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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 first week’s theme centers around “Fresh Start” and immediately several things came to mind – namely, what person or family do I want to look at with fresh eyes? It is the family of my second great-grandfather’s brother, James J. Johnson, who is a collateral ancestor.

Instead of writing about the family in this post, I’m going to list those things which I have documented because I can’t get a “fresh start” unless I only state what is true (according to the sources).

On February 28, 1848 James J. Johnson and Dolly Mullis were granted a marriage license in Rush county, Indiana and married on March 4, 1848.

john johnson dolly mullis marriage record

John J. Johnson is listed by name in the 1850 Census enumerated on September 7, 1850 living in Union twp, Rush county, Indiana. He is listed as age 27 making his birth in 1823 and lists his place of birth as Ohio. His occupation was farmer. Living in the household was Dolly Johnson, age 25, born in North Carolina, and could not read or write. A one year old child, Ann M. Johnson, born in Indiana also resided in the house.

In 1856, John J. Johnson is listed as guardian for Jemima E. Johnson, his younger minor sister after the death of their father, Jacob Johnson.

On July 29, 1870 J. J. Johnson was enumerated in the 1870 Census. He was living in Stony Creek twp, Madison county, Indiana. Johnson was a 47 year old farmer, born in Ohio, with a personal income as $900 and a real estate value of $4000. Others in the household included: Dolly Johnson, age 44, born in North Carolina; 12 year old Rosa A. Johnson, listed “at home,” born in Indiana, and had attended school in the last year; and John J. N. (or J. M.) Johnson, age 7, listed “at home,” born in Indiana, and attended school within the year.  Two others in the household included: 55 year old Sophia Mullis, born in North Carolina, with a personal property value of $1400, and who could neither read nor write and Thomas Mullis, a 42 year old farmer born in North Carolina, with a real estate value of $3000 and a personal property value of $2000 and could not write.

On June 11, 1880, John J. Johnson is enumerated living in Stony Creek twp, Madison County, Indiana at age 57. He is a farmer, married, and born in Ohio. He lists his father as born in New Jersey and his mother born in Pennsylvania. He is living with his wife, Dolly Johnson, age 55, who was born in North Carolina as were both of her parents. Daughter, Rosa A. Milburn, is age 22, married, born in Indiana. She lists her parents as born in Ohio and North Carolina. Son, John M. Johnson, is a farmer age 17, born in Indiana, and lists his parents born in Ohio and North Carolina. Grandson, Edward D. Milburn is age 3, born in Indiana and his parents are listed as born in Indiana.

The History of Madison County lists the story of how John J. Johnson’s neighbor, Coleman Hawkins, tried to kill him on the night of December 5, 1888. The article mentions that Johnson had been a postmaster in the area of Johnson’s Crossing near Stony Creek twp in Madison county, Indiana and mentions Johnson’s daughter, Miss Rosa Johnson.

John J. Johnson’s obituary on the front page of the Anderson Democrat on October 14, 1892 stated that he died instantly while sitting in a chair after he had returned from visiting a daughter in Knightstown. The physical description of him said that he was over 6 foot tall and large in proportion.

Dolly (Mullis) Johnson is listed on the 1900 Census as still residing in Stony Creek twp.  She is a widow and the mother of 5 children but only four living.

The obituary for Dolly Johnson that ran in the February 25, 1908 edition of the Anderson Herald states that she was 82 years old and was survived by four children. It mentions that she was the widow of John Johnson and died at her daughter’s home – listed as Mrs. Charles Anderson. Besides that daughter, listed later as Rosa Anderson, the other children who survived her are Martha Johnson, Mrs. Jonathan Delawter, and Mrs. Mary Reid.

What strikes me are two things – one, until I can locate this family in the 1860 Census, there are several questions and two, I believe the names of the children that survived Dolly Johnson are wholly inaccurate and lacking – but…since I’m looking at this family with fresh eyes, I have to consider all the possibilities.

Even though it is not documented proof, I do have a list of people who attended the Johnson reunion in 1915 & 1916. This list is a good indication as to who were considered to be “family.”  Included in the photo with a key to the who is who on the back are Rosa Anderson (3rd person from the left on the 4th row standing), Mrs. Delauter (1st person on the left on the 2nd row sitting), Mrs. Marshall Johnson (9th person from the left on the 3rd row standing), Mr. Marshall Johnson (10th person on the left on the 3rd row standing), and Mr. Delauter (1st person on the left on the 3rd row standing) (as well as my grandfather and his parents).

