Tuesday, December 28, 2021

52 Ancestors - FUTURE: Jollett Etc Going Forward

Usually at this time of year, I write a “Year in Review” looking back at what I accomplished with this blog. But this time, I will look ahead.

I’m finally ready to say it. Over the past couple of years I have been thinking about ending my blog. Quite frankly, I feel storied out. Once in a while a 52 Ancestors theme will prompt me to check online newspapers for a story related to a distant relative or ancestor, but for the most part, I am not learning anything new. Pushing back a generation of Jolletts will require boots to ground digging.

Having nothing new to say is just one factor in my decision. Another consideration is other obligations. My DAR chapter has kept me busy as Registrar assisting other women with their applications and as the editor/reporter/printer of the chapter newsletter. I truly enjoy both of these “jobs” despite how much time they require. It has not been fun feeling like I “HAVE” to post a blog when I just want to spend time trying to prove someone else’s ancestor was a patriot of the Revolutionary War.

But that’s not all. I am taking on a project for the Greene County Historical Society transcribing some Day Books. They have been given quite a stack from various stores around Stanardsville, Virginia dating from the mid-1800s. Greene County was home to my Jolletts. I’m secretly hoping to find my family as customers at the stores. If I do, you'll be the first to know - right here at Jollett Etc.

Finally, in thinking about the future of my blog, I realize that most of my research is recorded there. As long as Blogger is alive, my blog will live too. But what if Blogger goes the way of Geocities? I decided I must do what other geneabloggers have done – create books from the blog. I have already done several books using stories about the Jolletts, but this time I want to save ALL my blogs by year. That’s 10-years’ worth. In that time, I cranked out 1370 posts and received 17,225 comments. I just started copy-pasting and formatting year one which was only 5 months and 52 blogs long. Whew – it takes longer than I thought since I also need to resize photos and think about formatting the pages.

I signed up for the 52 Ancestors challenge for 2022, but I probably will not even try to do them all. If I have something to say, I’ll post in the 11th year of Jollett Etc. For now, I am just happy that I blogged fairly consistently for 10 years.

I have made wonderful blogging friends, some of whom I feel I know better than people who live nearby. I appreciate my readers and especially those distant new-to-me cousins who reached out with information to share and requests for assistance. Making such connections is what I always hoped to achieve with my blog. So, please, stay in touch. I’m always available by email.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022!


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, December 24, 2021

Photo Friday - 1st Christmas in 1st House

Christmas 1978

This was our first Christmas in our first house. I was not sure whether this was our new apartment after we moved to Portsmouth or the new house until I noticed the new mailbox in the corner.

Merry Christmas y'all!


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

52 Ancestors - HOLIDAYS: Christmas on the Eastwind

Fred R. Slade, Jr

In December 1946, my father had been in the Coast Guard less than a year. He served on the Eastwind, a wind-class icebreaker shuttling supplies from Boston to the bases in Thule, Greenland. I don’t know what Christmas was like aboard the ship, but the Coasties made it festive.

Daddy took a lot of photos during his tour, including these 2 of Christmas trees on the ship.

Merry Christmas!

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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

52 Ancestors - LINES: George

Mary Eleanor Davis (1929-2005)
College graduation photo

My mother was beautiful. Always. As a baby. As a little girl. As a teenager. As a grown woman and mother. And right on up to the day she died.

Needless to say, she had lots of beaus before Daddy came along.

When the new owner of my grandparents’ house uncovered a 50-year old treasure trove of my family’s STUFF in the attic, my mother’s years of “sewing her wild oats” came to light. Stacks of letters from college friends showed that her high school honey Dickie wasn’t the only one to steal her heart.

Bob. Pete. George. Graham.

Momma saved lots of letters. I’m guessing some did not get saved at all. Judging by just the number of saves, you would think Graham was the #1 contender. However, Momma’s friends always asked about George. How are things with George? Are you still seeing George? When will you see George? What’s up with George?

Surprisingly, there are only 3 letters from George, all written in the summer of 1948. Momma had finished her time at Shenandoah College and was home for the summer prior to entering Madison College. Meanwhile, George was taking classes at Shenandoah. I am not sure whether he was trying to catch up or get ahead.

Given this week’s theme “Lines,” this letter fits the bill.

I won’t print the entire letter. George gets rather mushy.




For some reason or other I was very much in doubt that I would hear from you. I knew you for such a short time that I figured that you throught [sic] I was giving you a big line. I did rather rush things quite a bit but it was because I knew you were going to leave so soon.


Hmm – I wonder what his pick-up line was.

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 - Violetta

On 21 December 1989, my dear grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan died in Harrisonburg, Virginia.


