Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: Z is for the Davis Kids

This is day 26 of the A to Z April Challenge.  The End of the challenge.   

is for the 18 people in my database whose name begins with Z.
  • 3 Zachariah’s
  • 4 Zada’s
  • 1 Zebedee
  • 1 Zedekiah
  • 1 Zelda
  • 1 Zella
  • 2 Zenith’s
  • 2 Zephaniah’s
  • 1 Zibiah
  • 1 Zoe
  • 1 Zola
One family alone has 3 Z’s:  my maternal grandfather’s paternal grandfather’s family.  Mitchell and Martha Ann Wilson Davis married in 1846 and raised 15 children in the Beldor community of Rockingham County, Virginia.  They must have loved that letter “Z” because in addition to the 3 whose names began with “Z,” two more had a “z” in their name:  Amaziah and Lorenza. 

But let’s look at the main Z children.

Zedekiah Davis was the first born to Mitchell and Martha.  But he lived only a short while, from 1847 to 1863.  In fact, sadly enough, he was the second child of three to die between June and July of that year.  I can only surmise that they were victims of an epidemic.

Zephaniah Leonard Davis was born in 1851 and died in 1929. He married twice: first to Anne E. Bellomy and second to Mary Frances Crawford.  He and Anne had at least 6 children, but only 5 appeared in the census records:  Mattie, Ida, Zephaniah Jr., Marshall, and Annie.  Zephaniah and Mary Frances had 2 children, Elsie and Herman. 

Zibiah Saloma Davis was born in 1864 and died in 1936.  She married John Lewis Marshall about 1891, a farmer.  They had 6 children:  Nora Bertha, Alvin Russell, Lewis Dewey, Minnie Pearl, Myrtle Lee, and Howard Emory.

Andrew Chapel Methodist Church Cemetery
Vienna, Virginia
Photo by Audrey

Zip, Zoom, or Zigzag over to the A to Z April Challenge Zone for Zillions of Zesty Zingers by Zealous Zanies before they are Zapped.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: Y is for Youngins

This is day 25 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Youngins.  Little folks make delightful subjects for photos.  Here is a random sampling of photos that have been passed down in my family.

I love everything about this photo of my maternal grandfather's sisters Violetta and Velma taken probably about 1911.  Violetta's stance and the position of her arm remained the same as an elderly woman. 

This is a picture of my mother Mary Eleanor Davis (Slade) and her brother Orvin Davis Jr. taken probably late 1929.
How cute is this?  This is Virginia Maiden, daughter of Minnie Coleman and Arthur Maiden.  She was born in 1911, so this picture must have been taken about 1915 or 1916, wouldn't you think?  Virginia's mother was one of my maternal grandfather's cousins.

Here is one dollbaby.  If you click on the image to enlarge it, you might see she's wearing two rings and a ribbon bracelet.  This is Alda Clift, daughter of Sallie Jollett and George Clift.  Sallie and George lost two children in a fire, so I bet this cutie patooty was doted on.  Alda was born in 1905, so I date this picture about 1906.

This is one of Alda's brothers Raymond.  I wonder what he was thinking about.  He was born in 1900, so probably this portrait was made at the same time as Alda's.

Maxine and Pauline Strole were children of Granddaddy's cousin Pearl Sullivan and her husband Clyde Strole.  Maxine was quite the fashionista with that fur collar and muff.

Could there be a better Christmas for my cousins Bobbie and Glenn Davis?  I can remember being totally jealous that Bobbie got a cowgirl outfit (with a gun, no less!).  Cowgirl outfit, doll, doll house, and ironing board.  Looks like a great Christmas to me!

And who is that long-legged cute girl taking care of her baby sister in 1959?  Velveteen pedal-pushers and a pink top.  Sister in cloth diapers.  Priceless!


Yippee!  There will be no Yawning over the Yarns Yielded by Yuppies, Youngsters, Yokels, and Yodelers over Yonder at the A to Z April Challenge.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: X is for the X

This is day 24 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for the X husband.  George Thomas Clift was a dirty dog.  He cheated on his wife, my great grand aunt Sallie Jollett Clift.

He verbally abused her.  He even pulled a gun on her in front of their 8-year old daughter.

Apparently ol’ George considered himself THE MAN who could do as he pleased in his little chauvinistic world.  He kept love letters and post cards and photos from his various affairs spanning several years.  And he did so in plain view where Sallie easily found them. 

It’s all right there in the 1913 Chancery Cause files for Page County, Virginia.  Every letter.  Every photo.  Public record.

Including this gem from a photo booth:

That’s good ol' George and one of his good ol' mistresses.

And that’s why he’s the eX.

