Sunday, November 28, 2021

Sentimental Sunday


Nov 29, 1914  – Maxon Morris was born in Shenandoah, VA. He was the son of my grandfather’s cousin Reba Coleman and James Mitchell Morris, but little Maxon died of pneumonia on January 14, 1915.

Coverstone Cemetery
Shenandoah, VA

Dec 1, 1905 – Martha Willson Davis died in Rockingham County, Virginia. She was my 2X great-grandmother.

Martha Willson Davis

Dec 4, 1887 – Fielding Jollett died in Rockingham County, VA. He was my 3X great-grandfather. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Photo Friday - Emma and Jack


Back: Mattie and John
Front Jack holding Russell, Minnie, Emma holding Reba

On their anniversary – Emma Jollett (my great-grandmother’s oldest sister) and Andrew Jackson Coleman married on 26 Nov 1880.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

52 Ancestors - THANKFUL: Blog Revisited

This week I am thankful to be traveling to spend the holidays with my daughter and her family. In lieu of a sappy post, I offer this photo which I have used many times before.

My grandmother Lucille Davis, my uncle and aunt 
Orvin Jr and "Scoop," me, cousin Glenn 
I think my cousin Bobbie was hidden to my right

I looked back on my post from Thanksgiving week last year and realize it’s pretty darn good. I don’t think I can improve on it. Read it HERE if you want to read how I learned to cook.

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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

On This Day - Ulysses and Sadie

My great-grandmother’s youngest brother Ulysses F. Jollett married Janeiro Sample “Sadie” Lamb on 23 November 1903.

Sadie and Ulysses

from Richmond Times Dispatch
29 Nov 1903


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

52 Ancestors - BIRTHDAYS: Party With the Olivers

What 80-year-old man gets invited to a 4-year old’s birthday party? That was what I wanted to know when I stumbled upon this item in the personals column.

from Harrisonburg Daily News Record 21 Nov 1916

I had other questions as well, mainly who were Mr. & Mrs. Charley Oliver, and were they related to my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett? Maybe they were related to his wife, Eliza Jane Coleman.

Once I slowed down and paid attention to the names of the other guests, the invitation made more sense. I recognized S. V. Shiflett. He was son of James Franklin’s sister Lucretia Jollett Shiflett.

The birthday girl was little Margaret Oliver, the one and only daughter of Charley Oliver and Annie Florence Hott. Annie was a daughter of Margaret Johnson and her second husband George Peter Hott. He died not long after Annie was born. Margaret married a third time, and then a fourth time – to Sell Shiflett making him Annie’s step-father and step-grandfather to Margaret Oliver, the birthday girl. That makes James Franklin Jollett her step-great granduncle.

Sell and Maggie
photo courtesy Susan Huffman

I wonder what was on the menu and what lovely presents Margaret received.

And what about her later life? Margaret’s name appeared over 300 times in the personals column of the Harrisonburg Daily News Record between 1935 and 1969. Here is what the articles reveal:

  •  Margaret never married but the fellas apparently missed out on a good cook. In 1935 she took first place at the Rockingham County Fair for Best Quince Preserves, Best Peach Preserves, and second place for Best Damson Preserves.
  • Margaret and her mother visited people in hospitals in nearby cities. They also vacationed together or with relatives going to places like Pennsylvania, Colonial Beach, and Richmond.
  • Margaret was active in the Methodist Church, often hosting her Sunday School class social events. She also chaired a conference for the Methodist Women. For several years she was in charge of Christmas Baskets for the needy.
  • The Olivers entertained family and friends. They were also frequent guests at other parties and weddings. Margaret hosted a bridal shower for a friend and sometimes served the cake at the weddings of her cousins, nieces, and friends.
  • As the consummate hostess, Margaret was able to surprise her mother with a birthday party.

from Daily News Record
15 Mar 1957

Margaret’s death certificate shows that she had been an employee at Madison College (now James Madison University – GO DUKES!), but in what capacity I do not know. Perhaps she had been a secretary, a cafeteria worker, or even a dorm mother. 

