Saturday, May 24, 2014

Remembering Theodore Clarke and Phelps Long this Memorial Day

Dear Grandparents,
This was first published a few  years ago but it seems proper to repost it on Memorial Day.
Last fall I wrote a post listing the family members who had served our country. Today as we begin to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, I want to write about two family members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My 2nd great uncle, Theodore William Clarke, served with the First Nebraska Infantry fighting for the Union during the Civil War. He was an unlikely soldier and most of what we know about him comes from the more than forty letters he wrote home to his mother Lydia Hornell Clarke and sister Mary Elizabeth Clarke Newton. The letters have been carefully preserved and handed down through the generations.

Theodore or "Trit" as he was nicknamed by the family was an unlikely soldier. Born about 1838 in Michigan, he was working for the telegraph company laying wire across Missouri and the Nebraska Territory when the war broke out. On July 15, 1860 he writes home stating, "I am in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. We are engaged in the construction of the Pacific Telegraph running from Saint Louis to San Francisco in California... We're going along the Missouri River as far as Omaha City and then across to Fort Kearney... which is as far as we shall get before cold weather sets in." He is anxious for his little sister Molly, my 2nd great grandmother, to understand where he is and write August 5, 1860 from near Nebraska City, "It is about 60 miles from here to Omaha City and 180 from there to Ft. Kearney. By allowing about 5 miles for every working day you can look on your map and see anytime where I am."

Theodore William Clarke
from tintype in my possession
Though he is busy with work he is not undecided about who should win the Presidential Elections of 1860. Writing September 21, 1860 he states, "Why Lincoln's the man of course and if the territories and Kansas and Nebraska had a voice in the coming election Douglas would hear a noise that would make him stuff his ears with cotton and send him to visit with his mother for the next four years at least."

Trit stays with Western Union until they complete the line to Ft. Kearney and he learns to become a proficient telegraph operator feeling that he is making good money doing so. However, the situation changes when word of the secession of the southern states reaches the Nebraska Territory. He enlists as a 'fifer' or musician with the First Nebraska Infantry explaining to his mother on July 16, 1861, "I can never have it said that I, who have no one dependent on me and nothing but my life to loose, stood back in this hour of our country's peril and remained an inactive spectator."

His words turned out to be prophetic. Theodore spent more than 18 months with the First Nebraska, surviving the Battles of Ft. Donelson, and Shiloh before dying January 7, 1863 in Van Buren, Missouri. Like the majority of the Union casualties, Theodore died not of wounds but of disease probably of something like pneumonia.
Battle of Fort Donelson fought February 14 through 16, 1862.
Picture created by Kurz & Allison 1887
I wish I could report that family members can visit Theodore's tombstone and place flowers their each memorial day in remembrance of his sacrifice. Unfortunately, his final resting place is unknown. When ever I visit Arlington National Cemetery, I like to imagine that our Trit is one of the 'unknowns' honored there.

My cousin Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. also gave his life, not in a national catastrophe but in a global conflagration. The 1940 Federal Census finds Phelps as a 16 year old, living with his family and attending high school.
His father Phelps and mother Martha Allen Long were running the family department store in Tallahassee, Florida. Little sister Shirley was in the sixth grade. An older cousin Lindsay Pappy also lived in the home.

1940 U. S. census, Leon County, Tallahassee, Ward 2, Florida, population schedule,
Page 2, penned, lines 31-36, house number 1016, Thomasville Rd., digital images ( accessed 24 May 2014);
citing National Archives microfilm roll: T627_597; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 38:3.
After High School, Phelps went off to the University of Florida in Gainesville and joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Probably no one anticipated the changes that would effect the family and nation in the next couple of years.

Phelps is fourth from the right in the bottom row of the  University of Florida
Seminole Yearbook image from
The first year following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not go well for American forces. Many young men like Phelps felt an urgency to do their part for the war effort. Phelps enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to New River, North Carolina for training.
Private Phelps W. Long, Jr.
copy of photograph in possession of his sister. Used with permission.
Phelps' unit was eventually sent to the South Pacific to take part in the battle for Bougainville, a strategic island that had been held by the Japanese since 1942. His unit, the 3rd Marine Division was given the task to take the hilly area around the Japanese field artillery. One of the most difficult positions to take was an area called "Helzappoppin Ridge". The Marines attacked there on December 12th. It wasn't until the 18th that coordinated attacks allowed the American troops to capture and control the ridge. Phelps was killed on the 16th.

His death left a huge hole in his tight knit family. My grandmother Hazel Allen Cone (his mother's sister) said that his mother never recovered from his loss. She died a mere five years later at age 47. Talking with his sister Shirley Long Collins last month is Tallahassee, she said that her father never got over Phelps death either. I could see the sadness over of the loss of her brother that remains with Shirley to this day. Phelps' parents eventually paid to have their son's remains returned to Florida for burial.

Hopefully, we will all take time among the picnics, boat rides, cookouts and other festivities to remember those whose sacrifices have secured our country and way of life.

