Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Fun

Deciding what a blog entry topic is going to be can be challenging or easy. It is easy if one is writing about an event which takes place over several days. For example, it was easy writing from my aunt's journal in 1988. It was also easy and fun to discover and visit the Grisso mansion which needed several sessions to get the whole story told. I loved writing about my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah Jane Swartzel Withrow. There is still so much to share about the Wrights, Grissos, Tolsdorfs, Augustus and other various branches.
      Sometimes when the publish button is pushed on a post my first thought is "now what?" This was the case today. Sometimes as soon as the "now what" thought bubble forms in my mind, I am given the answer unexpectedly. Such is the case this week. The same day I published the last Wordless Wendesday, the mail came. In the mail was the local Scranton Jounal. And in the newspaper was a picture from the past of some very cute little boys. They were called the Sox and the picture was from 1956.  Even though the picture is not as clear as one would hope, those little faces are still recognizable. Read the names carefully and you will see how it belongs in my blog, a blog which I hope one day will be read by my grandchildren and their children too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Just a little shout out to those who know what they are looking at.


More precisely what is not being seen.

Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25, 1922

     Albert LeRoy Wright and his wife, Nina Frances Borden Wright, became the parents of the first of their eight children on July 25, 1922. They named the baby LaVerne William Wright. I never knew anything about the LaVerne name, but the William was for his maternal grandfather, William Davis Borden.  Dad once told me his grandpa Borden was his favorite grandpa. Dad was given his pocket watch when his grandfather died. Dad was eight.
     Dad, known to most as Vern, hated his first name of LaVerne. One of his sisters was saddled with the name LaVonne. I think she felt about her name as Dad did his. She was always known as Bonnie. ( Readers will remember her from the recent DeHart adventures to West Virginia)
     Albert and Nina lived in Lake City, Iowa when their first child was born. This was home to Nina's parents, William and Emma Susan DeHart Borden, as well as Nina's DeHart grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family. Albert and Nina lived  places other than Lake City, but as a boy, Dad  spent a lot of time there. He told me not many years before he died that he thought he knew almost everyone in town at one time.
      Much to my surprise, I learned only a few years ago that Albert and Nina baptized their first child in the Baptist Church in Lake City. Some of my research has indicated that George Jackson DeHart, grandfather to Nina, was a dedicated member of that church. Was that a factor? Nina's Grandpa DeHart moved from Lake City to Texas when Nina was a girl. However, I think his influence might have remained. I don't know anything about the other seven children. Were they baptized too?
      Not much of my research time has been spent on Albert and Nina, my dad's parents. What I mostly know is from family stories or personal experience.  They lived many places and had many children. I was only three years younger than their youngest child.  Even though I was their first grandchild. I was nothing special.
Nina and I were both only children, but unlike her I did not want eight children.

Photo from 1943

Ina, Vern, Bonnie
Darlene, Al
Nina, Lee, Albert
Evie, Gene
 Happy Birthday, Dad.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Life is Good...until it is not!

     Today, I will continue the comparison of our June 2016 trip to Union, West Virginia in search of the DeHart homestead and DeHart Cemetery with my aunt's trek from 1988.
     Great Expectations shared a few photos, a few similarities and the differences to our route to Union, West Virginia.
     My aunt's notes had  a very detailed map of the way they went to find the DeHart land. 

We left the Confederate Monument and started driving south. Knowing that Knobs Road was on the north side of Union, we came upon it quickly. Is this great, or what?  We followed this road as my aunt described as narrow, winding and with lots and lots of trees. We marveled at how Bonnie and Al had driven these mountain roads in a motorhome. She described the road as having houses on both sides of the road. We, too, saw houses. She said they continued going up around corners with a house built along the road every once in a while. I thought there were quite a few houses. This should have been a clue that maybe we didn't go far enough out of town, but I figured in 28 years the area could have built up some.
     Later, as I reflect, I think we should have driven on farther out of Union. However, when we came to a road that went off to the right, I was sure we should take it. The road got narrower and was actually awful.  We kept thinking of Bonnie and Al in their motorhome.  This one lane narrow mountain road was a challenge even for us 28 years later in our car. We drove on.  Along the way the only life we saw was a man in his farmyard moving hay bales with his tractor. We drove on. Finally, we concluded that we should have driven farther up Knobs Hill Road. Eventually finding a spot in the road where we could turn around, we retraced our route.  I took some pictures of the thick trees, the no trespassing signs and the narrowness of the road.  As we passed the farmstead, we decided to stop and ask the fellow if he knew the name DeHart.  He did not know anything helpful since his family was not originally from the area. He pointed to the house just a few yards away and said that Mrs. Reynolds might know since she had always lived around the area.
     I walked up the little knoll to her home. She was very kind and welcoming and fit many West Virginia stereotypes that I could think of.  She was sorry her late husband was not there because he knew all the history of the area.  I was sorry her late husband wasn't there to spend the long hours of each day with her.  Her existence seemed very lonely.
     After gathering what little information we had, we were ready to head back to Knobs Road, take a right and continue on searching for the DeHart Cemetery.  We were close. We just knew it.  Life was good.
     And then it wasn't. We had a problem. My husband had turned the car off so he could join me while talking to our farmer friend.  Back in the car, it wouldn't start.

