Monday, June 29, 2015

52 Ancestors: The Other Half - Jolletts in Madison County

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.



To mark the halfway point in the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks project, we are to contemplate the word “half.” Which ancestor has been researched only “halfway”? Which ancestor takes up half of our research time? Probably the first question can be answered, “Just about any one of them!”

When Ancestry recently released its latest collection of birth, death, and marriage records for the state of Virginia, I spent hours gathering various bits of data and copies of certificates to add to my database. In doing so, I discovered a new-to-me Jollett – a Jollett in Madison County – a “new” family that had escaped me.

Her name is Julia Ellen Kean. She was born in Madison County, Virginia, April 6, 1828 and died in the same county March 12, 1917 from an accidental fall down a flight of steps which resulted in broken ribs.

Death Certificate for Julia Ellen Booton Kean  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

According to the death certificate, Julia was the daughter of Reuben Booton and Mary Jollett. But who was THIS Mary Jollett? The only possible clue right now is a lawsuit in Madison County dated 1821 in which one James Jollett was the defendant in a land dispute. Julia’s birth in 1828 puts a date of birth for her mother Mary anywhere from 1788 to 1814, meaning James could possibly be Mary’s father and Julia’s grandfather. If so, then MY James Jollett – my 4X great-grandfather – may have had a cousin by the same name.

It is also possible that the James of the lawsuit was MY James Jollett who lived in Greene County. When he and Nancy Walker married in 1787, they were in Culpeper County from which Madison County was formed in 1792. According to the lawsuit, James Jollett sold the land in 1788. So it’s possible this is the same person and Mary was someone else’s daughter. But whose? Was she the daughter of that mysterious Francis Jollett who paid personal property taxes in Culpeper County in 1782?

At any rate, Julia Kean’s death certificate has alerted me to the fact that there was another “half” to my known Jollett family of Greene County. There surely were cousins living in neighboring Madison. Let the hunt begin!


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Caught By Word and Deed

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is all about postcards. My contribution today is not about a wonderful time we had on vacation. Nor is it a simple story of a relative letting a loved one know she is being thought of and missed. It is actually a rather dark tale of an affair and incriminating evidence.

I have told the story before of my great-grandmother’s sister Sallie Jollett Clift, how rumors had circulated that she was running a house of ill-repute. In truth, she had taken in boarders in order to provide for her three children when her husband George no longer did.

George traveled in his job with the railroad, and for over fourteen years he kept many women on the side. The whole sordid story of numerous affairs is part of public record in the divorce case known as Chancery Cause 1913-07, Sallie C. Clift vs George T. Clift.

With over 160 pages of love letters, photos, and postcards, the evidence against George is overwhelming. One postcard came from a long-time girlfriend who always signed off with words like “Your true girl” or “Your little girl.”

Postcard to George Clift from E. E. Buss http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Postcard to George Clift from E. E. Buss http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

From your true little girl. You can’t guess who

Mr. Cliff
Roanoke
112 [ possibly Carlisle Ave]





Their affair lasted for around seven years, and in all that time, she apparently never learned to spell George’s last name.

The other postcards were sent from George to Sallie. The cruel streak that became George’s trademark is evident in each one. Here is a card in which he made light of Sallie’s economic woes.
Postcard from George Clift to Sallie Clift  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Postcard from George Clift to Sallie Clift  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com





















On the front of an otherwise innocuous postcard that anyone might send apologizing for not visiting, he scribbled “Roomers Wanted.” The back is even more hurtful though. If Sallie wanted to know why George stayed away, it would cost her 50¢, the same amount boarders paid for a room in Sallie’s house. As if to rub it in, he claimed to be “living fine,” signing off with a silly “ta ta.”


If George had not proved himself one sadistic son-of-a-gun already, there is this postcard to bear witness:

Postcard from George Clift to Sallie Clift  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Everything is fine [?] till you look on the other Side you___










Postcard from George Clift to Sallie Clift  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

"Release your clutch and retard your spark" -- These expressions when applied to starting an automobile mean one thing, but surely Sallie saw no humor in the mean-spirited commentary on their marriage masquerading as a playful double-entendre. Was it intentional that he addressed the card to “MISS” Sallie Clift?