If you’re caught between a Xenolith and Xylols, you might want to head over to the A to Z April Challenge for some Xeroxing.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sepia Saturday: May Day! May Day!

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows some festive revelers dancing around a May Pole.  Had you been in Dayton, Virginia, in 1948, you might have been among the throngs eagerly anticipating the 14th annual May Day festivities at Shenandoah College & Conservatory.  You would also have seen my mother Mary Eleanor Davis (Slade) serving as the Maid of Honor. 

Judging by the amount of press, May Day was a big deal in Dayton.  An article appeared in the local newspaper:


      ·         Queen of the May – Hilda Maulden of Kannapolis, NC

      ·         Maid of Honor – Mary Eleanor Davis of Portsmouth, VA

      ·         Members of the court: Betty Kyle, Conservatory senior; Jane Keiter, College senior; Rebecca Grimes, Conservatory junior; Julia Ring, Conservatory sophomore; Sue Buchanan, Conservatory freshman; Undine Bridgers, College freshman

      ·         Lou Salmons and Nancy Caskey to bear gifts to Queen Shenandoah from the College and Conservatory

      ·         Pageant “Festival of Flowers” to follow coronation; music by Conservatory orchestra

             ·         May Day and Homecoming were combined

(Click on the images if you want to enlarge them.)
The school newspaper, The Arrowhead, ran both a front page article and editorial.

The article includes many of the same facts as reported in the local newspaper.  But here are a couple interesting tidbits:

·         May Day festivities were traditional in colleges and universities throughout the United States.

·         The representatives of the court were to wear pale orchid gowns.

·         The maid of honor (my mother) would be wearing delicate green. 

·         The Queen would wear a beautiful white gown. 

The sun must have been in
Momma's eyes.  There's also a lot
of glare on that delicate green dress.

The editorial amuses me with its grandiloquence.  One would think Miss Hilda Maulden was going to reign over the world, not just the May Day festivities.

from The Arrowhead (XI.7) April 1948
Queen Shenandoah XIV

On the head of a petite brunette here on our campus next month will be placed the crown of Queen Shenandoah XIV.

Our queen will be taking over her throne not by force, nor bloodshed, but by the democratic vote of her fellow-students here on the campus.

Queen Shenandoah, we of the college feel that we could not have improved upon the selection of a queen to reign at our May Day festivities and we selected you in knowing that you will carry out your tasks before the public in an excellent manner.  [ I wonder what she had to do besides smile and wave.]

You will take over the throne from Queen Shenandoah XIII who reigned here last year and to both of you who we have marked down as “tops” in our college life we want to wish a joyous day on May Day with many more of same to follow.
To we here on the campus Queen Shenandoah XIV you truly represent the typical picture of American happiness.  [Don’t get me started on THAT grammar error!]

We have watched you in your college life giving out with a cheery “hello” to your many friends.

We have watched you help out others who needed help.

We watched you with your late little dog who has passed on and knowing you had the kindness you always displayed toward that pet we truly could think of nothing but these lines to say when we learned that our student body had selected you as Queen Shenandoah XIV:

“Queen Shenandoah XIV, may your reign be a long and happy one, we look forward with great eagerness to your coronation.  Hail Queen Shenandoah XIV!” 

Here is the program from the May Day Festival at Shenandoah College, 1948.

Program cover
featuring Hilda Maulden

Page 2
Mary Eleanor Davis is in the middle

Page 3

It’s too bad that I have no picture of the May Pole dance that preceded the recessional.  It probably was quite similar to the one at Madison College, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1950.

Scanned from the 1950 Madison College yearbook
The School Ma'am

For more merriment, grab a ribbon and wind your way over to Sepia Saturday.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reflections of a 1940 US Census Indexer

Since the 1940 US Census went online April 2, 2012, I’ve indexed over 22 batches from 8 states.  My accuracy score is 97%.  If you’re not familiar with how indexing works, it’s fairly simple.  Two people index the same image.  If they agree, everything goes through just fine.  If they disagree, an arbitrator steps in to break the tie.  

I think my score would be higher if the arbitrators followed directions.  One of the rules is “type what is written.”  One arbitrator changed about 30 entries in one batch from “Same Place” to the name of the county where the people lived in 1935.  Needless to say that sent my accuracy score plummeting. 

Another rule is if the spelling of a city, county, or country is wrong, correct it.  I have done that, but I have also been overridden by an arbitrator who did not bother to check for correct spelling.  Score dropped again.
But I’m not venting.  The score is not why I index.

I index because Somebody indexed 1810-1930.  I index because there is Somebody who cares about the 24-year old widow in Mississippi washing and ironing other people’s clothes in order to support 3 children.  I index for the Somebody searching for the father of their Kansas ancestor whose siblings all have different last names.  I index for the grave diggers, saw mill laborers, handy-men, and truck farmers who led small lives full of dignity.

