Archive for the ‘stories’ Category

Volunteer as a noun is defined by Dictionary.com as:

a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking or a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

Volunteerism is defined by the same source as above as:

the policy or practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, esp. in one’s community.

I pondered how being a volunteer and volunteerism correlated with my family history and genealogy.  I can remember many activities that my mother took part in that would qualify as “volunteer”. 

  1. Girl Scout Leader
  2. Church Council member and President
  3. Church committee member
  4. Parent Teacher Organization member
  5. Substitute Teacher (when it was all volunteer)
  6. Working at school carnivals and community festivals
  7. Helping to coordinate her alumna banquets
  8. Driving elderly friends or church members to church, church functions or back home
  9. Hosting women’s or club functions or bridge parties
  10. Driving her teenage daughter (me) and friends everywhere

As a member of several organizations (Parents Without Partners, American Legion, FOE Auxilliary, and a Square Dancing Club), I’m sure she put in a good many volunteer hours.  Through the church, even when she was ill and couldn’t do very much, she still volunteered to cook chickens that would be used for the Tuesday night dinners the church held for the community.

My mom saw volunteerism modeled by both of her parents who were very active in community organizations.  My grandparents either separately or together were members of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (N.A.R.F.E.), American Legion, Eastern Star, and Daughters of America.  My grandfather served on the Council for the Village he resided in and worked hard toward the merger of the towns of Fairfield and Osborn in Greene County, Ohio long before they did merge to become Fairborn.  He also was a Boy Scout leader for many years and a member of the Masons.

My mom’s brother also saw the modeling of this type of volunteerism of his parents and became very active in the community as an adult.  He helped organize the Battle Creek (Michigan) Hot Air Balloon championships; was a member of the Masons and the Lions club; member of the Battle Creek chamber of commerce who started the Leadership Academy; helped with Battle Creek’s sesquicentenial celebration leading to the formation of PRIDE INC., of Keep America Beautiful; and many other activities.

Researching the many volunteer activities and the organizations my family members have been involved, has led me to the conclusion that they were very giving people and have passed on this sense of helping others.  I have spent a good number of years wondering if “no” is part of my vocabulary. 

At the age of not yet 50, I have been a Girl Scout Leader for two of my daughters; spent many years on the Christian Education board at church and the Cemetery Board; have now sat on the PTA as a board member and officer for 4 years; helped with one of our community organizations via our church by helping to make lunches for low income families during the summer; as a coordinator, treasurer and public relations chair for a parent organization; and other activities.

So how do I pass this on?  Will my volunteerism or that of my mother, my uncle, and my grandparents impact the lives of my children, grandchildren or the great-grandchildren yet to be?  And how does one go about volunteering without it being all about them?  Helping others – either within a structured organization or individually – is not to make a name for oneself.  It shouldn’t be done with the thought that others will think more highly of you.

Volunteering in the name of genealogy should take on the same thought process.  If you are in the position to help someone – whether it is spending an hour at the local libary looking up obituaries or a census index; going to a nearby cemetery to photograph/transcribe a few headstones; or pointing someone in the right direction – you should.  Just because it is the right thing to do.  Someday you may need that type of help.  Very limited. Very specific.

I don’t know how much I’ve contributed to other’s research however I have received communications from very, very distant cousins or people researching the same surname as I am, and I’ve at least responded or sent them my own communication.  If nothing else, I hope they feel that they aren’t out in the genealogy research “world” without a paddle – that someone else has read their query or message board post.

I’ve been helped immensely by volunteers.  Not only has a kind lady taken pictures of the requested headstones for me but she photographed other family members’ headstones and spent several hours at her local library researching the names and sent me news clippings.  And she didn’t want one penny for her time or her postage.  That is a volunteer – being selfless and not thinking about what was in it for her.

Two of my relatives in my Johnson line along with myself have pooled our resources and research and share everything about our shared lines that we find – including questions about whether we are on the right track. 

That is volunteerism through genealogy.

Another definition of Volunteer is someone who signs up, enters, and serves in the military.  Even though our service men and women do receive pay from the government, by offering to sacrifice themselves in order to assure our freedom – that is still volunteerism.

