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Posts Tagged ‘52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

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! This week’s theme is “Close to Home.”

I had started this post in a completely different direction but realized it will need to be used for something else as it has been quite time consuming. So in keeping with the prompts that Amy has suggested: “Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits ‘close to home’?” – I have decided to write about an ancestor who has lived close to where I live.

After high school, I moved from the area where I was born and raised in Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. All of my closest direct ancestors were either Ohio or Indiana born and raised. Very few of them ventured far from there – except my maternal great-grandmother who moved to Oregon. Since I still live in Texas, I will have to go “off-roading” – in other words, find a distant, collateral relative and not a direct ancestor.

e a johnson

Elbridge Arno Johnson and I share the same kinship three times! He is my second cousin twice removed on my maternal grandfather’s Johnson side.  The common ancestor we share would be Jacob Johnson who is Elbridge’s great-grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. Elbridge’s grandfather, John J. Johnson, and my 2nd great-grandfather, James W. Johnson, were brothers. Elbridge’s grandmother, Dolly Mullis (John J. Johnson’s wife), and my 2nd great-grandmother, Amanda Mullis (wife of James W. Johnson), were sisters giving us a common ancestor of John Mullis – who would be my 3rd great-grandfather.  Still second cousin twice removed through the Mullis line! And now for the third line – we share the common ancestor of John Blazer who is the grandfather of Elbridge’s mother, Rosa Jane Hawkins, and is the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Katie J Blazer – making John Blazer my 3rd great-grandfather!

E.A. Johnson was born to John Marshall Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins on January 15, 1883 in Cicero, Indiana. In 1900 at the age of 17, he is still residing in Indiana with his parents, three brothers, and a sister as located on the census of White River, Hamilton, Indiana. Sometime between that census and February 1, 1905 – perhaps to attend college – Elbridge moved to Houston, Texas. There at 22 years old, he married 25 year old Elpha Rhoda Stewart, daughter of John T Stewart and Anna M Keifer. Elpha was born in Ohio but by the 1900 census, the Stewart family was living in Greencastle, Indiana. She gave birth to their first child – a daughter, Lucille Agnes Johnson, on August 4, 1906 – probably in Houston. A few years later on September 22, 1909, the couple’s second child, a son, was born. He was named Stewart Arno Johnson.

By the 1910 census, the family of four is living in Texas City near Galveston, Texas. Elbridge lists his occupation as a laborer doing “general laboring” while Elpha is listed as a housewife. On April 28, 1915 the couple’s third child and second son arrived. On the boy’s birth certificate, E.A. is listed as a Construction Foreman. A few months later on the Military Registration Card (WWI), his occupation is listed as Foreman at Pierce Oil Corporation. A few years later, it would become the Pierce Petroleum Company. On the 1920 Census the family of five is living in a rented home located on Broadway in LaPorte, Texas. Elbridge is listed as a Superintendant at an oil factory.

Ten years later, the family owns a home worth $6500 in Webb county, Texas and has the same occupation as in 1920. A year later, on October 24, 1931, Lucille married Samuel McInnis Campbell in Vernon, Louisiana. By 1935 the Johnson family returned to Texas City and purchased a home located at 231 11th Avenue valued at $5000. On April 18, 1936 Stewart Arno Johnson (also called Arno Stewart Johnson) married Lorrain Adell Johnson.  Elbridge and Elpha continue to reside on 11th Avenue through the 1940 census.

E.A. Johnson was elected Mayor of Texas City and served until 1946. Before his death, he and Elpha were residing at 1107 10th Street North in Texas City. He died on January 18, 1970 at the Texas City Nursing Home and was buried at Galveston Memorial Park. His death certificate gives the cause of death as acute pulmonary infarction due to acute recurring pancreatitis; generalized arteriosclerosis. Elpha died a day short of the third anniversary of her husband’s death – January 17, 1973. Their daughter, Lucille, died on March 8, 1984 and then on July 29 her husband, Samuel, died – and their daughter, Carolyn, died a few months later on November 24. Stewart Arno Johnson died on June 17, 1988. As far as I can tell, the third son is still living as are the children of Stewart Arno.

These are the closest “shirt tail” relatives I have found living in Texas (this does not include a really, really close relative – my sister!)  It is also interesting to be able to have a distant cousin who I am related to in the same kinship fashion via three different lines!