And I admit it -- I index hoping for a hint at a juicy story or at least an interesting surprise.  Today it finally happened in a batch from Sarasota, Florida.  Among the lawyers, bankers, real estate salesmen, managers of department stores and restaurants, there was a professional baseball player.  YAY – my first “famous” person.  Roy H. Spencer, his wife Anita, a daughter and his mother-in-law were there on Oak Street among the white-collar well-to-do.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

I Googled Roy H. (Hampton) Spencer.  He was a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates when they won the World Series in 1925, and he had also played with the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, New York Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers where he finished his career.  I found a baseball card for 75 cents (aww – that’s sad) and an autograph for $106.  Pretty cool, eh?

If you haven’t already signed up to help index, it’s not too late.  Start at the 1940 US CensusCommunity Project website. The sooner we finish, the sooner an index will be available for all of us to find that illusive ancestor more easily.  In the meantime, enjoy this interactive map that shows the progress of indexing state by state.

DISCLAIMER: As part of ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

A to Z April Challenge: W is for Wives

This is day 23 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Wives.  My 3G grandfather Fielding Jollett had two of them.  Not at the same time, of course.  I descend from his second wife, Mary Ann Armentrout, whom I wrote about briefly HERE. 

Today I want to talk about Wife #1, Ann Stoutemire/Stoutemoyer/Stoutemyre/take your pick.  She was the daughter of Jacob and Barbara Orebaugh Stoutemire, born probably around 1800.  They lived along Naked Creek in Rockingham County, Virginia.   Ann and Fielding Jollett married in 1822 and bought land next to her parents.  They had two children.  Emanuel and Margaret were just little folks when their mother Ann Jollett died some time before October 1828 (which is when Fielding married his second wife). 

That’s the extent of my knowledge of Ann Stoutemire Jollett.  But I owe a great deal of gratitude to Ann’s 3G granddaughter Cathy Hecker, my half 4th cousin.  Cathy compiled a great deal of Jollett research the old-fashioned way before computers, before email, before a phone call and credit card could get you a quick answer.  She was in Ohio, but the Jolletts were in Virginia.  She drove to court houses.  She wrote letters and mailed checks.  By the time we found each other, she had all but given up hope that there was anyone out there who cared about the Jolletts.  She mailed copies of her research to me. 

The broken font reminds me of the old word
processing machines in the days before Windows.

The bulk of her work was on the Fielding-Ann line, as it should be.  But she had found deeds, wills, and obituaries for many on the Fielding-Mary Ann side as well.  Her work gave me a strong foundation on which to build my own research. 

Cathy and I talked a couple times a year.  Her last phone call to me was filled with expressions of thanks for my interest in the Jolletts and excitement over all the new information generated due to my little website.  She was only sorry she had never had a chance to meet me in person, and had she mentioned that her cancer had come back. 

Then it hit me – this was a good-bye. 

Cathy Hecker is always close to my thoughts when I’m writing about the Jolletts.  And because of her, I think fondly toward Ann Stoutemire, a woman who is not my ancestor.

Why don’t you Work your Way over to the A to Z April Challenge for more Wonderful Writings?

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: V is for Vessie

This is day 22 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Vessie Bernice Jollett Steppe.  Vessie is my maternal grandfather’s cousin, therefore my first cousin twice removed.  She was the only child of Ulysses and Sadie Jollett, born August 21, 1904. 

No, that's not Tommy Smothers!
Ulysses and Sadie Jollett
with Vessie
Vessie remembers not wanting
 to hold her daddy's hand.

Vessie grew up in Shenandoah, Page County, Virginia where she met Gilbert Steppe.  They married  December 26, 1922. Like his father-in-law, Gilbert worked for the railroad, and like most women, Vessie was a stay-at-home mom caring for their only son Jollette who was born in 1924. 

Gilbert, Jollette, and Vessie Jollett Steppe

Later Vessie and Gilbert moved to Dahlgren,
Virginia where she lived until her death in 2001. 

My sister and I spent a lovely day with Vessie, probably in 1999.  Even at 95 years of age, Vessie lived alone although her daughter-in-law lived next door and checked on her regularly.  Vessie cooked lunch for us as she shared her memories of the Jollett family.  

Why don’t you Vege out and Venture over to the A to Z April Challenge to View a Veritable Vortex of Veracious Verbalizations before they Vanish.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: U is for Ulysses

This is day 21 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Ulysses Finks Jollett, my great-grandmother’s brother.  He was born to James Franklin and Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett in January 1883 in Greene County, Virginia.  He married Sadie Janiera Lamb in 1903, and they had one daughter (who will be the focus for “V” day).

