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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

52 Ancestors - EASY: My Husband's Family

The real challenge in addressing last week’s theme “Challenge” was narrowing down the possibilities. It seems every line in my family comes with a set of problems making it difficult to trace who married whom, where they lived, how many children they had, and what became of them. Unlike my family, my husband’s family is EASY to study. Why?

They stayed put.
Once the Mathias clan arrived in Pennsylvania from Germany and then wandered down into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, they stayed put.

John Tobias Mathias obtained land in what is now Hardy County, West Virginia in 1791. The house that he built remained in the Mathias family from 1794 to 1974.
Mathias Homestead 1989
Mathias, Hardy County, West Virginia
Their neighbors stayed put in Hardy County, too. In every census I can expect to find the families of the spouses right nearby - the Kohnes, the Delawders, the Strawdermans, the Wetzels, the Haltermans, the Dellingers, the Bashores, the Bowmans, the Sees. Those names are still the family names in Hardy County today.

They left good records.
John Tobias Mathias did not make it into the few census records he should have been in, but he was on the tax list and his will is online complete with a name of his wife, names of his four children, and names of his grandchildren. Thank-you, John Mathias, for making it easy to find the right family.
Will of John Tobias Mathias
just one of the many Mathias wills online
His children, grandchildren, and greats all managed to make it into every census they should have been in. If anyone is missing, I haven’t detected such.

Most left wills available online. Even the poorest of the poor who had little to leave wrote down their wishes.

They have readable tombstones.
The Mathias clan and Kohne clan erected fine tombstones. Descendants have been good about photographing them and uploading memorials to Findagrave.
Peter Kohne
What more could we ask of an ancestor? (except maybe to label old photos!)

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 16, 2019

52 Ancestors - CHALLENGING: Those Pesky Slades

Slade Research, Why do I hate thee?

Let me count the ways:

1. The Slades of Georgia and Florida did not leave much of a paper trail. No death records. Certainly no birth records. Even a professional genealogist that I hired in Florida found precious little.

2. The Stephen Slade households of 1850, 1860 and 1870 are a mess making it nearly impossible to trace forward.

  • Only Stephen and supposed daughter Julia remain consistent.
  • Are Mary and Margaret the same person? Surely Margaret and Peggy are, despite the illogical difference in age from one census to the next.
  • Were James and Mary Stephen’s children or perhaps his siblings or other relation? Mary was too young to be their mother, that is, if her age was recorded correctly.
  • Peter and Pilester? Male OR female? Same? Different? I can find NO Peter Slade OR Pilester after their initial appearances. And what kind of name is Pilester, anyway?
  • Cabel was possibly Louiza and back to Cabel, from Male to Female and back to Male. However, there is a marriage record for Cabel Slade and Charles Ross, suggesting she was female all along. Then there is the sale of land by Julia Slade and Emma C. Ross. Emma Cabel Slade Ross? Emma Cabel Louiza Slade Ross? What the heck???
  • And what happened to the others? I don’t see them after the initial entry either.

3. My recent Slades are not SLADE at all. Three PERFECT matches and one genetic distance of 1 say they are CALHOUN. I never know where to put my research time. Should I concentrate on the Slades?  They were the legal family after all. Besides, it’s possible the oops-gotcha son might never have known the truth. Or should I concentrate on the Calhouns since that is where the DNA came from? If so, where do I begin since none of my matches seem to know which Slade woman and which Calhoun man (although I THINK I know).

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, July 13, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Meet the Harmans

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt sent me searching for the story of the Harman School of Music. I have written a few times about the little school in Shenandoah, Virginia where my mother studied piano and tap as a child.
Harman School of Music Shenandoah, VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
former Harman School of Music
Pennsylvania Avenue, Shenandoah, VA
I remembered a thread from one of my Facebook groups when members were reminiscing over their piano lessons and recitals at the Harman School. One had posted a link to an article from the Harrisonburg Daily News Record written as a tribute to the Harmans for their many years as the premier music teachers of the Shenandoah Valley.
from Daily News Record
18 Jan 1983
Gordon and Conjetta Harman married in 1933 and together they spent the next 50 years teaching over 2000 students to play violin, guitar, piano, and organ. They kept a studio in Waynesboro for a while, but for most of their career they taught at home or in their students’ homes charging 50 cents for a half hour lesson when they started out and $4 in their last years. Conjetta sometimes taught with her baby on her lap and her toddler on the floor.

Professor James A. Harman
from Daily News Record
7 Jan 1959
As passionate as the couple were about music, Gordon confessed that as a young boy, he just wanted to go play baseball. However, he was from a musical family in which everyone played an instrument. His father was James Harman, a professor of music at the local colleges Bridgewater, Shenandoah Conservatory, and State Teachers College (now James Madison University – Go DUKES!). He opened the Harman School of Music in Harrisonburg in 1921.

