Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Monday: Trick or Treat?

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

The TRICK is that this post is not a mystery at all.  I just needed a place on Geneabloggers to put it.

The TREAT is these 2 funny photos of my parents at a Halloween party in 1959. The women had to dress as men, and the men had to dress as women.  Ooooh, they were a frisky bunch back then!

Here is Momma, Mary Eleanor Davis Slade (1929-2005).

My sister had just been born in January, but look how slim and trim Momma was already. 

And here's Daddy, Fred Robert Slade, Jr. (1928-2009).  Now we know what he would have looked like with hair!

I wonder where Daddy got that dress.  It couldn’t be Momma’s – she wasn’t that big. 

What were they reading?  Maybe they were playing Charades. 

Happy Halloween, Everyone!  I’m off to see if I can SCARE up anymore ancestors!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Fun

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings pointed us to the BBC News website to determine our place in the current world population as well as our place in all of history.  The numbers are really just estimates, but check the website to see how they calculate it.  It's easy -- just enter your birthdate in the fields and click on GO.

I was the 2,574,049,084th person alive at that time, and I was the 75,774,910,192nd person to have ever lived. 

Then I entered the next day's date to find out how many people were born on my birthday.  I share my day with 127,966 people.

Here's how it looks in graph form:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sports Center Saturday: Woody Woodring

Sports Center Saturday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to discuss our ancestor’s love of sports.

We’re a baseball family.  For better or for worse, we root for the Atlanta Braves while my sister’s family cheers for the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox.  When my nephews were playing, their dad coached Pony league ball and travel ball, and now he coaches the high school team.  Our daughter played fast pitch softball in Little League, travel ball, and high school.  My cousin Glenn was a collector of baseball memorabilia and even paid for his 3 daughters’ braces just selling baseball cards.  As we say in the South, “We’re eat up with it.”

So to have a professional ballplayer in the family is a big deal. 

Arthur Henry “Woody” Woodring is no one famous. I didn’t know him either, but he was married to my great-aunt Velma Davis.

Even after looking at numerous photos, studying the census records, and trying to learn about old ball teams, I still know very little except this:  Woody was born in Pennsylvania about 1904.  In the 1920 Waynesboro, Pennsylvania census, he was working in a factory and his mother was running a boarding house; his father is not listed. Woody and Velma married in 1927, but he is nowhere to be found in the 1930 census although she is living with her parents in Shenandoah, Virginia, and is listed as married.  Woody died in 1951, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where he and Velma lived.  At the time he was a salesman for a meat packing company.

So, what about that baseball career?  Why wasn’t he listed in the 1930 census?  I’m going to guess Woody was traveling, playing ball somewhere.

Judging by his uniform, he played baseball for the Shenandoah Indians, one of the top teams in the Shenandoah Valley League, which was started in 1923. 

I wish I could identify his teammates.

Look at that glove.  Was he a catcher?

These people look authoritative.  My guess is a manager and umpire.

Today the SVL is funded by Major League Baseball as part of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, an association of 8 summer leagues.  To date the league has produced over 1000 major league baseball players.

Shenandoah Ball Park 1951
Image scanned from Shenandoah:
A History of Our Town and Its People

Unfortunately, I don’t know the particulars of Woody’s career except that it didn’t last.  Maybe the Depression got in the way. 

My mother always remembered Velma and Woody as “the fun ones” in the family.  They didn’t have kids of their own, but they enjoyed entertaining their niece and nephew. 

Woody and Uncle Orvin Jr.
in 1928

It seems throughout his life, Woody enjoyed all kinds of sports including hunting and fishing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Funeral Card Friday: Mary Frances Jollett Davis

Funeral Card Friday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to post images of memorial cards and stories about the person memorialized.

When I look at the number of funeral cards and related Funeral Card Friday posts, I’m ashamed of myself.  I’ve kept none from funerals I’ve attended.  In fact, I usually end up nervously folding and unfolding and twisting them throughout the service.  They eventually go to the black hole that is my purse. Finally they meet their maker and go on to their lesser reward in the trashcan. 

Thanks to other people, 3 cards have survived and been passed down. This one is my favorite.  It’s the memorial card from the funeral of my maternal great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis.  I have written about her previously HERE and HERE and HERE.

The image on the cover is an open garden gate, a symbol often used to suggest a crossing over, in this case a crossing over into heaven.  The garden reminds us of the Garden of Eden, paradise, a state of perfection where nothing is lacking, and certainly that is what heaven promises.  The colors are faded peach, a touch of gold, and grey (maybe black?), and the paper has aged into a pleasant softness.  (I think the picture will enlarge if you click on it.)

