Saturday, July 11, 2015

New record found for Cecil Oscar Werst

Dear Grandfather Cecil,
Today you remain an enigma to most of your descendants who now number 22. Are you surprised at that number? Not bad for dying at age 27. As far as we know, there is no living person remaining who met you. You are so much a part of our genetic make-up but we really do not know you very well. We always thought your daughter Betty looked like you. Your grandson, Ron Pearce, plays banjo like you did. I'm named for you. Still we would like to know more about you.

Cecil Oscar Werst
b. 16 March 1900 Valley Falls, Kansas
d. 24 October 1927 Spokane, Washington
We generally feel that we have found every record that mentions you, census records, marriage record, death record... including the 1900 census where you are listed as a two month old girl living in Rock Creek Township, Jefferson County, Kansas.

Lines 55-64 Family of Louis Werst including
Cecil O, daughter, white, female, born Mar 1900.
"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 July 2015), Kansas > Jefferson > ED 78 Rock Creek Township Meriden city > image 12 of 35; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
In the 1910 census, you are living with your parents and six siblings in the Belma District of Yakima County Washington. Your father and three older brothers are working building houses, your Dad is the contractor and the others carpenters. You are among the youngest of three who are still in school.

Life changed dramatically for your family with your father's death 23 November 1916. Suddenly, school days were over and you had to support your mother and younger brother Alvin. Your older brothers were either married and supporting their own families or would soon be serving in the Army. I'm sure those were difficult days for you.

Luckily for us, they led to my sister Peg's latest find... an employment application for the Northern Pacific Railway Company in Pasco, Washington. Many thanks to for including the U. S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963 records in their online collections. Their shaking leaves pointed the way. We would have never thought to look for you in these records.

You were just 18 when you filled out the application, listing your birthplace as Kansas City, Kansas and back dating your birth to March 1899.The application includes your signature and describes you as being 5' 8" in height, weighing 140 pounds with 'MB' hair presumably medium brown and blue eyes. A comment is written on the margin that you are "under draft age."

Cecil holding baby daughter Betty circa July 1926
probably Spokane, Washington
The only other document that provides a physical description is your World War I draft registration card. The signature is recognizably the same as on the employment application. However, the description lists you as stout, with light gray eyes and light brown hair. The only photograph we have that shows a nearly full torso does not give the impression you were stout but I suppose those details were subjective to the registrar.

This latest record gives us hope that there will still be other parts of your life revealed to us. Hats off to Peg and for this latest find.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Dear Grandmother Newton,
Another of your great great granddaughters, Flora Dunlap Long, wondered about the origin of the Brown in your daughter, Helen Brown Newton's name. We, of course, wish we could ask you. Barring that, I will share my supposition.

Mary "Molly" Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton
b. 24 January 1847 White Lake, Michigan
d. 29 January 1929 Salem, Oregon
I believe that our great grandmother, Helen Brown (Newton) Cone, was named for your first cousin, Helen Marcia Hart, daughter of your maternal Aunt, Mary Crosby (Hornell) Hart. Helen, because of her marriage to Frank A. Brown, would have been known as Helen Brown when your daughter was born October 1, 1870.

Helen Brown (Newton) Cone
b. 1 October 1870 White Lake, Michigan
d. 20 January 1950 Coulee Dam, Washington
Your mother, Lydia (Hornell) (Ford) Clarke, and Mary Crosby (Hornell) Hart were among the five known children born to George and Sarah (Thacher) Hornell. Their brothers, George Thompson Hornell, William Duncan Hornell and Hastings Hornell, all died before they were 30 leaving no known descendants. The sisters were close though separated by distance.

Lydia (Hornell) (Ford) Clarke
b. 4 November 1819 Hornellsville, New York
d. 1 February 1893 Worthington, Minnesota
Mary Crosby (Hornell) Hart
b. 4 April 1824 perhaps Hornellsville, New York
d. 10 November 1875 Cleveland, Ohio
As the oldest child of Albert and Mary Hart, Helen was very aware of what was happening when her father went to serve as a surgeon with the 41st Ohio Infantry. In less than six months, half of the regiment was killed or wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. The letters Albert wrote home must have been filled with the gruesome details. Today, we can read about Helen's feelings during courtship, her early marriage, her relationship with her mother and news from the Civil War as her diary was donated to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College presumably by her brother, Albert Bushnell Hart, long time Professor of History at Harvard. I haven't yet read her entries but several authors have quoted from them in their own books.

