Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in Review

Gracious mercy me. I blogged less in all of 2017 than I did in 2011 when I started my blog in AUGUST! What can I say?  A number of home improvement projects and travel certainly took up a lot of time, but the worst offender was completing my Jollett book. What a peculiar paradox - a genealogy project taking me away from genealogy. Still there are some good things to celebrate. Let’s look back.

Top 5 Blog Posts
When I went through my stats, I was SHOCKED to see the high numbers on some of my blogs. It would be nice to think my little stories were attracting interested readers, but I suspect the high number of page views is not from legitimate traffic but instead a sign of bot or spider behavior. Oh well, here they are nonetheless:

Top 5 Personal Connections
  1. My dad’s side of the family rose to the top this year. My sister and I enjoyed a lovely lunch with our second cousin Gayle, daughter of one of Daddy’s cousins. We had met many years ago but were never close; in fact, we probably could not recognize each other in the grocery store. Apparently Gayle and her daughter Jacquie have been reading my blog and finally decided to get in touch. It was fun comparing notes on the Sheehan-Killeen-Walsh lines. They shared stories we had never heard and we told ones they had not heard. The best part of the visit is that through sharing what mysteries we would love to solve, we might have actually solved one. However, since people involved are still living, I’ll save that story for another time.
  2. My dad’s sister gave me a photo of Aunt Helen Parker’s husband Herbert as a young boy with his father. On the back was written “Ephraim Dick Parker and Herbert.” Captain Dick! Photos of “Captain Dick” and letters making reference to “Captain Dick” had always been a mystery. Who was Captain Dick? Now we knew. But we still wanted to know the story behind the nickname. I like to check the family trees on Ancestry for the family member who seems most knowledgeable about a particular line. I found Joe Parker of Maryland who is the self-proclaimed expert on all Parkers of Portsmouth. While he was quite familiar with Ephraim Parker and family, Joe had never heard the nickname. In multiple emails, we shared quite a bit of information, but the mystery behind the nickname remains just that - a mystery.
  3. When I stopped by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Historical Society to donate a copy of my Jollett book, I was greeted by the volunteer. He looked at the title and said, “Oh, Wendy Mathias has written another book.” What? Did he actually remember the first one? Then he asked if I were “Wendy Mathias.” OK, so I had to confess, yes, I am. He introduced himself: Kevin Frazier. We had never met but have emailed one another for years and collaborated on Frazier research.  Our 4X great-grandfather was John Frazier of Greene County, Virginia. It was a thrill to meet in person. Kevin gave me the grand tour, introduced me to the head genealogist of the historical society, and introduced me to a couple other volunteers who told me they follow my blog. Please, don’t make me blush. (I guess they are the REAL readers, not those bots and spiders skewing my page views.)
  4. Two more interesting connections are both women who were adopted. Sadly, one has been rejected by her new-found family, so she is searching for more information through my blog. The other was given information by her birth-grandfather, and she too is comparing her information with what I have.

Top 5 Genealogy-Related Activities
  1. I completed a project for Greene County Historical Society in which I transcribed and indexed 4 volumes of Joseph Hamm’s day books dated from 1856-1871. He was a tailor. It was a thrill when I came across one of my family members placing an order.
  2. I participated in several Photo-a-Day Challenges on Instagram (but I ran out of steam when I got busy with other things). I hope to be a better participant in 2018 because the challenges are fun and visiting others has been as well.
  3. When GeneaBloggers Tribe stepped in to fill the void when Thomas MacEntee shut down GeneaBloggers, I assisted with the transition. Along with the others who comprised the former “May I Introduce to You” team, I helped update the roster of blogs.
  4. As Registrar of my DAR chapter, I have stayed busy assisting women with their applications for membership. That means I often conduct research to prove their lineage.
  5. I finished my book, Jollett Reunion, a collection of stories and photos about the children and families of my great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett. I donated copies to several historical societies and libraries.