Johnson Reunion cropped

I am pretty confident that Marshall Johnson is John Marshall Johnson, son of James J. Johnson and Dolly Mullis. There is a marriage record on FamilySearch.org for John Marshall Johnson and Rosa J. Hawkins on December 17, 1881, as well as marriage records for some of their sons that lists their parents as: Marhsall Johnson and Rosa Hawkins, Marshal Johnson and Rosa Jean Hawkins, J. M. Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins,  and J. M. Johnson and Rosie J Hawkins.

I also believe that Rosa Johnson Milburn Anderson was their daughter due to the entry in the History of Madison County concerning the attempt on her father’s life by Coleman Hawkins; she was enumerated as living in their household as “daughter” in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses; and she attended the first reunion in 1915.

Elizabeth Delawter appears to also be a daughter of John and Dolly as she and her husband Jonathan appear in the photo for the 1915 reunion and are listed in reunion minutes. A notation reads: “Lizzie Delawter died.”

In the above three cases, those who survived Dolly (Mullis) Johnson seem to be correct. What about the mysterious “Martha Johnson” or “Mary Reid”? And why wasn’t John Marshall Johnson listed? And why was there no mention of the 1 year old child – Ann M. Johnson – who had appeared in the 1850 Census with John and Dolly? Who provided the information to the newspaper for the obituary or did someone at the paper take it upon themselves to write it up and perhaps print the wrong names?

Further research that I need to do before making a conclusion according to this family: find the family in the 1860 census, any land records or deeds, obituaries or news articles, marriage records, better death records, and birth records if they exist.

Oh where, oh where, are you – descendants of this couple through any of the three children listed above or any children that I haven’t documented?

(52 Ancestors graphic courtesy of Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small)

 

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grandad_pershing

The Library of Congress’ Today in History page reports that on this day in 1918, the “American Expeditionary Forces…launched its first major offensive in Europe as an independent army” led by General John J. Pershing. My family has a connection to “Black Jack” Pershing in two different ways. As seen in the photo above, my grandfather met the General in the days of WWI when Pershing inspected my grandfather’s squadron. In a letter to my grandmother back home in Indiana, my grandfather mentions the inspection and meeting. Pershing is the first man in uniform from the right (not standing on the car) and my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, is the third from the left.

The second connection is through my husband. Pershing State Park in Linn county, Missouri lies across US 36 – 16 miles from my husband’s father’s farm. Each time we drive that road, we see the signs about Pershing and the Park.

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train

Not too long ago, I read a Facebook status (and I’m sorry but I don’t remember who it was) that mentioned their ancestors had traveled less than 50 miles over several generations. The revelation prompted me to think about how many miles my ancestors traveled before landing at the place they called home until they died.

Instead of going back many, many generations, I will begin with my maternal 2nd great-grandparents.

emanuelstern_nancy

Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio. Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Wayne county, Indiana.  Emanuel had traveled approximately 105 miles from his birthplace in Ohio. Nancy had traveled about 68 miles from her birthplace. The family remained in Hamilton county. After my 2nd great-grandparents divorced, Emanuel traveled to Yale, Nebraska to visit one of their children and was found living there in the 1910 census. He traveled (probably by train) about 787 miles.  Nancy died (21 Dec 1900) in the same county that she had lived with her husband. Emanuel was buried (after 10 Sep 1911)  in Hamilton county so he (or his remains) had to travel back from 787 miles to Hamilton county, Indiana.

isrealwilt

Israel Isaac Wilt b. 20 Jan 1823 in Rockingham county, Virginia was in Prairie township, Henry county, Indiana by the time of his marriage to Christena Nash on 2 Feb 1857. He had traveled about 503 miles traveling through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Christena was b. 1837 in (probably) Beaver county, Pennsylvania. She had traveled with her family 316 miles.  They lived in Henry county the rest of their lives. Israel died 11 Sep 1919 and Chrstena died 18 Aug 1876.

joewiltfamily

The Stern’s daughter, Martha Jane Stern, b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton county, Indiana married Joseph Napolean Wilt (b. 21 Jan 1868) on 10 Sep 1890 in the same county both were born. By the 1910 census, Martha and Joseph were divorced and she was remarried and living in Anderson, Madison county, Indiana – 29 miles away. By 1923, Martha and her second husband, William Frank Clawson, moved 2,257 miles away to Lane county, Oregon. Both of them died in Oregon and were buried in Leaburg. Joseph Wilt. By 9 Jan 1944, when Joseph died, he was living near Nabb, Indiana – about 102 miles from his birthplace.