On August 18, 1914, Sallie was granted a divorce a mensa et thoro along with sole custody of their three children. Plus she was awarded $7 a week in alimony. She had plenty of character witnesses who stood by her and attested to her noble efforts to care for her family on her own. She also had plenty of neighbors who witnessed George’s cruelty and violence toward her. Even without 160 pages of love letters and postcards, Sallie probably would have won her case. But it didn’t hurt.

Having a wonderful time at Sepia Saturday. Wish you were here.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, June 22, 2015

52 Ancestors: The Old Homestead - She Ain't What She Used To Be

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.



Every generation has a place they consider a “first home” or the “home place.”  Often it is a place that evokes memories of childhood, of afternoons with grandparents, of rambles with friends through surrounding fields. One such “home place” in my family was not exactly a “home” although it became one in another life.  It was a store.
 
Davis Store 1920s  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Davis Store as it looked in the 1920s

My great-grandfather Walter B. Davis (1867-1934) spent most of his adult years as a carpenter like his father. He built numerous houses throughout the town of Shenandoah in Page County, Virginia. However, by 1920 he had become the owner of Davis and Sons Groceries at the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just across the street from where he lived. At various times my grandfather Orvin and his brother Millard were the “Sons” in that business, managing things while Walter continued building houses.

Davis Store Receipts  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Some receipts 

When I was growing up, a trip to Shenandoah to visit my cousins always included a drive by the old store building. I wonder what my grandparents thought about as they stared at the old store, which by then had been converted into two apartments.
Davis Store 1980s  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Davis Store as it looked in the 1980s

Lucille Davis in the Davis Store  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis behind the counter

Did they recall the times when my grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis worked there?














Mary Sudie Eppard Rucker  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My great-grandmother
Mary Sudie Eppard Rucker

Did they laugh recalling the time that my grandmother and her mother got in a fight that got physical? Granddaddy was just heading in to check on Grandma when Sudie Rucker stormed out of the door. “You need to get Lucille under control,” she said as she showed him her sleeve where Grandma had ripped it almost completely off. Granddaddy only laughed, but Sudie didn’t appreciate that. Inside the store, Grandma was fuming and fussing about her mother. Granddaddy laughed at that too, but Grandma didn’t appreciate that either. Granddaddy did not win any points that day.

Did they think about the time Grandma kicked a customer out of the store?  The family dog Fritz was more welcome than some patrons. One day when Grandma was working behind the counter, Effie Helton came in to do some shopping. She was a BIG woman who played on the men’s baseball team. Fritz bit her ankle, and Effie responded with a swift kick. Grandma then kicked Effie out of the store.
Mary Eleanor Davis Slade, Fritz, Friend at Davis Store http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Momma - Mary Eleanor Davis
holding Fritz outside the Davis Store

Did they remember when Momma as just a little girl used to nap behind the counter?

Surely they laughed about the time Momma embarrassed them in front of George, a black man who sometimes helped out at the store. Whenever Momma as a child asked for some coffee, my grandparents would say, “Drinking coffee will turn you black.” One day Momma looked at George and said, “You sure must drink a lot of coffee.”

Did my grandparents wonder what became of the customers who had left their diamonds in exchange for their purchases? After Grandma died, Momma had the diamonds made into a ring.

Ring made from diamonds left at the Davis Store  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Diamonds left at the Davis Store

My grandparents missed Shenandoah, I know, but Portsmouth had become home since World War II when job opportunities in the shipyard were too good to pass up.


In April of this year, those trips down memory lane came to a halt when a bulldozer pulled the Davis Store down. Asbestos and termite damage rendered the building beyond repair, not even worth flipping, I guess. Plus that corner lot was much too valuable for a dilapidated building to stand useless.

Davis Store April 2015  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Demolition of Davis Store April 2015
photo courtesy of Jan Hensley


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Jollett Book Is In

When the mailman handed me the plain cardboard box with the tell-tale blue Blurb logo, I could hardly breathe. Why is it that when you most want to rip open a box, it has the strongest packing tape? I was eager to see whether my positive review of BookWright would hold up. Would I be thrilled or disappointed?
 
