Tuesday, August 31, 2021

52 Ancestors - SCHOOL: Education in the One-Room School

I come from a long line of dedicated teachers. It is therefore no surprise that some dusty old textbooks have been saved and passed from one generation to the next along with pieces of china, crystal, and silver. These books belonged to my grandfather, his father, and his uncle.

My grandfather's textbooks

Looking closely at these very old books (over 130 years old) makes me rethink the one-room country schoolhouse. I always assumed those poor kids probably got a second-rate education because the school couldn’t afford to do any better. However, I see now that Rockingham County and Page County picked the best textbooks to be had in their day. 


Walter's arithmetic book

My great-grandfather proudly wrote his name on several pages of his arithmetic book. “Walter B. S. M. Davis.” 

Inside cover of Walter's arithmetic book
(Did he really need 3 middle names?)

But he was not the first to use it. The inscription “A. N. Davis” suggests at least one older brother of the 15 Davis children used the book too:  Amaziah Nathaniel.

Amaziah Nathaniel's initials

The book was “Ray’s Practical Arithmetic, Part Third.” The Ray’s series was one of the most respected textbooks of its day because it emphasized “real life” math that students could apply to practical pursuits of running a farm, a business, a household, even a grocery store. Early on, the series was praised for beginning with the basics using concrete items like blocks and marbles in order to prepare students to be able to visualize the abstract later on. Ray’s almost exclusive use of word problems is credited with improving students’ reading comprehension. 

This textbook is very unappealing by today's standards.
No colorful charts.  Very little "white space."


Ray believed teaching could help students develop high moral character. To that end, he structured his math problems to show honest men and women hard at work plowing fields, planting and harvesting crops, building, buying and selling, being generous and sharing their goods. Look at some typical problems:

  • If 16 men build 18 rods of fence in 12 days, at the same rate, how many men can build 72 rods in 8 days?
  • When cloth costs $4.37 ½ per yard, at what price per yard must it be sold to gain 33 1/3 percent?
  • What is the value of 1 pound 3 pennyweights of gold ore at 3 cents a grain?

Although Dr. Joseph Ray died in 1855, his arithmetic books are still in use today, especially among homeschoolers. However, I’m not sure how the homeschoolers feel about the explanation of pints, barrels, and hogsheads required in beer measurements. But I must admit, the explanation of apothecary measurements could be helpful to today’s drug dealers who might need to know how to answer this one:

  • What will 1 pound 1 dram 1 ounce of opium cost at 4 cents a scruple?

(Who knew drug dealers had scruples?)


History of Virginia - New Edition

I don’t remember how much American history was included in my high school history textbooks, but only once did we make it to World War II. How far did the teachers of my grandfather Orvin Davis get exposing him to American history? 

His book is about the size of a 5”x7” photograph and just about ¾” thick. The last chapter is entitled  “The Reconstruction Period 1865-1890.” I guess there’s something to be said for being born early. 



Stepping Stones to Literature: A Reader for Fifth Grades
is one ambitious collection of works by such people as Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cowper, Sir Walter Scott, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and John Ruskin. JOHN RUSKIN!!! Has anyone read Ruskin? I have. Hopefully my grandfather at age 10 was exposed to some lighter weight Ruskin than I got in graduate school. Good grief.


The introduction to the book says it all:  “…its authors aimed to include nothing but good literature …. The tendency of the day is to scrappy reading. It is fostered by newspapers, periodicals, and compendia of literature; and it is hoped that these Readers will help to combat this unfortunate tendency, and lead to the reading of good books.”

As textbooks always do, this one gives teaching suggestions, especially on ways to improve oral reading. The authors are not shy about saying Americans have poor speech habits and “disagreeable voices.” They deem it a “national defect.” They even recommend calisthenics to improve students’ carriage, breathing through the nostrils, drilling for proper enunciation, using a dictionary to assure proper pronunciation, and learning to incorporate the right inflections to express the feeling of the written word. 

So noble. But these are fifth graders. 

Here is what fifth graders did to their books even in 1910:

The message has been erased for the most part, but it says, "Look on page [?] and you will see my sweethearts name."


Flipping pages, I found this on page 25:


On page 300, there's this message saying "She ran away from me and nobody knows where she is."

So who was she, for crying out loud?? DARN! I thought books held the key to all knowledge.  What a let-down.