My other sets of great-great-grandparents (ancestors of my grandfather) were James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 and Amanda Evaline Mullis b. 1833 and Franklin Blazer b. 2 Jun 1836 and Malissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832.

James Wilson Johnson, I think

 

James W. Johnson was born in Brown county, Ohio and by the 1850 census, he had moved to 137 miles away to Rush county, Indiana. Amanda was born in Wilkes county, North Carolina and had traveled with her parents and family to Rush county, Indiana – 519 miles. Amanda d. 21 Mar 1868 in Rush county. After her death, James moved around, reportedly through Howard county, Indiana and finally settling in Anderson, Indiana – a little over 40 miles away. 

malissa_blazer

Franklin Blazer was probably born in Madison county, Indiana and stayed in that county until he passed away on 27 Aug 1873. Malissa was born in Union, Champaign county, Ohio and by the time she married Franklin before 1859, she was living in Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana – a little over 125 miles away.

johnson_john_katie

The Johnson’s son, John Lafayette Johnson, and the Blazer’s daughter, Katie J. Blazer married on 4 Jul 1883. John was b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana. Katie was b. 27 Sep 1864 in Stony Creek, Madison county, Indiana. By the time of their marriage, John was living close to her. They remained in Anderson, Indiana – 40 miles from John’s birth and 9 miles from Katie’s birth until 1930 when they moved to Greene county, Ohio to live with their son (my grandfather). That move took them 109 miles from their home. Following each of their deaths, they were buried back in Anderson, Indiana.

glen_vesta_friends

My grandparents, Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 and Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898, were both born in Indiana. He was born in Anderson, and she was born in Noblesville. When her mother and stepfather moved 29 miles away to Anderson, she was still young.  After they were married on 24 Dec 1916, the couple moved 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio (the town merged with Osborn and became Fairborn many years later). As my grandfather was in the military, he was at Ft. Omaha in Nebraska; Kelly Field in San Antonio, France during WWI; Wiesbaden, Germany during the early 1950s; and by the time they returned to the states and my grandfather retired from the US Air Force, they lived on Devonshire in Dayton, Ohio. So even though they had traveled over 4200 miles and then some, they moved 18 miles away from Fairborn. When I was a baby and small child, they had moved to a home on Rahn Road in Kettering – 14 miles away. Before my grandmother died 19 Jan 1984 they had spent many years living 9 miles away at the Park Layne Apartments at 531 Belmonte Park in Dayton. After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather moved almost 13 miles away to the Trinity Home on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek, Ohio. He was there at the time of his death on 18 Jan 1985.

mom

My mom, Mary Helen Johnson, was born in Anderson, Indiana and moved with her parents 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio when she was very young. She remained there until she married my dad in 1943. They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (close to 400 miles away) before moving to Great Falls, Montana – about 1300 miles away. My dad was in the military, and they moved to Japan and back twice – over 6500 miles from Columbus, Ohio. In fact my mom drove my brother and sister from Dayton to Washington to catch the ship for Japan the first time they moved to Japan – a trip of over 2300 miles – very lengthy for a young woman with two little kids in 1953. By the time they returned to the states for the final time, they moved to Panama City, Florida – about 780 miles from Dayton. In 1960, they moved back to Ohio and bought a house in Beavercreek. This was the same house my mom lived in until 1977 when she moved a little over 5 miles away to the town home she lived in for the remainder of her life. (My father is still living so I will not disclose all the places he has lived.)

Below is a list of how far my ancestors traveled in order from who lived (and/or) died at a location farthest from their birthplace to the shortest distance:

  • Martha Jane Stern – 2246 miles
  • Amanda Evaline Mullis – 519 miles
  • Israel Isaac Wilt – 503 miles
  • Christena Nash – 316 miles
  • James Wilson Johnson – 190 miles
  • Malissa Goul – 125 miles
  • Glen Roy Johnson – 115 miles
  • Mary Helen Johnson – 115 miles
  • Vesta Christena Wilt – 113 miles
  • Katie J Blazer – 113 miles
  • Emanuel Bushong Stern – about 105 miles
  • Joseph Napolean Wilt – 102 miles
  • John Lafayette Johnson – 95 miles
  • Nancy Caylor – 68 miles
  • Franklin Blazer – less than 5 miles

According to Wikipedia, History of Indiana, the “state’s population grew to exceed one million” by the 1850s, and several of my ancestors had either made their way to Indiana or were born there. My Wilt/Nash great-great-grandparents likely traveled over the National Road in their westward migration from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Indiana. The Mullis family would have likely traveled by wagon through the wilderness to either the Cumberland Gap/Wilderness Road or to the National Road to get to Indiana.