I’ve had many ancestors and family members who have volunteered in such a way.  My grandfather for WWI, and went on to serve until the Korean War.  My dad and his brothers who served during WWII and even beyond.  Cousins who served in the Viet Nam War.  Children of first cousins who served in the first Gulf War.  A great-grandfather who served in the Civil War.  Others who serve now – although not in a battle zone.  This type of selfless sacrifice has also been passed down through the generations.

Humanitarian?  Philanthropic? – they all add up to VOLUNTEER!

This post was written for the 88th Carnival of Genealogy.

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leaving battlecreek

When my dad got orders for Japan in the early ’50s, he went ahead of the rest of the family.  Mom had to get from Ohio to the Pacific Coast in order to sail to Japan. 

The photo at left was taken when my mom, brother and sister were leaving my Uncle’s home in Michigan headed west.  They drove 450 miles in one day and got to Fargo, North Dakota about 6:15 p.m.  In a postcard to her folks, Mom said they stayed at a cabin for the night – the cost: $4.  They traveled through Montana and went to Oregon in order to visit my great-grandmother for a short time.hughgaffey naval ship  Then north to Seattle to Fort Lawton where they had to wait a few days before sailing to Japan on June 9, 1953. 

The trip, aboard the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey, would take 12 days – although by crossing the international date line, they lost a day.  While on board, my sister tap danced in a Variety show and my brother – when not seasick – made friends.  The ship carried 2400 troops – all on their way to Yokohama. 


trainMy parents were in Japan for two tours and while there, they drove the Nash that had been transported via ship with them.  Sometimes they jim school busrode a train like the one pictured (left) and my siblings rode a bus (right) back and forth to school or on field trips.

While on their 2nd tour in Japan, my parents and brother all learned to fly courtesy of the Tachikawa Aero Club.  They even “starred” in a short film promoting the Aero Club Family Plan.  Back in the States and after I came along, my parents still flew every once in awhile.  Here’s a picture of my Dad in ’72 getting ready to fly.dad by plane

My parents had some very interesting adventures in the air and on land.  I feel very blessed that not only do I have stories and pictures, but memories of when I accompanied them on some of their adventures!

Written for the 18th Edition of Smile for the Camera – Travel.

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Since this post was published, I’ve located more information – see below for the update!

A wealthy man and a postmaster
An argument over a ditch
A revolver came out and several shots fired
Some of them never hit
A shed to hide
A suicide

The story of the attempted murder of John James Johnson by Coleman Hawkins in a nutshell.  Just who were these men?  Were they more than just neighbors?

John James Johnson
John J. Johnson, oldest son and third child of Jacob and Ann (Shields) Johnson, was born on October 8, 1821 in Byrd Township, Brown County, Ohio.  He moved with his parents and siblings to Rush County, Indiana by 1840 and married Dolly Mullis on March 4, 1848 in Union Township of that county.  Dolly was the sister of Amanda Mullis, wife of John’s brother, James Wilson Johnson. 

The couple were enumerated in the 1850 US Census living in Marion Twp in Rush County with their one year old daughter, Ann M. Johnson.  John, 27, listed his occupation as a Farmer.  They aren’t easily found in the 1860 Census but they had moved to Stoney Creek, Madison County, Indiana by 1870.  Two children are living with them – Rosa, age 12, and John, age 7.  Dolly’s siblings, Sophia (age 55) and Thomas (age 42) are also residing in their household.  By 1880 Rosa had married and was widowed.  She and her son, Edward Milburn, age 3, were living with John and Dolly as well as brother, John. 

Elizabeth Blazer
Elizabeth was born to John and Mary Ann (Nelson) Blazer in the mid-1840s.  She was enumerated with her parents on the 1850 Census living in Fall Creek, Madison County, Indiana.  For a long time she was “missing”.  She would have been more than 20 in the 1860 Census and probably married, yet the name of her husband was unknown.  Unbeknownst to me – I had found her in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses – I just didn’t know it yet!

Coleman Hawkins
This man was born about 1832 in Virginia.  I only knew about him through newspaper articles and biographical data from “The History of Madison County”.  He is living in Stoney Creek Twp, Madison County, Ohio in the 1870 Census.  His residence was adjacent to the John James Johnson family.  He had a wife and eight children.  In the 1880 Census, Mr. Hawkins and his family are living in the same spot.  Seven of the older children are still living there along with two that had been born since the 1870 Census.  Coleman Hawkins would not see another census.

