Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Feed the Birds

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo challenge is EASY! Children feeding pigeons in a busy town square – doesn’t everyone have a photo like this? OK, maybe not. But I have the perfect match in one of the most popular town squares in the world.

The minute Jordan, Zoe, and I stepped inside Piazza San Marco in Venice, all we could hear was the flapping of wings and the cooing of pigeons. Hundreds of pigeons. Maybe thousands, who could count? For a time we were frozen in place, unsure which way to go or how to navigate through the throng of birds.  

Then I saw a little boy, so still, so quiet, almost like a statue. The birds came to him.

St. Marks Venice 2004

Oh, I had to have a picture of that! And I had to have my girls have the same experience. Reluctantly they stood and suddenly they too became a human perch covered in birds.

Venice 2004 Jordan and Zoe feeding birds
Venice 2004 Jordan and Zoe feeding birds 

Of course, once that novelty wore off, the hand sanitizer came out!

At the time, we were unaware that Venetians do not like tourists encouraging the birds by feeding them (even though there were plenty of licensed vendors selling bird seed – I assume they were Venetians). Bird poo is not welcome on the beautiful historic buildings, especially the fa├žade of St. Mark’s Basilica. In fact, in 2008, a law was passed making feeding pigeons in Venice illegal.

Scrapbook page Italy 2004
My scrapbook page 

Had my mother been along on that trip, she would have freaked out. She hated birds. Not just real, live birds. She hated bird motifs in fabric. Bird motifs in wallpaper. Paintings of birds. Bird jewelry. Unless it was a chicken she could eat, she automatically hated it. I don’t know if she was born hating birds or if her hatred was a result of an incident in our front yard sometime in the mid-1960s.

Gillis Road 1960s
Our house in Cradock in the 1960s. Birds nested in the bush
in front of the fireplace.

There was a nest of baby birds in a bush in front of our house. Momma held my little sister on her hip, and the two of them peered in closely to get a good look at those cute little beaks open wide. That’s when Momma Catbird came home with dinner. She did not take kindly to those two nosey humans getting close to her babies. She flew at my mother and pecked her head. My mother got the message loud and clear. She and my sister went running. So I know for sure Momma hated birds after that.

As for my sister and me, we like birds. We like filling the bird feeders and keeping all the song birds and finches happy. But we know better than to go looking for occupied nests.
photo courtesy Mary Slade Pollock

Watch the birdie at Sepia Saturday!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

A card with no signature in the scrapbook of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mystery Monday: Mary Alice

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

If you work on your family genealogy long enough, you will surely find heroes and scoundrels, tragic stories and joyful ones. The story I found just recently when I did a broad search for “Jollett” at GenealogyBank is one of those Happy-Sad stories.

Girl Missing Since Mother’s Death
Believed in Baltimore Training School

Some time today Charles Jollett of 913 H street, who is scarcely 33 years old, will be told that the daughter he has been seeking for 15 years is being cared for in an institution within 50 miles of where he lives and works.

A search that has been carried on intermittently since 1915 apparently has been concluded with the information that a 15-year-old girl bearing the name of Mary Alice Jollett is being cared for in the Rosewood Training School at Baltimore. John Jollett, father of the girl’s father, and his wife are in communication with the institution and they hoped to tell their son today that his wish to see his child might be fulfilled.

In response to appeals to the Baltimore police and notices published in Baltimore newspapers, Dr. G. W. Keating, head of the Rosewood Training School, advised Mr. Jollett that a child bearing his name had been placed in the home by the mother October 31, 1921. Dr. Keating’s records tally with the facts known to the Jolletts.

Mary Alice Jollett was born to Charles Jollett and his wife in Baltimore February 17, 1914 when the father was about 18 and the mother about 15. At 9 months, the child suffered infantile paralysis which affected body and mind. Husband and wife separated and for seven years the child was cared for by the mother and at times by the mother’s parents. Charles Jollett joined his parents in Virginia and for several years was not in communication with his 

from the Evening Star, Washington DC
7 Jan 1930
wife. When she died suddenly in 1922 he had no knowledge of his daughter’s whereabouts.