Top 5 Discoveries
  1. While working on my Jollett book, I took the time to update information, fill in missing dates, and generally just scout around the internet to see if there was anything new. My GenealogyBank subscription paid for itself when a simple search for “Jollett” in the state of Virginia resulted in learning that Charles M. Jollett had a wife and child BEFORE the wife and children I knew about. The first wife was Eliza Watson.
  2. Learning about Eliza Watson lead me to their child Mary Alice. That was my saddest discovery ever. Mary Alice was institutionalized as a child. She lived the rest of her life in a place that began with noble intentions but deteriorated over time.
  3. One of my paternal grandmother’s cousins became a nun. I used photos of Sadie Byrnes in her habit to learn more about her life but I did not make much headway until I found her obituary. It was just a snippet; if I wanted to read the whole thing, I would have to buy a subscription to the Journal News of White Plains, New York. Not wanting to pay the $60, I turned to the New York City Genealogy group on Facebook to ask if there were another way to see the obituary. In minutes a genie angel posted the full obituary which included details of her teaching career in the Dominican order.
  4. A Sepia Saturday photo prompt made me take a closer look at my granduncle Woody Woodring. He played professional baseball in the early years of professional baseball, but he had a card. I noticed the word “Portland” printed below his name. That did not fit with what I knew of his career in Shenandoah and Martinsburg. My newspaper subscriptions paid off again with a few articles about his strength as a catcher for the Portland Beavers, a farm team for the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  5. An email requesting more information about Fannie Jollett prompted me to look again at a chancery cause that I had saved years ago but did not read fully. Fannie was being sued for non-payment on property she bought near McGaheysville in Rockingham County, Virginia. Included in the file were depositions of both Fannie and her cousin Columbia King Marsh. What a thrill to read their very own words. 

Top 5 Best Money Spent
  • Fold3
  • Ancestry
  • Newspaper Archive
  • GenealogyBank
  • Blurb for my book, Jollett Reunion

2017 kicked my derriere. Come on, 2018, be nice to me!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Christmas Greetings

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

I wish all my fellow HomoSepians, blogging buddies, family and followers the Merriest Christmas!

Wendy Slade Mathias Christmas 2017

Find more holiday greetings at Sepia Saturday.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Blog Caroling: "Mary, Did You Know?"

Apparently there are many family historians who want to have a little fun, especially here at Christmastime.  So I’m joining FootnoteMaven and others for a little Blog Caroling. 

One of my favorite songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene. There are over 400 recordings of the song, so if you don’t love the acapella performance by Pentatonix, head on over to YouTube and pick out another one. Peter Hollens does a beautiful version with himself as backup. 

The lyrics grew out of a monologue Mark Lowry wrote for his church Christmas play in 1984. He wanted to put into words the very things we can’t understand about the birth of Jesus. He began thinking of questions he would like to ask Mary if he could sit down and have coffee with her. Lowry knew the words would become a song one day, but it took seven years before he found the right music. Ironically, Buddy Greene came up with a winning tune in just 30 minutes.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?

This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.

What is YOUR favorite carol? 

Merry Christmas!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Tricks and Treats

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo celebrates Halloween. As much as I enjoyed dressing as a gypsy for Halloween as a child (year after year, I might add), there are no photos to remind me of the fun I had Trick-or-Treating. Soaping windows and pulling pranks were not part of my youth. The emphasis was always on the TREATS. A full evening of walking the streets and ringing doorbells was rewarded with a bag full of candy corn, Mary Janes, cheap lollipops, jawbreakers, and Tootsie Roll pops if we were lucky.

When I was too old to go Trick-or-Treating, I manned the front door and dispensed sugary goodness to the neighborhood ghosts, witches, and clowns. In the 1960s, teens were fairly obedient regarding the Halloween no-one-over-12 rule. Oh, a few might have squeaked by at 13, but those of us manning the doors were not often taken for fools by an over-aged ghoul or hobo. So I knew to be suspicious when these two came to the door.
Halloween about 1966 Lucille Rucker Davis and Barbara Davis Shifflett
Halloween 1966
Hmm, they are awfully tall, I thought to myself as I looked at them at eye-level. Must be their last year of trick-or-treating. But they lingered at the door much too long -- just long enough for me to notice the dress the girl on the right was wearing. 

