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Anillos

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 5: “How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?”

I do know how my parents met – mom was working at Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) outside of Fairborn, Ohio (back then it was Fairfield) in Greene County, Bath Township. She met my dad in early 1941 when he was stationed there. They spent the next couple of years dating until they married in December 1943.

On Easter Sunday 1916 (April 23), my maternal grandparents, Glen R Johnson and Vesta C Wilt, met at church. Life would never be the same for either of them again! Such began months of daily correspondence for even though they lived in the same town, they sent letters to each other every day – and since the mail service ran twice a day – it wasn’t just one letter they sent, but two! Luckily for me, I have each and every one of those letters. To me they are priceless! A window into their lives that helped me witness them falling in love with each other (although I suspect, it was love at first sight for both of them!).

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The following is parts of a letter from my grandfather to my grandmother that he wrote to her on May 31, 1916 – a little over a month after their initial meeting.

You told me that you were not cold last night but I think you were. I am afraid you (my little girl) will be sick. But I hope not. Do not work to hard to-day. I hope you had a good time yesterday. I did I know. So good-bye Dear
I still remain yours forever
                                       Glen
To the one I love best Miss Vesta Wilt signed Glen

Later that summer – apparently after my great-grandmother, Martha, had words about Glen with my grandmother, he was very scared and wrote the following to my grandmother:

Vesta Dear I am afraid your mother will make me quit going with you. Oh! I can’t stand to think of it. I have cried all evening. But listen Dear you have a good time, don’t think of me. Whatever happens I will take it as best I can, I can go west or some other place and die. But I never will forget the Little girl of Mine. Vesta. The dearest girl there ever was. Hoping you will forgive me for all I have said and done. I will never do them again. After I leave you can forget me and find some one just as good and better than I am. Hoping you will not think hard of me for all this talk, but I think it will happen. I had a dream I never told you of. I don’t know whether I will tell you now. I think you can guess it. And just think I caused it all I am simply crazy. Well dear I have told you all I know and more to. I will be there Sunday morning if I am alive. Hoping you will not worry. Let me do all the worrying. I will close. Forgive the writing. I will close again with lots of love and kisses.
I still remain your lover and sweetheart, bit I am afraid never yours to be.
                    Glen
                 The broken hearted boy.  9:30 P.M.
5:30 A.M. Aug. 4, 1916
P.S. Well Dear I past through the awful night. I got about one hour sleep. I was thinking or crying the rest. Crying the most. Well Dear I guess I will try and work to-day. I don’t know whether I can or not.
                    Glen

My grandfather needn’t have worried because just a few short months later, they were engaged and married on Christmas Eve 1916 – eight months after they met. They were married 67 years before my grandmother passed away. My grandfather wait a year and then joined her. I am so very fortunate to have boxes and boxes of their letters to each other that allows me to feel their deep abiding and eternal love for one another.

I don’t have any idea how my paternal grandparents met – that is something I will have to ask my dad about! (Took a 15 minute break and called my dad!) Loyd W Amore and Ella M House were introduced to each other by his brother Isaiah H (Zade) Amore and wife, Lula (St. Clair). Lula was a sewing teacher and was teaching my grandmother how to sew. She asked my grandma if she wanted to meet someone and she said that would be ok (or as my dad said “Whatever they said back then.”) So they were introduced about 1901-02 and were married on April 11, 1903 in the Presbyterian Manse in Coshocton, Ohio.

Photos: Wedding rings from Wikimedia Commons. Glen and Vesta Johnson – photographer: Wendy Littrell, original and digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for private use).

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 4: “Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.”

I am lucky enough to have original my maternal grandparents’ original marriage records as well as her parents (Joseph N Wilt and Martha J Stern) and my great-grandparents’ (Emanuel B Stern and Nancy Caylor). I don’t have wedding pictures of either of those couples, but I do have a wedding picture of my maternal grandfather’s parents (Katie J Blazer and John L Johnson).

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John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J Blazer – married on Wednesday, July 4, 1883
Katie was not quite 19 years old.