There were probably several reasons for my ancestors to move north and west – better economy, more fertile farming land, more opportunities, and different political and social climates.

Though my maternal roots run deep in Indiana, I am partial to the state of my birth – Ohio. Even then, I didn’t stay there to live, work, marry and raise a family. I moved over 1000 miles away! Just as my ancestors left the places of their birth in search of something better, that is what I did. I moved (and stayed) due to job opportunities and warmer climate.

Have you tracked your ancestors?

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Happy Grandparents Day!

fmnots-gparentsday

On August 3, 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day (Wikipedia). So if you are a grandparent – Happy Grandparents Day! If you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents living, make sure you give them a call today and thank them for all they have done for you! If you are a parent of young children, call your own parents to recognize them today.

AARP has stated that “almost 7.8 million children are living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the householders, with more than 5.8 million children living in grandparents’ homes” and “2.5 million grandparents are taking on the responsibility for these children” (AARP, Grandfacts, January 2014, http://www.aarp.org). According to the American Grandparents Association (AGA) the average age of first time grandparents is 48 (grandparents.com, Surprising Facts about Grandparents, AGA, 2014, http://www.grandparents.com). My family is a part of the statistics. Not only do we have three generations under our roof, but have been primary caregivers for one of our grandsons since he was a year old.

Nana & Christopher

The day I became a first time grandparent!

I was much younger than the average age the first time I became a grandparent at age 39. Too young to be considered a “grandma,” I decided that I did not want that as a moniker. I flirted with “Granny” but that was mainly because on the Robin William’s version of Peter Pan (“Hook”), Dame Maggie Smith was called “Granny Wendy” (and if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you are aware of my affinity with “Peter Pan!”) My kids laughed at me and said it made me sound older than what “Grandma” would. As I had read in several publications about grandparents, grandchildren are the ones who eventually give your the name. I can still remember the day that I walked through the living room and my grandson said “Nana” and looked straight at me. So that’s what I am called by all the grandsons! My husband was not so particular – he was a Grandpa and that’s what he was going to be called. Well, my grandson could say the “pa” part so he doubled it. My husband became Papa!

vesta_glen_devonshire

Vesta (Wilt) and Glen R Johnson – Nana and Granddad

My parents – also not conventional – didn’t want to be Grandma or Grandpa either. My mom was under 50 when my sister had her first child so my mom became “Grammy” and my dad became “Gramps.” My maternal grandparents – Glen R. Johnson and Vesta C. (Wilt) Johnson – were Nana and Granddad to their many grand- and great-grandchildren. When I show my grandsons pictures of them, I say that they are their “Great-Nana” and “Great-Granddad.”

Lloyd & Ella Amore

Lloyd & Ella Amore

My paternal grandparents had passed away before I was born so I really didn’t call them anything – other than “Dad’s parents.” Of course, researching family history, I’ve become more personal with them and call them “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Amore – and sometimes their first names.

One of my cousins is “Mimi” to her grandsons and her late husband was “Poppi” while another cousin (my first cousin’s daughter) goes by “Grandma” which is hard for me to believe that she is a grandmother! An older couple from our church use the German monikers of “Oma” and “Opa.” Someone I knew years ago called their mother-in-law “Honey” as her grandmother name.

grandsons and charlie aug 2 2014

Papa with five of our six grandsons!

It isn’t what a grandparent is called, it is the relationship. Two of my grandsons live in our home. Two others I see if not once a week then at least twice a month. Two others are our new grandchildren that we were blessed with upon the marriage of our daughter to their father. One is now away at college and the other we get see at least once a month. That is a blessing that we are so close to them, see them, and have a real relationship with them.

So what are you waiting for? Call those grandparents – even the honorary ones (aunts, uncles, the older couple at church that has taken you and your family under their wing) – or grandparents – call your grandchildren! Without you – those grandchildren wouldn’t be here!

