Genevieve Vesta Johnson (my aunt)
Genevieve Vesta Johnson (my aunt)
Churches and Halloween – now that brings up an interesting vision doesn’t it? First let’s explore the history of this festive holiday. Wikipedia and Britannica Online mentions that Halloween has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain which is celebrated at the end of the harvest season. The Gaels believed that on that date, the window between the living and the dead was very thin and could be crossed easily. In order to pacify evil spirits, costumes and masks were worn. “All Hallow’s Eve” became Halloween – the eve of All Saints Day, a Christian observance.
The date for All Saints’ Day was set at November 1st in the 800s by Pope Boniface IV. The church day began at sunset, so All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints’ Day coincided for a few short hours. In 1000 A.D. the Church made November 2nd – All Souls’ Day. The early Colonial settlers in America disapproved and forbade the Halloween celebration.
In North America churches of different denominations look upon Halloween differently. The Anglicans choose to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day while some Protestant churches refer to it as Reformation Day. Though beginning as a pagan celebration, both pagan and Christian beliefs are intwined in various celebrations from Oct. 31st – November 5th. Some Catholic parochial school children enjoy the holiday by dressing up in costumes. The Boston Diocese has began a “Saint Fest” on Halloween. Others of very conservative or fundamentalist Protestant churches, may see Halloween as trivializing the occult. Others consider that there is no place in Christian belief for Halloween because of the secular origins of the celebration.
One tradition from England that has been varied in America, is the giving of food on Halloween. “All Souls’ Cakes” were given to beggars for the promise that prayers for their deceased relatives would be said. This distribution of these cakes was encouraged by the Church to replace the long held practice of leaving out food and wine for spirits.
As a child, I would always dress in a costume – usually one that was harmless – and with my parents, participate in “Beggar’s Night”. As a teen, our church youth group would have a Halloween Party, and we would visit the various “Haunted Houses” in the area. These places were set up by non-profit organizations to raise money for various charities – the March of Dimes and Muscular Dystrophy. A local television personality, “Dr. Creep” would often be at the Muscular Dystrophy house to welcome guests. Admission was no more than a dollar or two (this was back in the mid to late 70s) so it was pretty easy to hit every Haunted House in a ten mile radius on one evening and not break the bank. I remember how cold it used to be standing outside in the long line waiting to get in. Most of the actors were members of the non-profit or volunteers who worked every evening for a few weeks, sacrificing their own agendas, in order to help raise money. They also knew when enough was enough and who they could really scare and who they needed to be a little extra careful with.
As an adult, I’ve enjoyed having my children dress up for Halloween and either taking them around the neighborhood or (while my husband does that) staying home and passing out candy. When I was a child, people were still allowed to give out candied or caramel apples, homemade popcorn balls or cookies. Unfortunately, due to some pretty foolish people who chose to hurt children by lacing homemade goodies or apples with harmful substances, we rely on pacifying kids with sugar-laced candy.
I’ve also dressed up on more than one ocassion for either an adult Halloween party or our church’s Halloween Festival. Yes for a number of years our church was still celebrating Halloween. We didn’t call it a “Fall” festival like so many other churches or schools or organizations in order not to “offend” anyone. It was a fun time to dress up and have fun. The Youth would run games and a cake walk and everyone would have a good time snacking and enjoying fellowship. The kids even got to wear their (not scary) costumes to church on a Sunday before Halloween and have a costume parade through the Sunday School classes.
Halloween – or any celebration and holiday – with roots in the secular and pagan world – can be as innocent or evil as we make it.
Posted in Life and Death, news, personal, Photographs, stories, Uncategorized, tagged Amore, Baker, Blazer, Caylor, family, genealogy, Johnson, news, photograph, photos, reunion, Stern, Werts, Wilt on October 18, 2008| 3 Comments »
Some of my earliest memories involve family reunions – whether they were impromptu gatherings with the local family members on the weekend or planned affairs requiring travel to another city or state. There were reunions that continued throughout my childhood and reunions that began during my childhood. Before I came along there had been others.
On the paternal side of the family, what once had started as the Amore-Werts Reunion became the Amore-Baker reunion. Originally, it was to bring together the families of my Great-Grandfather William Henry Amore and my Great-Grandmother Mary Angelina Werts. The very first reunion was held May 25, 1924 in Roscoe, Coshocton County, Ohio at their home with about 100 persons attending. This is the newspaper clipping about the gathering:
Other reunions were held and by the time I began attending (in the ’60s), they had changed to the Amore-Baker reunion. This merged the Amore family with the Baker family (my grandfather’s sister – the only daughter of Henry and Annie Amore – married a Baker).
