Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Rock On!

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is just adorable: two little girls on a rocking horse. What fun they must have been having, probably as much fun as my grandaunts Helen and Mae Killeen were having when they squeezed themselves onto a rusted old pedal car, probably one they had played with as little girls themselves.
Riding Toy about 1921
Helen and Mae Killeen
about 1921
Captioned in several photos as
"Our Ford" and "Jitney"
In the early years when automobiles were becoming more affordable, the pedal car made its appearance too. They were at the top of every child’s wish list. Pedal cars were expensive, so it is no wonder the Killeens held on to their toy car despite having outgrown it.
Riding Toy about 1921
Aunt Helen about 1921
When Mae’s son John was a little boy, he too enjoyed having a pedal car.
John Holland and Aunt Helen
about 1919
His aunts Helen and Lillie doted on him, so sharing good times on the pedal car came naturally.
Helen, Lillie and John with riding toy about 1919
Helen and John with the pedal car
Lillie on some other riding toy that operated without pedals, feet only.
Their cousins in New York had a similar pedal car.
Lillie and "John Jr" of New York about 1920 or 1921
Aunt Lillie with that "mystery child" John Jr.
about 1920-1921

They also had a “pedalless” ride-on toy.
Mystery Children John Jr. and "Bob"
Here are those "mystery children" John Jr. and "Bob" (who was a girl).
I bet that is their father, John SENIOR. But what was his last name?
At a time when babies seemingly spring from the womb already adept at computers and finding YouTube on mommy’s cell phone, it is refreshing to know that the iconic rocking toy is alive and well. It is not always a horsie, though. Christmas 2016, my sweet baboos received rocking toys that were part rocker-part plush lovey in the forms of an airplane for the boy and a caterpillar for the girl.

Hop on a stick pony, pedal car, caterpillar or plane, and make your way to Sepia Saturday where everyone is rockin’!

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Crazy Poses

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

The unusual pose of the man and young girl in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt reminded me of some of the funny pictures in the album belonging to my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring. The pictures were taken during her freshman year at Harrisonburg Teacher’s College (now James Madison University - Go DUKES!).  Apparently they enjoyed being silly.
Friends of Velma Davis 1924 Harrisonburg Teachers College
Thelma Hockman, unknown,
unknown, and Leta LeVow

Friends of Velma Davis 1924
I am not sure what they were drinking
but they were having a good time!
While the pose itself isn't all that unusual,
what's with the skirt?
I admit, silliness must be genetic. Forty-five years later, my friends and I were doing the same thing at the same school.
Friends in Johnston Hall 1969
Girls in my dorm
Onesies, pigtails, and sucking their thumb - CRAZY!
Strike a pose at Sepia Saturday.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

52 Ancestors - IN THE NEWS: Chewing Gum Scandal

My grandaunt Violetta Davis was the love of Virgil “Dick” Ryan’s life. 
Violetta and Dick Ryan
Violetta and Dick
However, by the way she never talked about him, I guess he was not the love of hers. Admittedly, he had been dead nearly 30 years before she and I ever had those grown-up conversations about life and family. Were it not for newspapers available online, I probably would know nothing about this man who, I have learned, was quite the mover and shaker in Harrisonburg, Virginia in the 1930s.
Violetta Davis and Dick Ryan
Violetta and Dick
He made the Daily News Record quite often, usually because of his involvement in the American Legion. But it was in several brief articles that Dick Ryan revealed himself to be a clever businessman. 

From Daily News Record 6 Aug 1934
From 1934 until 1938, he was a partner in the City News Company along with E. L. Klingstein who was also owner of the extremely popular and successful Friddle’s Restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg. In 1938, they dissolved their partnership allowing Klingstein to concentrate on the restaurant business and Dick to become sole owner of the news stand, renamed Ryan News Company.

Dick Ryan conducted several clever marketing schemes to promote his business selling newspapers, magazines, and novelties. He installed ballot boxes for customers to “vote” on important issues in the news including whether the number of judges on the Supreme Court should be expanded and whether
Bruno Richard Hauptmann was guilty of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.

Daily News Record
26 Feb 1937
Daily News Record
6 Feb 1935

Daily News Record
29 Aug 1938
He also exhibited in the store window unusual items and puzzles for people to figure out, like the “ever-rolling light bulb.”

