Friday, February 28, 2014

Sepia Saturday: A Blast at Pig Point

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring three men, a mountain, and a telescope made me cry “Uncle.”  Not in absolute defeat.  But close.  Helen Killeen Parker, whose photos have been featured numerous times on this blog, came to the rescue:

Pig Point Ordnance Depot about 1918
Pig Point Ordnance Depot
about 1918

Pig Point Ordnance Depot about 1918
What is this?


Something to the far right resembles a telescope, but it could just as easily be a megaphone or none of the above.  

But the point of Sepia Saturday is INSPIRATION, not matching necessarily.  As puzzling photos always do, I was inspired to “peer through the telescope” to bring faint and distant details into focus.  What was this place?  Who were those men?  Why did Aunt Helen have this picture?

Fortunately for me, an earlier OR later photo of the same building was labeled “Pig Point, Va.”  The sign in both reads “Headquarters Ordnance Office.”  Pig Point was located along the James River in what is now part Portsmouth and part Suffolk, Virginia.  During the Civil War it was the site of one of the very first battles in which the Union tried to blockade the Chesapeake Bay and the Confederacy tried to prohibit use of its rivers by Union troops.  

This sign is located in Suffolk on Rt 460
(on the right traveling west)

The Depot was commissioned by the federal government in 1917 as Pig Point Ordnance Depot.  In the 1920 federal census, a 19-year old Herbert Parker (Aunt Helen’s future husband) was listed as a clerk for the Army there at the Depot.  During World War I, tons of ammunition were processed daily.  No doubt Herbert was involved in the storage, shipment, classification, and destruction.  (Labeling the General Ordnance Depot as “the Royal Dog House” must have been Herbert’s idea of a joke, but that joke has been lost to time.)

Pig Point Ordnance Depot
Headquarters Ordnance Office

The Ordnance Depot was demobilized after World War II.  Now fast-forward to 1987.  I was teaching at the Portsmouth Campus of Tidewater Community College which sat right there on old “Pig Point.” 

Portsmouth Campus Tidewater Community College
image found on Pinterest
Architect's drawing of the early Portsmouth Campus
with classrooms in a converted warehouse

Military Landfill Tidewater Community College
image from

It was discovered that the Department of Defense years before had buried explosives, shells, and other munitions both spent and live in several military landfills on what later became the TCC Campus.   A massive program was put in place to remove grenades, TNT, boosters, chemicals, miscellaneous ordnance, and contaminated soil. 

Almost daily for weeks at a time over a period of years, faculty routinely received alerts that the Army Corps of Engineers would be detonating some old ammunition that day, so not to worry – no one is in danger.  It was easy to become numb to the whole business, joking about teaching in a war zone. 

But then one day in 1993 water fountains were covered with plastic and duct tape.  Bottled water stands and paper cups took their place when concerns were raised over possible contamination in the production wells. 

The removal program was declared complete in 2001, and a remedial follow-up was completed in 2011.   One heckuva restoration program!

Today grand homes, thriving shopping centers, high-tech industry and exquisitely-landscaped industrial parks reside where Uncle Herbert once strolled the grounds of the Ordnance Depot.  Few people know the name “Pig Point” anymore.  We know it as the more alluring “Harbour View.”  

Entrance Riverfront Community of Harbor View
Entrance to one of the upscale communities in Harbour View

Take a look through the telescope for more stories and old photos at Sepia Saturday.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Are You My Great-Grandmother?

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.

Possibly Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh

Comparing this photo to known photos of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh, I wonder if I am looking at my great-grandmother as a young woman.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

52 Ancestors: #8 - James JOLLETT

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

OK, enough of the “imagined family.”  Let’s look at the real deal, beginning with James JOLLETT, my 4G grandfather. 

The names James Jollett and Nancy Walker have been available for the taking for quite some time thanks to other people’s research.  However, the hard facts are still iffy.  My best guess for a date of birth is based on James’s first appearance as a payer of taxes in Culpeper County, Virginia.  In 1784, he is listed as a “white titheable under 21”, and then in 1785 he is listed as “over 21,” so he must have been born 1764. 

In 1786 James purchased 150 acres of land in Culpeper from Thomas Jollett, the man I believe to be his father.  James continued to pay taxes in Culpeper at least until 1790.  On March 22, 1787, James married Nancy Walker of Culpeper, whose parents are yet unknown. 