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Today’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings is to write about our number of cousins. My maternal grandparents, Glen R. Johnson and Vesta C. Wilt, had four children. Their youngest, Lois Evelyn Johnson, died within months of her birth. Their remaining son and two daughters produced a total of eight children – which included my two siblings and me. My five first cousins had a total of nine kids, and they are my first cousins once removed. My paternal grandparents, Lloyd W. Amore and Ella M. House, had eight children. Their youngest – a daughter – was stillborn leaving my dad as the youngest. There were a total of eleven grandkids and two step-grandchildren. Not including my brother, sister and I, that meant I had ten first cousins (including my uncle’s two step-step-sons on my dad’s side. My paternal first cousins had a total of 26 kids who are my first cousins once removed. Total number of my first cousins = 15. First cousins once removed = 35.

My great-grandparents on my mom’s side includes: John L. Johnson and Katie J. Blazer and Joseph N. Wilt and Martha J. Stern. John and Katie had three biological children (Letis, Glen and Mary) and a foster daughter (Eva). Letis died in his twenties and was never married and did not have children. Mary died before reaching the age of two. Eva had a son and later in life she had a daughter whom she put up for adoption. Her son had two daughters and the daughter had two sons. Joe and Martha had four son’s (Clarence, John, Jesse and Clifford) and two daughters (Nellie and Vesta). Jesse and Nellie were the only siblings of my grandmother to have children. Nellie had two and Jesse had four. Nellie’s son had three children and her daughter had three. Jesse’s oldest son (Fred) had three daughters and his youngest daughter (Joan) had four. That means the number of second cousins on my maternal side totals 17. I am not sure how many children those second cousins produced.

My paternal grandparents both had so many siblings who in turn had many children and grandchildren that I’m not sure just how many there are but it is a large number!

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question_mark

As I was researching my maternal Johnson family ancestors this weekend, I decided to focus on what I don’t know about my 2nd great-grandfather’s siblings. As I came to Jacob M. Johnson, I saw that I didn’t have very many documented sources – only information from other family members (who said they found the information at such and such). I had a wife’s name – Nancy Kirkpatrick – and a birth year for Jacob. He was the 2nd youngest child of Jacob Johnson and Ann Shields. Searching FamilySearch, I located a marriage record for Jacob M Johnson to Nancy J Kirkpatrick in Rush county, Indiana on January 21, 1858. I found the couple in the 1860 Census living in Union township of Howard county, Indiana along with their one year old daughter, Mary. After that – nada! There is nothing on Find a Grave for Jacob, but there is an entry for Nancy J Kirkpatrick Cook. The information shows that Nancy J Kirkpatrick had married Allison Cook in 1865 in Howard county, had three children, and died on September 23, 1914. On her memorial is a picture. She is buried in Center Cemetery in Mays, Rush county. Her birth date is listed as July 10, 1844, which would have meant she was 13 years 6 months and 5 days old when she married Jacob M Johnson. So . . . is that the same Nancy Kirkpatrick? What happened to Jacob? In the 1900 Census the Nancy married to Allison Cook lists that she is a mother of 5 with three living. Not being able to find a Mary Johnson in her household leads me to believe that IF this is the same Nancy, then Mary was deceased. I could not find Nancy J Kirkpatrick/Johnson/Cook in the 1870 census so I don’t know if Mary was still alive, if that would be the census to show that this is the same woman, or anything else. On the Find a Grave memorial, there isn’t anything that lists Nancy being married to Jacob. If it is the same woman, did she marry Allison Cook after Jacob died? Did the couple divorce? There is a Jacob Johnson purchasing a scoop shovel, 3 barrels, one doubletree and two single trees, 1 hoe, 1 harrow, 1 wheat fan, 1 fork, 1 barrel, one wagon, at the estate sale of Jonathan Gordon, in Rush county. Jacob M Johnson’s sister-in-law (my 2nd great-grandfather’s second wife), was Margaret Gordon, daughter of a Jonathan Gordon (not sure if this is one and the same either). If it is the same Jacob M Johnson and that is the same Nancy J Kirkpatrick, then the couple had split up prior to her marriage to Allison Cook. Or this could be neither of them. Questions and more mystery until I find more conclusive evidence!