4 Jan 1905 - 21 Dec 1989

College Graduation 1923
State Normal School Harrisonburg

1st year as a teacher

One of my favorite pictures
about 1951

Dec 1981

© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Photo Friday - Fourth Christmas

Gary and Jan in front of our tree
Christmas 1976

Since the pictures are so bad and the tree not very pretty in 1975, I’ve skipped ahead to our 4th Christmas. We had moved into a larger apartment. Our good friends Gary and Jan came over for a game night.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

On This Day - Orvin Davis

On 12 December 1899, my granddaddy Orvin Owen Davis was born to Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis in Shenandoah, VA.

About 1901

My favorite photo of Granddaddy

I don't know how old he was here,
but he was a young man, 
probably in his late teens
or early twenties.
Definitely in his prime!


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Photo Friday - Second Christmas

Christmas 1974

See the popcorn garland? We had invited Ruth Cooper, a retired school teacher who lived in an apartment upstairs, to come on down and string some popcorn with us. 


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

52 Ancestors - HOMEMADE: Carrying on the Tradition

I have been the lucky recipient of many family heirlooms passed down to me. Quilts, crocheted doilies, and tables have been featured in several of my blogs already.

Q is for Quilt

D is for Doily

T is for Table

I have also written about what an amazing seamstress my mother was. From doll clothes for Shirley Temple, Barbie, and American Girl to slipcovers, draperies, and bridal gowns, she did it all.

I is for Ideal
Before Bridezilla Roamed 

The creative gene must be strong in my family. Since retiring, my husband Barry has become interested in woodworking. His father was a finish carpenter by trade, but in his spare time he made little shelves for Barry’s mother’s salt and pepper shaker collection. He also made this coffee table.

Table made by Ervin Mathias

The wood came from trees growing on the family farm in Timberville, Virginia. An ice storm in the late 1970s or early 80s broke branches and damaged trees. Barry’s father cut down poplars, oaks, cedars, walnut trees, and maples. He took them to a sawmill to have the sawyers do whatever it is they do. Then he let the wood dry in an old chicken house. From the various woods, he made Barry and his brothers and sisters each a coffee table with a checkerboard center. No two tables are the same.

The construction of the table is much like a BIG project that Barry and I took on this past spring. Our daughter was drawn to some geometric wood art that kept showing up on Pinterest. Several shops on Etsy sell wood wall art ranging in price from $80 - $500 depending on size, materials, and complexity.

I’m here to say they earn every bit of that price.

This was the inspiration piece.

Our first plan was to use 1x2 wood from Lowes or Home Depot and then stain it in various colors. However, after I figured out how much wood we would need for a 24”x48” board, I realized this thing was going to be too darn heavy.

In a serendipitous moment, a neighbor walked by and saw us in the driveway one day working on some other project. Our neighbor has quite a collection of tools like you see in Ben Napier’s shop on “Home Town.” He gave us LOTS of helpful advice, including where to find ¼” craft wood in a variety of species. We didn’t even know such things exist.

We purchased a nice grade of plywood for the base and then drew the design, numbering each strip to correspond to the wood strips purchased from Ocooch Hardwoods in Wisconsin – maple, walnut, and mahogany. We were able to select the width and thickness saving us from having to rip the wood.

Design drawn on plywood 
and first pieces of wood glued in place

Following our neighbor’s good advice, we started in the middle and glued only a few pieces at a time, allowing an hour or so before adding more. We also left the outer strips long extending beyond the edge of the plywood.

All the strips glued in place.
We stained the center "medallion"
with red mahogany.

The neighbor trimmed the edges with his fancy shmancy table saw.

Trimmed and ready
for finishing touches

I applied 2 coats of sealer.

I rubbed on Danish oil 

Barry made the frame from just plain 1x2 poplar which we stained dark walnut.

With completed frame

Complete - 
propped up on our porch just to get 
a picture

We are pretty proud with how it turned out. Oh, there are some places where we had to cheat. Our neighbor warned us that no matter how careful we were, it would not be perfect. And it isn’t.

Finished and hanging
(Grandbaboo loves a ladder!)

I’m not sure it will achieve “family heirloom” status, but it had better not show up at Goodwill. I will come back and haunt somebody! 

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.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

On This Day - Mae Holland

Mary "Mae" Killeen Holland
5 Sep 1898 - 8 Dec 1980

On Dec 8, 1980, my sweet grandaunt Mary “Mae” Killeen Holland died in Portsmouth, Virginia of congestive heart failure.


Cliff and Mae with their children
John and Ebbie

Aunt Helen and Aunt Mae
Helen captioned this picture
"Masked Dancers"
about 1918


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Photo Friday - First Christmas

Our first Christmas in our first apartment


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

52 Ancestors - STRENGTH: Sallie vs George

Probably the strongest woman in my family tree is my great-grandaunt Sallie Catherine Jollett. She married, divorced, and raised three children alone in a time when divorce was a badge of shame. The story of what she endured is the stuff of Hollywood.

Sallie's wedding photo

At age 19, she married George Thomas Clift of Page County and moved to Shenandoah where George worked for the Norfolk & Western Railroad. They started a family right away. Within two years, they were the perfect American family with a little boy and a little girl. In five years, though, their perfect life was no more. Their two precious children died due to injuries from a house fire. Little Vernon died just 2 weeks after his 5th birthday, and Daisey followed a week later.