However, some clues exist in the 1796 Orange County Road Orders. 

June 27, 1796, p. 386
Zachary Taylor appointed overseer of the road from the Old Muster Field run up to William Taylors & ord [ordered] that he with John Sampson, Elisha Shearman, James Jolly, Cuthbert Norman, Sanders Walker, Lewis Gordon Powell, Wm. Thompson, Benjamin Walker, Wm. B. Knight, Benjamin Powell, Wm. Lewis Powell, Thomas Walker, William Taylor & Wm. Eaton do clear the sd. precincts & keep the same in good repair according to law.

Unfortunately, Walker researchers don’t have this Nancy in their list. 

So back to James.  He and Nancy had at least 10 children, all of whom will be featured eventually in this 52 Ancestors-52 Weeks series.  Finding this Jollett family in the census is hit or miss – mostly MISS.  In 1830 Orange, the James Jollett family consisted of 1 male age 15-20 (probably son James Jr), 1 male 20-30 (?), and 1 male 50-60 (James); 2 females under 5 (?), 2 females 20-30 (?), and 1 female 60-70 (likely Nancy Walker Jollett).  Possibly those question marks were a daughter and son-in-law plus some grandchildren.

In 1840 Greene County, James JOLLY’s household consisted of 1 male 70-80 (James), 2 females 40-50, and 2 females 20-30.  Apparently Nancy had died already.  I believe the two older women were daughters Elizabeth King and Tabatha Jollett, and the two younger ones their daughters Columbia King and Fanny Jollett. 

Petition to form Greene County, Virginia 1838
from petition to form Greene County, VA
Aside from being one busy father and farmer, James’s claim to fame is his signature on a petition to form Greene County in 1838.  The mother county was Orange, and it was huge in terms of square miles.  Citizens in the far reaches of the county near the mountains complained that it was a hardship to travel to the county seat often requiring an overnight ride on bad roads.  Both James and James Jr. signed the petition as did some of James and Nancy’s sons-in-law. 

Surety for marriage between Anney James and James Sampson
Click image to enlarge
James Jollett and James Sampson
surety in marriage
between Anney James and James Sampson
1800 Orange County, VA
James’s name can be found on several legal instruments, most often as bondsman for his supposed sisters Sophia, Susannah, Judy, and Elizabeth, and as father of the brides for his daughters.  He must have been viewed as a good and honest neighbor because he provided surety in the marriage of Anney James to James Sampson 

and swore that she was of proper age to marry.
Click image to enlarge
James Jollett witness for Anney James
June 1800

James likely died after 1840 since there is no further sign of him. 

Since I will discuss the Jollett children in the coming weeks, I now present


James JOLLETT (Abt 1764 – Aft 1840) & Nancy WALKER (Abt 1764 – Bef 1840) married 22 Mar 1787 Culpeper Co, VA
  1. Lucy Walker JOLLETT (1792 Orange Co, VA – 25 Oct 1870 Greene Co, VA) & Peter MARSH (Abt 1779 – Abt 1860 Greene Co, VA) married 24 Mar 1806 Orange Co, VA
  2. Clarissa JOLLETT (1793 Orange Co, VA – 9 Sep 1875 Clay Co, IN) & John SAMPSON (1790 Orange Co, VA – 29 Jan 1857 Clay Co, IN) married 2 Mar 1813 Orange Co, VA
  3. Sarah “Sallie” JOLLETT (1794 Orange Co, VA - ?) & William SAMPSON (Apr 1788 –  4 Sep 1853 Greene Co, VA) married 1 Jan 1809 Orange Co, VA
  4. Fielding Tildon JOLLETT (1795 Orange Co, VA – Aft 1880 Rockingham Co, VA) & m1) Ann STOUTEMIRE (Abt 1795 – Bef 1828) & m2) Mary Ann ARMENTROUT (Abt 1795 – Jan 1870 Rockingham Co, VA) married 2 Oct 1828 Rockingham  Co, VA
  5. Elizabeth JOLLETT (1796 Orange Co, VA – 20 Aug 1878 Rockingham Co, VA) & Reuben KING married 20 May 1822 Orange Co, VA
  6. Tabatha JOLLETT (1797 Orange Co, VA - ?)
  7. Drada JOLLETT (10 Jan 1798 Orange Co, VA – 6 Jun 1867) married George SAMPSON (24 Jul 1796 Orange Co, VA – 17 Oct 1881 Greenbrier, WV) married 6 Jan 1819 Orange Co, VA
  8. Melinda or Melindy JOLLETT (1800 Orange Co, VA - ?) & Thomas MARSH (1796 - ?) married 12 Mar 1822 Orange Co, VA
  9. Simeon or Simon JOLLETT or JOLLY (Bef 1807 Orange Co, VA – Aft 1870) & Nancy Glass (? – Aft 1860 Indiana) married 18 Jul 1822 Orange Co, VA
  10. James JOLLETT Jr (1808 Orange Co, VA – 26 Dec 1883 Clay Co, IN)

