Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's One in Every Family - Treasure of Treasures

Jasia's dedicated work with the Carnival of Genealogy and her fabulous 100th Edition celebration has inspired me. My first effort focused on a colorful ancestor, but I kept thinking of a newfound treasure. As a long-time family history researcher I've dreamed of THE find - a letter, Bible or family record hidden in a trunk or closet that unlocks the past.  I've had some successes, but none more exciting than when I learned recently that my husband's aunt has an 1832 family Bible.  Once I picked myself and my jaw off the floor I spent a few hours photographing and poring over Leonard Smith's Bible.

Leonard Smith is my husband's gg grandfather. He was born 29 March 1794 to John and Elizabeth Fenwick Smith and died 2 July 1849. Leonard married Eliza Jamison on 3 Oct 1815. Eliza was born 19 December 1795. While I've had these dates before, I have never been able to adequately document the information. I suspected the dates were from a family Bible, but had no idea which Bible or where it was. Now I know.

An aside - my husband is from a large extended family and our visits have often been group gatherings. This trip we had a chance to visit quietly with his aunt and it was then that she remembered the Bible and other documents she had stored. Moral of the story - find some quiet time to talk to the senior members of the family!

Leonard's Bible includes a family record of both his parents' children and his own children. But it also held a number of papers tucked in its pages that give a fuller picture of the family.  Included are a number of certificates of prayer intentions for the family, confirmation and first communion certificates, sheet music for a Confederate song, and a lace-trimmed prayer written in 1852 for Rev. Mother Delphina, who I quickly discovered was a Carmelite nun and Leonard's sister (born Elizabeth Smith).

An 1833 first communion certificate for Leonard's daughter at St. Joseph's may help locate the family in the 1830 census (though not as yet).  Inside the back cover are still to be analyzed pedigree charts for the family. It's a Smith family treasure trove of information that I will happily be working on for months to come. I could not be more grateful that this one is in the family!

Leonard Smith Bible (dated 1832), The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate... Clementine Edition of the Scriptures (Baltimore: Fielding Lucas, Jr.). Privately held. Digital Images.

Submitted to the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Iva's History of Johnson City (part 2)

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is part two of a transcription of school report on Johnson City, TN written by Iva Williams. I am estimating Iva was 10-12 years old when she wrote this, which would put the date at 1910-1912. The report has corrections made in pencil. I have not included them but have maintained the spelling, grammar and punctuation Iva used. 

In the early eighties a boom started in Johnson City. General John T Wieler started this boom. The C.C.C. railroad was wanted run through Johnson City. On April 9, 1887 the people voted bonds. 445 votes were cast in favor of the bonds and not one against it. The people where so happy they fired over 100  guns. The whistles all over the town blew and the tar barrels were lighted after dark. General Wieler the Vice President of the company gave Mayor W. A. Dickinson $125 to get up a supper for the voters.
Along about this time the Water Works were brought to Johnson City. A Reservoir was built and 5000 feet of pipe was laid over the town. Then electric lights were put in. Mr. C.K. McCallum was at the head of the light company. Just after the electric lights were put in the telephone was put in. About this time grounds for five large blast furnaces and a Bessemer Steel works. The people thought they would have 30,000 people in Johnson city in five to eight years. The bill for all there works went through both houses, The House of Senate and the house of Representatives.
During the Boom Carnegie was bought and laid off. A little town was started. Two or three stores were built and the large Carnegie hotel. The street car was run down to Carnegie. The cars also run two miles out of town to Lake Watausee. Out here was a nice park where they had many picnics.
The Crash was in 1893 and lasted for about four years. The railroad failed, workers stopped working, the bank failed, the street car company failed and their line was torn up. Everything was dull for about four years. Then things began to revive a little. Railroads wer started and built 35 miles. It started at Unaka Springs and went about 5 miles north east of town to the Union Church.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Thanksgiving Blessing and Recipe

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, but it became my absolute favorite when our son was born one Thanksgiving morning. I delivered the relish tray and our daughter to a friend at dawn and our son several hours later. He arrived as the doctor rushed in from filing a police report after his car was stolen overnight and just after the television broadcast of the Macy's parade ended (along with my colorful commentary). It was quite the entrance - and one of the great blessings of my life.