Illness in the family prevented John Jollett from making an active effort to locate the child. Some time ago his wife died. He married again recently and he and his wife and son, who lives with them, determined to locate the daughter. Appeals to the Baltimore police and newspapers led to the information obtained.

The condition of Mary Alice Jollett, who soon will be 16 years old, probably will determine whether she will be left in the Rosewood Training School or brought to her grandfather’s home. Members of the family expressed gratification today that they might assist her and at least know that everything possible would be done for her.

(The Rosewood Training School was established in 1888 as The Asylum and Training School for the Feeble-Minded. In 1912 it was renamed The Rosewood State Training School.)

How sad indeed for little Mary Alice, a child born healthy but left mentally and physically disabled due to infantile paralysis. How sad for a young married couple, still children themselves, to lose their way, unable to find the strength to function as a family. I have seen in my own family how a marriage can fall apart under the weight of emotional and physical exhaustion that often accompanies caring for a child with physical and mental disabilities.

While it saddened me to know that Charles lost contact with his wife and therefore did not provide for her or their daughter, he redeemed himself somewhat by intensifying his efforts to find Mary Alice upon hearing his wife had died. I was proud that the search was a family affair too, not Charles alone but with the aid of his father John.

The Charles Jollett of this story was son of John B. and Fannie Bell Griffith Jollett. Born about 1896, Charles was the youngest of five surviving children. His father John was a farmer like most of their neighbors along Naked Creek in Page County, Virginia. The community was known as Jollett Hollow, named for Charles’s grandfather John Wesley Jollett, a Methodist preacher and sometimes post master.

By 1910, John B. had moved his family a few miles away to the town of Shenandoah. The railroad had made Shenandoah a boom town, and there were plentiful jobs in the various repair shops. John himself worked as a machinist. Charles’s brother Hunter worked as a carpenter.

Perhaps it was the lure of jobs with the government during World War I that drove the Jolletts to Baltimore, Maryland. In the 1920 census, John B. was a carpenter with the shipyard and Charles was a riveter.

But wait – what about Mary Alice? In 1920, Charles was living with his parents in Baltimore. He was enumerated as married, but there was no wife listed. Apparently they were already separated at that point. A search for “Mary Alice Jollett” and “Mary Jollett” in the 1920 census produced no match.

Then I recalled the mysterious Mrs. Eliza Jollett from Baltimore. Could she be the unnamed wife in the article and mother of Mary Alice?

I examined the details:
  • She was 24 when she died in 1922, giving her a date of birth around 1898, certainly in the right time period to have married Charles Jollett.
  • They were both in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • She was buried in Shenandoah, again the right neighborhood to have known Charles’s family.
  • There was no mention of a husband in Eliza’s death notice, a strong suggestion that there had to be a good reason, such as separation or divorce.

A search for Eliza Jollett in 1920 produced no match. So I turned to her parents, Samuel and Eliza Watson, whom I had already found in 1900 and 1910. This time I looked for them in 1920.

No Eliza Jollett. But lookee there: a 6-year old granddaughter “Mary Joliet”! 

from 1920 census
Baltimore Ward 27, Baltimore, Maryland

No wonder I could not find her. Not only was her name spelled incorrectly but also she is indexed as “Mary Jolest.” Just to rule out “coincidence,” I did the math: a child 6 years old in 1920 would have been born about 1914, depending on date of birth and date the family was enumerated. The child would be about 16 in 1930, the same age as the Mary Alice of the news article.

Apparently a child with physical and mental disabilities was too much for aging grandparents to handle. Maybe putting Mary Alice in the Rosewood Training School in 1921 was Eliza’s decision; maybe it was her parents’ decision. Maybe it was a combination. At any rate, Mary Alice was there in 1930 when Charles and his father finally found her. The news article concludes by saying her condition would determine whether she would remain there or go home with her father and grandfather. One of the questions in the census was whether a person could speak English. The answer for Mary Alice was “No.”

I imagine the sense of obligation mixed with pity mixed with relief at finally being reunited was strong, but it is not likely that Mary Alice went home with her father. In 1940 she was still at Rosewood. At age 26, her highest level of education achieved was 0.