I had seen that dress before.

It was my grandmother’s dress!
Lucille and Orvin Davis, Mary Jollette and Wendy Slade August 1959
My grandparents Lucille Rucker Davis and Orvin Davis
My baby sister Mary Jollette and me
August 1959

The trick-or-treaters were none other than my grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis and my cousin Bobbie who was living with her while attending college. The two of them were quite proud of themselves for fooling a few of our close neighbors before trying this stunt on me. I had to admit, those masks were really good!

(By the way, the trick-or-treaters left to right were my grandmother and my cousin wearing Grandma's dress.)

For more tricks and treats, please make your way to Sepia Saturday.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sepia Saturday: A Penchant for Poetry

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

The dark colored dress on the young lady in this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt made me think of a photo of my maternal grandfather’s cousin, Alda Beatrice Clift.
Alda Beatrice Clift
Alda - year unknown
but she appears to be 8 to 12 years old
so about 1913-1917
The photo always gives me a start. I gasp at the sight of what appears to be an amputated arm. However, because I have seen photos of her in later years with two healthy arms, I know she was standing with her arm behind her back.  

Alda was the fifth and last child of Sallie Jollett Clift and George Clift. What a beautiful baby she was. 
Alda Beatrice Clift
Alda Clift
Look at that sweet bracelet!
1905 or 1906
Her brothers Leonard and Raymond were hard-working and respectable young men. 
Leonard and Raymond Clift
Leonard and Raymond Clift

They deserved a better childhood than the one they experienced. At the ages of 14, 13, and 8, respectively, the Clift children testified against their father in their parents’ divorce case.

The shocking details of Sallie and George’s marriage have been the subject of this blog several times. If you are new to the party, you can read accounts HERE and HERE.

The testimony of 8-year old Alda is heart-wrenching.
Testimony of Alda Clift in Sallie Clift vs George Clift
Testimony of Alda Clift
Divorce Case of Sallie Clift v George T. Clift
Chancery Cause 1913-07
Lawyer: Just tell me what happened when your father came to the house.
Alda:  When he come in, Mama said she was not expecting him home, and he said I come home when you are not expecting me.  Mama asked him if he wanted his supper and he said yesem, and he said what do you have for meals, and Mama said 25 cents, and he gave her 25 cents and she laid it up on the shelf.  Mama cooked his supper and he set down and he eat and he pulled out a pass out of his pocket and said Sallie I got a pass for Luray.  I am going to Luray and get me a divorce, and Mama went into the kitchen to wash the dishes and he got up and came out there, and Mama came back in the dining room and Papa pulled out his gun and held it up that away, and said I am going to kill you, and then me and Mama commenced to scream and I said Papa put your gun back in your pocket and then me and Mama went out doors, and he followed us out and when we got out to the gate he got his gun out again and then he said I dare you to come back in here, I will shoot your G__ D__ brains out; you or any other man.  Me and Mama went on down street and then we went hunting for Mr. Whiteside, and Eddie Bricker come to me and Mama first, and we found Mr. Whiteside and he went on up home.
Lawyer:  Where did you and your Mama stay that night?
Alda: Down to Aunt Vick’s (meaning Mrs. Decatur Breeden)
Lawyer:  Do you want to stay with your mother or would you rather go live with your father?
Alda:  I want to stay with my Mama.
Lawyer:  Why would you not want to live with your father?
Alda:  Because he is too mean to me.

No doubt Alda had to grow up fast, which might explain why she married at age 15 to Leon Dewey Monger. Two daughters and ten years later, they divorced. Three days after the divorce was final, Alda married Wilson Suite, a barber from Washington D.C. Fortunately, they lived happily ever after until Wilson’s death in 1960. Alda outlived him by 22 years.

