Monday, November 14, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 13: Document

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

I love stumbling into a document I wasn’t even looking for. 

Marriage Bond Nancy Jollett and Hiram Garnes

This marriage bond for Nancy Jollett and Hiram Garnes surfaced during a research trip to the Rockingham County, Virginia court house. My goal that day was to find Davis documents that would satisfy the DAR standards for proving lineage to a Revolutionary War patriot. But heck, I was there anyway, so why not check the index for Jolletts too.

And there it was: a marriage bond for Nancy Jollett. Who? The two Nancy Jolletts I knew of were Jollett by virtue of marriage. Nancy Walker married my 4X great-grandfather James Jollett and Nancy Glass married their son Simeon Jollett. So who was this young Nancy Jollett getting married in Rockingham?

One clue was the bondsman George Sampson. George was married to Drada Jollett, daughter of James and Nancy Walker Jollett. Perhaps Nancy was a sister to Drada. If so, then there is another question to answer: why was she not living in Greene County with her parents?

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).
© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 12: Occupation

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

I never knew my granduncle Arthur Henry “Woody” Woodring, but my mother always said he and Velma were the fun aunt and uncle. It is easy to see why since in every photo, he has a big smile.

Except in this one. It’s his Game Face.
Woody Woodring Summer 1926
Woody Woodring, catcher
Summer 1926
playing for the Shenandoah shops
Woody was a professional baseball player for a time. He worked on the electrical force of the Norfolk & Western Railroad in Shenandoah, Virginia. In the 1920s N&W sponsored a number of sports teams including basketball and baseball teams that competed against teams from other towns along the N&W line.

Woody was playing on the shops team even while he began his professional baseball career as a catcher in 1924 for the Martinsburg Blue Sox, evidently playing both at the same time. The Blue Sox were part of the Blue Ridge League comprised of six level D (Rookie) teams from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.

In those days, the team with the best record for the season became the league champions.  It was Woody’s first year on the team but the Martinsburg Blue Sox’s third straight championship title. The play-off system didn’t start until 1928, the same year that some major league teams started affiliating with the minor teams.  Woody’s team was affiliated with what was then the Philadelphia Athletics.  Other teams were affiliated with the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Senators.

When I told Woody’s story in 2012, it appeared his last season was in 1929. However, I have since discovered that is not so. Apparently the Blue Ridge League continued. In 1930, Woody was released from the Blue Sox and picked up by the Cumberland (Maryland) Colts, an affiliate of the New York Yankees. At some point he returned to the Blue Sox as manager as well as a playing member. A news article dated May 31, 1934 reported he resigned as manager because it interfered with his business interests – whatever they were.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 11: Green

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

This ruffle top lemonade pitcher is one of the many family heirlooms that have come to me. Unfortunately, I do not know its real history. Since it had been in the home of my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan, the pitcher might have belonged to her mother Mary Frances Jollett Davis. Or Violetta might have inherited it when her sister Velma Davis Woodring passed away. Then again, it is entirely possible Violetta bought it herself from an antiques dealer.

The hand-painted deer in snow seems to be an unusual design. Most ruffle top pitchers that I have seen in shops and online have painted flowers and vines.

The lemonade pitcher was quite popular in the Victorian era when lemonade was often served as an alternative to alcohol. In fact, Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes, was nicknamed “Lemonade Lucy” because no alcohol was allowed in the White House during her husband’s presidency.

I wonder if Lucy Hayes owned ruffle top pitchers.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 10: Time

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

When our parents passed away and my sister and I cleaned out their house, we divided the family heirlooms as fairly as we could. There were four clocks that had been in the family for many years, how many we do not know. She got two and I got two.

Not a one of them works.

Techtron Clock belonging to Orvin and Lucille Davis

My sister took our maternal grandfather’s Techtron clock with its nautical design featuring a ship’s wheel and drawing of an anchor. The Techtron is notorious for being difficult to repair. 

