Inspirational Message

Inspirational Message

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge - A work in progress

I started writing on the first day of the challenge, February 1.  I made my outline and wrote an introduction.

Now what.  I chose to write on my brick wall, Hiram B. Louthan.  Well, I have plenty of questions but no conclusion.  So, I shifted my focus on his descendants.  I scoured published family sketches in county history books and asked my dad for stories he could recall.  He had a few about his father and grandfather that I had not heard.  I had posted previously on Talented Tuesday a story of baseball players in the Louthan family.  Guess what???  My grandfather,Lester, so the story goes, gave up an opportunity to be a pitcher for the New York Yankees to marry his sweetheart.  They married in 1936 in Woodward, Woodward County, Oklahoma.  His dad played baseball in Barber County, Kansas and Major County, Oklahoma in the late 1890's and early 1900's. The newspaper article above is my great grandfather, Sam.  He was born in Linn County, Missouri in 1872 and moved to Barber County, Kansas in 1884.  He made the Land Run of 1893 into the Cherokee Outlet (Cherokee Strip) with his brother, Bert, and father, John. All of my grandfather's brothers and cousins played baseball on the Chester team in Major County, Oklahoma in the 1930's.  At one time, they called themselves Cardinals.  The photo below was published in the "Chester America 73838" centennial booklet in 1995.
My grandfather is the guy peeking between the shoulders, third from the right.  He was born in Major County, Oklahoma in 1914.  they played on Sunday afternoons,  in other communities or in someone's pasture if there wasn't a baseball field.  One team in the area was called 'River Rats' and the members of this team lived anywhere between Chester and Longdale. According to the centennial booklet, the baseball team ceased to exist in the 1940's.

Below is another photo of the Chester Team that I have a copy of in my loose leaf binder.  I think it was taken earlier than the one to the above.

My grandfather is the guy in the back  looking over the shoulder of the guy in bib overalls.

From the centennial book is this quote from an opposing team member:
"When we went to play Chester we figured we might get beat because those guys knew how to play ball."
No one on the Chester team ever received compensation, but they did pass the hat to help pay for their equipment.

Today is the last day of the Family History Writing Challenge.  I find that in the stories that my dad sent me, are clues to be followed up on.  One story is of the 84 Hour Blizzard on 1938.  My dad was a baby, but the locals talked about this blizzard for years to come.  The snow drifts were as high as 20 feet and cows were seen standing on roof tops, according to their tales.

I have reached out to distant cousins for their stories as well.  The Louthan family split off into different directions following the Civil War.  There were four children, Oliver, John, James and Margaret.  Oliver and John went to Missouri about 1865.  James and Margaret, who married siblings of the Ellis family, stayed in Ohio until around 1880 when they moved together to Stafford County, Kansas.  Margaret died in 1905 in Stafford County,  After her death, James move his family to Barber County, Kansas.  John had one son still living in Barber County at this time.  This may have been the first contact since the Civil War between John and James' families.  Edwin, John's son, traveled back to Linn County, Missouri and brought a bride back to Kansas.  She died 10 days after the birth of her daughter, Mable.  Mable was her sixth baby, born on 16 Feb 1900.  The three youngest children were sent to live with relatives.  Mable, and her sister Stella, were sent back to Linn County, Missouri.  Sister, Edna, was sent to Major County, Oklahoma to Edwin's brother and sister-in-law, Bert and Belle.  Belle was a sister to Edwin's wife Sally.  Edwin stayed in Barber county for many years before moving to Seward County, Kansas.  He was granted a land patent in Seward county in 1914.  In 1916, Edwin married a widow, Laura Kipper.  Laura was a native of Linn County, Missouri.

In 2005 or 2006, my mother and I made a trip to Nashville, Barber County, Kansas to interview a descendant of James.  My parents moved into the neighboring county in 1965, and while working as a traveling salesman, my dad met one of the descendants.  He didn't make an attempt to stay in contact with them.

