Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Tricky Treat

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. 

I myself was wordless that Halloween evening of 1966 or 1967 when I answered the door.  I was too old for trick or treating, so I was prepared to give out treats to all the little gypsies, princesses, witches, cowboys, and skeletons.  But instead I was met with these two full-grown trick-or-treaters:

Lucille Davis, Barbara Davis, Portsmouth, Virginia

My grandmother on the left and cousin Bobbie on the right.

Weren't they tricky?

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mystery Monday: Just in - update on William Jollett

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.

What I know about the William Jollett – William Boyd mystery is complete, with the exception of one interesting addition.

It’s a newspaper clipping that arrived in my email just the other day thanks to Jan Hensley, an online friend with whom I have swapped genealogical information for several years.  (In fact, her work to find the grave of her patriot ancestor and organize a ceremony to dedicate a new tombstone inspired me to pursue DAR membership.)  Jan found this brief mention of William Jollett’s run-in with the law:

News clipping courtesy of Jan Hensley

A man giving his name as Wm. Jollett, was arrested on the 26th  ult., by Wm. Campbell, constable of Page county, suspected of having stolen a bay mare, which he had in his possession.  He was committed to jail by Justice T. M. Almond.  He has light hair, fair complexion, about 22 or 23 years of age, and has a conspicuous scar upon his neck.  The mare, which is now in possession of Mr. Campbell, is a dark bay, with hind feet white, a narrow blaze in the forehead, about ten years old, and in good condition.

Harrisonburg Rockingham Register
September 3, 1868

I'm glad to know that William's crime made the news, but now I wonder what caused that conspicuous scar.  There's just no end to this mystery.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Census Sunday: The Breedens

Victoria Jollett, Victoria Breeden, Decatur Breeden
Decatur and Vic Breeden

During World War II, many of my ancestors left the Shenandoah Valley that had been their home for many generations to seek work in Washington DC. And that’s exactly where I found my great-grand aunt Victoria Elizabeth Jollett and her husband Decatur Breeden in 1940. 

Click to enlarge

They were renting an apartment for $35 a month from William and Sarah Moore on Twelfth Street.  The Breedens had not been there very long, it seems, as they said they were still living in Shenandoah, Virginia in 1935, where they had been living all their married lives since 1902. 

Decatur was an engineer with the Navy Yard earning $1820 for a full year’s work in 1939, roughly $30,300 today.  He worked 39 hours during the last week of March 1940. Although Vic claimed to be UNABLE to work, she actually never worked, according to previous census records.  She suffered from asthma for many years.

There is no informant indicated, so it’s unclear who gave incorrect information about Vic’s and Decatur’s ages.  They are recorded as 58 and 54, respectively; however, the ages should have been Vic 62 and Decatur 63.

An interesting story about them is not to be found in census records.  Vic and Decatur were actually first cousins once removed.  Now here’s a tangled mess when figuring out relationships.  Vic’s father James Franklin Jollett and Decatur’s grandmother Lydia Jollett Breeden were brother and sister; therefore, Decatur’s grandmother was Vic’s aunt.  Let’s keep going.  Decatur’s father James Madison Breeden was then Vic’s cousin as well as father-in-law.  Decatur was not just the husband of my great-grand aunt but also my second cousin twice removed.  

Victoria Jollett, Victoria Breeden, Jollett Reunion
Vic at a Jollett Reunion

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Women in Bonnets

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt suggests several themes:  umbrellas, rain, wet streets, big clunky shoes, women wearing bonnets, even ugly women.  That poor ol’ gal looks like she might read someone’s fortune any minute. 

I have two old photos of a woman in a bonnet.  First up:

Ok, I’ll say it since you’re probably thinking it – yes, she’d qualify for the “ugly women” theme too.  And she might even be able to deliver one wicked fortune.

However, the truth is, I SUSPECT this might be my great-great grandmother Martha Ann Willson Davis.   What makes me think so?  In the photo album belonging to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis, there are only four portraits from Star Studio:  Mary Frances and Walter Davis, 

Mary Frances Jollett Davis about 1890
Walter Davis about 1890

and “Ugly Woman” and “Burly Man.”  