I have digital copies of marriage records via FamilySearch for John L Johnson’s parents (my 2nd great-grandparents), James Wilson Johnson and Amanda Eveline Mullis, and for Amanda’s parents – John Mullis and Darlett Stanley (married in Wilkes county, North Carolina) on February 22, 1811. Recently, I found the marriage license and certificate (digital copy) for my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and his second wife, Anna Park. On the line that asked if he had been married before, he listed “no.” When I saw that, I exclaimed “Liar!” at my computer screen (he had walked out on my great-grandmother, Martha, and 6 kids under 14 years old). Perhaps, he didn’t know if the divorce had ever been finalized (it had) and didn’t want to have to legally be bound to getting that information.

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 3: “Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.”

I am the first one in my family to have the name “Wendy” – but not the only one! My 1st cousin once removed (my aunt’s granddaughter), younger than me by a few years, also has the name “Wendy.” Our middle names are different though. Mine signifies my dad’s nickname and her’s is for my dad’s oldest brother (a shared uncle). There are no other’s with the same name. Hence, I wasn’t named “for” anyone – in fact my name almost was something completely different. Not agreeing on what my name should be, my parents allowed my sister (older than I by 16 years) to name me. Until I was in Junior High School, there weren’t any other Wendy’s I knew. In my sophomore American Lit class, there were three of us! Occassionally, I would run across a Wendy at camp or a friend of friends or someone who worked in my building. I didn’t have any friends with the same name – until . . . a year ago. Lo and behold, my daughter’s soon to be mother-in-law is Wendy. Not only that but we have the same middle initial! There are many other coincidences but we have decided that instead of “in-law’s” or even “out-law’s” – we’ll be “sister” Wendy’s!

As I was growing up, I thought my maternal grandmother’s name was unusual – Vesta. There weren’t any other ladies I knew with that name. As I got older, I realized how appropriate her name was. Vesta is the Roman Goddess of the Hearth, Home and Family. And no one was more so than my grandmother. She was a loving grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved being able to spend time with family. And in a way, my grandmother & I share the fact that both of us have unique names. That bonds us as well.

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April 26, 1952; Rome, Italy - Vesta, on the steps of the ancient Temple of Vesta (goddess of fire)

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 2: “Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?”

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This is a picture of my mom – Mary Helen (Johnson) Amore – when she was a young child – about 1924. The reason I picked this photo is because it was one of the first pictures of her as a little girl that I ever saw. When I first looked at it, I could see myself in her face. I wonder what she was looking at when the photo was taken, what she had been doing, and where she would walk to afterwards. Was she having a good day? Did she feel well? How warm was it? Questions I won’t ever have the answers to now that she’s gone. Questions I didn’t even think about until I looked at it recently.