Birthday and Thanksgiving have melded together - both joyous. We've put candles in pumpkin pie, had birthday cake the day after with turkey leftovers - all possible variations on the themes. But what says Thanksgiving and birthday to him more than anything else are the turkey cookies we made in lieu of cupcakes for his school classmates when he was young. Actually, we assembled them from various forms of corn syrup sweetened treats. Health food they are not. I've never managed to eat one, but my children swear they are delicious. So in his honor here they are. I won't vouch for their taste, but they are festive!

Gobbler Cookies

Ingredients:   Oreos
                     Hershey Kisses
                     Red Hots
                     chocolate frosting
                     candy corn

Spread frosting over each cookie and place Hershey Kiss on top slightly off center. This is the body. Arrange 5 or more candy corn pieces in a fan around the Kiss to make the tail. Stick a Red Hot onto top of the Kiss (on the opposite side from the tail) with more chocolate frosting to make the Gobbler's neck.

And if it's for a birthday - you can put a candle on one with even more frosting!

Happy Birthday, my love!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving: Our American Story

Cynthia Shenette at Heritage Zen wrote the loveliest post last week linking her family's history with our nation's history and issued a gentle challenge that we write about our American experience. Now I should be chopping veggies, straining turkey stock, finishing the cranberry sauce or even working on the Christmas craft project that for some insane reason I started this week. But not wanting to disappoint Cynthia (and apparently completely willing to disappoint my family), here goes...

For my children...

Our family's history is America's history. Not every moment of it's history, to be sure. But we have brushed against history makers, fought and died in the wars, built the roads and expanded the boundaries of this nation. A few of us made history. All of us lived it.

We came from England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, Haiti and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Photo by Desiree N. Williams
Our earliest immigrants landed in Virginia in 1621. We were settling Virginia and Massachusetts when, in 1634, our ancestors arrived on the Ark and the Dove and established Maryland. Over the next century and a half we pushed forward into the new world. It was not a peaceful expansion. Much blood was spilled as we took over native American lands and established our homes. Our ancestors and their children were killed in raids in Massachusetts and Virginia. We fought and killed native Americans in King Philip's and King William's Wars and fought and died in the French and Indian War.

Photo by Diorama Sky
We established homes in New England towns, plantations in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas, built cabins in the Appalachian Mountains. We were swept up in the Great Awakening and left our homes to preach the gospel along the frontiers. We moved with Daniel Boone and the Long Hunters into the wilderness of today's Tennessee and Kentucky.

By 1776 our ancestors were living in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and in the territories beyond. Ancestors from each fought for independence. Cousins argued in the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg and Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. We were Minutemen from New England. We died at Trenton. We wintered at Valley Forge.  Some cousins sided with the King and left, moving south into the Spanish territories.

As our country grew we worked in mills in New England, were merchants in Baltimore and Virginia, physicians in Maryland, plantation owners in Virginia and built farms in the hills of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We traveled west by wagon and flatboat to Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas searching for land to farm. We were missionaries and preachers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Louisiana. We owned slaves and were abolitionists. We fought and died in the Mexican-American War. We were in Kentucky with Lincoln as a boy and in Springfield, Illinois when he was a young lawyer. And when he grew up, your ancestors, uncles and cousins came from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Virginia and Tennessee to fight for and against him during the Civil War.

Statue of Liberty
Photo by video4net
In the new century we left our homes in the mountains of eastern Europe and boarded ships for America. We sailed past the Statue of Liberty, sailed into Baltimore and Philadelphia and made our way to the coal mines of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to the factories of New Jersey, Illinois and upstate New York. We had deeply established roots in East Tennessee and western Maryland where generations of our family lived and worked. The wanderers among us continued west and were ranchers and merchants in Kansas and Wyoming. We struggled during the Depression, but were more fortunate than many. We had homes and jobs, though some of us were forced to live with cousins and other relatives during those hard times. When World War II came we served in the Pacific as soldiers, sailors and nurses and shared our rations on the homefront.

