Sunday, January 9, 2022

52 Ancestors - FOUNDATIONS: A Rule I Ignored

One of the many rules guiding family historians and genealogists in their research is that working with an original document is better than working with a transcription or abstract. The same holds true for photographs. I never quite understood how a photo of a photo could not be just as good as the original until yesterday.

Yesterday was the day I set aside to clean out my Fibber McGee & Molly closet upstairs in my Gene Cave. For months I have had to use my foot to push back baskets overflowing with who-knows-what and then quickly extract said foot while jiggling bifold doors into place.

Who knew I have five 3-hole punchers? Why???

But I digress.

Stuffed somewhere among the paperbacks, office supplies, cookbooks, and craft supplies was an envelope of photos that I must have borrowed years ago from my sister to scan. One photo that caught my eye was this one that I had already scanned.

I have used this photo numerous times here at Jollett Etc. The couple were among my many UNKNOWNs. For a time, I thought maybe this was my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett and his first wife Lucy Shiflett. However, they married in 1859. The couple’s clothing does not fit the period.

Then I thought maybe this was my 2X great-grandparents Mitchell Davis and Martha Willson. They married in 1846. Again, the clothing does not reflect the period, nor does the woman look to be only 14 years old.

What I failed to notice the first time I scanned the photo was the reverse. The frame has aged into very soft paper making the pencil message nearly invisible and almost impossible to read.

There is a sentence at the top. Is the first word Come? Look? I don’t know. The next part is better: Remember me dearest until we meet and I will still *something something something* days apart be *something*.

It is signed “L. E. Sulli…” – the rest is too faded to read but I am pretty darn sure it is SULLIVAN.

“L. E.” was none other than Laura Etta Jollett who married Will Sullivan. Laura was one of the sisters of my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis. The flowers at Laura’s neck suggest this is a wedding photo. (Read about their Golden Anniversary HERE.)

The fact that the photo was in an envelope containing nothing but Sullivan photos tells me I am probably correct. However, as many times as I studied this picture, I never once guessed it might be Will and Laura. At first glance they do not look like other photos of them.

Laura and Will
Minnie and Pearl
(Is Will wearing the same shoes?)

Laura and Will
50th Anniversary

After I studied noses and chins and overall face shape, I was able – with confidence! - to rename the image from “Unknown” to “Will and Laura Sullivan.”

The moral of the story, boys and girls, is always look at the back of the photo too.  


© 2022, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

52 Ancestors - FUTURE: Jollett Etc Going Forward

Usually at this time of year, I write a “Year in Review” looking back at what I accomplished with this blog. But this time, I will look ahead.

I’m finally ready to say it. Over the past couple of years I have been thinking about ending my blog. Quite frankly, I feel storied out. Once in a while a 52 Ancestors theme will prompt me to check online newspapers for a story related to a distant relative or ancestor, but for the most part, I am not learning anything new. Pushing back a generation of Jolletts will require boots to ground digging.

Having nothing new to say is just one factor in my decision. Another consideration is other obligations. My DAR chapter has kept me busy as Registrar assisting other women with their applications and as the editor/reporter/printer of the chapter newsletter. I truly enjoy both of these “jobs” despite how much time they require. It has not been fun feeling like I “HAVE” to post a blog when I just want to spend time trying to prove someone else’s ancestor was a patriot of the Revolutionary War.

But that’s not all. I am taking on a project for the Greene County Historical Society transcribing some Day Books. They have been given quite a stack from various stores around Stanardsville, Virginia dating from the mid-1800s. Greene County was home to my Jolletts. I’m secretly hoping to find my family as customers at the stores. If I do, you'll be the first to know - right here at Jollett Etc.

Finally, in thinking about the future of my blog, I realize that most of my research is recorded there. As long as Blogger is alive, my blog will live too. But what if Blogger goes the way of Geocities? I decided I must do what other geneabloggers have done – create books from the blog. I have already done several books using stories about the Jolletts, but this time I want to save ALL my blogs by year. That’s 10-years’ worth. In that time, I cranked out 1370 posts and received 17,225 comments. I just started copy-pasting and formatting year one which was only 5 months and 52 blogs long. Whew – it takes longer than I thought since I also need to resize photos and think about formatting the pages.

I signed up for the 52 Ancestors challenge for 2022, but I probably will not even try to do them all. If I have something to say, I’ll post in the 11th year of Jollett Etc. For now, I am just happy that I blogged fairly consistently for 10 years.

I have made wonderful blogging friends, some of whom I feel I know better than people who live nearby. I appreciate my readers and especially those distant new-to-me cousins who reached out with information to share and requests for assistance. Making such connections is what I always hoped to achieve with my blog. So, please, stay in touch. I’m always available by email.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022!


Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Photo Friday - 1st Christmas in 1st House

Christmas 1978

This was our first Christmas in our first house. I was not sure whether this was our new apartment after we moved to Portsmouth or the new house until I noticed the new mailbox in the corner.

Merry Christmas y'all!


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

52 Ancestors - HOLIDAYS: Christmas on the Eastwind

Fred R. Slade, Jr

In December 1946, my father had been in the Coast Guard less than a year. He served on the Eastwind, a wind-class icebreaker shuttling supplies from Boston to the bases in Thule, Greenland. I don’t know what Christmas was like aboard the ship, but the Coasties made it festive.

Daddy took a lot of photos during his tour, including these 2 of Christmas trees on the ship.

Merry Christmas!

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

52 Ancestors - LINES: George

Mary Eleanor Davis (1929-2005)
College graduation photo

My mother was beautiful. Always. As a baby. As a little girl. As a teenager. As a grown woman and mother. And right on up to the day she died.

Needless to say, she had lots of beaus before Daddy came along.

When the new owner of my grandparents’ house uncovered a 50-year old treasure trove of my family’s STUFF in the attic, my mother’s years of “sewing her wild oats” came to light. Stacks of letters from college friends showed that her high school honey Dickie wasn’t the only one to steal her heart.

Bob. Pete. George. Graham.

Momma saved lots of letters. I’m guessing some did not get saved at all. Judging by just the number of saves, you would think Graham was the #1 contender. However, Momma’s friends always asked about George. How are things with George? Are you still seeing George? When will you see George? What’s up with George?

Surprisingly, there are only 3 letters from George, all written in the summer of 1948. Momma had finished her time at Shenandoah College and was home for the summer prior to entering Madison College. Meanwhile, George was taking classes at Shenandoah. I am not sure whether he was trying to catch up or get ahead.

Given this week’s theme “Lines,” this letter fits the bill.

I won’t print the entire letter. George gets rather mushy.




For some reason or other I was very much in doubt that I would hear from you. I knew you for such a short time that I figured that you throught [sic] I was giving you a big line. I did rather rush things quite a bit but it was because I knew you were going to leave so soon.


Hmm – I wonder what his pick-up line was.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

On This Day - Violetta

On 21 December 1989, my dear grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan died in Harrisonburg, Virginia.


4 Jan 1905 - 21 Dec 1989

College Graduation 1923
State Normal School Harrisonburg

1st year as a teacher

One of my favorite pictures
about 1951

Dec 1981

© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Photo Friday - Fourth Christmas

Gary and Jan in front of our tree
Christmas 1976

Since the pictures are so bad and the tree not very pretty in 1975, I’ve skipped ahead to our 4th Christmas. We had moved into a larger apartment. Our good friends Gary and Jan came over for a game night.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.