Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sentimental Sunday: Daddy and Granddaddy

Fred Robert Slade Jr.

(7 Aug 1928 - 31 Jan 2009)

Fred Robert Slade Sr.

(8 Nov 1901 - 4 Feb 1983)


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sepia Saturday: Vacations and Waterfalls

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a waterfall. Who doesn’t love a waterfall? One can’t help being happy in the presence of one. The sound. The motion. A waterfall is truly one of nature’s most wondrous gifts.

Niagara Falls 1993
Bridal Veil Falls on the left and Horsehoe Falls on the right

Niagara Falls that straddles the US and Canadian border has drawn honeymooners and tourists since 1800, at least. A family vacation in 1993 to Canada demanded a stop to see the place that has tempted so many people to risk going over in a barrel or across on a tightrope.

Maid of the Mist from the viewing deck

One of the tourist attractions my family enjoyed in 1993 was a ride INTO the falls on the Maid of the Mist. 

Everybody was issued blue raingear. 

Barry, Jordan and Zoe
in line to board

Another tour boat

from the Maid of the Mist

A peek at the website shows Maid of the Mist is still in business and giving out their hallmark blue raingear. One big difference is that now the boats are electric catamaran-style, more eco-friendly than the single-hull boats that we remember.


Having experienced the magnificence of Niagara Falls, Barry and I eagerly signed on to visit the Rhine Falls as part of our extension to Zurich following our Rhine River cruise in 2019. The drive from the city to this tourist attraction was lovely.


We thrilled at the view from the road leading into the park.


I’m sorry, but after Niagara Falls, the Rhine Falls seem rather wimpy. Niagara Falls aren’t the tallest or even widest waterfalls in the world, but they made the list of 20 most spectacular. Rheinfall did not make the list. 

They are not tall at all, nor particularly wide. Oh, they are still pretty. Still fast. Still VERY loud. Mother Nature does her best.


The boat ride to get closer to the falls is a thrill ride. I do not do thrill rides. 

Boat captain revs the engine and heads for the falls.

Some people had more fun than I did.

Standing on the viewing deck and clinging to the rail while the boat bounces over waves churned up by other boats are two different experiences. Where were the life jackets? Needless to say, I was grateful to get back on land to enjoy the waterfall from a distance.

Barry and moi 2019

Please visit Sepia Saturday for more photos and stories of waterfalls and other things starting with “W.”


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Photo Friday - Pretty Lady

I love the expression on this beautiful woman's face. The photo is in a scrapbook that came to me from my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker. Therefore, I wonder if this is my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh in her younger days.

Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh
6 Jan 1869 - 18 Jul 1939

This portrait is definitely Mary Theresa. Same woman?

If not, maybe it is one of her sisters.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

52 Ancestors - FAVORITE PHOTO: James Franklin Jollett

Today this is my “favorite photo.” Tomorrow it might change.

Why I love this photo:

Look at that sweet face. That is the face that fits the personality of my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett according to the stories I heard from his grandchildren.

From his granddaughter Violetta Davis Ryan:

He was a warm and loving grandfather who enjoyed his grandchildren. He cried when they came to visit. He cried when they left.

From his granddaughter Vessie Jollett Steppe:

During the Civil War, James Franklin Jollett was a guard accompanying some prisoners of war on a train on the way to a prison camp, I suppose. One of the prisoners said that he would just love to see his family one last time. James Franklin thought a minute, then said he was stepping outside to smoke. That is when the prisoner escaped. Hmm

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, January 24, 2021

Sentimental Sunday - Three Deaths

Joseph Calhoun Rucker – My great grandfather

25 Jul 1874 - 24 Jan 1933

Matilda Jollett Meadows – My 2X great-grandfather’s niece, daughter of John Wesley Jollett

photo courtesy Jan Hensley
Matilda Jollett Meadows
16 Feb 1859 - 24 Jan 1953
Matilda with her twins 
Mary and Martha and son Charles
about 1905

Ben Shifflett – Husband of Bertha Knight, daughter of Leanna Jollett (sister of my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis) and James Mitchell Knight

Ben Shifflett
10 Jun 1890 - 24 Jan 1959
and Bertha Knight Shiffett

Poor Ben died from pneumonia that set in after suffering second and third degree burns when his clothes caught fire while trying to extinguish a brush fire. His wife Bertha died four years later on 31 January 1963.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Sepia Saturday: The Vernons

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

This week Sepia Saturday has reached the letter V, but I do not have a violin photo or story to share. Therefore, I vow not to vacillate over various options, instead to vindicate myself with this view of the life of Victoria Vernon, the veracity of which you should not doubt.