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Oreo

Not really – but then again I guess it all started with her – my Nana, Vesta Christina Wilt Johnson (my mom’s mother). I could also blame my grandfather – yes, I’m sure he had a hand in it too. Most of their great-grandchildren (my niece, nephews, and children of my Johnson 1st cousins) would probably concur. We are all addicted to the food memories that Nana and Grandad are connected to. Candy jars with M & M’s, ribbon candy at Christmas, hard tack candy – all the time! Sometimes peanut brittle. And the bottom drawer in the kitchen – COOKIES! Not just any cookies but large sugar cookies, soft Oatmeal cookies, and the sweetest of all – Oreos! We didn’t have Oreos in my house because my mom didn’t like the way they tasted. No, our house had something just as deviant – chocolate sandwich cookies that are very hard to find anymore. But I digress. Oreos – if there ever was a reason to turn into an addict – those delicious creme filled sandwich cookies are the reason. And I fell into that addiction – hard – all the way to the bottom. Oh, it didn’t happen overnight and not right then as a child, young teen or young adult. I had a taste of those cookies, and that was all it took. As the years passed and my grandparents passed on, every time I had an Oreo, sweet, delicious memories were revisited. Memories of the warmth and tenderness shown to me by my Nana. Her gentle touch and beautiful smile. If a scent can trigger a memory, I believe food can do the same thing. Soon, I had four young kids and a very busy household. Of course I purchased Oreos for the family. Oh, no, soon I was hiding the Oreos. The addiction had me in its tight grip. I could eat half a bag in one sitting and feel absolutely dreadful afterwards. Finally, though it took awhile, I had to face the fact. I stook in front of my mirror and said, “Hello, I’m an Oreo addict.” My reflection just stared back. Yep, I knew that I could not – absolutely not – ever purchase anymore packages of Oreos. My kids thought it was funny. We’d be at church and during refreshment time, they would taunt me. “Look, Mom, an Oreo. You know you want some.” But I always remained resolute. That’s been so long ago, I don’t even know the number of years it’s been. The only Oreos I’ve eaten are those crushed and used for dirt cake. There have been a few packages in my pantry – but I haven’t eaten any of those. However, it doesn’t take the taste of Oreos anymore to bring me back to my childhood and the visits to my grandparens’. Just today, I was eating Club Crackers – their “go-to” cracker. I grew up on Zesta crackers and as an adult, have always kept Premium Saltines. But my Nana and Grandad – it was Club that we used at their home for the homemade vegetable soup. Soup that had tomatoes in it and my mom ate but it wasn’t her favorite. In honor of my grandmother, I add one fresh tomato to my vegetable soup. When my niece and nephew and I talk about them, we inevitably discuss the foodstuffs they had. Wonderful memories!

(Image of Oreos downloaded from Wikimedia Commons: Fritz Saalfeld is the creator of the image)

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Jim Sanders, author of Hidden Genealogy Nuggets, started a weekly blogging theme – Genealogy by the States. This week’s theme is “New Jersey.”

The first item that came to mind at this prompt concerns my 3rd great-grandfather, Jacob Johnson. He was born in New Jersey on Dec. 11, 1787. By 1816 he was living in Ohio and had married Ann Shields. I do not have any information as to where he was born in New Jersey or the names of his parents.

Secondly, my 7th great-grandfather, Benjamin Maple, who was born in England 1663 and arrived in Colonial America (what would have been New Jersey) in 1684.  He married Elizabeth Lee in Burlington on June 4, 1695 at the Revell House. Benjamin died on May 13, 1727 in Middlesex county.

Consequently, the next several generations of the Maple family (& my ancestors) were also born in New Jersey: Benjamin Maple Jr., Jacob Maple, and William B. Maple.

A few years ago I provided some research assistance for some friends who were born in and had ancestors in New Jersey. It was the first time I had done “outside” research. It was enjoyable to watch them look at the material I had put together for them.

(New Jersey State Seal Image above courtesy of Clker.com)

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For the last several days, Denise Levenick of The Family Curator has been on a whirlwind blog tour for her book, “How to Archive Family Keepsakes”, and like many other geneabloggers, I’ve been reading the posts. In the back of my mind I wondered just when I would have time to organize and archive all of the “stuff” I’ve ended up with. The “stuff” being letters (years and years and years of letters), photos, ephemera (brochures, tickets, etc.), and knick-knack type keepsakes (not to mention wall plaques, clothing, books, and dishware). The hours in the day barely give me enough time to do what I’m supposed to be doing (organizing, cleaning & decluttering regular stuff around the house). Then it hit me – all of this “stuff” IS part of the regular items in my household. How would I ever put a dent in organization and the clutter if I DIDN’T work on archiving and organizing the heirlooms! (What a concept, Denise!)

Yesterday, as I was weeding through the stacks of paper and magazines on the kitchen bar area, I decided that as I was dusting the knick-knacks, that I should start an inventory of those items via digital photos. I took 45 pictures!  Some items I took 2-4 photos each depending on the item. I wanted to make sure I was able to see details on each side as well as inside (if there was something there) and the underside – especially markings.