County Road 10/7

Mrs. Reynold's home

 And it wouldn't start. And it wouldn't start. The car is 1.5 years old. Why wouldn't it start?  Our farmer friend, John, and my husband tried everything they could think of doing.  Soon, I felt like John was our new best friend.
     As with the adventure of Bonnie and Al, we wondered if we would ever find the cemetery or get acquainted with the little town of Union, West Virginia.  It looks like there is another episode to this adventure.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Great Expectations (Our trip to West Virginia)

     The DeHart family was my focus for many posts in April and May of 2016.  On May 2, I started a series about my aunt and uncle's trip from Oregon to West Virginia in the summer of 1988. They went by motorhome in search of the original DeHart property and DeHart cemetery near Union, West Virginia.  My aunt kept a journal of that trip, and I shared their adventure from her perspective in the following posts: A Dream Come True,  This is all DeHart Land, Civil War Country, Another Try, Success, and lastly Should I Go?
      Should I Go? asked the question if I should follow in my aunt's footsteps. After all, my husband and I were going to Ohio the third week of June for a small family reunion of his siblings.  Union, West Virginia appeared to only be about four hours away from our Ohio destination. At first we thought of going after our Ohio stay, but luckily we decided to go before. (The horrible flood in West Virginia occurred on the same day we would have arrived).
       We started our side trip in Charleston, West Virginia.  It is a beautiful city with the Capitol building topped with a gold plated dome.  We enjoyed the lovely vistas of a state billed as "Almost Heaven". I just might have to agree that it is. 
      We left our hotel early and drove on the turnpike going south until we came to Beckley, West Virginia. We were able to turn east on Interstate Highway 64 toward Lewisburg and Highway 219.  This is where our trek began to diverge from my aunt's. She says, "... the Interstate didn't open until the 15th of July so they told us the highway we should take was #3.

       The 1988 map shows Highway 64 under construction and gives a good look at the winding little highway #3. She gives a good description of this drive in A Dream Come True.  We did not have to endure those ups and downs, curves and switchbacks, and fences coming up to the road. Instead, we had a scenic drive to Lewisburg on the Interstate. Life was good.
     Lewisburg seemed like a charming little town. This quaint little burg was obviously filled with history, but we had no time to stop.  We headed south to Union.
     I was counting down the miles, (about 20 of them), enjoying the views and breathlessly anticipating the opportunity to experience Union, West Virginia where my great-grandmother was born and oldest known DeHart ancestor, 4th great-grandfather, Abraham, had obtained his deed from 1824.  Abraham's son, Samuel and his wife Sophia raised their family around Union.  At least six of their sons were confederate soldiers including our direct line from George Jackson DeHart, father of my great-grandmother, Emma Susan DeHart Borden. I actually knew my great-grandmother. To see where the DeHarts and especially my great-grandmother had lived was a dream come true just as my aunt had said.

      The first thing we saw upon entering Union on the north side of town was a memorial to the Confederate Soldiers of Monroe County. I couldn't wait to stop. My aunt's pictures and mine are almost identical.

1988- My uncle standing at the opening.

2016- It looks like more white fence has been added.

Just to prove I was there.

(to be continued) 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Part 3/San Fermin/Running of the Bulls

I have been reminiscing about my 1995 experience in Pamplona, Spain when I attended the Festival of San Fermin and saw the Running of the Bulls.  Those posts can be reviewed by clicking on the highlighted words.

This walk down memory lane began when I was sifting through a box identifying "throw away items" from "items to save". If you know me at all, you know which pile is higher.

Coming across a favorite cartoon, I realized the timing was perfect. July 6-July 14=the Festival of San Fermin.  I went in search of a photo album and voila, the memories came flooding back.  This 1995 adventure was truly an amazing experience.

