Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 25, 2017

                          Merry Christmas

I have shared this photo before, but it makes me think of Christmas when my mother was a young girl. Pictured are Estella Smith, my great-grandmother, and her father, my 2nd great-grandfather, John M. Vorhies. She remembers the day as would her siblings, the parents of my cousins.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Mystery to Solve

Sometimes, especially when I am tired and just sitting around relaxing, I grab my ipad and surf around a little in Ancestry blogs, in on-line research sites and just read random genealogy articles here and there.  I have no plan other than to fill time avoiding whatever task I should be doing.  Obviously, I am following none of the advice I have learned in good genealogy research.

This is the accidental way I found the ship manifest of the May 1892 arrival of the ship, Oldenburg, into Baltimore from Bremen, Germany with my husband's grandfather, his first wife and two children listed.  This was a fabulous discovery which ran contrary to family lore.

Now, I have made another fluke discovery.  I have not been working on my blog for several reasons. (O.K. here come the excuses.)  I declared in August that Cousins was going on hiatus.  It was not my intention to be absent for so long.  Several trips, both large and small, as well as some health issues have interrupted the flow of stimulating prose authored by yours truly.  Or I could simply comfess that the dog ate my homework.

So, what might this discovery be?

One of the genealogy blogs I read, even when I am not writing, is called Empty Branches on the Family Tree.  Its author is Linda Stuffelbean, and I don't think the dog ever ate her homework.  She inspires me.

While surfing around randomly one day with no goal in mind, I read one of her posts in which she was discussing the move of a family in her husband's ancestry from Northampton, Pennsylvania to Botetourt County, Virginia. I vaguely remember my Grisso research shows the Grisso family in that area.  I started wondering if it was the same time period and if so what if some of our ancestors knew some of the ancestors current genealogist follow.  Populations were much smaller back then.  I thought it might be a fun exercise to compare dates and speculate about these possible encounters.

Before any of that happened, I read on in Linda's post and was amazingly surprised at a name that appeared in her research.  The name was Polly Gresso whose father was Mathias Gresso of Botetourt County, Virginia. Polly had married a Mr. Martin Miller.

Now I have an ancestor named Polly Grisso, daughter of Mathias Grisso of Botetourt County, Virginia who married a Mr. Martin Miller.  It must be a spelling error from Grisso to Gresso. There couldn't be another family with a Polly and Mathias who married Martin Miller, could there?

Now I have a project and a mystery to solve. 
Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  I hope this finds you gathered around your Thanksgiving table with family, friends, and a cousin or two.

For some families this is not such a joyful occasion. Dear friends have lost husbands, wives, parents and even children. Others have faced major medical crises or had scares that cause life to be reassessed. I guess this just goes along with this thing we call life. It has its ups. It has its downs. It has its joys. It has its sorrows.  I am thankful for it all. The downs come up and given time the sorrows can lead to joy. I am thankful for it all.

 I am thankful for it all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Time to Blog

Well, I suppose I need to get back to blogging and my Cousins.

My hiatus from Cousins was filled with travel and adventure. Cruising down the Rhine and Danube Rivers of Europe was relaxing, educational and exhausting. My favorite sites were the massive Cologne Cathedral at night, vineyards on the hillsides, and of course, Budapest by night. Two of the three I had seen before, but still these sites can almost stop one’s breath.

 This fall I had the opportunity to celebrate a special birthday with family. Cousins and kids, friends and relatives gathered from several states to acknowledge the 60 year anniversary of one of my younger cousin's birth. My younger cousin is 60. Yikes! I am getting old.

The birthday honoree received the news that his first grandchild is on the way. I couldn't help but think of the phenomenon of the family continuing on and on and on. It spreads farther and farther and real effort must be made to keep those special connections.

Families, including ours, have done that for decades. My childhood memories feature mostly my mother's side. We had birthday parties, hunting parties, Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings. Then, sometimes we had a reunion when relatives who lived far away came to town.

Times change. Traditions change. Families scatter.  Sometimes we have to work hard to keep the connections. But, we don’t give up. We are family.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


Cousins will be on hiatus for several weeks. Thank you to my loyal readers. I will be back.😀

Monday, August 14, 2017

Can Anyone Help?

