Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Wedding Portrait?

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.

Unknown couple pictured in photo album of Mary Jollett Davis

I need help identifying this couple in a tintype found in an album belonging to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis.  I wonder if maybe they were her in-laws, Mitchell and Martha Willson Davis.  Does he look at least twelve years older than his bride? 

One reason I think this is a Davis is that the man seems so dapper, much like my great-grandfather Walter Davis as seen here.

Walter B. Davis 1933 Shenandoah, Virginia
Walter B. Davis 1933

Who is this handsome couple and why didn’t I inherit those good looks?  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday Night Fun: Ancestor Roulette

Every Saturday Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings presents a fun challenge.  This time it’s a game of Ancestor Roulette.  Here are the rules:

1) What year was one of your great-grandfathers born? Divide this number by 100 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel").  Who is that person, and what is his/her vital information?

3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on Randy's blog post.

5) NOTE: If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then "spin" the wheel again - pick a great-grandmother, a grandfather, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, yourself, or even your children!

Here’s mine:

1.  All of my great-grandparents were born in the latter half of the 1800s, which with rounding up puts me at #19.  However, I have no #19.  If I round down to 18, I’m in no better shape because there is no #18 either.  When I use myself or my children, I have to round up to 20. 

2. Drum roll, please.  The person who occupies #20 is Patrick Walsh, one of my great-great grandfathers on my father’s side.  Patrick was born somewhere between 1830-1840. He married a girl named Mary.  And he died.  Yes, I’m pretty sure he died; however, I don’t know when.

3.  Three facts:
  • Patrick must have lived in the United States since his son claims to have been born in either Virginia or Michigan, depending on whether we trust the 1910 census or family lore.
  • Patrick was born in Ireland according to the marriage register of my great grandparents John Fleming Walsh and Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh.
  • If we can trust family lore, Patrick broke away from his Walsh family that either owned or operated a distillery.  I have found a James Walsh Distillery operating in the 1870s in Indiana, and Paris Distilling operated by N. J. Walsh in Ohio 1890s. If one of these is "ours," that would be any Irish descendant's dream, wouldn't it?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Who Dat?

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

This week Sepia Saturday encourages all Homo-Sepians to blog about those unidentified people in the photos passed down through the generations.  Does Alan think he’s being funny?  Being UNable to identify people is my life!  More often than not my blogs are attempts to put names with those unnamed faces on cabinet cards and on wrinkled or fading photos glued to brittle black pages of scrapbooks.  In short, I got this.

While I have lots of photos to choose from, this one is most similar to the prompt photo.

Unidentified family in collection of Jollett, Davis, Ryan, Woodring, Rucker photos

For a long time I was caught up in the notion that the photos passed down in an old dress box had belonged to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis.  Every unidentified face prompted me to compare pictures to those of known ancestors.  If no match was apparent, I assumed the person was some distant cousin, an aunt or uncle, or maybe even a neighbor. 

Foolishly, I overlooked the idea that some old photos may have come along with a marriage into my family, that these Great Unknowns were “the outlaws,” as I like to call them:  those parents and siblings of the men and women who married into my family but whose genealogy isn’t my concern.

So while this family is technically unknown to me, I do have a guess:  maybe my great-aunt Velma Davis Woodring’s husband "Woody" as a child.

Does the boy look like he might have grown up to look like this?

Arthur H. Woody Woodring
Arthur H. "Woody" Woodring
1903 - 1951

Or like this?
Arthur H. Woody Woodring 1929
Woody 1929

Arthur H. Woody Woodring

How about like this?

Unfortunately, anyone who knows the answer is long gone, so this family photo remains among “The Unknown.”

Please visit Sepia Saturday.  It’s a virtual “Who’s Who” of “Who knows who.” 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Who Are They?

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.

Family possibly from Shenandoah, Page County, Virginia late 1800s early 1900s

In my continuing effort to identify faces in the many photos passed down in my family, I present yet another family whose names are unknown.   Possibly they are related to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis who grew up in Greene County but lived her adult life in Shenandoah, Page County, Virginia.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Tears for Turtles

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt of the pipe-smoking soldier inspecting the battalion mascot conjured up the faint memory of my sister’s pet turtle, Terri.  It’s a sad story.  Prepare to weep.

