Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sullivans Take a Ride

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. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image.

In Shenandoah, Virginia, four of the Sullivan sisters take a ride with John Wesley Breeden at the wheel.  He and Minnie Sullivan married in 1905.  What year do you suppose this picture was taken?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Amenuensis Monday: James Jolet Land Grant of 1748

Amenuensis Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, but also the words breathe life into. This is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.

How does a Land Grant differ from a deed?  In colonial America, the king of England owned all the English claims to North America. He could grant land as a gift or reward to his allies.  Under colonial law, the person receiving the grant was required to build a house and cultivate at least one acre.  Failure to do so would result in the land reverting to the government. The king received income from duties on materials like deerskins, tobacco, and lumber shipped to England from Virginia.  Therefore, granting title to colonial lands to others ensured economic development that boosted income for England. 

Some day I hope to be able to link this James Jolet to my 4G grandfather James Jollet. It’s the right neighborhood at least.    

You can click on the image to enlarge it. 

Land Grant to James Jolet December 1, 1748
Spotsylvania County Patent Book #27 1748-1749 page 77-78

George the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King Defender of the Faith -- ye To all to whom these Presents shall come greeting, Knowye that for diven good Causes and Considerations but more especially for and in Consideration of the Sum of Ten Shillings of good and lawful money for our use paid to our Receiver General of our Revenues in this our Colony and Dominion of Virginia. We have given granted and confirmed and by these Presents for us our Heirs and Successors Do give grant and confirm unto James Jolet one certain Tract or Parcel of land containing sixty-one and an half acres lying and being in the County of Spotsylvania and Parish of Saint George and bounded as followeth, to wit. Beginning at two red oak saplings on a hill in Mr. John Allans line Thence keeping his line North sixty degrees East one hundred and ninety-two Poles to his corner being a white oak and black oak in a glade in the line of John Robinson Jun. Esq. Thence keeping the said Robinsons line South twenty degrees East one hundred and six Poles to Thomas Salmons corner black oak two red oaks and a hiccory all saplings on a ridge. Thence keeping the said Salmons line West two hundred poles to the beginning place. With all woods underwoods swamps marshes lowgrounds Meadows Feedings and his due Share of all Veins Mines and Quarries as well discovered as not discovered within the Bounds aforesaid and being Part of the said Quantity of sixty one and an half acres of Land and the Rivers Waters and Watercourses therein contained together with the Privileges of hunting hawking fishing fowling and all other Profits Commodities and Hereditaments whatsoever to the same or any part thereof belonging or in anywise appertaining To have hold profess and enjoy the said Tract or Parcel of Land and all other the before granted Premises and every Part thereof with their and every of their appurtenances unto the said James Jolet and to his heirs and Assigns forever To the only use and Behoof of him the said James Jolet his Heirs and Assigns forever To be held of us our Heirs and Successors as of our Manner of East Greenwich in the County of Kent in free and common [? looks like "Touage"] and not in [? looks like "Capite"] or by Knight's Service yielding and paying unto us our Heirs and Successors for every fifty acres of Land and us proportionably for a lesser or greater Quantity than fifty acres the Fee Rent of one shilling yearly to be paid upon the Feast of Saint Michael the Arch Angel and also cultivating and improving three acres part of every fifty of the Tract abovementioned within three years after the Date of these Presents provided always that if three years of the said Fee Rent shall at anytime be in arrear and unpaid or if the said James Jolet his Heirs or assigns do not within the Space of three Years next coming after the Date of these Presents cultivate and improve three acres Part of every fifty of the Tract abovementioned Then the Estate hereby granted shall cease and be utterly determined and thereafter it shall and may be lawful to and for us our Heirs and Successors to grant the same Lands and Premises with the Appurtenances unto such other Person or Persons as we our Heirs and Successors shall think fit. In Witness whereof we have caused these our Letters Patent to be made Witness of our trusty and welbeloved Sir William Gooch Barronet our Lieutenant Governor and Commander in chief of our said colony and Dominion at Williamsburg under the Seal of our said Colony the first Day of December one thousand seven hundred and forty eight In the twenty-second Year of our Reign.
William Gooch

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mirror Mirror

We nearly wrecked the car when too many years ago, my then 5-year old asked, "Was Snow White the fairest of THEM  ALL or the fairest of THE  MALL?" 

We love to repeat that story.  I couldn't help laughing thinking about it as I contemplated how shabby (and not chic) my mirrors in the foyer and dining room look. I inherited both of the mirrors from my great-aunts.  One of the mirrors is in pretty bad shape, but the other looks pretty good except for a couple spots.  Some blogs with tutorials on repairing wood and plaster frames inspired me to take on this little project.  I started with the easy one. 

