Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: Z is for Sister Zoe

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Zoe.  Sister Zoe. 

When I was born, my mother gave me my first name; my father gave me my middle name.  He named me for Sister Zoe, his favorite teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy (later Portsmouth Catholic).  For years I have bragged about being named for Sister Zoe whose portrait hangs at Oasis, the local soup kitchen that she founded.  All the neighborhood churches take turns providing meals daily for the homeless and anyone else in need of a hot meal.  When my Sunday School class served lunch one time, I pointed to the portrait of Sister Zoe there on the wall and confided to several friends, “Yes, I was named for her.”

Former location of Oasis
There's even a "we've moved" sign.
Turns out I was a liar.

But I didn’t mean to be.  When I started my research in preparation for a post about Sister Zoe, I found an obituary for Sister Zoe Wheeler.  While the details covered her teaching career, there was no mention of Oasis, but I didn’t think anything of it since the writer might not have known nor intended to include all of her accomplishments.  You know how humble nuns can be.

Next I called a friend who is still very active at St. Paul’s Catholic Church where Sister Zoe had served.  She checked a book about the church’s history for any additional information to help flesh out this story.  It turns out the founder of Oasis was actually Sister Zoe Hyland, not Sister Zoe Wheeler.   

When I found Sister Zoe Hyland’s obituary, the dates of her service in Portsmouth beginning in 1951 didn’t match the dates when Daddy was a school boy in the late 30s-mid 40s. 

Former St. Joseph's Academy in Portsmouth
now an apartment building
There was nothing left to do but whine and grumble to my sister about the dilemma of how to write about Sister Zoe when nothing made sense.  Mary Jollette read Sister Zoe Wheeler’s obituary and solved the mystery right away.  She recalled Daddy saying that Sister Zoe’s birth name was Theresa.  And there it was:   “Zoe Wheeler (Theresa Barr Wheeler), Daughter of Charity, 80, died May 5, 1999 at St. Louise House, Albany, NY.”

Ta Da!  While “MY” Sister Zoe wasn’t the one of soup-kitchen-fame, they had much in common.  Both received their education at St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Both joined the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, an apostolic society dedicated to service to the poor.  Both taught school for a time in Portsmouth and at Immaculate Conception parochial school in Maryland. 

from Google Images
Two habits of Daughters of Charity
Left:  modern design by Christian Dior
Right:  traditional that was abandoned
due to vision and hearing problems
associated with the cornet
(Do you think this was the inspiration
for "The Flying Nun"?)

“MY” Sister Zoe came from a family that must have been one strong and devout Catholic family.  Theresa Barr Wheeler was the youngest of seven daughters born to Ferdinand and Nina Barr Wheeler in New York.  Two of them married.  Five of them devoted their lives to the church.  Sister Mary Cecelia was a Religious of the Sacred Heart (considered the female equivalent of the Jesuits); Sister Madeleine, Sister Jean Marie (Suzanne Wheeler), and Sister Elaine (Anne Lenore Wheeler) were Daughters of Charity like Sister Zoe.  Their cousin Ferdinand Wheeler was a Jesuit priest.  You know the Wheelers had to have been the envy of every other family in their parish!

Sister Zoe entered the community of Daughters of Charity in 1937.  In 1940 she was living and teaching at the St. Catherine Orphanage in Reading, Pennsylvania.  It must have been shortly afterwards that she went to Portsmouth to join other Daughters of Charity who had assumed the staffing of the parochial schools, replacing the Xaverian Brothers.   

In her obituary, Sister Zoe is described as “an innovative and creative teacher, a clear-headed administrator and an energetic community builder.”  I bet that’s what Daddy liked about her.

Sister Zoe - Theresa Barr Wheeler
May 9, 1918 Bronx, New York - May 5, 1999 Albany, New York

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.  But the challenge is now over, so it’s time for me to catch some zzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: Y is for Yowell

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Yowell.  Albert G. Yowell.