The most interesting story of Dick Ryan’s business ventures though was being fined $25 for operating a coin machine, supposedly an illegal one used for gambling. A new coin machine act had become effective in January 1937, and Harrisonburg police were eager to comply to rid the community of illegal gambling. In a raid on the night of January 7, police seized 12 coin machines belonging to eight businesses: Dick’s City News Stand, Klingstein’s Friddle’s Restaurant, a pool room, a coffee shop, and a few other restaurants. Two of the coin machines were empty, surely a sign that someone had enjoyed a big pay-off.

Daily News Record
21 Jan 1937

However, those highly suspicious coin machines were simply gumball machines. Chewing gum.

As the defendants explained, there was no element of chance involved, no pay-off. Pay your penny - get a ball of gum. Guaranteed. Nevertheless, the incident sparked a great deal of discussion over whether even a gumball machine would be considered legal under the new act, especially considering the profit to be made. Gumballs cost 15 cents per hundred and were sold at a penny each.

Oh, if only today’s law enforcement had only gumball machines to worry about.

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, March 19, 2019

52 Ancestors - 12: 1963

I was actually looking for an obituary for a prospective member of my DAR chapter when I began to wonder if MY name would turn up in a search at GenealogyBank. And yes, it does, 42 times, only not always ME. Most of the entries were for “Wendy Slade” in California advertising a million dollar estate complete with carriage house and au-pair building. Yeah, definitely not me.

But the Wendy Slade in this news article dated October 27, 1963, really is ME.
Wendy in the news 1963
That's moi in the first photo, obviously concentrating on sewing or threading a needle or SOMETHING.
The Virginian Pilot, Sunday, 27 Oct 1963
from GenealogyBank
There I was when I was just 12, SUPPOSEDLY sewing a costume for a newly organized Children’s Theater program that was just getting off the ground in Portsmouth, Virginia. I was invited to participate by my friend Alice, the tall girl in the last photo. She was a performer. I was sent to the sewing class to help make costumes. While the memory of that day and of sewing and posing for the news photographer is FAIRLY clear, I remember nothing else except that I did not stick with it. Thanks to my mother and my Girl Scout troop, I knew some basic hand sewing, but I was surely not up for making real costumes. I doubt I went back a second time.

So that was me when I was 12. What was going on around me?

 When I was 12 . . .

  • The average cost of a new house was $12,650 and a new car was $3,233.
  • US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson became president. Days later, Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby on live national television. I saw that!

It was a time of protests and important “movements”

  • Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique launching the Women’s Movement in the US.
  • There were many historical events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement:
  1. The Ku Klux Klan bombed a Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing 4 young girls.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech.
  3. Alabama elected new governor George Wallace, a strong advocate for segregation.
  4. Medgar Evers was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi.
  5. The March on Washington was the largest protest in American history.
  • The War in Vietnam was divisive among Americans; by 1963 there were nearly 16,000 American military personal in South Vietnam. 

In the world of entertainment . . . 

  • It was the beginning of Beatlemania with the release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The “British Invasion” followed soon with other bands including the Rolling Stones.
  • Peter, Paul & Mary earned a Grammy for “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” was the #2 song of the year.
  • Protest songs and peace anthems were also a hit, performed most memorably by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
  • Popular films of the year were Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Birds, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I saw all but Mutiny on the Bounty.
  • Popular new television shows included “The Fugitive,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” and “The Patty Duke Show.”
  • Whiskey-a-go-go opened in Los Angeles as the first discotheque.

Foreign Relations . . .

  • The US and Soviet Union established a “hot line” to prevent a possible nuclear war.
  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed.
  • Relations with Cuba were made illegal in the US.

And in other news . . .

  • Skateboarding became a sport.
  • The Beehive was THE hairstyle of the day.
  • Alcatraz Penitentiary closed.
  • Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped.
  • The Mariner 2 space mission ended when NASA lost contact with the spacecraft.
  • The Soviet Union launched Vostok 6 with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.
  • The last Studebaker was produced in South Bend.
  • Pope Paul VI was elected by the College of Cardinals following the death of Pope John XXII. He continued the Second Vatican Council that implemented many reforms in the Catholic Church including Mass in the vernacular and a greater role for lay people.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that state-mandated reading of the Bible in public schools is unconstitutional.

