Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13th is Santa Lucia Day in Norway

School girls celebrating Santa Lucia Day in Norway

Dear Grandparents,
Many of your descendants do not think of our family as having ancestors of Norwegian origin. We do however have such a connection through Arent Andriese Bradt. He has been found among the Dutch settlers in Rensselaerswyck, which became Albany, New York. Recent research has discovered that he was born in Frederickstadt, Ostfold, Norway. This community is south of Oslo near the Swedish border, north of Gothenburg.

Arent Bradt is my 8th great grandfather and is supposed to have been a seafaring man, who arrived in March 4, 1637 in New Amsterdam and made his way to Rensselaerswyck. He came to what is now New York with Albert Andriese Bradt who is supposed to have been his brother. About 1648, he married Catalyntje de Vos daughter of Andries de Vos who was referred to as a member of the court at Rensselaerswyck in other words a man of some reputation and position in the community.

The family moved on to Schenectady, where Arent died in 1662. After his death, she inherited the grants of land that he had held. On November 12, 1664, when she was about to marry Barent Janse Van Ditmars, Catalyntje contracted with her Bradt children's guardian to "set off for them from her estate one thousand guilders."

The marriage contract between Catalyntje de Vos Bradt and Barent Janse Ditmars, list the following children: Aeffie, aged 15 years; Ariantje, aged 13 years; Andries Arentse, aged eleven years; Cornelia, aged nine years; Samuel, aged 5 years; and Dirk, aged 3 years.

This information comes from Vol. II of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1866, call number 974.74 D3). The book contains four volumes and is available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake. It is has also been digitized and is available from the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

So if you suddenly have a craving for those delicious, saffron flavored Santa Lucia buns in December, you'll know you come by that craving honestly.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

We say goodbye to another World War II Veteran, James Paul Edward Reynolds

Dear Grandparents,
Please welcome sister-in-law Barbara's father, James Paul Edward Reynolds. Jim was born in Philadelphia November 25, 1924 to John J. and Madeline Catherine (Murphy) Reynolds. His father died when he was only three and he and his two brothers and sister were raised by their mother and maternal grandfather, Michael Lawrence Murphy.

Jim enlisted in the Navy October 22, 1942. After boot camp he reported to the Battleship Iowa and was among the crew when the ship was commissioned at New York Navy Yard February 22, 1943 (date was chosen because it was George Washington's birthday). Sailors who are part of the commissioning crew of a ship are termed "plank owners" and Jim Reynolds was a proud plank owner for USS Iowa BB-61. His duty aboard the Iowa provided him with a glimpse of history.

The ship left New York on February 24th for its 'shakedown' cruise along the Atlantic Coast and into the Chesapeake Bay. I expect that until that time, New York was the farthest Jim had been from his home in Philadelphia. The ship returned to the New York Navy Yard for an overhaul to fix those problems that had been discovered since commissioning. By July 9th, Iowa and her crew were ready to take their place in the war effort.

In August, USS Iowa participated in her first war patrol. She was assigned to limit the effectiveness of the German battleship Tirpitz which was staged in Norwegian waters, Norway being occupied by the Nazis. After contributing to the neutralization of the Tirpitz threat, Iowa returned to the United States and the Norfolk (Virginia) Navy Yard for maintenance, including the installation of a bath tub, in preparation for transporting President Franklin Roosevelt and the rest of the American delegation to Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria and then to Tehran. Did Jim have the opportunity for a brief shore visit in Algeria or get to see the President?
Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, U. S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
 at the Tehran Conference between November 28 and December 1, 1943.
 Photo from

The Conference allowed the three nations to coordinate their efforts against the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. It committed Great Britain and the United States to opening an offensive in France in 1944 forcing Germany to fight on two fronts and providing the Russians with some respite. In return, the Soviet Union was to join the war against Japan. Stalin also gained concessions on Eastern Europe that were to be finalized at a later conference.

Imagine the atmosphere on board the Iowa, new crew, new ship, steaming through war torn waters with not only many civilian members of the government but the actual President! Things must have been very tense.There were many sighs of relief when Iowa docked in Norfolk December 16th with the President safe and sound.

There was probably some chances for liberty over the Christmas Holidays while the ship was in port. We don't know if Jim was able to return to Philadelphia before the ship left for the Pacific Ocean January 2nd, 1944. USS Iowa was assigned as the Flagship of Battleship Division 7, which also included USS New Jersey. Her passage through the Panama Canal to the Pacific made her the only American Battleship that fought in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Sailors attending Mass aboard USS Iowa circa 1944
There is a good chance that Seaman Jim Reynolds is in this crowd.
Photo from

Less than two weeks later, the Iowa was supporting the carrier air strikes against Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls. February 16th, she had her first opportunity to fire her big guns in combat during an attack on the Japanese Naval Base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. It was in the waters offshore of Truk, that she sank the Japanese light cruiser Katori.
It was during this first shore bombardment against Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands that the USS Iowa received her first hit on March 18th. Two Japanese projectiles (one 5 inch, one 6 inch) struck the ship, the first hitting the hull plating and the second hitting Turret 2. Luckily, neither caused significant damage.

The next three months were filled with action, including strikes against Palau, Woleai, Hollandia, Aitape and Wake Islands. USS Iowa supported the U. S. Army landings at Aitape, Tanahmerah and Humbolt Bays. They bombarded the airfield, wharf and other enemy facilities at Ponape. Shelled Saipan and Tinian and blew up an ammunition dump. In the Phillippine Sea they downed three attacking planes. The crew hardly had time to eat or sleep.

Action continued through the summer and into the fall. September saw USS Iowa becoming apart of Fleet Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey's Third Fleet striking the Philippines and Caroline Islands. Then it was on to Ryuku Islands, Taiwan and Luzon. October 23rd, they headed for Leyte Gulf.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of World War II and perhaps the largest naval battle in history. Once again, Jim Reynolds was not only a witness but a participant in this historic struggle pitting the United States and Australian Navies against the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Allies had 8 fleet carriers, 8 light carriers, 18 escort carriers, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers, 141 destroyers and destroyer escorts as well as PT boats, submarines and about 1,500 planes. On the other side, the Japanese had 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 9 battleships, 14 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers, more that 35 destroyers, and more that 300 planes. The Battle raged over hundreds of miles from October 23rd to the 26th.

The Allies suffered 2,800 casualties and lost 1 light carrier, 2 escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and 1 destroyer escort sunk. More than 200 allied planes were lost. The Japanese lost 12,500 men, 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 3 battleships, 10 cruisers, 11 destroyers sunk and more than 300 planes destroyed. It was an epic battle. This was the greatest loss of ships and crews ever suffered by the Japanese and led to the United States retaking the Philippines.

USS Iowa in camouflage paint circa 1944
The crew must have been exhausted by the time the anchored at Ulithi for replenishment and maintenance. There was no time to rest as they were hit by a typhoon and lost a plane that was washed over board. The website has a quote from an unnamed crew member who recounts, "It was a very scary night, the Iowa rolled to about a 45 degree angle at one point and we all held our breaths that it wouldn't happen again. As our luck went, it happened at meal time so you can imagine the condition of the deck in the mess hall." The Iowa was lucky, she escaped the storm with just damage to her shaft. In all, 24 ships were damaged and the destroyers Monoghan, Hull, and Spence were sunk and 765 sailors lost their lives.

