Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Men How Very Different

I am grateful to these men for very different reasons. The man on the left is the brother of Henry Crawford Reynolds (on the right), who is my mother-in-law's grandfather. Archibald Spencer Reynolds was difficult for me to find when searching for Henry's family because he was first listed by his mother as Spencer on a census. Later I understood why, that was his grandfather's name. The rest of his life he was known as Archibald. He became a Reverend and loved being a minister of the gospel. He married twice, live in Alabama, Florida, and Texas. He loved his family. Now, why do I write these things, because one of his great granddaughters emailed me to say she thought that her great grandfather was the Spencer I was looking for. How did she know that? She had a autobiography that he had written and given to his son. What a wonderful gift! It gave me all the information that confirmed the family I had been leaning towards and answered many questions I had.
My own husband had a year before we knew he had cancer started on his personal history. I would say, "you have plenty of time why the hurry". He would say, "I feel I must get it done." Now that he is gone, I am grateful he took the time. Sharing feelings, information, and life experiences with others in the family by way of writing is a gift of great love and eternal worth.
Back to Henry. Henry chose first to be a farmer, then felt the call to be a doctor and went to school to become a doctor. He was not a well known doctor. He lived in Wharton, Texas and was a "country doctor" . His pay many times was a chicken, vegetables, etc. He too loved his family, was married to his life long sweetheart, and raised his granddaughter, my now 90 year old mother-in-law. How do I know these things? Not from him, I can't even find his medical records. It was my mother-in-law who loved him and her grandmother so very much. It was not hard to get her to talk about them. When Martha (the grandmother) first saw Henry, he had just ridden up on his horse to her grandfather's house looking for work. She was hiding behind a bush at the fence "looking". She said of him "He was as pretty as a picture". I am grateful to him for being an honorable and sincere man who tried to help others and taught the same to his granddaughter. I hope that I have learned from both men and will be able to offer history, love, truth, and service through my family research.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tombstone memory

This is my most enjoyable memory of searching for a tombstone.
It was a time of togetherness and learning. We visited the areas that my great great grandfather Hankins lived at and studied the times that he lived in. My wonderful husband and son had not chosen cemeteries as their first choice of activities but loved helping me accomplish the desires of my heart. I am so glad for the memories of this time we had together.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Stuff is a MESS

I have about 3 different areas of my family I would like to blog about, but due to a shift in my house and life, I do not have the energy to look nor the knowledge of where to start to find my pictures and files right now. That is what disorganization of your research results in.
I will just be off line for a bit or maybe my daughter may step in to help. Thank you for your friendship in helping me get started. Okay, I admit it, I can't stop, but I know I am slowed down.

Tree can be found on Salt Lake Family History Conference site.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, Patrick O'Brien Jr.

Tombstone Tuesday

This is the tombstone of the oldest son of Patrick O'Brien in Kane County, IL. It is always so interesting to find a huge stone for one member of the family and then the wife or parents have none or a modest one. Go figure.
We have not been able to fine Patrick Sr,'s tombstone.

I think I have done this correctly. I have wanted to participate in the activity and I think maybe with the new widget, I can.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Great Example of Never Give UP

Smile for the Camera has an event for "A Noble Life".

When I was 3 years old, my father was a starving farmer. My mother had pushed him to quit his job as a railroad superintendent, because she wanted him home more. After a year of trying his hand at farming it was quite evident that we would not survive. He heard of a job in Des Moines, Iowa as a Building Superintendent and decided that was a good alternative. He would go to Iowa, get stable and then send for us. He made friends with a local farmer, and one week end he went out to the farm with some other men to cut down a tree. It was in the winter. The equipment was an old two man chainsaw. It did not have a safety switch on it. They started sawing the large tree and soon it became evident the tree was not going to go where they wanted it to. They saw it start to topple in their direction and ran for cover not thinking to cut the saw off. My dad chose a smaller tree to get behind thinking it would shield him. He was not a professional logger. He saw the trunk slip, then with a loud thud as it cracked then it slid before beginning to fall. My dad said it was like a terrible disaster picture in slow motion. As the tree fell, its branches bent the tree my father was behind to catch him in the upper limbs. When it dropped, the tree he was behind acted as a sling shot, as its branches bounced back up slinging my father up into the air. When he realized what had happened to him, he looked down to see that he was headed straight for the running two man chain saw. It was going to cut him in half. Partly on self preservation and partly on instinct, he stretched his hand in front of him allowing the saw to amputate his finger so he could turn himself to save himself. It amputated his left leg at the mid thigh. The other men were in shock, so my father once again had to come to his own aid. He took off his belt and made a tourniquet and directed the other men to get the car and take him to the hospital. In a daze, they acted on his command. At the hospital, he assisted the doctor in cleaning the wound for surgery.
 After the long road of recovery in the hospital, he obtained a job in an artificial limb shop while going through therapy. He loved the work, and fashioned his own leg which he wore for 15 years. However, the job had its down side in that it depressed him to see those that would not try to walk with their artificial limbs. He decided to return to Oklahoma and work in a hotel washing dishes to put my mother through College to become a teacher. While working there, a local hardware shop had become interested in air conditioners. The man and my father were great friends and soon, my father was spending hours in the back of the shop learning how to repair the air conditioners. Earl, the shop owner, heard of a program the state had for disabled persons for becoming an Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineer. My father was accepted and once again washed dishes in a College cafeteria while he and my mother went to school. We were dirt poor.