The item above hung on my grandparents’ wall in all of their homes for as long as I could remember. I was probably almost a teen when I made it known to my grandmother that I sure would like to have that item. Every time I saw it, I asked my grandmother to wind it for me (it plays music). (As an aside, I also enjoyed the musical Christmas Bell they had and now it belongs to me!) At some point before my grandmother’s death, she put my name on the back of that plaque. I also think I ended up with it because I was the “baby” (by 14 years) of the grandchildren and most of the other granddaughter’s (there are 5 of us and 3 grandsons) received items like crystal stemware, jewelry, and silver. I feel lucky that I even received a miniature German tea set just like the other girls. My grandparents must have had enough foresight to buy just one more when they lived in Germany!  They bought the item (above) in Garmisch (in Bavaria), and luckily I have the letter written to my mother that detailed their trip to Garmisch and the purchase of that piece!

It may take me some time to document everything I have received but I feel good that I’ve started.

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After two+ days of labor and delirium, Mary gave birth to her first born child (no, this isn’t THAT story!). The baby boy weighed over 10 lbs and came into the world on January 2, 1940.  His mother was just a mere eighteen – still a child herself. He was the first grandchild for his maternal grandparents who doted on him and cared for him when his mother was working.  In fact, he met his great-grandmother in Oregon before his mother had met the woman!

When he was five and a half, he found himself an older brother to his newborn baby sister.  The family lived in a state far away from the grandparents he loved dearlyjim picture new camera. He made friends with the neighboring family’s children.  As a young teen, he found himself – along with his mother and sister – on a sjim&sandykelso001hip headed to Japan to join the family patriarch who had been stationed there with the United States Army Air Corps (the forerunner to the U.S. Air Force). He made friends, participated in the Boy Scouts, learned to be a photographer, and tried to be a dutiful son and big brother.  Since they were so far from family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – they sent many letters back to the States.  After a few years, they went back to their home state of Ohio, but then once again found themselves back in Japan again. He graduated from the American High School and joined the Air Force. Unfortunately, due to his eyesight and other physical issues, he was discharged before too long.

In February 1961, he married a woman that he met at work.  Soon after they were married, he heard that he was going to be a big brother again!  He and his wife took the new little sister under their wing, and she spent many weekends with them. As his baby sister grew, he found himself in a role that he never expected – being torn between being her big brother and confidante and a father-figure when their father moved away. At the same time, he was enjoying new fatherhood for he and his wife had just adopted their own little boy.

He had found his niche working for a printing company in Dayton and assumed he would be there until retirement. He and his wife had finally found a home they were fixing up and happy with that wasn’t that far away from both of their mom’s. He was an officer with the local Fraternal Order of Eagles and enjoyed the friendships and community service he found within the organization.

There were a series of losses – his beloved maternal grandmother and then grandfather and close friends.  After his son graduated high school, hardship struck when the printing company closed the doors. Dayton was experiencing a major downturn in the jobs market and he had a very hard time finding a job right away so he went to work for a cousin. He and his family moved to another home and proceeded.  Every so often he would find he and his mom on the outs – he avoided confrontation like the plague, and she sought it out.

thanksgiving98_3He found a new love in a far off state.  For a short time, he was remarkably happy. Then his health began to deterioriate. The worst part was that no one could tell him exactly why or what to do about it. By the time the doctors had discovered the pancreatic cancer, it was much too late. He only had a short time left. Too short of time for he and his mother to reconcile – although she tried to tell him while he was comatose. His two sisters were also grief-stricken but tried to remain strong for their mother – who should not have had to see her son succumb to his illness.  Far too soon and far too young, he passed away on the last day of August before the world fell apart and terrorists held the world hostage in horror.

He was survived by his wife, his mother, his father and step-mother, his three sisters and their husbands, his son, many nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends.

Today, he should be turning 73, and I should be able to call him on the phone and say, “Happy Birthday, Jim! I love you!”