Victoria Vernon was born in 1854 to Burton Shiflett and Nancy Frazier in Greene County, Virginia. She was the ninth of ten children and the youngest sister of my 2X great-grandmother Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett.

Morris Reunion probably 1927
Susan Clementine Shiflett Morris (sister to Victoria
and my 2X great-grandmother Lucy Ann)
Austin Morris (Clementine's husband), 
James Franklin Jollett, Ambrose Vernon
(NOTE: Lucy Ann and Victoria are not present;
Clementine died in 1928 - hence the estimated date)

Not far away Ambrose Vernon grew up in the home of Edmund Jones and his much younger common law wife Margaret Vernon. I chuckled at Ambrose’s death certificate which asks the name of the deceased’s father and mother. Ambrose’s daughter openly pronounced him “illegitimate.” Ambrose’s brothers and sisters, however, all claimed Jones as their father.

Ambrose and Victoria married 26 Dec 1875. They were a farming family in the Monroe district of Greene County, and together they had 5 children:

  • Ira McClellan Vernon (1876-1953)
  • Madie Macella Vernon Merschel (1878- ?)
  • Charles Marcus Vernon (1880-1959)
  • John Fleming Vernon (1881-1937)
  • Lucy Ann Vernon Snow (1884-1972)

In 1926, Victoria Shiflett Vernon died from pneumonia, likely due to complications from an abdominal tumor. The details on the back of her death certificate suggest she must have suffered a great deal in those last days of her life. 

Back of Victoria Vernon's death certificate March 13, 1926

TRANSCRIPTION: … cause of death is given as “Bronchial pneumonia – abdominal tumor.” Please state the exact location of the tumor & whether cancerous or benign.

Do not know the nature of the tumor as the death certificate will show that I only saw the patient the day of her death so had no opportunity of finding out. Suppose it was benign. It was as large as an infants head filled the hypogastrium and umbilical region – was so tender & sore when I saw her that it was impossible to palpate it.

Given what I know of my mother’s death from ovarian cancer, I wonder if Victoria’s disease was this as well.

Why don’t you venture over to Sepia Saturday where the venerable vanguard of verisimilitude in the vernacular will offer a veritable vortex of veracious verbalization.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Photo Friday - Woman With Glasses

This is one of my favorite unidentified photos. Such a smart-looking woman. Who can she be?


The photo was among things that were passed down to me from the Davis side of the family. Maybe the woman was a friend of my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis or maybe a sister-in-law. Or maybe the photo belonged to Violetta, perhaps a photo of her mother-in-law. The photo could have belonged to Velma if it was from her husband’s family.

Whoever she was, she posed well and made quite an impression.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

On This Day - January 21, 1951

My grandaunt Velma Davis’s husband Arthur "Woody" Woodring died 21 January 1951. My mother always considered Woody and Velma to be “the fun ones.” 

My favorite Woody stories:

Sports Center Saturday - Woody Woodring

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjack

A Flea in the Bed


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

52 Ancestors - NAMESAKE: Name Pairings

I understand why families like to honor a father, a grandfather, even a great-grandfather by bestowing the elder’s name upon the newborn son. What I don’t understand is why some names seem to follow some families but not others. Probably everyone has a full supply of men named James, William, and John in the family tree. I sure do. But what about Leonard? Or Stephen?

The name Leonard shows up ONLY in my Davis line. No Leonard Jollett. No Leonard Rucker. No Leonard Eppard. No Leonard Slade, Walsh or Morrison.

Stephen shows up only in Slade. No Stephen Jollett. No Stephen Davis. No Stephen Rucker. No Stephen Eppard.