The damage caused USS Iowa to return to the United States for repairs at the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. The ship was in drydock for the first three months of 1945. However, the war was not over for the Iowa and her crew. By April 15th they relieved the USS New Jersey off the coast of Okinawa. In May they supported air strikes against the Japanese Island of Kyushu (this gives me pause as I write because Ed and I lived in Sasebo, Kyushu from 1973-4).  Then it was time to take the war to the northern Japanese Islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. Acting in concert with USS Missouri, and USS Wisconsin, Iowa attacked Muroran on Hokkaido destroying the Nihon Steel Company and Wanishi Ironworks severely limiting the Japanese industrial machine. 
Steaming up Tokyo Bay

Finally, on August 29, 1945 USS Iowa and USS Missouri entered Tokyo Bay for the surrender of the Japanese and the landing of occupation forces. Though the papers of surrender were signed on the Missouri, Iowa and her crew stood by her side.
Line 30 of this Report of Changes of U.S.S. Iowa (BB61) lists
Reynolds, James Paul Service Number 244 38 81, Rating S2c V6 dated September 1, 1945
Image from

It had been quite a war for young Jim Reynolds who did not turn twenty-one until November 24, 1945. 

Jim passed away during the night on Tuesday, December 3rd. He will be missed by friends and family for his irrepressible personality. I'm sorry I can not be at the celebration of Jim Reynold's life today. I hope reading this will help the family understand more about his adventures and the contribution to our country he made as a young man.


The USS Iowa is now a floating museum in Los Angeles and is home to the Pacific Battleship Center. Located at 250 S. Harbor Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90731. It is open for visitation every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. My Dad also served on USS Iowa, but after the war. Still I hope to visit next time I'm in California.

Pennsylvania Veteran Compensation Applications for World War II now on

Dear Grandparents,
Yesterday Ed's brother-in-law Al Chamberlain sent the photo below of Ed's Uncle Donald.
Chief Machinist's Mate Donald E. Haas, USCG receives retirement congratulations from
Commander Franklin J. Miller, USCG, Shipping Commissioner for New York March 5, 1964
Along with the photograph came the image of a Coast Guard press release which summarizes Donald's service to our nation.

Viewing it helped me remember what a character Uncle Donald was. Ed's parents had been divorced before he was a teenager so I expect that Pauline had recruited, no, make that drafted, Uncle Donald to have that "Father to Son" talk with him. One can imagine that after twenty years in the service, the primary subject was keeping clean and avoiding disease. When we were first dating, Uncle Donald wanted to treat us to an evening meal. I think he was really trying to decide if I was an acceptable date for his nephew. He took us to watch the "trotters" at one of the race tracks in Pennsylvania and taught us how to bet on horses and what to look for. I don't remember any of us winning even $2 at the track that night.

While entering the information in my family tree, I did another search for additional records and up popped an entry for Donald Edward Haas in a new data base, the Pennsylvania Veteran Compensation Applications for WWII. They even provide the transcription of the text in the document.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania World War II Veterans' Compensation Bureau Application for World War II Compensation to be used by Honorably discharged Veteran or person still in Service 1. Name of Applicant: Haas, Donald Edward 2. Address to which Check and Mail to be Sent: 6062 Girard Avenue, Phila. 31 PA 3. Date and Place of Birth: November 2, 1924, Philadelphia, Pa. 4. Name Under Which Applicant Served in World War II: Haas, Donald Edward 5. Date of Beginning and Ending of Each Period of Service between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946:: 4-22-43 to 4-17-43 1-31-44 to 3-15-44 -- 2-13-15 to 5-31-45 7-27-46 to 10-23-46 7. Date and Place Applicant entered Active Service: April 22, 43 Phila. Pa. 8. Service of Serial Number assigned to Applicant 817-58-02 crossed out 8175802 written in. 9. Date and Place Applicant was Separated form Active Service: April 20, 1949 10. Is Applicant Now Serving in Armed Forces on Active Duty? Yes is checked. 11. Mark X Above to indicate Sex and Branch of Service Male X, Navy X 12. Applicant's Residence at Time of Entry into Active Service: 6062 Girard Avenue, Phila, 31 PA. 13. Applicant was registered Under Selective Service as Follows: #137 Phila, USA PA Date Application was received: May 2, 1950 Batch Control Number: 22943 Active Domestic Service: 9 Months $90.00 Active Foreign Service 26 Months $390.00 Total Amt. Due: $480. Audited by DB?? Approved for Payment: Jul 27, 1950

This is a treasure trove for my husband's side of the family who all came from around Philadelphia. A quick search also led me to the records for Ed's step father, Carmen Anthony Della Penna
Application list's Carmen as having entered the Navy in Sampson, New York
and having been discharged at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas

and Uncle Jack Beaumont
John Joseph Beaumont, Jr. entered the Army at Camp Lee, Virginia
and was discharged from the 1318 SCU Hospital Center at Pickett, Virginia

Unfortunately, I will have to wait to find the application of Ed's father Edward Ebert Kelly, as Ancestry has only entered the records through the letter H.

On this 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, while another family member, James "Jim" Reynolds' Pennsylvania World War II and USS Iowa BB-61 veteran's life is being celebrated, I am thankful again for their service and the records that will help us fill in the many blanks.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Surname Posters - Another way to share your genealogy

This is a bit of departure from my usual posts. I am always searching for new ways to share the information I have learned about our ancestors with my family.
Surname Poster for each of my Grandparents namely
Cecil Oscar WERST, Ada Grace COLBY, Charles Newton CONE and Hazel Bynon ALLEN
These were fairly inexpensive and included the frames. Called "Speech Bubble Canvas" they can be ordered from Lillian Vernon and come in various colors. They are listed at $19.95 but during Cyber Monday, I believe they are 20% off. They are 16 inches by 16 inches on canvas and you can add 15 surnames (or whatever words you want) I started my list with the surname in the middle of each canvas, followed by the surname of that person's spouse which appears in large and in green above the central surname. The names are repeated in various patterns. 

It seems an easy an expensive way to share your surnames with your family.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surname Saturday - WERST

Dear Grandparents,
While researching the origins of grandparents, one always hopes to come across notes from cousins who are researching the same lines.  I was lucky enough to come across the query below written by cousin Martha (Werst) Jackson. Her great grandfather George Washington WERST is my 2nd great grandfather so we are are first cousins once removed. Martha was an excellent genealogist and well known for her books on Allen and Simpson Counties, Kentucky. How fortunate to have a summary of her detailed research on the WERST family. Her query was found in:

Bound Book
Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter
Spring 1996 Vol. 28, Number 1

The WERST Story

This story of the WERST family is being told because there are so many ties to Brethren families, that someone, somewhere, will have to see an item which I have not noticed. To date I have collected over 50 spellings of this surname.

The earliest record I have of Tobias is his War of 1812 service with Capt. Robert McGUIGAN, 123rd ; 81st Regts, Pennsylvania Militia, Commanded by Lt. Col James MONTGOMERY. He served from 12 to 24 Nov 1814 (PA Archives Series VI; Pension papers of wife, Nancy (CARR) WERST dated 23 Mar 1857, Wabash Co. IN) serving under the name WERSHT. He enlisted from Heidelberg Twp., Northampton Co, PA and was discharged at Danville, Northumberland Co, PA in 1814 when Nancy states he was "disabled". He was a Private.

Nancy sated, in her request for Bounty Land, that they were married by Rev. John BRYSON, Minister of the Gospel, in Dec 1819. However, their oldest son, Joseph Carr WERST, was b. 22 Sep 1816, per the Bible record belonging to Frances McKILLIP of Kokomo, IN (deceased in 1988).

In the 1820 census Tobias & Nancy were living in Turbet Twp, Northumberland Co., PA. Next door was "John CARR, whose wife was Jane." By 1830 they were living in Darke Co, OH where their daughter, Catherine Frank WERST (1830) and son, Francis Marion WERST (1836) were born.

Tobias WERST was born, by his Bible record 9 May 1793 Northampton Co., PA. He died in Wabash Co, IN 20 Apr 1855 and is buried in the Ogan section of the Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery on Hwy 13. Nancy (CARR) WERST was born 5 Feb 1791, the d/o Joseph CARR, whose whereabouts I have been unable to learn.