George and Sallie
with Vernon and Daisy

Although Sallie and George had 3 more children, their marriage was never the same. George’s work with the railroad required quite a bit of travel allowing him to explore a number of relationships with other women. For over fourteen years he kept many women on the side. The whole sordid story of numerous affairs is part of public record in the divorce case known as Chancery Cause 1913-07, Sallie C. Clift vs George T. Clift.

In 1913, Sallie discovered love letters hidden in various places around their house and property. There was no reason for Sallie to whimper and beg George to remain faithful. There was no reason to profess her love anymore. His treatment of her had become abusive over time, both verbally and physically. When Sallie found the letters, she also found some inner strength to take action.

Sallie tracked down the latest girlfriend and knocked on her door. Sallie demanded she hand over George’s love letters or she would tell the girl’s parents.

George and
a mistress

With over 160 pages of love letters, photos, and postcards, the evidence against George is overwhelming. One postcard came from a long-time girlfriend who always signed off with words like “Your true girl” or “Your little girl.”


From your true little girl. You can’t guess who

Mr. Cliff


112 [possibly Carlisle Ave]

Their affair lasted for around seven years, and in all that time, she apparently never learned to spell George’s last name.

The other postcards were sent to Sallie from George. To make ends meet, Sallie rented out some rooms, mostly to men who worked for the railroad there in Shenandoah. A cloud of suspicion arose about poor Sallie with neighbors whispering that she was running a bawdy house. Not so, but there it is. George even helped fuel the rumor. Letters from his girlfriend at the time show that he referred to Sallie as “the madam.”

The cruel streak that became George’s trademark is evident in each postcard. Here is a card in which he made light of Sallie’s economic woes.

On the front of an otherwise innocuous postcard that anyone might send apologizing for not visiting, he scribbled “Roomers Wanted.” The back is even more hurtful though. If Sallie wanted to know why George stayed away, it would cost her 50¢, the same amount boarders paid for a room in Sallie’s house. As if to rub it in, he claimed he was “living fine,” signing off with a silly “ta ta.”

If George had not proved himself one sadistic son-of-a-gun already, there is this postcard to bear witness:

Everything is fine [?] till you look on the other Side you___


“Release your clutch and retard your spark” -- These expressions when applied to starting an automobile mean one thing, but surely Sallie saw no humor in the mean-spirited commentary on their marriage masquerading as a playful double-entendre. Was it intentional that he addressed the card to “MISS” Sallie Clift?

Leonard and Raymond

The three Leonard children – Leonard, Raymond, and Alda - deserved a better childhood than the one they experienced. At the ages of 14, 13, and 8, respectively, the Clift children testified against their father in their parents’ divorce case.

Alda Clift

The testimony of 8-year old Alda is heart-wrenching.

Lawyer: Just tell me what happened when your father came to the house.

Alda:  When he come in, Mama said she was not expecting him home, and he said I come home when you are not expecting me.  Mama asked him if he wanted his supper and he said yesem, and he said what do you have for meals, and Mama said 25 cents, and he gave her 25 cents and she laid it up on the shelf.  Mama cooked his supper and he set down and he eat and he pulled out a pass out of his pocket and said Sallie I got a pass for Luray.  I am going to Luray and get me a divorce, and Mama went into the kitchen to wash the dishes and he got up and came out there, and Mama came back in the dining room and Papa pulled out his gun and held it up that away, and said I am going to kill you, and then me and Mama commenced to scream and I said Papa put your gun back in your pocket and then me and Mama went out doors, and he followed us out and when we got out to the gate he got his gun out again and then he said I dare you to come back in here, I will shoot your G__ D__ brains out; you or any other man.  Me and Mama went on down street and then we went hunting for Mr. Whiteside, and Eddie Bricker come to me and Mama first, and we found Mr. Whiteside and he went on up home.

Lawyer:  Where did you and your Mama stay that night?

Alda: Down to Aunt Vick’s (meaning Mrs. Decatur Breeden)

Lawyer:  Do you want to stay with your mother or would you rather go live with your father?

Alda:  I want to stay with my Mama.

Lawyer:  Why would you not want to live with your father?

Alda:  Because he is too mean to me.

All Sallie wanted was sole custody of their three children and money to help take care of them. Although George tried to blame Sallie, claiming SHE was the abusive one, SHE was the one who lost interest in their marriage, SHE was the one who abandoned him by refusing to cook his meals, the Court sided with her. On August 18, 1914, Sallie was granted a divorce a mensa et thoro along with sole custody of their three children. Plus she was awarded $7 a week in alimony. She had plenty of character witnesses who stood by her and attested to her noble efforts to care for her family on her own. She also had plenty of neighbors who witnessed George’s cruelty and violence toward her.

Even without 160 pages of love letters and postcards, Sallie probably would have won her case. But it didn’t hurt.

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.