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sepia Saturday: The One That ALMOST Got Away

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows three men in suits.  My three men did not wear suits in their normal workday.  They were a cab driver, a metalsmith, and a mechanic by trade; they were hunters and fishermen when time allowed.  Always best friends.

But I didn’t know even that much until just recently.  For a long time the photo was simply my Granddaddy Slade and two other guys and a bunch of fish.  OK, so Granddaddy went fishing.  That was the story.  Not much of a story.

Fred Slade and friends fishing trip 1951
Granddaddy Fred Slade is on the left
"Kentucky" is on the right
click image to enlarge 

My Aunt Betty remembered the tall man as “Kentucky,” a name Granddaddy called him, but she had to find his signature in my grandparents’ funeral guest books to recall that his name was actually Orville Thom.  But she didn’t know the other man.

Ancestry Dot Com gave me the basic information about “Kentucky,” a tinsmith for the federal prison in his native state Kentucky (wasn’t Granddaddy clever?) before relocating to Virginia as a metalsmith for the Naval Air Station.  At one time he and his wife lived in downtown Portsmouth, not far from where my grandparents lived, so perhaps that is where they met.

Still not much of a story. 

Let me digress.  This past week a number of blogs and tweets about the RootsTech genealogy conference have shared glimpses of new technology on the horizon and snippets of speeches challenging the ways genealogists and family historians think about and act on their research.  One speaker quoted again and again is Judy G. Russell of The Legal Genealogist.

Her main message was that our stories are lost within 3 generations if we don’t share them.  I keep thinking about that.  This photo of 3 men fishing is a perfect example.  What’s the story? 

Let me digress again.  On the day that I was preparing my contribution to Sepia Saturday, Legacy Family Tree presented a webinar on using old newspapers in family research.  So I sat in.  While listening, I opened a second window on my computer and signed up for a 30-day free trial of Genealogybank, an online resource for historical newspapers, obituaries, pamphlets, government documents, and military records.  One of the surnames I entered was SLADE.  I refined the search with my grandfather’s name and dates.  And look what popped up:

from Greensboro [North Carolina] Daily News
Wednesday, July 11, 1951

It’s the story of my photo! 

Now I have the Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Thom, Bonney, Slade fishing July 10, 1951
Orville "Kentucky" Thom, Ollie Bonney,
Fred Slade all of Portsmouth, Virginia
July 10, 1951
on the Cherokee off the coast
of Oregon Inlet [Outer Banks, NC]
(I bet Capt. Ken Ward took the picture!)

My original title for this blog was “Old Men and the Sea.”  But I changed it to “The One That Almost Got Away.”  Every fisherman has a story about “the big one that got away.”  My story isn’t a big fish, but it’s a piece of my family story that almost got away in a mere three generations, just like Judy Russell said.

I hope I can lure you over to Sepia Saturday to see what stories others have to share.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Just Them

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.

Unidentified men Harrisonburg, Virginia 1924 photo album of Velma Davis Woodring

In Velma Davis Woodring’s scrapbook, which she kept during her two years at Harrisonburg Teachers College 1924-26 (now James Madison University – Go Dukes), she captioned this photo “Just Them.”

Certainly would have been nice if she had given a little more information.  In 1924, there were no dorms for the men, so these fellows must have been “townies” or students at other schools. 

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 - Lurenna JOLLETT Bryan

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

As much as I would like to continue with the “imagined” sisters of my “imagined grandaunt” Sophia Jollett Norman, there is just too little to say right now about Judy Jollett who married William Cave, Elizabeth Jollett who married William Eaton, or Susannah Jollett who married James Briant.  The names are too old and too common.  There are too many men with those same names to determine which ones married my Jollett women.  So I’ll move along to another “imagined” relative, Lurenna JOLLETT.