Without a doubt, I’m thrilled. Even though I did not opt for any upgrades, my book about Fielding Jollett still looks and feels professional.

Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Cover image is the Jollett Cemetery
in Jollett Hollow, Page County, Virginia
Cover is maroon but reads red in this photo.

Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Spine is easy to read.

The cover is an image wrap hardcover. Dust jackets are available, but I find them to be a nuisance, so I did not order that style. The cover feels slick. My one risk was using the light grey for the main title and white for the subtitle. What a relief to learn that what I saw on the screen both in editing and in preview is true to how it looks in person. A last minute decision to boldface the title on the spine was a good one. One small regret is that I did not look at covers in the Blurb bookstore to see what others had produced; mine is very simple, so next time I will spend more time designing a GREAT cover.

I went with Standard paper even though I did not know what the standard was. Again, I am satisfied with this choice. The paper has a semi-matte finish and is slightly slick, not as slick as photograph paper though.


Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com














Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


In a recent review comparing Blurb’s standard paper with its ProLine Pearl and Premium Lustre upgrades, the writer said there is SOME bleed-through on the Standard. I saw nothing like that in my book. She had made a photo book, so her pages were photo-heavy whereas my book is more text than images. At worst, I can see a slight shadow of the next page, but if I had not read this review, I would not even have noticed. I would stick with Standard paper on another book. 

Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
When pages are flat, you can see a bit of the
print on the other side, but it is barely noticeable.
It does not interfere with reading.
If you hold the paper up to the light,
you can see the other side.
Fielding Jollett book  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The census image is clearer
in the book than on my computer.


The quality of the images really impresses me. Some look sharper and cleaner in the book than they do in real life.

End pages are grey by default but can be upgraded to a color for a fee. Maybe because the grey looks good with the cover color, it does not look like I took the cheap way out. Likewise for a fee, the Blurb logo can be removed. The logo does not bother me. 


Book about Fielding Jollett  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Left page is white; right is the grey endsheet.
















One thing I’m REALLY glad about is that I followed Blurb’s advice and ordered only one book even though I have plans to buy more. Despite all my efforts to proofread carefully, I still found 2 typos and several inconsistencies in style (such as “Page Co, Virginia” when most of the time I used “VA”). I also remembered someone I forgot to thank on the dedication page.

So now I have made my corrections and additions and uploaded the revised version. With an order of at least 10 copies, there is a discount of 10%. But there are other coupons available (through June 29, the code for 15% is SUNNYJUNE). Blurb did not tell me that – a Google search did. The regular price for my 134-page book is $60, but with "SUNNYJUNE" the book is $51, slightly higher than what I paid for my first copy using the Father's Day coupon which has now expired.

As for the structure of the book, it is divided into 5 parts: 1 – an introduction to Fielding and a family chart, 2 – Fielding and family with his first wife (stories include the William Jollett/William Boyd mystery), 3 – Fielding and family with his second wife (stories include Fielding in Chancery Court and the search for his wife’s parents), 4 – brief stories and family charts about Fielding’s brothers and sisters, and 5 – the Jolletts whose positions in the family tree are not yet confirmed. I included an index of names.

Index of Fielding Jollett book  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Blurb came through for me. I will be proud to give copies of Fielding Jollett and Early Jollett Families of Virginia as gifts to my family and to donate to my pet historical and genealogical societies.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sepia Saturday: Click Click and Pause

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring the typewriter demands that I write the OFFICIAL version of a story my husband tells every year around February 27.

It was the winter of 1983. I was “great with child” awaiting the arrival of our second bundle of joy in early March. Barry was working at Signet Bank. He was enrolled in the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management, a three-year program in which participants attended classes one week each year and then wrote papers during the rest of the year.

Each paper had a scheduled deadline. He wrote; I typed. Then the paper was inserted into a manila envelope and mailed to the professor. Deadlines must be observed!

I awoke that Sunday morning, February 27, with that familiar sensation that labor had begun. When I nudged Barry to tell him the news, he bolted upright. “NO!” he said. “You have to type my paper.”

