 1600s, the area was New Netherland – a Dutch colony.

New Netherland map

Wait a minute, Dutch? As in Holland? Amsterdam? The Netherlands? Okay, that is Western Europe. Still not finding any Scandinavian ancestors. So let’s just keep moving back further. Catherine de Hooges was the daughter of Johannes de Hooges and Margarita Post. Johannes was the son of Anthony de Hooges and Eva Albertse Bradt – both born in North Holland and both died in New Netherland. Eva was the daughter of Albert Andriessen Bradt and Annetje Barents Von Rottmer. Annetje was born in Germany but Albert was born in – wait a minute – Fredrikstad, Norway! He was also an early settler of New Netherland; arriving with his wife and two children (one was my ancestor, Eva) at New Amsterdam (now tip of Manhattan) on March 4, 1637.

Albert’s parents, Andries Arentse Bradt and Eva Kinetis, were also born in Norway (and for those following along, Andries and Eva are my 10th great-grandparents!). I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg for me. The door has now been opened to my Scandinavian ancestors. So much has been written about some of these men who sailed from the Old World to the unknown of the New World in the 1600s. They were men who helped shaped what would become New York City, Albany, and the state of New York. They were businessmen and farmers. Their friends were the Van Rensselaers and other prominent Dutch upper middle class to upper class settlers.

For further reading, I urge you to plug in some of these names into Google and see what fascinating people they were!

(Images: both images from Wikimedia Commons; public domain)

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