If I ever met Alda, I do not remember. What I know of her is from public records - census, marriage, divorce, chancery lawsuits - and from photos. Like her Jollett relatives, she was ever-present at reunions. 
Cousins at Jollett Reunion 1919
Alda is 4th from left on back row standing between her
cousins Russell Coleman and Violetta Davis
1919 - Alda was 14

1934 Reunion Lewis Lloyd Jollett, Sallie Clift, Alda Clift, Wilson Suite
1934 Reunion
Lewis Lloyd Jollett (nephew of Sallie Clift), Sallie Clift,
Alda Clift Monger Suite and Wilson Suite
She was obviously loved by her cousins.
Violetta Davis Ryan and Alda Clift Suite and Alda's daughter
Violetta Davis Ryan with Alda Clift Suite
That's Alda's daughter in the middle,
but is it Janice or Gwen?

What amuses me, however, is the Clift penchant for poetry. Her father George penned 18 stanzas while incarcerated for that gun incident of 1914 that Alda described. Her mother Sallie published a poem in memory of her brother-in-law Walter Davis.
The newspaper clipping of this poem
is glued to the inside back cover
of Mary Frances Jollett Davis's photo album.
When Sallie died, Alda wrote a poem about her dear mother and best friend and had it published in the local newspaper. Her daughters likewise wrote poems expressing their love for their grandmother Sallie.

Alda wrote another poem on her mother's birthday.

The Clift poems are not polished. They are sappy and sentimental. The rhyme and rhythm are often uneven. Yet, they succeed in showing heart, devotion, gratitude, loyalty, admiration, regret - qualities lacking in those public records.

I like to think Alda carried on the tradition of writing poems in her mother’s memory; however, I have not found any others. I wonder if daughters Gwen and Janice wrote poems at Alda’s death in 1982.

To read more stories of girls in dark dresses, open the gate to Sepia Saturday.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Girls in White Dresses

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo is of a young girl in a white dress writing at a desk. My great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh dressed her own little girls in dresses like that. It was the style in the early 1900s. 

Killeen and Walsh sisters about 1914
Helen Killeen Parker captioned this photo "The Royal Four."
The photo dates about 1914.
Killeen and Walsh sisters but am not sure who is who - -
Three standing left to right LOOK like Catherine Walsh,
Helen Killeen, and Julia Walsh.
The one seated would have to be Lillie, Mae, or Margaret. ??
But white dresses were not just for little girls. When white gauze, eyelet, voile, tulle, and lace came together, a delicate tea dress was born.

Lillie Killeen 1919
Lillie 1919
I can almost feel the dress my grandaunt Lillie Killeen wore in 1919, likely on Easter Sunday and throughout the summer.

Lillie Killeen 1960s-1970s
Aunt Lil late 1960s-early 1970s

When I knew Aunt Lil, she was already old. She was the only one of the seven girls in her family not to marry. At family gatherings at the home of her younger sister Helen Killeen Parker, Aunt Lil busied herself in the kitchen or orbited the dining room table offering second and third helpings of ham.

Aunt Lil always looked rather frail, almost demanding to be pitied. She rented an apartment and lived what seemed to be a meager life. We used to chuckle over stories of Lillie and her sisters shopping together at the grocery store. My cousin Jennifer as a child sometimes went with them. Her role was to run up and down the aisles fetching whatever the aunts needed to save them time and steps. Aunt Helen and Aunt Mae would reward her with coins and candy. Not Lillie. She never gave Jennifer a thing.

Killeen and Walsh sisters 1970s
The Grocery Store Crew
Lillie Killeen, Helen Killeen Parker,
Mae Killeen Holland, and Julia Walsh Slade (my granny)
My impression of Aunt Lil as a penny-pinching spinster dissipated though following a recent visit with one of Aunt Mae’s granddaughters. She recounted stories told to her by her father that revealed a different side to my prim and proper Aunt Lil.