Helen Marcia (Hart) (Brown) Wright
b. 28 September Clarksville, Pennsylvania
d. before Jul 1887 Hillsdale, Michigan
drawing form Hart, Albert Bushnell and Elizabeth Stevens.
The Romance of the Civil War. New York. Macmillan, 1914, p. 4.
She was used to epitomize the 'Northern Belle."
Helen married Frank A. Brown 17 November 1864 in Cleveland. Her father had completed his service with the 41st Ohio on November 9th but it is not known if he was home in time to give the bride away. She was widowed in 1867. I have not discovered the exact circumstances of the death of her husband but did find an item in the 15 November 1867 Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting on the shooting death of a Frank Brown in Nilea, Michigan. Perhaps, one of the cousins reading this blog will know the story of his death. 

So in 1870, it must have seemed natural to honor your cousin by naming your daughter for her. Sure wish you could tell me if my supposition is correct.


P. S.  Love that each of the women is this story is sporting the same center part hair style.

P.P. S. Helen Marcia Hart was not widowed long. She married Rev. Walter Eugene C. Wright
4 April 1872 in Cleveland, Ohio and they went on to have four children: Clara, Mary, Hornell and Albert.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Longest Marriage in my family Tree

Dear Grandparents,
Last week a friend posted a photograph of her parents who celebrated the 50th anniversary of their wedding last Saturday. That kicked off a discussion of which of my ancestors had the longest marriage.

The first couple that came to mind, was my paternal grandparents, Charles Newton and Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone. They were married 4 September 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee and she died 18 July 1980 for just under 53 years of marriage.

Copy of  Marriage License for Charles N. Cone and Hazel Allen issued 31 August 1927
Memphis, Tennessee from the author's collection.
My paternal great grandparents beat that record. Frederick Naaman and Helen Brown (Newton) Cone were married 29 May 1889 in Worthington, Minnesota. She died 20 January 1950 so they were married just under 61 years.

Certificate of Marriage for Frederick N. Cone and Helen B. Newton
dated 29 May 1889. The marriage was performed by Franklin L. Fisk, Pastor of the Congregational Church
Worthington, Minnesota. Original in author's possession.

A maternal first cousin once removed, Juanita Werst, and her husband, Ralph Silver, were married 12 September 1936 in Wallowa, Oregon. Their marriage lasted until her death 17 September 2001, a total of 64 years, 11 months and 19 days. Information about their marriage comes from her obituary which was published in the LaGrande (Oregon) Observer and is posted on Find A Grave Memorial #80539585.

My son-in-law Chris' 3rd great grandparents, Thomas Crammore and Sarah Caroline (Dismukes) Phillips, seemed to take the record. They were married 30 October 1851 in Meriweather, Georgia and their marriage lasted until his death 4 May 1921 in Henderson, Texas. They were married 69 years, 5 months and 15 days. (, Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978, 2013.) An index listing this marriage is also posted under Meriwether County, Georgia Marriage by Groom 1851-1875.

These are all envious records and all involved dates into the 20th century so I certainly did not expect to find the marriage of longest duration in my family tree beginning in the 17th century. After all, life expectancy had increased dramatically, right? Yet the longest lasting marriage among my ancestors began with the uniting of Ebenezer and Hannah (Ayer) Belknap 25 February 1690 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The marriage lasted until his death 17 November 1761, an astounding 71 years, 8 months and 2 days.

I know, you are skeptical! There really are several sources of documentation.

David Webster Hoyt provided the lineage of the Ayer family in his "The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts" published by the Genealogical Publishing Company in 1897. He lists on page 39 the descendants of Nathaniel Ayer including: 52 Hannah, "b. Dec. 19, 1672 [Hv]; ;m. Feb. 25, 1690-1 [Hv], Ebenezer Belknap. She d. Nov., 1779, almost 107 years old. [Hv]"

Under a chapter entitled Remarkable inftances of Longevity in "The History of New Hampshire: Comprehending The Events of one complete Century and seventy-five years from the discovery of the River Pascataqua to the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety" written by Jeremy Belknap, D.D. published in Boston, 1813, one finds, "In Atkinson, Ebenezer Belknap died at the age of 95, and his wife at the age of 107 (page 190).

The exact years, months and days of marriages provided are part of the genealogy software I use, Legacy Family Tree 8.0. There are a series of statistical reports that list, among others, "Longest Marriages by Century." It is a great tool (but I can always use your help!).


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Betty Lorraine Werst Cone would be 89 today.

Dear Mom,
Happy Birthday! Before the last five years of your life, I think we all expected you to be here celebrating this day that would have been your 89th birthday. Unfortunately, dementia robbed us and you of this celebration. It's been two years since you left us and slowly, very slowly, I am beginning to recapture the loving and supportive mother of my childhood. At the same time, letting go of seeing you in such a debilitated state.

For most of the nearly nine decades of your life, you were so vibrant.