And it’s not JUST MY family. “Leonard” was apparently a popular name for Davis boys born in the 1760s. A Boone family genealogy claims there was a Leonard Davis born in Pennsylvania. Another claims a Leonard Davis who was a veteran of the French and Indian War. Another tells of Leonard Davis who died in Kentucky in 1817.

There are a number of men named Leonard Davis who fought in the Civil War; some were Confederates while others hailed from Vermont. Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, California – they all have a Leonard Davis. There are Leonard Davises in England and in Canada. Obviously, they are not all named for MY Leonard Davis.

What is it about the name Leonard that goes with Davis? Is it a natural pairing like apple pie and ice cream?

And what about Stephen paired with Slade? In my research, there are basically 2 Slade camps: the New England Slades and the North Carolina Slades. Both were crawling with Stephens from the beginnings of our country. Still are!

The Carolina Slades likely are the ones who had a few stragglers that wandered on down to Georgia and finally Florida where my oldest confirmed Stephen Slade lived and died. He had a son named Stephen and a grandson named Stephen. “Honor thy father” – I get it.

But what about all those other Stephen Slades that seem to have no connection to mine? Can we all trace our lineage to THIS Stephen Slade who was buried in Somerset, England 1 April 1607?

from Somerset England
Church of England Births, Baptisms, Burials
1531-1812, Ancestry

I realize there is probably no logical explanation for this phenomenon, but it is thoughts like these that keep me up at night. 

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.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Sepia Saturday: Sunbrella

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the noble umbrella. Many years ago, my sister spied this beauty in our grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan’s closet and asked if she could have it. Violetta just laughed and said, “Sure.”

Photo courtesy Mary Jollette

Holes aside, this umbrella would not have offered much protection in the rain because the fabric is not water-repellant. It is actually a PARASOL, a kind of umbrella intended to provide shade from the sun. Unlike the typical polyester or nylon umbrella, parasols are constructed of delicate fabrics like lace, silk, or linen. Umbrellas have a curved handle while the handle of a parasol is usually straight. In the United States, a parasol is considered a feminine accessory while an umbrella can swing both ways.

Photo courtesy Mary Jollette

I am sure my sister had a vision for how she would use Violetta’s parasol. Let’s see what ideas others have offered for repurposing an umbrella or parasol:

A door wreath – now this looks like something my sister would want to do.

Finally, you could just hang your sepia photos on it.

Visit my friends at Sepia Saturday where the weather is fine and no “brolly” or “bumbershoot” is needed. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Photo Friday - 2 Guys or 1?

Are these two men the same person? 

The photos date to my mother’s college days at Shenandoah College in Dayton, Virginia. Maybe this is the interim boyfriend sometime AFTER her high school beau Dickie Blanks and before my dad entered the scene.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

52 Ancestors - LEGEND: Walsh and Whiskey

John Fleming Walsh – man of mystery. That’s how I sum up my great-grandfather. While I would like to learn about his parents and any siblings – none of whom I can confirm as OURS – I would also like to know if the family legend about a whiskey business in the family is true.

The details of the legend are thin. The little I remember hearing are that years and years ago the Walsh brothers went into business producing whiskey. When they had a falling out, our Walsh ancestor walked away wanting nothing to do with the brother or brothers ever again.

That’s it.

So how many years ago? Who were the brothers? Was this in Ireland or here in America? If America, WHERE in America?

I have looked for histories of Walsh whiskey, but no company bearing this name even hints at a falling out of brothers. One company known as “Walsh Whiskey” dates back only to 1999. It was created by a husband-and-wife team – NOT the supposed Walsh brothers.

If the family legend about the Walsh brothers is true, it could be that they did not use “Walsh” in the company name. With so few details to go on, pursuing the truth may be pointless.

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, January 10, 2021

Sentimental Sunday - The Colemans

This week marks the back-to-back anniversaries of the deaths of several members of my Coleman relatives. Reba and Minnie were my maternal grandfather's cousins. Their mothers were sisters: Mary Frances Jollett Davis and Emma Jollett Coleman.

