Sunday, March 18, 2018

Happy Birthday Grandfather Cecil Oscar Werst

Dear Grandfather Cecil,

(I'm updating a post written to my grandfather, Cecil Oscar Werst  16 Mar 1900-24 Oct 1927 in 2018. By now you have been able to meet your daughter Helen who passed 17 Oct 2019. Another great-great grand daughter has been born and we are celebrating the 124th anniversary of your birth). 

Today we are celebrating the 118th anniversary of your birth in what was then called Grasshopper Falls, Kansas. Please forgive me for not addressing you as grandfather. Having never met you, I do not know if you would have preferred Papa, Grampa, or whatever. I've always thought of you as Cecil. Named for you, I always wondered if children had made fun of your name when you were in school like they did with mine. Thinking of you as Cecil helped me think that I had an ally in the name wars of childhood.

Cecil Oscar Werst
circa 1926
You are the 7th child of Lewis and Mary Jane (Barnes) Werst. The Werst side of your family was part of the Somerset Church Of the Brethren congregation of Wabash County, Indiana that emigrated to Jefferson County, Kansas in 1864.

1900 Federal Population Schedule for Rock Creek Township,
Jefferson County, Kansas showing family of Louis and Mary J Werst
with seven children including 2 month old Cecil O Werst. 8 Jun 1900
In the 1900 Federal Census, Lewis was working as a carpenter and states that he has only been employed for three months so far that year. The family is living in a rented home. I expect you had no memories of life in Kansas as your family soon moved west to Washington State.

Your Dad had been married once before he married your mother 1 Oct 1885. He and his first wife, Lunnete "Mattie" (Fitzsimmons) Werst were the parents of your three older half brothers, Jasper Lewis, George Franklin and Forest Dean Werst. Their mother died in April 1884.

Jasper had followed his maternal Uncle Charles Wesley Fitzsimmons to Pataha, a small community near Pomeroy, Garfield County in the Washington Territory. This was wheat country, not the forested country of Western Washington.

From by Russell Lee, 1941
How wheat was harvested before combines.
Jasper had written home about the plentiful opportunities in the new state and Lewis and Mary Jane decided to follow the opportunity. We do not know if they traveled by wagon or rail. It must have been a logistical challenge to move a family of nine more than 1,000 miles.

The family settled in and their next and last son, Alvin Edgar Werst was born Christmas Eve 1902 in Garfield County. Alas, Lewis was not a farmer. The death of their 10 year old son Guy Alfred on November 24, 1905, the day after Thanksgiving appears to have been the last straw for the family attempt at farming .

Before the end of the year, they moved further west to Belma in Yakima County. This area was known for its apple orchards. It was also an area where the Federal Government was building dams and irrigation canals and there was plenty of work for a carpenter ready to give up on wheat farming.
By the time the 1910 census was taken, Lewis was a prosperous contractor with three of his older sons working as carpenters for him.

Prosperity for the family was short lived, Lewis sickened and died in 1916. With your older brothers married and raising families of their own, supporting your Mother and younger brother fell to you. Thanks to, we know you applied for work as a fireman on the Northern Pacific Railway 21 May 1918 at Pasco, Washington.


We don't know why you lied about your age on the application. Did you think that being 19 would give you a better opportunity? The application states that you were 5ft 8 inches tall and weighed about 140 pounds. You had blue eyes and medium brown hair. You were hired and started work 2 days later. Evidently, the job did not suit you as you resigned effective June 3rd. It wasn't your job performance as the superintendent stated "services satisfactory." Were you homesick? Didn't like the work? Unfortunately, we don't know.

Eighteen months later, the 1920 Census lists you as head of the household, age 19, sole support of your mother and younger brother Alvin. You are listed as a laborer doing general work for wages.