I never knew it until I looked back. He earned his Engineering Certification in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and was accepted as head of the department in Maintenance of the the College he had washed dishes for.
Unknown, Bobby Cotton, Lester Langley

Lester Langley by an air conditioner on the college campus.

 I grew up friends with professors, and the College was my playground, because he always had me stay with him at work until he got off. He taught me perseverance, stamina, faith, and a belief you can become what you want to if you just try.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You Never Know Where The Answer Is

The Alamo Today
When I began the research on the Vance family in Mississippi, I was optimistic that I was going to be able to put it together quickly. A marvelous lady, Betty C. Wiltshire, has done enormous research and written volumes of books on the area. I found where Elizabeth Porter, shown below, was an orphan. Her father died in the 1840's, and her mother just a few years later. Elizabeth's guardian, John Vance, became her father-in-law. I searched and found where John Porter had lived in Pike Co. AL. Elizabeth was born there. That was where my trail ended. I would half heartedly search in South Carolina, where he was supposed to have been born, and I put out queries on the message boards. I received responses from her descendants, but none knew where her father came from.

Then all my walls came down with a Texas Icon. The Texas Alamo. The picture above is what it looked like as I approached the front doors full of anticipation. A fellow researcher, on a related line that I knew nothing about, had emailed me and told me; my answers were in the Genealogy logs of the Alamo Library (I didn't know that they had a genealogy library in the Alamo. It would not have occurred to me to look for our Mississippi ancestor's information in a Texas Icon anyway.) I was to look for Joshua Smith's file. My husband and I strode up to the beautiful wooden doors, and pulled them open. There are wrought iron gates with an area where you have to sign in to be admitted. The sounds of the city left us at the door and it was as if you were in hallowed halls. The librarian smiled as I told her what I was looking for and she said the genealogy of the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo were there. Joshua Smith was one of the defenders of the Alamo. Wow. She brought the file to me. Ned and I sat down and began to enter the world of Joshua Smith. He was a brave new Texan. He had come to Texas from North Carolina to make a life. He had purchased land in Montgomery County Texas not far from where we live wild. He also had land where the refineries in Texas City are now. He loved Texas and had sent a letter to his mom and step-brother John Porter in Alabama telling them of his endeavors. Our mouths dropped to our chin. Ned, a Texas History buff, was thrilled.
We found that because Joshua had not married, his estate had to be proved by his only blood brother. David Smith had moved to Texas after his brother died and then had to proceed to clean up the records. As it turned out, John Porter was the second son of James Porter of South Carolina and Rachel Gist. James died when John was young. Rachel then married an Alexander Smith. They moved to Tennessee where David and Joshua were born. They moved back to North Carolina where Alexander died. Rachel then married a Solomon Laudermilk and they had 3 children. That was an interesting point of Joshua's letter to John and Rachel, he was sending money back to John to help him, as John had taken on the task of helping Rachel and the 3 youngest children because Solomon had died. Mercy. I would never have found all this out if David had not done such a thorough job of proofs. It was a buried treasure in the Alamo. Not only did we find out that Rachel had died before Joshua, but we found out the character and nature of John G. Porter.
The most interesting note was, we knew John Porter died in the 1840's, but not that he died in service of his country. David noted that Joshua died in the Alamo, a part of the Mexican War, and John and James Porter had gone to serve in the Mexican War where they too were killed. What a sad time for David Smith, he was left the overseerer of a large and disconnected family. All but Elizabeth and a sister Emily moved to Texas.
Now you know, you never know where the answer to your brick wall is. You just keep chipping away.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Visits and Poignant Memories

When I was little, my father loved living in Pawnee, Oklahoma. We lived there until I was 8 years old, then we moved half a state away. We would go back to visit every holiday or family event. I would often spent several weeks with my cousins during the summer. We would go to the Indian Pow Wow's and fish, and go to the movies. It was always fun.
On the left you see my son, when he was 18, we went back to visit the old town again.