Last year I found a living descendant of Margaret, he lives in California.  I found him through the memorial pages he posted on Find-A-Grave.  I am slowly and steadily knitting this family back together.

When I started writing the family history, I kept finding clues and then doing more research.  I don't know when I will be able to reach a conclusion to my family history story.  That is a decision I will have to make some day.  That day will not be today, and that is okay.  When I am finished my children and grandchildren will know as much about their ancestors that I have been able to find. The will know their family extends beyond the walls of their home.  They will know they are not alone in this world but a part of a much larger family with many experiences to share.  They will know the trials and tribulations of this family and how we all managed to survive.   I believe we are all better people knowing our ancestors as we have a little bit of all of them in our DNA.  They are a part of who we are and who we will become.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - John and Margaret Rockers

John Frederick Rockers was born 17 August 1865, the grandson of German Immigrants.  His grandparents came from Hanover, Germany in 1846 landing at the port of New Orleans.  After sailing up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, MO they settled in Taos, MO along the Osage River.  Before the Civil War, Herman Heinrich Rockers, John's father, moved west to Anderson County, Kansas.  Here is where John was born.  He married Margaret Ann Maile who was born 15 December 1868 in Ohio on 3 February 1891 in Anderson County, Kansas.  Both are buried in St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery at Scipio, Kansas.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Motivational Monday - There Is A Season

Remember that song?  The words are taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1.

1For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

As a genealogy enthusiast I have been through lots of seasons in my research.  Often it seems there is not enough time or the season is too short.  I have been following the Family History Writing Challenge in an effort to organize what I know about my ancestor, what I think is a possibility, and what I can prove to be accurate.  I have found I can disprove more than I can prove.  It would be awesome if the season would change and I could turn this around and prove more than I can disprove.

Is it possible to not leave a footprint in legal documents during the 19th century?  I would think not.  If he owned property (he did) then there should be a record in the town where he purchased or sold or lost possession of that lot.  The next step should be to find the record.  Logically it should be in the town records not the courthouse, correct?  If so, the city clerk's office should have a plat book, perhaps.  Was the book microfilmed by the Utah Genealogical Society (LDS)?   That possibility  leads to FamilySearch to search their catalog.  If found there, the next step is to either order the microfilm (4-6 week wait) or request a search for a fee.  The other possibility is to request help from Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness on Facebook.   Further research into what records are available for that area where he lived, in my case Ohio, would be helpful.  Many years ago I requested and received a Genealogy Research Outline for the state of Ohio from the National Archives.  Cyndi's List is another helpful place to find out more information about the area.  Google is one of my favorite search engines and I use it religiously.  Do you use a search engine that gets better results?  I search for web sites that might have more information about an event or particular place . I feel that background information is helpful in understanding what I may or may not be able to find.

Life always interjects into our time other seasons; whether it's looking for a job, pursuing other hobbies and pastimes, etc.  So, we lay our research aside, for the time being.  It will still be there when it's season rolls around again.

What keeps you motivated?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Electronic Media

I started researching before the Internet was available to many and conducted my research by writing letters on an old manual typewriter while sitting at my dining room table.  Wow, does that paint an old fashioned picture.  The typewriter was purchased at an auction for our daughter to play with.  It worked wonderfully well and I used it when she wasn't playing with it.

Writing letters the old fashioned way to conduct genealogy research required a lot of patience.  Once I mailed my letter, there was the long wait allowing time for the United States Postal Service to route my letter from the local post office to the regional post office and then to another region before finally arriving at the local post office of the recipient.  Depending on the length of time the letter lay on the recipient's desk, it could be a month before I would receive a reply.  In the meantime, questions keep flooding into my mind and new letters are formatted in the process.  These new letters were mailed to different recipients who might be able to assist with the question, if the question was for the same repository, I had to be really patient.