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, August 29, 2021

On This Day: Frank and Eliza Tie the Knot

One of my favorite photos!
Eliza Jane Coleman and James Franklin Jollett
and a dog - wonder what his name was
at their home in Harriston, Augusta Co, VA

On this day, 29 August 1885, my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett married his second wife Eliza Jane Coleman. His wife Lucy Ann Shiflett had died from “childbed fever,” leaving her widowed husband with 9 children to take care of, although the oldest were quite capable of taking care of themselves.

Eliza Jane was the only grandmother that my grandfather and his sisters ever knew.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Photo Friday: Cozy in Death

at Jollett United Methodist Church Cemetery
Jollett Hollow, Page County, VA

I just love this tombstone showing Hiram Meadows between two of his three wives. It’s the first wife that I care about.

Mary Jollett was none other than Mary Etta Virginia Jollett, daughter of John Wesley Jollett and Sarah Elizabeth Smith. That makes her a niece of my great-great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett.

Mary E. V. was born about 1854 and died around 1874, perhaps in childbirth.  


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

10th Blogiversary

Ten years ago today “Jollett Etc” was born. I had no idea that I would still be blogging ten years later. In fact, at the time, I did not really know what blogging was. I had heard of it, but I had never seen it. My experience with sharing genealogy online had been on Geocities. From September 1998 until 2008, I maintained a website called Jollett Hollar named for the community in Page County, Virginia, where some of my ancestors had lived. There in the “Heartland” neighborhood of Geocities was a database of documents, family charts, and photos about the Jolletts. Back then I even had to do my own HTML coding. My cheat sheet of formatting codes and color codes was always close by.

The opening page looked something
like this but the whole background
was that same blue.

When Geocities closed its doors in 2008, I stopped sharing altogether. I still researched though, and I continued to correspond with distant cousins whom I had met through my website. One cousin suggested that I start a blog where I could continue posting whatever I discovered. A WHAT? Finding blogs to read for ideas on how to do that was not easy. Most of the blogs that I found were about decorating, cooking, crafts, and parenting. I could not see how family charts and copies of deeds and wills could fit in the blogging world.

Then I stumbled into Geneabloggers. It changed my life and my approach to genealogy. The daily prompts like Mystery Monday, Tombstone Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday opened my eyes to what a genealogy blog could be. It gave me freedom. A blog could be spontaneous. It could be just a collection of stories and photos. It could be short or long. It did not have to be a timeline of anyone’s life. It did not have to be a satellite library documenting all things Jollett.

I created an account on Blogspot and named my blog “Jollett Holler.” However, I got frustrated trying to figure how to organize the blog, so I walked away. Months later when I was determined to figure it out, I tried again but had forgotten my password and “Jollett Holler” was already taken. HA – by me – it just didn’t know it was me.  I typed in a new name that popped into my head: Jollett Etc.

What a happy accident that has turned out to be. That little “Etc” allowed for stories about the Sampsons, the Marshes, the Davises, the Slades, the Walshes, the Eppards, the Ruckers, whoever and whatever.

Along the way, blogging challenges and groups inspired some of my best writing and research.

A-Z April Challenge: I participated in this challenge for 5 years. The first year I did not have a theme, but afterwards I had lots of fun with “Unusual Names in the Family,” “Who Came to the Funeral,” “All About Me” and “Family Heirlooms.”

52 Ancestors: I did my first 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks in 2012. I skipped a couple years, but when Amy Johnson Crow introduced themes to the challenge, it became more fun, and more challenging. I do love a challenge. This year marks 7 times participating.

Sepia Saturday: MY FAVORITE! It’s a photo challenge, which is fun in itself. But it’s the people that keep me coming back. I consider it a personal failure when I miss a week.

MIITY: In other words, "May I Introduce to You." What an honor it was to be asked to join the group of 5 bloggers who interviewed other bloggers for a weekly feature on Thomas MacEntee’s Geneabloggers website. We also assisted with the transition to the Geneabloggers Tribe when Thomas decided to end his website to devote his time to his genea-business.

In the blogging world, I’m just a small blogger with a small blog and a small readership. But Jollett Etc has been a big part of my life for 10 years and has done some big things:

  1. I always wanted to write a book about the Jolletts. My vision was for it to be THE story from beginning to end. That was so overwhelming that I never started. Eventually it came to me that all these little stories I had been writing ARE the book. Four family books later . . . .
  2. My blog caught the attention of people who were interested in the photos from scrapbooks compiled by my father and my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring. My sister and I were thrilled to donate Daddy’s scrapbook of his time in the Coast Guard to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Velma’s scrapbook to James Madison University.
  3. Of course, the absolute best part of blogging has been connecting with distant cousins who found my blog and left inquiries or messages of thanks. Some shared photos and stories. It has been amazing watching the family tree grow.
  4. I also am grateful to the many blogging friends I have made over the years. Some no longer blog but we stay connected on Facebook. While we have never met in person, I feel like I know some of these friends better than I know my own neighbors.

