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Posts Tagged ‘52 Ancestors’

The prompt for Week 4 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is: “Who I’d Like to Meet.” Most of my genealogy friends would agree with – all of them! I’ve written about several of my direct ancestors so I didn’t want to post a repeat.

The woman I would like to meet would be my great-great-grandmother’s birth mother. I don’t have the name of the woman who gave birth in 1846 to Frances V. who married my great-grandfather James Emory House. Frances was listed under the maiden name of “Foster” in the 1850 census – as a 3 year old as well as the 1860 census although she was living with Evan and Susannah (Fritter) Ogan. As a cook living at the Eagle Hotel in Guernsey county, Ohio, she went by Frances Ogan.

I would like to meet the woman whose daughter – Frances – was left with an older couple. I would like to time travel back in time to before she gave birth so I could ask her about her baby. Was the young woman married? I’d want to hear what kind of life she wanted for her daughter. Did she look forward to teaching her how to keep house, sew, garden, and prepare meals?

I may never have definite answers but via DNA, I may be knocking down the brick wall as to her identity. When I have that answer, perhaps by looking at the community in which she lived will give me a little bit of an answer. Whoever you are, my great-great-grandma, I do thank you because from what I can tell, Frances was a wonderful woman who raised three step-children and eight children – you would be proud.

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As a young teen, home alone while Mom and my grandparents were on a day trip to Urbana, Ohio to viist cousins, I took the opportunity to peruse the photo albums. Either that same evening or another day, as I was talking to Mom about photos, she brought out a medium sized box full of photos. (Side note: I wish we had labeled the photos then when Mom’s memory was better and my grandparents were still living.) 

I began taking out pictures one by one. Who was in the photos? I really don’t remember. I do know that several of them were face down. I picked one up and turned it over and immediately hollered at Mom. It was someone in an open casket. What was this madness?! Mom chuckled – obviously this was nothieg new to her. I hadn’t been educated in the “why” of post-mortem photos.

It seemed as if I ran across a ton of post-mortem photos – in reality, probably not very many. I don’t know what happened to that box of photos. In probability, I probably have them all now – but they were broken out in to smaller boxes. And the post-mortem photos? I have 3 of them (there were several copies). I can’t remember all these years later who it was in that first photo but it was either my great-grandfather John Lafayette Johnson, my great-grandmother Katie J (Blazer) Johnson, or my mom’s baby sister Lois Evelyn Johnson.

I won’t post those photos – for many reasons. If my kids want to see them, I’ll dig them out, but I won’t make them public for anyone’s morbid curiousity. I will post photos of when they were living (except my baby aunt as I don’t have any).

John & Katie Johnson
about 1929 in Anderson, Indiana

This is Week 1 post of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. The prompt for this post was “First.” To participate, please go to: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

(Top image courtesty of Creative Commons. Original & digital Image of John & Katie Johnson in possession of Wendy Littrell – address for private use.)

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All of my life while my mother was alive, I heard the word “Gomennasai.” This was the Japanese word for “sorry.” After living in Japan a total of 7 years in the 1950s, Mom used some of the words she learned quite often. By the time I was in school, I knew by context what gomennasai meant. Another phrase she used was “Doumo arigatou” – thank you. She pronounced it “dom airigato.”

Mary (Johnson) Amore wearing kimono in Japan

I was fascinated by her use of the Japanese language. By the time I was in fifth grade, I knew how to county in Japanese. Then my grandmother taught me to count in German. As a freshman in high school taking Spanish, I could also count in that language. It would be nice to say that I speak four languages – Japanese, German, Spanish, and English – but only if we are talking numbers!

My Spanish classes were only for two years. I had signed up to take a third year until I realized that only Spanish would be spoken and written in class. My problem was that I hadn’t learned to think in a foreign language. I could memorize the words but speaking, reading or writing, I would have to think it in English and slowly translate that to Spanish. So after moving from the midwest to the Dallas area after high school, I really did my best to communicate with people in a factory where I worked who spoke nothing but Spanish all the while they were trying to find the English words to speak to me.

My middle daughter took two years of French so I was completely lost when she would talk. My son took Latin – excelled in it and loved it. And my youngest daughter took three years of AP Spanish who now teaches her children Spanish.

Yet the one language I feel we should all practice is love. Being courteous, polite, helpful, respectful, and kind to one another – no matter what language comes from our lips, forms more of a common bond than words. Go Speak – of Love!

(Top image: Creative Commons. Image of Mary Johnson Amore – digital and original photo in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for private use.)

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After losing a mother, it is especially difficult that very first Mother’s Day following her death, but it is especially trying when it happens all at the same time.

My mom died on May 1, 2009 – a Friday. Her memorial service was held on May 6 – a Wednesday. As soon as we returned to her home that day, the funeral home called – her ashes were ready to be picked up. Such a beautiful urn we had picked out for her – which was still sitting on the dining table when Sunday – May 10 – Mother’s Day – rolled around. In one sense, Mom was still there with my sister and me, and in another, she was now gone. We’d walk by the table – a room we had to walk through no matter what – and touch the urn lightly and say “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” Bittersweet phone calls came from our own children to wish us the same. Yet, on that first Mother’s Day, without my mother, “happy” was not the right word.

A year later as a crisis unfolded among my family, it still didn’t feel like it should be “Happy Mother’s Day.” I was sad for many and had found it difficult to even look at greeting cards that year. Yet, I needed to find cards for my mother-in-law and my stepmother.