I ran across a group of photos that have no identification on the back. My mother was always insistent that photos have identification on the back. This leads me to believe the pictures are from my father's side of the family. Well, also I believe they came to me through one of his deceased sisters.

This nice looking gentleman could be my great-great grandfather. George Jackson DeHart. (1835-1916)

And then again, it could be someone else.

Another photo in this group, could be his daughter, Carolyn.  For some reason, I think she resembles my grandmother, Nina,  who would have been Carolyn's niece.

Carolyn was a 1/2 sister to Emma Susan DeHart Borden. They were the daughters of George Jackson DeHart.

And lastly, there is the woman below. Could she be Great-Great Grandpa DeHart's second wife, Carolyn's mother? If so, her name is Sarah Caroline Corey. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Suicide of Early Settler

In the post Charles and Jennie Wright, I promised a sad family story. This is it.
Well, yes. This is impossible to read.  It is an article taken from the Sycamore True Republican newspaper on March 1, 1913.

It says:
A shocking suicide of one of the earliest settlers of this place, a well known and respected farmer of mature age has convulsed with excitement the people of the northern part of this town.  On Saturday last, at about 1 o'clock p.m., Mr. Royal Wright cut his throat from ear to ear and died a few minutes later.  He had been ill for several weeks and in a depressed state of mind resembling melancholy insanity.  For seven or eight days and nights he had not slept, and he complained much of his condition of health, and there was evidently a general serious derangement of health.  At the same time, he had come deeply interested in a series of religious meetings held in the neighborhood and his mind dwelt in gloomy mood on the state of his soul.  He was at times happy in the hope that sins were forgiven and again he became gloomy and disparing.  He became sure he would not live much longer, and settled his business, closed his accounts, rented his farm and paid for and stopped his newspaper, gave direction for selling his livestock, and made preparations for death.
Saturday Dr. J.W. Garvin called and prescribed for him, he was gloomy and absentminded.  He sat for an hour in the company of J. Siglin his father-in-law, Devine Dean and others, with his little girl of three years on his knee.
And while he would answer questions, he took no further part in the conversation.  At about 1 o'clock the doctor left the house, but had hardly turned his horse toward home, when Mrs. Wright screamed from the door that her husband has killed himself.
He had passed into the pantry, fastened the door after him, took a razor from the shelf, and cut a fearful gash in his throat under the chin and down to the bone.  He died in one minute.
The sad event is ascribed to the religious excitement, but Dr. Gavin states that under the same pathological conditions excitement from any other cause would have produced the same result.
He leaves a wife and eight children.
Charles Wright, my great-grandfather whom I knew, was the son of Royal.  He was the fourth of these eight children and only 11 years of age when his father took his own life.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Charles and Jennie Wright

Recently, I came across this picture of my great-grandparents.  I don't think I have ever seen it before.  It is not very sharp, but shows a good likeness of Grandma up in years.  It appears there is a cake between them. It might be a birthday or their anniversary.  They were married 2.5 months short of 70 years.  Charles and Jennie are the parents of Albert Wright and grandparents of Vern Wright, my father.

Charles was the son of Mary Siglin and Royal Wright.  Charles father, Royal, leaves his descendants a sad story. 

 Coming soon to a blog near you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Big Blue House

The Statler Brothers sang a song called "This Ole House".  It went like this:

I ain't a gonna need this house no longer ain't a gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles ain't got time to fix the door
Ain't got time to oil the hinges nor to mingle the window panes
I ain't gonna need this house not longer I'm gettin' ready to meet the saints
This ole house once knew my children this old house once knew my wife
This old house was joy and comfort as we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter this old house heard many a shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness when the lightnin' walks about
I ain't a gonna need this house no longer.............

This is a needle point picture I made for my parents in the 1970's. 
They moved to this house 48 years ago. It was a house full of laughter, joy, heartache, and sorrow. And even though the physical shell is now gone, the memories made in this house will last forever in the minds of those who loved to spend time here.