 (Photos: Mary and Jim, 1940; Jim and Sandy Kelso - 1945, photographer: Gene Amore; Jim at Christmas in Japan, photographer: Jim Amore; Gene and Jim Amore, Thanksgiving 1998 in Arkansas, photographer: Wendy Littrell.  All photos – originals and digital images held in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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As Thansgiving 2012 ends and the Advent season is a week away, I thought I’d reflect on what transpires in between. First up is Black Friday. While many get excited when this arrives – even plan routes, stores, and means of “attack” – I have only braved the early (early!) crowds once. Yes, that means one, uno, singular.
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Yesterday, I shopped but not at some inhumane time! I did some online shopping very late on Thanksgiving and went to three “bargain” stores mid-afternoon Friday.
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Second, the annual Christmas movie watching. Our family began by watching “Miracle on 34th Street” and “White Christmas” on Thanksgiving. Friday we watched “Polar Express.” There will be more viewing opportunities to come as we settle in to watch “Prancer,” the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen & especially “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Is the original “Die Hard” considered a Christmas movie!?
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My birthday always falls after Thanksgiving – so that means a pizza dinner.
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This year the annual Ohio State vs. Michigan football game falls after Thanksgiving. My family has a long history with the Buckeyes and being from Ohio, I will be cheering for the boys in red.

Next Sunday – December 2 – will be the first Sunday of Advent. Our church Christmas Tree will be decorated and traditional Advent hymns will be sung. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, our home Christmas tree will be set up. When my children were little, they all decorated it while we took pictures. As they’ve grown up, the decorating has fallen to grandkids and which ever kids are here. It always is magical to watch the ornaments being selected and locating just the right spot for it amongst the branches of our artificial tree. Then it’s my job to pick out the garland. We’ve had tinsel, strand garland of gold or silver, pearl strands wound around the tree, and ribbon. Normally, an angel rests on top of the tree or a star. The year I used a giant red velvet bow was not looked upon fondly so I won’t do that again! By Christmas Eve the tree is ready for Santa’s visit.
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As I reflect upon our family’s activities and traditions, I wonder what my grandparents and great-grandparents experiences were. I’m pretty sure at the heart of the holidays was family – just as it is for mine.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

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In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d take you on a photo tour through many years of “dressing up” for the holiday.  Disclaimer: some of the following photos of me were not taken at Halloween – they were taken at times I just felt called to dress up (my children may either get a kick out of these or be horribly embarrassed)!

I was three – not quite four – when I was a “Chipmunk” for Halloween. I can remember that Mom and Dad drove me over to my grandparents’ house to Trick or Treat. They “hid” while I went up to the door. Somehow I still think that my Nana and Grandad knew who I was!

This is one of those times that I just created my own “look” and it wasn’t Halloween!  I call this being a “movie star” because of the hat and sunglasses!  I am not sure why I was pretending it was very sunny, yet still had a rain umbrella!!

Scary witch, anyone? I can’t believe I had on a “dress” type costume because it was usually pretty chilly at the end of October in Ohio.  There were many times that Mom and I argued over whether I should wear a coat to trick or treat – I did not like that my costume would be covered up!

I am “Little Red Riding Hood”!  This was taken just before I turned six. School age kids would not only “beg” for treats but they would carry UNICEF boxes to collect money.  I did the same thing when I was in elementary school. The money was taken back to school after “beggar’s night”.  Do you remember doing that?

 

This was my attempt at dressing up as an “Old Lady” for Halloween – complete with my mom’s wig, an old ’50s style skirt, and a stick I made into a cane!  What strikes me as insanely amusing is that I sure didn’t look “old” (I was almost ten) – in fact now I am the age I was trying to “look” back then and I don’t think I’m even pulling it off now!

Somewhere I have another photo that shows me with my hair all tied up in a scarf, rock star make up on my face (in the style of KISS), with a pair of purple tights under shorts!  And that wasn’t for Halloween – that was just me being me – at about fifteen!

Even as an adult, the thrill of wearing a costume for Halloween has not left me.  I’ve dressed up as a witch, a fortune-teller, a pregnant gypsy (I was pregnant with my youngest child at the time!), a hippie, and a “madam”.

As the years have gone by, I’ve watched my four children get excited at Halloween and talk about what costume they will be wearing for weeks before “Trick or Treat” night.

    

Now I get to see the three grandsons all dressed up!  (Picture on far right was taken by my daughter: Teresa Sumner)

Image of Jack-o-lantern Pumpkins by Petr Kratochvil

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