Tuesday, September 17, 2019

52 Ancetors - COUSINS: The Cousin Who Baited Me

Findagrave Memorial 84595194

I owe a great deal of gratitude to Cathy Hecker, my half 4th cousin. She was the 3X great granddaughter of Fielding Jollett and his first wife Ann Stoutemire. I descend through his second wife Mary Ann Armentrout. Cathy compiled a great deal of Jollett research the old-fashioned way before computers, before email, before a phone call and credit card could get you a quick answer. She was in Ohio, but the Jolletts were in Virginia. She drove to court houses. She wrote letters and mailed checks. By the time we found each other, she had all but given up hope that there was anyone out there who cared about the Jolletts. 

How she found me, I do not even remember. It was well before I started my Jollett website on Geocities. Methinks she found my cousin Barbara Davis Shiflett who appreciates family history but is not a researcher. She must have given Cathy my name and number. Cathy mailed copies of her research to me.
A page from Cathy's research
Typed on a typewriter or early computer
The bulk of Cathy’s work was on the Fielding-Ann line, as it should be. But she had found deeds, wills, and obituaries for many on the Fielding-Mary Ann side as well. Her work gave me a strong foundation on which to build my own research and with which to start a website in those days before blogs were a “thing.”

Cathy and I talked a couple times a year. Her last phone call to me in 2002 was filled with expressions of thanks for my interest in the Jolletts and excitement over all the new information generated due to my little website. She was only sorry she had never had a chance to meet me in person, and had she mentioned that her cancer had come back. Then it hit me – this was a good-bye. 

I searched Ancestry for a photo of Cathy, but they are not available on public trees. Her Findagrave memorial provides a picture of her tombstone along with a transcription of her obituary. I was pleased to find she had been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as am I. Cathy was the last Regent of the Piqua Chapter before it merged with the Lewis Boyer Chapter.

Cathy Hecker is always close to my thoughts when I’m writing about the Jolletts.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

52 Ancestors - MISTAKE: Fake News

Nothing sparks the adrenaline quite like Ancestry’s shaky leaf alerting me to a new find. A picture! And not just any picture – a picture of my 3X great-grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Frazier. I could not click fast enough, my own fingers shaking like the Ancestry leaf.

Portrait posted on Ancestry
 Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Not so fast!

Are you sure this is little Nancy Elizabeth (1811-1895) with her parents John Frazier (ca 1770-1850) and Lucy Hardin Shiflett (ca 1778-after 1850 )?  Eh, I don’t know. They had lots of children. Where are they? Where is their portrait?

I sent a message to the gal who posted the photo and asked how she came in possession of the portrait and how she knew these were our Frazier ancestors. Her response surprised me. These are not her exact words, but close: “Oh, it’s not them. It’s just some girl with the same name.”

Even though SHE KNOWS these are not her ancestors, she is happy to let everyone think they are. She has even cropped out each person’s face to attach to their individual record on Ancestry. There’s that man’s face on John Frazier’s page, the woman’s face on Lucy’s page, and the little girl’s face on Nancy’s page.

Fifteen people have saved that photo to their family tree. Probably even more without public family trees have saved the photo to their personal database tricked into thinking they know what their ancestors looked like.

When I discover a mistake in a story I have posted on my blog, I correct it. There will be a bold notice of the correction and a link to a new and improved version of the story if I wrote one.

Honest mistakes are one thing. Perpetuating a lie on purpose is deplorable. Fake news!

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

52 Ancestors - SCHOOL DAYS: Teacher in Me

“Back to School” shopping is not something I have done in many years. However, the past couple months I have just smiled at the Walmart bins of notebooks, pens, glue sticks, and folders as parents consider the colors and numbers of supplies that will help their children be successful in the coming school year. On Facebook, parents have checked daily for bus schedules and teacher assignments.

On the flip side, teachers too have been busy with their own preparations in anticipation of receiving their class lists of bright stars and ruffians who will grace their classrooms. I know. I was a teacher - third generation, I might add.

1st Gen:  HERE and HERE 
2nd Gen: HERE

All that DNA did little to prepare me to actually BE a teacher. My high school teachers were an inspiration. I wanted to be just like Cora Mae Fitzgerald and Sharon Comer, two of my English teachers. To come even close, I thought I needed to take EVERY. SINGLE. ENGLISH. COURSE. there was in order to be fully prepared to discuss poetry and short stories with students who surely would be just as enthusiastic as I was.