Possibly Mitchell Davis
1820 - 1890
Possibly Martha Ann Willson
1832 - 1905

In these photos, Walter and Mary Frances were young, so maybe they are wedding portraits.  Since the Jollett family seemed to like a different photographer, I am reasoning that maybe the Davis family ordered the portraits and that they preferred Star. 

There are no other photos that look like Ugly Woman and Burly Man, but certainly Mary Frances and Walter would have wanted at least ONE picture of Walter’s parents.  Right now, they’re the likely candidates for these unidentified portraits. 

The next photo of a woman in a bonnet is on heavy brown cardboard that has been cut to fit into SOMETHING, a frame maybe. 

305 Pennsylvania Avenue, Hampton, VA

On the back written in pencil is “This is Mrs. B. C. Coldorn 305 Penn. Ave, Hampton VA” with a circle around it. Below that is this address:  “122 East 42nd St, NY 17, NY.”  

I have looked for that name in FamilySearch as well as Ancestry and have come up with nothing that explains who Mrs. B. C. Coldorn was, who owned this picture, or how it came to be passed along through several generations to me.  

I even Googled “B. C. Coldorn” and got “Do you mean Cold Corn?”  

I just love Google – always trying to help me out.

I’ll need a special Magic Thinking Bonnet to figure out who these women were.

Grab an umbrella, a bonnet and your big clunky shoes and make your way over to Sepia Saturday to see what others have made of this week’s theme.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DAR - Gathering Documents

Last week my friend Neva and I went to the Library of Virginia in Richmond with a specific list of documents to find in order to get closer to the golden prize of membership in the Fort Nelson Chapter of the Virginia DAR.  We always joke that we actually go for lunch - the research is secondary.

It has been far too long since I last visited the library.  Hallelujah the LVA has upgraded the machines for viewing microfilm.  We used to use machines that look like this:

from Google Images

It’s not that they were difficult to use.  Just cumbersome.  If you wanted a copy of an image, you had to rewind the film, take it off the machine and move to another machine, fast forward to the desired image, insert your library debit card hoping all the while you still had enough money on it, and print. Likely the paper was 16x20.  If the film was scratched or faded, the copy was too.

But the new machines are miracles of tweaking goodness:

from Google Images
You still wind the film on the same way, but you stay put and save an image to your flash drive.  You can zoom, change the contrast, brighten or darken, switch black images with white writing to white images with black writing, and capture as much or as little of the image as you want.  No more sliding dollars into a machine in exchange for a barely readable document.

Can I get an Amen?

On this trip, I was able to find AND download
  • A Rockbridge County, Virginia marriage bond for my great-great grandparents Mitchell Davis and Martha Ann Willson (which gave me her father’s name:  Samuel).  Mitchell was the grandson of my patriot, Leonard Davis Sr.
  • A Rockingham County, Virginia birth register for Walter Davis which named his parents, Mitchell and Martha Ann Davis
  • A Greene County, Virginia marriage register for Walter Davis and Mary Frances Jollett, which named both of their parents

None of the information was new (except Martha’s father’s name), but all documents are necessary for actual proof of lineage.

I was disappointed that I did not find a couple pieces of information that SHOULD have been in the library.  First of all, Vogt & Kethley’s Albemarle County Marriage Records contains an abstract of the marriage record for Leonard Davis and Mary Marshall; however, I did not find it in the Albemarle microfilm.  While I was hoping to see the record, the fact is I really don’t even need it.  Leonard has already been proven as a patriot, so the various details of his birth, marriage, and death are already on record with the DAR. 

My challenge will be to prove Leonard had a son Leonard Jr. who married Fanny Wyant and had a son named Mitchell.  Neva found an index for a marriage record in Rockingham County.  Based on some old research, I had Orange County in my notes but was glad for confirmation of the error.   Unfortunately, I didn’t find the actual marriage record nor did I find birth or death records for Leonard Jr.

Lastly, I didn’t find a death certificate for Walter Davis.  I will check on this again. It’s possible that death certificates for Page County, Virginia in 1934 carried over to a second roll of microfilm. Maybe I simply overlooked it in my haste.

So the hunt to connect the chain from Mitchell to Leonard Sr. continues.  Sounds like Neva and I need to start planning another lunch research trip.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Ahem!