You can see in this picture that the corner decoration is missing as well as a curlycue at the mitre.

One of the tutorials suggested making a plaster mold using modeling clay and plaster of Paris.  After it dries, you then file the excess plaster and glue the pieces to the frame with wood glue.  Sounds simple enough.

Simple my eye!  It was a bust.  The pieces crumbled while I was filing.  Nothing is ever easy.

On to Plan B.

Someone else showed a picture frame decorated with puffy paint and then spray painted to resemble an old plaster frame.  I thought my project mirror was a good candidate for this technique.  I had to add puffy paint on top of puffy paint to achieve the height of the other trim, and it still isn’t exact, but it’s pretty darn close. 

I spray painted metallic silver and dabbed on antique gold Rub-n-Buff to coordinate with the pewter light fixtures in my foyer and dining room. 

I’m happy with the results, but I doubt it would qualify as "the fairest of the mall." 

Check out more "before and after" stories at Between Naps on the Porch.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sepia Saturday: Catch of the Day

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

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt is a photo of a market that is rich with inspiration:  boys holding watermelons, baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, signs advertising the catch of the day, signs promising “Honest weights, Square dealings.” 

So many ways to interpret this week’s theme!  But the drawing of the fish caught my eye – probably because I remembered this picture.

I have no clue who these men were except for the 2nd man from the left.  That’s my maternal grandfather Orvin Davis as a young man in Shenandoah, Virginia.  Judging by the first man’s waders, I imagine they had gone fishing along Naked Creek just a mile and a half from town.  It looks like they had only one pole between’em, but they caught a nice string of fish, likely smallmouth bass, catfish, or trout.

My grandfather was not really a fisherman, or at least when I knew him.  But he did enjoy crabbing.  My grandparents often took me along to a ramshackle bait shop on Military Highway in Chesapeake where they rented a little rickety boat. Some string, some chicken necks, a net and a basket were all we needed for cheap fun in St. Julian’s Creek. 

After we caught a bushel, we’d go home and Grandma would rinse them off with a garden hose.  Sometimes crabs got loose sending me squealing all over the yard, but a crab was no match for my grandmother.  She knew where to grab them. 

Then she would steam those beautiful blue crabs in a pot.  She’d cover the kitchen table with newspaper and everyone would gather around to crack and pick crabs all evening.  The only “side dish” was crackers and mustard. 

Looking at this photo makes me wonder what yummy side dishes the guys had with their fish that night.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver

Thankful Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that encourages us to express gratitude for a person, resource, or family history tool connected to our family history.

As usual Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings posted a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.  This week’s challenge was appropriate for Thanksgiving week.  He gave us three questions:
1.  Which ancestor are you most thankful for, and why?
2.  Which author (book, periodical, website, etc.) are you most thankful for and why?
3.  Which historical record set (paper or website) are you most thankful for and why?

A.  None of my ancestors had the courtesy to leave behind diaries and letters or any sort of paper trail that is easy to follow.  But Mary Frances Jollett Davis captured my mother’s imagination.  She was my mother’s favorite grandmother; my sister was even named for her.  Mary Frances was very proud of her Jollett heritage, and my mother was so curious about this family name that she began our venture into genealogy to answer one question:  Where did the Jolletts come from?  I am thankful for my great-grandmother because she is the reason for my research and for this blog.

B. This question is easy:  Julia Shiflett Crosswell.  When I was new to the Internet and new to genealogy, I stumbled upon Julia’s Shifflett Family Genealogy website.  Julia didn’t just give me several generations of my family; she gave me some valuable education on how to do research and how to verify information rather than just trust whatever information came my way.  She was the first person to tell me that if I wanted to know my Jolletts, I needed to look at collateral lines.  To know the Jolletts, I needed to know the Marshes, the Sampsons, the Shifletts, the Fraziers.  That led me into the most exciting time of my research when I met others online and collaborated on research.   It was through the Sunday afternoon Shiflett Chat that I met my pal Neva who has been another great source of education and inspiration.  Julia died suddenly in 2006, but her work continues under the careful guidance of Bob Klein.  I am very proud of the work that I contributed to this website.  It is truly the go-to site for all things Shiflet and related families. 

C.  As lame as it sounds, I have to say I’m most thankful for census records (especially on because it’s sooooo convenient).  If I never get the full picture of my ancestors, I at least have names and a little insight into their lives:  where they lived, what jobs they held, whether they rented or owned, whether they could read or write, and even whether they owned a radio.  Sometimes I know their neighbors and what street they lived on.   I hope for more, but I have accepted that sometimes this has to be enough. 