Sue Yancey March 1973 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mrs. Sue Yancey
I was lulled into thinking teaching would be a steady stream of magical moments by a near-perfect student teaching experience. My mentor was the well-seasoned and most-beloved teacher at Elkton High School in Rockingham County: Sue Yancey. We worked together well, and she handed the reins over to me early on. To demonstrate my creativity and flexibility, I quickly set about utilizing all the educational equipment of the day:  filmstrip projector, movie projector, overhead projector, and of course, mimeographed handouts. “Purple prose,” we used to call it. The students liked me. I liked them. I was GREAT!

Despite my good grades, I was unable to get a job as a teacher. The city and county schools were gearing up for evaluation, so all new hires were to have Masters degrees. I had enrolled in graduate school anyway, so I was hopeful for the next year. However, then school-wide evaluations were done, and teachers with Masters degrees were not wanted because they would have to be paid more.

Fortunately – or not – a position was available at Elkton where I had enjoyed a rewarding stint as a student teacher. It was only part time – 2 English classes in grades 7 and 8 plus STUDY HALL. (Does that exist anymore?). At the time I was glad to take it, but I did not feel that way for long. In fact, I cried every afternoon when I got home from school.
When I was there in 1973, it was a high school and JUNIOR high.
Since then several high schools were consolidated
and the MIDDLE school concept has been instituted.
There were several conditions that conspired to make my first real job as a teacher the worst year of my professional life. Because none of the English teachers had volunteered to be department chairman, there was no one in charge (how was that allowed to happen?). I had no one to go to for help, and I was too shy and too embarrassed to seek it out. Did any of the other teachers notice the new girl and offer to help? NO! Not a one came to meet me, welcome me, or offer to share ideas.

Then there was the matter of textbooks. All books were laid out in a single classroom and teachers could go and take what they wanted. What kind of system is that? I was lucky to be able to determine which books went with which grade.

Another problem I encountered was that in the mid-70s, traditional grammar had been replaced by “transformational grammar.” What’s that? Traditional grammar that most of us were taught in school is PRESCRIPTIVE – that is, it emphasizes rules and correctness. Transformational grammar is DESCRIPTIVE – that is, it shows us what we actually do when we speak or write and makes no judgment about whether it is right or wrong. I am sure someone earned a fine PhD with that piece of junk adopted by so many schools desperate to be at the forefront of innovation. However, as low teacher on the faculty totem pole, I was assigned the lower level students, and the only grammar books left were the transformational ones. A lot of good that would do them, or anyone else, for that matter.
Elkton Junior High 1975 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Elkton Junior High 1975
Do they looked excited?

I admit it – I was the worst teacher on record. I bounced from thing to thing, developing little pointless units of study trying to find something that worked. Trying to just make it through the year. The only semi-positive memory was the letter writing unit. Each student wrote a little letter which we attached to helium balloons and released. Then we waited to see if anyone would find the balloon letter and write back. ONE. One student got a reply. Today I have no idea how I got the balloons to school!

That one event was the ONLY high point of a terrible year. I often regret that it was likely a terrible year for the students too. No, not likely – DEFINITELY. I did them no favors.

 I. C. Norcom High School
This building is gone, replaced by a shopping center.
But the next year, I was hired by Portsmouth City Schools. What a difference school and system leadership can make. My six years at Norcom High School restored my confidence. During that time, I enjoyed the variety and creativity of teaching English to freshmen, juniors, and seniors. I also taught creative writing, and I served as advisor for the newspaper.

My last newspaper staff was something else. What a dynamo bunch. I had investigative reporters. Editorial writers. Creative writers who liked to throw in a little something funny now and then. Most of them are friends to this day, albeit mostly on Facebook, but how amazing to have known them when they were 17 AND when they turned 50!
Norcom Gazette Staff 1981 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Gazette Staff 1981
Best EVER! Love you all!
I still have a yearbook and autograph book signed by my last groups of students from Norcom High School. They wrote such thoughtful messages. In truth, I am pretty sure I was not nearly as good as they thought I was, but I had come a LOOOONG way from that weak and floundering teacher I had been.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 30, 2019

52 Ancestors - AT WORK: Entrepreneur

Daddy believed in the American Dream: anyone can achieve their version of success by working hard, taking risks, and sacrificing. For him, success meant being in charge of his own destiny. The best way to do that would be to own a business, but that goal took many years to achieve.