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.

This is my granduncle Woody Woodring in October 1926.  If he’s not looking respectfully at old stones, then I don’t want to know what he’s up to.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: John W. Rucker and Mother

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.

My great-grand uncle John Wesley Rucker is buried in Elk Run Cemetery in Elkton, Rockingham County, Virginia.       

from Findagrave
photo by Jan Hensley

John W. Rucker
July 20, 1854
May 29, 1899

The open book on the headstone is representative of the Bible, an appropriate feature for a man who must have been deeply religious as suggested in his obituary.  

sent to me by
Linda Pruett Morgan

In loving memory of John W. Rucker, who died May 29, 1899.  The subject of this notice was a son of Frank and Sarah Rucker, born July 20, 1854, and at the time of his death was forty-four years, ten months and nine days old.

He left his home and family on May 1st for Newport News, VA, where he obtained work in the Navy yard.  He worked only a week when he was taken down on a sick bed from which he never rose, although brought home and everything that loving hands and kind friends could do was done to relieve his sufferings.  He died in three days after he arrived home.  Death had marked its victim and nature had to yield to a Power stronger than man’s.  While we are almost crushed with grief at the loss of our dear one, we know of the beautiful possibility of his soul’s salvation.  Just a few hours previous to his death he said, “The Lord is gathering in his sheaves,” and that he did not fear the dreadful hour of death.

His funeral was preached by Rev. Black, taking for his text Amos, fourth chapter and a part of the twelfth verse, “Prepare to meet thy God.”

We laid him to rest in the new cemetery at Elkton, close to father and mother, to await the resurrection day when we hope to meet and clasp the hand of our dear one in the New Jerusalem.

Dear husband, you have left us,
Here our loss we deeply feel,
‘Tis God who has bereft us,
He can all our sorrows heal.
                By His Wife  [Matilda Stockdell Rucker]

June 5, 1899

Just as the obituary indicates, nearby is John Wesley's mother Sarah A. Herndon Rucker.  However, there is no tombstone for his father Frank.

from Findagrave
photo by Jan Hensley

Sarah A. Rucker
Died Mar. 19, 1893
Aged 61 years

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mystery Monday: Part 4 Man on the Run - Annie Found

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.

Click HERE for Part 1 The Early Years.
Click HERE for Part 2 The Getaway.
Click HERE for Part 3 The Letters.

Many years ago, my sister and I spent a lovely afternoon with our maternal grandfather’s cousin Vessie Jollett Steppe.  We were on a fact-finding mission in our early days of genealogy research, and Vessie was just the person to talk to.  She identified people in old photos and talked at length about various members of the Jollett family. 

Then she asked US a question:  In your research, have you run across anything about Annie Found? 

Annie who? 

As if trying to recall just exactly what she had heard as a child, Vessie said she had always heard about a baby girl being left by a Jollett boy on somebody’s doorstep.  She didn’t know who the boy was, where this was supposed to have happened, or even in what time period.  And who dubbed the baby “Annie Found”?

Of course, we were no help with that little mystery, so it became a little scribbled notation on a legal pad.

Fast forward about thirteen years.

A few weeks ago, I heard from “Patricia,” one of several Boyd family researchers.  In her Internet surfing, she found a page from the now-defunct Geocities where I had housed my research.  And because Patricia is such a good thinker, she immediately noted a possible connection between my Annie Found story and her Vinie Martin story.  Could Annie Found be the illegitimate child of Vinie Martin and William Jollett, a.k.a. William Boyd?  Was he the Jollett boy who deposited a baby on someone’s doorstep as he fled out of town in 1876?  And whose doorstep?

Among the letters that William and Hattie Boyd had sent to people in Rockingham County, Virginia was a response that could be a clue.  It said a family named Lichliters “. . . can give all information that anyone wants.” 

The mention in the letter of other names, Ruby, Georgie, Helen, and Oscar, led us to David and Sarah Munch Lichliter in Shenandoah County, the same county William Jollett visited when he was released from prison, the same county he rode through in his mad escape to Giles County.  Perhaps coincidentally, the 1880 census shows David and Sarah with two daughters:  Ida age 2 and – wait for it – Annie age 4.  Doing the math makes it clear that her birth year corresponds with the time that William Jollett disappeared.