Betty Lorraine Werst on left with mother Grace (Colby) Werst and sister Helen Werst
circa 1928 either Spokane or Pendleton, from author's private collection.

With her Grandfather William Wallace Colby at Pine Lawn Farm, Newberg, Oregon
circa 1935 from author's private collection.
As a coed at Oregon State College, Corvallis circa 1948
You were justly proud of being the first person in your family to graduate from college. Earning your degree in Home Economics with a major in Clothing and Textile Design and a minor in child development. That minor was put to good use during the 1950s when you and Dad welcomed four children to your family in six years.

Cone Family in LaHabra, California circa November 1956
from left back row Cecily, Chuck holding Trude, Betty holding Rusty and Peg in front
The sixties brought big changes for our west coast family. Moving to Willingboro, New Jersey was completely out of everyone's comfort zone. But you took it in stride, joining PTA, Community Concerts, the Home Economics Council and herding your four children to adulthood.

Cone Family in Willingboro circa 1963
From back left Betty, Chuck, Cecily, in front Rusty, Trude, Peggy
The seventies were busy, graduations, weddings and a move to Charlotte, North Carolina. The south.... another completly different climate and culture for a girl from the Pacific Northwest. Once again you bloomed where you were planted.

Wedding reception for Ed and Cecily United States Naval Academy Alumni House June 11, 1971
Proud Mom at Rusty's Naval Academy Graduation
Annapolis, Maryland June 1978
Wedding of Trude and Kees Schipper Willingboro December 1978
From left Chuck, Ed, Cecily, Trude, Kees and Betty.
Cone-Gorman Wedding June 28, 1979 Medford, New Jersey
From left Peggy, Trude, Betty, Chuck, Patty, Rusty, Cecily and Ed.

Betty at home in Charlotte 
The eighties brought the arrival of grandchildren, four in three years, and the dawn of Betty Cone's World Wide Moving and Health Care Services. Your children all benefited from your help with new babies, drives across country, packing and much more.

Grandchildren Kristen and Bobby Cone with Betty in Allen, Texas
Betty with granddaughters Colby and Amanda Kelly in Charlotte, North Carolina
The loss of Dad in October 1992, was a blow I can only imagine but you found a way to go on with life, have fun and still be there for friends and family. Keeping track of a family spread from Europe to California was no easy task. You visited all of us, found a new love at home and welcomed another grandchild.

At Peg's and Hugh's wedding in Roswell, New Mexico 1993
from left Betty, Cecily, Trude, Peg, Hugh, Paul, and Rusty
Trude, Rein and Mom in Amsterdam 1994

Doing Tai Chi in her seventies.

The last time with all four kids.
Back from left Peggy, Hugh, Trude, in front Cecily, Betty and Rusty
Golden, Colorado circa 2012
As much as we miss you, we are also relieved that you are no longer suffering.
Happy Birthday Mom!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Trude

Dear Grandparents,
Lots of things have happened in our family on June 16th. My 9th great grandmother, Alice (Richards) Bradford, was born in 1627;  9th great grandfather, Thomas Orton, married Margaret (perhaps Pell) in Windsor, Connecticut in 1641; and widowed 7th great grandmother, Elizabeth Janse (Douwz) Van Eps, married Teunis Pieterse Viele in 1693 in Albany, New York.

Image from U.S Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States 1660-1926

The family event that I remember most was the birth of my little sister, Trude Lorraine Cone. My family was renting a house in Los Nietos, a little town south of Whittier, California when my mother was expecting. Both my sister Leslie and I had been delivered by family friend Dr. Walter Brodie at Emanuel Maternity Hospital in Portland. Both sets of grandparents were in Oregon and our Dad was spending quite a bit of time at sea with the U. S. Navy. It was decided to take the family back to Oregon to await the delivery. Dad took leave and accompanied us north. I do not remember if he drove us (mother did not yet have a driver's license) or if we flew.

Dad had hoped that Trude would arrive before his leave was up and he had to return to the ship. As we all know, babies arrive on their own schedules and Trude had her own schedule from the beginning. Dad had to leave before she arrived on June 16th weighing 8 pounds 14 ounces.

Trude in her Mother's arms circa June 1954, Newberg, Oregon
Her red hair made an immediate statement and she has been making unique statements ever since.

Trude circa 1955 LaHabra, California
From left sisters Leslie "Peggy", Trude and Cecily at home in LaHabra circa 1959
Trude fell in love with dance and as a graduate of The Julliard School has pursued dance and the study of movement in a very successful career, Her sisters were not similarly talented and pursued their careers in other fields.