Inventions and Introductions . . .

  • The US Postal Service introduced the ZIP Code system.
  • The touch tone phones, instant coffee, lava lamp, tape cassette, the Smiley face symbol, videotaped instant replay, artificial heart, and pull tab can.
  • Coca-Cola introduced its first diet drink, Tab.
  • The Sabin oral Polio Vaccine was taken with a lump of sugar.
  • Weight Watchers launched.
  • Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were fired from Harvard for experimenting with LSD.

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.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Up in Arms

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a celebration of dancing. Arms reach high to twirl a partner or to just respond to the music. But there are many other reasons a person’s arms are in the air.

To be picked up
John Holland
John Holland about 1918 or 1919
1st cousin once removed

To relax in the sun
Fred Slade Sr
My granddaddy Fred Slade on a fishing trip
To hold on to your hat
Julia Slade and Cat Barany
My granny Julia Slade and her younger sister Cat Barany
That same fishing trip
To bid adieu
a friend of my grandaunt Helen Killeen
To point out a bird, a plane, or Superman
Bob, sister of John Jr, last name unknown 1920
"Bob" last name unknown
Richmond Hill, New York 1920
To get a hug
My in-laws Ervin and Helen
To wave good wishes to the Mr. and Mrs.
Matthews wedding 2013
Zoe and Jason 19 Oct 2013
Kiser wedding 2013
Jordan and Rob 7 Dec 2013
Do-si-do on over to Sepia Saturday where arms are raised to greet you.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

52 Ancestors - LARGE FAMILY: Davis of Beldor

In the days of our ancestors, VERY large families were common, probably because no one had to worry about how many seatbelts they had or how they would pay for each child’s college education. Having built-in farm labor was a bonus. If any of my families had more children than Mitchell and Martha Ann Willson Davis, I do not know about it.
Mitchell Davis 1820-1892 Beldor Rockingham Co VA
Mitchell Davis 1820-1892
Martha Ann Willson Davis Beldor Rockingham Co VA
Martha Ann Willson Davis 1833-1905