1880 Shenandoah County, Virginia Census
click to enlarge

So did David and Sarah FIND little Annie on their doorstep?  The family Bible simply records Annie as their daughter.  But really, would anyone write “Found on a doorstep” in the family Bible?  It’s doubtful.  For now, the notion that we might have found Annie Found is only conjecture.

And what about Vinie Martin?  What became of her?  Not so surprisingly, there was a Virginia Martin in the 1870 Page County, Virginia census, the same county where William Jollett and his family lived.  Vinie sounds like a reasonable nickname for Virginia.  In 1876, she would have been about 17 or 18, certainly old enough to have attracted a man like William Jollett.  But whether this is THE Vinie Martin we don’t know for sure. 

In 1878, just two years after the reported incident with William Jollett, this Virginia Martin married Daniel Cullers of Shenandoah County.  The Cullers were neighbors of – are you ready for this? – Sarah Munch Lichliter’s family.  Munch, Lichliter, and Cullers families were living side by side for decades.  Certainly it’s not unthinkable that a woman like Vinie would be curious about her child, insert herself into the community where she could observe from a distance, and meet someone to marry.

Now if you aren’t already dizzy from trying to keep up with this soap opera, grab the Dramamine.  In the 1880 Warren County, Virginia census we find Daniel and Virginia Cullers and two daughters.  Warren County is where William Jollett and his wife Mary Elizabeth Martin were living when he was tried, convicted, and sentenced for horse theft.  And thus the story comes back to where we began.

1880 Warren County, Virginia Census
click to enlarge

Remember, I’m not claiming that Annie Lichliter was Annie Found or that Virginia Martin Cullers was the same Vinie Martin, but the circumstantial evidence is strong.  For now, however, that’s all it is – circumstantial. 

While I am satisfied that the letters offer enough clues to prove William Jollett and William Boyd are the same person, the Boyd researchers would like definite confirmation through DNA testing.  I have contacted several Jollett men, but so far none have responded.  The more compelling mystery for both of us is the terrible story that prompted William Boyd’s grandson to burn crucial parts of the letters.  Searches for court records and newspaper articles have produced no answers.

In that sense, William H. Jollett / William Preston Boyd remains a mystery.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Census Sunday: The Clifts

Sarah Catherine Jollett, Sallie Jollett, Sallie Clift
Sallie Clift
about 1942 or 1943
from Ancestry

In 1940, my great-grandmother’s sister Sarah Catherine “Sallie”Clift at age 68 was all alone on Third Street in Shenandoah, Virginia.   

Click to enlarge

Valued at $2500, Sallie’s house where she raised two boys and a daughter after ridding herself of her philandering and abusive husband was no longer in need of boarders to make ends meet.   Since before her divorce in 1914, she had provided rooms and board, most often to single men working on the N&W Railroad.  She is listed as a widow, which might be enumerator error or Sallie’s deliberate attempt to spare herself the stigma.   

Sallie's house in Shenandoah, Virginia
as it looked in the 1990s
Obviously the picture window is not original.

Sallie had a sixth grade education.  She listed herself as “U,” meaning Unable to Work, but she claimed to have had income even though she did not work in 1939.

Her children were all married and living in Washington DC.  Leonard (40) and his wife Lena (40) owned their home valued at $5500 on 10th Street.  Leonard was a machinist for the railroad, earning $2000 in 1939, roughly $33,148 today. Their children Evelyn (18), Wendell (15), and Lucille (10) were in school while Lena was keeping house.

Click to enlarge

Raymond Clift was difficult to find in 1940.  In FamilySearch he is indexed as Raymond CLEFT.  In Ancestry, he is listed as Raymond ALFT, his wife Jessie is JESSAN, their niece Beverly Landis is BRANLY FANDES, and the roomer Thomas McDonald is TROAST MCDONAGH.  What a disservice to genealogists and family historians.  Anyway …. The Clifts were renting a home on Elliott Street in Washington DC. Raymond (39) worked as a clerk for a transit company, earning $2160 in 1939 (about $35,800 today) and clocked 60 hours the last week of March 1940.  His wife Jessie (31) was keeping house for their 11-year old son Raymond Jr. (indexed as Raymond G.) and 18-year old niece Beverly. 