Fortunately, Lurenna (or Lourenna, Laurenna, Larenna, Lurena) lived long enough for her name to show up in census records.  But her parents are a mystery.  Her birth about 1817 seems too late for her to be a daughter of my James and Nancy Walker Jollett.  Maybe James had a brother or cousin I don’t know about.  Her marriage to Robert Briant in January 1839 is recorded in Greene County, Virginia.  That’s certainly the right neighborhood, the stomping grounds of all my known Jolletts. 

In the 1840 Greene County census, Robert was listed as 15-19, Lurenna was 20-30, and there was a male child under 5.

By 1850, Robert and Lurenna had settled in the Linville community of Rockingham County, and like his neighbors, Robert was a farmer.  Neither one could read or write, which might explain how they came to be enumerated at various times as BRYAN, BRIANT, even O'BRIAN.  By 1860 the Bryans’ farm consisting of 50 acres of improved land and 50 unimproved was worth $1500 and their personal property $850.  Robert had four Irishmen working on the farm.

The non-population agricultural census of 1860 gives a clearer picture of the Bryans’ successful farm:
FARM: 50 acres improved, 50 acres unimproved, value of farm $1500; value of farm equipment $85
ANIMALS: 3 horses, 3 milk cows, 28 sheep, 18 swine, value of animals $460
CROPS: 90 bushels of wheat, 75 bushels rye, 300 bushels Indian corn, 100 bushels oats, 15 bushels Irish potatoes
BUTTER: 75 lbs
MOLASSES: 12 gallons
HAY: 2 tons

In 1870, the value of the “O’BRIAN” farm was placed at $2000 and personal property $500.

By 1880, Robert evidently decided to start taking it easy in his older age as he was listed as a “farmhand.”  He died 6 years later of Consumption. 
Tombstone of Lourenna Jollett Bryan
Dayton Cemetery
Dayton, Virginia
photo courtesy of

In 1900 Lurenna was living in the town of Dayton (Rockingham County, Virginia) in the household of her son George.  She outlived her husband by nearly twenty years dying in 1906.

In all, Lurenna and Robert raised 8 children.  The 1900 census indicates that only 6 were still living at that time. 

Bryan family tombstone
Dayton Cemetery
Dayton, Virginia
photo courtesy of

Robert A. and son John Q. A.
share a side of the tombstone
photo courtesy of
In researching Lurenna’s children, grandchildren, great-grands and even great-greats, I was struck by the fact that seemingly for the first time not everyone was a farmer.  In this bunch o’ Bryans there are hotel managers, owners of an insurance company (looks like a multi-generational family business), a civil engineer, teachers, salesladies, stenographers, and even a census enumerator. 

A few stayed right there in Rockingham County, Virginia (the Dayton Cemetery is full of Lurenna and Robert’s down line).  While others ventured off to nearby Roanoke, Virginia, others moved on to Missouri and Texas. 

The Bryans are well-researched and documented, but I surely wish they had found Lurenna’s parents.  But what can I expect – none of them seem to know her maiden name was JOLLETT.

Three Generations:

Lurenna JOLLETT (16 Apr 1817 - 12 Feb 1906 Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA) & Robert A. BRIANT / BRYAN (15 Feb 1819 - 5 Nov 1886 Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA) married Jan 1839 Greene Co, VA

1. Jeremiah Hiram BRYAN (18 Dec 1840 Greene Co, VA - 3 Mar 1920 Ray Co, MO) & Mary Frances FRIDLEY (26 Jul 1847 - 27 Jan 1931 Missouri) married 25 Apr 1867 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Margaret BRYAN (1868 - Aug 1876)
  • Hiram BRYAN  (1872 Carroll Co, MO - 1876 in Carroll Co, MO)
  • Jerry Newton BRYAN (1 Nov 1877 Ray Co, MO - 13 Sep 1955 Ray Co, MO) & Iva CLARK (14 Sep 1888 - 13 Oct 1979)
  • John Robert BRYAN (15 Oct 1881 Carroll Co, MO - 10 Aug 1956 Louis Fishing Camp, Jackson, TX) & Cledeth Elizabeth READE (3 Jan 1883 – 14 Dec 1967 Ganado, TX) married 30 May 1909 
  • Mary Ida BRYAN  (20 Aug 1884 Carroll Co, MO - Sep 1971 Carroll Co, MO) & William Sayler MYERS (1884 – 1968) 6 Feb 1912 Carrollton, Carroll, MO
2. Mary M. BRYAN (1843 Rockingham, VA - before 1900 ) & Jackson MAHONE (1845 - )
  • Robert MAHONE  (1868 Rockingham Co, VA - )
  • John MAHONE  (1871 Rockingham Co, VA - )
  • Viola MAHONE (1879  Rockingham Co, VA - )
3. Henry C. BRYAN (5 Aug 1845 Rockingham Co, VA - 16 Jun 1909)