Children of Tobias & Nancy WERST:

1. Joseph Carr, born 22 Sep 1816 Northampton Co, PA, married Louisa Catherin MERCER in Wabash CO, IN about 1860. Daughter, Mary Ann, 16 Nov 1861 - 10 May 1866 is buried in the Ogan section. Louisa's marker was below ground.

2. George Washington, b. 3 Nov 1818 "near Keystone Run" Northampton Co, PA, md/1 Elizabeth PUDERBAUGH, d/a Jacob, Jr., on 7 Dec 1841, Greenville, Darke Co, OH. He md/2 Mary McFARLAND, his first wife's niece, d/o Susannah &?; James. "Betsy" died on 20 Oct 1861 and is buried in the above cemetery. She was the d/o Jacob Puderbaugh; Magdelena (SCHLECHTY) of Neave Twp. Mary McFARLAND was born 27 Oct 1833 and died 23 Jan 1912 Jefferson Co. KS. George died 27 Mar 1900 and they are buried in the Ozawkie Cemetery. He was the executor for his father-in-law, Jacob PUDERBAUGH, Jr.

3. Andrew Jackson, b. 5 Apr 1821 Northampton Co., PA, md. 31 Dec 1843, Butler Twp, Darke Co, Mary HARTER. He died 19 Feb 1905 Wabash Co and is buried in the Friends Cemetery.

4. Decatur, b. 18 Feb 1823 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA Died 23 May 1824.

5. Stephen Decatur, b. 22 May 1826 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA, md. 8 Nov 1848 by John Rosier, JP, Darke Co., OH Lydia PUDERBAUGH. She was the sister of Betsy and d/o Jacob and Magdelena. He died 8 Jul 1914 and both are buried in the Bowman Cemetery, South Bend, IN. Stephen worked at the STUDEBAKER factory where he was a Master Wagon maker who spoke only German.

6. Sidney Ann, b. 15 Mar 1828 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA, md. 23 Aug 1849 John ANDERSON. She d. 14 Sep 1890 Dayton, OH.

7. Catherine Frank, b 8 Dec 1830 was a school teacher, unmarried. She died 20 Sep 1901 at Andrew's house, Wabash, IN. She is also buried in the Friends Cemetery.

8. Francis Marion, b. 3 Aug 1836 Darke Co,  OH, md. Permelia Andres FISHER b. 3 Sep 1835 d. May 1913. Frank died 11 Dec 1919 at the Marion Soldiers Home, Grant Co and is also buried at Mississinewa, Ogan section. They had 2 children, Albert Carr and Ida Ellen. They were the grandparents of Frances McKILLIP.

Decatur WERST is listed in the 1850 Wabash Co, IN census along with his wife Lydia PUDERBAUGH and a son, Francis M. 2/12. A stone in the WERST row at Mississinewa, reads, "Melissa, d. 8 Mar 1859 d/o D. ?; L. WERST." Tobias, his father, probably came later to Wabash Co.

In the 1830 census of Darke Co, OH, on George WERST is listed next to Jacob PUDERBAUGH, Jr. Was he the one who had the patent from the state dated 1820? And, being so close to Jacob PUDERBAUGH, had they known each other at an earlier date? Was George WERST related to Tobias WERST.

In 1838 Peter WERST, from Cumberland Co, PA, migrated to Crawford Co, OH and was the minister who married Nicholas FAILOR to his wife, Mariah MILLER, daughter of John Michael MILLER.  Was he a relative? Who were Joseph & David WORT of Crawford Co? They too, were living close to Nicholas FAILOR, who was the younger brother of Elizabeth who had married Patrick FITZSIMMONS in Cumberland or Franklin Co, PA.

In 1840, German Twp, Darke Co, was Samuel WERST, John  PUTERBAUGH, George MILLER and Michael KUNKLE. Peter WART was listed in Twin Twp. Listed next to Tobias WERST in Neave Twp was one Matthew CARR, probably a brother of Nancy's, along with Nicholas and John HITTLE. Mellisa Belle HITTLE had married Benjamin Franklin WERST, s/o Joseph CHRISTOPHER & Nancy Jane (CARR), d/o of William from IA.

Jacob LANDES is listed next door to Tobias WERST in Darke Co, in 1840. Considering I also have GARYBILL &?; LANDES ancestry, I wonder if these families are all related?

One of the deeds I have located is between John WERTZ and George SUMPTION of Darke Co. It was witnessed by James BRYSON and Abiah SUMPTION on 1 Apr 1830 (DB C1, pg 482.) A Peter FARST (one of the spellings I have found) is listed in Darke Co on 16 Mar 1892 (DB F, pg 198.) Was hew the one who married a SCHLECHTY relative? Then also in Wabash Co, Mary Ann JOHNSON sold land to Frank M. WERST in 1867 (DB 13 Pg 70).

Listed in Northampton Co, PA is a deed between Jacob WERTS & John JOHNSON, dated 10 Jan 1753; rec 14 Feb 1753, DB A-1, pg 3-4. This land was on a Saucon Creek Branch "in or near Saucon Twp formerly in the Co of Buck but now in the Co of Northampton.... line of Adam SCOOLER's Land..... Johannes HELFRIG ?) ... Land of the said John JOHNSON ... to George SHOEMAKER's land... (tear) by a line dividing this from the said JOHNSON's other land... The same which by Patent dated the ninth Day of December last past On Record at Philadelphia in Patent A: Vol.. 7 page 19A7 was granted the said Jacob WERTS..." It was signed Jacob WERTH (Seal ) and Elizabeth WERT (her mar,). Witnessed by HU WILSON and Jost MEYER.

My great-grandfather , George Washington WERST, had children by the following names which seem to tell me Tobias' parents' names.
1. Nancy b. 27 Oct 1842 (named for grandmother)
2. Mary Magdelena b. 1843 (Twin) (Named for Magdalena SCHELCHTY?)
3. Catherine b. 1843 (Twin) (Named for Tobias' mother?)
4. Tobias b. 10 Sept 1844 (Named for Grandfather)
5. Matthew b. 28 Oct 1845 (Named for Nancy's brother?:)
6. Jacob b. 18 Mar 1846 (Named for grandfather)
7. Joseph Christopher b. 23 Jul 1850 (Named for Great Grandfather CARR).
8. Charles Ellis b. 30 Dec 1851 (unknown)
9. Barbara b. 28 Sept 1853 (Named for Barbara SCHLECHTY?)
10. Reuben Samuel b. 4 Jan 1855 (Possibly named for the LOWERY's)
11. Lewis (Joseph) b. 20 Sep 1856 (unknown)
12 Susannah b. 1 Jul 1858 (Named for sister of Susannah ULRICH)
13. George Washington b. 4 Apr 1860 d. 9 Sept 1861 (for father)
14. Sarah Lydia b. 8 Sept 1861 (Named for sisters? of Nancy & Betsy ?)

Was there a George WERST & wife Catherine Frank, living close when Tobias WERST entered the army for the War of 1812? Did it cause a big commotion upon his going into the military? I presume these were the names of Tobias's parents. However, the only WERST men whom I have located with sons name Tobias, were Andrew WERST of Northampton Co, PA and Peter WERST of Lancaster who died in 1822 and stated in their wills.

Page 12
A correspondent sent a picture of Robert WERST, who has family features. I wrote him, and he stated he was descended from John and Maurice WERT of Luzerne Co. PA. I am familiar with those names, since I had found John and Morris WERT listed in the Otsego Co, NY Census but there are no land records. Morris WERT is listed in the 1790 census there. My 3 great-great =grandfathers on my mother's side came from there however my parents' lines cross with the ELLSWORTH family of Franklin Co. PA and Mechanicsville, NY. I welcome any and all correspondence on this family.