The years began passing by, always with the thought of Mom, but I kept busy and life was good. The middle of April in 2013, my mother-in-law had to be admitted to a local nursing home for hospice care. Her cancer was winning, and her fight was coming to an end. During my daughter’s baby shower on May 4 before we all left, we received the news that she was gone. What had been a joyous day filled with anticipation of the new little boy soon to be gracing our family turned into sorrow. The next morning – Sunday – we headed from Texas to Missouri to say our final goodbye.

Mother’s Day 2013 was on May 11, just a few days after my mother-in-law’s funeral. Instead of two cards that year, I only had to buy one to send to my dad’s wife.

Now, it has been nine years since that first Mother’s Day without my mom and five years without my mother-in-law. My dad’s wife is still with us – and so I continue to buy one single card. I am blessed that my three daughters are all mothers so I do send them cards. I am able to read Mother’s Day cards now and instead of grief, I smile and know that both Mom and my mother-in-law are aware of what they both meant to me.

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My maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson, was the middle child (and oldest daughter) out of six children born to her parents Martha Jane Stern and Joseph Napolean Wilt. She had three older brothers – Clarence, Jesse, and John, and two younger siblings – Nellie and Clifford. My great-grandparents divorced before my grandmother was ten. Martha went on to marry her late sister’s widower, William Frank Clawson. They did not have any children together; however, Joseph married Anna Park and they had a son named Albert – my grandmother’s younger half-brother.

It was apparent throughout the letters my grandmother wrote to her siblings as adults that none of them spent any time with their father or his new family following the divorce. I’m not sure if my grandmother ever met Albert, but she did have a picture of him at about 16 years of age. There was also a picture taken later of a tombstone shared by Joseph and Anna as well as Albert who died in 1933. The birth year listed 1917.

As new records were added to online databases, I discovered that Albert’s age was listed as 5 years old in the 1920 census and as age 15 in the 1930 census. At least a two year discrepancy according to his tombstone. Then I discovered his birth certificate showing that Albert was born on October 21, 1914! That meant that someone made a big error on his birth year listed on the tombstone.

Then I discovered Albert’s death certificate. Joe was the informant listed on his son’s death certificate and listed August 1, 1914 as the date of birth. There was an inquest to find cause of death. And that is when I read the horrible information. Albert died due to his skull being crushed; struck by a railway train as he was walking along the tracks. No wonder some of the information was off – as a grieving father, Joe may not have been thinking clearly about his son’s birth when his tragic death was fresh on his mind.

How did Albert not know a train was coming? Not paying attention? It happened too fast? Or could he have been deaf and not felt the vibrations in the ground soon enough? I bring up deafness because an earlier collateral relative on the Wilt side – brothers Charles and Absolam Hottinger, “deaf-mutes” according to the Rockingham (Virginia) Daily Record on November 9, 1912, were struck by the Chesapeake Western freight train near Penn Laird. Absolam was killed almost instantly, and Charles had extensive injuries.

I find it quite sad that my grandmother did not have a relationship with her younger brother, and instead of stories and her memories, all we are left with is one close-up photo of him.

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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 “Luck of the Irish” and can be about an ancestor who was lucky or an Irish ancestor.

I have not discovered a single Irish ancestor lurking in my family ancestry. So it leads me to wonder – where does the red hair come from? My paternal grandmother had red hair and so does my niece. My sister, my daughters, and I all have auburn in our hair. My grandmother, Ella House Amore, was the daughter of James Emory House and Frances V. Ogan. Yes, that woman – whose parentage is a complete mystery. (See Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan).

So, if she wasn’t dropped on the doorstep by aliens – perhaps her parents were leprechauns. I’m all out of ideas at this point. I suppose it would be too much to ask that maybe Frances and Maureen O’Hara share the same biological ancestors? Nah, probably not.

Which leads me to gush over how I adore Ms. O’Hara! I love her pairing with John Wayne in “The Silent Man” or “McLintock!” or “Big Jake” or “Rio Grande” – she was stubborn, strong-willed, and passionate in her beliefs. Well, now that I think about it . . .

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Since I have been a little busy the last few weeks, I’ve missed a few of the weeks of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” so this post makes up two of them. My third great-grandparents on my maternal side are the subject of this article.

Abraham Caylor was born on March 11, 1803 in Virginia to Johannes Kohler (original German name) and Sarah Salome Kinsey and they moved to Montgomery county, Ohio. He was one of eight children. Susan (also known as Susanna) Miller was born on June 12, 1800 in Pennsylvania to Joseph H Miller and Catherine Botafield who also moved to the Dayton area.  I don’t have any documentation but the couple may have known each other as they grew up. The couple married on March 11, 1824 in Dayton, Ohio according to their marriage certificate. Within a few years, the family had relocated to Hamilton county, Indiana and lived predominately in the Noblesville area. They were blessed with eleven children: John (b. 1827), Isaac (b. 1828), Henry (b. 1830), David (b. 1831), Daniel (b. 1833), Phebe (b. 1835), Catherine (b. 1838), Nancy (b. 1840 – my gr-gr-grandmother), Mary Ann (b. 1842), Abraham (b. 1845), and Susannah (b. 1847).

The family is found in the 1850 census living in Noblesville, Indiana. Abraham was listed as a farmer. He died five years later on May 1, 1855 and was buried in the Caylor family cemetery in Noblesville. Susan died in 1859 and was buried next to Abraham. His will was probated on May 21, 1855 and listed his widow and all eleven children.

My relationship: Abraham Caylor married Susan (Susanna) Miller > Nancy Caylor married Emanuel Bushong Stern > Martha Jane Stern married Joseph Napolean Wilt > Vesta Christena Wilt married Glen Roy Johnson > my mom married my dad > me.

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