People who grew up with dogs are usually sympathetic to the plight of a child who longs for the companionship of man’s best friend, a loyal companion who would enjoy a run through the neighborhood, a game of fetch, a belly-rub, a snuggle. 

Lorenza Davis, with Mary Eleanor Davis, Orvin Davis, Jr. and Fritz
Uncle Renza Davis, Momma, her brother
Orvin Davis, Jr. and Fritz
My mother always had a dog as a child.  (I wrote about Fritz previously HERE.) 

But contrary to the belief that once a dog person always a dog person, Momma refused to allow my sister or me to have a dog.  No cat, either.  What?  Hadn’t she read the parenting magazines that promised having a pet would teach responsibility and compassion?

Momma did, however, give in and let us have a goldfish, four of them, actually:  Pixie and Dixie, Charlie (no doubt named in honor of the popular StarKist tag-line “Sorry, Charlie”), and some other one whose name is long forgotten, probably something equally clever like “Goldie.”

Once we mastered goldfish-level responsibility and compassion, we moved up to Turtle.  I was over the need for a pet by then, so Terri was Mary Jollette’s pet and her responsibility. 

Photo courtesy HA HA of
my sister at age 6
Terri is the little brown thing on the left.

Terri had a bowl with a palm tree and colorful gravel.  She could walk in a circle and enjoy the view from the ever-clouding plastic bowl.  After awhile she quit walking.  Her shell turned brown and soft.  We thought she was dying, but our neighbor assured us this weird look was normal for such a turtle. 

But eventually it was clear that Terri was not going to make it.  She was buried in a box in the backyard.  We held a funeral and we all cried. 

Susan Golden and Mary Jollette Slade 1966 Portsmouth, Virginia
Mary Jollette on the right with her friend Susan.
Terri is buried somewhere close to this area
under a fig tree that Daddy cut down.  

After that traumatic experience, I understood the popularity of the pet rock.  No tears for them!  

Come out of your shell and visit Sepia Saturday to see what other bloggers have made of this week’s theme.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Are These the Knights?

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.

Possibly Leanna Jollett Knight and James Mitchell Knight Greene County, Virginia

I wonder if this could be my great-grand aunt Leanna Jollett Knight (1867-1936) and her husband James Mitchell Knight (1866-1942) who lived in Greene County, Virginia.  There are so few pictures of her as a young woman, yet my great grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis had pictures of her other brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: John W. and Sarah E. Jollett

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which asks bloggers to create a post including an image of a gravestone of one or more ancestors; it may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor.

The tombstone of John Wesley Jollett and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Smith is the most elaborate one in my family.  It reflects their important place in the community that admired them so much.  This prominent tombstone is the first one anyone notices upon entering the cemetery on the hill behind the Jollett United Methodist Church in Jollett Hollow, Page County, Virginia.

Tombstone of John W. and Sarah Elizabeth Smith Jollett

Sarah E. wife of
Rev. J. W. Jollett
Died Jan 30 1917
Aged 82 Yrs
8 M and 8 DS

Rev. J. W. Jollett
Died Oct 18 1916
Aged 84 yrs
6 M and 12 DS

Precious in the sight of the Lord is
the death of His saint

Monday, February 11, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: John Jollett's Homestead

Amanuensis Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.
Amanuensis:  A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

A homestead is the home and surrounding land, including any related buildings such as barns, outhouses, spring houses, smokehouses, and the like set aside for the family residence.  A “homestead exemption” prevents the forced sale of the homestead to satisfy any debts of the householder. 

John Wesley Jollett was my second great-granduncle, son of Fielding Jollett and brother of James Franklin Jollett, my second great grandfather.

John W. Jollett Homestead 1871 Page County, Virginia
Click to enlarge
This document required 8 separate scans
and was stitched together using Flip Pal .
Not bad for my maiden voyage!