Martha (Werst) Jackson (Martha died in 2008 but the search for the WERST immigrant continues.)
Tobias Werst Headstone from Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery in Wabash County, Indiana
Cemetery was relocated from original spot.
We do not know the origin of the surname WERST though it is most probably German.  By distribution through the population it is a fairly rare name in both Germany and the United States. Twenty years ago when we lived in Germany we visited the hamlet of Borrstadt, near Kaiserslautern because research had shown more that 10 families with the WERST surname resided there. Knocking on doors and talking with those families revealed that none of them considered themselves related to the other Werst families in the community of about 300. The genealogist in me doubts that but those were the days long before DNA testing was available.

Hopefully someday a WERST surname DNA study will be initiated and the place of origin in Germany will be revealed.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Where I was when I heard President Kennedy had been killed....

Dear Grandparents,
We're told that people who were alive at the time, remember where they were when they heard President Lincoln had been assassinated,  Pearl Harbor had been bombed, planes had crashed into the World Trade Centers, and for my generation when they heard President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I am no exception and thought that on this 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death, I should write about what I remember about that day and those that followed.

I was home from school sick and watching television (CBS), doing French verb conjugation homework, while my mother ironed. They broke into the broadcast with a bulletin that the "President had been shot in Dallas, Texas. He is being taken to the hospital and his condition is not known." We were shocked and waited, and waited for some word on his condition. It seemed like a long time but probably was about 30 minutes until Walter Cronkite appeared in the oft seen clip and announced "President Kennedy is dead."

We were stunned. Our family were not democrats, nor were they Kennedy supporters. We had recently moved to Willingboro, New Jersey from La Habra, California. Richard Nixon had law offices in La Habra and his mother lived next to Starbuck Junior High School where I had attended. Still.... the President, his beautiful wife and those little children...

My sister Peggy (Leslie) was a sixth grader at Pennypacker Elementary School in class when a teacher came by and told her classroom teacher that the President had been shot. She overheard the conversation and then was asked to keep the information to herself. Less than an hour later, an announcement was made that President Kennedy had been killed and most of the teachers and children were crying. During the 1960 campaign, John F. Kennedy had visited Willingboro and many people in the community had turned out to hear him speak. His death seemed very personal. School was immediately dismissed. All students lived within walking distance of the school so no provisions were made to notify parents that the students were being sent home. It was expected that there would be someone at home for them.

Peggy clearly remembers what she was wearing that day.... a madras plaid sleeveless dress that Mom had let her wear over a turtleneck as it was cold.

Her husband Hugh remembered he was working at the Bureau of Land Management Office in Salem, Oregon and they were notified when someone rushed into their office. His brother Paul was working, building Clearwater River Road in Idaho. Someone had a radio and that was how they heard.

Sister Trude's 4th grade class was on a field trip to the Township Library which was about 4 blocks from Pennypacker School.  The class had walked there for their special tour. At the announcement of Kennedy's death, the students were dismissed directly from the Library and expected to walk home. She remembers being scared. While we were living in California during the Cuban Missile Crisis, there had been air raid drills where each student was made to crouch beneath their desk while sirens blared, waiting until the 'All Clear' bell was sounded. At nine, Trude didn't really understand the emotions of the adults. That night she dreamed that witches were trying to bite off her toes. She recalls the need to keep her toes under the covers and safe from the witches stayed with her well into adulthood.

Her friend Michael Blackman was a high school student in Philadelphia. He remembers a student passing in the hall saying that the President had been shot. He did not believe him. After arriving in his next class, it was announced that Kennedy was dead and a moment of silent prayer was offered by everyone. He does not remember that school was dismissed.

My brother Rusty was a 7 year old 2nd grader at Pennypacker. He remembers being dismissed early and walking home with some friends. One boy yelled that the President had been shot but Rusty wanted to wait until he heard it from his mother to be certain. He's not sure if they told the younger kids that Kennedy had been killed or if it was lost in the excitement of getting out of school early.

The family spent the next several days huddled in front of our black and white television set. We were mesmerized by the steady parade of events. There were so many things that we had never seen before. The silent vigil in the Capitol Rotunda, the family walking behind the casket. I'll never forget the sound of the muffled drums accompanying the caisson. Lee Harvey Oswald killed in front of so many. Most unsettling for me was the tears streaming down my father's face as the coffin was carried down the steps of the Capitol.
Photo from NY Daily News
For all of us, the images of John John saluting his father's coffin, the caisson's slow progress to Arlington National Cemetery are burned forever in our minds.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mayflower Compact 1620

Dear Grandparents,
As we begin to prepare for our annual commemoration of Thanksgiving, my mind has been turning to those of you who made Mayflower's historic voyage from England to Massachusetts. What courage it must have required to board that tiny ship leaving every place you had ever known behind! I hope I would have had the courage to join you.

We often focus today on the feast of Thanksgiving you hosted with the Indians and many forget some of the other contributions made by the settlers at Plymouth. We've read about the religious congregation from Leiden and probably most of us think of you as one group. I wonder if you realize that you are often referred to as the "Saints" and "Strangers." I think the implication being that the "Saints" were members of the Leiden congregation and the "Strangers" were the other English families who were hoping for more opportunities in a new land.

What foresight it took to understand that you needed some rules to govern the expectations and behaviors of the community before it was established ashore. I wonder how many of us would have come to that realization.

Mayflower Compact 1620

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, bu the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politck, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Futherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.

IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

Mr. John Carver, John Billington, Thomas Williams, John Ridgdale, Mr. William Bradford,        Moses Fletcher, Gilbert Winslow, Edward Fuller, Mr. Edward Winslow, John Goodman,                Edmund Margesson, Richard Clark, Mr. William Brewster,  Mr. Samuel Fuller,                             Peter Brown, Richard Gardiner, Isaac Allerton, Mr. Christopher Martin, Richard Britteridge,          Mr. John Allerton, Myles Standish, Mr. William Mullins, George Soule, Thomas English,             John Alden,  Mr. William White, Edward Tilly, Edward Doten, John Turner, Mr. Richard Warren, John Tilly, Edward Liester, Francis Eaton, John Howland, Francis Cooke, James Chilton,                    Mr. Steven Hopkins, Thomas Rogers, John Craxton, Digery Priest, Thomas Tinker*

*I have bolded the names of my ancestors who signed the compact.

There were women on board the Mayflower though they were not included in the affirmation of the compact they were certainly expected to live up to its requirements.

The transcription of the Mayflower Compact 1620, as well as the signatories, comes from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Website. Commonly referred to as the Mayflower Society, it is an organization of those who prove their descent from one or more Pilgrims. It is estimated that there may be as many as twenty million descendants of the 102 hardy souls who sailed on the ship including nine American Presidents. My Great Grandfather Frederick Naaman Cone was a member of the Society, as was his son William Laurence Cone.

For family members, we can trace our linage to William Bradford, William Brewster, Steven Hopkins and his son Giles Hopkins, and Edward Doty (who's name was written at Doten on the compact).

Thank you for your bravery, foresight and spirit. I want to tell more of your stories before Thanksgiving.


A coincidence of dates.... the Gettysburg Address and Van Eps Hugunin's Birthday

Dear Great Grandfather Hugunin,
Today our nation is observing the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address. They tell us that not much was made of Lincoln's speech when delivered. He wasn't even the keynote speaker that day in 1863 at the dedication of the new national cemetery on the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The Honorable Edward Everett delivered a two hour speech that cold day in November and then Mr. Lincoln began... "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers..." words that every school child in America memorized for more than 100 years.

