Friday, April 30, 2021

Photo Friday - Hit the Road

This is my favorite “who could it be” photo. Suitcase in hand. Where to?

The topography intrigues me. Portsmouth, Virginia is much too flat for that stairway to upper ground. Is the place New York? Salem, Massachusetts? Or some place I have not identified in any other photo?

Who could they be?


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

52 Ancestors - FAVORITE PLACE: Home

I have wonderful memories from childhood playing with all the kids on Frailey Place from sun up to sun down, of traveling across the state with my grandparents to visit my cousins, of riding along with my granddaddy as he conducted his taxi business or combing my granny’s hair as she called drivers on the radio to pick up a fare. Each place has a claim to be my “favorite.”

But really, my FAVORITE place is right here in my home. It’s cliché, I admit. Genealogy and family history are my thing, and in my home, I am surrounded by all that is near and dear.


While many other people enjoy a “Man Cave” or a “She Shed” or a “Diva Den,” my office is my “Gene Cave.” The “Family” wall is a gallery of my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and one great-great. I added my husband’s family as well. My great-grandmother’s treadle Singer sewing machine serves as a table. 

One of two built-in shelves

Shelves are filled with notebooks, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and photos, all of which provide inspiration as well as research material.


Ball Jars that belonged to my great-grandmother
Mary Frances Jollett Davis

Every room in my house contains something that connects me to family. In the kitchen are Ball jars, Jewel Tea mixing bowls, and Pyrex casserole dishes that keep alive memories of delicious meals at my grandmother’s house.


The family room has two tables built by my husband’s father, one of which is made from trees from the family farm. There are little reminders too of my great-grandparents’ daily lives: a rusted cow bell and a wooden butter mold.

Butter mold

Table made by my husband's
father and grandfather.

Lamp and doilies from grandaunt Velma;
bed and table from grandaunt Violetta

Bedrooms hold old beds, old quilts, old lamps, and old dressers handed down from old family members. 

Middle shelf - candle holders 
and a candy dish
Bottom shelf - hat pin holder, my
jar of permanent rods, and my
grandfather's glasses

A knick-knack shelf  in a guest room displays my grandfather’s glasses, my grandmother’s candle holders, and even a jar of rods from the Toni home permanents my mother gave me as a child.

The china press in the dining room and corner cabinet in the living room are both family heirlooms working overtime like mini-museums of glassware, silver, and china passed on to me from the Davis, Slade, Rucker, Jollett, Killeen, and Parker families.

Whenever I watch HGTV and some buyer is disappointed that a house looks “too grandma,” I look around at my stuff and think, “Yep, this is a grandma house, all right.” However, to me it is the pinnacle of warmth and comfort, not like the soulless grey remodels with generic Wayfair decor where the only signs of life might be a single gallery wall of black and white headshots. 

Give me “grandma” any day.

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.

Monday, April 26, 2021

On This Day: Elijah Nicholas Breeden

Elijah Nicholas Breeden was the 3rd child of my great-great grandfather’s sister Lydia Jollett Breeden and her husband George W. Breeden. There were 5 children in all: 4 boys and 1 girl. Elijah was born on 26 April 1865.

In 1884 Elijah married Christina Catherine Sellers. In 1900, she was listed as head of household in the Stonewall area of Rockingham County, Virginia. Two of four children were living: Mary Lillian and Georgia Josephine. It is not clear why Christina was the head of household, but possibly Elijah had moved to Clifton, in Alleghany County, Virginia to work in the iron ore mines and somehow was missed when the census taker came around.

In 1910, Elijah and Christina were there in Clifton where Elijah worked in the mines. He reported that he had not been out of work during the year.

By 1920 the Breedens were back in Rockingham County. Elijah was working as a foreman in railroad construction.

Elijah died 26 December 1928. 

Christina died in 1940 from complications of influenza.


Find A Grave Memorial #32219533
Photo courtesy Jan Hensley


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Sepia Saturday: C is for Cards

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

In the Sepia Saturday march through the alphabet, we are at the letter “C.” I have been going through the STUFF found in my grandparents’attic. Among the many bundles of letters that my mother saved from her high school and college years are these itty bitty cards.

Cards sent to my mother from 1945-1950

The largest cards were 4.5”x3.5” and 4” square.

The largest cards

The smallest were 3.5”x2.25”.

3 1/2" x 2 1/4"

Most of these tiny cards are invitations

To a birthday party

To join the Spanish Club in high school 


To the Junior-Senior prom

4" x 3 1/8"

To attend a party her first year at Madison College (now James Madison University – GO DUKES!

Rumpus Room - now there's a word
you don't hear much anymore!

But the PRETTY ones are the shower invitations.   

3 1/4" square
Momma's best friend Betsy Ward was getting married. Momma was the maid of honor. This party was hosted by Christine in whose wedding Momma and Betsy had been bridesmaids.                                     