Homestead of John W. Jollett April 1871
Page County Deed Book O : 383

This Deed made this 5th day of April 1871, Witnesseth that John W. Jollett of the County of Page and State of Virginia being Householder and the head of a family claims as his Homestead under the Constitution of Virginia and the Same possessed is __ thereof. The following property Viz:

P. B. Borst

Witnesseth the following signatures and seals the day and year first aforesaid.
John W. Jollett {seal}
State of Virginia
County of Page

I W. W. Hampton a Justice of the Peace for the County of Page and State of Virginia, do hereby certify that John W. Jollett whose name is signed to the within writing bearing date on the 3rd day of April 1871, has acknowledged the same before me in my County aforesaid given under my hand this 5 day of April 1871.
W. W. Hampton J.P.

Page County To Wit
The within Deed was received in the Clerk’s office of said County with certificates of acknowledgement and United States Revenue Stamps of the value of twenty-five cents therein and admitted to record. April 5, 1871
J. W. Watson 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: John W. and Sarah E. Jollett

Sunday’s Obituary is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers asking us to post obituaries along with other information about that person.

My second great granduncle John Wesley Jollett and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Smith Jollett were an important part of the Naked Creek community.  The area where they lived came to be known as Jollett or Jolletts or Jollett Hollow, Virginia, in their honor.  I am surprised and a bit puzzled that John Wesley's obituary does not mention his brother James Franklin as a survivor.  

John Wesley Jollett
John Wesley Jollett
1832 - 1916

Rev. John W. Jollett, a venerable local Methodist preacher, died at his home at Jolletts, this county [Page], Wednesday night, aged eighty-five years. Mr. Jollett had been in excellent health until a year or two ago when heart disease began to trouble him a great deal. He was conscious till the last and spoke comforting words to the loved ones around him. His aged wife has also been in a serious condition for some time.

Mr. Jollett was well known and much loved by the people in the upper end of the county and East Rockingham among whom he had ministered spiritually for a great many years. He was a preacher of earnestness and force and ready to go where he needed without thought of reward. His disposition was kindly and he had brotherly love for all mankind. He was thrifty in his habits and besides his little farm at Jolletts owned four dwellings in Shenandoah where he resided until a few years ago. At one time he was a corporation school trustee. Three children survive him. Mrs. T. W. Meadows of Jollett, John B. Jollett of Sparrows Point, Md, and Charles Jollett of Portsmouth, VA, all of whom are expected to be at the funeral. The remains will be buried in the graveyard near the late home of the deceased. At this hour the time for the funeral has not been set.

Source: The Page News & Courier: 20 Oct. 1916 

Sarah Elizabeth Smith Jollett
Sarah Elizabeth Smith Jollett
1834 - 1917


Mrs. Elizabeth Jollett, widow of Rev. John W. Jollett, of Jolletts, this county, died on Wednesday after a long and lingering illness, aged about eighty years.  Mr. Jollett died the 18th of last October.  Three children of Mr. and Mrs. Jollett survive Mrs. T.W. Meadows, of Jollett, John B. Jollett, of Sparrows Point, Md., and Charles Jollett, of Portsmouth.  Mrs. Jollett was a Miss Smith, of Naked Creek.  She was a member of the Methodist church for many years.

The time for the funeral had not been set yesterday afternoon.

Source:  The Page News & Courier, 2 Feb. 1917

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sepia Saturday: John Lennon and Me

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt of men shoveling the walk following a blizzard in 1888 makes me want to snuggle under a blanket and sip hot chocolate laced with Amaretto.  Instead my devotion to Sepia Saturday takes me back to January 1965.

Wendy Slade Gillis Road Portsmouth, VA Snow 1965
Mary Jollette and I are happy to play along.
We have snowballs ready, but it looks like
we've already been hit.  
I’m sure this picture was my dad’s idea, as Momma looks totally annoyed and ready to go back inside.  I, on the other hand, look gorgeous!  Stylin’ and Profilin’!  

Royal blue stretch stirrup pants – the latest craze.  A black overcoat with a velveteen Chesterfield collar – if it wasn’t a real London Fog, it was a wannabe.

But the pièce de résistance was the cap.  That’s my John Lennon hat.  1965 y’all!  I was 13 and would have been right there screaming and crying had the Beatles come anywhere close to Portsmouth, Virginia. 