4. Robert S. BRYAN (Aug 1850 in Rockingham Co, VA – 1919) & Mary Fannie BYRD (1856 – 1935)  married 16 May 1877 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Lela BRYAN (1904 in Roanoke, VA - )  & Andrew J. NEWCOMB (1902 - )
5.  John Q. A. BRYAN  (Aug 1857 Rockingham Co, VA – 1909 Rockingham Co, VA) & Cornelia J. L. MICHAEL  (Jul 1858 – 1938) married 22 Nov 1882 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Oscar Ivian BRYAN  (Jun 1883 - ) & Cora UNKNOWN (1885 Indiana - )
  • Lenora BRYAN (Jun 1885 Rockingham Co, VA - )  & Charles G. BURTON (1891 - )
  • John Q. A. BRYAN JR. (Dec 1889 Rockingham Co, VA - ) & Elsie UNKNOWN ( 1896 - )
  • Lillian Lurena BRYAN (Jul 1893 Rockingham Co, VA - ) & James Parish BOARD (6 Nov 1892 – 16 Oct 1950 Roanoke, VA) married 1915 Pasquotank, NC
  • Ralph Scott BRYAN (Dec 1895 Rockingham Co, VA - 27 Feb 1955 Roanoke, VA) & Goldie Mae FISHBACK ( 1900 – 1970)
  • William J. BRYAN (3 Nov 1898 Rockingham Co, VA - 6 Jul 1973 Roanoke, VA) & Mary THOMAS (13 Oct 1899 - 31 Jan 1987 Roanoke, VA)
6. George Washington BRYAN  (1859 Rockingham Co, VA – 1935 Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA) & Martha J. SIMON (Nov 1857 – 1939 Dayton, Rockingham, VA) married 30 Sep 1885 Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA
  • Mary Buford BRYAN (20 Apr 1887 Rockingham Co, VA - Jan 1974 in Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA) & Charles Benjamin ESTERLY (1887 Maryland - )
  • George Edgar BRYAN (25 Dec 1891 Rockingham Co, VA - 2 Mar 1955 Rockingham Co, VA) & Fannie Estelle  ENGLISH (15 Feb 1891 -  1965 Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA)
  • Pearle BRYAN (May 1895 Rockingham Co, VA – 1918) & Unknown BLACKBURN
  • Alice V. BRYAN (Oct 1896 Rockingham County, VA - 16 Sep 1961) & (1) Unknown ROUDABUSH ( - about 1920) & (2) John Lewis SINGER (27 Mar 1888 – 5 Apr 1959) married 7 Dec 1920 Harrisonburg, Rockingham, VA 
7. Joseph Marion BRYAN (Mar 1863 Rockingham Co, VA - 1935 Hardin, Clinton, MO) & Gabriella Lee SHANK  (9 May 1865 Rockingham Co, VA – 8 Jun 1958 Linwood, TX) married 8 Jun 1884 in Dayton, Rockingham Co, VA
  • Alfred BRYAN (3 Jun 1885 Rockingham Co, VA - 3 Jun 1885 Rockingham Co, VA)
  • Anna Lou BRYAN (4 Jun 1886 Rockingham Co, VA - Apr 1978 Winchester, Frederick, VA) & Alonzo S. KIEFFER  (2 Aug 1885 - ) married 1 Sep 1909 in Rockingham Co, VA 
  • John Henry BRYAN (22 Jul 1888 Rockingham Co, VA - Dec 1963 Missouri) & He Myrtle Mae ECKLEBERRY. (26 Feb 1892 - 3 Feb 1988 Scott City, Lincoln, Kansas)
  • Alice Mae “Allie” BRYAN (4 Apr 1890 - 2 Apr 1915)
  • Robert Scott BRYAN (18 Feb 1892 - 15 Feb 1974 Flagler, Kit Carson, CO) & Zola R. UNKNOWN (1895 – 1958)
  • Joseph Glen BRYAN (19 Oct 1894 - 16 Jul 1982 Marshfield, Webster, MO) & Bertie Jane SILVERS married 20 Jun 1923 Butler County, MO
  • Paul Dewey BRYAN (26 Jan 1899 MO - 30 Nov 1972 Shawnee Mission, Johnson, Kansas) & Margaret V. UNKNOWN (1902 – 1964)
  • Hiram Lee BRYAN (1902 Missouri - ) & Florence L. UNKNOWN.
  • Clifford E. BRYAN (1 Jul 1904 MO - 21 Oct 1981 Maywood, Cook, IL)
8. Catherine BRYAN (1864 Rockingham Co, VA – before 1900)