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: James Franklin Jollett and Eliza

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which asks us 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.

My great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett and his wife Eliza Jane Coleman Jollett are buried side by side in the Harriston United Methodist Church cemetery in Grottoes, Virginia.  The words “Father” and “Mother” stand out to me because Eliza was not really the mother of my great-grand aunts and uncles.  Her only child James Henry died young (read about him HERE).  Eliza was James Franklin’s second wife whom he married a year after his first wife Lucy Ann Shiflett died of “childbed fever.”

Did Eliza purchase the tombstones herself and provide the wording?  Did one of the children?  Maybe someone thought “Step-Mother” would have been aesthetically unbalanced and crowded, or simply inappropriate.  Or maybe I'm reading too much into this -- maybe this was just a standard design.

Most of James Franklin’s children were between 13 and 25 when he remarried.  Three children were under 7.  Only one of them probably had no memory of his mother. 

While Eliza was not the “real” mother of the Jollett children, she was the only GRANDmother that the Jollett grandchildren knew.  I have been told she was warm and loving but not quite as affectionate as their grandfather. 

Maybe “Mother” says something about how Eliza viewed herself or how the Jolletts viewed her.  She was “A” mother to them if not “THE” mother.  Judging by this next picture, she seems like a happy woman who would have made a good mother.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Jollett Reunions

Sentimental Sunday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to discuss a sentimental story or memory about an ancestor, or maybe even a family tradition.

To Mary Frances Jollett Davis, the family reunion was the most important event of the year.  In fact, when her son-in-law came running to proclaim the news that the war (WWII) had ended, she just glared at him and said, “Don’t you know that TODAY is the Jollett reunion?”  It would take more than some armistice to rain on her parade!

The number of photos left behind by aunts and grandparents are proof positive of the special place that the reunion held in the hearts of the Jolletts.  Also there is the following newspaper article:

Shenandoah, Sept 5, 1929 - -
The fourteenth Jollett Reunion was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James F. Jollett, near Harriston, VA, on Sunday September 1st in honor of James F. Jollett’s 94th birthday.

The members of the family began to gather around the large and beautiful spring about and continued to come until and it was indeed a great pleasure to see Mr. Jollett greet each of his relatives as they began to gather in and as it has always been in the past they were greeted with a smile and many kind and loving words spoken to them and many talks of olden time were told to each with each hand clasp.

At lunch was spread with GrandFather Jollett offering up praise and thanks to God for the wonderful repast set before him and for sparing his life and each one present so that they may again enjoy the company of each relative and friend.

Business meeting was called to order by President Millard Davis at and it was decided to hold the Reunions yearly at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James F. Jollett as long as the Lord spared Mr. Jollett’s life and permitted him to be present.  The meeting opened with the song “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” after which Miss Virginia Maiden of Dayton College, Va, gave a reading followed by Prayer by Mr. W. J. Sullivan.  Mr. James F. Jollett and Dr. A. L. Maiden of Dayton College each gave an address and from the expression on the faces of those present they more than enjoyed each of their remarks.  The meeting then came to a close by singing “God be with You Until We Meet Again” after which the crowd began to wind their way to their respective homes each promising to meet the other at the next reunion and each promising to try and make the next reunion as near 100 percent in attendance as it is possible to do so.

Here are some photos from various reunions.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Arthur Maiden,
James Franklin Jollett,
Emma Jollett Coleman

1919 in Harriston, Virginia
James Franklin Jollett surrounded by his children
and their spouses

Ulysses Jollett, Victoria Breeden, Sallie Clift,
Mary Frances Davis, Leanna Knight, Laura Sullivan,
Emma Coleman, Burton Lewis Jollett, James Franklin Jollett

1919 - James Franklin Jollett's grandchildren

Jollett grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Funny: Battlefields

Friday Funny is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to post something genealogy-related that makes us laugh or smile.

This is probably funny only to me and my sister.  For years we’ve laughed at this photo of one of our many summer vacations in which we toured a Civil War battlefield in Virginia.  I was my sulking, moody teenager-self that day in Manassas, and Momma was probably tired of waiting for Daddy to line up the happy picture. 

Stonewall Jackson monument
at Manassas
Wendy and her mother probably 1967 or 1968

What elevated this painful little memory into a candidate for a Friday Funny was finding this next photo in my Aunt Velma’s scrapbook.  She was visiting her friend Olive whose family took them to Gettysburg in August 1925.