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Mom & I, 1969

I have many names and titles:

  1. Mom/Mother/Momma/Mommy/that Woman – I have been called one of these or a variation of (and sometimes not in a good way) by one or more of my four adult children from the time they were born.
  2. Nana – the name my grandsons call me because they know better than to call me by the other “G” name (shivers!)
  3. Honey/Sweetheart/Babe/Darling/Bride – these and similar words are  what my wonderful husband has called me since we’ve been married.
  4. Sis – this is what my brother always called me or our sister and since his death, what my sister and I call each other.
  5. Mike-Wendy – It has to be said really fast and the person has to pretend that the first part hasn’t been uttered.  I was many years younger than my sister (Mike) so growing up, my mother – who only had one daughter for a long time – always called me by my sister’s name before realizing I had my own name. I even have caught my Dad calling me the same thing!
  6. “Aunt” – I put this title in quotes because my niece and nephews and I all grew up together as opposed to being born after I was either an older teen or an adult. One child calling another slightly older child “Aunt” was just too ludicrous to consider so now whenever one of them says “Aunt” – you can hear the quotes around it! However, the quotes come off for my 2 great-nephews and niece and for the children of my husband’s nieces and nephews.
  7. Daughter to my parents.
  8. Sister to my brother and my sister and the name some of my friends and I gave each other as we were growing up.
  9. Granddaughter to my maternal grandparents.
  10. In-law (daughter-, sister-, granddaughter-, cousin-, niece-) to all those in my husband’s family.
  11. Mother-in-law to my sons-in-law.
  12. Cousin to many.
  13. Niece to seven aunts and uncles and their spouses who were living at my birth.
  14. Friend to many.
  15. Wendy – the name given me at birth.
  16. Student – I became a student again (after high school) after my youngest daughter was born for a short time and then again four years ago when I returned to college for a few years.
  17. Woman of faith – Though there were a few years during my young adult life that I was not a member or regular attendee of a church, I have always had a deep faith and have relied on prayer and my relationship with God through most of my life.
  18. Waitress/Clerk/Publications Specialist/Typesetter/Paste-Up Artist/Graphic Artist/Technical Illustrator/Customer Service Rep/After Market Sales Rep/Administrative Assistant – these are all titles I’ve had through my varied employment history.
  19. Girl Scout Leader/Troop Coordinator/Cookie Mom – The different “hats” I wore when I was involved in Girl Scout Leadership.
  20. Group Coordinator/Treasurer/Public Relations Coordinator – More volunteer titles during my seven years with ToughLove International.
  21. Christian Education Board member, Cemetery Board member, Sunday School Superintendent, Board of Deacons member, Women’s Fellowship Secretary, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher, kitchen worker, usher, greeter, refreshment volunteer, and many more – the types of volunteer activities I have participated in at my church as an adult.
  22. Student Council Secretary and Youth Fellowship President – offices I held at my Junior High School and in High School at my church.
  23. PTA Board member and Room Mom – volunteer activities I was involved in when either my kids or my grandson was in elementary school.
  24. Band / Choir Mom – cheering on from the sidelines at all the performances.
  25. Webmaster – for my ToughLove International group and my high school class many years ago, and presently for my church.
  26. Scrapbook artist and designer – a hobby that I loved until I ran out of room or time or desire to participate in.
  27. Digital scrapbook artist – what my “paper” hobby grew into!
  28. Family Historian and amateur genealogist – A “hobby” that I am quite passionate about because I love to seek out and solve mysteries, help others in my family learn new information, and to learn more about those who came before me.
  29. Blogger – I tried a journalistic type of blog many years ago after reading several types of “mommy” or “woman” blogs but I soon realized that not everything in my life is blogger material. For one thing, I don’t need to write about every aspect of my life and for another, I’m not as comedic as the ladies whose blogs I really enjoyed. I didn’t have that X-factor type of material to bring traffic to my blog. On April 19, 2008 I wrote the first post for this blog and “officially” became a member of Geneabloggers!  Participating in genealogy memes, carnivals, and other blog prompts, helped drive traffic to my blog. Those looking for a surname would find my blog. I realized that what I was doing was also “cousin bait”!  What a great feeling it is when a distant cousin contacts me and lets me know that I have given them information that they’ve been searching for over a long period of time!
  30. Cook/cleaner/laundress/chauffeur/referee – Cooking for a large family, cleaning up after children and grandchildren, chauffeuring kids and grandkids to their respective activities or even to their jobs, and refereeing arguing children or a neighborhood squabble.
  31. Dreamer!
  32. Wannabe writer/actress/teacher – growing up my “real” career field was always going to be teaching elementary school but my “dream” careers were always being a best-selling author and actress.
  33. Me!