Mitchell Davis, born 1820 in Rockingham County, Virginia, was the son of Leonard Davis Jr. and Frances “Fannie” Wyant and grandson of Leonard Davis, a Revolutionary War patriot. The Davises and Wyants lived in a community known as Beldor which today is just off Route 33 as you come off the Skyline Drive.
Map of the Beldor area 1885
See "F Davis" in lower left, almost center - that would be Frances Davis,
mother of Mitchell Davis. Mitchell's property was probably nearby.
Mitchell’s mother was one of 13 children herself, but Mitchell bested her by 2 with a grand total of 15 born over the course of 30 years. Coming up with names for that many children must have been a challenge, especially without the aid of a Baby Names book. Mitchell and his wife Martha have the distinction of bestowing the most unusual names to the children in my database:
  1. Zedekiah DAVIS ( 14 Sep 1847 Rockingham Co, VA - 11 Jul 1863 Rockingham Co, VA )
  2. Ann C. DAVIS ( 02 Sep 1849 Rockingham Co, VA  - 15 Jul 1863 Rockingham Co, VA )
  3. Zephaniah Leonard DAVIS ( 28 Mar 1851 Rockingham Co, VA -  10 Jan 1929 in Louisa Co, VA ) & m1) Anne E. BELLOMY (April 1850 – 1903) 1874 ; & m2) Mary Frances CRAWFORD 1905
  4. Jerusha L. DAVIS (05 Mar 1853 Rockingham Co, VA - 28 Jun 1863 Rockingham Co, VA )
  5. Melvina O. DAVIS ( 25 Sep 1854 Rockingham Co, VA - 31 Dec 1925 ) & Grattan MCDANIEL (1857 –  Before 1910 )  08 Oct 1876
  6. Josiah P. DAVIS ( 29 Jun 1856 Rockingham Co, VA - 28 Aug 1924 Martinsburg, Berkeley, West VA ) & Elizabeth Frances POWELL ( 25 Aug 1860 – 8 May 1944 Martinsburg, Berkeley, West VA )  30 Nov 1879 Rockingham Co, VA
  7. Amaziah Nathaniel DAVIS  ( 20 Feb 1858 Rockingham Co, VA - 22 Feb 1934 ) & Ann C. LONG  (1844 - ) 20 Nov 1879
  8. Helena Hester DAVIS  ( 22 May 1860 Rockingham Co, VA - 20 Nov 1902 Augusta Co, VA)   & James L. TAYLOR ( Mar 1861 - ) 15 Jul 1888 Rockingham Co, VA
  9. Martha Eugenia DAVIS ( 13 Oct 1861 Rockingham Co, VA  - 16 Mar 1928 Fairfax, VA ) & William H. WYANT ( 21 Oct 1855 Rockingham Co, VA -  16 Dec 1935 Fairfax Co, VA ) 7 Feb 1881 Rockingham Co, VA
  10. Zibiah Saloma DAVIS ( 19 Aug 1864 Rockingham Co, VA  - 07 Oct 1936 ) & John Lewis MARSHALL  (17 Sep 1863 – 28 Feb 1943 ) 17 May 1891 Rockingham Co, VA
  11. Walter Beriah Sylvester DAVIS  ( 12 Sep 1867 Rockingham Co, VA - 31 Oct 1934 Page Co, VA ) & Mary Frances JOLLETT ( 10 Jan 1870 Greene Co, VA – 22 Feb 1950 Harrisonburg, VA ) 11 Feb 1890 Greene Co, VA
  12. Ida Mary Marshall DAVIS ( 25 Jun 1869 Rockingham Co, VA - ) & William Layton MORRIS ( 1874 Greene Co, VA – 3 Feb 1895 ) 09 Dec 1890 Elkton, Rockingham Co, VA
  13. Lorenza Ridell DAVIS ( 02 Sep 1871 Rockingham Co, VA - 11 Aug 1947 ) & Chillis Ann SHIFLETT  (29 Dec 1872 Greene Co, VA - ) 22 Aug 1892 Greene Co, VA
  14. Justina Ruthella Frances DAVIS ( 08 Jun 1875 Rockingham Co, VA - 02 Oct 1936 ) & m1) William H. BRUCE (3 Nov 1883 Rockingham Co, VA – 13 Aug 1962 Harrisonburg, VA ) 12 Jan 1906 Rockingham  Co, VA ; & m2) Unknown WITTIG
  15. Minnie B. DAVIS ( 15 Oct 1876 Rockingham Co, VA - 15 Mar 1957 Los Angeles, CA ) & Fred LEHMAN (1863 York, PA - 03 Jul 1939 Los Angeles, CA) 1902

Sadly, three of the youngest children died within weeks of each other in 1863: Zedekiah (15), Ann (13), and Jerusha (10). I do not know the cause of death, but it had to have been something they had in common whether typhoid fever, injuries from a house fire, drowning, or other horrible thing. Regardless of the cause, it had to have been devastating to bury a third of the children living in 1863.

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.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Genealogy of a Porch

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt depicts the perfect way to spend an afternoon: lounging on a screened-in porch. As a child, I did not do much lounging, but I spent MANY hours playing on my grandparents’ porch.
Davis porch on Gillis and Frailey
My grandparents' house and porch at the corner
of Gillis and Frailey, Portsmouth, VA
early 1960s
Their porch extended the width of the house and was distinguished by a solid half wall and screens along three sides. The floor was concrete and freshly painted almost every year. Green. Always green. A green canvas awning was eventually replaced by a striped canvas awning 
Lucille and Orvin Davis, Mary Jollette and Wendy 1959
My grandparents Lucille and Orvin Davis
My sister and me
which was then replaced by a green and white aluminum awning
Orvin and Lucille Davis
Orvin and Lucille Davis
Grandma in her trademark moo-moo

Wendy and Mary Jollette Easter
Me and Mary Jollette on Easter Sunday
Furnishings varied over the years but the one staple was a mint green metal glider, similar to this one. 

The thing about metal is it rusts, and even though the walls of the porch offered SOME protection against the elements, the gliders still rusted. Nevertheless, the glider was the seat of choice, and everyone ran to be sure to secure a spot on the glider. At least 2 people were needed spaced equally apart to lubricate the glider by forcibly rocking themselves forward and back, feet either firmly planted or kicking out for an extra boost to break through the rust to get a few good glides in before having to repeat the process once more. It was great!