Betsy was popular. She was showered twice!
3 3/4" x 2 3/4"



Just a week later, Momma was invited to Mary Jane Via's wedding shower which was designated a Kitchen Shower.

4 1/2" x 3 1/2"


The invitation to Margaret Aitken's "fine china" wedding shower was equal to the theme with that fancy 3D cut around the veil.

4 1/4" x 3"

Baby shower invitations were just adorable too.

3 3/4" x 2 5/8"
Shower for Cookie Mutter - must have been
for her first son Steve

This next one was actually an announcement of the arrival of a baby girl. It is a Hallmark card - nothing but the best! 

3 1/2" square

My favorite one is actually this envelope that my mother used to blot her lipstick. Now there's a keepsake!

In November 1945, all it took to mail such a small invitation was a 1 ½ cent stamp. But in 1948, that same size card required a 3-cent stamp. I wonder if such small envelopes are even allowed to go through the mail these days.

“C” what else there is to “C” at Sepia Saturday.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Photo Friday - Back to St Augustine

Last Friday I posted a photo of this same woman at the Courtesy Court Motel in St. Augustine, Florida. The photo was dated 25 June 1941.

Here she is again visiting the Hotel Alcazar which today houses the Lightner Museum.

 But who is she?


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

On This Day - Mitchell Davis

My 2X great-grandfather Mitchell Davis died.

Mitchell Davis

C 1820 – 22 Apr 1892 Rockingham Co VA

I see my granddaddy Orvin Davis, my uncle Orvin Davis Jr, and my cousin Glenn Davis is this photo. 

Read about Mitchell Davis here:

Handed Down: Two Bibles

    Mitchell was a carpenter. The inside cover of the family bible contains notes that appear to be building supplies along with calculations of what to charge. 

Large Family: Davis of Beldor

     Those names!!

Civil War Widow Pension Application

    His wife Martha reported Mitchell died of heart trouble. My granddaddy and uncle did too.



© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

52 Ancestors - DNA: Quandry


This past week a blog was highlighted in our 52 Ancestors group on Facebook. The writer had used a clue from her DNA test to break down a brick wall. Oh, how I envy her. My dad’s DNA test results just created trouble, and now I don’t know how to feel about it.

It turns out that a non-paternal event means that he carried Calhoun DNA rather than Slade. Correspondence with two men who match my dad’s DNA exactly helped me trace the Calhoun lineage. While I think I know at which generation the event occurred, I cannot be absolutely sure. I feel obligated to care, but I don’t. I am much more interested in the Slades – my father, my grandfather, HIS father – the Slades from Georgia and Florida, the ones who raised the Stephen Slade whose wife and son left Florida and came to Virginia. Those are MY people, not the Calhouns no matter what DNA they carried with them.

Therefore, I continue to search for the father of my oldest known Slade, my 3X great-grandfather Stephen Slade who was born around 1815 in Georgia and then died in Florida after 1870.

Every census for the oldest Stephen is consistent with his birth details. In looking for a potential father for him, I noticed that the Slade name did not even appear in Georgia until the 1820 census. Prior to that, the Slades were either in North Carolina or in the New England states. The best candidate for Stephen’s father is William Slade who first appeared in the 1820 Telfair County, Georgia census.

This William was between 26 and 45 as was one female, most likely his wife. There were three children under the age of 10 – 2 boys and 1 girl. One boy would have been Stephen. Since the children were so young, I will estimate the ages for William and his wife at 30 and 25.

In 1830, there was no William Slade in Telfair, but there was one in nearby Dooley with a family that resembles that of 1820. William was 50-59, a woman was 40-49, and the boys were 15-19. There was no daughter, but perhaps she had married. Or maybe it’s not the same family at all.

In the late 1820s and early 1830s, there was a William Slade who purchased land in Gadsden County, Florida, near Tallahassee in the panhandle. 

Just one of eight patents 

A study of the Georgia and Florida maps shows that Dooley and Telfair counties are in the southern half of present-day Georgia, almost in a direct line to Gadsden, Florida. Of course, that is no proof that the purchaser of 8 patents is the father of Stephen Slade.

Dooley is yellow; Telfair is olive green
both are in the south-central area

Florida Panhandle

The geography makes sense though. Madison County where Stephen made his census debut is just two counties away, east of Gadsden County. Lafayette County borders Madison on the south.

When William purchased land in Florida, did he ever actually move to what was to become the Sunshine State? In 1840, there were two William Slades – spelled Slaid – still in Dooley, Georgia and one in Washington County, Georgia, but none in Florida.

From 1850 on, it becomes rather cumbersome to track the William Slades because Georgia and Florida were both overrun with men named William Slade.

I fear that my Slade genealogy will come to a screeching halt right here. No probate records have been found for any of my presumed Slades in Florida. This is where DNA could be helpful, but without a male Slade to test, I am out of luck. The Slade men that I know all have Calhoun DNA.