These reunions were held at the Grange Hall on the Coshocton Fairgrounds in July each summer. There was plenty of good food, games (horseshoe, softball, frisbee) and family chat interspersed with the normal “business” part of the reunion – election of the following year’s officers, reading of the business minutes, a treasurer’s report, and planned entertainment. Up to 80 persons attended these reunions.
My dad’s siblings held a reunion once each summer as well. The first one was at my Uncle Paul’s home in St. Clare Shores, Michigan in the summer of 1967 attended by all but one of the children of Lloyd and Ella (House) Amore and their families. Each summer the Descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore met at one of the sibling’s homes. The second year we held the reunion at our home outside of Dayton.
(Left to Right: Norman, Gene, Gail and Paul Amore)
My grandmother’s family had the annual Wilt reunion every year. For many years it was held in New Castle and some times at individual homes. A newspaper clipping about the 1959 reunion follows:
(Left to Right: Clifford, Vesta, Nellie and Clarence Wilt)
When I was close to adolescence, my grandfather and his two first cousins, Glen O. Blazer and Ada Blazer Black, decided to hold the Johnson-Blazer reunions. Most of the time these were held in Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio at the home of Glen and Nina Blazer. Once we hosted the reunion at our home.
(Left to Right: Glen Johnson, Glen and Nina Blazer, Ada Black Blazer)
The descendents of my 2nd great-grandparents – Emanuel Bushong Stern and Nancy Caylor Stern – (Stern Reunion) was held at Beaverton, Michigan in the early in July 1972. It was held on a descendent’s farm.
Long before I came along, there was also the Caylor reunion for the descendents of Abraham and Susannah (Miller) Caylor. The only information I have about these reunions is a few pictures with the words “Caylor Reunion” on the back.
My grandfather’s family also held reunions prior to my time. They ended about 20 years before I was born. These were the Johnson-Shively reunions. I have as much information about these as I could hope since I have the actual Reunion Book in my possession. It includes minutes from each reunion held, those invited, births, deaths and marriages recorded each year, and addresses.
One of my Johnson cousins scanned the photo taken at the first Johnson-Shively reunion and shared it with me. I don’t know who the photographer was so I would like to thank my cousin, Virginia, for allowing me to have a copy of this.
Minutes (transcribed) from the Minute Book:
Johnson and Shively reunion organized Aug 16, 1915 at the home of J.L. Johnson 99 Indiana Ave. Anderson, Indiana. Several relatives and minds were invited to this home in honor of J.W. Johnson. “J.L. Johnson’s father”. It being his birthday. He being the oldest of the Johnson family now living.
A great number of relatives responded from all over the state and a general good time was enjoyed by all.
At the noon hour a sumptious dinner was served. This being one of the most important events of the day was enjoyed by both young and old to the fullest extent.
Before departing for their several homes it was decided that we meet yearly and the following officers were duly elected
President J Milton Johnson, Lapel, Ind.
Secretary Frank Shively, Anderson
A motion was made and 2nded to meet the next August at Riverside Park, Anderson, Indiana.
Business being concluded all departed for their homes thinking it a day well spent.
In July 2002, the 1st “Cousins” reunion was held for the Descendents of Glen Roy Johnson and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson – my grandparents. It was held at my cousin’s home outside of Dayton, Ohio and attended by all but two of the cousins and their families.
Other gatherings that we generally don’t consider “reunions” are when we are in Ohio or Missouri to visit. This past summer most of the family gathered at my in-laws’ home to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary. The last time most of my husband’s side of the family was together were either at funerals or the 50th Anniversary celebration of his parents. In Ohio, most of my cousins gather together for a pot-luck meal so we can all visit.
Amore-Wertz Reunion: Coshocton Tribune, 550 Main St., P.O. Box 10, Coshocton, OH 43812; May 5, 1927
Amore Family Has Reunion: Xenia Daily Gazette, 30 South Detroit Street, Xenia, OH 45385; August 22, 1968
Wilt Reunion: Anderson Daily Bulletin, 1133 Jackson St.; Anderson, IN 46016; September 8, 1959
Johnson-Shively Reunion: Unknown newspaper; clipping emailed from a cousin.
There’s a running joke in my family that my dad’s side of the family are either teetotalers or they drink like a fish. Apparently a bottle of pimentio extract caused quite a stir back in 1927.
I guess that not even this was allowed during Prohibition!
Background: Stanley Amore was my great-grandfather’s nephew (1st cousin to my grandfather). He was born in January 1880 to George Washington Amore and Catheirne Burden. Stanley was a restauranteur, the oldest child of the family, never married, and died on September 30, 1929 at the age 49 from Bright’s Disease. He was interred at Plainfield Cemetery in Coshocton County, Ohio.