Cecily Cone Kelly

P. S. For family members - Phelps W. Long was my paternal grandmother's nephew and my father's first cousin. Theodore Clarke is on my paternal side, the brother of my 2nd great grandmother.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Colby Allyn Kelly Propes!

Dear Grandparents,
Today we are celebrating our daughter Colby's 31st birthday. I'm home sick and didn't want to expose her little ones, Cooper and Cassidy to the crud. I baked her favorite angel food cake, and sent it with Ed over to her house. I thought I would also share the story of her birth.

In 1983, Ed was a Lieutenant Commander in the U. S. Navy, who had returned to his Alma Mater the United States Naval Academy, and was teaching in the Mechanical Engineering Department. As it is again this year, it was Commissioning Week, a week of parades, celebrations, dances and, of course, graduation and commissioning.

As a Surface Warfare Officer, Ed was invited to attend a reception honoring the midshipmen who had chosen Surface Line for their initial duty assignments. Then Captain (later rear admiral) Tom and Mar Beth Paulsen were hosting the midshipmen, their families, surface officers stationed at the academy and their wives at their quarters in the yard. I was very pregnant but not due for three weeks so being a 'dutiful' Navy wife I found a lovely silk frock designed carefully by Omar the Tent Maker, very flat comfortable shoes and hauled my bulk to the Paulsen's.

Anyone who has known Mar Beth, will remember how beautifully she decorated her homes. Lovely antiques, seemingly priceless oriental carpets.... I was afraid to sit anywhere for fear that I would never be able to get up again without several officers or midshipman having to come to my rescue. I think Mar Beth was a little nervous too! She seemed to follow me around continuing to ask if I was alright. I just knew she was terrified that I would sit on something and break it or worse yet my water would break and ruin one of those lovely rugs. Admittedly, I was looking at things through pregnancy paranoia. You know how self aware you can be when you are nine months pregnant.

Naval Academy Midshipmen celebrating their graduation and commissioning.
Image from wikipedia
Tired of making trips to the ladies room, and feeling my feet swell in the heat. I persuaded Ed to take me home, assuring him that the Paulsens would only be relieved at our departure. Squeezing into our 1972 super beetle Volkswagen, where I could hardly reach to depress the clutch now that I had to have the seat back so far to accommodate my girth, we headed for home. Stopping to rent a VHS of the "Blues Brothers" for what we anticipated would be a short evening followed by a night of tossing and turning. We sat down on our well worn sofa to watch the movie, me with my feet elevated on the antique Japanese hibachi we used for a coffee table.

Elwood and Jake Blues and the Bluesmobile
image from wikipedia
Now any of you who have watched "Blues Brothers" starring Dan Aykrod and John Belushi know that this is a very funny movie. I did not watch too many scenes before a hearty belly laugh broke my water! A quick call to our obstetrician and we were on our way to Anne Arundel General Hospital at that time located in old town Annapolis.

I was prepped and wheeled into the operating room for my already agreed upon second c-section. It was twenty minutes to midnight on May 21st. The doctor looked at me and asked whether I wanted our baby to be born on the 21st or 22nd. Figuring it was better for them to take their time with the surgery I chose the 22nd.  Baby girl Kelly arrived at 12:19 am.

Notice I said Baby girl Kelly. Ed and I had picked Colby Allen Kelly as the name for a boy. Colby and Allen were the maiden names of my grandmothers who had lobbied long and hard for great grand children and unfortunately not lived to see them. We had left selecting another girls name for after graduation. Remember, we thought we had three more weeks to decide. An exhausted and exhilarated Ed, went home to care for Amanda, summon the relatives, and we decided to wait to name our new baby girl.

Outside forces have a way of butting into life when least expected. While the nurse was examining me three days later, an image Al Schaufelberger, one of Ed's company mates at USNA flashed on the television screen across the room. The sound was muted during the examination so I did not hear what had been said. I called Ed and suggested he look at the television. Much to our sorrow and dismay, the news was very bad.
Lieutenant Commander Albert Schaufelberger, the senior U. S. Naval representative at the U. S. Military Group, El Salvador had been assassinated.
LCDR Schaulfelberger meets the press just days
before his assassination. Photograph from wikipedia
Al had lived is the same neighborhood in Chula Vista, California and we had seen him as Navy schedules allowed. He made a great abalone Parmesan. His death came as quite a shock. As Ed was the only one of his company mates stationed at the Naval Academy at the time, Navy Public Affairs asked him to make comments about Al to the local newspapers and television stations. This even included being interviewed on our front lawn after Colby was brought home.

Back to baby girl Kelly... things got to be so hectic, that we never had the time to hash out different names for our new baby. Finally, the woman in charge of name registration appeared demanding to know, "What are you going to name this critter?" So Colby it was... with a concession to Ed of changing Allen to Allyn which he thought sounded more feminine.  Oh, and critter stuck too, as a nickname with a similar change to a 'y' in "Crytter".
On left, Cecily, Colby in arms of maternal grandmother Betty Werst Cone
 coming home from the hospital to 230 Chatham Lane, Annapolis.
On right, Ed and big sister Amanda holding newborn Colby.
Photographs from my personal collection.
Seven years later our paths were to cross with the Paulsen's again. Ed took command of USS Thorn DD-988 in Charleston, South Carolina. Thorn was attached to Cruiser Destroyer Group 2 commanded by none other than Rear Admiral Paulsen. I like to think that they did not associate the sophisticated Commanding Officer's wife with the very pregnant junior officer's wife they had met in Annapolis. I always thought if my water had broken at the Paulsen's Ed would have had to leave the Navy.