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52ancestors-2015

I knew – based on my grandfather’s genealogy notes – that his maternal grandfather was Franklin Blazer. Close to fifteen years ago, a close friend took me to the Dallas Public Library so we could peruse census records on microfilm. She showed me how to check in to the Genealogy area, where to locate index books, and then how to find the correct microfilm. I will be forever grateful to her because I wouldn’t have gone by myself. What I learned that day kept the fire alive to find out more and more information!  That was a very good deed on her part!

Looking in Madison county, Indiana for a Blazer family in the 1850 census, I only located one. Within that household I saw the name of Franklin, age 14, putting his birth about 1836. My second great-grandmother was born in 1832 so Franklin’s birth year seemed probable. He was living with John and Mary Ann Blazer. The other children included Elizabeth, John P., Mary Jane and George. Unfortunately, the census did not give a location for Franklin’s birth.  I noted the ages of all inhabitants and went forward to the 1860 census. I found John and Mary Ann but no Franklin or Frank Blazer living anywhere in Indiana (nor did I find my 2nd great-grandmother, Melissa Goul). Oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was no longer living in the household but John P., Mary Jane, and George were still there. Father, John, was born about 1810 in Ohio and Mary Ann was born about 1813 in Virginia.

In order to determine who John Blazer’s parents were in order to go back one more generation, I had to wait. There were several people researching ancestors with the surname Blazer, but I couldn’t connect my third great-grandfather with any of them. Maybe if he had a very unique first name I might have been able to but with the given name of John, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack!

I ran across a biography of Samuel Blazer printed in The Biographical and Historical Record of Jay County, Indiana published in 1887 by the Lewis Publishing Company in Chicago. Located on page 353 was this little tidbit:

Samuel BLAZER, one of the old and honored pioneers of Greene Township, has been identified with the interests of Jay County since 1838. He was born in Gallia County, Ohio, August 2, 1813, a son of Philip and Elizabeth BLAZER, who were natives of Pennsylvania, and of Dutch descent.

A few lines later, as the article mentioned those children of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer, I saw this:

John, another son, settled in Madison County, Indiana, and died a few years since…

That seemed to confirm for me that my third great-grandfather was the son of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer. I added one more generation and learned the identities of John’s siblings. But it wasn’t until I went to the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records that I found John Blazer who purchased 80 acres in Madison county, Indiana north of Pendleton in 1835. Looking at the image of the Patent Record, I was excited to read: “John Blazer of Gallia County, Ohio…” John Blazer also bought 80 acres in August 1838 located west of Pendleton in Madison county.

I found out who my third great-grandfather was by way of a good deed of my friend and consequently was able to identify my fourth great-grandparents, Philip and Elizabeth Blazer!

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! This week’s theme is “Good Deeds.”

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2000px-Broken_heart

It’s not just a line from The Righteous Brothers song – it also explains which ancestors I choose to research until the cows come home. Most are not direct ancestors but collaterals. Nieces of great-grandfathers, distant cousins of a 2nd great-grandmother, relatives of an aunt’s in-law, etc. These are people who I have found in newspapers and court documents due to a dispute – sometimes with a neighbor but most times with their spouse. Disputes that turn ugly and full of scandal. Why do I enjoy spending countless hours of research on these people? Because there is so much to find! They are fascinating, full of dramatic details, and even a little sad.

Since my paternal side hails from Coshocton, Ohio, I have found a wealth of news articles on many of those relatives. Skeletons in the closet do not make me bat an eye or shy away from digging deeper. I want to know what type of circumstances – environmental, genetic, or social – led up to whatever scandal or drama happened. Was that a turning point in that person’s life – for better or worse? Did that person ever seem to achieve happiness within their life? Are their descendants aware of these troubles?

I also love to do research to flesh out a mystery. If you’ve been following my Genealogy Mystery posts, then you are aware that I’m trying to solve a mystery for someone – related to me as my grandfather’s foster sister’s biological daughter. Broken hearts prevail in that story as well.

Unfortunately, most of us have had to live through heartbreak – in whatever form it took: the loss of a close family member due to death; watching a loved one suffer through disease or mental illness; a divorce or split in a marriage or partnership; loss of a job that caused a domino affect in everything else; a disaster such as flooding, tornado, hurricane, dust bowl or fire that created a tremendous loss and hardship; or being a victim of a crime. Stories of our ancestors and their families could possibly be our stories – human stories. What we find in researching makes our ancestors real life people – not just a name with dates of birth and death. And that is the main reason that I do this research.