Few of us realize that a little known girl reporter, Mary Shaw Leader, was responsible for acclaiming Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address as remarkable. In a report that was published in the Dallas Morning News, November 17, 1941 in Section I, Page Nine (and available through, the community of Hanover, Pennsylvania dedicated a monument to her shortly before the seventy-eighth anniversary of the speech. Marking her grave, the stone carries the following inscription;

          "Her first-hand report of Lincoln's Gettysburg address bore witness to its greatness. In her account for the Hanover Spectator she garnered Lincoln's words from his own lips. She helped the world to long remember. Her fellow townsmen pay this belated tribute to her courage, enterprise and fortright that we may never forget."
Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hanover, York County, PAPhoto provided by Izzebella for Find A Grave Memorial #11051041

 No copies of the speech were distributed to the press corps that day. Mary had walked the fifteen miles to Gettysburg that blustery day to report on what was said at the cemetery's dedication. Unlike most of her male colleagues, she published the full text, as she had transcribed it, in the weekly Hanover newspaper.

Ironically, Mary Shaw Leader had died during the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913. A celebration to which she was not invited.

November 19th is already a date of note in our family genealogy, as you,Van Eps Hugunin, were born on that date in 1832. Son of Richard "Dirick" and Janetje Van Eps Hugunin, you were born in either Fonda or Fultonville, New York. The family emigrated to Johnston, Rock County Wisconsin about 1840.

Your father Richard was a War of 1812 veteran, so it was not surprising that you enlisted in Company B of the Wisconsin 13th Infantry Regiment on 16 September 1861. Elected Sergeant, there was a quick promotion to Full 1st Sergeant. Leaving Wisconsin January 18, 1862, the Regiment was sent to Leavenworth, Kansas by railroad via Chicago, Quincy, to Weston, Missouri and then marched to Leavenworth City.

According to E. B. Quiner's "Military History of Wisconsin" published in Chicago in 1866 and available at the Wisconsin Historical Society website, the next 18 months consisted of long marches, skirmishes, and garrison duty. At the time President Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address, the 13th fresh from a battle with Rebel leader Woodward at Garretsville was on duty at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Quiner reports they had marched more than 160 miles.

When did you hear about the Battle of Gettysburg? In the thick of battles yourself, did the horrific number of soldiers killed give pause or cause a great deal of discussion among your troops? You served another year before being mustered out. When did you learn of President Lincoln's Address and did you think it applicable to your efforts also? There are so many question I want to ask you.

Happy Birthday and Thank you for fighting to keep our nation whole. We will never forget.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honoring Their Service on Veterans' Day

Dear Grandparents,
Each year on November 11th, we honor our country's men and women who have served in our armed forces in both peace and war. This November is the first since 1971 where the family has no one currently serving on active duty. In the honor of those who served, I am endeavoring to put together a list by name, rank and service. These are the family members who have served in the 20th and 21st centuries, I'll cover the 18th and 19th centuries in another post. If you have additions or corrections please leave me a comment.

Cdr, Raul Dominguez, U. S. Navy 2002-2020
Maj. Amanda M. Kelly, U. S. Air Force (ret) 2002-2012
Lt. Kristen Cone, U. S. Navy 2005-2009
Cpl. Agye Danso, U. S. Marine Corps 2003-2007
Maj. Roger Moore, U. S. Army National Guard
Capt. Edward W. Kelly, U. S. Navy (ret) 1971-2001
PH2 Ronald A. Pearce, U. S. Navy 1972-1982
Lt. Charles "Rusty" N. Cone, III U. S. Navy, 1978-1983
Lt. Frederick Allen Cone, JAG, USNR 1957-1960
Sn. Dana A. Pearce, U. S. Navy 1954-1956
1st Lt. Hugo Riecken, U. S. Army 1954-1958
Lt. Marge Riecken, U. S Navy Nurse Corps 1950-1956
Capt. Charles N. Cone, Jr, U. S. Navy, 1944-1984
PFC Phelps Wilson Long, Jr,  U. S. Marine Corps, Killed in Action Dec. 16, 1943 Bougainville, Solomon Islands
Pvt. Kenneth M. Branchflower, U. S Army, 1936-7; 1944-1946
Sn. Charles Robert Brim, U. S. Navy, 1942-1945
Cpl. Josephine Mary Brim, U. S. Marine Corps, 1943-1945
CM1 Charles C. Black, U. S. Navy 1942-1945
Pvt. Edward Ebert Kelly,  U. S. Army, 1944-1946
PFC James R. Caldwell, U. S. Army, 1944-1947
Sn David Earl Propes, U. S. Navy, 1944-1945
Pvt. Vern B. Werst, U. S. Army, 1942-1946
Pvt. Emerald J. Caldwell, U. S. Army, 1918-1919
Pvt. Charles N. Cone, U. S. Army, 1918-1918
Pvt. Charles Richard Brim, U. S. Army, 1918-1919
Sgt. William Laurance Cone, U. S. Army, 1917-1919
Cpt. Chester D. Allen, U. S. Army Medical Corps, 1917-1923

Their contributions represent over 100 years of service to our country.

Our family has been blessed that only one member was killed in action. Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. was the daughter of my Grandmother Hazel Bynon Allen Cone's sister Martha Marinda Allen Long. Phelps was my Dad's first cousin. He enlisted in the United State Marine Corps shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was trained at New River, North Carolina. He was part of  Company I, 21st MAR, 3rd Marine Division.

He was killed in action at Bouganville, Solomon Islands on December 16, 1943 and posthumously award the Silver Star for Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity Against Enemy Japanese Forces in the Cape Torokina Area. I do not know if his body was returned to the family for burial in Florida or if they erected the marker just in remembrance. Once while visiting Oahu, My mother, Ed and I paid our respects at the Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Honolulu. My mother had been under the impression that Phelps was buried there but we did not find him.

My Grandmother said her sister never recovered from Phelps' loss. She died five years later at age 48.

Thank you all for your service. For the time you spent away from spouses, children and homes which did not come without sacrifice on both your part and that of your families.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Haunted Houses ?!?

Dear Grandparents,
There has recently been some discussion in the genealogy community about people starting a website documenting deaths that have occurred in a particular house. Reading about this led me to think about the simple farmhouse outside Newberg, Oregon that had been the home to three generations of my family. It seemed a little creepy to write about yesterday on Halloween, but hopefully it is more appropriate today, All Saints' Day.
House at Pine Lawn Farm showing fruit house.
About 2 miles north of Newberg, Yamhill County, Oregon
This is the house that was home to my great-grandparents William Wallace and Mamie (Hugunin) Colby. They moved into the house in the spring of 1912, leaving their farm in Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas for Mamie's health. I do not know the origin of the fruit house, but my grandmother and their daughter Ada Grace Colby, said that her father had found a farm with a small house outside of Newberg. He agreed to buy the home if a larger house would be built before the family arrived in Oregon. In the photo above, one can see the original small house to the left. Behind and obscured from view is the larger, two-story addition.

To my knowledge, four deaths have occurred in this home. First, my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth "Mamie" Hugunin Colby October 15, 1917. Her obituaries tell the story. "In December of last year, Mrs. Colby underwent a very serious operation at the Swedish hospital in Kansas City. She rallied from this grave condition, and seemed much stronger. While convalescent, she visited for some time with her relatives and friends here (presumably Kirwin, clipping is from scrap book with out source). It seemed then that she might hope for many happy and comfortable years. During the summer, she complained of much weariness and was not so well. Her death, however came most unexpectedly. She passed from us.... still a comparatively young woman, being 49 years, 7 months and 17 days of age."
More of the story is included in the obituary published in the Newberg Graphic on Thursday, October 18, 1917. "The many friends of Mrs. W. W. Colby were shocked Tuesday morning to learn of her sudden death Monday evening. She walked into town Monday afternoon, seemingly in her usual health. Retiring at 9:30, about 10:30 she woke her husband telling him she felt very ill. He called the
doctor who reached her bedside in a few minutes but a 11 o'clock she passed away."