Aunt Lil used to say that SHE was the lucky one, that her sisters were actually jealous of her. Why? Because she was SINGLE. These are not her exact words, but in essence Lillie boasted, “When I come home from work, I do not have to cook for anyone. I do not have to change diapers. I can do whatever I want, when I want.”

What Lillie enjoyed most was her free weekends of dining and dancing. (Who knew?) I was surprised to learn that there used to be a ferry or some kind of ship that sailed from Norfolk to Baltimore and back on weekends, leaving Friday night and returning Sunday. Live music and dancing and food all night and all day! Passengers could rent a room on the boat. It was small and not a bit luxurious, but Lillie did not care. After all, she was there for the dancing.

Lillie Killeen 1930s
Lillie Killeen 1930s  https://jollettetc.blogspot.comAnother reason Aunt Lil’s sisters were supposedly jealous was that her money was her own to do with as she wanted. By all accounts, she dressed very well.

Lillie must have made good money working for a doctor. I used to think she was a nurse. After all, she dressed like a nurse. 

However, she was actually the bookkeeper. She was asked to wear a nurse uniform so that she could join the doctor in the examining room when he had a female patient. 

Lillie Killeen at work
Lillie at work - judging by the
shoes and hose, a uniform is
under that coat

Lillie became a valuable and trusted employee as she colluded with the doctor in other ways, too. She kept two sets of books (read into that what you will) and two calendars. Why two calendars? The good doctor had several women on the side, it seems, and the calendars helped cover his tracks. I have to wonder how Lillie felt about that because the doctor’s wife gave Lillie lovely gifts at Christmas and on her birthday. Oh, the guilt Aunt Lil must have felt, being the good Catholic that she was.

Lillie did find love. She dated one fellow a long time but saw no future with him. “He drank too much,” she said. She had seen too much alcoholism in the Killeen and Walsh families to put up with one more alcoholic.

Lillie Killeen and boyfriend 1944
Lillie and boyfriend 1944
Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Lillie was not the sad little creature that I saw from the viewpoint of a child. In a time when women were expected to marry and raise families, she chose to go it alone. She chose to be free and to dance.

Note to self: Dance on over to Sepia Saturday for more stories of girls in white dresses.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Book is IN but the Jury is OUT

My new book
8" x 10"     174 pages

I kept dragging my feet, but I finally completed my second book which I have titled Jollett Family Reunion. Having received a copy of the finished product, I am glad that I took Blurb’s advice to order JUST ONE copy. It would have been embarrassing to send out so many goofs. 

So what did I do wrong?

First problem - the Cover
I like the layout, but I see small problems that I did not detect on the screen. The title is not truly centered, so I have shoved it slightly to the right so that the “i” in “Reunion” is centered over Vic’s head.

Next, James Franklin Jollett’s portrait did not fully fill the photo box resulting in the gap between the photo and the white frame. That might also explain why the white band seems to be sliding over the frame and under the portrait.


Second problem - Conflicting information
As I was reading my book, I noticed that I did not include some details in the family charts giving the impression I did not know the information when, in fact, the information was provided elsewhere in the book. For example, I listed only a year for the birth and death of James Henry Jollett, yet a photo of his tombstone gives complete dates. There was no marriage date for Lewis Jollett and Mary Neville Peluso, but a news article provides the full account. Sloppy! 


Third problem - Inconsistency in style
In most of the family charts, I spelled out the states in capital and lower case letters. However, here and there I found MD or VA or VIRGINIA.

A few minor misses in proofreading suddenly stood out: too much or not enough spacing between paragraphs; a letter cut off a word. Sloppy!


Fourth problem - Misidentification    

I had looked at the photo a thousand times. In my grandaunt Velma’s photo album, it was labeled “The Three.” I assumed it was Mary Frances Jollett Davis and two of her sisters, Laura Sullivan and Sallie Clift, but as I was going through the finished copy of the book, I suddenly noticed the dress on the woman I had identified as Sallie.