As I had been throughout our college days, I was Barry’s able assistant behind the keyboard. I actually enjoyed typing and still do. Barry hated typing. In fact, he failed typing class in high school because he was busy looking INSIDE the workings of the typewriter rather than actually typing to increase his speed and accuracy.  Ironically – or maybe understandably – Barry paid his way through college repairing typewriters and adding machines as a repairman for Price Business Machines in Harrisonburg.

Typing at JMU 1972  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Can't explain this expression but I'm typing away in 1972

In 1983, our typewriter was the same one from our college days. The Smith-Corona was a heavy thing – portable electric but heavy. Barry set up the typewriter and got me started on his paper while he tended to Daughter #1.

He timed my contractions according to how I typed. Click Click Click Click ~ PAUSE ~ Click Click Click Click ~ PAUSE ~ Click ~ PAUSE. Every contraction brought with it a typing error. There was no “undo” button back then, and my Smith-Corona did not have a built-in erase ribbon either. Wite-Out was our best friend.

Had Barry’s paper been any longer, I might have run out of Wite-Out. I might also have run out of time. As soon as I finished typing, we left for the hospital, and Daughter #2 arrived just thirty minutes later.

Wendy and Zoe Feb 27, 1983  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mother and Baby Feb 27, 1983

SHIFT your attention to Sepia Saturday to read what others have TYPED.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Self-Publishing or "How to Start and Start Again"

When I first became serious about researching the Jollett family, I thought that one day I would create a book that would become the go-to source on all things “Jollett.” However, my involvement in blogging, genealogy groups on Facebook, and family research webinars has shown me the errors of my early research ways, so I abandoned the idea of a definitive book altogether.

Well, not really. Not totally. Conversations among bloggers who have published books sent me in a different direction, one that still satisfies my need to preserve all this research without the pressure of starting over or retracing my steps to make better copies of documents. Some of my colleagues have created annual “blog books” as a record of their posts. Others have created books dedicated to a particular ancestor. The one thing they have in common, though, is that they all self-published. I realized that surely I could do that, too.

Then the question was which company to use. Blog2Print gets many votes from my colleagues, especially from those who compile all their blogs into an annual book (or even quarterly books). The service is simple enough:  enter a blog address and Slllluurrrp ~ instant book. Fast and easy. 

From Blog2Print
I do not like how this looks.
Your decisions about whether to add page breaks and what size
you want your photos to be will affect how the pages look.
But I wanted to do more with my book than just what is in my blog. 

Blurb is another popular choice giving do-it-yourselfers several options, the two best known being BookSmart or BookWright. I started with BookWright but was quickly discouraged when my documents would not paste into the program. Had I read directions first, I would have noticed that documents needed to be in Rich Text or Plain Text. So I gritted my teeth and began saving my selected blog posts and family charts in RTF, all the while still searching for an easier option. On Blurb forums I saw so many positive comments for BookSmart being more user friendly, faster, and requiring less learning time that naturally, I switched to BookSmart.
A sample of page layouts
from BookSmart. The boxes
with lines are for text. The
solid grey boxes are for photos.

I downloaded BookSmart and then very easily entered my title page, a dedication page, and a temporary table of contents. It was when I started my first chapter that I ran into my first issue with BookSmart. What makes it “user friendly” is the pre-set layouts. Initially the warnings about limited layout options did not bother me until I realized that “pre-set” meant if I wanted to insert a photo or two, they would go HERE and only HERE, and they would be THIS size and only this size.  Oh no – that was just too confining for me. 

Time to move on again.

Based on other reviews I also gave Lulu a shot. I created an account and downloaded the templates. It’s almost TOO easy, IF I am following the directions correctly. I simply typed over the Template title, Template Table of Contents, Template Chapter, Template Index, etc. 
Sample of Lulu template with its instructions















I never saw any directions for inserting photos and images. Honestly, I cannot say I put enough time into Lulu to know whether there are more options than I found there. Bottom line – I just did not care for the templates.

So back to Blurb I went with a resolve to master BookWright. Surely the learning curve would be moderate for someone like me who has SOME publishing experience. I am comfortable with basic rules about layouts, text flow, fonts, etc. I have served as advisor to a school newspaper and yearbook; I’ve done countless newsletters for clubs and organizations; I’ve designed flyers and Opening Day booklets for Little League. Heck, I have a blog that requires some finesse.