We were witnesses to some of the great events during the last sixty years of America's history. We served in Europe as it rebuilt, were government agents during the Cold War, and helped push computers into all corners of our society. We were in Dallas in 1962, in Chicago in 1968, and in Philadelphia on July 4, 1976 when our nation celebrated its two hundredth anniversary.

For all of our family, all of that history I am enormously thankful this Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Iva's History of Johnson City (part 1)

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is part one of a transcription of school report on Johnson City, TN written by Iva Williams. I am estimating Iva was 10-12 years old when she wrote this, which would put the date at 1910-1912. The report has corrections made in pencil. I have not included them but have maintained the spelling, grammar and punctuation Iva used. 
Johnson City is a thriving little city in one of the valleys of East Tennessee. It is about the sixth largest city in Tennessee.
The old Johnson brick house was about the first house in Johnson City. Mr. Johnson lived in half of this house and kept the Post office in the other half. On the west side of the square is were this building stood. Opposite this building stood the depot which was a small frame building. This was called Johnson station. Johnson City got its name from Mr. Johnson, who ran the Post office.
The old Hoss and Wilburn houses were about next to be built. They were down toward where Carnegie now stands. Another old house was the the Tipton Jobe house. It stood where the Bank of Commerce is now. Tipton street got its name from this man.
West of town was a spring known as Camptown spring, Jobe and City springs were in the center of town. These three springs give water for all of the city for a good while. The Jobe and City springs are now both filled up.
There was one railroad run through Johnson City. It was called the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. In 1880 some time later Johnson City was nothing but a watering tank.

Friday, November 19, 2010

He weren't no saint...

When Jasia announced the 100th Carnival of Genealogy I immediately knew my subject. My ancestor Philip Mulkey (b. 1732) was a powerfully charismatic backwoods Separate Baptist preacher in South Carolina when he ran afoul of his neighbors and church for reasons only recently made clear.

I was raised on stories (note the word) of Philip's religious fervor, patriotism and virtue. His church at Fairforest (founded in 1760) grew rapidly and fueled the Baptists' rapid expansion in South Carolina's backwoods to the frustration of the Anglican authorities. Charles Woodmason wrote of Mulkey after he toured the area in the 1760's attempting to win back the Baptist converts.
Would any Mortal three Years past have dreamd or imagin’d that such a Person as the infamous Mulchey [sic], who came here lately in Rags, hungry, and bare foot, can now, at his beck, or Nod, or Motion of his finger lead out four hundred Men into the Wilderness in a Moment   At his speaking the Word---Without asking any questions or making the least Enquiry for what or for why….[i]
Later the Welsh Baptist minister Morgan Edwards wrote
… neither is there anything extraordinary in his [Mulkey’s] natural endowments, except a very sweet voice, and a smiling aspect; that voice he manages in such a manner as to make soft impressions on the heart and fetch down tears from the eyes in a mechanical way… [Others] might learn from Mulkey to spin that sound and mix it with awe, distress, solicitude, or any other affection.[ii]
But there were also references to gross misconduct during his lifetime, excommunication in 1790 and evidence of Loyalist sympathies uncovered by 20th century Mulkey researchers.

My grandmother and her Mulkey cousins set great store by their descent from Philip. They included him in their D.A.R. applications, referring to his participation in Col. William Christian's Cherokee Expedition in 1776 (citing Summer's Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800). They defended him against the calumnies of what they perceived as jealous minds and bigots.[iii] Wonderful family historians and histories were damned should they even suggest Philip might have strayed from the paths of virtue and revolutionary fervor. I admit to some trepidation writing this even now, almost two decades after my grandmother's death. For she and her cousins were wrong.

Mulkey's political loyalties leading up to the Revolution were divided. He publicly avowed his loyalty to the Crown several times in 1775 as tensions rose. He was present in September when the backcountry loyalists signed the Treaty of Ninety-Six, agreeing not to actively support the British against South Carolina. He apparently left for Tennessee (where his son Jonathan had settled) soon after. He was not arrested in South Carolina, nor is there evidence that his lands were confiscated. Indeed, he returned there following the war and spent many more years preaching. His motives for supporting the Crown and then joining the Cherokee Expedition the next year are unknown, but Philip Mulkey Hunt suggests he may have been less interested in politics and more concerned about the results of the political confrontations on his church members. Thus he might side with the loyalists in South Carolina where many felt the colonial government had been more abusive than the King and fight with the Col. Christian the next year to protect his family and neighbors from the Cherokee raids.[iv]