News Clipping Source: The Coshocton Tribune and Times Age; Coshocton, Ohio; Vol. XVIII, No. 137; Front Page; Tuesday evening, January 18, 1927
My dad remembers his mother’s youngest brother with fondness. Born Alva Lester House on May 9, 1886 in Coshocton County, Ohio, he was the youngest of James and Frances (Ogan) House’s eight children. Somewhere along the line, he acquired the nickname of “Doc” even though he went by his middle name, Lester.
Lester and Mary Lucy Besser, daughter of Isaac Besser and Mary Thornsley, were married on June 13, 1908. Lucy, as she was known, was just over 16 years old. On February 28, 1910 their first child, Arthur Joseph House, was born in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County. On April 16, 1910 the couple and their son were enumerated in the James E. House household living at 423 N. Eleventh Street in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County. Lester is working for a pottery company as a kiln worker, possibly at the Pope-Gosser China Company located on Seventeenth Street.
Lucy’s mother, Mary Lucy (Lucy) and step-father, Noah Deeds, lived on the same street at house number 336. Lucy’s father had been killed in a coal mine accident when she was still a child.
Four days after the census taker left, little Arthur came down with pneumonia. At just two months old, he contracted meningitis and died on April 29, 1910. Lester and Lucy faced their first tragedy as husband and wife. The baby was buried two days later in South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton.
Two years later, Esther Annie House, was born on April 7, 1912. She lived only 18 hours before dying of lobar pneumonia. She was buried next to her brother in South Lawn Cemetery.
Not but a little over a month later, as the couple were enjoying some time at the home of Lucy’s mother and step-father, Lucy Thornsley Deeds, fell out of her chair by the window of her home and died of a heart attack. The woman was about 42 years old. Once again, Lucy had to overcome a loss and wade through her grief.
The couple finally had a child they could nurture when Georgia Evelyn House (referred to as Evelyn her entire life) was born on March 11, 1914. Their joy continued as a healthy son, Jarold House, was born two years later on May 26, 1916. Unfortunately the year previously, Lester had lost his mother, Frances (Ogan) House, to pulmonary tuberculosis.
Lucy wasn’t in the best of health as the family had lived in Colorado about a year but returned to their hometown on account of her health. The family also lived in Dennison, Pennsylvania where Lester worked in the shops but returned to Coshocton in September 1919.
The 1920 US Census taken on January 8th, shows that the couple is residing, once again, at 423 North Eleventh Street with Lester’s father, James. The census taker must have asked for the first name of occupants as they are listed as James E. House (head), Alva L. (listed also as Head), Mary L. (wife), Georgia E. (daughter), Jarold E. (son). There was also another child – one still unborn – as Lucy was pregnant.
A little over a month later, the young mother contracted the Spanish flu, which had been the cause of a worldwide pandemic that had begun two years previous and would continue for several more months, then pneumonia set it causing labor. It is unknown how far advanced the pregnancy was, however, the son that was delivered on February 14th, was stillborn. Lucy died the following day. The baby was buried with Lucy next to the other two children, in South Lawn Cemetery.
Lester had to pick up what was left of his family and move forward. His small children were also ill with the flu but would go on to recover. He had to move beyond his loss and grief.
Part Two: How much more loss and grief can this famliy withstand?
Thanks to Randy over at Genea-Musings, several of the genea-bloggers are flocking to How Many of Me to find out how many people in the United States have our name. That started me thinking about the naming patterns within my ancestry and family.
Donna Przecha has an article at Genealogy.com on the Importance of Given Names. Donna writes, “You will often see the same names used over and over again in families. While certain names are popular in different areas in different times in history, the repetition could represent a pattern.” She writes of English naming patterns of which son is named after the father’s father, the mother’s father, the father, or father’s & mother’s brother(s), and the same with the daughters being named after grandmother’s, mother, and aunts.
Many have noticed as they are inputting names into Gedcom files, that there may be several generations of sons who carry on either a given name or middle name. So I thought I’d go through my list to see what I could find.
The furthest ancestor in my Amore line is William Amore. He has 6 descendents who share his name.
The House line has several William’s (12 – first names)
Middle name of William:
James’ (first / middle)
In my maternal Johnson line there are many men with the first name of James who descended from my 3rd great-grandfather, Jacob Johnson:
And also descended from Jacob with the middle name of James:
I plugged the names into the How Many of Me website and came up with this:
Oh, and how did my name rank? There are 282,179 people with the same first name (on a personal note: I’d like to know where all these people are!). There are 5,613 with the same last name (and if they are from Missouri – probably related!). There are only 5 of us with the same first and last name. Have you played?
Quite possibly you may be able to discover the name of that brick wall ancestor, if you analyze the naming patterns throughout the generations.