Even though this cartoon was in the first post of the series, I am inserting it again.

Unfortunately, I did not finish this three part series in a timely fashion. The Festival of San Fermin finished on July 14. I have not located a few of photos I wanted to share. Then, an idea popped into my head. There is always next year.  So, I am ending this series for now, but I will add a little more next year.  Just so you know what is coming:

 We were up close to the arrival of a matador. No rock star, political fiqure, or other diva could have aroused such adoration. It was another cultural phenomena.

Fireworks... I have never seen any better.

Negatives... There were a few.

Until the Festival of San Fermin of 2017. Hasta la Vista.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Running of the Bulls

     Last week I shared a little about my experience at the annual festival of San Fermin.  If you missed it, click on San Fermin, to read the first of this three part series.

     Each morning of the Festival of San Fermin, six bulls and six or seven steers are herded from their holding corrals to the bullring where they will be part of an afternoon and evening bullfight.  It takes approximately three minutes for the bulls to make their way from one place to the other. Of course, this just happens to be down several streets that run through old Pamplona.  The release is at 8:00 a.m. but spectators need to be situated long before the clock marks that hour.

     We were advised to watch the spectacle from inside the bullring. This was a good choice.  The streets are lined with barricades in fact, they are double barricaded. Mostly double split-rail fences. Obtaining a spot to view so close to the street was not for us.  I could just feel the crowd crushing me into those wooden fences. The mass of people was overwhelming. I read that attendance is usually 1,000,000 over the week long celebration.

    Of course, observing from a balcony would be a fabulous spot. We, however, didn't have that option. It was fun after the running to go into the photo shops to see the myriad of photos taken of runners and bulls which had been  shot from the perspective

of those balconies.  This picture is copied from the July 8, 1995 newspaper.

Meanwhile, my friends and I were in the bullring/stadium waiting for the bulls and steers to arrive.  Entertainment was provided before and after the bulls arrival. At least, that is what it was called.

Entertainment before the bulls run through the opening on the right of the picture.

The bulls have arrived.

     This clipping from the newspaper shows several things.  One can see the other end of the opening that is just going into the bullring/stadium.
     It also shows the lack of cultural knowledge so common to young foreign visitors to the festival.  The caption points out two grave mistakes by this obviously foreign runner.  First, he is touching the back of the bull and secondly he is running with a backpack.

      After the bulls arrive at the bullring, they are put away into corrals out of sight.  The area is then filled with runners and the steers. The participants have rolled newspapers to help get the attention of the steers. Everyone seems to be having great fun running and dodging these beasts. However, one spectacle we saw is somewhat related to this photo.  We saw a young man (undoubtedly foreign- maybe the same one) attempt to bulldog a steer. Once he had his arms around those horns, the other participants turned on him with their rolled  newspapers and started assaulting him. It seems that the bull and steers are not to be touched.

      There are numerous dangers involved in the Festival of San Fermin. The bulls themselves are only one.  Cultural traditions must be followed.

      I have a few more pictures of this amazing event in my next post (part 3) and then back to Doc Grisso and that trip to West Virginia.


Friday, July 8, 2016

San Fermin

     Recently, I was sorting boxes of old papers, letters, photos, etc.  This is a job that will never be done, but let's not even go into that.
Sometimes these sessions unearth interesting topics to share.  Even though there is more on Doc Grisso to discuss and the discoveries of the genealogy road trip to West Virginia needs to be told, this cartoon is a timely distraction. 

July 6-July 14 is the Festival of San Fermin
also known as
The Running of the Bulls


     Coming across this cartoon was a fabulous memory jogger of an extraordinary adventure I had in 1995.  Genealogists are encouraged to write about themselves as well as their ancestors. SO, this is a surprise piece of information for my grandchildren and their descendants. Yes, Grandma went to Pamplona, Navarre, Spain to celebrate with the locals and observe the famous Running of the Bulls.

     Here I am pointing to the flyer advertising the excursion to Pamplona. Notice the shirt on the board. Of course, I have one but it is probably in a box in the shed waiting to be rediscovered.
     Along with a few friends, I attended a school in Madrid for several weeks in July of 1995. The excursion to Pamplona was an added bonus. I have found some old photos and would like to share a few of my impressions from the festival.

     The Festival of San Fermin has been around since the Middle Ages. It is a week long fiesta to honor Navarre's  Patron Saint, San Fermin.  It is said that Ernest Hemingway introduced the world to the Running of the Bulls with his novel The Sun Also Rises.  Even though a large statue of Hemingway stands in the main plaza of the Plaza de Toros, it is a little controversial as to whether bringing all this attention to an originally religious and traditional family event was a positive or not.