 Rest In Peace, Big Blue House.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Grisso Side

I believe one of these WACs is my grandfather's sister, Edith. This could be a fun rabbit trail to follow someday.

Little Grissos

One never knows what one might find looking through old family photos.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Another Garden

     Okay, I know you think this is going to be more about my flowers, but it is not.

    Below is a picture of my great-grandmother, Estella Smith, perusing her vegetable garden in 1940.  She would have been about 54 years old.  Look at the size of that garden! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Found Treasure - Part Two

The last post on Cousins, Found Treasure,  featured a list of life's learnings. Here are the rest of those little bits of wisdom.

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. Age 62

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands.  You need to be able to throw something back.  Age 64

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.  But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.  Age 65

I've learned that whenever I decide something with kindness. I usually make the right decision.  Age 66

I've learned that everyone can use a prayer.  Age 72

I've learned that it pays to believe in miracles.  And to tell the truth, I've seen several.  Age 75

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. 
Age 82

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.  People love that human touch - holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.  Age 90

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.  Age 92


As much as I enjoyed reading all these words of wisdom, the real treasure of this find was the email to which it was attached. 


Date: 12/10/01   7:07 PM Central Standard Time
From:  D. J. Grisso

Just got back from another wonderful hunting trip to the Wright farm.  We always have the best time.  Your folks are truly wonderful and I enjoy them very much.  They both are doing quite well, it's remarkable.  Watching them always reminds me how much they live and love to hunt deer all that comes with it.  As I sat out in the timber, I wonder if they don't have a better understanding of life than most anyone I know.  I'm glad they share it with me.


These words from my cousin about my parents brought me to tears.

As the words of wisdom said, "...regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die."

So True!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Found treasure

To know me is to know I am a hoarder. Well, I don't think to the extent that I qualify for the T.V. show, but I do have trouble parting with things. I save everything. Paper is a big one for me. So, whenever I am cleaning out an old drawer or box, and I come across some paper that I have kept from whenever the last time was that I cleaned that drawer or box, I might just keep it again. This can all be justified with the content of today's post.

I found a commonly circulated reading that has no author mentioned. It goes like this:

Time Gets Better With Age

I've learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night".  Age 5

I've learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7

I've learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.  Age 9

I've learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.  Age 12

I've learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.  Age 14

I've learned that although it's hard to admit it.  I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me.  Age 15

I've learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.  Age 24

I've learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.  Age 26

I've learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me here.  Age 29

I've learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.  Age 30

I've learned that there are peole who love you dearly but just don't know how it show it.  Age 42

I've learned that you can make another's day by simply sending them a little note.  Age 44

I've learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.  Age 46

I've learned that children and grandparents are natural allies. Age 47

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.  Age 48

I've learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours. Age 49

I've learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.  Age 50

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.  Age 51

I've learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.  Age 52

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents you miss them terribly after they die.  Age 53

I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.  Age 58

I've learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your marriage.  Age 61

( to be continued because this is long)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mondays With Mary - June 1, 1970

The 1970 calendar is lying here as a possibility for a Mondays With Mary post on Cousins.  Since June 1 is a special day in our family, I quickly checked to see if she had written anything about her only grandson. Oops. I forgot. He wasn't born until the next year. Obviously, no mention of him.

Monday, June 1, 1970

 Cloudy and damp all day in the 50ties and 60ties - Wayne B. (B meaning Black) here in the morning - got 89 chickens today. 2 litters of pigs 10 & 9.

Tuesday, June 2, 1970

1 litter of 9 pigs in s side barn
went to town & got generator on 460 fixed  - 
I went to town with Dad (meaning Bert Grisso) to Carroll
in afternoon.  Vern started plowing corn again w of house.