It is much too difficult for me to think about what the rest of Mary Alice’s life might have been. The Rosewood Training School certainly started out with noble intentions, but like so many asylums of its day, too many patients and too few employees compounded by too many needs and too little funding resulted in deterioration of buildings and services. Charges of abuse and dehumanizing conditions spelled the end of Rosewood in 2008. I suspect Mary Alice was there all that time. If so, she spent 80 years in Rosewood. She died 15 December 2001.

Even without a marriage record for Charles Jollett and Eliza Watson, and even without a birth record or death record for Mary Alice, I am convinced I have solved this mini-mystery. It is not the exhaustive search that genealogists say I should do, but I am confident doing so will bear me out. Sadly enough.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Jolletts in the News

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo is of a sales clerk behind the counter of a shell shop, but what caught my eye was the sign in the cabinet.  The pointing hand is much like the one in this photo:

Jollett sign Greene County, VA

The sign points folks driving along the Amicus Road in Greene County, Virginia to the home of Logan Jollett, grandson of Burton Lewis Jollett. The home has been in the Jollett family for at least three generations, the land probably even longer.

Fredericksburg Free Lance 1 March 1904
Burton Lewis was the oldest child of my 2X great-grandparents James Franklin Jollett and Lucy Ann Shiflett. He was named for his grandfathers Burton Shiflett and Fielding Lewis Jollett. Burton Lewis grew up to be a significant figure in Greene County. For many years he was Justice of the Peace. He also was elected as a delegate to the Republican conventions.

The Jolletts were often in the news, not just for political reasons, but also social. The Greene County Record and Greene County Register were both 4-page publications that included world and national news on the front page and agricultural matters on the last page. In the middle were local news and ads. The local section covered personal news of anyone and everyone in the surrounding vicinity – illness, deaths, marriages, and who was visiting, even when those visits were within the same community. Yes, big news.

In 1904 Burton Lewis’s children made the social column when they visited their grandfather James Franklin Jollett, just across the mountain: Chas. Roberts and wife, C. C. [Chester Clarence] Jollett, Misses Fleta and Blanch Jollett and Master B. L. [Burton Lewis Lloyd] Jollett went to Harriston, Augusta County, Saturday to visit James F. Jollett for a few days. We wish them a happy journey.

A couple years later Fleta Jollett made the news again spending the winter with the family of Charles D. Wyant in Rockingham County.

Harrisonburg Daily News Record
30 Nov 1909

A story that appeared in the social pages February 1, 1923 was about Burton Lewis’s visit with his sister Leanna Knight, who lived just a couple miles away. According to the Greene County Record, “the whole family enjoyed his visit very much indeed, especially the boys hearing their uncle tell about one of the guide posts of his life – promptness – and the way young people of today should do and act.”  

As adults, Burton Lewis’s children were still the topics of interest for the social columns. Lewis Jollett and his children even made the news in nearby Harrisonburg:
Harrisonburg Daily News Record
5 Sep 1923

Harrisonburg Daily News Record
22 Sep 1924

Harrisonburg Daily News Record
4 Dec 1928

As a teenager, Logan, Lewis’s son, made the news when his high school drama troupe won first place in a one-act competition and he won a personal award as best actor.

Richmond Times Dispatch
15 Dec 1940

With such interesting and inspiring goings-on among the Jolletts, who would not want a wooden hand pointing the way to the home of such an accomplished family???

To see what else is in store, I’ve pointed the way to Sepia Saturday.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mystery Monday: Another Eliza Jollett

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

It has been quiet around here this year because I have been trying to work on that darn Jollett Reunion book that I planned to finish LAST year. The slow progress is due to my determination to correct past errors, fill in missing dates if possible, and add some spark to what my children and nephews might regard as a snooze fest. My newspaper subscriptions sometimes come to the rescue. And sometimes they offer up a bonus: a new mystery to solve.

Usually I search by the name of a specific person, but since the book will cover a number of Jolletts, I simply typed in “Jollett” and selected the state of Virginia. An article popped up with a name that I recognized, but the context of the story made me doubtful that the woman was someone I knew.