From left Mamie and daughters Madge, Pansy and Grace
at Pine Lawn Farm circa 1912,

The second death that occurred in the house was that of Mamie's husband William Wallace "W. W." Colby. He continued to live in the house after her death with daughters Madge and Grace. Then after Madge married and Grace went to Oregon State, with his second wife Ada May McNay Colby. After Ada's death in 1931, he invited widowed Grace and her daughters Betty and Helen to share his home.

I remember well the stories told by my Grandmother, Mom and Aunt about his death. Hoo Hoo, our pet name for my grandmother, related that in February she had noticed her father favoring a leg. He made light of the soreness. When she noticed the weakness in the leg continuing, she demanded to see it. The infection had spread terribly. She wasn't sure why he had let the infection go untreated. It was the depths of the depression and money was very scarce. She expected that Grampa Colby was concerned that there would not be enough money to pay for a doctor. Of course, seeing the condition of the leg, Hoo Hoo called the doctor immediately. It was too late, gangrene had set in and there was no hope.

My mother and Aunt remember being sent to stay with friend for the few days until he passed. It was terrifying for them. William Wallace Colby died in the house March 2, 1936.
William Wallace "W.W." Colby and granddaughter   
Betty Werst in front of the house circa 1935

The third death in the house was that of my grandmother Ada Grace Colby Werst Branchflower. Moving there as a child of 9, she had spent most of her life in the home. She was asleep upstairs when her mother died. She had seen two of her sisters married in the living room. It had been a sanctuary when she was able to reunite her two daughters and move in with her Dad. I'm sure she did all that she could to ease his suffering before he died. She struggled to buy her sisters out of their portion of Pine Lawn Farm so she could keep her home. She raised her daughters there and they welcomed her new husband Kenneth Branchflower into the home. It became a favorite retreat for grandchildren visiting from California.
Grace Colby Werst in front of the house
with daughter Betty circa 1938.

She knew that her mother, grandmother Sarah Amanda Hugunin, her Aunt Grace Hugunin Bissell, sister Madge Colby Massey and Ethel May Colby King had all died as fairly young women, many in the forties. It wasn't until she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease that the family realized that the others had probably died of the same hereditary condition. Grace controlled the disease with careful salt-free dieting for years and tried to qualify for dialysis. Alas, the doctors were not going to approve using that expensive treatment on a woman who was 70. She died of a heart attack January 8, 1973.

The last death to occur in the house, was that of my step-grandfather Kenneth M. Branchflower. With the exception of his time overseas during the Second World War, he had made the house at Pine Lawn Farm his home after he and Grace married May 23, 1944. He had grown up on a farm up the street. After Hoo Hoo died, he talked about rehabilitating his family home which had been vacant since his father's death in 1958. He built a 3 bay garage and shop on that property as the first step in that transition. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to finish the job. He died in his sleep, presumably of a heart attack February 15, 1976.
Kenneth Massey Branchflower at Pinelawn Farm 1975

Aunt Helen, my husband Ed and I drove from California to Newberg with heavy hearts arriving late at night. For some reason the power was off and the old house really did seem haunted. We ended up spending the night at good neighbor Alice Nelson's home across the street. It was the only time that I had been concerned about staying in the house.

Today, my aunt, siblings and cousins and I remember the many good times we had in the house. Though it has been rented to others for many years, the house remains in the family. Each time I visit Oregon, I make it a point to visit.

I am certain that you all know of many more stories of houses where family members lived, loved and died. Please feel free to share them with me.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

1640 Puritan Psalter to be auctioned by Sotheby's

Dear Great Grandfather Thomas Thacher,
One does not expect, when living in 21st century Montgomery County Texas, to read an article in the morning paper referring to an item that might well have been used by a 9th great grandfather who died 326 years ago. That's what happened to me yesterday. The third page of the Conroe Courier led with an article from the Associated Press entitled, "1640 Puritan psalter goes on display in Houston."
The article went on to describe "The Bay Psalm Book", which will be displayed Thursday at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, as one of two owned by Boston's Old South Church.

A Psalter is sort of a hymnal. The psalms in the Bible were written to be sung. A psalter divided the poems by meter so they could be set to music, Beginning in 1620, the Pilgrims and Puritans had been using Psalters that they had brought to Massachusetts from England and Holland. The "Bay Psalm Book" was the first psalter printed in Massachusetts Bay Colony by Stephen Day in 1640. Members of the church leadership had been dissatisfied with the translations of the Psalms from their original Hebrew in their original Psalters so created a panel of their Ministers to undertake a new translation. Their creation is said to have been used for more than a century. Wikipedia provides a transcription of the title page of the 1640 first edition;

                                                          The Whole Book of Psalmes
                                                               396104         Faithfully
                                                             Translated into English
                                                          Whereunto is prefixed a discourse
                                                      declaring not only the lawfullnes, but also
                                                       the necessity of the heavenly Ordinance
                                                             of singing Scripture Psalmes in
                                                                     the Churches of God
                                                                Cambridge, Mass. Stephen Day
                                                                     Imprinted, 1640

I know you were the first pastor of what we call the "Old South Church" in Boston taking the pulpit there 16 February 1670. You would have called it the Third Church. As these Psalters were used for a hundred years, I imagine that you had your hands on this copy as well as many others.

Today, there are only 10 known copies of the 1640 Psalter left. Two of the copies are owned by the congregation descendant from yours. The Old South Church has a congregation of more than 350 and meets in a 138 year old building that is showing its age. They have made the decision to part with one of their two copies of the Psalter. It's auction by Sotheby's (our premier auction house) is expected to net the church nearly 30 million dollars. The church is planning on using the funds generated by the sale to establish an endowment to maintain their building.

Somehow, I am certain that you would approve of their decision to sell though be somewhat stunned by the price this old hymnal is expected to bring.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Grandparents' Day

Dear Grandparents,
In the last ten years or so, we have been celebrating Grandparents Day. My Grandson Cooper appeared at our door this morning with a card, saying "open it Grancy, its Grandparents Day."
It made me think about how lucky I am to be near my grandchildren and part of their lives. I was also lucky enough to know three out of my four grandparents and a step-grandfather who we always thought of as ours.

So today I'm introducing my grandparents....

First my maternal Grandfather and namesake Cecil Oscar Werst. Born March 16, 1900 in Valley Falls, Jefferson County, Kansas, Cecil was the 10th of 11 children born to Lewis Werst. His mother was Lewis' second wife Mary Jane Barnes.  His first wife Lunetta "Mattie" Fitzsimmons died shortly after her third son was born and her older boys were 4 and 2. Mary Jane really raised all of them. There was only one girl in the family.

Cecil was still an infant when his family moved to Garfield County, Washington following in the footsteps of his former brothers-in-law. The family soon moved on to the Belma area of Yakima County which has now been absorbed by Grandview. Lewis worked as a carpenter and construction manager. His death in 1916, forced Cecil to leave school to support his mother and younger brother.
In fact in the 1920 Federal census he is listed as the head of household, working as a laborer doing general work.

Cecil holding my mother Betty Lorraine Werst 
Washington 1926

In 1923 he was visiting his older brother Clem in Pendleton, Oregon. Across the street, my Grandmother Grace Colby was visiting her sister....they were married in Spokane, August 8, 1924.
Cecil was working as a manager at the Real Silk Hosiery Factory and Grace worked for the Spokane newspaper until the birth of their daughter Betty Lorraine Werst.

Unfortunately, the small family was shattered by Cecil's sudden death October 24, 1927. He had an abscessed tooth removed by a dentist and in the days before penicillin was dead within a week when and infection set in.

I never knew Cecil and my grandmother did not talk about him much as she had long since remarried when I was a child. Cecil also missed out on knowing his younger daughter Helen Louise who was born five months after he died. I wonder what he would think of the family he founded today.