Adamantine mantle clock from Sudie Eppard Rucker

At least she has the beautiful Seth Thomas Adamantine mantle clock from our great-grandmother Sudie Eppard Rucker. If we could get the thing to work consistently, the hourly chime would be delightful.

As for me, I took these.

Heirloom clocks

The Ansonia porcelain clock that belonged to our grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring is lovely and complements my living room d├ęcor perfectly. The Seth Thomas mantle clock belonging to our grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker is hiding out in a bedroom, not ticking at all, forever 6:40. As the old joke goes, at least it is correct twice a day.

All these clocks need repair. We just can’t find the time. (Har Har – yeah, I kill me!)

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 9: Brick Wall

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

The sisters and brothers of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh have constructed a brick wall that would make Donald Trump drool.
Unknown man and baby New York City 1918
Is this John Sheehan in 1918?
Who is this man standing APPROPRIATELY in front of a BRICK WALL? The baby has been identified in other photos sometimes as “Bob” and sometimes as “Barbie.” Yes, it’s a girl. I THINK this man is the grandfather. But is he Mary Theresa’s brother John Sheehan? Or is he the husband of one of her sisters?

Since the man is dressed in some sort of uniform, I can easily rule out a couple of the husbands.
  • Not Patrick Hederman, Johanna’s husband. He was a porter in a grocery store and a coffee roaster.
  • Not William Christian, Delia’s husband. He ran a dry cleaners.
  • Possibly Patrick Byrnes, Elizabeth’s husband. He was a chauffeur. Is this the uniform of a chauffeur?
  • Possibly John Nagle, Margaret’s husband. He was a bank guard. This uniform bears some resemblance to a police uniform. 

Narrowing down the possibilities is further aided by another clue: Bob/Barbie’s brother John JR. Clearly there must be a John SR. I was excited to discover that Elizabeth and Patrick Byrnes had a son John. However, he was born in 1903, making him too young to be father of John Jr. in 1917. Margaret and John Nagle also had a son John, but he was born in 1911, again far too young to be John Jr’s father.

Perhaps John SR was husband to one of Mary Theresa’s nieces. 

Mary Theresa Walsh in New York 1921
New York City 1921
Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh with "Bob" and John Jr.
and probably their mother. Is this woman her niece?
Could she be the daughter of John Sheehan?

However, only Johanna had children old enough to be parents in 1917. Her son John never married. Her daughter Catherine married a man named Charles Fraundorf and they had only one daughter.

So I think the man must be Mary Theresa’s brother John Sheehan. Do you know how many John Sheehans lived in New York City in the early 1900s? Attempts to pinpoint the correct John Sheehan have been frustrating with nothing to show for my efforts.  

The Brick Wall stands.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 8: Home

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

When the Jolletts started holding family reunions around 1914, they convened annually at the home of James Franklin Jollett in Jollett Springs, Augusta County, Virginia, until his death in 1930. Photos from those reunions offer only brief glimpses of the Jollett home. I can tell it was a two-story white clapboard farmhouse with an addition, likely a kitchen. The roof was tin. Grape vines growing on trellises probably offered some respite during humid summers. The best feature, though, was that the Jolletts possessed the quintessential icon of the American dream home: a white picket fence.

Jollett Reunion 1921
Reunion 1921 - the Jollett sisters and brothers and spouses
Standing: Laura Jollett Sullivan, Sadie Lam Jollett, Ulysses Jollett, Leanna Jollett Knight, Mary Frances Jollett Davis and Walter Davis (my great-grandparents), Sallie Jollett Clift, Victoria Jollett Breeden, Decatur Breeden, James Ira Sullivan
Seated: Will Sullivan, Jack Coleman, Emma Jollett Coleman, James Franklin Jollett
(my 2X great-grandfather) and his wife Eliza Jane Coleman Jollett

I assume the photos were taken in the back yard, but it is difficult to say.