Why wouldn’t I think it was Sallie? After all, in numerous photos she stood with her head cocked. But that dress. That same dress was in another photo, but the woman wearing it was NOT Sallie. It was Sadie Lam Jollett, sister-in-law of Mary Frances and Laura. 

Close up from the photo
with Mary Frances and Laura
Sadie wearing that same dress
at a Jollett reunion

The irony is that I had used that dress to identify Sadie in another reunion photo.

I was not sure who this lady was
until I noticed that detail in the dress.


Fifth problem - Citations
I noticed some of my citations were incomplete or missing altogether.


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate my book. There are several features I am very proud of:
  • As with my first book, I did not upgrade the paper or end sheets. The standard looks and feels good.
  • I was able to use many stories from my blog.
  • The format is good beginning with the story of James Franklin Jollett, followed by biographies of his two wives, and then biographies and photos of their children.
  • I was not sure I would like the green that I selected for the cover and for the graphic elements, but it looks good. It’s a good green, not limey, not too forest-y. The green chapter tags and photo frames add a little umph to the pages.
  • There are lots of photos and newspaper clippings.

  • Headers will help readers find a particular chapter easily.
  • I am proud of being able to identify so many people in a reunion photo. The corresponding image - faded and numbered - makes me look like I know what I'm doing. HA!
  • The index was a pain to create, but I imagine future readers will be glad it is there. You’re welcome.

Blurb is not cheap. Even as author, I wait for a good sale. The next time Blurb offers a 50% sale, I will order copies of the new and improved version for my family, libraries and historical societies in the counties where my Jolletts once resided.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Email and Elusive Ancestors

My blog has been rather quiet recently. The excuses reasons are numerous: working on house projects, vacationing, helping others with research, writing another Jollett family history book, blah blah blah.

Then an email arrived to spur me back into the ring, but it was not a result of “cousin bait” doing its best to lure new contacts who might share photos and stories about our common ancestor. No, the email was from someone who will remain a stranger. Still, I am grateful for what he had to tell me.

“Ron” and a friend had recently purchased an old box of weaving drafts. They are making it their mission to identify the women that wrote them and learn their story. One of the drafts was signed by Miss Frances Jollette and another by Fannie E. Jollett, same woman. One more was written on reused paper with a note on the back:
Draft signed by Fannie Jollett 1869
While I do not know the circumstances of this transaction, I suspect Henry Sampson
was son of Smith Sampson, who would have been Fannie's cousin.
Smith's mother and Fannie's mother were sisters.

Not surprisingly, when Ron Googled “Frances Jollett,” my blog popped up. What he learned from my blog about Fannie Jollett was not much, just the bare minimum: a year of birth, the name of her mother, and her association with a few family members. No real story. Not even a date of death.

Ron’s email reminded me that I have not thought about Fannie Jollett in quite some time. She has always been just a minor character in the drama of my family tree. Yet she is the star in a minor contradiction that has me puzzled. Let me start from the beginning.

Fannie was born in Orange County, Virginia in 1822, the daughter of Tabatha Jollett. Just going by the tick marks in early census records when only the head of household was named, Tabatha was likely an unmarried daughter of James Jollett and Nancy Walker Jollett. I do not see a spot for an unnamed son who might have married a girl named Tabatha and left her widowed before 1850, so I am sticking with my theory of “unwed daughter.”

In 1850, Tabatha and daughter Fannie were living in the household of Elizabeth Jollett King (daughter of James and Nancy) and her daughter Columbia. By 1860, Tabatha and Fannie were on their own in Greene County even though they seemed to have no visible means of support. If Fannie earned a living as a weaver, she did not declare it in the census. Elizabeth had moved to Rockingham County to live with her daughter who married Thomas Marsh in 1853.