The Incident
Historical sketches and reminiscences of Madison county, Indiana (John L. Forkner, Byron H. Dyson; Publisher: Forkner; 1897; pages 965-968) recounts that Coleman Hawkins, a very wealthy man, had been a resident of Stoney Creek township for a number of years and lived close to the postmaster, John J. Johnson.  The Midland Railway – near Johnson’s Crossing, was in the vicinity of their homes.  Hawkins and Johnson had maintained a good relationship for many years until 1888.  At that time a ditch had been constructed that ran through the neighborhood.  On December 5, 1888 Johnson took a mail pouch to the train and saw Mr. Hawkins there.  Once the train had left the station, Hawkins inquired whether his neighbor could stop the construction of the ditch.  Apparently similar conversations had occurred prior for Johnson told him that he’d already answered that question.  Hawkins obviously wasn’t happy with that answer and pulled a revolver on Johnson, who turned and walked away – possibly not believing that the other man would really fire at him.  Yet Coleman Hawkins did just that.  

“. . .  the shot taking effect in the back just left of the spinal column and below the shoulder blade. Johnson ran into the stationhouse and closed the door after him. As he shut the door another pistol shot was fired, the ball just passing the door. Hawkins then rushed to the window, about six feet from the door, broke out a pane of glass, and fired four or five additional shots, two of which took effect in Mr. Johnson’s body, one on the left side of the face and the other in the forearm. One shot passed through the stove pipe in the room and another through the ceiling. Johnson now opened the door and ran out past Hawkins into a field that led to his residence. Hawkins, having emptied the chambers of the revolver, drew a second one and resumed pursuit of his victim. He fired four additional shots, one of which lodged in Johnson’s right shoulder. Four bullet holes were found in his coat in different places where his body had escaped injury. Johnson ran until his strength was fast failing, when he turned upon his pursuer and clinched him, forcing him to the earth.”

At that time Rosa Johnson, John’s daughter, ran toward the two farmers after she had heard the gunshots.  Without thought to her own safety, she wrangled the gun out of the hands of Coleman Hawkins.  Another neighborhood resident had heard the commotion and came to the two men.  Both men agreed to let each other go.

What should have been the end of the violence – was not.  Apparently Hawkins was either still enraged or looking toward the future of being tried for attempted murder, that he entered a barn on his farm and shot himself.  His wife and son, Rufus, had tried to follow him when they saw him go toward the barn but they didn’t reach him in time.

The ditch that seemed to lay at the center of the quarrel had been awarded by the court so that Johnson could drain his land.  He had requested Hawkins give him an outlet for three to four years but had been refused.  So Johnson had turned to the court and the court had forced the construction of the ditch through Hawkins’ land.

It was also discovered that the pistols that Hawkins had used to fire upon Johnson and to commit suicide had been purchased the day prior to the incident at the railway station.

The conclusion of the story read,  “The remains of Coleman Hawkins were interred in the Anderson cemetery, over which was erected a handsome granite shaft that can be plainly seen from the Alexandria road as the traveler turns to the right after passing out of the iron bridge crossing White river.  The widow of Coleman Hawkins yet resides on the old farm, and has earned for herself the reputation of being one of the best farm managers in the county, having carefully preserved the fortune left her by her husband.”

George Hawkins
The son of Coleman Hawkins born about 1860 ended up marrying the niece of John J. and Dolly (Mullis) Johnson on July 30, 1881.  Olive Belle Johnson was born in August 1865 to James Wilson and Amanda (Mullis) Johnson.  The couple had three children – Urmine, Vesta and Lucy.  It is believed that George died between 1884 and 1887 since Olive married again.

John Lafayette Johnson and Katie Blazer
My maternal great-grandparents resided in and married in Madison County, Indiana.  Katie’s father, Franklin Blazer, had died when she was a small girl.  I found her uncles, John and George Blazer but her aunts – Mary Jane and Elizabeth still remained elusive.  Or were they? 

I re-read a letter my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson (son of John and Katie), had sent to my cousin’s mother.