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! This week’s theme is “Love.”

(Image attribution: By Corazón.svg: User:Fibonacci derivative work: Eviatar Bach (Corazón.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

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I have three pictures of my Johnson ancestors with mules – two of them in particular. I can’t say for certain these two mules were used to plow the fields.  The first photo (above) wasn’t easy to scan – it is in a frame, and I don’t want to take it out in fear of damaging it. The only way I could digitize the picture was to take a digital photo of it. The “bubble” glass isn’t conducive to that (and without the flash the photo wouldn’t have come out at all). This is my maternal great-grandfather, John Lafayette Johnson, born in Howard county, Indiana on March 2, 1861. The first census (1880) I found for him shows him as a 19 year old man working as a laborer on the Isaac Goble farm in Rush county. (I have been unable to locate the 1870 census for him.) In 1900, he is married to Katie J Blazer and living at 1524 Forkner Street in Anderson with their two sons, 13 year old Letis, and 1 year old Glen (my grandfather). His occupation is listed as “rod roler.” Ten years later the family is still living in Anderson but at 434 17th Street. This time Letis (age 23) and Glen (age 11) are joined by baby sister, Mary, age 1, and John’s father, (James) Wilson, age 80.  John’s occupation is listed as huckster – a salesman. In 1920, John and Katie have lost their oldest son and baby girl but have added Glen’s wife, Vesta (my grandmother), and a foster daughter, Eva, to the family along with a grandson (my uncle – age 2 1/2). John’s occupation is Vendor – Retail and my grandfather’s occupation is Expressman.

johnson mules 001My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, with the mules
johnson mules 002

So about those mules?

The only thing I could come up with is that the family probably did have a garden – more than likely a very large garden. Perhaps they used the mules to plow the garden or maybe they just had mules! Notice that I don’t have pictures of the mules AND a plow. Just mules. Some people have horses – my Johnson ancestors had mules.

I tend to prefer this cute little mule: donkey on farm

Mule and Flower Box on the Littrell family farm in Missouri

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! This week’s challenge is “Plowing Through” – do you have an ancestor who had to plow through – fields, snow, a tough time?

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52ancestors-2015

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!

Week number four’s challenge is “Closest to your birthday” and is about an ancestor who shares the same birth month and day.

The first ancestor that comes to mind is my great-grandmother, Frances V. Ogan, who was the mother of my paternal grandmother, Ella Maria House. I have written about Frances before in Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan. She was born exactly 115 years before me. Unfortunately, I don’t have any new information about her that could solve the mystery. She is the only direct ancestor who shares my birthday. Other collateral relatives that I share a birthday with include a close family member; my first cousin on my dad’s side; a second cousin on my dad’s side; and Orlow Barnes – my third cousin once removed on the Johnson side (maternal) of my family.

One direct ancestor died on my birthday – Anna Burnham. She was born abt 1644 and died in 1722. She married Samuel Gaines on May 1, 1668 probably in Massachusetts. Anna and Samuel were my 7th great-grandparents.

There were no marriages reported among my direct ancestors that occurred on my birthday.

In summary, since Frances V. Ogan is the only direct ancestor that shares my birthday, perhaps that is why I feel I must leave no stone unturned in order to figure out her origins.

 

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52ancestors-2015

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 this week is “Tough Woman” and could be a woman in the family that is strong and tough or a female ancestor that is tough to research.

I’m writing about someone who is not my ancestor but ties in to my family via my maternal great-grandparents. In October 1910 a young woman gave birth to a baby girl on an interurban car somewhere near Fortville, Indiana. The woman was taken to the St. John’s hospital where she encountered my great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson, and asked her to take care of her baby girl. The young woman was unmarried. Katie agreed and began the rest of her life dedicated to being Eva Louise Johnson’s mother.

Editor’s note: right after I wrote the paragraph above, I did more research and realized that there is so much more to this story! So I will finish this by pointing to some earlier blog posts I had written: Independent from Birth and Update on Eva.

More to the story about Eva’s mother will be forthcoming, and it’s really exciting!

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52ancestors-2015

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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