Mulkey’s reputation suffered far more from the rumors of improper behavior than his political leanings. As early as 1772 Morgan Edwards suggested as much when he wrote “a thorn was put into his flesh about 4 years ago which will … teach his votaries that he is but a man.”[v] By 1790, Mulkey had been excommunicated by the Charleston (SC) Baptist Association and its members warned of his
enormous crimes; such as adultery, perfidy and falsehood, which have been attended with very aggravating circumstances, often repeated and continued in for years; and part of the time, united with his highest pretensions of zeal and piety.[vi]
These were no light charges and historians writing about Mulkey agree that he ended his days an outcast and wanderer. His apologists (sorry Grandmother) have suggested the charges were rooted in his political disputes in South Carolina and maintain no evidence existed to support these charges. Not so.

In June, 2009 Chris DeMarco posted a link to a 1767 letter in the Brown University archives on the Mulkey Family Genealogy Forum.  The letter, written by Oliver Hart, a Baptist minister, to James Manning, president of the newly founded Brown University makes it clear that Philip Mulkey (married since 1750) had recently had an illegitimate child.
The greatest appearance we have had, for some years pass, has been among the Separatists: and especially under one Mr. Philip Mulkey. But He, poor Man, has sadly fallen, having become the Father of a spurious Child by a widow woman, a member of his own church. On account of which religion has suffered much, especially in those parts; and among that People.[vii]
That’s as clear a piece of evidence as we are ever likely to find supporting Edward’s 1772 “thorn” reference and leads me to believe there were other transgressions over the years that had nothing to do with the American Revolution or politics. It seems the Charleston Baptists were simply stating the facts when they warned their members.

Philip Mulkey, though an extraordinarily gifted preacher, had far more in common with today’s fallen televangelists than any reputable minister. He’s the most colorful and interesting ancestor I’ve come across, and though proof of his perfidy may set Grandmother spinning, I suspect a few other members of my family are grinning. We needed a scoundrel to offset all those generations of virtue and propriety. 

[i]The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Anglican Itinerant, Richard J. Hooker, ed., ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953), p. 112.
[ii] John Sparks, The Roots of Appalachian Christianity: The Life and Legacy of Elder Shubal Stearns (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2001), p. 83.
[iii] See Ella Mulkey Range’s pamphlet The Life of Reverend Philip Mulkey, His Ancestors and Descendants, 1650-1950 (n.p.).
[iv] Philip Mulkey Hunt, The Mulkeys of America (Portland, OR: n.p., 1983) pp. 56-60.
[v] Sparks, p. 83.
[vi] “1790 Minutes of the Charleston Baptist Association”, cited by Floyd Mulkey in The Strange Career of the Rev. Phlip Mulkey (Chicago: n.p., 1976).
[vii] “James Manning papers, 1761-1827,” Brown University, Brown Archival & Manuscript Collections Online (http://dl.lib.brown.edu/bamco/ : accessed 17 Nov 2010), letter, “Oliver Hart to James Manning, 23 Dec 1767,” p. 2.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Charmed!

Once, in the midst of a "conversation" with my son about our old cars, his ancient video game system, and the used ski boots I was about to buy to replace the ones he was rapidly outgrowing, he made some allusion to family values. I had been explaining the economic concept of opportunity cost and that families made different economic choices. I snapped back, "Travel is our family value!" The conversation ended. Even he, toes pinched, was not willing to trade our travels for new boots.

Bruges Lacemaker
I was fortunate to to live overseas as a young child when my father was stationed in Europe during his military service. I have no memories of the time, but we came back to the States with some treasures, including my mother's charm bracelet. It was enormous - heavy silver charms on every link. It jangled and shone, snagged sweaters and even scratched hands. Some charms moved and each represented a spot Mother or Daddy visited. She had a story about every one.

Swiss Chalet
When she died I inherited the bracelet. It was far too big and noisy for me to wear - impossible at work, church or school. I had collected my own charms, though my bracelet was a puny thing next to hers. Ultimately I decided to combine the two into a necklace. I wear it regularly and am reminded of treasured memories - Mother and our journeys.