Mr. Yowell was one of the many customers at the Price-Hill Dry Goods Store in Stanardsville, Virginia in 1855, maybe even before then and probably even later.  How do I know?  Because I indexed the day book that was recently discovered in an attic and then donated to the Greene County Historical Society.  I recently wrote about other customers – Richard Dawson and Rufus K. Fitzhugh

Albert didn’t shop quite as often as some of the others.  Usually his purchases were rather mundane, staples like tea, salt, coffee and sugar.  His wife Lucy probably sent him for that red flannel, the candles, and a gross of buttons.

John Silvey, the local cooper (a maker of barrels), might have called out, “Hey Al, can you pick me up some tobacco?”  Albert obliged.

This is an ad that appeared in the Richmond Whig July 1860
from accessed 24 Apr 2014

But two purchases stand out as a mirror of the times.  On October 15, 1855, Albert purchased “2 Negro blankets.”  Yes.  “Negro cloth” was coarse and unbleached, typically brown.  Such unrefined fabric was used for slave and prison clothing.  So most likely he was purchasing inferior blankets for some slaves or the term was generic for any less-expensive or low-quality blanket.

The other purchase just makes me giggle (I can be immature).  Because someone found the Price-Hill Day Book, everybody will know that on June 20, 1855 Albert G. Yowell purchased a chamber pot.  I wonder if his was plain white stoneware or a fancier model.

from Wikimedia Commons

from Flickr Commons

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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: X is for X-boyfriends

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for X-boyfriends. 

                         William Novash

William Novash
William Novash about 1918-20
x-boyfriend of my maternal grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis

Richard “Dickie” Blanks

x-boyfriend of my mother Mary Eleanor Davis Slade

Richard "Dickie" Blanks 1946
Dickie Blanks about 1946

  George          Somethingorother

x-boyfriend of my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan

Dick Ryan and George Unknown
Left: Violetta's husband Dick
Right:  the x-boyfriend George


x-boyfriend of my mother-in-law Helen Kohne Mathias

Helen's x-boyfriend

Was it something they said?

If you’re caught between a xenolith and xylols, or even if you suffer from xenophobia, you should make your way to the A to Z April Challenge where you will be met with xenodochial xenagogues whose xenophilia will convince you there are no xanthippes among us.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

52 Ancestors: #17 - Simeon JOLLETT JOLLEY JOLLY

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.

James and Nancy Walker Jollett had a son named Simeon.  In my database, he’s number 9, but he could have been born at any time between 1790 and 1808, judging by conflicting census records.  My gut feeling is he was probably a “big brother,” not the “baby brother” like my database reflects. 

What has brought me to that conclusion is the number of times Simeon posted bond or served as a witness in the marriages of his sisters.  That sounds like something an older brother would do.

But here’s the real puzzle about Simeon Jollett:  he never appears in a census record. 

Or does he? 

It’s only been recently that I have opened my mind to accept that “Jolly” and “Jollett” could be related families.  The first nudge was discovering a known ancestor listed in a census as “Fielding Jolly,” rather than as “Jollett” as he was identified in all other records.  Soon I found others who alternated between Jollett and Jolly, thanks to whoever mis-heard or mis-recorded the name in the early 1800s.

What I AM sure about is that my Simeon Jollett married Nancy Glass in Orange County, Virginia in July 1822.  There’s a record. 

from Virginia, Orange County Marriage Records 1757-1938, index and images
FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Apr 2014), Simeon Jollett and Nancy Glass, 08 Jul 1822; citing , , County Courthouse, Orange; FHL microfilm 33031

After that, nothing.  They alluded me for years until I decided to search for Simeon Jolley.  Simeon Jolly.  Simon Jolley.  Simon Jolly. 

I do believe I found him.  In Ohio.  In Indiana.  In Illinois.  And why not?  A sister and brother joined the migration into the Northwest Territory in the 1830s, so it seems logical that he might have done the same.  While the details of age and state of birth fit, that’s really the only “proof” I have.  It’s dangerous to make an assumption, but right now, this is the best that I have to go on.

