Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day 2015: Remembering Theodore W. Clarke and Phelps W. Long, Jr. Family members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Dear Grandparents,
These days Memorial Day is not just a day but a three day weekend and the start of the summer season. Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in the 1970s. I like BBQs, pool parties and picnics as much as the next person, but I also do not want to loose sight of what Memorial Day was meant to honor.

Postcard of first official Memorial Day held at Arlington National Cemetery 1868
Image from the Library of Congress Chronicling America Collection.

The tradition of service runs deep in our family. My daughter, niece, husband, brother, father, uncles and grandfathers all served. These lines can be traced back to the Revolutionary War and beyond to the French and Indian War, King Phillip's War etc. Two of these family members made the ultimate sacrifice; Theodore William Clarke and Phelps Wilson Long, Junior.

Fifer Theodore Clarke of the First Nebraska Infantry, Company C
Image is reverse of tintype in author's possession.
Theodore enlisted in the First Nebraska Infantry June 6, 1862. His letters to his mother and sister explain that he felt strongly about two things, preserving the Union and ending slavery. He lived through two of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War; Fort Donelson and Shiloh, only to die, probably of pneumonia, January 7th, 1863. Theodore's younger sister, Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton, is my 2nd great grandmother.

PFC Phelps Wilson Long, Junior, US Marine Corps
Image from collection shared with author by his sister, Shirley Long Collins.
Phelps had graduated from High School in Tallahassee Class of 1941 and enrolled at the University of Florida at Gainesville. He joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and seemed destined for a normal college experience. All of that ended December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Phelps enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and fought at Guadalcanal and then Bougainville with the Third Marine Division. He was killed in action on Bougainville, Solomon Islands, December 16, 1943. He is the son of my paternal Grandmother's sister Martha Marinda (Allen) Long.

Both of these family members had their lives ended far too soon. They did not get to experience the joys of marriage, parenthood and growing older. They left behind families who were devastated by their loss. Tomorrow on Memorial Day, let us remember them and their sacrifices. They should not be forgotten.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The "shot heard round the world" responding to the Battles of Lexington and Concord: James Clark

Dear Grandparents,
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts celebrates Patriots' Day annually on April 19th, honoring those who fought and gave their lives at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, deemed to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Many of us learned as school children Ralph Waldo Emerson's tribute to these patriots written to celebrate Independence Day in Concord, 4 July 1837.
The first stanza is inscribed on this Concord Monument 
The Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here the once embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe in long since silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

After the battles, word of the British attack and the subsequent casualties spread through out the colonies. Israel Bissell, a post rider from Massachusetts, was charged with the effort to carry the news as far south as Philadelphia. He rode through towns, villages and hamlets shouting, "The war has begun." He reached Norwich, Connecticut by 4 pm on April 20th. Soon 4,000 Connecticut men were assembling ready to march to the relief of Boston and Massachusetts. Among them, my sixth great grandfather, James Clark of Lebanon.

Acting as Captain of a company of militia raised from Lebanon, he marched with them to the relief of Boston arriving in time to participate in the Battle of Breed's Hill, once known as the Battle of Bunker Hill. He went on to participzate in the Battles for Harlem Heights and White Plains in New York. 

Long after the war, it was decided to erect a monument to those who fought at the battle. The cornerstone for the monument was laid 17 June 1825 in a ceremony conducted by the Marquis De Lafayette. According to Emma Lee Walton, writing in The Clark Genealogy: Some descendants of Daniel Clark of Windsor; 1639-1913 published in 1913, "When he was 95, a special escort was sent from Boston to Lebanon to bring him. He was a distinguished guest and was kissed on both cheeks by General Lafayette, who said, 'You were made of good stuff '."

James Clark (Moses 3, Daniel 2, Daniel 1) was born 15 September 1730 in Lebanon, the son of Moses and Elizabeth (Huntington) Clarke. He married Ann Gray 20 January 1757 and together they were the parents of five children, Jacob, Malinda, James, Jr., Moses and Anna. After Ann's death in 1767, he married a woman named Keziah and with her had three additional children, Wealthy, Earnest and Augustus. Keziah's children died in childhood, including Augustus who died while his father was away fighting. James died 29 December 1826 in Lebanon and is buried in the Old Cemetery.

I know many others of you were involved in our struggle to win independence from the British. I hope to discover and write your stories also.


