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 bighugelabs.com. 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 www.ancestry.com 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 www.ancestry.com. 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.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hoo Hoo's Walnut Squares - Women's History Month Post #7: Favorite recipes

Dear Grandmother Hoo Hoo,
Today we are sharing favorite recipes handed down from our mothers or grandmothers. You were an inveterate collector of recipes who entertained often and were never afraid to try a new recipe on company. I am lucky to have a box of your recipe cards that I found after you had passed, some dating back to your mother.
It is hard to pick one recipe to share, but perhaps because I am dieting, I chose the treat that I often crave: Walnut Squares. I can still imagine their aroma, fresh from the oven, full of crunchy, chewy goodness.

Walnut Squares
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup Raw Sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1 teaspoon vanila extract
Stir together but not too hard
Add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir and add
1 cup chopped walnuts
Spread into greased 8" or 9" square pan.
Bake 20 minutes or longer until lightly browned and still soft.
Leave in pan and cut into squares or bars while still warm.
Store in tightly covered can to keep soft.

Grace (Colby) (Werst) Branchflower aka "Hoo Hoo" in her kitchen
at Pine Lawn Farm outside of Newberg circa 1963 probably carrying a
bucket of blue lake green beans freshly picked from her garden.
From the collection of her granddaughter Cecily Cone Kelly
Now if only you had left behind your recipe for Fried Chicken!


Friday, March 6, 2015

The Boy Next Door - Women's History Month Post #5: How William Wallace Colby and Mamie Elizabeth Hugunin Met

Dear Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Colby,
Today, we are asked to relate or speculate on how our parents, or in this case great grandparents met.
I know that you, William Wallace Colby and Mary "Mamie" Elizabeth Hugunin, were married 16 October 1884 at the home of the bride's parents. The date of your meeting was not passed down to the family. I wonder if either of you remember the day you meet. As neighbors, especially considering the more than ten year difference in your ages, it was probably a day that passed without special noting.
Plat map is from Blue Skies Kansas website which is now disabled.
In the center, notice the adjacent properties of Lydia Richards,
W.W. Colby, M. L. Colby and W. H. Hugunin
This portion of the Kirwin township plat map provides clues to your meeting. The first family member to arrive in the area was Lydia (Hunnewell) (Edgerton) Richards. She and her husband, Bela Edgerton, were among the early settlers near Kirwin. The couple was working hard to turn the prairie into a productive farm when Bela died of a fever at age 40, 5 December 1873. Lydia must have been panicked to try to face the winter and spring planting alone.

I expect she must have written  to her sister Fannie (Hunnewell) Colby explaining her dire situation.
William Henry and Fannie Colby were living in Logansport, Indiana where William was partner in a broom manufacturing concern and young William Wallace called W.W. was attending Logansport Seminary training to be a teacher. A record that discloses the exact date W. W. went to Kansas to help his Aunt Lydia has not been found. The 1880 census shows him working on her farm.

Mamie Hugunin moved with her parents, Van Eps and Sarah Amanda (Gibson) Hugunin, and little brother, Walter, to Kirwin sometime between her grandmother Jannetje (Van Eps) Hugunin's 29 December 1878 death in Johnston, Wisconsin and the birth of her sister Grace 10 May 1879 in Kirwin. They settled on a homestead adjacent to Lydia's property.

So you became neighbors. Both of you became teachers. Obviously, you also fell in love and were married until Mamie's death in 1917. I wish I new more of your story.

Love your great granddaughter,

Heirloom Piano: Post 6 for Women's History Month

Dear Great Grandmother Cora,
Today we are asked to write about a family heirloom we have inherited from a female family member. You were actually my step-great-grandmother. Though you passed before I was born, I remember your husband William Branchflower fondly. We called him Will Will. He was always willing to push us on the swings and read us stories. There seemed to be boundless patience with a pack of grandchildren.

Will kept your house much the way it had been when you were alive. So did Poppy (as we called your son Kenneth) after Will passed. As the oldest grandchild, I was sometimes allowed to walk up the street to your house, carefully turning the key in the lock, and tiptoeing into the silent house. I had to take deep breaths to keep from being afraid, but it was worth it to be able to spend the afternoon playing your piano.
1901 Busch and Gertz of Chicago Upright Piano
I know it took a lot for Poppy to trust me with touching the piano. He well remembered that it had been a special gift from your parents, William Pleasant and Lutharia Ann (Ruggles) Massey on the occasion of your marriage in 1904.
From left, William, Kenneth and Cora Branchflower
outside Newberg, Oregon circa 1944
Photograph from my personal collection.
When Poppy died in 1976 and the family was dividing up the contents of two houses, a barn, a three car garage and shop, and several out buildings, the most important thing that I requested was your piano. We arranged to have it shipped to our quarters at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and I have treasured it ever since. It has made every move with us, including being shipped to Stuttgart, Germany and back to Coronado, California. My daughters, Amanda and Colby, learned to play on it. I'll admit there are a few dings and I know you would not be happy about that. Still, the piano remains a treasured heirloom in our home and it will pass to Amanda in time. I should play it more often.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Marriage Certificate for Maternal Grandparents Cecil Oscar and Ada Grace (Colby) Werst: Post 4 Women's History Month