Wednesday, June 3, 1970

windy & cool - sunny in the 60ties to-day
went to Wed (Wednesday) Club picnic at Laudenbeck park
mowed yard
Vern plowed corn all day-  sow had 9 pigs 
went fishing-  got one fish

 Thursday, June 4, 1970

 cool again to-day but nice
Vern finished plowing corn 2nd time
hoed beans in afternoon
I finished painting the kitchen

Friday, June 5, 1970

up in high 80ties to-day
went to Neva's and picked strawberries in morning
2 litters of pigs  8 & 9
got load of hay from Jack Miller
Cheryl & boys & I went to Jeff in afternoon
Gene's here for supper

Saturday, June 6, 1970

hot again today - Gene and Vern
got the rest of the hay 221 bales
I cleaned house in the morning
clipped teeth on 4 litters of pigs
1 bull calf from No. 6
Gene's down for supper - fried chicken

 Sunday, June 7, 1970

 hot & dry again to-day  high 80ties
1 litter pigs of 10 this morning
Vern cultivating beans.

Reading about clipping baby pigs teeth, reminds me of a family story.

We lived on the sixty so I was just a little girl. We were in the kitchen and Mom was trying to find out what was in Dad's eye.
She looked and looked. She used a flashlight, but there was nothing. Dad was fussing to say the least. He could not believe she couldn't see what the problem was. He shouted that it was the size of a boulder so why couldn't she see it. If you ever knew my dad, you can imagine that there were also a few choice words.

I guess they must have gone to the Dr. because it was discovered that a piece of baby pig's tooth was in his eye. Because the piece was white on the white of his eye, Mom couldn't see it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Still here

     Regular readers may think I have fallen off the side of the earth. Not so. I am still here trying to get my genealogical fire lit. With weeds getting ahead of me in my gardens, grandkids having birthdays and spring events, and all the other influences of readjusting to summer life, my genealogy is being neglected. So here is just a preview of what might be coming in the next few weeks.

     Of course, we need to get back to Mondays With Mary.

     Still climbing the Wright Tree and getting closer to Royal Wright. He is my great-great Grandfather whose death is rather dramatic.

     The most exciting research for the summer maybe a connection to uncovering information about the Tolsdorf ancestry. After doing the paternal line DNA test, my husband has been contacted by a potential cousin. Can anyone say "Tolksdorf".

     Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It is that time of year

     It is that time of year again.  It is that time of year again when my passions clash. It is that time of year again when I have no time for anything but gardening.

    I thought I might post a picture or two of my spring garden, but not much is blooming yet and the flowers I bought yesterday are still waiting to go into the soil.

    So, guess what! It rained last night. Now I interrupt my gardening to sort papers and maybe write a post. I was quickly inspired when I ran across an old newspaper from 2006.  Obviously, I saved it for some reason. I quickly found a small blurp in the 60 years ago column from A Glance Into the Past. Of course, this article is from 72 years now.

     Mr. and Mrs. Bert Grisso and sons sold their farm in Moody, MO, and have returned to Scranton where they will make their home.  Mr. Grisso has taken the job as manager of the rendering plant at Jefferson.

     Those sons would have been Marvin and Donald. I don't know anything about their farm. The place where they lived in the 60's was different.  Several of us cousins have visited their 60's home in the heart of the Ozarks.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Family Lore-Jesse James and the Wrights

Genealogists warn of  misleading and often incorrect information in family myths and lore. Sometimes there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. Maybe these stories have just become miss told or misunderstood through the years. These tales are often quite fun and hard to let go. We have one of those stories in our family. 

It has to do with Jesse James and the Wright family of Sac City, Iowa. According to the story after Jesse James and his gang robbed the Northfield Bank in Minnesota, they stopped by the Wright farm on their way back to Missouri to water their horses. Now another family genealogist has pointed out the fallacy of this claim. The robbery took place in 1876. The Wrights moved to Sac City in the early 1880's.

However, it is believed that indeed the James brothers and gang did stop in Sac City after that Minnesota robbery to water their horses.  According to an article written in the Rockwood (Pennsylvania) Gazette in 1904 and reprinted in History of Sac County, Iowa by William H. Hart, the James boys halted for a drink on their retreat from the north to their home in Kansas City country, although at the time they were not recognized by the citizens of Sac City.

"One bright summer morning while pumping a pail of water at a well in an unfrequented part of the hamlet of Sac City, near the office of the Sac Sun, two unkempt, unshorn and not altogether fierceless looking men on saddleless horses, steaming with perspiration, rode to the well and with ugly oaths demanded of a boy his bucket to water their horses." 