As I was looking at the list of pallbearers on the back page, I mentally checked off the ones I “know” in that I remember them as old men, know how they are related to me, can name their wives, and have them dutifully logged into Family Treemaker. 

Most of the pallbearers were nephews on the Jollett side. 
·         Lewis Farrar – married to Elta Sullivan, daughter of Mary Frances’s sister Laura
·         Forrest Racy – married to Leota Sullivan, daughter of Mary Frances’s sister Laura
·         Raymond Clift – son of Mary Frances’s sister Sallie
·         Leonard Clift - son of Mary Frances’s sister Sallie
·         Russell Coleman – son of Mary Frances’s sister Emma
·         Gilbert Steppe – married to Vessie Jollett, daughter of Mary Frances’s brother Ulysses

This list says something about how close Mary Frances was with her sisters and brother.  They weren’t just emotionally close; except for Ulysses, they lived very close to one another in Shenandoah, Virginia.  Now I’m wondering why there were no pallbearers from the sons of Mary Frances’s sister Leanna.  My guess is that the miles between Page and Greene counties kept the Davises and Knights from developing a closer bond.  They probably saw each other only at the ever-popular Jollett reunions.

And then there are Howard Marshall and Lionel Morris. I remember Lionel and his wife coming to visit, and I can remember staying at their house in Washington DC a few days as a child.  They lived on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue.  I’d go the corner straining to see if I could see the White House and trying to imagine what it was like having the President for a neighbor.  Of course, I had no idea that Pennsylvania Avenue was so long.  Lionel was Granddaddy Davis’s cousin, that’s all I knew.  A quick check in my Family Treemaker jogged my memory:  that’s right, he was son of Walter Davis’s sister and Mary Frances’s sister-in-law Ida Mary Davis Morris. 

But Howard E. Marshall?  Who?  I knew the Marshalls were from the Davis side, but I didn’t know where he fit in.  As it turns out, Howard is in my FT program, too, but to me he’s just a name.  He was son of Mary Frances’s sister-in-law Saloma Davis Marshall.

I never heard much about Walter Davis’s side of the family.  I always assumed they just didn’t socialize together or have Davis reunions.  Now it seems that Walter and Mary Frances were close with at least Saloma and Ida Mary.  This memorial card has given me a different insight into the Davis family.

Maybe I’ll try to take better care of memorial cards in the future.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Pink Party Plates

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that focuses on a family treasure or heirloom.

In my family, we can’t have a party without “the pink party plates.” If there’s a bridal luncheon or shower, a baby shower, a retirement party, or a milestone birthday, the party plates are front and center. No clear plastic dessert plates trying to pass for glass, no themed paper plates, no textured plastic punch cups. (Ok, yeah, I confess, sometimes often we do that too.) Using real dishes requires more effort, admittedly, but these party plates never fail to impress. My favorite response at one party was from a young woman who gasped, “Oh look – REAL paper plates!”

My earliest memory of these pink milk glass snack plates was at my Grandmother’s house sometime in the ‘60s. She was giving a baby shower for a lady who, I’m sure, was a coworker at the Colonial Store (a local grocery chain) since just about all the guests were the check-out clerks. I was the helper who distributed all the games and awarded prizes. One of the games was to create a baby hat from a pink napkin. I awarded the prize to the woman who had a cotton ball in her purse and somehow attached it to the top of the hat. How cute was that? So how do the plates figure into this story? They don’t, I guess, except that the plates were there, and Grandma served cake, mints, nuts, and punch.

My sister Mary Jollette remembers seeing 
Grandma’s dining room table set with these pink plates. Grandma was hosting a luncheon for the ladies in the Dorcas-Friendly Sunday School class. To a little girl, these little plates and little cups were the prettiest sight. Come to think of it, probably all of us are enchanted by small versions of things – children’s tea sets, train sets, baby dishes, dollhouses, salesman’s samples. The party plates aren’t miniatures, of course, but they are smaller than our regular dishes used for regular meals, the perfect size for a finger sandwich, a little Jell-o, veggies and dip.

The other attraction is the color. There is just something charming about pink milk glass.  In the grand scheme, these plates are not all that old or valuable. I have seen them on eBay referred to as a Hostess Set selling for about $45-$50 for a set of 4. They were made by the Jeannette Glass Company out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The company, which started as a bottle manufacturer, was a forerunner in the production of Depression glass.  In the 1950s, it started producing milk glass which was gaining in popularity thanks to competitors like Westmoreland and Fenton. Jeannette introduced this pretty color called Shell Pink in 1958 but discontinued it in 1959. So that dates my party plates! 