Sample of editing in BookWright

Looking back, I am not sure why I found BookWright so difficult the first time because now it seems easier than BookSmart. Maybe it is because second time around I was not fighting with the program.

WHAT I LIKE about Blurb BookWright

  • I’m in control. While there are various layout templates to choose from, I can manipulate them. There are tools for drawing a text box and inserting a photo or other image. I can view rulers to help line up multiple images, center a caption beneath a photo, etc.
  • It’s easy to change font style and size.
  • I can adjust photos right on the screen. Images and photos and text can be layered for a sophisticated and eye-catching presentation.
  • There is a tool for wrapping text around an image.
  • Warning symbols alerted me to an incompatible font, low- resolution images, and text overflow.
  • Video tutorials are brief and clear.
  • It is easy to move back and forth between the editing screen and Preview.

WHAT I DO NOT LIKE about Blurb BookWright

  • The bar holding photos and images does not allow for any to be removed (or if they can, I couldn’t find how). This means that the photo bar became very long and difficult to navigate, especially when I had to upload additional copies of the same image that had been flagged as “low-resolution.” I like Shutterfly’s ability to delete unwanted photos and hide those that have been used.
  • I’m not sure “Save” always worked. I made corrections one day only to find the same mistakes the next day. In a Blurb forum, one user said he thinks once the book gets to a certain size, like 100 pages or more, it takes longer for changes to be saved. He suggested Blurb add an hour glass to show when the SAVE is complete. I agree.
  • At present there is no way to add a border around a box or an image. Some graphic flourishes would make a nice addition to the BookWright arsenal to give self-published books a more professional look.
  • I saw no way to add bullets. Did I miss something?
  • Some directions in the HELP tab are not clear. For example, “How to Add, Edit, Delete Page Numbers” is presented as ONE topic, but it doesn’t clearly address deleting page numbers. To “Delete” is almost the same as “Edit,” but Blurb does not say that. I had to click numerous times to get the Delete to delete.
  • Contacting the HELP desk is not easy. Once you start typing your subject line of the "Contact Us" email, you get referred to a number of possible topics already covered to be sure you have already sought out the answer. I get it. This process certainly cuts down on Blurb employees having to answer something that has already been answered through FAQ and HELP. So ultimately, this is a good policy, but it certainly is frustrating in the moment.
My book printed quickly. Shipping is another story. I am still waiting for it to arrive.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, June 15, 2015

52 Ancestors: Rock On

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.



This week’s theme is all about heirlooms. I come from a sentimental family that has passed many items down through the generations, from everyday kitchen tools to fine silver tea sets. In a few months, I will be passing along an heirloom that belonged to me first:  a rocking chair.

I do not know who gave me this rocking chair – maybe my parents, maybe my grandparents, maybe Santa. But the first picture of it is dated Christmas 1952 when I was a year and a half. 

Wendy Slade 1952 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Me Christmas 1952 in Burlington, NC
on the back:  "Wendy and all her glory"

Wendy Easter 1955  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Easter 1955
Yes, Momma cut those bangs!  But what a pretty
dress.  Those gloves were sheer. 

Rocking chair  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My rocking chair -- getting ready for a makeover
It has sat in an attic longer than it did anywhere else. It is time to bring it out and give it a second life. The damage to the finish and a few cracks only add to the character, right? Eh ~ no matter. This is one heirloom that does not need to be preserved or restored to its original glory. I envision “new glory” for this rocking chair for Grandbaby #1.

Maybe SHE will sit and read a little book or sing to her own little baby in a rocker that looks like this:


Or maybe HE will see if he can rock hard enough to flip himself out of a rocker that looks like this:



There was a time when I thought painting a piece of furniture was practically a sin. However, now as I contemplate the future of the heirlooms in my possession, I feel myself moving to the other side. Daily we are expected to adapt to changes in technology. Even the most senior of senior citizens are learning to text and use social media. Maybe we can let at least some of our heirlooms live in a modern world too without expecting them to sit like do-not-touch museum pieces. 

My hope is that one day when the paint is faded and chipped, the rocker will get another life when it is passed on to a third generation. 



© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.