"In dismounting one of the men appeared crippled and in great pain, and he cursed with awful oaths.  He rolled up his pantaloons and exhibited a badly swollen limb, which he bathed in the cold water.

As you read the next part, remember when this article was written. Today=1904

"News then traveled slower than it does today, but a day or two later the daily papers came out with full reports of the great Northfield robbery, in Minnesota, telling of the capture of the Younger boys and of the escape of the James boys on two white horses taken from a farmer in northern Iowa."

I imagine the residents of Sac City talked about this big event for decades. So, it is easy to see how this story was told over and over and over from the early 1880's until, well... look here I am telling the story in 2017. I can just imagine Charlie or Jennie Wright, Nathan or Anna Olmstead re-telling the story they heard after their arrival in Sac City. Then their children told the story to their children. The years go by. Someone overhears or misunderstands part of the story and there we have it. The two strangers stopped at the Wright farm to water their horses. Only later, did the family realize it was probably the James brothers.

There is a grain of reality in the story.  The Wright family lived in Sac County, Iowa. Jesse James probably watered his horses there on his escape from that well known caper in Minnesota.  Who cares about those pesky dates.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another Wright

     Currently, I am blogging about climbing the Wright Family Tree Already, I have received some questions about names and passings, and we are really just on the first rung.  In Writing About the Wrights , I showed a picture of my grandparents, Albert and Nina Wright, and listed the names and dates of their eight children.  From those eight children, Albert and Nina, had 21 grandchildren.  Margie, Mike, Lynn, Sue, Bill, Linda, Peggy, Jim, John, Kathy, Steve, Debbie, Leni, Kristy, Jenny, David, Mitch, Janie, Deanna, Rob, and Kenny.

     In genealogy there is a poem about how would your ancestors look down on you. Today I want to acknowledge one of those descendants of the Wright Tree I am climbing.  Congratulations to my cousin, Jim Wright.  Read his story here.

     Due to some technical difficulties ( probably in my head), I am note sure this link will work.  If not, Google...Jim Wright Courier-Journal.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Climbing the Wright Tree

     My grandfather Albert LeRoy Wright, was the fourth child of Charles and Jennie Wright.  He married Nina Frances Borden June 1, 1921.  She was the only child of William and Emma Borden. One thing I had in common with my grandmother was being an only child. However, she became mother to eight children. I always said we would never have that in common.

     My mother had a picture collage of my dad's family that hung in the bedroom wherever my parents lived. In that collage were two studio portraits which I always enjoyed looking at.  One must have been taken in about 1943 based on the looks of the youngest child.  The other may have been taken sometime in the 50's. In the future I may be able to share these portraits. The portraits in this post are one more generation up the line.

     According to my database, the Wright Family Tree goes up something like this.

Our climb moves up the tree from Albert LeRoy Wright, my grandfather, to Charles Howard Wright. Great Grandpa Charlie lived to be 97.  I always heard that he died because of burns he obtained while cooking. He lived alone in Sac City, Iowa.

Amos, Flora, Byron, Hattie, Albert
Charles and Jennie

Earlier Years

Flora, Byron, Hattie
Charles, Amos, Albert, Jennie

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Writing about the Wrights

     Every winter I plan to write about the Wrights. A few winters ago I began using Legacy as my database and focused on the Wright information I already had. My postings, however, have scarcely mentioned the Wrights. Last year I prepared a piece about
Jessie James and the Wright family. I planned to use it as an  introductory post for a series of Wright posts.  This has not happened yet.
     I am fairly certain I have been getting signs that it is time to write about the Wrights, my paternal line.
     Sign one: I have been hanging out with Wright first cousins during the last few days. This is a rare happening. Numerous states were represented.
     Sign two:  Several Wright second cousins whom I follow on Facebook have been posting old Wright photographs. Some are accompanied with questions about the identity of a relative here or there.
    Sign three:  I received a message from a DNA match cousin suggesting I put my information on the Family Search site.
Now I just have to revise and review.

