Archive for the ‘personal’ Category


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 Week #2 is “King” and Amy noted: “January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?”

Of course the first thing I saw was “Elvis Presley” and all other thought went out the window!  My sister-in-law was an Elvis fan – a very big one! She was born Phyllis Anne Pearson on August 9, 1941 to Forrest Orville Pearson and Helen Jane Manning in Troy, Ohio. When she was born, her older brother was almost three. Her parents were divorced and by 1952, Forrest had remarried and was expecting a child with his wife. Unfortunately, the little boy was born prematurely and didn’t survive. Phyllis also had a younger half-sister. Her mother had also remarried. As a child, she contracted polio; consequently, one leg was a tad shorter than the other and that foot was half the size of her other one.

By the end of 1960, Phyllis was working at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and met my brother, Jim. He had tried to enlist in the US Air Force but due to his eyesight and a bad shoulder, he was honorably discharged. Unable to follow in the footsteps of our father and grandfather, he found work at the same hospital as Phyllis. On February 1, 1961 the two of them married at the parsonage of the First Reformed Church of Xenia (Ohio) by Rev. Russell Mayer. Their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Fuchs, were their attendants. The reception was held at my parents’ home in Beavercreek, Ohio. My brother had turned 21 years old a month previous – on January 2 – and Phyllis was 20.

I wasn’t at the wedding – because I wasn’t even born yet!  When my mother asked my grandmother on Easter of 1961 how she would feel about becoming a grandmother again, everyone looked at Phyllis, who immediately exclaimed, “It’s not me!” So Phyllis had been a part of my family even before I was born. She and my brother would keep me at their house on weekends here and there. I was at their house when I broke out in chicken pox at the age of six. They would get real ice cream for me from the ice cream truck whenever I spent time with them.

michele wendy jim phyllis

My sister, brother Jim holding me and Phyllis

Phyllis’ personality was big. Everyone knew when she had entered a room. She had a voice that carried and a laugh I still hear in my daughter – who laughs a lot like Phyllis. She was tall and carried quite a bit of weight but she could dress in lovely skirt suits and blouses. Her blonde hair was always coiffed. I remember her purse – she always had a big one. We always teased her that she needed an even bigger one! To her family, she was Anne, but to us – Jim’s family – she was Phyllis. She and my brother took me to see “Jaws” when it came out in the movie theaters. I can still hear her yell when that shark came up out of the water!

When she and my brother adopted their son, she was so happy – they both were. I had a new nephew, and he was a darling. Phyllis was always laughing and making jokes. And she would talk about possibly going to an Elvis concert. It was after he had released “Moody Blue” but then he died. She was in shock – along with half of country.

She and my brother divorced in 1998 but she would always be my sister. Whenever we traveled to Ohio to visit my family, I always made sure to see her. She was a passenger in a car accident which badly damaged her polio stricken foot. The doctors weren’t sure if she would be able to keep it but she did. By that time her weight had ballooned, and she spent a lot of time in a wheelchair. She was afraid to use her foot as damaged as it was. Then came the answer we all thought would help – gastric bypass.

After the surgery, she would write to me that she wasn’t sure it was worth it. She wasn’t able to keep anything down and some of her family members were treating her differently. I kept teasing her that soon she could go bikini shopping! When we saw her in the summer of 2006, she still had that wit and laugh, but truth be told, her appearance was startling. She had gone to from at least 400 lbs to under 200 lbs. Her face, which had always been round and “jolly,” had lost that roundness. Then when we saw her the following summer, she was walking with a walker and seemed to have a breathing issue, as if any movement just wore her out. She didn’t speak much, and I can’t remember if I heard her laugh that evening. She seemed to have a hard time sitting. Her face was devoid of joy and happiness. I know she was still in mourning after losing her mother earlier that spring. Looking back on that evening, I should have realized something was off but I chalked it up to her grief and not seeing her for a year. She had lost even more weight.

