Friday, March 10, 2023

Helen Louise (Werst) (Pearce) Caldwell 1928-2019

Dear Grandparents,

I started writing this post in March of 2020 and then COVID happened and all of our lives changed. I'm just getting back to it this year in time to celebrate Aunt Helen's 95th birthday. 

This is the first year in a long while that I will not be sending birthday greetings to Aunt Helen. She is in your company this year, not ours. It is very strange as she has always been an important part of my life. I was named for her and Cecil, so I became Cecily Louise. Like most of our stories, her story is complicated.

Cecil Oscar and Ada Grace (Colby) Werst in Spokane, Washington circa August 8, 1924.

It wasn't a very auspicious beginning for Helen. Her father, Cecil Oscar Werst, had died from an infected tooth 4.5 months before her birth. It was before penicillin, and he was gone in 10 days, leaving behind a stunned, pregnant wife, Grace (Colby) Werst and their 15 months old daughter, Betty Lorraine.

At age 27, death was probably the last thing on Cecil's mind. Times were good. The family was living in a comfortable rented house on McClellan Street in Spokane, Washington. Cecil had been promoted to manager at the Royal Silk Hosiery Company. Grace had worked as the secretary to the publisher of the Spokesman Review Newspaper and left her position to welcome their first child. We're not certain if Cecil or Grace already knew there was another baby on the way. He left no life insurance, some savings but most of that was invested in stocks.

Feeling desperate, Grace and Betty traveled by train to Pendleton, Oregon so she could be with her sister Madge (Colby) Massey during her confinement. Helen Louise Werst was born 10 Mar 1928 in Pendleton, Oregon.

Betty, Grace and Helen from left to right in Spokane circa 1928

Grace tried, really tried, to make it with her two girls back in Spokane. She was a modern woman and wanted to stand on her own two feet. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find a job, childcare, etc.
Complicating things even more was the economic situation in the country. Beginning in March 1929, the Federal Reserve began warning of the dangers of stock speculation and by October 29th everything crashed. The stocks that Grace held became worthless. She wrote to the company heads of each of the stocks she held pleading for a job.

Grace had to give up the rented home, sell many of their belongings and move in with Madge and her husband Harley Massey in Pendleton. Finally, a letter came with the offer of a job as a stenographer at the Smith Tower in Seattle. How could she get there? find a place to live? and most importantly, what about her daughters? I'm certain that she agonized about these decisions. In the end, Betty stayed with Aunt Madge and Uncle Hal in Pendleton and Helen went with her Mom to Seattle.

They probably traveled by train and found a boarding house recommended by co-workers or family friends. She arranged for Helen to stay with an older couple during the day and went to work. This arrangement lasted until the summer of 1932. Grace's father William Wallace Colby wrote asking her to come home and take care of him after his second wife passed.

Helen and Grace in Seattle circa 1930

Grace jumped at the chance to finally be able to raise her girls together at Pine Lawn Farm where she had spent her older childhood years. From the recounted stories, it was quite a change for everyone. Grace had been head of her family, making her own money and deciding how it would be spent. The much youngest of five girls, Grampa Colby was 45 when she was born, now he was 75 and set in his ways.  He thought children should be seen but not heard and he was not shy about expressing his opinions on how Grace should be raising her daughters.

Betty and Grampa Colby (William Wallace Colby 1857-1936) at Pine Lawn Farm

It must have been difficult for the girls also! Betty had been left behind with her Aunt and only saw her mother the few times when she was sent on the bus from Pendleton to Seattle with a family friend who drove the bus. She missed her father and was away from her mother at the same time. Helen didn't get to see her mother during the day and was not fond of the couple who cared for her. She was jealous that Betty had nicer clothes that Aunt Madge had purchased. What a challenge for them all.

Turned out that Pine Lawn Farm was a wonderful place to spend one's childhood. There were animals, chores and kids the same age across the street. There was not much money, but it was the depression and few people had money. They could trade the chickens and prunes they raised for other crops and services they needed. The "farm" gave them a sense of belonging to a place that I've never had in my nomadic life. Maybe that's why we're keeping it in the family.

Above barn at Pine Lawn Farm, below farmhouse

Helen at farm circa 1945

                                              Betty, Grace and Helen at the farm circa 1945                                               
There is much more to add to her story but this is a good place to stop with chapter one. 

Happy 95th birthday Aunt Helen! We miss you!