Tabatha apparently died before 1870, so it is no surprise to find Fannie once again in the household of her COUSIN Columbia Marsh along with husband Thomas Marsh and mother Elizabeth King. I emphasize “COUSIN” because in 1878 when Elizabeth King died, Fannie - not Columbia - was the informant. In the record, Fannie claimed she was Elizabeth’s GRANDDAUGHTER.

So there is the minor puzzle. How could Fannie be Columbia’s COUSIN as well as Elizabeth’s GRANDDAUGHTER? I cannot come up with a scenario that makes sense. If Fannie was indeed Elizabeth’s granddaughter, then Tabatha was Elizabeth’s daughter making Columbia Fannie’s aunt, not cousin - unless, Columbia was also Elizabeth’s granddaughter, of course. However, there is no evidence of that being so. If Fannie was indeed Columbia’s cousin, then Tabatha and Elizabeth were sisters (or maybe sisters-in-law). But then why did Fannie claim to be Elizabeth’s granddaughter?

Since Fannie is such a distant relation, the puzzle has not been important to me until now. That email revived my interest in this elusive ancestor. I recalled that some time ago I found a chancery cause at the Library of Virginia in which Peter Haynes sued Fannie Jollett for failure to make payments on property she purchased from him.

It seems that in 1866 Fannie Jollett purchased from Peter Haynes twenty-five acres two miles east of McGaheysville in Rockingham County, Virginia.  She promised to pay in four annual installments, but apparently failed to follow through. Haynes claimed she was wasting the land by selling off the timber thus making the property less valuable. He further claimed that since she was insolvent, the only recourse would be for the Court to seize the property and sell it.

The case became more complicated because Miss Fannie Jollett had sold one-quarter of an acre to a group of men who wished to build a school. While the group did not object to Fannie’s land being sold out from under her, they considered their little purchase from her a good and valid sale.

Fannie did not just roll over. Her answer to Haynes was that she had made some partial payments but did not pay the full amount annually because she learned Haynes did not have a clear title to the property which actually belonged to a man named Mathias Kersh. Kersh was then added to the suit, but the evidence showed that Haynes was on the side of right. He did indeed have a clear title to the property in question.

In 1873 it became clear that Fannie was losing the battle. The question became whether she had paid Haynes anything at all, how much and when, and whether to sell the 24 ¾ acres as one parcel or two. Counsel for the defense brought in Fannie’s COUSIN Columbia Marsh as a witness. Here is part of the deposition:

Question by Def[ense] Counsel.  Do you know of your own knowledge of any payment of money by the Deft [Defendant]  Frances E. Jollett to the Piff [Plaintiff] Peter Haynes on the land mentioned in this cause if so state the amt. of said payment and the time and place it was made.
Ans  In the year 1868 or 1869 I saw Frances E. Jollett  pay said Haynes $40 at her own house.
2 By same  Did Haynes have the bond or bonds with him
Ans  No Sir he did not have them
3 By same  Did Miss Jollet take any receipt for the $40
Ans No Sir
4 By same Was it in the spring summer fall or winter
Ans In the spring
5 By same How many years ago was it
Ans It has been three or four years

and part of the deposition of Fannie Jollett in which she answered the same questions posed to Columbia:

Ans I paid $40 in addition to the credits on those bonds. I paid the $40 either in 1868 or 1869 at my house. I don’t remember which of those years. Mrs. Marsh, her mother who is my aunt, Mr. Haynes & his wife were present when this money was paid. 

Ta da - there it is. In her own words, Fannie confirmed she and Columbia were cousins and that Elizabeth King was Fannie’s aunt.

As for the death record in which it appears Elizabeth King was Fannie’s grandmother, that misstep can be chalked up to any number of reasons from nervousness to old age to clerk’s misunderstanding.

Case closed.