Ada Grace Colby Werst Branchflower is my maternal Grandmother. Named for her mother's best friend Ada McNay and her sister Grace Hugunin, she was born October 21, 1902 on the Colby farm near Kirwin, Phillips County Kansas.  She was the last of five daughters born to William Wallace and Mary Elizabeth "Mamie" (Hugunin) Colby. She was more than ten years younger than her next sibling. She was the pet of the family and called 'tickie' because she was always running like a clock.

In 1912, the family left the familiar environs of Kansas moving to a Pine Lawn Farm just outside Newberg, Yamhill County, Oregon. They made the trip by train with Mamie and daughters Madge, Pansy and Grace riding in coach and W. W. Colby riding in the livestock cars with his prized mules.
Mamie died suddenly in 1917 at age 49 leaving Grace and W.W. stunned. They survived as Grace quickly stepped up to the role of lady of the house.

Graduating from high school in 1921, Grace left for Corvallis and Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). W. W. decided that he could not manage the home and farm without a woman's touch and married his late wife's best friend Ada McNay who had also been widowed. Returning from college in the summer of 1923, Grace found that her role as 'lady of the house' had been assumed by her father's new wife and there was not room for her. She promptly left for her sister Madge's in Pendleton. You know what happened from Cecil's story above.

I always admired my grandmother, widowed at age 25, she survived and cared for her children even returning to Newberg to care for her father when Ada McNay Colby died. She is responsible for my interest in family history and genealogy because I loved the stories she told of her family and ancestors. She died in 1973

My paternal grandfather, Charles Newton Cone was born December 6, 1898 in Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota. The fourth of five children born to Frederick Naaman and Helen Brown (Newton) Cone. His family was also on the move shortly after his birth when the entire Cone, Clark, Newton clan moved to Mapleton, Utah. The family were lay missionaries for the Presbyterian Church. A precocious mind, young Charles chafed at the restrictions placed upon him being one of the few non-Mormons in school. The Springville Presbyterian church congregation took up a collection to send him to Fairmont College (now Wichita State University). He graduated in 1920 with a BS in Chemistry and followed his family to Salem, Marion County, Oregon.

Chemistry turned out to be not only his vocation but his avocation and he worked in the field until he was 88. His work in the plywood industry lead him indirectly to my paternal grandmother.

On a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee, he called on a local plywood manufacturer intending to sell him the new glue that he had developed. Chester Bynum Allen was very impressed by Charles' vision, personality and by the fact that he was still single.
Inviting him home to dinner, he introduced him to his unmarried daughter Hazel. In less than two weeks they were married and en route to their new home in Seattle.

Granddaddy lived until 1988 and I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with him.

My paternal grandmother Hazel Bynum Allen was teaching school in Memphis when the gallant young Charles Cone swept her off her feet. Hazel was second for four children born to Chester Bynum and Ida Mae (DYE) Allen. She was petite and redheaded like her father.

When she was about ten, her mother was injured in a railroad accident. Her injuries were so severe that she did not walk for many years. This left Hazel with a lot of responsibility for her younger sisters. My grandfather told me that her mother had expected that Hazel would not marry and instead remain at home to care for her parents in their old age. Evidently, she had not okayed this plan with her husband.

Grandmother was less than 5 feet tall and my Grandfather at 6' 2" towered over her. But do not think that he ruled the roost. It was clear to everyone that she could stand up for herself.

My step-grandfather Kenneth M. Branchflower married by maternal Grandmother Grace in 1944. He was the grandfather we knew on that side of the family. Poppy taught us to drive tractors, trucks, about pioneering, camping, burning trash, fishing for crawdads and so much more.

There is, of course, much more to each of their stories. I miss all of them today and honor their memory and their contributions to my character.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Surname Saturday THACHER

Dear Great Grandfather Thacher,
Those searching for information on the their ancestors often are hoping to find connections to European royal houses including castles and coats-of-arms. I have mostly been more interested in the stories of the individuals that make up the family. Sometimes, however, the two processes converge.
This is the case with you, my 9th great grandfather Thomas Thacher.

Born May 1, 1620 in Milton Clevedon, Somersetshire, England, the eldest son of Peter Thacher and his wife Anne Allwood. You were baptized in 1622 at the parish church in Sarum, Salisbury, England. Your father was the rector at the Church of St. Edmund in Salisbury from 1622 until his death in 1640/41. You and your family were Puritans. I imagine having lived through decades of religious unrest and persecution helped your father make the decision to send you to New England.

It is believed that you came to New England with your Uncle Anthony Thacher and his family. The New England Historic Genealogical Society's project "The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VII, T-Y" page 19 states that you sailed for New England on the James
in 1635. This inference comes from Cotton Mather's biography of you which states, "(a) day or two before that fatal voyage from Newberry to Marblehead, our young Thacher had such a strong and sad impression upon his mind about the issue of the voyage, that he with another would needs go the journey by land, and so he escaped perishing with some of his pious and precious friends by sea."
Many imagine that this story was created by Mather but one can imagine that a fifteen year old boy, so soon from such a long and arduous voyage across the Atlantic, would have been reluctant to set foot again on a ship. How terrible it must have been for you to know that so many of your cousins, friends and acquaintances died on that short trip.

Your surname Thacher is certainly of English origin. Most believe it is one of those surnames given to denote an occupation. Thacher or Thatcher was given to the man who roofed buildings with thatch.
Once when visiting my sister in Holland, we were driving through the countryside and happened upon someone replacing the thatching on a cottage. It was fascinating to watch. Of course, your family had long since left the thatching, seeming to prefer ministering to the faithful. Records indicate that you were "ordained at Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1644 where you were pastor for more than twenty years, and of the Old South Church, Boston eight years." (Genealogical and Family Historry of Northern New York" New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1910; transcribed by Coralynn Brown available at rootsweb.)  Your father, Rev. Peter Thacher, was a minister for more than 50 years. His father, also Rev. Peter Thacher served the church at Queen Camel from 1574 until 1624. Your son, another Rev. Peter Thacher was pastor at Milton, Massachusetts for forty-seven years.

This is a present day illustration of the seal that you used on a letter written in Boston, August 16, 1676 and addressed to your son Peter who was living in London at the time.

Thomas Thac(t)her Coat of Arms from the American Heraldry Society used with permission.
The American Heraldry Society provides the following description of the seal as a "Gules a cross Moline Argent, on a chief Or three grasshoppers Proper." They have found the seal on a letter written in 1676, the seal on another document, the seal on Thomas Thacher's will, and it was also used by his Uncle Antony Thacher.

The letter, with its impression of the seal, was handed down through the family of your son Peter. It was found in the papers of a 6th generation descendant Deacon Peter Thacher of Attleboro, Massachusetts. It is transcribed below