     Let's start with my Dad's parents. He was their first child and the oldest of their three boys. Albert and Nina had five girls in addition to these three boys. Only two of these siblings remain.

Children Of Albert and Nina

La Verne William  ( 1922-2010)
Ina Carolyn            ( 1924-        )
LaVonne Frances    ( 1928-1996)
Albert LeRoy Jr.    ( 1930-1994)
Darlene Doll          ( 1934-2011)
Lela Mae               ( 1936-       )
Harold Gene          ( 1939-2016)
Nina Evelyn          ( 1941-2015)

Note: I would be very happy to receive information if something in my blog is not correct.  Dates can be funny things. Name spellings as well.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wedding of Considerable Interest

     Regular readers of Cousins, know that I love the section of my hometown newspaper called A Glance Into the Past.  I especially enjoy reading about my own family.  This past week brought another gem.

     A wedding of considerable interest took place at the Methodist Church Sunday afternoon at 3:30 when Miss Jean Stevens, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Stevens, became the bride of Beryl M. Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Johnson, all of Scranton.  The church was filled with friends of the couple.  The Rev. Edward Stone spoke the double ring service before an altar decorated with jonquils and gladiolus.
     Attending the couple were Miss Cleo Eason, maid of honor, and Duane Duff, best man.  Miss Carol Nelson and Miss Margaret Ray acted as bridesmaids, while Don Oxenford and John Grisso were the ushers.  Ring bearer was little Janet Scherbring, niece of the groom.  Following the reception, the couple left for Des Moines in a well-decorated car for a short honeymoon.  They will live in this community, where Mr. Johnson will be engaged in farming.  Mrs. Johnson will continue her work as clerk of the school board and secretary to Superintendent Hammer.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are graduates of Scranton High School, and are among the community's most popular young people.

     As I work on my family genealogy, I wonder who else was there. Was the bride's cousin, my mother Mary, there? Was I there? Probably not, I was only two years old. Who would I have been left with?  Great Grandma Estella Smith was probably there. She was the bride's grandmother.
     The newspaper shared another little anecdote that probably caused some concern for all.

     An automobile collision occurred Sunday afternoon on Highway 30 east of Scranton involving a pickup truck driven by Raymond Henning and Chevrolet five-passenger coupe owned by Dan Oxenford, and driven by Don Oxenford.

     Margaret Ray and Carol Nelson, bridesmaids at the wedding of Jean Stevens and Beryl Johnson and John Grisso and Mr. Oxenford, ushers were en route to Jefferson to have their pictures taken with the bridal couple and their attendants, Duane  Duff and Cleo Eason, when the accident occurred.  No one was injured, although the cars were damaged considerably.



Monday, April 3, 2017

How Quickly Times Change

     Recently, we were chatting with life long friends and discussing how fast the world is changing.  The world of our grandchildren is and continues to be changing at such a rapid rate. It is becoming so different than our own.  And to us, it doesn't seem that our youth was very long ago. We reminisce about the days that technology was not the dominate feature of everyday life.

     Then, we look back another generation to those of our parents who live their lives based on their own youth of growing up in the depression. Thanks to Historical Societies and other such groups we can peek into the lives of our families generations ago.

     This is all leading to an article I recently read about three men who shared stories about their childhood in the Great Depression of the 1930's at their local Historical Society meeting.  This is only three generations removed from my grandchildren of today, the ones on their cell phones, ipads, with their massive technological knowledge.

     From the Scranton Newspaper:

     "Burnell said he remembers his grandfather Lewis Burnell counting up the family's assets one evening and reporting they had a grand total of $36.45.  'My grandmother Lucinda put her hand on her head like she was going to faint' " he said. "and I remember her yelling, 'Lordy, Lordy, Lewis! We've got more money than we need!' "

    How Quickly Times Change.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pall bearers

     In my opinion, the selection of pall bearers for a funeral is an interesting insight of a person's life. The pall bearers for my great grandmother, Estella Smith, were her grandsons and grandsons-in-law. For Grandma's descendants, it might be helpful to introduce those family members.

    Three of her four grandsons were given this honor. Bill Grisso, John Grisso, and Donald Grisso were the sons of Estella's oldest daughter, Nina Smith Grisso. The fourth grandson, Marvin, was a career Navy man. I would guess he was probably far away at the time.