Many times when we find an obituary of an ancestor or a member of a collateral family, we skim over the details without really taking it apart. I will list some obituaries that I have found or that I have copies of and analyze them part by part.
Funeral Services for John Lafe Johnson – Full name was John Lafayette Johnson, his nieces and nephews called him Uncle Lafe as there were many in the family named “John”. The inclusion and shortening of his middle name was to make sure that extended family knew precisely that this was their family member.
age 78 – Age is given so if there is another member of the community with a similar name, this information would be enough to differentiate them.
former resident of Anderson – He had lived in Anderson most of his life and was well known in that town, however he had not lived in that location for about 9 years. This information shows he still had family ties in that locale.
who died Sunday – Day of the week instead of the actual date.
at the home of a son, Glen Johnson, of Fairfield, O. – where the death took place. By saying “a” son, this seems to indicate that John had more than one son – which he did – however, the oldest, Letis, had been deceased for many years. This also gives the name of the son and where he lived.
will be held today at 2 p.m. in the Bob Waltz funeral home with the Rev. James H. Welsh, pastor of the East Lynn Christian Church in charge. – Day, time and location of funeral services. Provides information on what type of officiant will be handling the service. By naming a minister of a particular church, this is one way to deduct that the deceased had some affiliation either with the Pastor, that particular church, or that denomination.
Burial will be in Maplewood Cemetery. – Location of burial. No city is listed indicating that it is in the same city as the newspaper location (Anderson, Indiana).
The body will arrive at the funeral home this morning. – Indicates death took place in another location and the deceased will be transported to the funeral home this same morning.
Questions I have after reading this one include:
* * * * * * * * * *
This clipping is very similar to ONE except for a four things. First: It states in bold headlines that “Johnson Funeral To Be Wednesday”. This suggests that the obituary ran at least a day or two prior to the funeral as opposed to ONE, which suggests the funeral is that same day. Second: Throughout the clipping, it also states Wednesday as the day of the funeral. This answers the question – what day of the week the funeral will be held. Third: this obituary states “East Maplewood Cemetery” instead of just Maplewood. This details the exact cemetery (as there is a West and East). Fourth: Adding on to the last sentence it states, “to lie in state until the hour of the funeral.” Now it is learned that the body not only will be transported to the funeral home, but there will be a time when visitors may pay their respects to the deceased and family until time for the funeral.
* * * * * * * * * *
I also have the original typewritten copy that my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, prepared for the obituary. It reads:
JOHN LAFAYETTE JOHNSON, son of James W. and Amanda Johnson (nee Mullis) was born March 2, 1861 in Rush County, Indiana. His early boyhood was spent in and around Rushville and Kokomo, Indiana. While a very young man he settled in Madison County, near Anderson, Indiana. On July 4, 1883 he was married to Katie J. Blazer. To this union were born two sons, Letus W. and Glen R. In 1910 a foster daughter, Eva, came to bless the home. Letus, the older son, passed away in 1915. Shortly after coming to Anderson, Indiana, in 1889, to make their home they became identified with the Central Christian church and continued as active members until leaving there in March, 1930, due to illness of Mrs. Johnson, to make their home with their son Glen and family at Fairfield, Ohio. On May 20, 1930, Mrs. Johnson passed away and Mr. Johnson continued Living with his son until his death on May 28, 1939. In 1889 he entered the employ of American Steel and Wire Company at Anderson. In 1904 he entered business for himself as a fruit and vegetable peddler. After taking up his residence in Fairfield, he continued to sell fruit and vegetables during the spring and summer month, until the fall of 1938. Since January this year he had been in failing health, but did not become seriously ill until last Friday and died at 10:30 A.M., Sunday, May 28th, at the age of 78 years, 2 months, and 26 days. He leaves to mourn his passing his son Glen R. and daughter Mrs. Eva Skinner of Fortville, Indiana, and 4 grandchildren.
Extra details given include:
If this obituary had been printed in full, I would also have these questions:
As a genealogist, I long to find obituaries written in the form that my grandfather typed for his father. There is a wealth of information. More than ONE or TWO. THREE records a more accurate timeline of my great-grandfather’s life. Many questions asked of the first two clippings are answered in the typewritten obituary.
When you discover an obituary, disect it to see if it gives you the answers to pertinent questions. Sometimes I’ve been lucky to find not one or even two but three different obituaries for the same person. Then I need to disect each one to retrieve details that are exactly alike and then see what is left. More often than not, one or two items are conflicting. Possibly a survivor’s name is listed wrong or in my great-grandfather’s case, the middle name is shortened in the newspaper clippings but his full legal name is used in the typewritten obituary. There will always be unanswered questions, but being able to pick out each piece of information will give us a better understanding of our ancestors.