Thank-you for sticking with me!


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

On This Day: Fleta Florence

Blanch Beecher, Chester Clarence, Lewis Lloyd,
Fleta Florence, their mother Louisa Sullivan Jollett, and father Burton Lewis Jollett
Before 1900 (Burton Lewis was listed as a widower in the 1900 census)
Photo courtesy Ben Marks

Fleta Florence Jollett was born on this day, 22 August 1885. She was the second of four children who survived beyond infancy born to Burton Lewis Jollett and Louisa Sullivan.

Fleta made the personal column on 30 Nov 1909 when she went to spend the winter with C. D. Wyant. Curious about this “holiday,” I found that it probably was not a fun vacation after all. In the 1910 census, she was working for the Wyants as a servant.

Harrisonburg, VA Daily News Record
30 Nov 1909

A few years later, she married John Sullivan. They had 3 children: Ethel, John, and Bessie.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Photo Friday: Vessie

Vessie Jollette

21 Aug 1904 - 28 Jan 2001 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

52 Ancestors - IN THE CITY: Ray Does Louisville

Ellsworth Ray Rucker

My grandmother’s brother Ray Rucker registered for the draft in 1918. His time in the Navy is spottily documented in photos he left behind, mostly of the crew and ships he served on. If you would like to read more …

Neptune Party  

Sea the World  

German Mine  

Pacific Tour 

High and Dry  

Planes on Deck 

I was amused when I looked at the back of a postcard featuring Ray’s ship USS Nevada. There he had penciled in the names of 3 women. Sailors!

Ray's postcard: USS Nevada

Back of the postcard

C.A. Buckman

2919 Bank St.

Louisville, Ky


Miss Geneva Mooney

3117 S 3 St.


Miss Louise Woods

232 West Market St

Care Lincoln Watch Co


But why was Ray in Louisville, Kentucky? Isn’t that rather far from the ocean where the Navy would be? I researched Navy installations in Louisville. The Louisville ordnance depot wasn’t built until the 1940s. Ray was long gone by then, having died in 1927.

Then I found Camp Taylor. At one time it was the largest military training camp in the United States. F. Scott Fitzgerald was even stationed there for a time and mentioned it in The Great Gatsby. After World War I, the camp was dismantled and a neighborhood emerged with bungalows, many of which were purchased by soldiers returning from war.

Camp Taylor
Wikimedia Commons

But let’s get back to Camp Taylor in its heyday for a minute. Was Ray there? Did Claudia, Louise, and Geneva attend dances at the YMCA or YWCA? Is that how they met?

1919 - Hosteses at the YWCA at Camp Taylor
from historiclouisville.weebly.com

It seems the three young ladies all worked. Claudia and Louise were both sales clerks but not at the same store, however. Geneva was a stenographer.

Claudia Buckman (aka Anna, Annie, Claudine) lived on Virginia Avenue. The address on the postcard might be that of the rubber store where she worked. About 1926 she married Junius Thomas Oller. They had at least one child, Josephine, named for Claudia’s mother. However, the City Directory indicates Junius and Claudia probably separated before 1937. She returned to working life as a packer at a food plant. Claudia was living on 12th Street while Junie remained in the Buckman house on Virginia Avenue where Claudia grew up. She remarried in the mid-1940s to Walter G. Goodman.

Louise Woods (aka Mary Louise) worked at the Lincoln Watch Company and in 1925 landed herself a jewelry salesman named Harry Nashold, Jr. The two worked together in the jewelry store, at least for a time. In the 1940 census, Harry had moved on to plumbing supplies and Louise was not working. Louise died in 1946, Harry in 1964. The two are buried in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville.

Geneva Mooney (aka Thelma Geneva) never married. In her younger years, probably at the time she would have known Ray, she was a stenographer at the J.P. Krieger Saddlery Company or for B.L. Loventhal, realtor. From there she spent her adult years in the City Treasurer’s office. Depending on the census and city directories, her job was clerk, accountant, and finally Deputy City Assessor. Geneva lived her entire life in the house she grew up in on 3rd Street. She died in 1976 and is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Louisville.