    Nina's daughter, Mary, was married to Vern Wright, who served as another pall bearer. Nina gave the most grandchildren to Estella, but she had two other special granddaughters. 

    Jean Stevens Johnson was the daughter of Ardea Smith Stevens, fourth child of Estella. Jean's husband, Beryl Johnson also served as pall bearer.

    Jess Phelps is probably the mystery grandson-in-law for some of my cousins.  Jess was married to Marilyn Smith Phelps. Her father was Merroll Smith, Estella's second child. Merroll preceded his mother, Estella, in death by approximately 10 years.

     I wish I could insert a picture of Jess Phelps here, but I don't have one in my winter home. Instead, I will use another family picture that features his future wife, Marilyn, Grandma Estella Smith, and Estella's two sons, Dale and Merroll. Merroll is the father of Marilyn.  Dale served many years in the Navy.

                           Dale, Marilyn, Estella, Merroll

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Menehunes Strike Again.

     Recently, I discovered that a post from last fall Strangers on the Road appeared in the email notices for Cousins. I must have pushed the wrong button again. However, the post does not show up on my dashboard where I control the format, sizing, links, and many other functions associated with my blog, Cousins. It is a bit of a mystery.

     I blame the Menehunes.

     So, if you are wondering about that post. Menehunes strike again is all I can say.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

58 years ago

Born March 21, 1876, Scranton, Iowa
Entered into Rest
March 14, 1959, Jefferson, Iowa
Funeral Services
Church of Christ, Scranton, Iowa
Tuesday, March 17, 1959, 2:00 p.m.
Words of Comfort by
Robert D. Stacy, Minister
Organist, Mrs. Robert D. Stacy
Soloist, John Hanneman
Hymn Selections
"In the Garden"  "The Old Rugged Cross"
Flowers in Care of
Mrs. H. Hutchison      Mrs. J.L. MacDonald
Mrs. John Lawrence   Mrs. Lloyd Wampler
Casket Bearers
John  Grisso    Beryl Johnson
Bill Grisso           Jess Phelps
Vern Wright    Donald Grisso
Scranton Cemetery. Scranton, Iowa
-Courtesy of Huffman Funeral Home-

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 5, 2015-March 5, 2017

Two years. Yes, I have been blogging on Cousins for two years. It is my 2nd blogiversary. In the past few months my posts have become fewer. This is only because life occasionally gets in the way. Crazy things like pneumonia, meniscus surgery, travel, shoulder crap. Then there are the fun things like French, assorted classes, bridge, book club, Zentangle, lunch with friends, out of state company. I am blessed with a busy and fun life.

My goal for the year 2017 was to review my genealogical lines. So far I have only touched on my mother's, mother's, mother's, father's line, the Vorhies family. This is the largest Dutch family in the United States. The patriarch of the Vorhies came to these shores in 1660. Go to the site, for additional information.  In fact, imagine discovering that my across the street neighbor is my 9th cousin once removed.

I hope all my readers have learned the "once removed" meaning by now. The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed. He/she is one more generation removed from the common grandparent. The children of first cousins are second cousins. They are evenly descended from the common grandparents. In this case, the common grandparents are their great grandparents.

Over the past two years, I have shared information on the Smith, Withrow, Swartzel, Grisso, Olmsted, Siglin, Wright, Borden, and DeHart lines to name a few on my side. My husband's line sports the names Tolsdorf, Augustus, Reeder, Marsh, Phillips, Beier.

Some of my favorite discoveries which led to Cousins posts have been finding the graves of my great great grandparents George and Mary Smith in Tucumcari, New Mexico. ( Mom's side) On Dad's side we found the grave of great great grandfather George DeHart in Dalhart, Texas and Almost found the birthplace of his daughter, my great grandmother Emma Susan DeHart Borden, in West Virginia.

On my husband's side I had fun making discoveries and blogging about the Phillips branch. My son enjoyed these discoveries having been stationed in the same area as his 5th great grandfather had been only about 235 years earlier.