Friday, February 17, 2023

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Catch-up I'd like to Meet Simpson Barnes

 Dear Grandparents,

There are so many ancestors that I would like to meet, that it is a difficult task to select just one. Given that task, I select one of my brick walls, my 2nd great grandfather Simpson Barnes. I have been searching to identify Simpson’s parents for many years. No image of Simpson Barnes has been passed down through my part of the family. Most of what I know of Simpson comes from the census records he left behind.

The earliest record I have is the 1850 Federal Census enumerated on the 31st of August 1850 by W. W. Wood in the Township of Cambria, Hillsdale County, Michigan.

This shows Simpson Barnes, on line 11, as a 23 year old Farmer born in NY state with Angelina Barnes, whom I know to be his wife, age 20 born in Ohio and their 3 months old son Wesley David Barnes, born in Michigan. They are the household listed just below the family of Wesley Burgoyne, age 46, born in Virginia, his wife Sarah age 44 born in Pennsylvania and their son James Burgoyne age 18 born in Ohio.

Of special not is the tick mark for Simpson Barnes that indicates he could not read or write.

By 1856, Simpson Barnes is living in Columbia, Wapello County, Iowa. The others in the family are only identified by initials but A, aged 25 born in Ohio, married and like Simpson has lived in Iowa for 3 years. This person seems to be Angelina. Their son is identified as C. W. born in Mich who has lived in Iowa for 3 years which seems to line up with the son previously listed as Wesley. There is also a one year old female listed as E. E. born in Iowa.

The 1859 Kansas State Census lists Simpson Barnes, who settled in Osakaloosa, Jefferson County in November 1858. Immediately below his enumeration is James Burgoyne who settled there in August 1858. This James Burgoyne is more probably, his wife Angelina's young brothe James. There is another column that mentions those who are not allowed to vote and a Barns, W. C. is listed there. Thre is significant blled through from the next page on the record image so more investigation is needed.

In the 1860 Federal Census, James Burgoyne and family are enumerated directly above the record for Simpson Barnes still in Oskaloosa, Oskaloosa Township, Jefferson County, Kansas. Both men are listed as farm laborers with real estate of $100 and personal estate of $50. Simpson has two additional children, William age 2 and James age 11 months. Simpson can still not read or write but his older children are attending school.

The 1865 Kansas State census gives the most complete listing of Simpson’s and Angelina’s family. Children are still listed only by initials but sone C. W. is 14, daughter E. E. is 11, son W. N. is 10, son J. E is 5, daughter M. J. is 3 and son T. S. is 7 months old. I believe that daughter M. J. is my great grandmother Mary Jane (Barnes) Werst. Sadly, Simpson is still illiterate. However, he is now a farmer with land that he owns.

I listened to a webinar by the noted genealogist and researcher Elizabeth Shown Mills recently. She talked about how often we have the answers to some of our questions in the documents that we have already found but not completely analyzed. Today was the first time I noticed that Simpson was illiterate and is marked so on every census.  I also looked at some other information that I had collected for Simpson. 

Several years ago,  I found a U.S. General Land Office Record for Simson Barnes on The place listed was Crawford, Iowa so I wasn’t entirely convinced that this person was the same as my Simpson so I merely saved it as in 1860, my Simpson was living in Jefferson County, Kansas. This time I went back to the original record from the Bureau of Land Management at|st=IA|cty=|ln=Barnes|fn=Simson|sp=true|sw=true|sadv=false. 

This time there was a complete image of the Military Warrant 46210 issued in Iowa on May 1, 1860 to Simson Barnes “minor Child of John J. Barnes deceased private Captain Stokes Company, Ohio Militia, War 1812.” It further states that the land has been duly located upon, “the east half of the Southwest quarter of Section twelve in Township Eighty-three of Range thirty eight in the District of Lands subject to sale at Council Bluffs, Iowa containing eight acres.”

Turns out, Simson Barnes assigned this land to Andrew L. Grimes, which means he probably sold the land to Mr. Grimes because he was living in Kansas.


Finally! A clue as to who "Simson’s", "Simpson’s" father. John J. Barnes is listed in the Ohio Militia for the War of 1812 and he is in Captain Stoake’s Company. I have to keep reminding myself that spelling does not count and was not standardized until the 20th century and Simpson was illiterate.