Margaret died in 1969, 10 years after her father and 10 years before her mother. Just as they were alsways together in life, they are together in death.

from Findagrave
Mt Olivet Cemetery, McGaheysville, VA

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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Photo Friday - Woody


My grandaunt Velma Davis’s husband Woody Woodring standing outside my great-grandparents’ home on Sixth Street in Shenandoah, Virginia. It was probably around 1930. The house on the right across the street was built about that time by my great-grandfather and grandfather right after my mother was born in 1929.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

On This Day - James Franklin Jollett

On this day, November 17, 1836, my great-great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett was born.

Oldest known photo 
Maybe his wedding photo?

My favorite photo
17 Nov 1836 - 3 Jun 1930


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Photo Friday - Betty and Fred


My aunt Beverly Slade ("Aunt Betty") and my father Fred Slade

I do not know the occasion for which Daddy wore a boutonniere and posed with his little sister outside their home in the Cradock Gardens community of Portsmouth, Virginia. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 8, 2021

On This Day - Fred Slade Sr

On this day, November 8, 1901, my grandfather Fred Robert Slade was born.

Granddaddy was only 18

Love this portrait!

Granddaddy and his beloved Beagles


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Photo Friday - Lucille and Fleeta


Fleeta Davis with Ben Jr. and Lucille Davis

It was 1925. My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis had recently given birth to her first child, Orvin Jr. My grandfather's cousin Ben Davis and his wife Fleeta Berry, after having 7 girls, finally had a boy - Ben Jr.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

52 Ancestors - VOTING: Denied

In 2012, I wrote about my 3G granduncle Wesley Eppard (1825-1882) whose right to vote had been denied. How did I know that? He said so, right there in the Federal census of 1870.

Phoebe Breeden and Wesley Eppard

In the 1870 Federal Census, Columns 19 and 20 concern Constitutional Relations. In column 19, Wesley is confirmed as a male US citizen of age 21 or upwards. In column 20, there is a mark indicating he was denied the right to vote on “other grounds than rebellion or other crime.” As a native Virginian, Wesley likely had sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, but that should have had no bearing since the question says “other than rebellion.” He was white. He was not checked off for being deaf, blind, insane, or idiotic. Why was Wesley denied the right to vote?

To answer that question, we need to know why “Constitutional Relations” was included in the 1870 census.


The question on the 1870 census fulfilled the requirements of Amendment XIV - Section 2, of the US Constitution, passed by Congress on June 13, 1866 and ratified July 9, 1868. This section states that “...when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

In other words, the number of male citizens denied would have an impact on the number of electors for national and state elections. The decennial census determined the population of a state for the purpose of representation, thus making it necessary to add the question about whether an individual had been denied voting rights. The distribution of representative power in Government depended on accurate answers to the question.


The 1870 Instructions to Enumerators addresses the question on pages 11 and 12. They were expected to complete column 19 easily since they needed merely to identify if the person was a male citizen 21 years of age or older. Column 20 would require some delicacy in obtaining information. For one thing, those who never even tried to vote would not know if their rights were being denied. At any rate, the instructions called for the enumerators to determine whether a man had been denied at the polls for a disability, lack of qualifications, or any reason that the State had set by law prohibiting him from voting, other than rebellion and committing a crime.

Since the basis for denial of voting rights was state law rather than federal law, it was important for an enumerator to study the laws of his own State in order to complete column 20 accurately.


The 15th Amendment, which guaranteed no one would be denied the right to vote based on race, was ratified in 1870. Nevertheless, some states continued to try to deny voting rights to certain citizens, not just former slaves, but to the Irish and Chinese among others. That didn’t apply to Wesley either. In his county, only 3 other white citizens were denied the right to vote: a German, an Englishman, and a Canadian, all of whom were also US citizens.

The Missouri Constitution which was ratified in 1820 remained the law of the land right through to the time of the Civil War. In 1863, the Missouri General Assembly passed a gradual emancipation order. This did not sit well with those who thought slave owners were trying to maintain some form of slavery. In 1865 a new Constitution was drafted that not only banned slavery unconditionally, but also restricted the rights of former “rebels” and Confederate sympathizers.