1920 Federal Census for Grandview Precinct, Yakima, Washington
Household of Werst, Cecil
We don't really know much about your life between 1920 and 1924. We know you went to Pendleton, Oregon where your brother Clem was working as a carpenter building houses. Across the street from Clem and Bessie lived Harley "Hal" and Madge (Colby) Massey. Beginning in the summer of 1923, the Massey's were hosting Madge's younger sister Ada Grace. She had moved in after completing two years at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). Grace had discovered her stepmother had given away the dog she left at home in Newberg and vowed to never return to her father's house while her step-mother lived.

I wish we could know what you thought of Grace. I think she was quite the live wire. She had been President of her 1921 Newberg High School class and involved in everything. She was a modern woman, working as a secretary. I expect that she was also the whirlwind that swept you off your feet.

Ada Grace Colby circa 1922 from family collection
You did have many things in common. You had both lost a parent in your teenage years. You were both born in Kansas. You had each lived on farms and knew you wanted to seek your life's work elsewhere. You were both younger children in large families. Most of all, you both were determined to better yourselves.

Many years later, she talked with we grandchildren about her ambitions for you. She talked about how she helped you refine your dress, speech and manners. She also talked about how she loved to hear you play your banjo.

By August 8, 1924, you were in Spokane, Washington getting married.

We think this may have been your wedding photograph.
The next three years passed all too quickly for Grace. You were promoted from salesman to Field Manager for the Royal Silk Hosiery Company. She was forced to leave her position as a secretary for the Spokesman Review Newspaper when her pregnancy began to show. Your daughter Betty Lorraine was born June 23, 1926.
Cecil with daughter Betty circa Fall 1926
Grandmother Hoo Hoo, our pet name for Grace, told us how you doted on your daughter. She talked about you taking her on rides in the park, including the Merry-go-round. She talked about the wonderful three month trip through all your Royal Silk territories in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
What an adventure for the family of three who would soon become a family of four!

Sadly, it was not to be. One of your teeth was bothering you. It was removed, an infection set in, and you were dead in two weeks at age 27 years, 7 months and 8 days. Your death certificate says that one of the leukemias added to your condition. A young life, cut way too short.

Cecil Oscar Werst's Death Certificate

We can not know what you could have accomplished. You left behind a stunned, pregnant wife and a fifteen month old daughter.

I wonder if you ever imagined the size of your family now. We gathered last weekend to wish Helen (Werst) (Pearce) Caldwell, the daughter you never met, a happy 90th birthday. You have 24 surviving descendants and hopefully have been reunited with your daughter Betty.

Happy Birthday Cecil! Your legacy lives on.

Your granddaughter,

Monday, February 5, 2018

Roger Williams arrived in New England 387 years ago today. #52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, week 6

Dear Great Grandfather Roger,
Today we celebrate the 387th anniversary of your arrival in Massachusetts. Honestly, I would not have remembered but this morning it was listed in our newspaper as one of the notable things that happened on 'This Day in History'. Not bad for someone who passed from this life some 300 years ago.

When we studied 'Roger Williams: Champion of Religious Freedom and Founder of Rhode Island' in school, I was attracted to your story but had no idea that you were my 11th great grandfather. If I'd known our relationship, I promise I would have paid more attention.  We know much more about  your life today than was covered in that long ago history class.

Born circa 1603 in London, England, you were the son of James Williams a tailor and merchant and his wife Alice (perhaps Pemberton). Evidently you were quite precocious taking shorthand notes of sermons and speeches in the Star Chamber. Noticed by Sir Edward Coke, he sent you to Sutton's Hospital (Charterhouse School) in 1621. Your progress was such that you then entered Pembroke College of Cambridge University in 1625, completing your bachelor of arts degree in 1627.
Pembroke College, Cambridge University from,_Cambridge
It is supposed that you took the orders to become a minister of the Church of England. A record of your ordination has not yet been found. We know that by 1629 you were serving as chaplain to Sir William Masham of Oates in Essex. Was it your dislike of the Anglican liturgy or Bishop Laud who impelled you to immigrate to Massachusetts? I wish you could provide that answer.
All Saints Church at High Laver, site of Roger and Mary Williams marriage.
by Charles01 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Oxyman using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,
We know you married Mary Barnard December 15, 1629 at High Laver, Epping Forest, Essex. What an adventure for a newly married couple to travel to Bristol and board the ship Lyon and sail for New England December 1, 1630. Crossing the north Atlantic in the dead of winter must have been terrifying. It must have been a hellish 65 days. The Lyon also brought food stores to the famished colony at Plymouth. The arrival must have been the cause of quite the celebration.