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, April 17, 2021

On This Day - Julia

My sweet granny passed away.

Julia Mary Walsh Slade

6 Sep 1907 – 17 Apr 1982 Portsmouth, VA

Julia and her sisters
Catherine, Tate, Julia

Julia and her cousin Sadie Byrnes

Julia and her cousin Elmyra Christian

Julia as a young woman

Granny and Granddaddy as I always remember them


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Photo Friday - Visit to St. Augustine

The back of the photo says “Courtesy Court Motel June 25, 1941.” That’s all she wrote. But who is it? 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

52 Ancestors - BRICK WALL: Nancy Walker Jollett

As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, I am always interested in finding patriots in my family tree. I have identified 8, but one that I keep hoping will step from behind that brick wall is ANYBODY Jollett. He doesn’t have to have been a soldier; he could have served the colonial government as a surveyor of roads or member of a jury. He could have simply paid the Supply Tax in 1782. He OR SHE could have furnished supplies like beef or clothing or rifles. I have scoured the available sources online and found NOTHING.

Based on his marriage date of 1787, James Jollett, my 4X great-grandfather, should have been of age to serve in the militia, but I have found no signs that he did. Nor do I see any sign of his supposed father, Thomas. I now wonder if the Jolletts were Loyalists. But what about James’s wife, Nancy Walker? Did her family side with the Loyalists or Patriots? To get that answer, I needed a hammer and chisel and some luck to break down another brick wall.

The Orange County Road Orders of 1796 show 3 Walkers working alongside James Jollett: Benjamin, Sanders, and Thomas. Surely they were related to Nancy Walker somehow – father? Brothers? Cousins? Benjamin Walker looks like a possible brother based on his birth in 1770. Nancy was born between 1761 and 1770. What I like about this Benjamin is that he had a son Jeremiah. Jeremiah Walker served as bondsman for the marriage of Luraina/Lourenna Jollett and Robert Bryan in 1839.

While researching Jeremiah, I found an OLDER Jeremiah with an interesting connection: father Thomas Walker and mother Elizabeth Sanders. SANDERS! This Jeremiah had a brother Andrew Sanders. Maybe he went by his middle name. Unfortunately, no trees on Ancestry have a Nancy that remotely matches the few provable details for MY Nancy.


For fun, I checked the DAR database to see if there were any Walker patriots from Culpeper County or Orange County, Virginia. Nancy and James’s marriage is recorded in both counties, hence the search in multiple locales.

There are 80 Walkers from Virginia who have been verified as patriots. Eight of them lived in Orange or Culpeper. Let’s take a look:

Charles Walker – born 1755 in Orange; died after 1820 in Giles County. Too young to have been Nancy’s father. Possibly son of a Thomas Walker and Elizabeth Taylor.

James Walker – born 1726 in King & Queen County; died 1801 Madison County which was formed from Culpeper County. No mention of a daughter Nancy. Served in the House of Burgesses. Since no one in my family seemed to have been politically connected, I doubt James is mine.

John Walker – born 1744 Albemarle County; died 1809 Madison County close to the Orange County border. NOPE – had only one child and her name was Mildred. He was son of patriot Thomas Walker Sr.

Merry Walker – born 1760 Culpeper County; died 1811 Culpeper County. Son of patriot William Walker. Merry was too young to be Nancy’s father, but he was the right age to be a brother.

Thomas – born 1763 in Orange; died 1853 in Monroe County. Thomas was too young to have been Nancy’s father.

Thomas Jr – born 1748 in Albemarle County; died before 1797 in Albemarle County. Albemarle is very close to the part of Orange where James and Nancy Walker Jollett lived, so I included him in my search.

Thomas Sr – born 1715 in King & Queen County; died 1794 in Albemarle County. This Thomas left a will naming all his children but not a Nancy among them. He was another well-connected, well-to-do gentleman who hob-knobbed with George Washington and Patrick Henry. He was also a guardian of Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, not my Walker, I’m pretty sure.

William – born 1735 in Orange; died 1807 in Madison County. Father of patriot Merry Walker. He was the right age to have been Nancy’s father as well. But was he?

Two bits of information make me hopeful that I have found Nancy Walker’s family. First of all, in 1785, James Jolley/Jollett was on the Personal Property Tax list of William Walker.

1785 Personal Property Tax Culpeper Co, VA
List of William Walker
James Jolley/Jollett - last name in this clip

Secondly, William’s son Merry married Elizabeth Kirtley, and his daughter Elizabeth Walker married Francis Kirtley. What is significant about that? In 1784, James Jollett was on the Culpeper County Personal Property Tax list of Elijah Kirtley. 
1784 Personal Property Tax Culpeper Co, Va
List of Elijah Kirtley

While I have not found a connection between Francis or Elizabeth Kirtley and Elijah, there is a good chance they were related somehow. At least they were all in the same neighborhood.

More digging is needed, but I sense that a little bit of that brick wall is starting to crumble.

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.