One of the sights to see was Pawnee Bill's Museum. My dad told me he knew Pawnee Bill and that when he was about 8, he would play with Billy, Pawnee Bill's son. He said they would play cowboys. He had lots of fun with him. It was after one of his visits that Billy accidentally hung himself from an old windmill. My dad always remembered the fun with Billy and the sadness of Pawnee Bill and May, who closed up Billy's room and never reopened it while May was alive. I checked out the dates recently and I know that my father was there at the time of Billy's death and that they were of the same age.

The old theater is still there. My father worked next door washing dishes after his lost his leg in a logging accident. He worked to put my mother through college. I can remember going to the movies here. I particularly remember a movie about werewolves and that I got so scared my dad had to take me home.
This was a neat place to take my children back to visit because there are so many historic ties of their family to this place with wonderful stories.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

WOW! My dream..90 years Young.

Ned and I between Ed and Mildred Ellsworth at our wedding.
Ed and Mildred on the right

Ted assisting Mildred into the Party

Little did I know when I married my Hero 39 years ago, that I would have a wonderful lady come into my life to influence me so very much. You are usually just focused on the new mate, and not on the family you are marrying into. My mother-in-law, while not perfect, was a caring, and loving in-law. She would avoid stepping into personal areas, but would tell us if she thought we had not done something we should have. She taught my children the value of thank you cards, of conducting yourself with a genteel spirit when out in public, of keeping your vocabulary clean, and of loving each other.
Today, we celebrated the 90th birthday of my mother-in-law. All four generations were represented there. She was a beautiful example of how to raise your children to be productive loving and caring adults. She was a great example to me of how to be a gracious widow. We have had fun times together. An example is, she was first on my cell phone list. I would be outside watering the garden, and I would hear my pocket making funny noises...when I pulled it out there she would be trying to get my attention because my pocket called her. She would laugh and say "you're filling my answering machine up" I finally, changed her to my third number to preserve her from trying to get to the phone.
The summer before Ned died, she was voted July resident of the month
She was so excited. A woman of 89, excited as a little girl at receiving an award. We drove 1 and a half hours to watch her receive it.
I hope that at the age of 90 I have the stamina, mental health, and joy in me that she does. She will tell you that she wins at bingo and skip bo weekly. With a giggle she says, "I worry that the others (in the Assisted Living Home) will turn me in as cheating." She is precious in our sight and we hope
you find joy in hearing about her.
My pictures are not ready, so I will post the party pictures later.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth Of July!

I will be with half of my family having a picnic and celebrating the Fourth in the style of my fathers ancestors...we will be at a Tea Party...Our version is inspired by the Boston Tea Party, that was inspired by Samuel Adams.
To the left is my great grandfather Levi Gildon. His gr gr gr grandfather set a precedence for our family in loving our country. Richard Gildon took to heart the expressed feeling around the first Tea Party and answered the minute men call in Connecticut! He fought at the battle of Lexington.
I have been a lover of the Fourth of July since a little girl sitting on the court house lawn in Pawnee, Oklahoma watching the fire works after a day of picnicking and fun with the cousins.
Now it is not just fun, but a wonderful opportunity to teach my grandchildren about why they celebrate.
Hope your Fourth of July day was wonderful too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Valley Forge Eyewitness

When we were a young married couple, my sweetie Ned wanted a good painting. He found an Arnold Friberg print. We loved it. It represented how we felt about our country, was beautiful on the wall. Arnold Friberg art

I started researching my family history and discovered I had an American Revolutionary Soldier in my mother's line, a Benanuel Bonfoey. He was among those who suffered through the winter at Valley Forge. How wonderful to hear his personal testimony given about the character of General George Washington. In the book 'Commemorative Biographical Record', it is recorded that Benanuel "referred with pride to the fact of Gen. Washington's concern for and care of his men, and that he was like a father to the soldiers, cheering or inspiring them with hope as best he could". 1

I am glad I had an ancestor that was a part of making this nation and inspite of hard ships, he looked upon his experience with gratitude for his association with a great man.

1. Commemorative Biographical Record of Connecticut Page 685 (I know this is not complete, but I like a thoughtless historian, did not write down the rest of the information)