Friday, February 3, 2017

Historial Fiction

When I was in the eighth grade my great grandmother, Estella Mae Vorhies Smith, died. I have mentioned and written about her many times as well as declaring her as my first genealogy inspiration. She was very special in my world.

Estella died in March 1959. I do not know if weeks had passed or if months had passed, but I remember a day when two of her granddaughters were helping to clean out her house. My mother and her cousin, Jean, were in the attic sorting. I remember them coming across letters, reading these letters and enjoying themselves. I always guessed they were love letters of some sort, but truthfully I have no idea. Whose letters were they? Who were they to or from? I never knew.

This memory and my interest in reading historical fiction gave me an idea. In the last few posts I have tried to review some of the members of the Vorhies family. I know unless one takes the time to really concentrate on these family connections, genealogy can be confusing.

So, how does one bring ancestors to life?

What if Estella sent a Christmas letter filled with an annual update on the family along with the family photo like many of us do today.  Would it read something like this letter which pure historical fiction.  It is, however, filled with family facts.

Dear family and friends,
      It has been a busy 1912. Hiram and I still live about 2.5 miles southwest of Scranton across the road from my parents, Ginevra and John Mac Vorhies. My dad, John Mac, and my Grandpa Joseph Withrow came to Greene County in 1875 to buy the land where many generations of our family have lived.  I was born only one month after they arrived in March of 1876. However, I don't need to be writing about those days in my 1912 Christmas letter. It is just that Christmas can be very nostalgic.
      Once Christmas is past, Hiram and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary on January 1. Time does fly. We have four precious children and the fifth is on the way. Our oldest child, Nina, is 11 now. She is a great help with the two little ones, Neva age 3 and Ardea age 2. Merroll, age 10,  is our only boy so far. We named him for Hiram's father, George Merroll Smith.  I think Hiram is hoping our January baby will be a boy, but I just have a feeling it will be a girl.
      We feel very fortunate to be able to have a family portrait taken with our four children, my parents, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, as well as my two brothers and their young families. I don't know for sure but I am guessing the portrait was Mom Ginevra's idea since it includes all of her and Dad's children and grandchildren.  Mom Ginevra will be 58 in March and Dad John Mac is 63. I know they are proud of all three of their kids and the families they have. It was  a little tricky getting everyone together. We decided that all the females would wear white blouses with the exception of my grandmother, Sarah Jane. Grandmother is now 78 and insisted her black dress would do just fine.  She is positioned in the center of the portrait which is logical being the matriarch of the family.
      My youngest brother, LeRoy (age 33) and his wife Lulu (age 28) are seated on the right side of the portrait (to my left) with  their three children.  Fern (age 8), Verle (age 4) and baby Harold.  LeRoy's little son Harold is only one year old and my other brother's son, Lester, is two. They are a bit young to play together but maybe someday they will unless LeRoy and Lulu decide to live in Colorado permanently.
      My brother, LeRoy, is always tinkering with mechanical things. He considers himself an inventor. I wouldn't be surprised to be reporting on one of his patents in the next few years.
      My brother, Eugene, who is closest to me in age is the proud father of two. I mentioned Lester, who is sitting on his lap, but they got their girl earlier this year with the birth of Viola in June.  Carrie is such a dear sister-in-law. Eugene farms as does Hiram and Dad John Mac. So we have lots of things in common.
       You may have noticed my thickened waistline. As I mentioned earlier, we are expecting in January 1913. If any of my descendants find this portrait, they should be able to guess the approximate date of the setting. My condition along with baby Viola leave good clues.
       If you are wondering about the other couple in the photo, I hesitate to say that I don't remember their names. Maybe I am reaching old age. After all I am 36 now. Hiram teases me even though he is now 44. He is an industrious man. He and Dad John Mac don't always see eye to eye, but I guess many people consider Hiram quite the entrepreneur.
       Although 1912 has been good to us, we were so saddened by the news of the ship Titantic sinking. I don't think I know of anyone who was on that ship.
       And of course, the election is over. Woodrow Wilson will be moving into the White House soon.
       All of our family wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mondays With Mary- Raspberry Pie

I picked up Mom's 1981 calendar a few days ago to see what was happening that year. As we know, February can be awfully cold.

Monday, February 2, 1981

7 degrees below at 7:45 a.m. cold    stock water froze & heating element burnt - tried to put a washer on waterer - broke it- I went
to Hardward Store at 5:30 to get T so could keep water facet from
freezing.  Cattle short of water today.