Article 2 of the new Constitution became known as the Ironclad Oath. It required teachers, lawyers, clergy, and ALL VOTERS to promise they had not committed a long list of disloyal acts. The wording was so severe that even many Unionists opposed it, but the Constitution was ratified anyway by a narrow margin.


Wesley Eppard, as a Southern sympathizer, was denied the right to vote because that was the State law. It would take some time for the war tensions to heal, for former enemies to enter into business contracts and political alliances before such stringent voting restrictions would be eliminated.


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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sentimental Sunday

My great-grandfather Walter Davis died 31 Oct 1934.

My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis died 1 Nov 1990.

Photo for the church directory -
this is how I remember her

My 3X great-grandfather Leonard Davis Jr died 3 Nov 1836. He was Walter Davis’s grandfather whom he never met.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Photo Friday - High Flyers

Velma Davis, Leta LeVow, Thelma Hockman
(I wonder who the children are in the back.)

It was October 1924. Velma labeled this photo of herself and her college roommates "High Flyers." What did that mean? 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

52 Ancestors - SHOCK: At the Hands of Person Unknown

I have traced my family tree long enough that very little shocks me – not finding a horse thief who changed his name, not the numerous moonshiners and adulterers, not a distant cousin who stole his uncle’s money, not even a distant cousin who killed his grandmother.

However, there is one discovery that shocks me to this very day even though I found it 6 years ago: this death record.

Single and age 31, Irene Manspeaker gave birth to a baby boy in June 1939. Yet a day later, the baby was dead. The cause? “Violence at the hands of some person or persons unknown.” Manner of injury: contusion and strangulation.

The informant on the death certificate was R. E. Manspeaker, Irene’s father Raymond Ellis Manspeaker. Although the name of the baby’s father was entered as “Do not know,” it is not clear whether Irene did not know who the father was or simply had not informed her father.

Who would kill a day-old baby? 

Evidence – or the lack thereof – pointed to Irene herself. And why not? She was single. She was there. Means, motive and opportunity – three terms batted around freely in every detective show I’ve ever watched – Irene certainly had them all.

The case went to trial. Irene’s lawyer argued that while she may have had motive and opportunity, she did not have the means. She had just delivered the baby. She was too weak and frail.

The jury agreed. On November 15, 1939, Irene was acquitted.

from Bluefield Daily Telegraph 16 Nov 1939

(Irene was a niece of my maternal grandfather’s cousin Anna Davis Manspeaker's husband George Ernest Manspeaker.)


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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sentimental Sunday


Lucy Walker Jollett Marsh died 25 Oct 1870 in Greene County, Virginia. She was daughter of my 4X great-grandparents James Jollett and Nancy Walker.

Artubine Joseph Jollett died 27 Oct 1862 in Page County, Virginia. He was son of 2X great-grandfather’s brother John Wesley Jollett and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Smith.


My great-grandmother Susan “Sudie” Eppard Rucker was born 29 Oct 1875.




© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 22, 2021

52 Ancestors - SPORTS: The Bookie

In March 2020, when COVID-19 was just taking hold here in Virginia, I received an email from the most recent owner of my grandparents’ house in Portsmouth. She was installing new insulation in the attic and discovered several boxes of STUFF that belonged to my parents and grandparents. One of the most confusing “treasures” is this order book.

Order Book

It is about 6” wide and 14” long with a soft cover. The pages are arranged with columns that probably allow for entries of debits and credits. However, the entries look nothing like what a storekeeper or other businessman might record. Flanking a mysterious series of numbers are on the left a date including day of the week and on the right a name.

I believe this is the record book of a Bookie. Soooo, who was the Bookie in the family?

Steve and Catherine 1936
I know of one for sure – Steve Barany, husband of my grandaunt Catherine Walsh Barany. However, this book probably was not his. For one thing, Steve and Cat divorced. When she moved in with her sister, it is not likely she brought Steve’s belongings with her. For another thing, most of the items in the attic were from my mother’s side of the family, not from my father’s side except for a few books and souvenirs of his college life.