Click to enlarge

Alda (age 34) had remarried shortly after 1930 to Wilson Suite.  They appeared in the city directory as early as 1932, but in 1940 they were renting a place for $35 a month on Emerson St NE.  Wilson (age 35) was a barber who worked 60 hours the last week of March, and earned $1625 for a full year of work in 1939 (roughly $26,933 today).  Alda’s daughters from her first marriage, Janice (18) and Gwendolyn (17) Monger, were attending school.

Click to enlarge

Alda Suite (left) with her brother Raymond Clift
and his wife Jessie 1979

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Big Guns

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt depicts some men inspecting a gun.

Check out this gun:

Hambone Davis
Orvin Owen Davis, Jr.
1925 - 1987

My mother’s brother Orvin Owen Davis, Jr. was in the Coast Guard during World War II, primarily in the Pacific.  He served on an invasion transport ship which delivered marines and amphibious vehicles to battle zones.  Two newspaper articles saved by my grandmother indicate Orvin Jr. contributed to the success of at least two significant battles. 

The first was the Second Battle of Guam (1944) in which the United States took back territory that had been captured by the Japanese in 1941. The article appeared just two days after the conclusion of the battle.

Orvin Jr. is second from the right.  He is listed as "Orrie O. Davis,"
a nickname I had never heard before.  Was it a play on "Oreo"
or merely an error on part of the reporter?

The reporter mistakenly gave
Orvin's name as "Alvin."
Click to enlarge
The second was the Battle of Peleliu in the Philippines.  The battle raged on for four months resulting in the highest casualty rate for U.S. military personnel during the Pacific campaign.  The following newspaper article was just a “small world” human interest story about my uncle being on the ship that transported one of his boyhood friends, then a marine, to Peleliu.

The important role played by the Coast Guard is evident in this photo from Wikimedia Commons.  The photo was taken in Guam, but the sentiment could have been extended to any part of the Pacific theater.

Marines salute
Coast Guard
for their big part in
the invasion of
They put us here and
we intend to stay

With so many of our participants living in North America, Europe, and parts "down under," you may need an amphibious vehicle to make your way around Sepia Saturday.   

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday's Child: Pearl's Children

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

Pearl Sullivan Strole, Maxine Strole, Grayson Strole in Shenandoah, Virginia
About 1918

I love this photo of Pearl Sullivan Strole (first cousin three times removed) with her children Maxine and baby Grayson.  Pearl’s sweet and contented expression is matched only by the way Maxine’s little head rests against her mother and her hand holds on at her neck. 

But someone is absent.  It’s little Burnell, Pearl and Clyde’s first baby girl who lived only two years.  She is buried in Coverstone Cemetery, Shenandoah, Virginia, along with the other Stroles. 

Baby Grayson was not long for this world either.  He died at age 19.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: The Sullivans

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.

At Coverstone Cemetery
Shenandoah, Virginia 2011

My great-grand aunt Laura Jollett Sullivan and her husband William J. Sullivan are buried in Coverstone Cemetery (formerly the EUB Church Cemetery) in Shenandoah, Virginia, along with most of her brothers and sisters, as well as four of their five daughters.

William J.                             Laura E.
Jan. 13, 1866                       May 30, 1865
May 22, 1942                      July 30, 1947

Close by are the tombstones of their daughters Floral and husband Cletus Merica, 

Cletus H.              Floral M.
Feb. 23, 1899      Mar. 4, 1895
Oct. 11, 1971      Feb. 14, 1987

Pearl and husband Clyde Strole, 

Pearl Strole
June 9, 1891
May 29, 1986

Minnie and husband John Wesley Breeden, 

Minnie B.             John W.
1887 – 1952         1879 - 1961

and Elta and husband Lewis Farrar.

Lewis G.               Elta G.
1898 – 1970         1899 - 1991

Leota is buried with her husband Forrest Racey and his second wife in Winchester, Virginia.

Forrest S.             Leota Sullivan
June 9, 1902       Dec.  24, 1901
June 8, 1988       Jan. 28, 1981

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.