Tuesday, February 3, 1981

4 degrees below @ 7:15  got stock waterer fixed in am. Went to Scranton for lunch & I got my hair set.  Vern played pool.  Home about 3:30 p.m. Read and watched TV rest of day.

Wednesday, February 4, 1981

2 degrees below @ 7:00 a.m. warmed up to 15 degree -raw - sun shining - got title & registration for car.  Went to see Mom alittle.  Vern got an adjustment.  I went to Wed. Club in p.m. at Carol Coles- stopped at Ray & Linda Sabus on way home. 
Stopped at Pauline Caddens.

Thursday, February 5, 1981

17 degrees at 7 a.m.  windy - cleaned deep freezer.  snow squalls  off & on all day.  Took gizzards to Linda Sabus - Vern went to town in p.m.  I read & cut out dress & jacket for Pauline Cadden.

Friday, February 6, 1981

6 degrees @ 7 o'clock - took splitter down to Ray Sabus in a.m. & split up some wood  _ I went to Jeff for meat in p.m.  -Vern spent p.m. at the lounge- took splitter to Dale after lunch.

Saturday, February 7, 1981

24 degrees @ 7:30 a.m. cloudy-high winds dirt blowing.  I baked raspberry pie- cleaned house- sewed a little.  Getting colder all day.  Kids came about 5:30.

The reason I chose this February week of 1981 was because I like to look back at calendars that are approximate the current year's calendar. This week of February was 35 years ago. I thought comparing temperatures might be interesting to those in the 2017 cold winter.

So what is significant enough to give this Mondays With Mary the subtitle of Raspberry Pie.

I love Raspberry Pie. Black Raspberry Pie to be exact.  So I am reading along in Mom's calendar and read that she made a raspberry pie. I am immediately upset. She should not make raspberry pie without me there to eat it. What kind of mother is she?  I calm down and read the next nine words. Then the ones that
made me ashamed of myself. Kids came about 5:30.

 I guess she made the pie for me.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Another Way to Review

I am still thinking about ways to make the Vorhies Family more real to readers.  Below is a descendant chart of the children and grandchildren of John McLaughlin Vorhies and Ginevra Margaret Withrow Vorhies. They are my great-great grandparents. My great grandmother is their oldest child and she is the mother of my own grandmother. The chart shows three generations only.  I have underlined the family members that are shown in the family portrait in my last post. Vorhies Review . However, I failed to underline Ginevra as I should have.  If anyone is aware of information that will make this chart more complete or if there is a mistake, please let me know.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Vorhies Review

 This family portrait which was taken around 1912 is very special.  It shows so many of my our ancestors. I am sorry that it is not a little clearer. In order to enlarge it and not compete with the right side panel, I have moved it to the bottom of the page.
Seated in the center of the portrait is Sarah Jane Withrow, mother of Ginevra Withrow Vorhies who is seated to her left. Notice that Ginevra is a fairly large woman. The family group further to her left (the viewers right) is the family of LeRoy Vorhies, youngest brother of Great-Grandma Estella Smith.  My last post was about LeRoy.  He is almost cut off on the right side of the photo. I tried to place him between side panel interruptions. LeRoy and wife Lulu had three children: Fern, b. 1905, Verl, b. 1906 and Harold b. 1911 and seated on his father's lap.
Estella is standing in the back row with her father, John Mac to her left and husband, Hiram Smith, to her right.
On the opposite side of the portrait are Eugene, Carrie, Lester, and Viola.  Look carefully, Carrie is holding the baby, Viola, born in 1912. (This is how I guessed the year of the portrait). Lester is sitting on his father's, Eugene, lap.
The children in the middle are: Nina, Merroll, Ardea, and Neva. Nina is my grandmother and the others are her siblings. Two of Estella's children were yet to be born.
There is another couple in the portrait who are unknown to me. I wonder if they are Carrie's parents. I think I see a resemblance. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

LeRoy Vorhies (brother of my great grandmother, Estella)

As previously explained Ginevra and John Mac Vorhies moved to Greene County, Iowa in 1876 as a young married couple. Ginevra gave birth to their first child, Estella, in March after the family arrived in February. The following year on 8 October 1877, they added to their family with a son, Eugene H. Vorhies. Their youngest child, LeRoy, was born in 1879.