Professor Harman’s life and love of music is no less interesting. He fell in love with the violin as a youngster in Randolph County, West Virginia. He would walk 14 miles to take lessons. (I wonder if he walked barefoot in the snow?) He studied and taught himself how to make violins following the patterns of Stradivarius and other old masters of Italy and Germany. When a tribute to him was written for the newspaper in 1959, he had made 3 including the one he had been playing for the past ten years. 

James Harman’s six children (Gordon was the oldest) all played the violin plus other instruments. The Harman family often performed programs in the local churches on Sunday. One achievement that the Harmans were especially proud of was being crowned the Virginia winner in the Home Music Contest held nationally as part of National Music Week in 1929. The family’s performance was praised for being “natural and unaffected” and for the selection of music which all related to “home.” Their reward was a Majestic Radio, a combination radio and phonograph player, priced at $316. It must have been a humdinger of a radio as it was put on display in the local movie theater for all to see.

from Daily News Record
26 Jun 1929
Probably James Harman was just as proud that at least four of his children chose music as a profession, Gordon being just one of them. Daughters Priscilla, Mary Jane, and Dorothy became piano and violin teachers too. Each had his or her own “territory” stretching from Luray to Dayton.

With over 256,000 references to the Harman School of Music in the Newspaper Archive database, it’s a wonder I spied this little gem:
from Daily News Record
15 Jun 1939

It’s an announcement of a Harman School of Music recital under the direction of James Harman and daughter Priscilla Harman to be held at Shenandoah High School on June 15, 1939. There’s my mother, Mary Eleanor Davis. Her piece was “Mirth and Gayety” composed by Carl Wilhelm Kern. She was just 10 years old.
Mary Eleanor Davis school picture 1939 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mary Eleanor Davis
about 1939
1st of 4 pages of the music
in public domain

Those 16th notes in 2:4 time seem pretty challenging to me. YouTube has everything, but they don't seem to have this piece.

The stories and photos at Sepia Saturday will be music to your ears.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

52 Ancestors - REUNION: Newtown Neighborhood

 I thought I had nothing new to say about “reunions” until I remembered a reunion my parents attended in 1980. It was a neighborhood reunion, but not just any neighborhood. It was a reunion of anyone who ever lived in the neighborhood known as Newtown, a neighborhood that no longer exists, nor did it exist when 450 former Newtowners came together to reminisce about the good ol’ days.

Newtown was where my dad grew up. It was located between downtown Portsmouth and the shipyard. Two wars brought an eclectic blend of workers and military personnel that resulted in a vibrant neighborhood of Catholics and Baptists, Irish and Poles and Italians. Row houses sprang up as did plenty of grocery stores, bakeries, cleaners, and shoe shops, all with apartments above.

A curious mix of decay and progress came together to wipe out Newtown altogether, except in the minds of those who remembered the good times. 
Newtown before and after https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of Harvey T. Siegel
Two poems written by some of the reunion-goers capture the life in Newtown much better than I can paraphrase it.

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, July 6, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Get Me to the Reunion On Time

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo is a line of cars which brought to mind this photo:
Jollett Reunion maybe 1940 Verbena Park Shenandoah, VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

The owners of these fine autos were lucky to grab prime real estate close to the picnic area at Verbena Park. They likely had to carry bowls of potato salad, trays of meat and sandwiches, jugs of tea and lemonade, not to mention pies and cakes to feed the 120 folks who attended the 24th annual Jollett Reunion.

It was a Sunday, September 1, 1940. Jollett descendants along with a few close friends of the family gathered at Verbena Park in Page County, Virginia. The park was close to the Naked Creek area where Fielding Jollett had purchased land about 1820 to farm and raise his family. It is the same area that came to be known as Jollett Hollow (or Holler as we say here in Virginia).

Historic marker Verbena Park Shenandoah, VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy Craig Swain
The park had grown up around an old flour mill. According to the historic marker, the land was granted by King George III to Charles Cropson in 1746. Then in 1783 the governor of Virginia granted the land to Jacob Mire who sold the land to George Price in 1802. The next year Price built a mill powered by the race channeled from Naked Creek.

The mill operated continuously until it was dismantled in 1936. The Hisey Brothers, William and Clyde, built a tavern there. The Verbena Tavern was THE place to be with its full-service restaurant and dance hall. The Hiseys were good friends of the family, thus earning them an invitation to the reunion, which they did attend, by the way.
Verbena Mill 1930 from Shenandoah A History of Our Town and Its People https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Photo scanned from Shenandoah:
A History of Our Town and Its People
Other amenities at Verbena included a pool and campground. As a child, I looked forward to going to Verbena when I visited my cousins in Shenandoah.
Verbena Park https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy Mike Powell
from Harrisonburg Daily News Record 11 Aug 1962
The last "and family" means my baby sister and me!

Photo courtesy Ann Harman Thomas
 I am not in this picture but it is how I remember the pool. 

I don’t know when the Jollett reunions ended, probably in the mid-40s when my great-grandmother’s sisters started dying. Reunions made the news in those days. The local newspaper even included the names of everyone who attended the one in 1940.