Woods Hole Drawbridge
It was my go to classroom management tool when substituting in elementary schools. Few children could resist the reward of handling the charms and picking out one to learn about at the end of the day. I wear it to most family events - my own way of keeping Mother at the party.

And there's room to add more charms as we continue to explore.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Birthday Girls

"All birthday girls"
Lillian Knight, Eunice Holt Sawyer, Flavia Tweed Sawyer and Sara Elizabeth "Aunt Boss" Conway Dawson

This photograph is from a collection belonging to Mary Kathryn Sawyer McKenzie. Eunice was married to Mary Kathryn's first cousin Joe Henry Luther Sawyer, Flavia was her sister-in-law and Aunt Boss was her mother's sister. I don't know what, if any relationship Lillian Knight had to Mary Kathryn beyond friendship. 

Flavia and Eunice were both born on September 1st. The birthdays of Lillian and Aunt Boss are unknown. The picture was probably taken after August, 1947 when Flavia married Conway Sawyer. The location is in Cocke or Greene Counties, TN. 

Source: Birthday Girls, Photograph, date unknown. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Twenty-Five Years A Priest

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This article is from the Morning Star and Catholic Messenger (New Orleans), Sunday, Sept. 8th, 1878 issue, and was found through the Chronicling America project of the Library of Congress.
St. Louis Watchman
On the 22nd August, Rev. W. V. Meredith, C. SS. R., celebrated the silver jubilee of his priestly ordination. Father Meredith is pastor of St. Alphonsus' church in St. Louis, and superior of the religious community attached thereto, positions he has occupied uninterruptedly almost since the advent of the Redemptorists into St. Louis. The occasion was one of joy to the large congregation worshiping in the Rock Church, and was the subject of a special celebration by the members of the Holy Family of which he is spiritual director. The latter presented with a neat and feeling address.
Father Meredith is an American by birth, and, we believe, a convert to our holy faith. During the whole course of his ministry he has been a faithful and devoted priest, and an honored member of the Redemptorist order. Personally he is the most affable and most considerate of men, a kind father to his community, a wise counsellor to his people and a devoted friend to the poor. He is a man with whom it is impossible to be in antagonism long. He sways the minds of men by mildness, or subdues them by a bluff honesty in which there is no element of hauteur or anger. There is not a more popular clergyman in the whole city than Father Meredith.
It is principally to the community over which he presides, that his worth is made manifest in all its fullness. Religious communities, not being subject to the control of bishops, are dependent for guidance upon those within their own bodies to whom God has granted the rare gift of administrative wisdom and foresight. Young religious priests need constant curbing. Fed for years on the highly-seasoned and rich pabulum of the tyrocinium, they come to to the work of the ministry with the fiery spirit of untamed zeal. They are "sons of thunder" and like the "Son of Thunder" among the apostles,are liable to rush headlong where wisdom bids them pick their steps. The Jesuits have an admirable method of disciplining their recruits, and, as a result, one of them seldom raises an issue which the whole order throughout the world is not ready to sustain. Young priests, with more courage than prudence, are, among them, taught now and then to pluck a few feathers from the wings of their zeal and insert them in the tail of their discretion. The Redemptorist Fathers of this city are a most excellent body of priests - holy, zealous, laborious and kind. They have made some slight mistakes since they came to this city, but they are mistakes of well-meant endeavor, and will soon be forgotten. One thing we do not hesitate to assert, had Father Meredith's advice been taken in those matters those blunders had never been committed. A religious community is not a thing of a day or a year, but of centuries. The tree planted by Father Meredith and his companions on Grand Avenue will continue to grow and bring forth fruit long after its planters shall have gone to their account. In this light the vains of a life like that we now honor in  the person of Father Meredith is beyond computation. If planted in the soil of obedience, and be watered with the sweat of holy zeal, and the blood of generous sacrifice and mortification, it will grow to be a vast tree and under its sheltering branches generations yet unborn will sit be refreshed. Father Meredith is comparatively a young man, and, if God spares his health, capable of further and great labors in the vineyard of the Master. That his health may be thus spared, and his usefulness prolonged is the prayer of the thousands who know and revere him.


