Friday, December 19, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Christmas Home Tour

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

In keeping with the traditional Christmas season prompt at Sepia Saturday, I send holiday greetings to my fellow Homo Sepians and to all my readers and followers. 

I always enjoy seeing how people decorate, and at Christmas I look forward to special home tours that various neighborhoods and organizations host, usually as a fund-raiser. I do not have the kind of home that gets invited to be ON a tour, but let’s tour my house anyway. Besides, it’s free. 

Welcome to my house!

When you plant orange pansies and paint the front door salmon, Christmas decorating can be a challenge. In the past, my wreaths were plain with just a bow, but my talented sister said they needed a redo. So I put Mary’s Flower Works to work. She enhanced my wreaths with additional greenery, burlap poinsettias, gold and natural linen bows, some pinecones and decorative wrapped wire. She even added an orange bird to the center wreath.

In the foyer, my staircase always makes a dramatic welcome at Christmas. Again, this is the work of my talented sister. 

My foyer
photo courtesy Mary Slade Pollock

To the right of the foyer is the living room with “The Pink Tree.” It’s a silver tinsel tree with a combination of pink and crystal ornaments. A few pink floral picks and silk poinsettias add a little sump’n sump’n. Some of the ornaments came from my mother who used to do a white and pink tree.

The Pink Tree

To the left of the foyer is the dining room. I have given up trying to create a flow from one room to another. While the foyer is white and silver and the living room is pink, this room THIS year got the red and lime green treatment. And I love it. 

Chandelier with mostly Dollar Store ornaments

My grandaunt Helen's tea service
I love these big snowflakes
from the Dollar Store,
I'm proud to say!

But then I have rather schizophrenic taste:  I love glitz and I love traditional. The family room exhibits my traditional side. This is where we put the main tree and where we gather Christmas morning. The tree has a gazillion ornaments and well over 1000 lights – Barry says it’s probably 3000, but I can’t believe that. I followed a tutorial on how to put lights on the tree like the professionals do so that all the wires don’t show. As a result, Barry got to make 2 extra trips to the store for more lights. Lucky guy!

The mantle is another sister creation as is the mesh wreath. It’s the perfect blend of traditional and glitz.
photo courtesy Mary Slade Pollock

Please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday for more holiday greetings.

Merry Christmas y’all!  Happy Blogging in 2015.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Past #3

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Wendy Slade Christmas 1972
Christmas 1971
Oh the Shag haircut!

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #50 - Daniel SHEEHAN

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.

My father adored his grandmother Mary Theresa SHEEHAN Killeen Walsh.  Searching for her family has not been easy.  With the aid of death certificates, I have determined that she was the daughter of Daniel SHEEHAN and Nora SULLIVAN.  They may as well have been named John and Mary Smith.  I don’t know if they ever came to New York or if Mary Theresa and her sisters (and MAYBE a brother) came alone from their home in Ireland.  When I look at the number of Daniel and Nora couples in Ireland in the mid-1800s, I am overwhelmed and just want to lie down. 

When I found some cousins through Facebook, I thought I was going to be able to gather some information and answer some questions.  Initially they seemed excited to meet me and eager to share memories.  But my excitement was short-lived as they have not been forthcoming with either photos or answers.   Obviously not everyone is interested in their ancestors. 


Daniel SHEEHAN  & Nora SULLIVAN – both born in Ireland

1. Josie M. SHEEHAN ( About 1868 Cork, Ireland –  New York) & Charles A. KRAUSE ( Feb 1860 –  )  24 Oct 1894 Manhattan, Kings, NY

  • Charles KRAUSE ( Aug 1895 Queens, NY –  )
  • Hannah KRAUSE ( Aug 1896 Queens, NY –  )
  • Caroline G. KRAUSE ( Mar 1898 Queens, NY –  )
  • Edith M. KRAUSE ( 07 Mar 1900 Queens, NY –  ) & Daniel BROGAN  06 Jun 1922 Richmond Co, NY 
  • Allen J. KRAUSE ( 31 Dec 1901 Queens, NY –  17 Apr 1990 Port Richey, Pasco, FL )
  • Clara G. KRAUSE ( 20 Apr 1904 Queens, NY – )
2. Mary Theresa SHEEHAN ( 15 May 1869 Ireland – 18 Jul 1939 Portsmouth, VA ) & m1) John Joseph KILLEEN  (Mar 1866 Ireland – 08 Apr 1905 New York)  1893 ; & m2) John Fleming WALSH ( 1868 – 15 Oct 1918 Portsmouth, VA )  17 Jun 1906 Portsmouth, VA