P. S. for family members Cecily Cone 11 (Charles 10, Helen Newton 9, Mary Elizabeth Clarke 8, John 7, James Augustus 6, James Jr. 5, James 4, Moses 3, Daniel 2, Daniel 1).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ida Mae (Dye) Allen - Women's History Month Post

Dear Grandparents,
It's been a couple of weeks since I have had the chance to post an additional story for Women's History Month. One of the activities suggested by Lisa Alzo is to create a Genealogy Trading card for a female ancestor using The website allows one to make magazine covers, calendars and all sorts of things that could be genealogically oriented. It is free but you need to create an account. They have a gift center where you can purchase the things that you create but you can just download many of them.  I chose to make one for Ida Mae (Dye) Allen, my great grandmother.

The card only took a few minutes to make. Next time, I would more carefully crop her photograph. An entire deck of cards can be created for ancestors. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Dear Grandparents,
Tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day and many of us will be wearing green, celebrating with corned beef and cabbage and some with green beer. I have always felt an affinity for things Irish, the stories, the music, the dancing. As children, we had a wonderful babysitter who told tales of leprechauns, pots of gold and banshees. It was an affinity based more on emotion than on an identifiable Irish ancestor.
My paternal grandmother, Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone, knew she had Scots-Irish roots and she certainly looked Irish with her fair skin, freckles and red hair. I was a little surprised when I had my autosomal DNA tested by and my ethnicity breakdown revealed 21% Irish.
Ethnicity Breakdown for Cecily (Cone) Kelly from
Doing research at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia, I discovered a McCowan family folder in their Vertical Files. It opened to the first page of a letter written by my 4th great grandfather and Hazel's great grandfather, William McCowan, stating,

                "My name is William McCowan and I was born in Dungannon, Ireland."

From the ethnic percentages, he is not my only Irish ancestor. I have brick walls with surnames Allen, Barnes, Beatty, Carr, Clarke, Colby, Gibson, Jones, Patterson, and Young. Any of those, or others could be Irish.

So, while we are all celebrating our Irish heritage tomorrow, real or emotional, any tips you can pass on would be most appreciated.

Erin Go Braugh!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Helen Louise (Werst) (Pearce) Caldwell: Longest lived female family member Women's History Month Post #10

Dear Grandparents,
Today I am deviating from the suggested Women's History Month topics to wish my Aunt Helen a very Happy Birthday. She is celebrating the 87th anniversary of her birth with her son and daughter-in-law in Hawaii. Reaching this milestone makes her the longest lived female relative on my maternal side. The complications of childbirth and disease, in our family's case polycystic kidney disease, struck down many of our female ancestors in the thirties and forties.

Helen Louise Werst in arms of mother Ada Grace (Colby) Werst
circa 1928 in Spokane or Pendleton
from collection of Betty Werst Cone
Helen was born 10 March 1928 in Pendleton, Oregon. Her father, Cecil Oscar Werst, had died at age
27 the previous October 24th in Spokane, Washington from an infection that set in after having a tooth pulled. Grace and daughter Betty Lorraine were staying in Pendleton with Hal and Madge (Colby) Massey awaiting the baby's birth. Even with the support of her sister and brother-in-law, it must have been a difficult time for Grace. Recently widowed, and now with a new baby and toddler, she needed to figure out how to support her family. Grace eventually found a job in the big city. Leaving Betty with her sister, she and Helen moved to Seattle. Long before childcare centers, she boarded Helen with a couple during the day.

Grace and Helen in Seattle circa 1931
Only after the death of her stepmother, Ada, 4 December 1931, did her father William Wallace Colby ask her to bring her daughters and come home to Pine Lawn Farm in Newberg, Oregon. It became their safe haven.
Helen with mother Grace and sister Betty at Pine Lawn Farm
outside Newberg, Oregon circa 1939

Helen was educated in the Newberg schools, graduating from Newberg High School in 1946. She attended Northwestern Business college and then worked at Meier and Frank Department Store in downtown Portland until marriage.

Immensely proud of her son Ron and daughter Jill, Aunt Helen is also close to her nieces and nephews and has been an integral part of our lives.

Aunt Helen (front row center) hosted and helped us throw
a 35th wedding anniversary party for her sister Betty (Werst) and Chuck Cone
(Betty standing, 3rd from left and Chuck standing far left)
June 1985, 1732 Vallecito Drive, Hacienda Heights, California
photograph by Helen's son Ron Pearce
Once again, Happy Birthday Aunt Helen, You have achieved a record that we can all aim for.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Martha (Bynon) Allen: Women's History Month Post #9

Dear Grandmother Martha,
Today's challenge for Women's History Month is to take a family document and write a brief narrative about it. I chose to write about your death certificate for several reasons. First, it took me a long time to find it, mostly because I was looking in the wrong decade. You see, I had no idea that you were the longest lived of all my female ancestors, ninety-six years, two months and fifteen days.
Your husband, Jehial Talmadge Allen, had passed in 1913 and few of my female ancestors had outlived their husbands.