As a teenager in Greene County, Ulysses worked the farm.  However, once the family moved to Shenandoah in neighboring Page County, Ulysses went to work for the railroad like so many other men.  He moved up from laborer to fireman and eventually to railroad engineer, a position that required him to move to Baltimore, Maryland. 

Sadie and Ulysses Jollett
Ulysses died in Baltimore, January 30, 1931.  According to the coroner’s inquest, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  His doctor claimed he suffered from “melancholia.”  However, his wife and others believed he was murdered by a lover’s jealous husband. 

At a Jollett reunion, some time before 1928
Ulysses Jollett, Victoria Jollett Breeden, Sallie Jollett Clift,
Mary Frances Jollett Davis,Leanna Jollett Knight, Laura Jollett Sullivan,
Emma Jollett Coleman, Burton Lewis Jollett, James Franklin Jollett

I Urge you to Unite with Umpteen Users over at A to Z April Challenge  to Uncover some Utterly Unequal blogs.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: T is for Tacky

This is day 20 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Tacky.  Tacky Maude.  That’s the curious name of the wife of my 2nd cousin 2X removed.  I’m not including her last name because I wouldn’t want a cousin Googling her to suddenly find me laughing at their great-grandmother.  It would be tacky.

Where Bluford and Fanny Finangus [not telling the surname] got the idea for Tacky is a mystery, as is why THEIR parents chose Bluford and Fanny Finangus. 

But this is what I know of Tacky:

Tacky (also spelled Tackey and Tackie), born July 17, 1880 in Greene County, Virginia, was the second oldest of 9 children.  She married and had at least two children, maybe 3 (confusing census records).  By 1920 she and her son had moved back home with her parents, and she was listed as single.  But in 1930, she was listed as divorced, still living with her parents and now two children. 

Tacky Maude died December 12, 1948 in Albemarle County, Virginia. Her obituary says she was survived by two adopted children.  However, there is no mention of her own children.

Being left out of the obituary – now that’s tacky.

Fo more Terrific Tales, Trot on over to the A to Z April Challenge.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z April Challenge: S is for Slade DNA

This is day 19 of the A to Z April Challenge.

is for Slade.

In 2005, I bought the Family Tree Y-DNA kit, swabbed my father’s cheek and joined the Slade Surname DNA Project.

Over the years, we’ve had a few hits, but nothing that materialized into anything.  Some of the matches indicate a 27% chance of sharing a common ancestor 4 generations back.  Most are under 9%. 

But a couple weeks ago we had our first hopeful hit – a man whose last name is Calhoun has a 67% chance of sharing a common ancestor with my dad.   Within a couple emails, we were both stymied, unable to figure out a connection.  I had to confess my suspicion that my dad’s grandfather might not have been a Slade after all, that perhaps his grandfather’s MOTHER was a Slade who did not marry the father of her children.

What I’m sure of:  Daddy’s grandfather Stephen F. Slade was born in Florida and came to Virginia with his mother and younger sister, both named Julia. 

Here is a family in Florida that SOUNDS like they should be mine:

1850 Madison Co, FL

Stephen F. Slade  34  [my 3G grandfather?? – he has the same name as my great-grandfather]
Mary Slade 30 
James M. 19   
Mary  17  
Joseph  13  
Peter  11  
William  9  
Andrew  7 
Julia  5   [my 2G grandmother??]
Cabell 2 

1860 Lafayette Co, FL

Stephen Slade 43  [my 3G grandfather??]
Wife Margaret 45
Pilester 22   
Julia  14 [my 2G grandmother??]
Louiza  11
Stephen  5   [there’s that name again – must be popular!]        

1870  Lafayette Co, FL

Stephen Slade  age 55  [my 3G grandfather??]
Peggy   age 50 
Julia  23  [my 2G grandmother??]
Cabel 21
Luther born Dec 1869 

But where were Julia and her 9-year old son Stephen in 1880?  I can’t find them.  By 1900, my Stephen was married and his “widowed” mother was living in his household. 

Now, I have no absolute proof that this is my family or that my 2G grandmother did not marry the father of her children.  But let’s get back to Mr. Calhoun who contacted me about the DNA match.

He traces his Calhouns to Georgia, a hop, skip, and cheek swab away from the Slades in Florida.  PLUS -  and this is the best of the coincidences – in 1860, just 2 doors away from the Slades is one John C. Calhoun.  Mr. Calhoun believes John is one of his people.  I’ve tried tracing him through the census records, but his name is too common and I don’t have enough context to narrow the possibilities. 

So for now, on my To-Do list is to order a death record for my Stephen Slade to see if there is a father named. 

Slip on over to the A to Z April Challenge for more Scintillating Selections.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.