Celebrating her 18th birthday at home in Willingboro, N.J.
A much loved daughter, sister, wife, aunt and mother, Trude has conquered living in another culture, becoming fluent in Dutch, having a successful career in Holland, having a special needs son, Rein, and being widowed and finding another love. She has remained close to her siblings and nieces and nephews. An unabashed free spirit, she remains a delight in our lives. Happy Birthday!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Celebrating Anniversaries

Dear Mom, Dad and Ed,

Happy Anniversary! We share June 11th as our wedding anniversary. I do not know exactly you selected the eleventh as the date for your wedding, except that it was a Saturday. I do know part of the motivation. It never seemed to bother Dad that Mom was almost a year older, but it did bother Mom. Each year from June 8th (Dad's birthday) until June 23rd (Mom's birthday) you were the same age.
Charles Newton "Chuck" Cone, Jr. and Betty Lorraine (Werst) Cone
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Portland, Oregon
June 11, 1949
Photograph from author's private collection

Ed's and my motivation for selecting the 11th was much simpler. We were joining perhaps seventy-five U. S. Naval Academy Class of 1971 graduates who would marry in the two weeks following their graduation June 9, 1971. A lottery was held among the classmates and date and time were selected based on what was left when it was your turn. Wedding ceremonies began at 1:00 pm on Wednesday the 9th and continued on the hour in the main chapel and on the half hour in the smaller chapel downstairs. Ed selected 1:00 pm on Friday the 11th. It was an added bonus that it was also my parents wedding anniversary.

From left: Chuck and Betty Cone, Cecily (Cone) Kelly, Edward Kelly, Pauline (Haas) Della Penna and Carmen Della Penna
U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
June 11, 1971
Photograph from author's private collection
June 11th turned out to be an auspicious day to marry. Mom and Dad were married for more that 43 years before his death in 1992. This year Ed and I are celebrating our 44th anniversary.

A very special day for us, after 44 years, 2 children, 2 grandchildren, 8 dogs, 24 moves, living on 3 continents, we are still in love and looking forward to many more anniversaries.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad - Chuck Cone would be 88 today!

Dear Dad,
Happy Birthday! How many miles we all have traveled since you left us 23 years ago. We think about you nearly everyday and about the big and small ways you influenced our lives. You taught us so many things.

You taught us unconditional love. We always knew that you loved each of us. We knew what was expected of us... to be productive members of society, to be honest, trustworthy and loyal. We knew that we would hear from you if we slipped up and we would have done anything to not disappoint you.

You taught us love of country. Your dedication to our nation, through your service in and love of the United States Navy, was clear to all. I remember the first time I saw you cry. We were watching the funeral of President John F. Kennedy and the funeral cortege. I knew you were a staunch Republican but understood that day that patriotism goes beyond party politics. I'm certain that you did not vote for Kennedy but you were none-the-less grieved by his assassination.

You were only sixteen when you enlisted in the Navy and had to get your very reluctant mother to sign permission. With the  Grant High School class of 1944 behind you, boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center was your next stop. The Navy remained an important part of your life until you retired in 1982. You enthusiastically followed your son's and son-in-law's Navy careers and would be so proud of your two granddaughters who served, one in the Navy and the other in the Air Force.

You taught us your love for music. Though none of us inherited your perfect pitch, we all enjoy many types of music and dance. Two of us play instruments, and Trude has made dance her life's work. I loved singing in the Presbyterian Church Choir in Mount Holly with you. We fondly remember the Thursday night Barbershop Quartet practices at home. Each time we hear barbershop harmonies, we are once again transported to those long ago evenings in Willingboro.

You taught us the importance of involvement in community. From heading civic associations, coaching basketball, serving on school board committees, you made it clear that our communities were our responsibilities. We could not complain if we were unwilling to become involved. We needed to be part of the solution not the problem.

You taught us the importance of education. Each of your daughters, as well as your son, knew that we were expected to work to our ability in school. We knew that if we qualified, you would pay for our undergraduate education. We probably didn't yet know that you had gone to work while still in school to help your fiance pay for the remainder of her senior year in college. Or that working those hours, led to neglecting your own studies so that you had to attend summer school and graduate after her.


Perhaps most importantly you taught us that marriage is about love and respect. We never doubted your love for your wife and our mother. Your daughters learned by your example how gentlemen treat ladies and your son learned how to treat women with respect. We learned that marriages take energy and devotion and we have all had successful marriages. That is quite a statement in this day and age when more than half of all marriages end in divorce.

We have learned to go on without being able to talk to you. We miss that, but we know that you exalt in our triumphs and mourn our tragedies. We know you would love playing with your great grandchildren that are about to number five.

There are so many more memories...

PS... We also learned to drive to the front of the parking lot from you... whenever it works and we find that front row parking spot we send you an extra thanks. It worked for me today at Home Depot.