The entrepreneurial spirit must have been genetic. Daddy’s father owned a taxi cab business in Portsmouth, Virginia and then later in Burlington, North Carolina. However, Daddy seemed to have no interest in following his father’s footsteps in that line of business.

One venture he explored, at least briefly, was radio electronics. I was surprised to find this diploma among his things. The 1945 date suggests he studied electronics by correspondence following his graduation from high school. Honestly, I can’t imagine Daddy doing anything remotely mechanical. If anything needed fixing in our house, Momma did it, including repairing the fill valve in the back of the toilet. Apparently Daddy couldn’t imagine it either and joined the Coast Guard instead.
The diploma is too wide for my flat bed scanner.
This was a correspondence school begun in 1899
and still in existence.
When I was growing up, Daddy worked briefly as an insurance salesman and then as a merchandise manager for Sears & Roebuck. That is the job I most associate with my father – he worked for Sears.
When Daddy was manager of the Infants Wear department,
he dressed as Winnie the Pooh to introduce Sears' new line
of infant clothing under the Winnie the Pooh label.
Working for a big company certainly offered stability while my sister and I were growing up. Once we were grown and out of the house, though, he was free to go after that American Dream to be his own boss.

The first plan was to form a family real estate company. Before I knew it, Momma, Daddy, my husband and I were enrolled in real estate classes at the community college and then the licensing exam prep course. I swore I would never let my license lapse after that, but it did not take long to figure out I was no salesman. Daddy, on the other hand, quickly advanced to the head of the class being named “Rookie of the Year” by the local Board of Realtors.
Wait - what? Handball champion?
Dealing with homeowners and buyers was not his niche, however. He set his sights on the big deals brokering land for development. He also created a concrete company that installed curb and guttering for the neighborhoods and industrial parks he brokered.
Entrance to Long Point, a neighborhood Daddy
helped develop in the Churchland area of Portsmouth, VA
Daddy’s ventures were not the financial success he probably envisioned. Heck, he was on the verge of bankruptcy several times before miraculously saving himself. As one of his business friends said, “Fred had too much heart for the business he was in.” He was not a hard son-of-a-gun, apparently a necessary trait for a long business life.
My nephews saved parts of Daddy's real estate signs.
This one hangs in a home office.
But Daddy was happy in his work which he continued to do right to his dying day at the age of 80.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Another Blogiversary

Last year at this time when I was celebrating 7 years of blogging bliss, I was beating myself up for being such a slacker while vowing to do better. I’m happy to report I AM blogging more regularly. My goal for 2019 has been to blog twice a week following the prompts for Sepia Saturday and for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I threw in the A-Z April Challenge at the last minute for the heck of it and completed it as usual.

I confess that Sepia Saturday has been a more difficult challenge than I expected. I used never to miss a week providing a good photo accompanied by a fairly good story. This year, I just don’t know. When I miss, usually it is because I have used the photos previously or told the story previously. Other times I have been vacationing or busy assisting women with researching an ancestor for an application to DAR. As a result of the latter, my own research has fallen to the end of my list of priorities. I must correct that because there is so much more to learn about my various family lines.

For fun, let’s look at the worst and best of Year 8 at Jollett Etc based on the number of page views.

With 43 page views, the best of the worst is a tie between

With 41 page views

With ONLY 40 page views, the worst of the worst is a tie between


Lesson to be learned – Page views go WAY up when Amy Johnson Crow features your blog on her weekly recap.

I wonder what year 9 will bring.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

52 Ancestors - TRAGEDY: The Roberts Kids

No doubt we have all heard that the worst thing that can happen to parents is having to bury a child. I am forever grateful that I have not had that experience, but unfortunately, I have witnessed such heartache among friends and family. I have written about several children who died far too soon by fire, by drowning, and even by murder. There is at least one more tragic story to tell: the story of the children of Edith Jollett Roberts. (Edith was my mother’s second cousin making her children my third cousins.)

It must have been a lovely day in the little community of Meltons in Louisa County, Virginia that 30th day of April in 1943. Edith, like so many young mothers in those days, allowed the children to play in the yard while she likely was doing laundry, dusting, cooking, or performing other domestic chores that occupied a housewife’s day.