“My uncle on my mother side Uncle Cole Hawkins shot Uncle John Johnson and then killed himself.  My mother was a young girl at the time this happened and she worked for Aunt Lib Hawkins and Uncle Cole.  Uncle John Johnson did not die from being shot but he carried the bullet in his body until he died several years later.”

Somehow Coleman Hawkins and his wife, “Lib” (Elizabeth), were related to my grandfather through his mother.  Could Elizabeth Hawkins be Franklin Blazer’s sister, Elizabeth?  I didn’t have enough documentation to say for sure but I was going on the assumption that she was.  I couldn’t find any other relationship other than through the Johnson side and the marriage of my grandfather’s aunt to the Hawkins’ son, George.

I had spent some time earlier in my research to dig up information on the children of Coleman and Elizabeth in case I could verify any other relationships.

Mary Jane Blazer
Then I ran across a listing in the 1870 US Census for an “MJ Webb” living next door to Franklin’s brother’s family.  “MJ” and her husband, Marion, were enumerated with four children.  The only reason this jumped out at me is because in the George and Amanda Blazer household is “Jas Webb, blacksmith”.  Going back to the Historical sketches and reminiscences of Madison county, Indiana, I located an entry about Jasper Webb as a blacksmith.  The Blazer family obviously had close ties with the Webb family.  Could “MJ” Webb actually be Mary Jane Blazer?  The 1880 Census for the Webb family lists Marion Webb, age 40, living with his wife, Mary J. Webb, age 38, and children, Tena, Rufus, Lydia, Wilson, and Horace.  By the 1900 Census, Mary J. Webb is widowed and lists herself as a mother of 6 children – all living.  Living with her is her son, Horace, and daughter, Maud.  Mary J. Webb is also found in the 1910 Census and living with her is her daughter, Maud, with husband and small daughter.  The last census she is found is the 1920 Census living with her widowed son, Rufus.  The Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library shows that Mary J. Webb’s obituary was published in the June 7, 1929 edition of the local newspaper.

Tena Stanley
I’ve had a photograph in my possession for quite sometime of Elizabeth Hawkins and Tena Stanley.  Trying to figure out how Tena Stanley fit into my family tree, I’d contacted the Indiana Room for Tena’s obituary.  They emailed me four news accounts.  I went back over each one.  The one published in the Anderson Herald on April 8, 1942 listed her survivors as one brother, Horace Webb, and a sister, Maud Peterson. BINGO! 


That was more documentation that Tena Stanley had once been Tena Webb.  And with the picture I had of Tena and Elizabeth – that led me to believe that Tena and Elizabeth were related – which it appeared that Elizabeth was Tena’s aunt – sister of Tena’s mother, Mary Jane Blazer Webb.  


So the tangled family tree looks like this:
Katie J. Blazer: My maternal great-grandmother’s uncle by marriage, Coleman Hawkins, who was married to her father’s sister, Elizabeth Blazer, shot her husband’s (John Lafayette Johnson) uncle, John James Johnson.  My great-grandfather’s aunt, Olive Belle Johnson, married Coleman and Elizabeth’s son, George HawkinsTena Webb married for the last time to Nelson Stanley, and was the niece of Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins and Franklin Blazer and first cousin to my great-grandmother, Katie J. Blazer.

So what happened to John James Johnson?  He lived four more years after being shot by Coleman Hawkins, dying from heart disease in an instant. 

UPDATE: Not only did Olive B. Johnson marry into the Hawkins family, but so did her cousin, John Marshall Johnson, son of John James Johnson – the man Coleman Hawkins shot!  Marshall – as he was known – married Hawkins’ daughter, Rosa Jane.  There was probably quite a bit of tension in the Marshall and Rosa Johnson household after the shooting incident – yet the couple, who married on December 17, 1881, remained married until Marshall’s death in 1921.  Their union produced seven children – Walter, Roy, Grover, Alta, James Leroy, Georgia and Arris. 

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Georgia Anna Amore is somewhat of a mystery to me.  She was the daughter of George Washington Amore (my g-grandfather’s brother) and Catherine (Katie) Burden.  Born on January 21, 1895 in Plainfield, Coshocton County, Ohio, Georgia was G.W.’s and Katie’s 5th child and 2nd daughter.  One brother was born after her.