The North Atlantic painting (circa 1900) by Charles H. Woodbury 1864-1940
from the Library of Congress Collection
It is written that you were invited to fill the pulpit of John Wilson who was visiting in England. You declined the offer because his Puritan church in Boston had not formally separated from the Church of England. You felt more comfortable with the Pilgrims of Plymouth who were 'separatists' having formed their own church when they fled England for Holland in 1607. Your determination to achieve the separation of church and state as well as your friendship with Native Americans and your role in the founding of Rhode Island are stories for another day.

Today we are thankful for the courage of you and your wife. We owe our existence to that courage.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Our descent from Roger and Mary (Barnard) Williams is as follows:
Their daughter Mary Williams married John Sayles
Their daughter Mary Sayles married John Holmes
Their daughter Susannah Holmes married Rev. Valentine Wightman
Their daughter Mary Wightman married Capt. Joshua Rathbone
Their daughter Martha Rathbone married Uriah Stephens
Their daughter Martha Stephens married George Hornell
Their son George Hornell, Jr. married Sarah Thacher
Their daughter Lydia Hornell married 2nd John Champion Clarke
Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton
Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Their son Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynon Allen
Their son Charles Newton Cone, Jr. is my father.

Interesting that most of this descent is traced on the female line.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jonathan Lyman 1684 - 1753 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Dear Grandparents,
As we start 2018, I've signed up to participate in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" prompts. I am hoping my participation will help me tackle writing about one of your lives each week this year. Where to start? Now that is a challenge. I decided to start with the only person in my direct line for whom I can document a January 1st birthday, my 7th great grandfather, Jonathan Lyman.

Born in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, January 1, 1684 (Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988,, 2011, p 24), he is the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Coles) Lyman. They were married 26 May 1675 in Northampton (, Massachusetts: Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988).
Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts shown in red on this map from
His ancestry was English on both sides. Jonathan's paternal family came to Massachusetts from High Onger, Essex, England in 1631.
St. Mary's Church in High Onger, England was built about 1181. In all probability the Lyman family worshipped here.
Image from

His great grandfather Richard Lyman  was the 11th member of the Roxbury, Massachusetts Church and then moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1636 (Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Online database: American, New England Historical Genealogical Society, 2010 p 1217).

The English origins of his maternal great grandfather, James Coles, have not been discovered. He immigrated to Massachusetts before 1639 and also lived in Hartford (Rising Genealogy: Descendants of Jonathan Rising of Suffield, Connecticut,, North American, Family Histories, 1500-2000, database online, Provo, UT, 2016, Appendix D).

When Jonathan was 12, his family joined a number of other families from Northampton who moved to the fairly new community of Lebanon in New London County, Connecticut. He spent most of the rest of his life in Lebanon. He became a farmer and landowner (Coleman Lyman, Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Lyman from High Ongar in England 1631, New York 1878, p 166

We do not know the exact date of his marriage to Lydia Loomis. Part of the page is torn from the church records and the date is missing (, Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, Provo, UT 2013, V 4 p 3). We imagine sometime before their first child, Jonathan Lyman, was born September 1708. Lydia is the daughter of Deacon Joseph and Hannah (Marsh) Loomis. Her family came from Essex, England in the 1630s.