Mary Theresa and John Killeen had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Agnes “Lillie” KILLEEN ( 16 Feb 1894 Bronx, NY – 17 Jul 1982 Portsmouth, VA )
  • Matthew George “Mac” KILLEEN ( 08 May 1895 Bronx, NY –  07 Mar 1969 Portsmouth, VA ) &  Alma M. KETCHUM
  • Mary Agnes “Mae” KILLEEN ( 05 Sep 1898 Bronx, NY –  08 Dec 1980 Portsmouth, VA ) & Clifton Maynard HOLLAND  ( 14 Sep 1897 –  26 Jun 1948 Portsmouth, VA )  1916
  • Margaret Mary “Margee” KILLEEN ( 21 Apr 1901 Bronx, NY –  31 May 1978 Norfolk, VA ) & Otto James “Jack” SPROTT ( 04 Sep 1898 – 29 Jun 1965 )
  • Helen Martha KILLEEN ( 07 Jun 1903 Bronx, NY – 11 Oct 1980 Portsmouth, VA ) & Herbert Webb PARKER  (15 Nov 1900 Portsmouth, VA –  07 Nov 1959 Portsmouth, VA )   03 Nov 1927 Portsmouth, VA
Mary Theresa and John Walsh had the following children:

  • Julia Mary WALSH ( 06 Sep 1907 Portsmouth, VA –  17 Apr 1982 Portsmouth, VA ) & Fred Robert SLADE ( 08 Nov 1901 Princess Anne Co, VA – 04 Feb 1983 Portsmouth, VA )
  • Catherine WALSH ( 12 Oct 1909 Portsmouth, VA – 02 Oct 1969 Portsmouth, VA ) & Stephen BARANY (27 Nov 1906 New Jersey –  Jan 1969 Washington DC )
  • Theresa M. “Tate” WALSH ( 10 Mar 1913 Portsmouth, VA – 18 Mar 1987 Lowell, MA ) & m1) James G. “Jimmy” CREWS ( 30 Jun 1911 Guilford, NC – 05 Jan 1986 Florida ) ; & m2) Walter J. MURRAY (  -- Dec 1984 Massachusetts )
3. Delia SHEEHAN ( Jan 1879 Cork, Ireland – 08 Jun 1942 Brooklyn, NY ) & William H. CHRISTIAN ( 1880 New Jersey – )  1904

  • Elmyra Dorothy CHRISTIAN ( 1908 New York – 29 Mar 1996 New York ) & m1) Godfrey Anderson STAMM about 1930 ; & m2) Edward T. ZAREK (09 Sep 1909 – 08 Mar 1978 New York )  about 1942 
  • Grace CHRISTIAN ( 1912 New York – 1997 ) & Charles Anthony SMITH ( 1907 Brooklyn, NY – 1965 )
  • Raymond CHRISTIAN ( 1915 New York – )
  • William P. CHRISTIAN ( 17 Mar 1917 New York – 17 Jan 2002 Flushing, NY ) & Mildred Mae MEYER (01 Nov 1920 Brooklyn, NY – 28 Jul 1970 Brooklyn, NY )
4. Sarah SHEEHAN ( Cork, Ireland –  ) & Unknown BYRNES/BURNS

  • Sadie BYRNES/BURNS ( - 1970 )

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Crop 'Till You Drop

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt asks Homo Sepians to focus on what is going on in the background of a photo rather than in the foreground. 

In a single photo from about 1934, I spied two happenings in the background that are far more interesting than the intended subject. 

Violetta Davis Ryan about 1934 Jollett Reunion
My grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan looks to be quite the woman of the 21st century on her cell phone while balancing her iPad.

Meanwhile her cousin Leota Sullivan is totally bored.  Now I’m sure there are three women in this photo, but one is headless although Leota and my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis don’t seem to notice or care.

Jollett Reunion about 1934
Mary Frances Jollett Davis, UNKNOWN, and Leota Sullivan

So what was it that the photographer was actually focusing on at the Jollett Reunion? 

Jollett Reunion about 1934
My granduncle Millard Davis (right) and a cousin whom I don’t know.

To see what else is happening in the background, focus on Sepia Saturday.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Past #2

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Mary Jollette Slade Christmas 1964  http;//
Mary Jollette Christmas 1964

Wendy and Mary Jollette Slade Christmas 1964
Wendy and Mary Jollette Christmas 1964

I remember this simple decoration in the dining room:  a homemade candle and some live holly stuck into a piece of styrofoam.  The candle was made in a milk carton. 

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49 - Samuel WILLSON

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.

I don’t know what to say about my 3X great-grandfather Samuel WILLSON except that he lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and he was the father of my 2X great-grandmother Martha Ann WILLSON.  It says so right here on a marriage bond:

Beyond that, Samuel is still a mystery.  I’ve contacted a number of potential cousins with WILLSON trees on, but none will claim Martha.  It’s still possible that she belongs to one of them too, but they just don’t know it yet.  After all, she was born in 1833 and was married at the ripe age of 13, so she was out of the family home before all members of the household were ever named in a census.  Without a census list or a will, we family historians can’t always complete the picture of our ancestors.

I spent a couple hours in the Rockbridge County courthouse grabbing whatever I could find that included the name Samuel WILLSON.  Unfortunately that wasn’t enough time to go through every book in the deed room.  Three deeds though looked promising.