Whew! That list makes me very tired! Have I really worn all those hats? Some I still try to balance. Yet, if it wasn’t for all the strong women who came before me, I may have never had the possibility of doing some of those things. For instance:

mom_xmas8Mary Helen Johnson Amore
Born to Glen R Johnson and Vesta C Wilt in September 1921 a year after women won the right to vote, she had never know what it was like to not be able to vote for the person of her choice. The first president she voted for was FDR during his second run for the White House, and he was her choice the following two times. I believe she only voted for one or two Republicans in her lifetime because she was a Democrat through and through. Mom worked from the time she was old enough and most of her early adult career was spent in civil service and then in middle age she engaged in hard physical labor sewing draperies or cargo covers for a company contracted by the military. In her later life she worked in accounts receivable and in office environments. The only time she wasn’t working outside of the home was after I was born until I was about nine, a few times when she was laid off and looking for another job, and when she finally was forced into retirement at the age of 70+. My mother also did a lot of volunteer work for Girl Scouts during my sister’s younger years and when I was in Brownies, for her church, for her Parents Without Partners group, for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, and for school and community programs. She was opinionated, blunt to a fault, loved deeply (and consequently was hurt deeply many times over the course of her life), and was a brilliant seamstress and homemaker. When she was in high school she was on the girls’ basketball team and enjoyed watching sports of all kinds. Before she died, I found a photo of her on stage in her school’s drama production. Color me amazed as I didn’t know that she and I shared the love of theater. Divorced twice – the first time as a very young adult with a small son to support – she learned to “do” for herself and not depend on someone else. She loved to travel but wanted to put down roots where she grew up. And my mom was always right – always! That was just something those of us who loved her knew. She was the main caretaker for her parents in their last few years. Many things I learned from my mom, I learned from her example (well, except sewing – she will always be the best in my eyes).

wilt_vcVesta Christena Wilt Johnson
Her parents, Martha J Stern and Joseph N Wilt, divorced when in 1909 when she was just over 10 years old. My grandmother knew what it was like to be a child of divorce so as I struggled during my parents’ divorce when it seemed as if all the other kids I knew didn’t know what it was like, my grandmother would offer me words of love, support, and encouragement. She really never held a job except to help her step-father run his store when she was an older teen and before she married. One thing I ended up with in her honor was her grandmother moniker of “Nana.” She was the only grandmother I knew who did not go by “grandma” (that is until my own mother became a grandmother – she was “Grammy”). Each time one of my grandsons say “Nana” – I think of her – so that means I think about her about 100 times each day! And when I introduce them to her via her photo on a table in my living room, I tell them that she was my Nana and she is their Great-Great Nana!  And she was pretty terrific!  Nana was loving and patient. My cousin recently expressed that she remembers the “unconditional love she showed to us” and that was true. I don’t think there was anything any of us could have done to make her withdraw her love and affection for us. During some of my darkest days as a teenager, she always made sure I knew just how much she loved me and was in my corner. I think that was one of the reasons I didn’t go completely off the rails. Nana kept a very neat home. She had oodles and oodles of “stuff” but everything had a place. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of living through the depression, was the tendency to keep everything. Recycling, upcycling or re-purposing items are wonderful and frugal. But saving every piece of wrapping paper – even ironing it to make sure it folded nicely to be used the next time – is a little much. Saving every dry cleaning bag she ever had was also a little much. But that added to who she was plus it gave some of us stories to tell. As the wife of a military officer, she learned to live wherever my grandfather was sent. From being a girl from a small town in Indiana to a world traveler, entertaining other officers and their wives, she made the transition seamlessly. She was always concerned with the impact she had on others. When she was ill and hospitalized, she was always “sorry” to interfere in everyone’s lives and take away their time when they visited her in the hospital. When she relied on others to drive her and my grandfather somewhere, she felt like she was putting others out. But her loved ones and friends gave willingly because she had given of herself so effortlessly and willingly.