There is nothing familiar in the handwriting to help eliminate someone or point to another. However, some of the names entered in the book point directly to my father’s father, Granddaddy Slade. There are MANY listings for Morrison, the same surname of Granddaddy’s mother Mary Morrison Slade. I searched several of the other names on Ancestry for clues connecting them to my grandfather. Many names came up as possible neighbors or at least people in the close geographical area.


My dad's parents: Julia and Fred Slade Sr

Could my sweet granddaddy have been taking illegal gambling bets on boxing matches, horseracing, baseball games, football games, cock fights and who knows what else?

Frankly, yes. He had been in prison for tax evasion and moonshining, so illegal gambling probably fit right into his wheelhouse. 

I have tried to make sense of the numbers, but knowing nothing about figuring the odds and placing bets prevents me from presenting anything intelligent here. This is what I see:

  • The left page is almost always marked “Day” while the right page is marked “Night.”
  • The wide column contains 3 sets of numbers, mostly 3-digit but some 2-digit numbers. In every instance the 3rd number is the difference when you subtract the 1st number from the 2nd number.
  • The last number is always 4 digits. The round numbers suggest maybe they represent money, dollars and cents without a decimal point.

Another point of interest is that the entries are in blocks of roughly a week with each day carefully dated. It occurred to me that maybe the last number is the payout; however, every person has a number in the column. If the last number was a payout, there were no losers. That seems illogical. The last number must mean something else.

I don’t know why, but I decided to divide the 3rd number by the last number. In every weekly group, the “answer” within that week is almost the same. For example, 111 divided by 2220 is .05, as is 154 divided by 3080, and 93 divided by 1860. Does that mean the payout was .05 percent? Was Granddaddy’s fee .05%? See – I’m not a gambler, much less a Bookie.

Suddenly I noticed a pattern in the Day and Night entries. Looking across the corresponding day from day to night, I noticed that the second number during the day became the first number at night. The night’s second number became the next day’s first number. And so the pattern repeated through the week.

Repeating pattern of numbers in the Day and Night sides of the book

 So just what am I looking at?


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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

52 Ancestors - CHANGES: Oh the Things He Saw

One of the features I included in my coffee table book about the Jolletts was a list of inventions that an ancestor saw in his or her lifetime. Here is the list for my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett.


Steel plow


Rabies vaccine and box camera




Coca Cola


Vulcanized rubber


Railroad telegraph


Artificial fertilizer and transatlantic steamship service


Ballpoint pen and revolving door


Ether-based anesthesia


Coin operated telephone




Motion picture camera




Braille typewriter, horseless carriage


Double-tube tire


Hershey’s chocolate bar


Elias Howe sewing machine




Safety pin and hydraulic turbine


Diesel engine and cotton candy


Levi Straus bibless overalls


Paper clip


Singer sewing machine


Hamburger sandwich


Passenger elevator


Electric typewriter


Steel processing


Battery powered hearing aid


Shoe sole sewing machine, Mason jar, and undersea telegraph cable


Airplane and hand-cranked victrola


First commercial oil well in PA


Ice cream cone and comic books


Linoleum and repeating rifle


Juke box, postcards, and Yellow Pages


Ironclad ship (Monitor)


Animated cartoons


Revolving machine gun


Henry Ford’s Model T


Player piano


Neon lamp and Bakelite plastic


Pullman sleeping car for trains




Ice machine


Edison’s Kinetophone for talking movies, zipper, and assembly line


Dynamite and transatlantic cable


Kool Aid


All metal bicycle and time zones




Donut cutter and wood pulp as a source for paper


Electrocardiogram, rotary dial, and shortwave radio


Barbed wire




First Bell telephone and Edison’s wireless telegraph


Cotton swab


Cash register and Edison’s incandescent electric lamp




Eastman roll of film


Penicillin, bubble gum, and the iron lung


Electric clothes iron


Antibiotics and car radio


Fountain pen, Louisville Slugger, first roller coaster in America


Nylon and dry ice

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.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.