Maybe Velma's friend Olive
and Unknown
Gettysburg Battlefield
August 1925

Civil War Battlefields – a metaphor for teenage angst?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday's Child: Tombstones of Vernon and Daisey Clift

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

I have written previously about Vernon and Daisey Clift who died within days of each other following a house fire.  I recently found their tombstones on  They are buried in the EUB Church Cemetery, also known as Coverstone, in Shenandoah, Virginia.  Their mother Sallie Clift is there too.  Like so many children’s tombstones, theirs are both adorned with a lamb.

Image source:
Photo by Jan Hensley

Dau of
Geo. T. and Sallie
Died Apr. 8, 1897
Aged 3 yrs 6 mos and 8 days
Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not
for to such is the kingdom of heaven.

Image source:
Photo by Jan Hensley

Son of
Geo. T. and Sallie
Died Mar. 30, 1897
Aged 5 yrs 0 mos and 15 days
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mystery Monday: William and Sarah Sampson

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that invites us to post about mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved. This is a great way to get fellow genealogy bloggers to lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

In the mid-1800s in Greene County, Virginia, every Tom, Dick, and Mary was named William and Sarah Sampson.   There were at least 5 sets of them, but only 1 of them included Sarah/Sallie Jollett.  But which?

Three of the William-Sarahs can be eliminated easily.  The oldest was William Sampson and his wife Sarah Coleman.  He was a Revolutionary War soldier who moved on to Indiana in 1805.  Coincidentally, their son William married a Sarah too – Sarah Ann Parker – but since they were out of state, they are not part of the problem.  The other William-Sarah were much older too, like the first set.  This William wrote a will in 1815 leaving his land to his wife Sarah and naming his son William as executor.  The will was witnessed by Sarah Jollet’s father James Jollett and his son-in-law Peter Marsh. 

This might also be the same William Sampson who granted permission for his daughter Sarah Sampson to marry guess who -- William Sampson.  This makes my head hurt.

Any attempt to apply logic or common sense in analyzing wills, deeds, and census records is fruitless.  I cannot connect the dots because the dots go everywhere.  I’ve tried looking at the neighbors to see what other Jolletts were living nearby.  In the 1850 Greene Co, Virginia census, Sarah and William Sampson, the miller, were living next door to James Madison Marsh, nephew of Sarah Jollett. Since families tended to live close to one another, we might conclude that our Sarah was married to the miller. However, in that same census, another of Sarah’s nephews, John Marsh, was living in the household of Sarah and William Sampson, the wheelwright. See what I mean?

Fasten your seatbelt, because now the story gets really bumpy.

In 1860, the wheelwright was in Albemarle, running a hotel; apparently his Sarah was dead. Right down the road was Sarah Jollett’s nephew Hiram Marsh who was married to the wheelwright’s daughter Peachy.  Meanwhile back in neighboring Greene County, the miller was dead, but Sarah was still there with 3 daughters and several grandchildren.  Two doors down was Tabatha Jollett, an unproven sister, but still a JOLLETT.  Soooo, was Sarah Jollett dead or a widow?

In 1870, William, the wheelwright/hotel keeper, was retired and living with his son Franklin while daughter Maria was living as a housekeeper to her sister Peachy’s husband Hiram Marsh, who was also her cousin IF her mother was Sarah JOLLETT Sampson.  In 1880, William, Maria, and Franklin were back together again in Albemarle.  In Greene County, Sarah Sampson was dead by 1870.  

In 1883, the wheelwright’s son Franklin married his cousin Clarissa Ann Sampson Rodenbarger, daughter of the wheelwright’s brother John Sampson and Sarah Jollett’s sister Clarissa.  Were they cousins ONLY on their fathers’ side, or on both their fathers’ AND mothers’ side?

Thus, it’s not just the sameness of the names that presents confusion; it’s the intertwining of these two families across the decades that makes sorting them rather complicated. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sports Center Saturday: Velma Davis Woodring

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

This story has been corrected HERE

I have mentioned before that my mother always considered her Aunt Velma and Uncle Woody to be “the fun ones” in the family.  Looking through Velma’s scrapbook, I can see why she thought so.  Pictures of Velma’s college friends reveal a bunch of fun-loving young women who enjoyed making funny faces and striking dramatic poses for the camera. 

The caption reads

Velma was also on the basketball team at Harrisonburg Teachers College, now James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Velma is the third girl kneeling on the front row.

The picture is in terrible condition, but at least the important parts survived thanks to Velma’s heavy hand with the glue back in the early 1920s. 

Since I only knew Velma when she was in her 50s-60s, I was unaware of her athletic past until I inherited her scrapbook.  As a result, I was at a loss for a story to tell when planning this blog post until I remembered that I also have Velma’s 1926 college yearbook, called "The Schoolma’am." Maybe I could find a story there. 