Dear Grandfather Cecil and Hoo Hoo,
Today we are asked if we have marriage records for our grandparents. Luckily you were married in Washington state and your marriage certificate was easily located at www.digitalarchives.wa.gov

We do not have any photographs from your wedding. I do not know if you had planned the event for a long time, or if it was more spur of the moment. I imagine two confident young people, secure in their occupations of salesman and secretary, were ready to take the next step in their lives. Your signatures seem to suggest that.

Cecil Oscar Werst

Ada Grace Colby

Your witnesses, the Bakers, were friends and there were no family members to watch and support your vows to each other. Grandmother, I wonder if there were some wistful feelings remembering the weddings of your sisters that had taken place at home. Knowing about your difficult relationship with your step-mother helps me understand your choice. But what about other family?  After all, your sister Madge and Cecil's brother Clem lived across the street from each other in Pendleton, Oregon. Just thinking...


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3, 1967: A Day that Changed My Life

Dear Grandparents,
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our normal routines that we only identify through the haze of time those days that have enormous influence in our lives. Friday, March 3, 1967 was such a day for me.

"Resolved: That the foreign aid program of the United States should be limited to non-military assistance."  This was topic that my partner, Margie Sussman, and I were prepared to argue when we traveled the ten miles to Mount Holly and Rancocas Valley Regional High School that day as members of the John F. Kennedy High School (Willingboro, New Jersey) chapter of the National Forensic League. Traveling to different high schools and colleges was a typical activity for Fridays during debate season. Students from several schools would meet at one school each Friday for these competitive debates which were judged for content and effectiveness. One side, pro or con was determined to have bested the other.

National Forensic League Chapter 1967
John F. Kennedy High School, Willingboro, New Jersey
Photograph from 1967 Gryphon Yearbook in my possession.
I am center front with partner Margie Sussman second from my left.
Terry Galvin is the young man in the far right of the photo.

After arrival, we were herded into a room and introduced to the RVRHS students who would be our guides for the day. They would be responsible for leading us to the various rooms scheduled for our debates which were presented to English classes. Earlier Mr. Brokaw, the resident debate coach, had recruited students from his classes to act as guides. Innocently sitting in his senior honors English class was Edward Kelly, not shy about volunteering to get out of class for a day. He was introduced as our guide.

Edward "Ed" William Kelly
Senior photo from  1967 Red Oak Yearbook
Rancocas Regional High School
Mount Holly, New Jersey

We enjoyed talking to each other as we moved from class to class. One of the members of our debate team, Terry Galvin, had attended grade school in Mt. Holly with some of the members of their team. As it was often done during that time, Ed asked him to find out if I would be willing to "go out." When word was received back through channels that I would, he called and asked me out. Suave and sophisticated in his approach, he asked if I would like to go out Saturday night. Not willing to be a push over, I countered "What would we be doing?" Without  missing a beat, Ed replied, "Let's run away and get married." Very much caught off guard, I just said no. Then Ed suggested the much safer bowling.

It is hard to imagine that it has been 48 years since that date. After 4.5 years of dating, 43 years of marriage, two children, two grandchildren, 30 years with the U. S. Navy, and 22 moves, I am still in love with the twinkle in his eyes. Today I am celebrating how a chance encounter changed our lives.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Was Lydia Hornell Clarke part Native American: Women's History Month - Post #2

Dear Grandmother Lydia,
The second of the Women's History Month's blog prompts us to post a photograph of a female ancestor and discuss it. I have two photographs of you that I have chosen.
Lydia (Hornell) Clarke circa 1880 probably in Nobles county, Minnesota
Lydia (Hornell) Clarke circa 1860 probably near White Lake,

Lydia (Hornell)(Ford) Clarke, as my paternal 3rd great grandmother there are lots of things about your story that have intrigued me: your youth in Hornellsville, New York, then the wilds of Michigan, your first marriage, the rough prairie life of Minnesota and finally, are you the source of our family's American Indian ancestor mythology. The tin-type photograph has been damaged over the years and your image is not very visible. It is the photo above that has intrigued your descendants. Our family, like many American families, has the story that there is Native American blood in our lines. Of course, you already know the answer to what is mysterious to the rest of us. It takes your descendants a few more steps to make such a determination.