Georgia married no less than 4 times (Ottis Kazee, John Albert, LeRoy Bennett, and William Smith) and possibly 5 (Unknown Ostler or Osler). 

mary kazee

Georgia’s first daughter (and only child from her first marriage to Otis Kazee), died at the age of 13 months from pneumonia.  Mary Katherine Kazee’s obituary seems to indicate that Georgia and Otis were not living together any more.

mary kazee obit

It seems odd that the newspaper states that she was 13 months old (it was the Jan. 12, 1915 edition of the Coshocton Tribune) yet lists her birthdate as the month before (Dec. 1914) – even her death certificate states she was born in Dec. 1914.  Georgia was the informant so it would seem logical that she would know how old her daughter was.  Georgia also lists her own birthplace as Ohio.

georgia amore smith 1920

The 1920 Census (above) show Georgia and her second husband, John Albert, living in Tuscarawas Twp, Coshocton County, Ohio.  They had been married almost 5 years and had one daughter, Velma, age 3 years and 9 months.  One son, George Woodrow, born on Oct. 3, 1918 died on Nov. 21, 1918 (a little over a month old) of “improper nutrition”. The other 3 children (Nellie, Grace and John) were from John’s previous marriage to Elva P.  


In the May 23, 1916, June 17, 1919, and May 16, 1921 editions of the Coshocton Tribune, John had posted this notice: “I will not be responsible for any debts incurred by my wife, Georgia Albert.”  In the March 15, 1917 edition of the same newspaper there were two different postings.  One reads:

Says Hubby Was Extremely Cruel
In the matter of John A. Albert Vs. Georgia Albert asking a divorce, the answer and cross petition of the defendent was held Wednesday in probate court.
In her cross petition the defendent alleges extreme cruelty in that about six months after the birth of their child, “plaintiff came into the room where she was sleeping and while sharpening a butcher knife said he felt like cutting defendent’s d—- head off; and struck her with his fist, and pulled her out of bed.” Other instances of alleged cruelty are also cited.

The next posting reads:

Wants Divorce
Alleging that his wife was guilty of neglect of duty, that she struck him with a rocker and a cream pitcher and stabbed him with a fork so violently that the handle was broken, John A. Albert brot suit in probate court Tuesday against Georgia Albert asking a divorce and temporary injunction restraining her from interfering with his management of the household until the case should be heard. The injunction was allowed. The couple were married Oct. 1, 1915, and one child was born of the marriage. Albert was married previously and has a child by the first marriage. He alleges that his present wife threatened it’s life. George D. Klein represents the plaintiff.

Yet the couple remained married at least until about 1921 and had two more daughters, Betty and Winifred, and a son, Charles.  Velma is not seen again after this census and is believed to have died prior to 1930.

Sometime between 1921 and 1926, after Georgia and John divorced, she married Leroy Bennett.  Their first son, Robert Leroy Bennett, was born on Apr. 24, 1926 in Fayette County, Ohio.  He died four months later on Aug. 10, 1926 of malnutrition.  Leroy listed Georgia’s birthplace as Blaine, Kentucky on the death certificate.

robert bennett death

The next son, Thomas J. Bennett, born Mar. 2, 1928, lived until he was 15 months old.  The cause of death was listed as petroleum poisoning.  This time Leroy listed Georgia’s birthplace as Ohio.

thomas bennett death

The couple had one more known son, Kenneth Bennett, born in 1929 and living to adulthood.

Georgia, age 35, is found on the 1930 Census living on her own in Madison Twp, Greenfield, Madison County, Ohio.  She was enumerated as Head of household, divorced, born in Kentucky (?) and with three children: Charles Albert (son with John Albert) – age 8, born in Ohio; Eileen Ostler (daughter with Unknown Ostler) – age 6, born in Ohio; and Kenneth Bennett, age 8 months, born in Ohio.

georgia amore bennett 1930

Daughter, Betty Albert, age 9, was living with Georgia’s sister, Bertha, and her husband, John Woodward, in Linton Twp, Plainfield Village, Coshocton County, Ohio.  Winifred isn’t found – but she is listed as married and a survivor later in Georgia’s obituary. 