When I get a ride on that Time Machine, I plan to visit the Jollett home place to see for myself.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 7: Gratitude

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

I wish I had photos for all the new-to-me cousins who deserve my gratitude for reaching out to me with questions, corrections, and updates about our shared ancestors. They have enriched my life and my genealogy research. I especially appreciate those who enjoy collaborating to solve a puzzle. If I start naming names, I will leave out someone important, so I’ll mention only Shirley Ziemer by name because I have a picture of her.
Wendy and Shirley Ziemer 2008
Wendy and Shirley
Shirley and I have gotten together a couple times and have chatted by phone. Most often though we email since she lives in Indiana and does not get to Virginia often. She and I have collaborated on the family of John Sampson and Clarissa Jollett, her 3X great-grandparents. Clarissa was sister to my 3X great-grandfather Fielding Jollett.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Genealogy Photo a Day: Week in Review

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

Good grief. My plan was to post each day’s Instagram photo here on my blog during the November Photo A Day Challenge. I am sure you don’t want to hear how this thing and that got in the way, so I’ll just do a “Week in Review” and hope that things go better next week.

Day 2 – Ancestor
Susan Jordan Shiflett and family
Older woman seated is Susan Jordan Shiflett, my 3x great-grandmother.
The tall girl standing is possibly Segourney Shiflett Eppard,
my 2x great-grandmother
photo courtesy of Mary Garrett
I was over the moon when I got a Facebook message from Jan Hensley and an email from Mary Garrett asking me to help identify people in this photo. Mary is a descendant of the seated woman on the left, Jenetta Dovel Shiplett. In their early married life, Jenetta and husband Philip Pendleton Shiplett lived with his mother Susan Jordan Shiflett. Mary and Jan feel confident the older woman, seated on the right, was Susan, my 3X great-grandmother. They also think that the other girls in the photo are a combination of Susan’s children and grandchildren. The taller girl standing is most likely Susan’s daughter Segourney, my 2X great-grandmother. I hope they are right. Isn’t she just beautiful?

Day 3 – Headstone
Daisey Clift tombstone

dau of
Geo T and Sallie
died Apr 8, 1897

Aged 3 yrs 6 mos and 8 days
Suffer the little children to come 
unto me and forbid them not 
for to such is the kingdom of heaven.

One of the saddest little headstones in my collection of photos is this one. Little Daisey Clift and her brother Vernon, children of my great-grandmother’s sister Sallie Jollett Clift, died from injuries suffered in a house fire in 1897. I would like to locate a newspaper article. Surely the loss of two little ones under age 5 had to have been big news in Page County, but none of the newspaper databases include those from Page County or the closest big city of Harrisonburg.

Day 4 – Weathered
Wilmer Mathias

My husband’s uncle Wilmer posed proudly for this photo outside his parents’ home in Mathias, West Virginia some time during World War II. Whenever Barry and his brothers and sisters get together, they always recall their favorite times at their grandparents’ home. I visited this home only once. Those weathered boards were painted white when I was there, but the house itself looked much the same – very simple and rustic, devoid of any ornamentation or signs of having been remodeled EVER. But inside, the house was warm. The sun poured in through those big windows. It felt very cozy, and I could imagine all the cakes and pies and cookies that the Mathias kids enjoyed thanks to their grandmother Essie’s good cooking.

Day 5 – Recipe
Fruit cake recipe

And speaking of cooking, here is one of 5 recipes for fruit cake that I found in a notebook passed down to me from my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis. I don’t know who needs 1 recipe for fruit cake let alone 5. There were other recipes too, mostly lots of desserts.

Day 6 – Tool
Scale from the Davis Store

This scale came from the Davis Store built by my great-grandfather Walter Davis and run by my grandparents Orvin and Lucille Rucker Davis until they moved to Portsmouth in the 1940s. It is not a very large scale, so I doubt it was weighing out huge bags of flour and brown sugar. Actually, I cannot imagine what they might have weighed.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 1: My View

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

October was Family History Month. As part of that celebration, I participated in a Photo a Day challenge on Instagram coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks. The fun continues this month with the following themes:

I’ll be posting on Instagram (@Wendymath27 and #genealogyphotoaday), Twitter when I remember (@Wendymath), and in our Facebook group.