When I bought my first PC and  connected to the Internet in 1996, it opened up a whole new world of research possibilities.  Letters were sent via email now, if the repository had an email address.  Message boards were developed to help connect with other researchers.  I signed up for every surname and locality pertinent to my research.  I posted my brick walls, questions, etc.  I also signed up for mailing lists for localities to get help from researchers in that area of specialty.  I asked a lot of 'dumb' questions and received a great education.  I am eternally grateful to those who assisted in my education!  

Through the message boards I connected with others researching my same surnames.  We shared information, photos of our ancestors, etc. via email.  I started out printing each email and keeping it in folders for that surname.  I printed some photos, others I saved to 3.5" floppy discs.  One of my email contacts was in Virginia, while I never found proof of how we connected, I was grateful for his help.  We both had direct lines living in the same localities in Missouri.  His line move on into Iowa while mine went to Kansas.  When he decided to 'retire' from active genealogy research, he asked if I wanted his research.  I, of course, said yes.  I was the lucky recipient of hand written letters from as far back at 1915.  I have scanned these letters to my computer and placed the originals in archival safe sheet protectors and placed them in a binder.  I hope to someday find a repository for these letters.

Gradually more digital images of original records are being placed online.  For the armchair genealogist, this is awesome!  I can sit here at my computer and scan images of tax record books, census images, county history books, newspapers, death certificates, marriage record books, etc.  Genealogy research has never been more satisfying  than it is now or will be in the future.  Last night I browsed images of tax record books from Columbiana County, Ohio.  I now know Edmond Hayes owned a parcel of land located in R2, T12, S34NE in 1820 and that the original owner was William Boyd.  How cool is that!

I have downloaded several county history books that have been digitized on and newspaper articles from and  Digital newspapers are one of my personal favorites.  It is amazing what I can learn about the life and times of my ancestors.  I have found marriage, birth and death notices; lawsuits and happenings in town they participated in; the list goes on.  Newspapers are the window into the world of my ancestors.

I save all of the images and PDFs I find in folders within folders in my Documents folder.  I file  electronic data just as I would a hard copy.  I copy my folders to an external hard disc drive placed in a docking station.  It has a large capacity for lots of data storage.  I am in the process of scanning my pre-Internet research to my computer and creating an index in electronic format, not to be printed.  I have a lot of scanning to do and it will take years to do on my HP all-in-one.  Given the opportunity to scan on a larger machine, I will definitely take advantage!

Electronic Media allows easier sharing of our research with others.  One Saturday, my cousin and I scanned her parent's old photo album to my computer, tagged the photos and created a CD to share with other cousins.  Now everyone has the photos of those found in this photo album.  Electronic Scrap Books are another great media for keeping and sharing genealogy research. There are so many options now, it is overwhelming sometimes to decide which format, style or type to use.  I participated in a book tour recently for digitizing your family history research and learned a lot!  I am grateful to the author for sharing her expertise.

I feel it is important to digitize all of my research and photos so my children and grandchildren will have easy access to it.  Now, what to do with the paper copies......

Monday, February 4, 2013

Military Monday - Leonard Lester Gregory

Leonard Lester Gregory was born 7 February 1896 in Amsterdam, Bates County, Missouri to Lewis Lafayette and Mary Belle Havens Gregory.  His mother died in Kansas City, MO on 8 May 1904 and Leonard was sent to live with his Uncle and Aunt, Orrin and Ida Havens Moore in Adair County, Iowa.  They later moved to Skowhegan, Maine.  The photo above was taken of Leonard when he was a private  in the Field Artillery, according to the WWI Draft Registration he filled out on 5 June 1917.  It doesn't state when he was discharged from the Army however, given that he had been in for five years prior to 1917, he would have joined the army after  1910, as the 1910 census shows he is enumerated in the household of his aunt and uncle in Skowhegan, Maine. In the photo above you can see his boyish face.  I tried to figure out the sign in rocks at his feet but could make out enough letters to solve the mystery.  Below are his two WWI Draft Registration Cards.  In 1917, he was living in Topeka, Kansas and worked for his brother, Lewis Orrin Gregory.  In 1918, he is living in Kansas City, Missouri and is a patrolman.  Leonard was married to Virginia Snoddy 18 September 1916 and later divorced.