Oh, and if you are wondering, yes, the property was sold at auction. Unfortunately, poor ol’ Peter Haynes did not live to see it, but the property fetched enough to pay his estate and cover the costs of the lawsuit.
Newspaper ad for sale of Fannie Jollett's land 1873
From Chancery Causes at Library of Virginia
Rockingham Co 1877-48-C

“Niece or Granddaughter?” is hardly the exciting research question, but in following the advice to chase every clue even if it does not look like a clue, I found an answer and much more.

This is my contribution to the Genealogy Blog Potluck Picnic.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Happy Blogiversary #6

Jollett Etc. is 6. Yes, 6!

So what have I been doing in my sixth year of blogging?

First and foremost, I have been polishing up some old posts for inclusion in my next book about the Jolletts. The first one focused on my 3X great-grandfather Fielding Jollett; the current one is about my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett, his two wives, and their children. When this book is done, I plan to follow my direct lineage and create a book about my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis and her children.

When GeneaBloggers ended, so did my role as one of the interviewers for the “May I Introduce to You” feature. However, the leaders of the new GeneaBloggers Tribe saw some value in what our team did and invited us to be on the administrative team. Our first job was a time-consuming effort to update the old GeneaBloggers blog roll. It felt good to clean up over 3000 links, and it has been thrilling to see new blogs and bloggers being added daily.

The past year has been rather slow for this blog. I could blame life changes, I suppose. But the better reason is that I’ve written the easy stuff already. If I don’t want to merely repeat myself, I need to find more stories about the Jolletts, the Walshes, the Davises, the Sheehans, the Slades, the Ruckers, the Eppards, ETC. I’ve found the easy stuff already. Finding something NEW to write about is hard. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not giving up.

I am encouraged by the number of contacts I have made and new ideas coming out of conversations with my second-cousins that I had lost contact with. Recently my sister and I enjoyed lunch with a cousin and her daughter. What fun it was to hear NEW stories about our shared aunts and to hear an entirely different version of events from the past. The four of us may even have broken through a dark family secret. I hope to be able to write about that one day soon.

My blogiversary wish: that year 7 will be LUCKY in uncovering more stories about my family. (Of course, I can improve my luck by concentrating on that harder research!)

Thanks to all my readers who have joined me in my geneadventure.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Hair Do's and Don'ts

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of the young man posed with hand to cheek gives me an excuse to share a photo that I really DO NOT LIKE. Here is my most beloved grandaunt Violetta Davis (Ryan) posed likewise in that thoughtful way with hand to cheek.

Violetta Davis

For some time the reason for my dislike eluded me. After all, the photo is clear. There is an elaborately carved table and chair. I love Violetta’s velvet dress with sheer sleeves adding another layer of elegance to an already elegant and formal setting. So what is there NOT to like?

I finally figured it out. It’s her hair. Sorry, Violetta, those bangs were not a good look for you. The Violetta of my memory did not do bangs.

Not as a toddler.
Violetta Davis ca 1906

Not as a school girl.

Violetta Davis

Not as a college student

Violetta Davis  1923

nor as a graduate with a Master of Science degree in education

Violetta Davis

The young schoolmarm hairdo served her well throughout the 1930s.

Violetta Davis Ryan

Violetta Davis Ryan 1946-47
In the 1940s she changed things up. I can picture her wagging her finger and joining in with the Andrews Sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”

Violetta Davis Ryan 1951-52 https://jollettetc.blogspot.comVioletta Davis Ryan 1952-53

In the 1950s, her beautiful grey hair was often pulled back allowing her to show off her earrings when she chose to do so.

1960s - Oh NO! A Perm! Aaaack -  Step away from the curling rods, please. Whew!

Violetta Davis Ryan 1960s

In her later years, Violetta’s hair always seemed wild and BIG to me. However, looking back now, I see that her hair was soft and wavy and, yes, BIG. And it suited her.

Violetta Davis Ryan 1981
Violetta in her living room
December 1981

With finger to your cheek, give some thought to visiting my friends at Sepia Saturday. You’ll get a bang out of it!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.