Look for a will for Robert and Lurenna
Look at land sales for clues in names

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Festival Parade

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt of a busy street scene demands a photo of a scene no less busy.  What could be busier than a town’s main drag on parade day?

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Float sponsored by Independent Food Dealers
of Winchester

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
? - Republic Oil Refining Co.

In April 1948, my mother made the 2-hour trip along US route 11 from Dayton, Virginia to Winchester just to see a parade.   The same parade still entices people from all over the state and beyond to join the throngs and head to Winchester, but today that drive from Dayton would be just a little over an hour on I-81.

The occasion?  The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.  The reason?  To celebrate spring.  Pure and simple. 

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
This might be the choir from Shenandoah College.

In 1948, Momma was still a student at Shenandoah College & Conservatory in Dayton, Virginia.  Aside from enjoying the break from sleepy ol’ Dayton, the students went to the parade to support their friend Betty Kyle.  All the colleges in Virginia were invited to send a representative to serve as an Apple Blossom Princess.  

Betty Kyle
photo scanned from The Arrowhead
April 1948

According to the school newspaper “The Arrowhead,” Betty Kyle was the obvious choice because of her leadership as president of the Women’s Student Government Association.  Besides, she was a pro at princessing having worn many crowns as part of the May Queen’s court throughout her years at SCC. 

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Sealtest float sponsored by Southern Dairies

The festival began as a one-day event featuring a fireman’s parade that showcased fire trucks and the latest equipment.  But since 1924 it has grown to a 10-day event with a Grand Feature Parade,  Firefighters Parade, midway, carnival, pageants (including the crowning of the Apple Blossom Queen), dances, concerts, and most recently charity races and walks.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Possibly the VMI Regimental Band

The year Momma was there was the big turning point in the history of the Apple Blossom Festival.  Interest had waned, but all discussions of abandoning the festival ended when a new volunteer with ties to Hollywood scheduled celebrities to attend and to serve as Grand Marshall for the parade.  In 1948 that star was Bing Crosby.

Who wouldn’t want to go to that parade?

I have a confession.  I wasn’t absolutely sure these pictures were of the Apple Blossom Festival until I decided to take a little drive myself.  On Google Maps.  But which street?  A YouTube video gave me “Piccadilly Street” as a clue.  A long time volunteer recalled that as a child her family stood “on the corner of Piccadilly” where there was a hotel; her father always rented a room there in case of bad weather so they wouldn’t miss the parade. 

So I “drove” up and down Piccadilly looking for something familiar of the architecture in the photos.  Or this clock tower.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948


Then I arrived at the corner of Piccadilly and Cameron.  And there was the hotel - The Grand George Washington Hotel.

from Google Maps
corner of Cameron & Piccadilly
Winchester, Virginia

So I made the right turn and “drove” up Cameron and there it was.  The clock tower.  

And the white brick building in the old photos, although surrounding buildings are long gone.

So I have my answer. 

from Google Maps

Momma must have stood on Cameron Street across from that white brick building and watched for her friend Betty Kyle atop a float.  Maybe she even waved to Bing Crosby.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Possibly Betty Kyle - otherwise why the closeup?

I doubt anyone threw candy like they do at parades here nowadays.   But I do know what my mother ate at the Apple Blossom Parade that April:  a candy apple.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Mary Eleanor Davis Slade April 1948

I hope you will follow the parade of blogs on the busy street called Sepia Saturday.  