Just look at this design. According to the Replacements website, it’s called Feather, but it always reminds me of a snowflake.

I’m not sure how I came to get them during the great division of our parents’ stuff – probably because I decorate with pink more than Mary Jollette does. We both love the plates and enjoy using them. When my sister heard that her mother-in-law always used snack plates for Sunday evening leftovers when she was growing up, I thought that was a brilliant idea. Now I want to do that. I want to use these plates MORE than I do. I’m sure if I took the time, I could remove some under-used bowls and such from a kitchen cabinet to make way for these pink cuties.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ancestors Geneameme

 Jill at Geniaus has given us a challenge.  I'm up for it.  Here are the rules:
The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found:  bold face type
Things you would like to do or find:  italicize (color optional)
Things you haven't done or found and don't care to:  plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item.
Here's mine:
  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist
  6. Met all four of my grandparents
  7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents [just one -- Mary Sudie Eppard Rucker]
  8. Named a child after an ancestor
  9. Bear an ancestor's given name/s
  10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland
  11. Have an ancestor from Asia
  12. Have an ancestor from Continental Europe
  13. Have an ancestor from Africa
  14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer [seems like all of 'em]
  15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings [not sure how large is large]
  16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man - minister, priest, rabbi [great-great uncle John Jollett, minister at Jollett United Methodist Church, in Jollett Hollow] 
  17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18. Have an ancestor who was an author
  19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones [if you count people who married INTO the family]
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginning with Z [15 to be exact! Zachariah, Zephaniah, Zada, Zebedee, Zibiah, Zenith and Zella, to name a few]
  23. Have an ancestor born on 25th December [and her name is Mary Christmas Rucker]
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day
  25. Have blue blood in your family lines
  26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier
  30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents
  31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X [probably]
  32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university
  33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence [horse thief and a murderer]
  34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime [being murdered by your brother-in-law surely counts]
  35. Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine (Tell us where)
  36. Have published a family history online or in print (Details please)
  37. Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries [there's a house in Greene County, Virginia that belonged to my 4-great grandfather's sister.  I've seen pictures but never have visited]
  38. Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century
  40. Have a pre-19th century family bible
Hey, not too bad!

Sunday's Obituary: Mary Frances Jollett Davis

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

I have written briefly about my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis HERE and HERE.  Here is her obituary:

From Daily News Record, Harrisonburg Feb 23, 1950
Mrs. Davis Dies;
Funeral Friday

Mrs. Mary Frances Davis, widow of Walter Beriah Davis and a resident of Harrisonburg for the past 13 years, died Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Violetta Ryan, 473 South Mason Street.

Mrs. Davis suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on October 6 and was for three weeks a patient at the Rockingham Memorial Hospital.  She returned to her residence on October 27 and seemed to be improving until three weeks ago when her condition became critical.

A daughter of the [sic.] James F.  and Lucy Ann Jollett, she was born in Greene County, where she spent the early part of her life and attended public schools.

Following her marriage on February 11, 1890 to Walter Beriah Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Davis resided at Shenandoah for forty years.  For the past 13 years, Mrs. Davis has been making her home with her daughter in Harrisonburg.

Mrs. Davis was a quiet, unassuming person with many fine qualities.  Her cheerful disposition and lovable nature endeared herself to all with whom she came in contact.

Mrs. Davis united with the church in early life and was a faithful member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Shenandoah where she had taken an active part in its various organizations.

Gleaners Society Shenandoah, VA
Mary Frances is on the next-to-the-back row standing in the
gap between the first 2 women on the back row.

The last surviving member of a family of nine children, Mrs. Davis is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Velma Woodring, Martinsburg, W. Va., and Mrs. Violetta Ryan, Harrisonburg; two sons, Millard M. Davis, Shenandoah and Orvin O. Davis, Portsmouth; two grandchildren Orvin O. Davis, Jr., Shenandoah, and Miss Mary Eleanor Davis, a student at Madison College; two great grandchildren Glenn Edward Davis and Miss Barbara Ann Davis, both of Shenandoah.  Her husband, a well known building contractor, preceded her in death on October 31, 1934.

Funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at two o’clock from the Shenandoah Evangelical United Brethren Church, with her pastor, the Rev. P. W. Fisher, in charge of the services assisted by Dr. E. E. Miller.  Burial will be in the family lot in the United Brethren Cemetery in Shenandoah.  Nephews will serve as active pallbearers.