Lewis was just two months shy of his third birthday; Jeanne was not yet two. Their yard was sizable, plenty of room for toddlers to explore. Sadly, 40 yards away lay a temptation that proved tragic for toddlers too young to know better.
Richmond Times Dispatch
1 May 1943
If this whole tale were not horrible enough for Edith and Teddy Roberts, Lewis and Jeanne were not the only children they buried. Four years earlier they lost Theodore Jr when he was just five months old, his little life cut short by a brain tumor.

I swear, I don’t know how people keep going after that.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

52 Ancestors - COMEDY: My Funny Daddy

I grew up in a house of laughter. Jokes, gentle teasing, retelling of funny events and puns were part of our everyday conversation. Running a string of puns with each one built on the previous one was an Olympic sport. The one who wore the laurel crown the best was my dad. Funniest man ever.

Fred Slade https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
I wish I could recall the best of the best, but I fear many would require too much back story, or worse, be one of those stories in which you just had to be there. So here are 3 stories to give you a taste of the comic genius of Fred Slade, Jr.

Skit Writer
Fred Slade https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Fred Slade as Winnie the Pooh
For many years my dad was a department manager for Sears Roebuck in Norfolk, Virginia. He rotated through several departments building up the sales force and increasing sales. He was also very much involved in training all employees about any changes in store policies and products. At every in-service training, the employees looked forward to the skits Daddy wrote because they were usually so funny. When the topless bathing suit was making the news in the 1960s, his skit was about the topless bathing suit that Sears would be selling in the upcoming season. Wanting the sales people to get a preview, he planned a fashion show with live models. Maybe you have already guessed where this is going. Out came the hairiest men he could round up to parade around in swim trunks. That was very risqué comedy in the 60s. He brought the house down with that one. 

Welcome the Hunter
Fred Slade https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

I met my future husband in college. I was a city girl. He was a country boy. When our relationship was at the point that I needed to have him meet my parents, I was both nervous and excited about his upcoming visit. At dinner one night, my dad started the drill asking all the questions parents ask. Finally Daddy asked, “So, what does he like to do?” I replied, “Well, he likes hunting.” Daddy’s quick response was, “Wonderful. We’ll all hide and he can hunt for us.”

Fred Slade https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Fred and Mary E Slade

Here is a conversation between Momma and Daddy:
Daddy: This is the worst underwear.
Momma: They’re new. I just bought them. What’s wrong with ‘em?
Daddy: They’re so wrinkly.
Momma: They’re Fruit of the Loom.
Daddy: Well, I must be wearing the prunes.

Thanks for the laughs, Daddy!

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

52 Ancestors - SISTER: Such Devoted Sisters

Hearing the word “Sisters” immediately sets me to singing the like-titled song performed by “the Haynes Sisters” in White Christmas.

Sisters, sisters
There were never such devoted sisters
Never had to have a chaperon, no sir
I'm here to keep my eye on her
Caring, sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrives from Rome
She wore the dress and i stayed home
All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two different faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one... uh-huh
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And lord help the sister who comes between me and my man

~ by Irving Berlin

The line “There were never such devoted sisters” could easily apply to probably every set of sisters that I have ever written about. Lots of families have their squabbles, and some of them never recover. I have not seen that in my family. The sister bond seems to be very strong.

Violetta and Velma

Violetta was the older one.

My grandfather's sisters were always "Violetta and Velma," never "Velma and Violetta." We said it like it was one word.

Velma and Violetta some time in the 1940s, I guess.
I don't know why they were dressed alike. They didn't usually.

Mary Frances and sisters Emma, Laura, Leanna, Sallie, and Vic
My great-grandmother and her sisters 
My favorite picture of the sisters - complete with watermelon!
Lined up from youngest to oldest:
Vic, Sallie, Mary Frances, Leanna, Laura, Emma

Julia with Lillie, Mae, Margaret, Helen, Cat, and Tate
My granny Julia and her sisters Catherine (Cat) and Teresa (Tate) were HALF sisters with Lillie, Mae, Margaret, and Helen. No one ever made a distinction about that "half" business.
Walsh girls - Cat, Tate, and Julia
The Killeen girls 
Lillie Killeen, Helen K. Parker,
Mae K. Holland, Julia W. Slade

Lucille and Rosalind
My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis
and older sister Rosalind Basham
Oops - maybe there was a squabble here. That last line tells it all:
And lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!