     Although overrun with foreigners (including me), I witnessed a family and community celebration.  Everywhere the Pamplonians  were dressed in white shirts, white pants, red sashes, and  red neck-scarves, the traditional garb.  I saw policemen wearing red scarves even though they were in uniform. From the tiniest of babies to the oldest family members, sometimes in wheel chairs, red scarves adorned everyone's necks.  I even saw cute little dogs with bandanas tied around their necks.

People everywhere

Cute little dog with neck scarf.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Garden Walk

     Well, it that time of year again. The time when I like to show off a little of my other passion, gardening.  Even though I am not completely finished with the intriguing story of Doc Grisso of Seminole, Oklahoma nor have I started telling of our genealogical adventure to Union, West Virginia, I will get back to the ancestors soon.
    You may remember that I asked the question in Should I Go? about a little genealogy side trip the third week of June.  Indeed we did go, but not with the anticipated results. 
     I know you are just on the edge of your seat.
     But first, may I present my garden. (hum music from Beauty and the Beast.)

Probably my favorite garden photo

Old farming seeder makes a great planting bed.

Wild but beautiful. Love those coneflowers.

Hydranga with a couple of phlox

We also have live butterfies, but none this big.

Best way to dispose of old grills


River View

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

I thought it might be fun to reminisce about past Independence Day celebrations. I could only think of a few and they mostly had to do with weather. Really, really hot weather or cold unseasonably cold weather.

We did watch the fireworks in the nation's capital once or twice. It is a little hard to top that venue.

Then, I remembered the many years of my children's youth when we watched from the ground as the kid's dad flew over various celebrations in a National Guard helicopter.

We were and still are proud to be Americans.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Doc Grisso "Rancher and Conservationist"

This post continues the story of Doc Grisso as found in The Grisso Family book.

     Doc Grisso was  very interested in effective land conservation.  The land in the Seminole area had been terribly abused and misused.  Doc was instrumental in repairing some of the damage.

     Cotton, being the largest money crop, had been planted on the same land for so long that the soil just would not grow anything.  The discovery of oil had caused much land to be ruined by the drilling operations, and they had done nothing to build the land back up.  The result was massive erosion.

     Another damaging factor to the soils in the area was the startling ignorance of the farmers in regard to the use of land.  They grew the same crops on the same plot of land year after year; they failed to fertilize their land, and they knew little about the value of terracing the land to prevent erosion

     Doc along with several other concerned citizens, became alarmed about the situation..  It is interesting to note that he himself had to learn about better farming methods before he really did anything to help his community.

     Doc Grisso had a friend, Chester Ellis, who was responsible for instructing Doc about the newer and more modern methods of farming.  Mr. Ellis was president of the First State Bank in Seminole.  He was a farmer long before he came a banker, back in Tennessee where the land is precious indeed.  These mountain people had out of necessity learned how to preserve the land, which was carved out of the Tennessee mountains.  Mr. Ellis knew all these modern methods and pushed Doc in the right direction in regard to improving the lands in Seminole.

     With the coaching of Mr. Ellis the farm of Doc Grisso became a model for conservationists.  He had adapted terrace as a means of preventing erosion and was anxious for others to learn and use the method. He  felt so strongly that he backed several contests to see who could terrace the land the best way.  In March of 1930 it was announced at a farmers banquet in Wewoka at the Aldridge Hotel that he would offer $1000.00 in cash prizes in March of the next year to the persons who would terrace their lands most successfully.  There would be five prizes; first prize, $400.00; second prize, $250.00; third prize, $150.00; fourth prize, $125.00;
fifth prize, $75.00.  All of this money was to be paid in gold, and in those days those sums were considerable amounts of money.

     This was only one of many contests that Doc backed in the following years.  His interest in improved farms never waned.  He was constantly reading about ways to build up and conserve the land.  He was chairman of the Conservation District group for more than thirty years, and during the early thirties Seminole County had more miles of terracing than any other county in Oklahoma.

     Doc bought considerable land to improve so he could demonstrate what proper handling of the soil means in the production of field crops and pastures.  At his death he owned approximately 7,000 acres of land, into which large amounts of time, money, and effort had been poured.  As an Ada Newspaper put it, "If one wants to see some of the results of his work, he ought to compare the fields that Dr. Grisso rebuilt with the production on neighboring fields which did not get the treatment.  His ranch land was turned into "excellent pasture of both tame and native grasses".