I purchased the hat from Mary Quant in London, the same shop where John Lennon had purchased his.  What a dedicated fan I must have been to navigate such a purchase in the days before online shopping.  I was 13.  I managed to track down an address and wrote a letter inquiring about the price.  Somehow I got the money together, converted it to pounds, and placed the order.

And did I wear that hat!  EV.ER.Y. DAY!  Keep in mind, these were the days of big hair with lots of teasing and hairspray.  So after walking to school in the mornings, I probably had a bad case of “hat hair” to contend with throughout the day, which would have bothered me a great deal.  But I was willing to sacrifice beauty, such was my devotion to the Beatles.

When spring came and the snow was no longer a threat, the hat came off. 

Beatles collection
What's left of my obsession:
The original albums, John Lennon's book,
Ringo doll, and the hat from Mary Quant's shop in London.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand and walk down Penny Lane and Across the Universe to Sepia Saturday, or we can Drive My Car or even get a Ticket to Ride.  We Can Work It Out.  Please Please Me.  It’s a Long and Winding Road for a Day Tripper.  Sepia Saturday is open Eight Days A Week, so stop by Any Time At All.  Ask Me Why.  Because.  After a Hard Day’s Night, a Magical Mystery Tour through some blogs will be like a Taste of Honey.  Imagine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Unidentified Madonna

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.

Unidentified woman and baby Shenandoah, Virginia

While I don’t know who this woman and baby are, I believe this might be someone in the Rucker family.  My grandmother’s niece?  My grandmother’s sister-in-law? 

Do the woman’s hairstyle and coat date this photo for late 1930s? Early 1940s?  Some other time?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Jarrell Rucker

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which asks bloggers to create a post including an image of a gravestone of one or more ancestors; it may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor.

Mary Jarrell Rucker tombstone 1871 Asa Baugher Cemetery
Image from
courtesy Jan Hensley

This field stone, “engraved” in a rather rough hand, reads

Mary P.
Died 25 of
Sep. 1871
80 years

Mary Jarrell Rucker was my third great-grandmother.   She is buried in her son-in-law’s family cemetery in Sandy Bottom, Rockingham County, Virginia, located just outside the Skyline Drive.  The Asa Baugher Cemetery is in a field, so not surprisingly cows have scattered the stones all over the place.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sepia Saturday: The School of Love Biking

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt triggered the faint memory of a drawing among the souvenirs in my mother’s box of photos.  Folded neatly in a torn envelope is a sheet of school letterhead on which SOMEONE had drawn this cartoon:

Love-Biking cartoon of Mary Eleanor Davis and Beverly, Shenandoah College 1946-1948
Gee But you'd look sweet on a motor bike
built for two

I recognize “Dooney” (or Duney) as my mother’s crazy nickname that followed her from her high school days, but the identity of “Beverly” remains a mystery. 

Evidently her high school sweetheart was on his way out of her dreams.  Maybe with him at Davidson College in North Carolina and Momma at Shenandoah College and Conservatory in Dayton, Virginia, absence did NOT make the heart grow fonder.  Instead, it was a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” 

So who was Beverly?  Momma had no yearbook to investigate as the school had voted to do away with it when money was tight at the small Methodist college.  While The Arrowhead, the school newspaper, continued to provide a record of events, they bear no mention of a Beverly.

Mary Eleanor Davis and Unknown guy on a bridge

Was this Beverly?  

Mary Eleanor "Duney" Davis and 2 unknowns at Shenandoah College and Conservatory
The white sign in the background says "Conservatory"

Was one of these hunks Beverly?  

Did Beverly actually draw the cartoon himself as a flirtatious expression of a wish or of a memorable outing?  

Or perhaps a dorm-mate sent the cartoon to tease "Dooney" about her not-so-secret admirer.

Whatever the back story might be, the envelope certainly teases the imagination.

Dooney Davis
Girls Barracks
Shenandoah School
of Love-Biking!

Pedal over to Sepia Saturday for more stories of love, mystery, bicycles, and bare feet.