In 2008, we were in Ohio in June, to visit my mother who had her own illness to battle. I called Phyllis to ask her if we would be able to see her but she said that she just hadn’t been feeling well and wanted to rest. I thought she might have a kidney infection or something but the following month I received a call from my nephew who told me that Phyllis had been hospitalized, and it didn’t sound good. He didn’t go in to detail but I could tell that he was scared. The next day – July 27, 2008 – my cousin called in tears to tell me that Phyllis had died. I just couldn’t believe it. She had been so full of life for as long as I had known her. I wondered if having the gastric bypass had done her in since she hadn’t been able to eat very much after she had the surgery. It wasn’t until that fall when my sister and I were visiting our mother in Ohio that we asked my nephew exactly what happened. He said the doctors had told him that she had kidney cancer. I wonder if she even knew and had chosen not to endure chemotherapy. Now, I believe that when I had seen her in the summer of 2007, she probably had the cancer then, and was starting to feel the pain. I think she had just given up.

I miss getting letters from her – I miss her laugh and the way she could tell a story! I miss her because even though she and my brother had divorced, she was a link to him after he passed away – to the life they had lived happily when I was a child. Not only did my mother survive her son but also her daughter-in-law. My nephew had already lost his father, then his maternal grandmother, then his mother and the following spring, my mom – his paternal grandmother. A few weeks after my mom died, Phyllis’ brother passed away. My nephew endured a lot in a short span of time. It was times like that, I wish we were closer.

So, on the anniversary of Elvis’ birth, I remember my sister-in-law, Phyllis Anne Pearson Amore. I hope she’s at peace and laughing.

phyllis 001

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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!

The first week’s theme centers around “Fresh Start” and immediately several things came to mind – namely, what person or family do I want to look at with fresh eyes? It is the family of my second great-grandfather’s brother, James J. Johnson, who is a collateral ancestor.

Instead of writing about the family in this post, I’m going to list those things which I have documented because I can’t get a “fresh start” unless I only state what is true (according to the sources).

On February 28, 1848 James J. Johnson and Dolly Mullis were granted a marriage license in Rush county, Indiana and married on March 4, 1848.

john johnson dolly mullis marriage record

John J. Johnson is listed by name in the 1850 Census enumerated on September 7, 1850 living in Union twp, Rush county, Indiana. He is listed as age 27 making his birth in 1823 and lists his place of birth as Ohio. His occupation was farmer. Living in the household was Dolly Johnson, age 25, born in North Carolina, and could not read or write. A one year old child, Ann M. Johnson, born in Indiana also resided in the house.

In 1856, John J. Johnson is listed as guardian for Jemima E. Johnson, his younger minor sister after the death of their father, Jacob Johnson.

On July 29, 1870 J. J. Johnson was enumerated in the 1870 Census. He was living in Stony Creek twp, Madison county, Indiana. Johnson was a 47 year old farmer, born in Ohio, with a personal income as $900 and a real estate value of $4000. Others in the household included: Dolly Johnson, age 44, born in North Carolina; 12 year old Rosa A. Johnson, listed “at home,” born in Indiana, and had attended school in the last year; and John J. N. (or J. M.) Johnson, age 7, listed “at home,” born in Indiana, and attended school within the year.  Two others in the household included: 55 year old Sophia Mullis, born in North Carolina, with a personal property value of $1400, and who could neither read nor write and Thomas Mullis, a 42 year old farmer born in North Carolina, with a real estate value of $3000 and a personal property value of $2000 and could not write.

On June 11, 1880, John J. Johnson is enumerated living in Stony Creek twp, Madison County, Indiana at age 57. He is a farmer, married, and born in Ohio. He lists his father as born in New Jersey and his mother born in Pennsylvania. He is living with his wife, Dolly Johnson, age 55, who was born in North Carolina as were both of her parents. Daughter, Rosa A. Milburn, is age 22, married, born in Indiana. She lists her parents as born in Ohio and North Carolina. Son, John M. Johnson, is a farmer age 17, born in Indiana, and lists his parents born in Ohio and North Carolina. Grandson, Edward D. Milburn is age 3, born in Indiana and his parents are listed as born in Indiana.

The History of Madison County lists the story of how John J. Johnson’s neighbor, Coleman Hawkins, tried to kill him on the night of December 5, 1888. The article mentions that Johnson had been a postmaster in the area of Johnson’s Crossing near Stony Creek twp in Madison county, Indiana and mentions Johnson’s daughter, Miss Rosa Johnson.