It was only in rereading my father's, Charles Newton "Chuck" Cone, Jr., baby book, meticulously kept by your granddaughter Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone, that I discovered you were still alive when he was born. One page contains a list of gifts sent to the baby upon his birth 8 June 1927 in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, most of us would not expect that a child born in 1927 would have had two living great grandmothers. Baby Chuck was lucky enough to have both you and his great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton, in his life.

Baby book for Charles Newton Cone, Jr. kept my
his mother Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone
in possession of daughter Cecily Cone Kelly

List of gifts received including from
"Great grandmother Allen: ring"
Expanding my search to the 1930s, I was able to locate your death certificate on line at It was a treasure trove, giving your birth date, 7 February 1838 and the names and birth places of your parents, William Bynon, Wales and Elizabeth Maurice, England. I realize that your daughter Elizabeth "Bessie" (Allen) Metcalf provided the information for the death certificate so it may not be completely accurate, but it has provided lots of clues.

The death certificate also states that you fell at home on 21 March 1934. I do not know if you broke a hip in the fall which is a common problem for senior citizens today.  Dr. J. H. Keehan wrote that senility and shock from the fall contributed to your death which was due to cardio and renal failure.
Martha (Bynon) Allen tombstone
Greenwood Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
photograph taken by Cecily Cone Kelly circa 2010
I want to concentrate on the amazing things you must have seen in more than 96 years living through the civil war and going from the horse and buggy age to that of automobiles and airplanes! I would love to be able to talk with you about all those things. I also wish that I had a photograph of you that I could share.

your 2nd great granddaughter,

Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton: Women's History Month Post #8

Dear Grandmother Newton,
Yesterday we were asked if one of our female ancestors left a diary, journal or collection of letters. Your grandson Charles Newton Cone (my grandfather), named for your husband Charles Shepard Newton, gave me your journal shortly before he passed in 1988.

Cover of Mary (Clarke) Newton's journal
in possession of 2nd great granddaughter Cecily Cone Kelly
Time has taken a toll on the journal, you began May 25, 1865. It appears to have been written in a lined book that was probably the precursor of the black and white speckled theme books we use yet today. I do not know if there was a special occasion for which you received the journal as a gift or if it was a self purchase.

Title page reads: Mary E. Clarke, White Lake
May 25, 1865 and to the side is added Newton
below is written again Mary E. Newton, White Lake (Michigan)
dated Nov. 16th 1865. What looks like it may have been
an additional line below is illegible.
Your first entry begins:

"Detroit, Mich May 25,
Dear Friend, In this idle hour, I will address myself to you... You will be dearer and more trusted that any of your predecessors. You will hear the records of the most eventful close of my girl hood, the beginning of my wife hood. My life now is so full of richness and family and it seems as if my capacity for happiness and appreciation, was unfolding day by day. Why is it that such rich blessings are heaped upon some while so many, so very much more worthy, are denied all joy?"

Beginning page of journal.
I love that you were concerned for others. According to your first entry, you kept other journals. Perhaps another family member has one of those. We can hope.
Mary Elizabeth "Molly" (Clarke) Newton
24 January 1847 - 29 January 1929
photo from the collection of
2nd great granddaughter Flora Long
I am working on transcribing your journal. It is slow and tedious work especially for those entries that were written in pencil. The last entry was made May 31, 1889 in Worthington, Minnesota on the occassion of the marriage of your daughter Helen.

"Our daughter Helen was married to Frederick N. Cone here before the vine orchard window at nine o'clock May 29th, 1880, by our well loved Pastor Franklin S. Fiske assisted by our cousin and friend Hastings H. Hart. Our little brown darling looked very sweet and womanly in her white (?) and white flowers and her large brown eyes glowed with a lively light from a faithful heart. We love and trust our Fred but Mother's heart will always miss her child."

Rereading this entry, makes me realize that though the marriage certificate for Frederick Naaman and Helen Brown (Newton) Cone says they were married at the First Congregational Church in Worthington, they must have been married at your home.

Thank you for leaving a record of your thoughts and times.