In 1840, Simeon Jollett was in Jefferson, Ohio, enumerated as Simeon Jolly. 


1 under 5
1 5-9
1 10-14
1 40-49

1 5-9
1 30-39

I grant there are a couple problems with this family.  First, there is another son for whom I have no name.  It’s possible he died young.  It’s also possible one of the other Jolly families is actually “mine” and I just don’t know it.  However, in studying other census years, I have found nothing to connect to a third son.  Second, there is another daughter without a slot in this census.  Perhaps she was married already.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

In 1850, Simeon, aka Simon Jolley, was in Harrison Township, Indiana with his wife Nancy, and three children Robert, Elizabeth, and G.W. (George).  I’m confident this is the same family from the 1840 census; plus, now I can see Simeon and Nancy were from Virginia.  Go Team Jollett!  Henry had married and moved his family to Fayette, Ohio.  Still no sign of the daughter Catherine who supposedly had married one J.J. Hunter.  Simeon was working as a shoemaker.

1850 federal census for Harrison Township, Wells Co, Indiana

By 1860, Simeon and Nancy Jolly “no -e” had moved once again, this time to Tippecanoe, Indiana.  Only George was still at home.  As for the whereabouts of Robert and Elizabeth, I have no clue.  Vanished.  There is no shortage of Robert Jolly’s and Robert Jolley’s in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, so he could be any one of them.   Meanwhile, Henry and his family were in Randolph, Illinois.

1860 federal census for Tippecanoe, Indiana

Between 1860 and 1870, Nancy died.  In 1870, Simeon lived with his son Henry and family in Lexington, Illinois.  Catherine’s son Charles was there too, enumerated as Henry’s nephew.  Now Simeon’s son George was among the missing.  I thought I had found him in someone’s family tree on Ancestry, but it was actually Henry’s son George. 

1870 federal census for Lexington, McLean, Illinois

There is more due diligence required before I can claim this family once and for all, but I’m confident they are mine.

Three Generations:

Simeon JOLLETT JOLLEY JOLLY (Before 1800 Orange Co, Virginia – After 1870) & Nancy GLASS (1805 – Before 1870) 18 Jul 1822 Orange Co, Virginia

1.  Henry S. JOLLEY (1824 Virginia - 29 Mar 1897 in Ithaca, Saunders, Nebraska) & Nancy FOX (1828 Ohio – 23 Jun 1910 Red Willow, Nebraska) 20 Aug 1846
  • George Marion JOLLEY (17 Sep 1846 Fayette, Ohio - 18 Mar 1925 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska) & Elizabeth Eva RITCHIE (8 Aug 1851 Fulks Run, Rockingham, Virginia – 2 Feb 1945 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska) 1 May 1873 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska
  • Mary JOLLEY (Feb 1852 Ohio - 10 Nov 1852 Milledgeville, Fayette, Ohio)
  • Emma Elizabeth JOLLEY (11 Feb 1854 Defiance, Fayette, Ohio - 10 Feb 1951 Bartley, Red Willow, Nebraska) &  Samuel Miller HART (11 Apr 1846 Ashland, Ohio – 3 Jul 1935 Bartley, Red Willow, Nebraska) 5 Jan 1871 Lexington, McLean, Illinois
2.  Catherine JOLLEY  (1825 Virginia - ) &  J. J. HUNTER
  • Charles Harvey HUNTER (Apr 1866 Illinois - 1925 Saunders, Nebraska) & Margaret RIDDICK (Jan 1866 Missouri - ) 1894
3.  Robert JOLLEY (1830 Ohio - )

4.  Elizabeth JOLLEY (1833 Ohio - )

5.  George W. JOLLEY (1842 Ohio - )

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: W is for Ward

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Ward.  Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Ward.