A family historian’s dream!

Get in line for more stories and photos of cars at Sepia Saturday.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

52 Ancestors - INDEPENDENT: The Last Act

This week all across America, we are celebrating Independence Day, the 4th of July. As a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), I am grateful for the men and women who aided in securing independence for America. The patriot through whom I joined DAR was the subject of my post last year, William Jordan. But I have other patriots just as worthy. How many? You might be surprised to learn that most women’s patriots are a 5X or 6X great-grandparent. Everyone has 128 5X great-grandparents and 256 6X great-grandparents. That’s a whole lot of patriot potential.

I have not begun to find all of my possibilities. However, one in particular piques my interest: Samuel Hosier, a 5X great-grandfather on my father’s side. Records indicate Samuel Hosier was a native of Virginia living in Princess Anne County (present day Virginia Beach) and Nansemond County (present day Suffolk).

Samuel Hosier is a verified patriot listed in the DAR database, but there is a note in red beside his name, alerting Registrars and applicants to a potential problem. Apparently there might have been 2 men named Samuel Hosier living in the same area. War records for Samuel Hosier contradict each other suggesting they belonged to two different men, or possibly records are missing that might explain the contradiction.

A potential patriot is always judged by his LAST ACT. DAR does not appreciate deserters if desertion was a soldier’s LAST ACT. Desertion always sounds bad, conjuring up visions of traitors and turncoats. However, temporary desertion was common as men returned home to take care of family business, plant or harvest crops, or escape the horrible conditions of camp and battlefields. Some deserted in order to take advantage of enlistment bonuses - desert one day, enlist the next for money in the pocket.

from Fold3
So what was Samuel Hosier’s last act? On Fold3, there are 6 Compiled Service Records showing him as a deserter from the 15th Virginia Regiment from June to August 1777. Yet, his heirs were able to receive a bounty land warrant. The warrants were a promise of free land to encourage men to serve in the military. After the war, the certificates were issued to veterans or their heirs as a reward for service. Since the Hosier heirs were successful in their claim, Samuel’s service in the war was recognized. If we are dealing with just ONE Samuel Hosier, then desertion was NOT his last act.

Two men or the same man? Maybe the pension application will provide an answer. Samuel was about 84 years old in 1839 when he got around to applying for a pension under the Act of 7 June 1832 which extended benefits of full pay for life to all officers and enlisted men who had served at least two years in the Continental Line, militia, navy, or marines.

Typically the application required a declaration from the soldier stating where he was born, where he lived, when and where he enlisted or was drafted, officers under whom he served, the dates he served, and what he did during his service. In addition, affidavits from those who knew the applicant and served along with him were required. Samuel’s declaration is mentioned in a letter from his lawyer and in the affidavit of fellow soldier and silversmith John Murphy, but the actual document itself is not included on Ancestry nor on Fold3. I can glean from the other documents that Samuel claims to have served about three years between 1776 and 1781. He had been an orderly sergeant. His job was to keep a daily record of the orders handed down through the ranks. The book was an account of military operations, troop movements, courts-martial, disciplinary actions, and so forth. The orderly sergeant read the orders aloud to junior officers and enlisted men each day.

While Samuel apparently kept detailed notes as a soldier in his 20s, he could not or did not provide enough details in his 80s to qualify for a pension. Rejection letters from the pension commissioner in February and again in July 1840 offered the same reason: failure to comply. Not only did the commissioner want the details about tours of duty and officers’ names, but also he wanted to know why Samuel waited so darn long to apply for a pension.

I love Samuel’s honesty in his response:
US Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files 1800-1900, Ancestry
I never had much notion of ever making applycation but having become disable to do bodily labor and understanding I was Entitle to Receive a pension is the only reason that I have to State.

Affidavit of John Murphy to support claim of Samuel Hosier
John Murphy did little to advance Samuel’s claim. He said they served together off and on, that they were sometimes in different companies going in different directions, but that he had no doubt Samuel’s declaration was correct and that Samuel had been a good soldier. No specific details. Samuel's claim for a pension remained rejected.

To be fair, Samuel was not a good witness for John Murphy’s pension application either. As Murphy stated, Samuel Hosier was bedridden and hampered by failing memory. Murphy’s only other witness was his brother James. Apparently the pension board was skeptical of family members vouching for one another. Ultimately, Murphy’s claim was rejected as well.
Declaration and deposition of John Murphy in his claim for a pension
from Fold3

Obviously deserting the army was NOT Samuel Hosier’s last act as evidenced by DAR’s recognition of his service and verification as a true patriot. Without definitive proof of his role as orderly sergeant, however, DAR credited him with service as a Private in the Continental Line. He was also credited with Patriotic Service for paying the Supply Tax of 1783, two years after his tour of duty as a soldier. A portion of the personal property tax and land tax went to support the war effort, thus qualifying Samuel Hosier for a spot among DAR’s finest.

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.