Boston, 16. 8, 1676
My Dear Son Peter:--I have received four letters from you, whereby I have joyfully, and I hope thankfully, taken notice of the kindness of God in your comfortable voyage to, and kind reception in England, by our friends; which  has enlarged my desires to hear further from you.
I hope also you have long ere this received mine to you. At present, you  may understand that God hath utterly scattered, delivered up, and subdued the heathen that first rose up against us, delivered up Philip to death, cleared the wasts of Plymouth, Narragansett, Connecticut, Quaboag &c, from those bloody and blasphemous heathen; but behold a new enemy is broken out to the east and northward, who have laid waste the country, &c; slain my good friend  Capt. Lake, and many others; and, this very day past, woeful tidings is come of the taking in by surrender Mr. Scott's+ garrison at Stony Point, he being but the last week come from the same to Boston, and leaving Esq. Joslin, as  they call him, chief commander. What the particular circumstances are, is not yet certain amongst us; but this is certain, that the place is taken; the garrison strong; two great pieces there; and many small arms, and good store
of provisions. Such a spirit of fear and cowardice is poured out on the inhabitants of those parts, that it is exceeding ominous. The Indians carry all before them, by sea and land, on the main and on the islands in Casco, having taken several vessels, one with two great guns in it, &c. This part of the war is like to be the more difficult, because so far off from us; because so near the French, who are reported to be among the Indians. This day it was
said that there were twenty in the exploit; but we have no certainty of it, and foolish jealousies my feign that fear makes scarecrows to affright the fearful, and a sluggard may say a lion is in the way. So, many of those fearful persons may think to hide their shame by such suggestions. As for  myself, I at present enjoy a comfortable measure of health and strength, though laboring under some weakness gotten in my sickness. If you have not more than ordinary encouragement, and a most evident call to stay in England,
I hope I shall see you here, if the Lord lengthens our lives to the next summer. The Lord guide your whole way, and bless you with all the blessings of his everlasting covenant, and make you a blessing wherever you come, that he may be your portion.
I had almost forgot to tell you that I received a letter from my brother, Paul Thacher, who lives in Salisbury, certifying that my brother John died  three years ago, very poor. That my mother-in-law's sister, one Mrs. Elizabeth Coombs, widow to Mr. Coombs, the great Ana-Baptist, is alive; she was a lively, hearty Christian, when I lived at Salisbury, and I am confident would rejoice greatly to see you; being an old friend of my father's. If you go thither, I presume that you will find many old friends that will rejoice
much to see you. But I fear such * * * *ne coming on in England, that I wish you here. To the * * * Dear Jesus I * * * on resting * * * Your dear father,
Thomas Thacher

I found the transcription of your letter in the rootsweb archives The link to the contact is unfortunately broken. The asterisks indicate areas that are unreadable. It would be wonderful to also find an image of the letter and seal but my searches have not been successful.

Reading the letter, really gives us an idea of the things that were of concern to you more than three hundred years ago.

Love, your 9th great grand daughter,

P.S. For family members, here is our descent from Thomas. Thomas and wife Elizabeth Partridge had son, Rev. Peter Thacher who married Theodora Oxenbridge. Their son, Peter Thacher married Mary Prence and their son was Samuel Prence Thacher. Samuel married Sarah Cook Kent and their son was Nathaniel Thacher. Nathaniel married Lydia Place and their daughter Sarah married George Hornell, Jr. George's and Sarah's daughter Lydia Hornell married John Champion Clarke.  John and Lydia's daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton. Their daughter, Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone, my great grandfather.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Surname Saturday - VAN VREDENBURG

Dear Grandparents,
It's been awhile since I've written a post for Surname Saturday. Today I've selected Van Vredenburg, one of the many surnames of Dutch origin found in our family tree. My 8th great grandfather, Willem Isaacsen Van Vredenburgh arrived in New Netherlands 17 May 1658 on the ship 'de Vergulde Bever' or gilded beaver. The patronymic Isaacesen in Willem's name indicates that he was the son of Isaac Van Vredenburgh.

Vredenburgh family researchers have put together a website that provides additional information about Willem's origin Kenneth Scott, writing an article "The Vredenburg Family" in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 95, no. 2, P. 79 discusses records found in the "Geementearchief in Hague" stating on "July 16, 1634 banns were published in the Groote Kerk in the Hague for Ysack Wilernss Van Vredenburch, young man, and Cornelia Jans, young woman, both living in the Hague and they were married in the Groote Kerk on August 6, 1634, by Comine Eleasear Lotius." Mr. Scott cites his source as City Trouw Boek 742, p. 84, verso and Groote Kerk Boek 32, p. 73.

Most of what I know about Willem Isaacsen Van Vredenburgh comes from an article written by his descendant La Rue Vredenburgh of Sommerville, New Jersey and published in the Somerset County Historical Quarterly January 1918. It seems that Willem was a soldier in the service of the Dutch West India Company when he arrived in New Amsterdam (later New York City). It is unclear how long he remained in the service. La Rue states, "He is found later at Fort William Henrick in the City of New Orange (on Manhattan Island), Kingston and finally in New York City."

There is evidence that the Dutch practiced the 'law of eminent domain' as in "New Orange his is mentioned as having a house and lot in 1673, which was ordered to be pulled down because (it was) too near the 'walls and bulwarks' of the fort."

Willem married Appollonia Barents, the daughter of Jacob Barentsen and Marritie Leenderts of Amsterdam, Holland, October 19, 1664.

Our Van Vredenburg connections are on our Hugunin line. So for family members her is the descent,
Betty Werst; daughter of Grace Colby,; daughter of Mamie Elizabeth Hugunin; daughter of Van Eps Hugunin; son of Richard 'Dirick' Hugunin; son of David Huguenin and Baata Huyck; daughter of Dirk Huyck and Sarah Van Deusen; daughter of Isaac Van Deusen and Bata Van Ysselesteyn; daughter of Cornelisse Van Esselsteyne and Cornelia Van Vredenburg; daughter of Willem Issacsen and his wife Appolonia Barents Van Vredenburg.

So many more records to find on my next trip to visit my sister Trude in Amsterdam!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Employment Applications can be a great resource.

Dear Grandparents,
When researching your lives, we would all like to find a complete timeline that explains where you were living and what you were doing each year of your lives. Realistically, we know that we're not going to find that timeline. However, my sister Leslie has found one of the next best things for our Grandmother Grace Colby Werst Branchflower.

On May 13, 1947, (Mrs.) Grace C. Branchflower filled out an application for Federal Employment. All of us who have filled out similar forms, understand that it involves accounting for one's complete employment history, education as well as answering a variety of questions. Scope of jobs, salary, and supervisors are identified, as well as physical characteristics. For example, on the form Grace lists her height as 5' 5" and weight as 113 pounds. This fact was interesting to me as I always thought of her as being taller than my mother who was also 5'5".

1st of 7 pages of Grace's Federal Employment Application

The form answers several questions for the family. How long did she attend Oregon Agricultural College? During the time she was filling out the application, OAC had become Oregon State College. On the form,  she states she attended Oregon State College, Corvallis, Ore. There she majored in HE, presumably Home Economics. There is a mistake in the dates listed. She states she began in 9, 1922 thru 6, 1922. The best guess is that this should read through 6, 1923.

She also writes that she attended Northwestern Business College for 3 months taking a course in something called then Stenotypy. The location and dates of this course are not included. Following that she lists Dickinson's Shorthand School, Seattle, Washington where she took a 3 month class in Shorthand and Business training. There are no dates for that course either. We know that she was employed in Seattle from February 1929 to October 1930.

The years between her leaving Oregon State until she returned, with daughters in tow, to her father's home in Newberg have held the most questions for us. She told us that rather than returning to her home in Newberg, where her new step-mother was ruling the roost, she had gone to her sister's Madge's home in Pendleton. I was under the impression that few unmarried young women of good families worked outside the home in the 1920s so I had not looked for a work record for her before marriage. Page 7 of the application lists her previous employment and there she states that from
"February 1923 to May 1925" she worked for the "Real Silk Hosiery Mills" in "Pendleton, Oregon, Walla Walla, and Spokane, Washington." Her job responsibilities included, "Complete office management, instructing of sales force, general office, account, records and reports." She earned a salary of $175 per month. Someone named "L. A. Baker" was her supervisor and she left to be 'Married."

My impression, from the stories told by my mother and aunt, is that Grace helped Cecil obtain his first job with her company. His brother Clem and wife lived across the street from Grace's sister Madge and dentist husband Hal Massey. Cecil was working as a carpenter for his brother's construction company. I think they both had their sights set on bigger things.

That she left in May of 1925 when she married is interesting because she and Cecil Oscar Werst were married 8 Aug 1924 in Spokane. (As I am typing this, I just realized that today is the 89th anniversary of their marriage. Happy Anniversary Hoo Hoo and Cecil. We hope you are celebrating together today.)

Perhaps, Royal Silk had a policy preventing married couples from working for the company. Maybe, she offered to stay on after their marriage until she could train a replacement.

There is more to be discovered on this page later.

Once again, Happy Anniversary!