Unfortunately, I am unable to unravel the mystery about Ray and these 3 women. One new thought I have is that given the fact that Camp Taylor was an Army training camp, maybe Ray was drafted first into the Army in 1918 in support of the war. Maybe he enlisted in the Navy later. I have found no support for this theory either way.

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 - TRAGEDY: A Charmed Life

Sometimes I think I live a charmed life. I have had no personal experience with REAL tragedy. Yes, my parents and grandparents died from cancer, but that was not “tragic.” No close family has died in a fire or been a victim of a mass murder spree. I had no family in the World Trade Center in 2001. No plane crash victims either.

However, many years ago, distant relatives experienced unspeakable tragedies.

The Roberts Kids  - The toddler children of my great-grandmother’s niece were hit by a train.

Mary Alice – The daughter of my 2X great-grandfather’s great-nephew was born healthy, but infantile paralysis left her mentally and physically disabled.

Death by Fire - Several distant aunts and cousins lost children due to fire.

Real McCoy – What is more tragic than the murder of a grandmother by her own grandson?

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, August 15, 2021

Sentimental Sunday: Two Steppes

This week is sentimental for the Steppe family. My grandfather’s dear cousin Vessie Jollette Steppe was born August 21, 1904.

Her son Andrew Jollette “Jolly” Steppe died on 15 August 1973.

Gilbert Steppe, Jolly, and Vessie


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Photo Friday - Sisters

In the Elk Run Cemetery in Rockingham County, Virginia, stand 2 tombstones belonging to sisters who never knew the other.

They were daughters of my great-grandfather Walter Davis’s brother Josiah Davis and his wife Elizabeth Frances Powell.

Mary F. Davis lived just one day shy of her first birthday having been born on June 8, 1886 and died on June 7, 1887.

At her back is her sister Cora V. Davis who was born June 20, 1891 and died a couple weeks after her birthday on July 12, 1892.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

On This Day: Uncle Renza

"Uncle Renza," my mother Mary Eleanor Davis,
her father Orvin Davis
mid 1930s

Lorenza Rydell McKinley Davis, younger brother of my great-grandfather Walter Davis, died 11 August 1947.

He married Chelie Ann Shiflett in 1892. They had 6 children. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Photo Friday: Josy and Kenneth

Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis buried 3 children. Josy and Kenneth are in Coverstone Cemetery in Shenandoah, Virginia. I do not know where their first child was buried, nor do I know the cause of death. Kenneth was born jaundiced. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

52 Ancestors - FAVORITE NAME: Hail to the Red, White and Blue

Decades following the birth of the United States, names honoring our heroes and places became popular. That is why we see so many boys named Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and even Fayette for Lafayette.

from wikimedia commons

Several women in my family carry patriotic names too. One is America Mallory. On November 14, 1833 she became the second of three wives of Leland Frazier, brother of my 3X great-grandmother Nancy Frazier Shiflett.

America and Leland had several children together but one daughter always stands out because of her patriotic name: Columbia. I can’t help thinking the choice was intentional for its patriotic associations. From the 18th century, “Columbia” has been used to personify the United States, often as a patriotic figure draped with a flag.

At the time of the American Revolution “Columbia” was a poetic name for the “colonies in the New World,” a nod to Christopher Columbus. Following independence, the name Columbia was assigned to many towns and institutions. Kings College in New York City was renamed Columbia College, now Columbia University. The area that became the seat of our national government became the District of Columbia. Pennsylvania, Missouri, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, and Connecticut all have a town or county named Columbia. South Carolina named its capitol city Columbia. Savannah, Georgia boasts a square called Columbia.

1890s political cartoon in which 
Columbia reaches out to the oppressed Cuba
(wikimedia commons)

In modern times the name has been applied widely from Columbia Records and Columbia Broadcasting System to the Apollo 11 command module and a space shuttle.

America and Columbia – those are two grand names that need to make a come-back.

World War 1 rercruitment poster
Uncle Sam isn't the only one
who wants you!
(wikimedia commons)

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, August 1, 2021

On This Day: Josy

Josy Davis was born on August 1, 1901.

Josy Davis

She was the fourth child and first daughter of my great-grandparents Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis.

Millard, Orvin, Josy Davis

She was also the second of their children to die very young.

This picture of my grandfather and Josy was always on the fireplace mantle in my grandparents’ home.

Josy and Orvin


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.