Jonathan and Lydia are the parents of eleven children born over 18 years in Lebanon. They are:
  • Jonathan b. 19 Sep 1708,  d. 1709.
  • Lydia  b. 23 Nov 1709,  m. Thomas Webster,  d. 10 Dec 1790 in Bolton, Tolland, CT.
  • Jonathan  b. 23 Apr 1712, m. Bethiah Clark 2 Oct 1735, d. 28 Jul 1792 Lebanon.
  • Sarah  b. 24 Jan 1713,  m. William Hunt 19 Dec 1734 Lebanon, d. 7 Feb 1746.
  • Hannah  b. 15 Feb 1715, m. Simeon Hunt 29 Jul 1736 Lebanon, d. 2 Jan 1758 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Joseph  b. 3 Jul 1718, m. Joanna Loomis 2 Dec 1741 Lebanon, d. 15 May 1751 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Jacob  b. 4 May 1721, m. Mehitable Bushnell 26 Jun 1745, d. 15 Jan 1802 Andover, Tolland, CT.
  • Rachel  b. 4 May 1721, m. Edmund Grandye 15 May 1745 Lebanon, d. 1815.
  • Zeriah  g. 14 Apr 1723, m. Samuel Bushnell 5 Oct 1743 Lebanon, d. Feb 1745 Lebanon.
  • Elijah  b. 21 Jul 1727, m. Esther Clarke 14 Dec 1748 Lebanon, d. 5 Apr 1782 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Anna b. 28 Jan 1730, m. Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748 Lebanon d. 24 Apr 1823 Lebanon.
Jonathan died 11 Aug 1753 and is buried in the Old Cemetery in Lebanon. He wrote his will 25 Dec 1732. The probate file contains 10 pages of inventory items. Among my tasks for the new year is transcribing the 30 pages in his will packet.

Jonathan Lyman's Headstone from Photo by Sara
Our descent from Jonathan and Lydia (Loomis) Lyman follows:
  • Their youngest daughter Anna married Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748
  • Their daughter Anna Lyman Tiffany married James Clarke, Jr. 18 Jan 1781
  • Their son James Augustus Clarke's second marriage was to his first wife Anna's sister, Parnel Champion. We are descended from the second marriage.
  • Their son John Champion Clarke married Lydia Hornell 2 Oct 1845.
  • Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton 2 Oct 1865.
  • Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone 29 May 1889.
  • Their son, my grandfather, Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen 4 Sep 1926
Only while writing this descent did I realize that Charles and Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton were married on her parents' 20th wedding anniversary. My husband and I were married on my parents' 22nd anniversary.

Besides chronicling an ancestor's life, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" is rapidly filling in my 2018 Genealogical To Do List. Johnathan Lyman was a known ancestor for me. He is included in the pedigree chart prepared by my granduncle William L. Cone and passed on to me by my grandfather Charles N. Cone. Most of the facts included in this post are based on research I've done over the last 20 years. Still, I thought a search might reveal additional life events.

That simple search found a 1983 Master's Thesis by Robert Charles Anderson entitled "Genealogy and Social History: the Early Settlement of Lebanon, Connecticut, as a case study."(Masters Theses 1911-February 2014, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, #1282,  Yes, that Robert Charles Anderson, the author of the Great Migration Study. I do not know if he has a personal interest in Lebanon but I certainly do. I found 28 families to whom I have a connection in his paper.

Genealogy is often a linear pursuit, following one or another family by generation up the family tree. In my case, I have been concentrating on the stories of individual ancestors. Now I realize I also need to spend time on cluster research in places like Lebanon. Anderson identified immigrants to Lebanon from Northampton, MA, Norwich, CT, and Hartford, CT. He wondered in his paper if they had intermarried or had stayed within their original groups. It may have taken a couple of generations but my family tree contains intermarriages from all three groups. I will be spending time this year looking for family members in the sources mentioned in Anderson's bibliography.

Happy New Year,
Cecily Cone Kelly