John J. Johnson’s obituary on the front page of the Anderson Democrat on October 14, 1892 stated that he died instantly while sitting in a chair after he had returned from visiting a daughter in Knightstown. The physical description of him said that he was over 6 foot tall and large in proportion.

Dolly (Mullis) Johnson is listed on the 1900 Census as still residing in Stony Creek twp.  She is a widow and the mother of 5 children but only four living.

The obituary for Dolly Johnson that ran in the February 25, 1908 edition of the Anderson Herald states that she was 82 years old and was survived by four children. It mentions that she was the widow of John Johnson and died at her daughter’s home – listed as Mrs. Charles Anderson. Besides that daughter, listed later as Rosa Anderson, the other children who survived her are Martha Johnson, Mrs. Jonathan Delawter, and Mrs. Mary Reid.

What strikes me are two things – one, until I can locate this family in the 1860 Census, there are several questions and two, I believe the names of the children that survived Dolly Johnson are wholly inaccurate and lacking – but…since I’m looking at this family with fresh eyes, I have to consider all the possibilities.

Even though it is not documented proof, I do have a list of people who attended the Johnson reunion in 1915 & 1916. This list is a good indication as to who were considered to be “family.”  Included in the photo with a key to the who is who on the back are Rosa Anderson (3rd person from the left on the 4th row standing), Mrs. Delauter (1st person on the left on the 2nd row sitting), Mrs. Marshall Johnson (9th person from the left on the 3rd row standing), Mr. Marshall Johnson (10th person on the left on the 3rd row standing), and Mr. Delauter (1st person on the left on the 3rd row standing) (as well as my grandfather and his parents).

Johnson Reunion cropped

I am pretty confident that Marshall Johnson is John Marshall Johnson, son of James J. Johnson and Dolly Mullis. There is a marriage record on FamilySearch.org for John Marshall Johnson and Rosa J. Hawkins on December 17, 1881, as well as marriage records for some of their sons that lists their parents as: Marhsall Johnson and Rosa Hawkins, Marshal Johnson and Rosa Jean Hawkins, J. M. Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins,  and J. M. Johnson and Rosie J Hawkins.

I also believe that Rosa Johnson Milburn Anderson was their daughter due to the entry in the History of Madison County concerning the attempt on her father’s life by Coleman Hawkins; she was enumerated as living in their household as “daughter” in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses; and she attended the first reunion in 1915.

Elizabeth Delawter appears to also be a daughter of John and Dolly as she and her husband Jonathan appear in the photo for the 1915 reunion and are listed in reunion minutes. A notation reads: “Lizzie Delawter died.”

In the above three cases, those who survived Dolly (Mullis) Johnson seem to be correct. What about the mysterious “Martha Johnson” or “Mary Reid”? And why wasn’t John Marshall Johnson listed? And why was there no mention of the 1 year old child – Ann M. Johnson – who had appeared in the 1850 Census with John and Dolly? Who provided the information to the newspaper for the obituary or did someone at the paper take it upon themselves to write it up and perhaps print the wrong names?

Further research that I need to do before making a conclusion according to this family: find the family in the 1860 census, any land records or deeds, obituaries or news articles, marriage records, better death records, and birth records if they exist.

Oh where, oh where, are you – descendants of this couple through any of the three children listed above or any children that I haven’t documented?

(52 Ancestors graphic courtesy of Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small)


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The Look of Love


A few days ago I posted a photo of my parents that was one of my favorites, but when it comes to my maternal grandparents – I have many that I adore! The reason I enjoy looking at them is because in photos of just the two of them, their love for each other just radiates off the photo. Take a peek!






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The Library of Congress’ Today in History page reports that on this day in 1918, the “American Expeditionary Forces…launched its first major offensive in Europe as an independent army” led by General John J. Pershing. My family has a connection to “Black Jack” Pershing in two different ways. As seen in the photo above, my grandfather met the General in the days of WWI when Pershing inspected my grandfather’s squadron. In a letter to my grandmother back home in Indiana, my grandfather mentions the inspection and meeting. Pershing is the first man in uniform from the right (not standing on the car) and my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, is the third from the left.