I never knew Uncle Roy as I did my great grandmother, Estella, and her brother, Uncle Gene. Uncle Roy died the year before I was born. However, growing up I heard a few stories.  Before research, I knew that Uncle Roy inherited the original Greene County land purchased by Joseph Withrow and then had sold to his son-in-law John Mac Vorhies. Upon the death of John Mac Vorhies in 1939, each of his three children  inherited a farm. ( I grew up on the one we called The Sixty that was left to Estella). I knew this information from the stories my mother told me. However, I plan to do some land ownership records research and see exactly how this original family land evolved.

I knew that Uncle Roy had lived in Colorado. I knew that his wife was not mentally well and in an institution. (this sort of frightened me as a kid) ( I also mentioned her in the Rosemary Kennedy post) I knew Uncle Roy had lived across the road from my parents after he moved back to Iowa in 1940.

Many members of the family called it Uncle Roy's Place, but it was always Miller's Place to me. The Miller family lived there while I was growing up. They were very special like a wonderful aunt and uncle.

So, I knew I needed to write about LeRoy Vorhies to complete the story of  Ginevra and John Mac's three children.  I found numerous articles about visits to Iowa in the Jefferson Advantage Preservation site, I had a few old photos from my mom and grandmother's photo album. I have also come across an old picture postcard from about 1910-1913 sent from Yoder, Colorado where he lived.

Postcard is addressed to Leroy's brother, Eugene, and his bride, Carrie, sending congratulations on their marriage which took place in December 1909. The card is dated February 8, 1910 and apparently accompanied a wedding present.

 Then, I had the opportunity to interview my mother's last living sibling in the summer of 2015. He lives in another state so it is rare when I have a chance to pick his brain. And he has a great brain, full of family knowledge.

Some of the things I did not know but learned in conversation:

1. Uncle Roy was an inventor. I have found several articles written about this and will write about this separately another time.

2. When he moved back to the home place in 1940, he raised sheep. I had seen pictures of a large herd of sheep in my grandmother's photo album that had absolutely no meaning to me. Bill remembers that he had 149 head of sheep. He doesn't know why he remembers that number, but it is very clear to him.  Roy experimented by feeding , but I know I have cousins who will find sheep farming in the family surprising. I mean sheep farming long ago.

3. I did not know that while Uncle Roy lived across the road from my parents, his niece and family lived with him. This is my grandmother, Nina, and her family that still lived at home.  I guess all but my mother.

So, as a little review for those who get lost in the generations.  Estella Vorhies Smith, our direct line ancestor, had two brothers, Eugene and LeRoy. Both had descendants. I knew a few. I will research the rest.

I hope your New Year is going well.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 117th Anniversary

My first review for 2017 is that of the marriage of my great grandparents.  Estella Vorhies married Hiram Smith on January 1, 1900.   (117 years ago)  Their newspaper wedding article was featured in the post of  March 22,  2015. I hope you enjoy reading it again. Just click on the highlighted text.

The next review post will on the two brothers of Estella Vorhies Smith, Eugene and LeRoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Focusing on Estella Vorhies Smith, Eugene Vorhies, LeRoy Vorhies

 Review of my great-grandmother and her siblings

Estella Mae Vorhies Smith ( 1876-1959)
Eugene Vorhies (1877-1964)
LeRoy Vorhies (1879-1944)

These three ancestors were the children of John McLaughlin Vorhies ( 1850-1939) and Ginevra Withrow Vorhies (1855-1922), my great-great grandparents. I never knew my great-great grandparents but they lived where I grew up. They established the family in Greene County, Iowa along with Ginevra's parents, Joseph and Sarah Withrow. All of the above mentioned family members are buried in the Scranton Township Cemetery. Growing up, I used to visit the cemetery with my mother who told me about their lives. I have always felt a closeness to them.  This might be why I have chosen them as one of my first genealogy review blogs.

I did know two of the three Vorhies siblings.  Estella was my great-grandmother with whom I spent a great part of my childhood.
The post January 1, 1900 tells of her marriage to Hiram Smith. This was reviewed last post.

I also knew her brother, Uncle Gene. He was actually my grandmother's uncle but we just called him Uncle Gene. I wrote a blog about Uncle Gene titled Eugene Vorhies (1877-1964).  It is highlighted at the beginning of this writing. I hope you will review it along with Estella's wedding post.

The third son, LeRoy, died just the year before I was born. Stories made him seem like quite a character but one thought of highly in the family.  It was the summer of 2015 when I wrote about Uncle Gene. I also wrote about Uncle Roy, but left it in draft form and never published it. Why? I have no idea now. It may be that I wanted to research something else or I wished to include some yet unfound photos. Well, the time has come.  My next post will be from the draft I wrote of Uncle Roy.