Captain Stoake’s Company was raised from Harrison County, Ohio which is due west of Pittsburgh, PA.  I do not have any records of Simpson from Harrison County and every record I do have lists him as having been born in New York state. The Ohio Militia fought in New York State. So now my working hypothesis is that John Barnes met Simpson’s mother in New York and settled there. Clearly, much more research to do. It would be so much easier to just meet and he could provide all the answers.



PS. For family members her is our relationship to Simpson Barnes
Simpson and Angelina (Burgoyne) Barnes, their daughter 
Mary Jane Barnes married Lewis Werst, their son
Cecil Oscar Werst married Ada Grace Colby, their daughter
Betty Lorraine (Werst) Cone is my mother.

Happy National Inventors Day! February 11, 2023

Dear Granddaddy and Grandfather Allen,

We're celebrating National Inventors' Day this weekend. Talk of inventions were standard during my childhood. Each trip to see our grandparents in Oregon entailed a tour of the Pacific Adhesives Corporation, my paternal Grandfather's firm. We had tours of the plant, got to see the new railroad cars, and especially got to visit my Grandfather's laboratory. There were always experiments underway and it was fascinating even if it didn't always smell great. Granddaddy held several patents including US2191070A on the Process of manufacturing plywood which was assigned to M&M Wood Working Co. The original application was filed 19 Feb 1935. Drawing from the patent below.

Granddaddy was not the only inventor in the family. Chester Bynon Allen, Grandmother Cone's father also had several patents to his name. His first patent was filed June 16, 1908 and was approved July 6, 1909. It is Patent No 927,205 for Wainscoting. He developed the process while living in Johnson City, Tennessee and working as President of the Standard Oak Veneer Company and the Allen Panel Company.

Both men had several patents all of which have expired now.

I knew my grandfather well and was lucky enough to know him as an adult. He was always willing to read to us as children and never backed away from an intellectual discussion when we were adults.

Love this photograph of him as a young chemist and inventor circa 1932.

My great grandfather Chester Bynon Allen died October 21, 1945, so I never new him. I talked with one of his older grandchilren, H. Brent Cooke, III, about him several years ago. Brent said that he remembered him sitting at the table reading his newspaper, and looking askanse over the paper at some of the opinions that his wife was expressing. The photograph below was posted by Lawrence Allen, another of his great grandchildren. I think I detect some remainder of the red hair he was supposed to have passed on to my Grandmother.

Febrary 13, 2023 was the 157th anniversary of his birth.


Jeremiah Pratt marries Jennet Pratt February 16, 1790

 Dear Grandparents,

When family historians run across marriage records where each member of the couple's surname is the same, the first thought is often that the bride's maiden name has been lost to time. The second thought might be this is going to be cousin marrying cousin. Such were the ideas that occured to me when I found the record of the marriage of Jeremiah Pratt and Jennet Pratt February 16, 1790 by the Rev. Richard Ely.  They were married in the Second Congregational Church in Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut. The second church was organized June 19, 1726 in an area that is now Westbrook, a town that was formed from Saybrook in 1840. Interestingly, Jeremiah and Jennet are not the only all Pratt couple whose marriage is recorded on the same page of the church records. A marriage between Nataniel Jones Pratt and Tempe Pratt is recorded on December 10, 1789.  So are Jeremiah and Jennet closely related?

Looking at the family tree of their daughter and my 3rd great grandmother Harriet (Pratt) Utley, we can see that there is more than one Pratt to Pratt marriage as Jeremiah's parents Edward and Mary were both Pratts also.

The following chart shows Jeremiah's and Jennet's parentage.

So Jeremiah's 3rd great grandparents are the same as Jennet's 4th great grandparents making them 4th cousins once removed. Interestingly, Jeremiah's mother, Mary Pratt, is not related to the others.

Jeremiah and Jennet are the parents of eleven children. My 3rd great grandmother Harriet Pratt was born 19 Oct 1806 in Burlington Flats, Otsego County, NY and died there 3 Jun 1892 aged 85. She married Philip Utley on 25 Nov 1827 and they were the parents of 8 children. She did not seem to suffer from having a number of Pratts in her family tree.


PS for family members our relationship to Jeremiah and Jennet (Pratt) Pratt
their daughter 
Harriet Pratt and Philip Utley their daughter,
Eliza Harriet Utley and William Warner Cone, their son
Frederick Naaman Cone and Helen Brown Newton, their son
Charles Newton Cone and Hazel Bynon Allen my paternal grandparents