The second connection is through my husband. Pershing State Park in Linn county, Missouri lies across US 36 – 16 miles from my husband’s father’s farm. Each time we drive that road, we see the signs about Pershing and the Park.

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A Special Photo


The photo above is one of my favorite pictures of my parents. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you probably have noticed that I don’t post many pictures of my parents together. I’ve done that because I wanted to respect both of them since they were divorced when I was twelve. My father is still living but isn’t connected to a computer or the internet. I post this here today because for me, this photo represents a time when they were in love with each other. They were young and looking toward a future filled with possibilities.

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Today, September 10, marks the 13th Anniversary since the last day the United States was “normal.” I am not really sure what I was doing on September 10, 2001 specifically. I dropped my son off at the high school – not sure if I took my daughter or if she caught a ride with her friends. I took my youngest to middle school. It was a Monday so I went to work at my church. And I was still fresh off my trip to my brother’s funeral in Alabama. There were still sad moments during the day. I worked my three hours and went home to grab lunch. More than likely, I turned the television on to watch the rest of the noon news before one of my daytime shows started. I’m sure I fixed dinner that evening after my husband and kids were home from work and school.

According to USA Today’s online article “The Day Before,” items that the American people were reading about or watching on the news concerned the trial of actor Robert Blake, suicide bombings in Istanbul, Michael Jackson’s first live concert in quite awhile at Madison Square Garden, and President Bush’s trip to Florida. It was by all accounts, a day just like thousands of days that had come before. But that would all soon change.

Just like those alive on December 7, 1941 or November 22, 1963, we all know where we were and what we were doing the morning of September 11. I’ve written before of my memories and thoughts. Before we realized it, whatever we considered “normal” was gone. For many days the airspace over my house – close to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – was silent. Growing up near an air base in Ohio and living in my present home for so long, airplane noise had always been normal for me. The silence overhead was eerie. People walked around with a look on their face as if they didn’t know whether to be sad, confused, or angry. Everyone wanted to talk about it. Most of us were glued to our televisions as those horrific scenes were played over and over again and listened to the stories of those who had escaped from the towers, the Pentagon, or had heard their loved one’s last words via a cell phone high above a Pennsylvania field.

When the airlines began flying again, instead of the “normal” sounds above, I would look up and wonder if there would be another plane right on the heels of 9/11. What used to be normal for travelers had all changed. There was a list of banned items, new rules and restrictions in place for luggage, and no way to see your loved one’s off in the terminal just before boarding. When family would fly in to D/FW in order to catch another flight somewhere else, there wasn’t any way that I could go visit with them until they left; it just wasn’t allowed anymore.

Children grew frightened. The American people pulled together – at least for a short time – because it was OUR country that was attacked; OUR people were killed; OUR airlines were hijacked. Churches were packed with people looking for answers and praying for the nation.

And normal now? Homeland Security Agency – part of the government that didn’t exist 13 years ago today. Pat downs, luggage inspection, and getting body scans at airports. New vocabulary has entered our lexicon: Al-Queda, Taliban, “weapons of mass destruction,” ground zero (meaning where the twin towers once stood), and the war on terror. Children born after September 11, 2001 (and some that were young) will never know a world of “normal.”

This is a sad anniversary – the Last Day of Normal.


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This is the only house I lived in until the spring before I turned sixteen. The picture above, taken in the winter time, shows how young the plants and trees are.

    ????????????????????????????????????????????   60s 57

As time went by, the landscape changed. A blue spruce and pine trees were planted in the front yard. The vast backyard changed to include plants, places for a child to play, and an in-ground swimming pool.

60s 97   60s 124

60s 105  


Where there wasn’t really an entry way, my dad built in a barrier with a bookshelf and wrought iron railing and tiled the floor.

    60s 83

After moving away in the spring of 1977 – to a town home across the highway, we’d have occasion to go down the street and see our old house. It really never changed. Then after I left Ohio and moved away, it seemed that when I did visit the area, the fir trees in the front yard had grown taller and taller.

53 cherry hill pic   my house cherry hill 2008

Until I moved to the house I’ve now lived in for over 26 years, the house above was what I always thought of when I thought of home.

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