Day 1: My View

Mary Eleanor Davis about 1933-34 Shenandoah, Virginia

While this isn’t MY view, it is an interesting view to me because the 4 buildings seen in the photo tell a small family history. That is my mother Mary Eleanor Davis at about age 4 or 5, dating the photo to 1933-34. She is standing in her grandparents’ yard. There Walter Davis built a Sears Craftsman at 411 Sixth Street in Shenandoah, Virginia, around 1920 and moved his family from their home across town in Millers Addition.

For a time my grandfather Orvin Davis and his sisters lived there. He even brought his bride Lucille Rucker there too, but soon they moved directly across the street. That is where my mother was born. The steps to the house can be seen in the photo but mostly the house is hidden by the tree.

Granddaddy and his father worked together to build the bungalow next door. That is where my mother grew up until they all moved to Portsmouth during World War II. Prior to the move, my grandparents ran the Davis store, the imposing white building on the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The family story does not end there. The Davis store was converted into apartments. My cousins lived there as small children, and I can remember the dark floors and being given a bath in the kitchen sink when I was just a toddler. My cousin Barbara remembers the house as cold, drafty, and lacking hot water. She has no fondness for the store building.

In the early 1960s, Barbara’s parents (my mother’s brother) bought the house that Walter built. Her mother (my aunt) still lives there but she is aging and must soon give up the family home. That will be a sad day.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved

Book Review: Marian Burk Wood's Planning a Future for Your Family's Past

Disclaimer:  While I was given this book for free in exchange for a review, I was under no obligation to like it. The opinions expressed are my honest views. I will not be receiving any commission on sales of books by this author.

When our parents died and it was time to clean out their house, my sister and I struggled with what to keep, what to throw away, and how to divide everything fairly. Keeping the family heirlooms was especially important to both of us, but often we could not remember if something had been our mother’s or our grandmother’s and whether it had previously belonged to a great-grandmother or grandaunt and whose side of the family it came from. We vowed not to put our own children through that.

However, I can’t seem to think about the future of all the family heirlooms and my research for any length of time. Who gets what? What if they don’t like it? Will they appreciate its significance? Where do I begin? It’s just too complicated. “What to do with this stuff after I’m gone” is something every genealogist and family historian must consider eventually. The Internet is filled with ideas about future-proofing one’s research. Here’s an idea. There’s an idea. Everywhere an idea. That is why I am grateful that Marian Burk Wood has stepped up to save the day.

In her book Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past Marian provides a PROCESS for making sure our years of hard work and treasures from our ancestors don’t end up in a landfill. I emphasize PROCESS because the book is not a collection of handy-dandy tips and tricks. With what Marian calls “the PASS system,” the overwhelming job of getting our “stuff” ready to pass on is made logical and manageable.

The book is divided into four sections outlining the steps of the PASS system: PREPARE by organizing, ALLOCATE ownership, SET UP a genealogical will, and SHARE with heirs. Each chapter is filled with resources as well as personal examples of her successes and even failures in preserving her family’s history. Even though the chapters are short enough to reread as necessary, she includes a bullet-list of key points at the end of each chapter. I love this feature.

If Marian ever plans a revised edition, I hope she will include MORE photos to illustrate the various storage systems with the accompanying inventories and index. The templates are clear enough, but I do not understand the need for both an inventory and index. That said, Marian writes with such authority that I must believe they both serve a purpose. Perhaps photos showing a “finished product” will be more convincing for readers like me.

Marian’s PASS system makes a great deal of sense if we want our heirs to be able to FIND and UNDERSTAND what we are leaving behind. Family historians who care about what happens to those old photos, wedding certificates, and Granddad’s war medals will want to refer often to Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past.

Marian’s book is available at Amazon in both print and Kindle format.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.