12th – Reba Coleman Morris

Reba Hildred Coleman Morris
(29 July 1896 - 12 Jan 1994)

13th – Reba’s older sister Minnie Coleman Maiden

Minnie Virginia Coleman Maiden
(31 May 1888 - 13 Jan 1981)

14th – Reba’s baby boy Maxon Morris

Maxon Coleman Morris
29 Nov 1914 - 14 Jan 1915)


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Sepia Saturday: Last Stop Newburyport

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

Five years ago and six years ago I wrote about my dad’s scrapbook of photos he took as a 19-year-old in the Coast Guard. If you care to read them, they are HERE and HERE. The stories were about how my sister and I came to donate the scrapbook to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts and about the museum’s plan to enlarge some of my dad’s photos for a special exhibit about the work of the Coast Guard in Thule, Greenland following World War II.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt reminded me of this photo

Mary, Cam, Barry August 2016
at the Newburyport train station

and that I never really finished the story.

The reason? Because I was heartsick over what happened after I shipped the scrapbook to the Custom House Maritime Museum. In fact, I couldn’t even tell my sister about it until over a year later when we made the trip to see the exhibit.

Here’s the story

The week of March 20, 2015, I took Daddy’s scrapbook to my local UPS store in Chesapeake. They wrapped it securely for me. When the clerk asked about insurance, I was caught off guard and did not know how to respond. What is the value of a teenage boy’s scrapbook of amateur photos anyway? It can’t be replaced. Finally, I just picked a number: $100. Heck, I don’t know. The clerk said the package would arrive probably the next Tuesday.

Tuesday came and went without word from the museum letting me know they had the package. A week went by. Then another. I called the UPS store to ask about the status of the package. The clerk said the packages from her store go to a location in nearby Virginia Beach, a 35-minute trip any given day, and that she would call them to check.

The processing center in Virginia Beach had NO record of my package. UNBELIEVABLE.

The next step UPS took was to issue a special trace for the package. A trace could last up to two weeks. After that the package would be considered forever lost.


Yep, I got the call – no sign of the package. I sat and cried. I was sad for my dad’s scrapbook, and I was mad that I had thought UPS would be a safer carrier than the regular post office. All I could offer the museum then were copies of the photos I had saved on my computer. My hope was that they could be enlarged enough for the kind of exhibit the director and curator had envisioned.

Thank goodness for that measly $100 insurance because a few weeks later I received the check.

The money was nothing to me. I wrote a check for $100 as a donation to the Custom House Maritime Museum and put it in the mail. 

The very next day I received a phone call.

“Hello, Mrs. Mathias. This is Michael Mroz, director of the Custom House Maritime Museum. I want you to know I am holding your father’s beautiful scrapbook right now.”


I am pretty sure I was screaming in the poor man’s ear.

How the scrapbook was lost yet managed to show up in the right place after over a month is still a mystery, a miracle, a gift.

Boston and Newburyport Trip

In August 2016, the exhibit called “Frozen in Time” opened at the Custom House Maritime Museum and ran through December. Of course, we had to see it. My sister and I along with our husbands flew to Boston for a long weekend.  

The ticket for the exhibit used one of Daddy's photos

Promotional materials 

Newburyport is the last stop on the commuter train, about an hour’s ride from Boston. Had we understood how to read the schedule, we would have gotten to Newburyport sooner, but it was still a wonderful day. The director met us at the station and drove us to the museum.

Barry, Wendy, Cam, Mary
("buoys and girls" ha ha)
in front of the Custom House

As I stepped inside the historic Custom House, the sight of all those photos lining the walls of the great hallway took my breath. 


Pictures were arranged by 4 themes: Nature, The Inuit, The Men, The Work of the Coast Guard. The photos were beautiful. They looked like art.

Icebergs and mountains
Inuit families

Cam, Barry, Mary
Behind them are photos of men at work
and at play. Daddy is in the 4th photo
top row in white with his thumb in his pocket.

Work on the ship

A gallery that focuses on the history of the Coast Guard holds a model of my dad’s ship, The Eastwind. It was fun to see in the model the steps my dad descended in this photo:

Wendy and Mary
with 2 photos of our dad


Model of the Eastwind

Looking back, I marvel at whatever gods watched over my dad’s scrapbook on its journey from Virginia to Massachusetts. I don’t know how many places it went to between March and May of 2015, but I am glad that its last stop was Newburyport.

Climb aboard the Sepia Saturday train – no insurance needed.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.