The first was the sale of property in 1818 inherited by Samuel and Elizabeth WILLSON and her siblings.  The date seemed reasonable.  The bonus was getting a potential mother along with the maiden name, Hannah.  But wishing doesn’t make it so as I quickly learned upon searching this line in  THIS Samuel Willson turned out to be a minister whose descendants conducted lots of research.  Had Martha been in this family, surely her own father would have married her and Mitchell Davis; however, she reported in her widow’s pension application that the minister was Reverend Thomson.  So I crossed this Samuel Willson off my list of possibilities.

The second deed is inconclusive.  In 1847 Samuel Wilson conveyed about 353 acres of land “for natural love and affection” to his sons Hugh J. Wilson and Thomas M. C. Wilson.  Part of the land had been patented to Samuel in 1800 and part had been deeded to him by his father William, deceased.  The land bordered the property of James Wilson. 

Even though that gives me more names to search, surprisingly enough, the names even present a problem.  The indices of the deed books promise some consistency in separating the WiLsons from the WiLLsons.

However, since at least one household had both spellings in the family list in a census, I still have hope that this deed holds a possible connection to my Samuel and Martha.  I’m even more hopeful when I add a deed from 1806 to the mix. That year Samuel WiLLson was heir at law to his son John who died unmarried and intestate.  He sold 9 acres of John’s land to another son named Robert.  The metes and bounds description indicates the property bordered that of Samuel AND Hugh WILLSON.  A few mathematical calculations indicate this is NOT the same Hugh Wilson from the 1847 deed.  Furthermore, it’s not likely this Samuel could be my Martha’s father at all, but possibly he could be her grandfather; if Robert was purchasing land, he must have been born by 1786 making Samuel born by 1766.  

So what I have observed is this:

  • The names Samuel, Hugh, James, and Robert are popular among both WiLLsons and WiLsons across many generations.
  • The Samuel Willson living in District 53 in 1850 was probably NOT the father of Hugh and Thomas living in District 51 that year; surely they would have lived in the same district based on that land transaction.
  • The Samuel Willson living in District 53 in 1850 had a son James, but surely if this Samuel were the father of Hugh and Thomas, he would have saved some of that parcel for this son James. 
  • The Samuel Wilson living in District 51 was born in 1803, so he was likely NOT the father of Hugh and Thomas either since he would not have been alive to have a land patent in 1800.  However, he could be the father of my Martha.
  • There were a number of other Samuel Wilsons living in District 51, but all were too young to be the father of my Martha.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

DAR - On the Road to Membership

Please don’t use the SEARCH box to learn when I last updated my efforts to secure membership in the prestigious DAR.  Suffice it to say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

A few weeks ago, the registrar of the Fort Nelson chapter had had enough of Mary Jollette’s and my foot-dragging routine.  “Let’s meet,” she said.  To sweeten the deal, she suggested we meet at a local coffee and sandwich shop instead of the chilly clubhouse where heat is run only when the old guard is in session. 

A few mocha lattes later, we were focused and had a plan.

The PLAN:  contact our cousin Glenn’s widow Fran about the Davis family Bible and contact a friend in Rockingham County to do some footwork at the courthouse.  

Davis Bible
Davis family Bible
I had brought my latest discoveries to the meeting.  I had managed to spy my patriot Leonard Davis SENIOR living in the household of his daughter-in-law, Frances Davis, in 1840.  (It was on that sneaky second page of the census that doesn't come up in a normal name search on Ancestry.)  Her name as Head of Household sent the strong message that she was a widow.  But there is nothing that says Leonard was her late husband’s father.  No problem for the invincible registrar – she’ll write an analysis arguing the point.

However, the problem of PROOF still rests in that 5th generation, the “poison generation,” as the registrar called it.  Apparently those are the years when records were oh so ho hum, not kept, not required, or burned in some fire.  So even though in census after census my 2X great-grandfather Mitchell Davis was living next door to his mother Frances, it means nothing to the DAR without more reliable proof such as a will, a birth record, a family Bible, a family diary. 

It turns out Fran had returned the family Bible to Glenn’s mother who then offered to send it to us.  We received it in a couple days, but unfortunately the Bible didn’t contain the really OLD information we were seeking.  

Then Serendipity came knocking at the door.

Barry is required by the bank where he works to take off 5 days in a row.  (Some federal regulation about having enough time to see if he is up to no good.)  He suggested we take those days to visit family in Rockingham County.  He even said, “You can do some research at the courthouse.”  Who WAS this man and what did he do with my husband??

1881 Deed Davis to Davis
1881 Rockingham County, VA
Davis to Davis  Deed Book 20, p. 212
So for two days, I set up camp at the courthouse on Main Street.  As expected there was no birth record and no will.  But I found deeds.  Two of ‘em.  One dated 1881 was the WIDOW Frances and all her children and children-in-law selling Leonard’s land.  The other was Mitchell and his brother Elijah and mother – the widow Frances – selling their rights and interest in the Leonard Davis estate to Sarah Davis, sister and daughter of the grantors.  Cha-ching ~

Write that analysis, Madam Registrar.  DAR, here we come! 

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.