As generations continued, the high cheek bones and dark eyes like are evidenced in your first photograph are often enough to suggest Native American background. The first step in this type of investigation is to look for opportunity. In other words, did the family live near Native American populations. In this case, your father, Reverend George Hornell, Jr. was a missionary to the Mackinac Indians on Mackinac Island, Michigan during your youth.

Though neither New York state nor family records give a marriage date for your parents George and Sarah (Thacher) Hornell, it seems safe to assume that it was sometime before the birth of your oldest brother, George Thompson Hornell, in 1815. My granduncle William Laurance Cone, who knew your daughter (his grandmother) Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton well, gives your birth date as 4 November 1819. This was before your family went to Mackinac Island to live among the Indians.

Today we have another tool that might reveal Native American background. DNA testing does provide evidence of Native American blood in our family. My brother, sister and I all have been tested and we each carry a very small amount of Native American DNA. The small amount would be indicative of an ancestor 5-7 generations proceeding. As my 3rd great grandmother, your parents or their parents would qualify. Another 3rd great granddaughter descendant of your grandson John Reuben Newton and a 2nd great granddaughter descendant of your granddaughter Helen Brown Newton had their DNA tested. No Native American DNA was found in their results. As my mother's mtDNA test also showed Native American markers, I have to conclude that my siblings and I have the Native America background on our maternal side and not from your high cheek bones and dark eyes.

So now I'll focus my efforts to learn more about the other parts of your life that continue to intrigue me..


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fearless Females: Following Lisa Alzo's Women's History Month Blogging Prompts

Dear Grandparents,
For the last six years, Lisa Alzo who writes "The Accidental Genealogist", has provided suggestions to help us share the stories of our female ancestors during March which is National Women's History Month.  Lisa's first question asks if I have a favorite female ancestor. I am fascinated by the stories of all my ancestors however, my grandmothers have been important influences in my life.

Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone
(image was incorrectly labeled Hazel "Bynom" Allen)
My paternal grandmother, Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone, daughter of Chester Bynon and Ida Mae (Dye) Allen, was born 5 February 1896 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She grew up in Knoxville and Johnson City, Tennessee before her family finally settled in Memphis. Her mother was injured in a train accident and was an invalid for many years. Young Hazel cared for her mother and raised her sister Dolly who was ten years younger. She became an elementary school teacher and taught until she married Charles Newton Cone. After a whirlwind romance of two weeks, Hazel and Charles were married 4 September,1926 and she left friends and family for Seattle, Washington.

Petite, red-headed, and strong-willed, Hazel was a force to be reckoned with. It was clear from birth that I was going to be short of stature, so I admired her influence over my grandfather, father and uncle all of whom were six feet or more. She convinced me that I could achieve anything I wished for and was willing to work at.

Ada Grace (Colby) (Werst) Branchflower
My maternal grandmother, Ada Grace (Colby) (Werst) Branchflower, daughter of William Wallace and Mary Elizabeth (Hugunin) Colby, was born on the family farm near Kirwin, Phillips county, Kansas 21 October 1902. She was the fifth and final daughter born to her parents and a full ten years younger than her next sibling. She was doted on by her older sisters, three of whom became teachers.

Her mother was suffering from polycystic kidney disease and was often away seeking treatment in Kansas City or Denver. After an operation at the Swedish Hospital in Kansas City, the family was advised to move to Oregon where the milder climate was supposed to have been beneficial to Mamie Colby's health. They settled on "Pine Lawn Farm" outside of Newberg, Yamhill county in 1911.

Grace's world changed terribly at age 15 when her mother died suddenly. The distraught young woman kept house for her father while continuing high school. He gave her a dog to help ease her loneliness. When she left home for Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), her father married her mother's best friend and her own namesake Ada (Keeler) McNay. Evidently, Grace was only informed of the marriage after the fact. Any hope of a successful step-mother relationship ended when one of Ada's first acts was to give away Grace's beloved dog. Heartbroken, Grace never forgave her stepmother and never set foot in her father's home again until after Ada's death.

There is much more to tell of Grace's story but for now I want to focus why she is one of my favorite female ancestors. I inherited my love of family history from her. As the oldest of the grandchildren, I was over napping when most everyone else was still required to sleep in the mid-afternoon. I was allowed to look at the scrap books filled with carefully preserved photographs of her family. She was happy to answer my questions about life on the farm, Kansas, her parents and her sisters. She told me of her grandfather's service in the Civil War and his grandfather's service in the Revolutionary War. The stories fascinated me then and do to this day.

More stories will be shared.