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Heart Your Friends

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.

Scrapbook of Velma Davis Woodring 1924-26 Harrisonburg Teachers College

Scrapbook of Velma Davis Woodring 1924-26 Harrisonburg Teachers College

This collage of best friends arranged in a heart shape is one page from the scrapbook of my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring.  She created this collection of photos during her freshman year at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University – Go Dukes!).  

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 - Sophia JOLLETT Norman

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

In the ever-growing saga of my “imagined” family – the ones whose connection to the family tree is still unsettled – I am proud to introduce Sophia Jollett.  Why proud?  Because I actually know some stuff. 

I believe Sophia is my 4th great grandaunt.  She was born about 1771 in Culpeper County, Virginia and married Cuthbert Norman August 2, 1791 in Orange County.  Marriage records indicate Mary was her mother and James Jollett was bondsman.  Therefore, it would be just lovely if Sophia turned out to be James’s sister.

One little wish that always punctuates my family research is to find where my ancestors actually lived, walk where they walked, see the view they woke to every day.  With Sophia, that wish has come true.  In 2004, the Greene County (Virginia) Historical Society magazine carried an article about the Powell-McMullan house.  Sophia and Cuthbert were one of the families that passed through as owners of this house, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  They owned the house and 1 ¾ acres at the foot of Saddleback Mountain along the South River from 1819 to 1842 when they sold the property for $71.73. 

Powell-McMullan House Greene County, Virginia
image courtesy Greene County Historical Society
Powell-McMullan House built around 1800
Additions in 1842

I suspect the sale indicates a date of death for ol’ Cuthbert. 

Cuthbert Norman didn’t have much luck with census takers, I guess.  Perhaps he and Sophia began their married life in the household of his or her parents.  Cuthbert was not indexed as Head of Household until 1820 when he was indexed as “Cadbush Norman.”  In 1830 it was “Cathbert Werman,” which reflects poorly on the indexer because it’s an alphabetized list and there he was among the “N’s.”  Then in 1840, he was indexed as “Cuthlert Newman.”  Getting closer. 

At any rate, he was gone after 1840 and the aging and blind Sophia was living with her only known daughter Julia Ann and son-in-law James Taylor when the next census takers came around in both 1850 and 1860.  Sophia died sometime after 1860.

“Only known daughter” implies there may have been other children.  The 1820 census in Orange County, Virginia suggests there were three more children.  In the Norman household were Cuthbert and Sophia who were 45+, 2 males 16-25, 1 female under 10 (that would be Julia Ann), and 1 female 10-15. In the 1830 census, only Julia Ann was still at home.  If the other three were not dead, they were likely married and in their own homes somewhere else.  

While I have not performed an exhaustive search of Sophia’s line, it seems that for at least several generations the descendants remained close to Greene County, Virginia.  They seem also to have stayed close to their Taylor cousins and to the Lambs – lots of those marriages.

Three Generations
Sophia Jollett (Abt 1771 – After 1860) & Cuthbert Norman (Abt 1770 – About 1842) married 2 Aug 1791 Orange County, VA

1. Julia Ann NORMAN (Abt 1818 – After 1880) & James S. TAYLOR (Abt 1815 – After 1880) married 31 July 1834 Orange County, VA
  • Nancy E. TAYLOR (1833 - )
  • Andy TAYLOR (1837 - ) & Narcissus TAYLOR (May 1855 - ) married 9 Apr 1898 Greene County, VA
  • Larkin TAYLOR (1838 - )
  • Mary TAYLOR (1841 - )
  • Joseph TAYLOR (1843 - )
  • Martha S. TAYLOR (1845 - ) & Samuel LAMB (1853 - ) married 21 Jan 1871 Greene County, VA
  • Eliza Jane TAYLOR (1847 - ) & Jeremiah LAMB (1841 - ) married 14 Jul 1874 Greene County, VA
  • Henrietta TAYLOR (1850 - ) & Zachariah Jack TAYLOR (Sep 1846 - ) married 28 Aug 1873 Greene County, VA
  • Tyreeta TAYLOR (1852 - )

To do:
  1. Look for wills for Cuthbert Norman and Sophia Jollett Norman
  2. Research Larkin Norman of Rockingham County (Julia Ann had a son named Larkin, so maybe there is a connection)

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.