Father William Vincent Meredith is my husband's 3x great-uncle, Margaret Meredith Palmer's younger half-brother Willie. He did not live long, unfortunately, but died six years later during a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans.

St. Alphonsus Rock Church is one of the most well known parishes in St. Louis. Built originally to minister to a German immigrant population it now ministers to a primarily African American community. Its liturgies are filled with references to and expressions of African American tradition. The church itself, an outstandingly beautiful structure, was heavily damaged by fire in 2007.

I have to admit to real curiosity about Father Meredith's publicist (a Jesuit, perchance?) and the "slight mistakes" made by the Redemptorists in St. Louis.

"Twenty-Five Years a Priest," The morning star and Catholic messenger (New Orleans [La.]), September 08, 1878, Chronicling America online archive (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86086284/1878-09-08/ed-1/seq-3/ : accessed 18 September 2010), Page 3. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Church Record Sunday: The Morning Star & Catholic Messenger (New Orleans)

Though technically not a church record, this Catholic newspaper published in New Orleans from 1868 to 1881 includes a great deal of information of interest to genealogists, especially those researching family members who were priests or nuns. Catering to the English speaking population in New Orleans it covered a broad range of topics including Irish news and history, news items from around the country relating to Catholic religious orders, priests or nuns and local topics of interest.

The first issue included a rather lurid and improving story, a directory of Catholic parishes and staff in the New Orleans, information on several regional Catholic colleges, news relating to Reconstruction, advertisements from New Orleans merchants, obituaries of Catholic religious from around the country as well as prominent New Orleans Catholic laity, a report on a recent yellow fever epidemic and the following news item:
Frozen in the Confessional
The Rev. Father B. Sn_____ock, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has lately suffered the amputation of a finger, which had been frozen while the Rev. Father was sitting in the confessional!
The newspaper is part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America Project. Issues are available from 1868-1879. I first searched it looking for information on two family members, a priest and a nun, who were working in New Orleans after the Civil War. I found multiple references to the priest, including considerable information about him from St. Louis, MO where he worked for 10 years. 

Source: The Morning star and Catholic messenger. (New Orleans [La.]) 1868-1881, February 09, 1868, Morning, page 1.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day: For the women

In honor of the women who served and continue to serve ...

Read oral histories of two Navy nurses, Lt. Dorothy Danner and Capt. Ann Bernatitus during World War II. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: School Days

An undated class picture from the papers of Mary Kathryn McKenzie, who taught school in Jefferson City, TN. 

Source:  Jefferson City, TN Class portrait, undated. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Sunny Day

When I was growing up one of the poems my mother read to us often - especially at this time of year - was Thomas Hood's November - No sun, no moon, no morn, no noon, no proper time of day....

It reflected my feelings for many years, until, one glorious November day our daughter was born.  Funny how one small person can change one's perspective. It's always sunny in November now. In honor of her birthday, here are pictures of her great-grandmothers and namesakes Mary Whitaker and Anna Pereksta.

And one more that I just couldn't resist.  Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Old North

Bill West has challenged us to find poems or songs that refer to the areas our ancestors lived in his Second Great American Local Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge.  I thought about Rusyn folk songs or hymns, or one of the great folk songs heard in Cocke County that Mildred Haun cataloged in the 1930s.

Then I remembered this poem written by my husband's grandfather. I knew it was the one for this challenge. His aunt gave us a copy when we were visiting for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday earlier this fall. I especially love it at this time of year, as our own leaves fly by.

by W. Meredith Smith

Hark! the winter winds are sighing
  Round the memory-haunted tower,
E'en the evergreen is dying.
Hark! the winter winds are sighing
And the last leaves now are flying
  From the treetop and the bower.
Hark! the winter winds are sighing
  Round the memory-haunted tower.

William Meredith Smith (1877-1962) graduated from Georgetown University in 1900. After attending medical school in St. Louis he spent his life practicing medicine in Frederick, Maryland. This poem was published in 1927 in the Georgetown Anthology (Philadelphia: Dorrance & Co.). Old North, one of the oldest buildings on the campus, was built in 1794. George Washington spoke from its steps in 1797 and it marks the north side of the original quadrangle. The clock tower rises over Healy Hall on the east side. It was built shortly before Smith graduated and remains the most identifiable structure at the University.