Both of our lines go far back into American history.

Only one line is recent. And by recent, I mean 1892. My husband's grandfather, his first wife and two children came from the port of Bremen, Germany on the ship Oldenburg. They arrived in May of 1892 in Baltimore. Frank and Matilda were married in the Ukraine. Their baby, Elsie, was born in Kiev, Russia just before immigrating. This is a very, very interesting family who settled in Oklahoma. Grandpa Frank participated in the Cherokee Land Rush in 1893. From his three wives, he had nine children and one step-son. There are many known stories of this family after 1892. However, prior to immigration, my brick wall stands. I have a lead or two. What a thrill it would be to learn about the Tolsdorf family in the old country.

Mondays With Mary has been another feature of this blog. Occasionally on Mondays, I share the writings of my mother's calendar which she kept faithfully from 1966-2003. It is a great way to learn about a way of  life which is already a thing of the past.

In two years, I have published 265 posts. My stats report shows 14,510 views from many different countries.     

Thank you to my devoted readers. You keep me going when I get bogged down. So, here we go into year three.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Learnings

Don't you just love it when you learn something new? 

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the West Valley Genealogical Society annual seminar.  This was my third year and the best by far.  The others were good, but the speaker that day was Geoff Rasmussen, creator of Legacy Genealogy Software. He spoke on Google Tools, Tech Tips, Technology and Techniques for Differentiating Two people, and DNA.  His humor and ability to relate to the audience was very enjoyable as well as informative.

Besides all the new learnings that day, I accidently met the author of one of the genealogy blogs I follow.  Empty Branches on the Family Tree.  It felt like I was meeting a rock star.  She had travelled a far distance to attend.

My most exciting new learning was that the Y-DNA test might actually lead to some information in my husband's family.  My husband and I have both had the autosomal test done. This was before I knew much about DNA testing. I still don't know a great deal but do know about the different tests as well as the different companies.  The Y test is just for males and traces back through the male line. I figured this was a dead end for us because my husband's grandfather came to the US in 1892. DNA from ancestors on back would be unattainable. Then, I was given a thought. If any of Grandpa Frank's cousins or distant relatives came to another part of the country, we might find a connection through the Y-DNA. I am aware of the same last name in other parts of the country.  So, I bought the kit and considered it to be my birthday gift. All my husband had to do was swab his cheek. Even if nothing comes of it, it is worth a try. And he doesn't have to get me a birthday present.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Rex

February 1947

    For the first time in the six winters that it has been under the present management, the Rex Theatre remained closed for several days during the past week because of unfavorable weather conditions.  Manager George White says that, while he regrets the closing and hopes that it many never happen again, he has found that it is not practical to attempt to operate a theatre in Scranton for any length of time with the patronage that comes from the neighboring rural trade areas.  And since most of this territory has been snow bound almost continuously for two weeks or more, there seemed nothing else to do but to take a temporary vacation.

     The above was taken from a recent edition of the Scranton Journal newspaper in a section titled A Glance Into the Past.
      The Rex Theatre was the movie house in my hometown when I was a kid. Many cousins, relatives and friends are not even aware that The Rex Theatre was once a thriving business in our little hometown. Well, unless it snowed, I guess.
       I loved going to the Rex. I saw movies like The Three Stooges, Ma and Pa Kettle, Calamity Jane, Mr. Ed, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to just name a few.
       I don't know when it closed but my mother took me to see Peyton Place which was quite a scandalous movie. I was about 12, I think.  I don't know when the Rex closed, but it was before I was in high school.
        By following my mom's calendar/ journal I can often trace the winter weather conditions over the years. It was fun reading in the newspaper about how winter affected the Rex in 1947.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Grandma's first cousins

Remember in the last post I wrote, my grandmother, Nina Smith, was only 11 years old. She had 3 siblings and 5 first cousins in the family portrait.  At the time her cousin Fern was 8, Verl was 4 and Harold was a baby.  They were the children of LeRoy and Lulu Vorhies.

The following picture is from 1965. They would have been about 61, 57, and 55. I hope three of my cousins recognize the house where this photo was taken. I wonder if they have any memory of this day.

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.