The body now rests at the Lindsey Funeral Home on South Main Street where it will remain until twelve o’clock Friday when it will be taken to the church to lie in state from one o’clock until the hour of the services.  Relatives are asked to meet at the home of her son, Millard M. Davis, 407 Sixth Street in Shenandoah, Friday afternoon at one-forty.
Jan 10, 1870 - Feb 22, 1950

Friday, October 14, 2011

Surname Saturday: Rucker

Surname Saturday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers to focus on a particular name, its origin, its geographic location, and how it fits into one’s research.

Anyone who has any interest in Rucker genealogy knows Peter, maybe the first Rucker on Virginia soil, the Godfather of the clan.   His story is part fact and part legend filled with amazing stories of surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Virginia by tying himself to a keg of rum. 

What researchers are sure of is that Peter, traveling with some French Huguenots, arrived in Virginia about 1700.  His application for naturalization was approved in 1704 (the law required a 4-year residency for non-British subjects).  Peter married and settled in Essex County.  Later he moved to Spotsylvania County, where John Rucker purchased land. As population grew, new counties were carved out of Spotsylvania.  In 1793, Madison County was formed, and this is where my oldest Ruckers lived.

My most current Rucker family, my maternal grandmother’s side, lived in Rockingham and Page Counties, just across the mountain from Madison.  Searches on Ancestry result in a gazillion Ruckers in Amherst County and Botetourt County, but very few in Rockingham or Page County.  I wonder what made my family go in the opposite direction of the other Ruckers.

1885 map of land ownership in Rockingham County, VA
Frank Rucker's land is at the confluence
of the Shenandoah Riverand Naked Creek.

The fact that my definite ancestors were off by themselves is both a curse and a blessing.  Now keep in mind that it seems the goal of every Rucker descendent is to trace a straight line to Peter.  My straight line is problematic.  For sure working backwards from my grandmother it looks like this:

Lucille Rucker Davis à Joseph Calhoun Rucker à Frank Rucker à John Frank Rucker à ??

Tradition says that picking up at John Frank, the line continues to create this:

John Frank Rucker à Jarvis Rucker à William Rucker à Thomas Rucker à Peter

But more and more, the line looks like this:

John Frank Rucker à Angus Rucker à Ephraim Rucker à Peter


Just looking at naming patterns, I see that Eliza Rucker Baugher, daughter of John Frank, named one of her children Angus.  The name Angus was also given to a grandson.  There are no children in my family named Jarvis.  Another “coincidence” is that Frank named a son George Allen.  Angus had a son named George Allen.  Connecting the dots, that means Frank probably named his son after his uncle, his father’s brother.

However, these instances are not proof of anything, and so the battle between old research and new research continues.  It will take more thorough study of wills and deeds to find that direct line back to Peter Rucker. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Majestic Lifter and a Dirty Joke

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers focusing on a family heirloom or treasure.

This basket of antique kitchen tools has been a faithful member of my kitchen décor for many years.  Egg beaters, potato mashers, wooden spoons, and pastry cutters conjure up images of “woman’s work” and what my great-grandmother’s everyday life was like.  I bet in her day Mary Frances Jollett Davis had all the modern conveniences.

She probably had a stove like this one, a Majestic:

 Image from Google Images

 I’m only guessing about the stove, but I have Mary Frances’ Majestic lifter that was used to lift the stove plates that covered the holes in her range top.  With this simple tool, she could lift the plate to stoke the fire or stir the ashes with the flat end.  Not very glamorous or particularly valuable, but certainly it was important to keep it handy and not let it get lost.    

Besides the connection to my great-grandmother, the lifter has another meaning for me that always makes me laugh.  My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis used to tell how my uncle Orvin Jr. (my mother’s brother) would exasperate her by repeating this riddle: 
“What are the three important parts of the stove?” 

Are you ready for the answer?  You have to say it out loud to appreciate it.  OK, here it comes:

Lifter, leg, and poker.

I know my grandmother liked that joke.  Really, she did.  She looked like a fine church-going, cake-baking grandmotherly grandmother, but she was not above passing along a little off-color joke now and then. 

Two treasures for the price of one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday’s Child: Vernon and Daisey Clift

Wednesday’s Child is one of the daily blogging prompts at Geneabloggers that features gravestones of children.

Here are George Thomas Clift and Sallie Catherine Jollett Clift in happier times just 2-3 years before the unspeakable would happen. In March of 1897 there was a fire in their home. Little Vernon F. Clift (5) died on March 30. A little over a week later on April 8, his sister Daisey (3) died. Could anything be more horrific than to lose two children in a fire?

Vernon F. Clift (15 Mar 1892 - 30 Mar 1897)
Daisey L. Clift (Oct 1893 - 8 Apr 1897)