Rear Admiral Thomas D. Paulsen, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2
attending wreath laying ceremony at a Polish memorial. 27 Jun 1990
Online Public Access for the National Archives
Admiral Paulsen is next to the man in the red shirt.
I think you would be very proud of your grand daughter, as she is a very special Crytter.
Love, Cecily

P. S. We'll also be remembering Al this Memorial Day.

Telling My Story - Throwback Thursday - Prom 1967

Dear Grandparents,
In addition to telling your stories, I'm trying to ensure that the stories of my life are passed on to my children and grandchildren. Hopefully, they won't have to look so hard for them. Several different media outlets have designated "Throwback Thursdays" as a day to share photographs and stories.
Cecily Louise Cone with date Edward William Kelly circa April 1967
Rancocas Valley Regional High School Prom
photograph from my personal collection
This photograph of Ed and I, ages 17 and 16, is from his prom. We had only been dating about a month and believe me neither of us would have imagined that we would marry.

Prom was different in those days, no limousines, fancy hotels and restaurants. The dance was held in the gymnasium of Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey. A prom committee spent hours transforming the space to be "An Evening in Paris" (okay, I admit it took a stretch of imagination). I may be wrong about the theme but hopefully some RVRHS 1967 graduate will correct me. I'm certain that Ed doesn't remember.

I would not have spent hours shopping for a designer dress and dropping several hundred dollars. My mother made my dress (I should admit here that she majored in clothing and textile design at Oregon State). My two big splurges were shoes dyed to match the dress and having my hair professionally done. I wasn't really happy with the way it looked and combed most of it out before the dance.  Little white gloves were a must.

There was no chartered limousine. Ed came in his mother's car to pick me up. He had purchased a lovely corsage of yellow orchids, I still have the dried corsage in an old hat box. It looks better in the photograph. I should really throw it out. Wasn't he handsome in his rented white dinner jacket?

Dinner was served in the gym. I expect someone tried to spike the punch but I didn't have any. It was bright red and I was terrified I would spill it and stain my dress. The evening ended about midnight. There was no hotel suite for a cozy overnight. My parents would have killed me. I wasn't even allowed to go to the shore for breakfast the next morning. It wouldn't have worked out anyway... Ed had to be at his job selling shoes at Terry's Shoe Barn, in Rancocas Woods the next morning.

Still, we had a good time and continued to date.... in fact next month we'll have been married 43 years! Still love you, honey.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hazel Bynon Allen Cone

Dear Grandmother Cone,
How I would love to be able to talk with you! Recently, on a trip across country, we stopped in Tallahassee, Florida to meet your niece Shirley Long Collins and her daughter Allen Collins Heitz. As one does when meeting people one doesn't know, we picked a restaurant, exchanged make and model information on our cars and set out. Ed and I arrived at the restaurant first, he secured us a table and I set out for the parking lot to try to identify my relatives. Three likely candidates approached but as I started to ask about their identities, they said, "Oh, you are an Allen. We would have recognized you any where."

You always encouraged me to make time to stop and see Allen relations as we were driving across country. Mostly, I was too shy to approach people I did not know albeit relatives. I'm largely over my shyness now and make an effort to meet relations whenever I can. You said that the Allen's were lovely people and you were right. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and they brought wonderful photographs for me to see.

This is one of the great photographs that Shirley shared with me.
Hazel Bynon Allen
cropped copy of photograph in possession of niece Shirley Long Collins
used with permission
I had never seen a photograph of you as a child. There were no indications on the reverse side of the photograph as to where or when it was taken. My guess is that it was taken in Knoxville, Tennessee. I think you were between four and six, which would mean that it was taken between 1900-1902.

1900 Census showing Hazel Allen in the home of her father
Chester B Allen with mother Ida M and brother Chester D.
Enumerated 28 June 1900 by William J. Han?, Knoxville, Ward 11, Tennessee.
Image from
Because Trude and Rusty are redheaded and there were redheads on both sides of our family, I always wondered who's hair color was closest to yours. This photograph makes me think that Trude's hair color was closest to your own.

One of the other remarkable parts of this photograph is that it shows you before you lost your eye. I know you were self-conscious of your prosthetic eye. It never made any difference to us and it was years before we realized that you had lost an eye. In fact, I have to look at photographs to remember which eye it was. Shirley remembered how traumatized her mother had been that she had been responsible for your loss. Her daughter Allen, though she never met her grandmother Martha, remembered that they were always cautioned about the danger when using scissors.

It is so much fun to see you as a child, I'm going to have a framed enlargement made of this photograph! I promise to look up relations whenever I have the chance, especially Allens.


P.S. I think I also recognize the cheeks.