Sometime after the 1930 Census, Georgia married William Smith.  The couple had three known children: James, Paul and Gerald.  William died in 1954 and the couple were still married.  Georgia died on December 23, 1973 at Community Hospital in Springfield, Ohio.  Her obituary ran in the Hillsboro, Ohio Press Gazette the following day.  It reads:

Georgia Anna Smith
Georgia Anna Smith, 78, Greenfield, died at 1:30 p.m. yesterday at Community Hospital, Springfield. She was a member of the Plainfield, O., Baptist Church and a Gold Star Mother.
She was born Jan. 21, 1895, the daughter of George and Catherine Burden Amore, at Plainfield.
She married William Smith, who died in April of 1954.
She is survived by seven children, Mrs. Clarence (Winifred) Summer of Springfield, James W. Smith, serving with the U.S. Army at Ft. Lee, Va., and Mrs. Arthur (Betty) Payne, Mrs. Herman (Eileen) Daugherty, Kenneth Bennett, Paul Smith and Gerald Smith, all of Greenfield; 36 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
One son, Charles Albert, was killed during World War II, on Oct. 6, 1944. She also was predeceased by six children who died in infancy, two other children, four brothers and a sister.
Services will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Murray Funeral Home, Greenfield. Rev. Noble Miller officiating and burial at Greenfield Cemetery.
Friends may call at the funeral home after 4 p.m. Wednesday.

She delivered a total of 16 children – five of those who died are known (Mary Katherine Kazee, Robert Leroy Bennett,  Thomas J. Bennett; Velma Albert, and George Woodrow Albert.  Her son Charles died in the War.  Only seven survived her upon her death.  There are still three unaccounted children.  Not only does it appear that Georgia lived a life of “drama” and engaged in volatile relationships but she had several children who died.  I wonder if she ever suffered from depression or post-partum depression.  

I have no photos of Georgia nor any information about her descendents – other than from her daughter, Betty (from husband John Albert).  I’d like to find out about all the other children she bore as well as the husbands who divorced her.  So that is the end of Georgia’s story until I can do further research.

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The topic for the 79th Carnival of Genealogy is Family Reunions.  Since I have posted several topics about this subject, I won’t repeat! 

My first post was Family Reunions. This was an article concerning preparations for the big event. I also included information about the reunions I attended as a child.

This post, Past Reunions, concerned the newspaper articles and a Reunion Minutes book that was kept. It never ceases to amaze me the gems we find in news articles or through our ancestors’ careful note taking!

In the article, Wilt Cousins, I mentioned the reunions my maternal grandmother’s side of the family had each year and added more information about those in that branch. Toward the end of the article I urged everyone to document the pertinent points of the reunion – who, what, where, why, and how. If our ancestors had done this, we might not have so many questions now!

I’ve included several photographs scattered throughout all the articles – a mixture of very old to new.

Oftentimes reunions aren’t just large everyone-from-each-branch type of events.  More than not they are get-togethers for scattered members of the family when they come together for graduations, births, weddings, and funerals.  Such was the case for my family this past spring as we gathered for my Mom’s memorial service. 


My first cousins – Jane, Judy, Jack (siblings), and my sister and I.  Two of our cousins weren’t able to attend and of course, my brother, was in our hearts.  We are the ones, now, to move forward and make sure our parents and grandparents and all those who have gone on before us, are kept in our hearts and memories.  We will be the ones to share stories, to reminisce and provide family “lore” for our children and grandchildren.

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The topic for the 78th Carnival of Genealogy is: Pony Pictures.  I spent a lot of time watching the other neighborhood kids get their pictures taken on ponies instead of having mine taken.  I remember each summer a man would come walking through the neighborhood with the animal and coming on up the driveway wherever he saw kids playing.  One of my friends had three siblings so to save money, the parents put 2 kids at a time on the pony.  Running home, I found my parents working in the yard.  Breathless, I exclaimed that I wanted my picture taken on a pony.  When it was pointed out that it costs money for the picture, my hopes were dashed.  We just didn’t spend money on useless things.  Besides, what I really wanted to do was to ride on it – not just sit there.

I was 17 when I actually got to ride my first horse.  I went with my sister’s family to a relative’s (on her husband’s side) country house in Paris, Texas.  She had several horses and some ponies.  The first time I got on the pony, it promptly ran at a lower limb and knocked me off.  Fall off – get back on.  After riding around for awhile on that animal, I got up the nerve to try to ride a horse.  Wow – it was harder than it looked!  I sure didn’t get my riding skills from ancestors who had rode horses before me.