Baltimore American 1 Jun 1922
Hostilities between three women in the 2900 block of Bernard street resulted in three trips by the opposing parties to the Northern police station, where Magistrate Schroeder settled the question by fining Mrs. Eliza Jollett, 2917 Bernard street, $5 and costs and warning the other two militants. Both Mrs. Annie Watson, 3122 Cedar avenue, and Mrs. Sarah Carlin, 2917 Bernard street, received bruises and cuts in the affray. The trouble arose from an accusation of theft made by Mrs. Jollett.

The only Eliza Jollett in my database is my 2X great-grandfather’s second wife. She was probably a bit too old in 1922 to cause much damage in a cat fight with a couple of young “militants.” Besides, she didn’t live in Baltimore.

As “MRS Jollett,” Eliza would have been someone who married into the Jollett family. All the age-appropriate and living Jollett men were already taken, not a one with a wife named Eliza, Elizabeth, Lizzie, or Betsy. I fought the impulse to give up, to resign myself to believing she was married to one of those Jolletts from New York that so far have not been connected to the Jolletts of Virginia.

This BSO (Bright Shiny Object) was just too good to resist.

It must have been my lucky day because the name “Eliza Jollett” surfaced again. This time though, it was a death notice.
Baltimore American 14 Sep 1922
JOLLETT (nee Watson) – On September 12, 1922, ELIZA H. age 24 years, beloved daughter of Samuel H. and the late Eliza Watson.
Funeral will take place from her late residence, 2641 Mace street on Saturday, September 16, at 3 A.M. Interment Sanador, Va.

NOTE: Probably that should be 3 P.M.; “Sanador” evidently meant “Shenandoah”

Eliza Watson? Still didn’t ring a bell. But her connection to Shenandoah in Page County, Virginia is a sure sign that she belongs SOMEWHERE in my family tree.

The census records for 1900 and 1910 do little to answer the question of which Jollett boy caught the eye of Eliza Watson. In 1900, she was the youngest of 3 surviving children of Samuel Watson and his wife Eliza. He was a miner, likely of iron ore judging by their residence in the Stonewall District of Rockingham County where a number of furnaces were in operation. By 1910 the entire family had moved to Baltimore. Samuel was in the building trades, and the three children all worked at the cotton mill.

Unfortunately, the connection to any Jollett boys was still not apparent. It would take one more news article to send me in the right direction for an answer.

Next Week:  Mary Alice

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sepia Saturday: On the Steps of Chambers

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo with its arches and steps reminded me of this photo taken at Davidson College during the summer of 1946.

Chambers Hall Davidson College  Dickie Blanks

On the Steps of Chambers
Some of the people in Bible 11 waiting for the lunch bell to ring. The one on the far right is the ass’t football coach. He also attends school.

Dickie Blanks, my mother’s high school sweetie, had already left for college because he was on the football team.

Davidson College Football Team 1946

He sent her 24 photos of the campus. Unlike my own ancestors, Dickie labeled every photo resulting in a virtual campus tour.

Chambers Hall Davidson College  Dickie Blanks https://jollettetc.blogspot.comOn the Steps of Chambers
Some of our Bible 12 class waiting for the bell to ring. (notice how everyone is studing) 

[My mother would have raised an eyebrow at THAT spelling.]

Chambers Hall Davidson College  Doug Rice, Dickie Blanks

On the Steps of Chambers
“Doug” Rice, another of my friends. He has a crutch because he got his ankle twisted in practice the day before this was taken.

[I don't see any crutches. Do you?]

Chambers Hall Davidson College Hal Mapes, Dickie Blanks

On the Steps of Chambers
 “Hal” Mapes lighting the cigarette is one of my best friends. He plays football and sits right behind me in both classes. I have to help him study all of the time.

Dormitory Row Davidson College

Dormitory Row
Taken from the sidewalk, looking west. Their names are: left to right – Georgia, West, East, and Duke. Watts and Rumble were behind me. We live in West, the 2nd one on the third floor.

Dickie and Momma parted ways during their college days. I suppose since she saved these pictures (none of which include a photo of Dickie himself), it must be true that you don’t forget your first love.

Follow the Sepia Saturday path to more stories of arches and steps.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.