Red hair.  Big smile and a laugh to match.  “Dahling” said with the proper measure of sarcasm.  That’s what I remember about my mother’s best friend from high school, a woman who shoulda woulda coulda been a friend for life except for a brief period when they just drifted apart but were reunited in the worst of circumstances. 

They reconnected as both were receiving chemo treatments for ovarian cancer.  What were the odds?

But in their youth, they must have been something to behold! 

The pretty girls at Cradock High School, class of 1946. 

Mary Eleanor Davis 1946
Momma 1946
Elizabeth Ann Betsy Ward 1946
Betsy 1946


Cradock High School Cheerleaders 1945
Betsy is the 1st girl front on the right.
Momma is 3rd girl back on the left.

Steady girlfriends of the popular boys

Dickie Blanks and Mary Davis
Dickie was Senior Class president
and captain of 3 sports teams
Tommy Watson and Betsy Ward
Tommy was president of the Student Council,
played 4 sports, and was an officer in numerous
clubs including the Debate Team

Beauties on the beach

Christine Wisehart, Betsy Ward, Mary Eleanor Davis
Christine Wisehart, Betsy Ward, Mary Eleanor Davis
Elizabeth Ann Betsy Ward
I LOVE this picture.  I'm sure
Betsy thought this pose was funny.

Party girls in the BEST sense of the word

Palomar 1945
At the Palomar dance club Virginia Beach 1945
Tommy Watson, Betsy Ward,
Mary Eleanor Davis, Dickie Blanks

At the Frolic dance club probably 1947
I guess Tommy and Dickie had been kicked to the curb.

Elizabeth Ann Betsy Ward 1947
Betsy's freshman photo
Longwood College 1946-47
What Betsy wrote on the back of her photo

If you have withstood my wily and whimsical wheedling, then wallow in the wanderlust of more waggish writings and witticisms wafting your way at the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: V is for Virginia

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways.  

is for Virginia.  Virginia M. Cole.

Virginia is one of my favorite people whose pictures are dotted throughout my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring’s college scrapbook.  The two grew up together in Shenandoah, Virginia.  In 1910, Virginia’s father William Thomas Cole was a fireman for the steam railroad but moved into the retail business by 1920.  Virginia was the oldest of four children, and she was the only girl. 
Virginia Cole Shenandoah, Virginia 1925
I love that Velma wrote "Va"
instead of "Virginia" -- just cute!

Virginia and Velma attended Harrisonburg Teachers College (later Madison College and then James Madison University) and graduated in 1926.  That year must have been a mixture of happy and sad times for Virginia.  Her mother Bertie Cutlip Cole died in February, four months before graduation. 

Virginia Cole Shenandoah, Virginia 1926
Virginia M. Cole 1926
scanned from School Ma'am

By 1930, Virginia’s father had remarried and moved to Hagerstown, Maryland.  At this point I have lost track of Virginia.  I know she married because I saw her name in her youngest brother’s obituary.  But can I find that information now?  No.    

Virginia’s photos give the impression of someone who enjoyed a good laugh.  

Virginia Cole and friends July 1925
Unknown, Velma, Virginia, Thelma Hockman
July 1925
Virginia Cole and friends July 1925
Virginia is thumbing her nose at
the camera - shame on her!!
But funny too ~

Thelma Hockman, Velma, Virginia Cole
Velma captioned this "On the Rocks"
Thelma Hockman, Velma, and Virginia
standing in a stream
Virginia Cole and Olive Williams July 1925
Virginia Cole and Olive Williams
Virginia and Velma visited Olive
in Martinsburg, WV July 1925

She wasn’t involved in many activities in school but apparently gained quite a reputation as a team player in the Athletic Association and YWCA.

scanned from School Ma'am

What became of Virginia Cole is a story for some other time, I suppose.  (Kicking myself for not making note when I saw it the first time.)

Don’t vacillate now.  Please venture to the venerable vanguard of verisimilitude in the vernacular at the A to Z April Challenge to view a veritable vortex of veracious verbalizations before they vanish.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.