I looked at the class sections and found Velma with the sophomores. Beside the students’ pictures was a list of their activities along with a character quote.  Velma was a member of the Athletic Association and the YWCA.  Her quote:  “A jolly good sport in rain and sun.” 

At the back of the yearbook is the last issue of The Breeze, the campus newspaper, which summarized highlights of the year.  The classes were pitted against one another in a basketball tournament.  On Oct 24, 1925, the Freshmen beat the Juniors 43-13 (ouch!).  A week later, the Sophomores beat the Seniors 40-12 (double ouch!).  On November 14, 1925, Velma’s class, the Sophomores, won the championship defeating the Freshmen 21-18, definitely a more exciting game. 

But what’s up with these low scores?  Were the rules different?  Were girls just not very competent at dribbling and shooting?  The Breeze gave a recap of the basketball games that year.  While Velma’s team won many of the games, the scores were still low:

·         Jan 8, 1926 – HTC vs Bridgewater 36-26 (win)

·         Jan 16, 1926 – HTC vs Bridgewater 30-12 (win)  This game was described as the “fastest, peppiest game” of the season.  Whew!  Somebody, hand me a towel.

·         Jan 30, 1926 – HTC vs Roanoke YWCA 37-9 (win)

·         Feb 6, 1926 – HTC vs Fredericksburg (now University of Mary Washington) 41-18 (win)

·         Feb 13, 1926 – HTC vs Radford 34-16 (loss)

·         Feb 19, 1926 – HTC vs Radford 24-23 (loss) Two of the “Purple and Gold basketeers” (love these sportin’ terms) “ran up the score in the last quarter with ten free shots.”  Now that’s a lot of violations, Ladies!

·         Feb 25, 1926 – HTC vs Farmville (now Longwood University) 15-9 (loss)

·         Feb 27, 1926 – HTC vs William & Mary 28-23 (loss)

·         Mar 5, 1926 – HTC vs Farmville 26-21 (win)

·         Mar 13, 1926 – HTC vs Fredericksburg 34-19 (loss)

Maybe the scores were inevitably low because of the rules.  If the colleges were still playing by the modified rules developed for women at Smith College in the 1890s, then the court was divided into three sections. In the early years, there were nine players per team with three assigned to each area (guard, center, forward).  They could not play outside their area. Instead, they passed or dribbled the ball from section to section. Players were limited to three dribbles and could hold the ball for only three seconds.  But I can tell from the college newspaper that the 9-player rule was no longer in effect since several articles refer to the players as the “Blue-Stone sextet.”

Or maybe the low scores were due to those darn uniforms.  Surely Velma and her "basketeer" buddies couldn’t get much air time in those skirts. 

Velma captioned this one:
"B.B. Stars"


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Mary Frances Davis's Singer

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that focuses on a family heirloom or everyday item of importance to the family. 

This is my great-grandmother’s Singer treadle sewing machine.  Since Mary Frances Jollett Davis was my mother’s favorite grandmother, she always intended to do something special with it.  As it turns out, she never did, and so the sewing machine sat in the garage for years while other things just got piled on top. 

Now I have it.  Quite honestly, it’s both a treasure and an annoyance.  “Annoyance” because it has become a home to piles of “stuff.”  Like mother, like daughter.  “Treasure” because well, shoot, how many people own something that belonged to their great-grandmother?  For that alone, I can’t send it to Goodwill or eBay.  As with most of my treasures, they don’t fetch much for the ol’ pocketbook anyway.  One exactly like it on eBay is listed for only $250.

But look closely at how beautiful these old machines were and ARE.  The base is like decorative scrollwork in iron.

Notice the intricate patterns in the face plate:

According to a “Machine Dating” chart online, Mary Frances’s machine was built in 1921.  It’s called a “Red Head” or “Red Eye” machine because of the beautiful red and gold ornamentation. 

Mary Frances must have eased and pushed and shoved a lot of fabric through here over the years to wear away the finish.  Most of these models did not have a reverse.  I guess hers didn't either. So far, I don’t see any reverse button that I’m familiar with on modern sewing machines. 

I wonder what she was making with this last spool of thread.

I hope that one day one of my daughters will be thrilled to own her great-great-grandmother’s Singer treadle sewing machine.  And then maybe one day I will have a granddaughter who will look at that machine and proclaim, “It was my great-great-GREAT-grandmother’s sewing machine.  I remember seeing that thing in my grandmother’s den.  It was always covered with piles of paper.”