clawson_mjMartha Jane Stern Wilt Clawson
My great-grandmother – whom everyone called Grandma Clawson – was born to Emanuel Bushong Stern and Nancy Caylor in Hamilton county, Indiana in 1872. I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet her as she died five years before I was born. What I know is that she did what she could when my great-grandfather up and left her and six children – the youngest was about three. When she couldn’t get financial support, she went to court. Her oldest son, Clarence, was an adult and her second son, John, was living with his paternal aunt, Sarah Wilt Hofherr and her husband, John. The next son, Jesse, was living in another family’s home and on the 1910 census he was listed as “orphan” which was not true but makes me wonder what the thought process was in order to put that down. My mother had told me that John and Jesse had been “farmed out” by Grandma Clawson because she couldn’t provide for them. However, by 1910, she had married her sister’s widower, W. Frank Clawson, so I am not sure why Jesse and John remained living apart from the family. She and Uncle Frank managed to keep the other three children – which included my grandmother, her younger sister Nellie, and the baby of the family, Clifford – under their roof. However, my Aunt Nellie was asthmatic (according to what my mother told me) and the doctor had suggested that she should go “out west” in order to help her pulmonary problems. Finding Nellie in the 1920 census living with friends of the family in Oregon (they had known them when they lived in Indiana), before my great-grandmother also relocated to Oregon, gave me pause as I wondered how Grandma Clawson felt having her 17-year old daughter living so far away. Other things that I know about this woman include the fact that she wasn’t in the best of health herself. She had diabetes and my guess would be that she developed Type II diabetes in adulthood. She died of congestive heart failure due to arteriosclerosis. She spent the last thirty years of her life a widow and with her sons, John and Clifford, living with her in Oregon.  She never had to bury a child as they all outlived her, but she did have to live through the years that her son, Jesse, was away in WWI and in the hospital after he was injured with mustard gas. She met at least five of her grandchildren and eight to nine of her great-grandchildren. I don’t know if she ever met her son, Jesse’s four children or any of their children. I have one of her recipe’s and several pictures.

nancycaylorNancy Caylor Stern
Born to Abraham Caylor and Susannah Miller in 1840, she lived in an age where women didn’t vote and rarely worked outside of the home – especially in any field that men dominated at that time. She and my great-great-grandfather, Emanuel Stern, had eight children, and they all outlived her – almost a rarity to have that many children without a loss in infancy or early childhood from a disease, epidemic, or accident. Around 1898 (just about the time her granddaughter – my Nana – was born), she and her husband divorced. She moved in with her son, Samuel, where she lived until her death in December 1900. My two times great-grandfather was known for wandering around town with his potions and “medicines” and a local paper ran a poem about him called “Doctor Stern” so I wonder if Nancy was fed up with his potion-pushing. I have a picture of her with some of my grandmother’s brothers so I know she loved her grandchildren.

Susannah Miller Caylor
My three times great-grandmother was born to Joseph Holzafle Miller and Catherine Botafield at the turn of the nineteenth century on June 12, 1800 in Dayton, Ohio. She was the oldest of nine children. Until she was an adult and married to my Abraham Caylor, she remained in the Montgomery county area. Then the couple moved to Hamilton county, Indiana during the early part of their marriage where they remained until their deaths. They had eleven children and minus two that I don’t have death dates for, it appears they all lived to adulthood and outlived her.  That tells me that she and her husband probably kept a clean and (as much as possible) germ free home and environment for their family. They lived on a farm so if there were any farming accidents involving the children, they weren’t fatal.  I don’t have very much information about Susannah. When her husband died in 1855, she was entitled to one third of his estate or the sum of almost $346. Since she made her mark in acknowledgement of receiving the money, I believe that she could not read or write. (Source: transcription of Probate in Probate Order Book, Hamilton county, Indiana and posted on Rootsweb)

Catherine Botafield Miller
I don’t know hardly anything about my four times great-grandmother. She married Joseph Holzafle Miller in Pennsylvania about 1798 when she was about eighteen years old. They moved from their birth place of Pennsylvania to Montgomery county, Ohio before their oldest daughter, Susannah, was born in 1900. She and her husband both died in Tippecanoe, Indiana. Joseph died in 1833 and Catherine followed 22 years later. From her move from Pennsylvania clear to Indiana in her lifetime, I would imagine she was a strong and capable woman and prepared to endure whatever hardships that came her way. She was living in a “new” America as she was born soon after the Revolutionary War. Catherine is the last female I’ve been able to trace on my matrilineal line. She was the “mother” of many strong women. She and Joseph are buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Tippecanoe county.

These six women, their life experiences that were passed down to the next, helped to forge the person that I am and will be, whether it was due to the daughters doing opposite of their mothers or by doing the same. Just as I know that these woman and I also have created the people my three daughters are and will be. They will do some things the same as I, some that they will do completely different, and other things a combination (in their minds “better” than I did it).

This was written in honor of these women – Mom, Nana, Grandma Clawson, Nancy, Susannah and Catherine.

(all photos – original and/or digital owned and in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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