Wendy and Mary Jollette
Wendy and Mary Jollette
1962 maybe?
Wendy and Mary Jollette
We did not intend to dress alike. It just happened. Seriously.
Hmm, now let's see. What line fits us?
I'm here to keep my eye on her
Know that not a thing could come between us

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

52 Ancestors - BROTHER: He Ain't Heavy

A stable home to grow up in is a gift that should not be underestimated. My husband’s maternal grandfather was a mean old so-n-so when I met him. Family and friends chalked his mean streak up to alcoholism and possibly what today we would call “PTSD” from his experience in World War I. However, his childhood was nothing to envy.
Russell Kohne 1917 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Russ 1917
Russell Dayton Kohne was the first child of Lemuel James Kohne and Rebecca Funkhouser. He was born 4 November 1894 in the Lost River community of Hardy County, West Virginia. Russ had two sisters, Laura born in 1897 and Lena born in 1899.

Russ never appeared in a census record with his parents. In 1900, he was living in the household of his paternal grandfather Peter Kohne. If there was any stability in Russ’s life, it was in the hands of his father’s brother Simon Thomas Jackson Kohne. OR Simon Thomas Jackson Chrisman. Yeeah, there’s a story.

The Chrismans and Kohnes
In 1870, Russ’s grandfather Peter Kohne was only 26. He and his wife Catherine Delawder Kohne had two children, James Lemuel and Martha. Living with them was a housekeeper, 26-year old Ellen Chrisman.

Catherine died in 1876 paving the way for Ellen Chrisman to become the official new wife. In 1880, the Kohne household consisted of Peter and Elenora, Lemuel (13), Martha (9), Sarah (8), and Charles who was just an infant born in December 1879. In addition were the Chrisman children Elenora (9), Permelia (5), Rauser (4), and S.T.J. - aka Jackson (3), all of whom were identified as step-children.
Household of Peter Kohne
Lost City Hardy Co WV 1880

In 1900, the “step” was no longer in use, and the children remaining in Peter and Ellenora’s home were enumerated as full-fledged children. At the risk of being labeled “cynical,” I suspect the Chrisman children deserved the Kohne surname. Back in 1880, there was no sign of a “Mr. Chrisman.” Their ages seem awwwfully suspicious.
Household of Peter Kohne
Lost River Hardy Co WV 1900
But I Digress
The daily life of Russ Kohne is not known, but a few report cards were saved, for whatever reason. His grades were average. His “deportment” was only “fairly good.” His attendance was poor.

What interested me about the report cards is that they were signed not by his parents or even his grandparents. They were signed by his father’s brother Jackson. In census after census, Jackson seemed to be the stabilizing force. Even when he was head of household, there were nieces and nephews in his care.
Love the remarks from the teacher:
Should attend school regular and persevere

Where Were Russ’s Parents?
In 1900 when Russ was being raised by his uncle Jackson and grandfather, a sister Laura was living nearby with Peter’s brother Daniel Kohne and wife Lydia. Russ’s mother Rebecca was working as a servant to widower James Miller and his two young children. With Rebecca was her 1-year old daughter Lena.

As for Lemuel, he was in Moorefield, West Virginia, enumerated in the household of Charles and Alice Pashel and their six children ranging in age from 11 to 23. Lemuel and one other man were there as PRISONERS, of all things.
Household of Charles Pashel
Moorefield Hardy Co WV 1900
Why would prisoners be living in a private home? With children in the household, surely the crime must have been minor. Working off a debt due to theft maybe?

Oh Heck No
For years, my husband’s family has wondered about their great-grandfather’s crime. With more newspapers coming online, I finally have an answer for them, and boy oh boy is it a doozy: Murder.

Lemuel shot and killed his neighbor Isaac John Sager. The reason? Dispute over their property line.
from the Baltimore Sun 19 Dec 1899
Yeah, that’s the kind of temper Russ had too, but he never murdered anybody.

None of the news articles gave much detail about the killing. In fact, most sounded much like this personals column out of Mathias, West Virginia, that appeared across the state line in the Shenandoah Herald in March 1901:
from the Shenandoah Herald
March 3, 1901
Ho Hum, just another day in wild, wonderful West Virginia. 
Russ and Hattie Kohne 1967 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Russ and Hattie
50th Anniversary 1967

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.