The tower obviously loomed large in Smith's memory. It was not there when his cousins attended Georgetown College in the 1830s and 40s, nor when his father attended before the Civil War, though Old North was. As one of the few Catholic schools in the area it was a beacon for Smith's family. No school has had more significance in his family's history. At least six members attended Georgetown - including his father, son, and grandson. 

My own father graduated from Georgetown's law school which was a key reason I enrolled there. The photographs were taken September 2, 1979 when William Meredith Smith's grandson and I were married at Dahlgren Chapel in the quadrangle. Old North is the building behind us as we kissed. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Selling success

My grandfather was a salesman - and a good one, at that. He sold mens clothing most his life. For decades he travelled across the South, writing home and coming home as often as he could. In 1955 and 1956 he was selling the Storrs-Schaefer line. His commission earnings of $5,084.38 compares to $90,700 today. I don't know if this was his commission for the year or season - in which case 1955 was a VERY good year.

The accompanying  letter, written January 16, 1956, on letterhead from Storrs-Schaefer Incorporated of Cincinnati, reads
Mr. Bob Sawyer,

Dear Bob:

It is a pleasure to enclose a might good looking sales report showing commission due you of $5,084.38. The necessary deductions are listed on the stub of the check and we are happy to enclose check for $3,422.79, which we know you will put to good use. Our congratulations.
We are receiving some might gratifying comments on the new line and know you are making plans for one of the best Spring seasons you have had. Lots of luck and with kind regards, we are.

                                                            Sincerely yours,

                                                            STORRS-SCHAEFFER, INC.
                                                            A. M. Storrs
Later he was part-owner of a men's clothing store in Morristown, TN. He was a very handsome man, but frequently wore clothes kindly described as garish (at least to my adolescent eyes) when he worked. He maintained it was a tried and true sales strategy. He wore the wildest clothes in the store which made his more conservative customers comfortable buying flashier clothes than they might ordinarily have chosen.

Visiting him at work was one of the highlights of going down to Tennessee. We would walk the few blocks down to the store to be greeted and fussed over no end. He would take us next door to the drug store for lunch where we would sit at the soda fountain. We would nibble our sandwich (I remember the egg salad) and sip our soda while he bragged on us.  Our feet would swing from the stools. When we were done he would lift us down, head back to work and we would walk up the hill to the house.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

They voted. Did you?

One of my favorite source documents is a copy of an election poll for the House of Burgesses held at the Lancaster County (VA) Court House on July 18, 1758. Included in the list of voters for the winning candidates (William Ball & Charles Carter) are many ancestors and relations. A generation later their children fought for independence. 

On August 7, 1826 my husband's 4th great-grandfather William A. Clark(e), who emigrated to the United States shortly after its independence, voted at the court house in Springfield, Illinois. 

My great great-grandfather Archibald Sawyer(s) was a registered voter in Jefferson County, Tennessee on July 19, 1865. He had moved his family further into the mountains to try and escape the violence of the Civil War. It is not clear that he actually voted. 

But this morning I did.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Day Nursery Opens

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is an excerpt from the "Connie's Corner - Odds and Ends", Morristown (TN) Gazette and Mail, April 4, 1946.  The column was written by Connie Haun, who was married to my first cousin, once removed.

Coming in like a breath of sunshine on Thursday were Betty Jo Bales and her three guests from Mary Baldwin, who were down to spend a grand week-end at Chucky Bend. They had reached Morristown on that early morning train that comes in from the east with the break of dawn, but to look at them you would never have known that any in the foursome had ever lost a wink of sleep.
Mrs. L. W. Vandergriff is filling a much-needed want in Morristown by the opening of a day nursery where busy or working mothers may find a safe place to leave their children while they carry on necessary duties. Mrs. Vandergriff has actual experience in this work, since she was with a big nursery in Chicago, while her husband was in college there. She has fitted rooms in her new home on West Main street where the children may be happy and carefree as they play or occupy themselves in useful and interesting games. In this time of limited household help, such a nursery will prove a boon to busy mothers.