My maternal great-grandfather, John “Lafe” Johnson, had horses.  I don’t have a picture of him riding them. (*UPDATED 8/13)  *He also had several work mules.  The photograph below is one with him and 2 of the mules. (This large picture hangs on my hallway wall.)


Gr-Grandpa Johnson with 2 large mules

My grandmother’s Uncle Dan (Stern) had horses – he used them to pull the wagon.

When my kids were young, we took them to Scarborough Faire Rennaisance Festival in Waxahachie, Tex.  There were elephant and camel rides so the oldest three got to ride VERY LARGE animals!  No horses for them – that would just be kid stuff compared to a camel & elephant!

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Malissa Goul was born in 1832 in Champaign County, Ohio.  She was the granddaughter of the immigrant, Adam Goul, born in Germany, and his wife, Elizabeth Lutz, born in Pennsylvania.  Malissa’s father, John, was Adam and Elizabeth’s oldest son.  Her mother was Martha McManaway.  And she was my maternal 2nd great-grandmother. 

This woman intrigued me especially when I found out that her oldest son, James Oakland Goul (called “Oaki” or “Okie”) had the same last name as she did.  Was her first husband also a “Goul”?  Was he born after the husband died and she gave him her maiden name?  What was the story?

My mother told me that the family story was that she had him out of wedlock.  Delving into family history, I realized that wasn’t as uncommon as I thought.  I’ve found many couples who were married shortly before a child was born or after a child was born and sometimes not at all. malissa_blazer

The photos I have of Malissa and her son were some of the first “old” pictures I acquired.  Her funeral book was the first memorial record I was given.  So I’ve attempted to learn all I can about this woman who became the mother of my maternal grandfather’s mom (Katie Blazer Johnson).

The biggest question I wanted answered was who was Okie’s father?  I found an entry in the Madison County, Indiana Marriage record transcripts for Okie.  He was married on February 1, 1900 to Eliza Jones.  Okie listed his age at the next birthday as 43 and his father’s name as James M. Goul.  Okay – I had a name.  But who was this man?  Was he a distant relative?  I had much more to research. 

 In the 1850 Census of Union Township, Champaign County, Ohio, I found the John and Martha Goul household.  Included in the household were their children – Eveline, Mary Ann, Malissa, Ruth, William J., John W. – and two boarders – Thomas Dillons, age 28, a laborer born in Ohio and James Goul, age 28, a grocer born in Virginia.


Could this James Goul – a grocer – and 10 years older than Malissa have been the father of her oldest son?  I believe he was.  And furthermore, I believe he is also the James Goul who married Hannah Harbert, daughter of Thomas Harbert III and Elizabeth Huston; sister of Josiah Harbert who married Malissa’s oldest sister, Martha Jane Goul.  James had married Hannah before Malissa became pregnant with Okie, and he and Hannah had already had one son, William Andrew.  Soon after Malissa became pregnant, the family moved to Madison County, Indiana, and James and Hannah moved away from Champaign County, Ohio to Missouri.  I don’t believe father and son ever had a parent-child relationship. 

I’ll never know if Malissa pined for James or if it was just an affair of convenience.  She didn’t have her mother to confide in as Martha died in December 1855. 

Further digging has led me to believe that Okie’s father, James, was the grandson of Adam and Elizabeth Goul – the first cousin of Malissa and nephew of her father, John.  In Adam’s will, written December 4, 1843 (2 years before his death), he named his surviving wife (Elizabeth), children (Mary – eldest daughter; John – eldest son; Christian – second son; Henry – son), and grandchildren (Mary, Andrew and James). 

Malissa had her child, Okie, and by 1859 married Franklin Blazer.  The couple went on to have two sons, John Franklin and Wesley, and three daughters, Martha, Katie and Rachel.  Unfortunately, the couple did not have a long and happy marriage.  Franklin died in August 1869 leaving Malissa to raise 6 young children alone.  She never remarried.

Malissa died on March 7, 1907 in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana.  Her funeral was held at the Clayte Sells Chapel and burial was in Fall Creek Cemetery. 

I hope Malissa rests in peace for she had a very hard life.

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