During the day, the porch was a playhouse, a school, or home base in a game my friends made up called “Eagles.” When my cousins visited in the summer, Grandma outfitted the porch furniture with cushions, pillows and blankets, and we could sleep there with the most delicious breeze and a street lamp for a night light.

Glenn Davis, Violetta Davis Ryan holding Mary Jollette, Bobbie Davis, Wendy probably 1960-1961
My cousins Glenn and Bobbie Davis with our grandaunt Violetta Ryan
holding Mary Jollette, and me
Our family was surprised and disappointed when the new owners of my grandparents’ house closed in the porch. Why would anyone want to give that up? 
Compare to the first picture!
Image clipped from Google Maps
I finally understood when in 2018 pictures of the house appeared on Zillow allowing me to see inside the house my grandfather built and what happened to the porch. It became a laundry room / utility room / possibly storage room. The hot water heater, washer and dryer which used to be located in the garage now reside on the porch. Yeah, lugging laundry from the house to the garage was never any fun.
What used to be a screened-in porch
But the porch itself always was. Maybe that’s why having a screened-in porch has been my goal since the day I became a home owner some years ago. That dream finally came to fruition in 2017 (whew - took long enough!). We do not have a glider, but our porch makes a lovely place for a party or to take a nap.
Our porch Christmas
Our porch Christmas 2017
Curl up with a good blog on the Sepia Saturday porch!

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

52 Ancestors - Bachelor Uncle: Willie Rucker

The sad thing about this week’s prompt “Bachelor Uncle” is the realization that most of mine were NOT bachelors by choice. Rather most were bachelors because they did not live long enough to be otherwise. One bachelor in particular that I have often wondered about is my maternal grandmother’s brother William Randolph “Willie” Rucker. Unlike their older brother Ray, also a bachelor uncle, Willie did not leave behind a box of photos and memorabilia to tell his story. Two census records, a death certificate, a tombstone, and a couple photos are all there is to show that Willie Rucker lived.

Willie Rucker 1901-1923
Willie was the third son and third child of seven born to Joseph Calhoun Rucker and Sudie Eppard Rucker  of Shenandoah, Page County, Virginia, where his father was a conductor for the railroad. Willie’s death certificate says he was born in February 1903, but it is more likely he was born in 1901. The 1910 census shows him as being 9 years old and his sister Rosalind as 7 having been born in April of 1903.

In the 1920 census, Willie was 18 and without occupation. His oldest brother Everett had joined their father at the railroad; brother Ray was in the Navy and therefore not enumerated with the family. Likely Joseph and Sudie did not approve of Willie being idle. So probably it was about that time that he joined the Navy.

Willie was assigned to the USS Chaumont, a cargo and transport ship, commissioned by the Navy in 1921. Likely he was on one of several voyages between San Francisco and Manila in 1923 when he took ill.
USS Chaumont
The USS Chaumont
Typical Hog-Islander style ship remembered as being UGLY
but expert at eluding enemy subs that could not tell
which way the ship was heading
Willie Rucker 1901-1923
Willie was treated by Navy doctors at the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia from June 27, 1923 until his death on December 17. Cause of death was chronic endocarditis which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves and chambers. It is caused by bacteria entering the blood stream and attaching to damaged areas in the heart. Symptoms resemble the flu - fever and chills, night sweats, aching muscles and joints, and fatigue. More uncommon symptoms include swelling of the legs and feet, unexplained weight loss and red spots on the body.

Endocarditis is treated with antibiotics and sometimes surgery. Surely naval ships stocked antibiotics. Perhaps Willie had a severe case that required surgery, otherwise there seems no good reason for him to die. My grandmother said that Willie could have survived had he gotten to a hospital earlier.
Willie Rucker's tombstone
Willie's tombstone in the Methodist Church Cemetery
Shenandoah, Page Co, VA
Methodist Church Cemetery Shenandoah, VA
Rucker family plot
Methodist Church Cemetery, Shenandoah, VA

Willie is buried in the Rucker family plot in the Methodist Church Cemetery in Shenandoah, Virginia.

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.