On 8 August 1921, Leonard married Ethel Laverne Wilhite in Kansas City, Missouri.  They had 10 children.  With the assistance of my father-in-law, I wrote to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO to get a copy of Leonard's military records.  Sadly, a fire at the center caused many  records to be destroyed or damaged by water.  

Please Note: On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. The records affected:
BranchPersonnel and Period AffectedEstimated Loss
ArmyPersonnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 196080%
Air ForcePersonnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
See 1973 Fire for more information on the records affected and the alternate sources used to reconstruct basic service information.
They wrote back their regrets and requested information from my father-in-law, if he had any.  I decided to do some research on military in general for the time period 1911 - 1916 since Leonard married in 1916 I am assuming he had already been discharged from the army in 1916.   Leonard served during the Mexican Revolution.  You can tell from the photo that they were camped out in a barren area.  His hat is the  The Campaign Hat, M1911 called the "Montana Peak" style adopted from 1911 - 1916.  Although most did not flatten the brim in front.  My effort to determine the uniform and leggings style he is wearing, led me to a PDF document, Survey Of U.S. Army found on U. S. Army Center of Military History website.  It appears the uniform Leonard is wearing is the 1908 style.  There was an order issued that all old style uniforms would be used until stocks were depleted.  I researched further into Lineage Services.  No unit histories were kept prior to 1920.  However there have been some books written that are linked from their website.  This is an excerpt from one of the books, Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades  by John B. Wilson.
In March 1911, during disorders resulting from the Mexican Revolution, the War Department deployed many Regular Army units of the First Field Army to the southern border. Units assembled at San Antonio, Texas, constituted the Maneuver Division and the Independent Cavalry Brigade, while others, concentrated at Galveston, Texas, and San Diego, California, made up separate infantry brigades. The division, following the Field Service Regulations outline, consisted of three infantry brigades, a field artillery brigade, an engineer battalion, and medical and signal units, but no trains. 
You can view this entire book online
This would indicate that the photo was taken somewhere along the U.S./Mexico boarder. I still don't know when or where Leonard joined the Army's Field Artillery Division.   I hope to attend the next Gregory reunion and ask if anyone has Leonard's papers.  I feel certain one of the other children or grandchildren has it in their possession.  It is my prayer that his papers didn't end up in a garbage can.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Memories of Grandparents on the Farm

This is me in front of the farm house in about 1959-60.  
When I stop and recall times past spent on my grandparents farm, happy memories come in a flood.  There is just something magical about grandparents.  Ordinary things have a completely different meaning to a grandchild.
My Louthan grandparents lived on the family farm owned by my great grandmother, Emma Jennie Hurt Louthan. I never knew my great grandfather, he died before I was born.  Grandpa had a few head of cattle and one milk cow.  He worked for the Major County road and bridge department for many years.  Grandma worked in Branstetter's grocery store in Chester, OK.  I have an aunt who is 6 months older than me and we had some great times together!  I spent time during the summer with them on the farm.  Great grandma lived in town and we spent the daytime with her while Grandma was at work.

Let me paint a picture of the farm for you.  It was down a sandy road off of the highway a few miles.  The yard had elm, mulberry and cedar trees.  Very little grass grew around the house in that sandy soil and deep shade. When the mulberries were ripe, our feet were stained purple!  We almost never wore shoes in the summer. Out front of the house was a hand pump for drawing water from the well to drink, wash and cook with.  Out back was the two-seater outhouse.  There was a storm cellar where Grandma kept the electric separator for separating the cream from the milk. She kept her canned goods down there and there was one bed, just in case of a storm.  She had a crank style wringer washing machine and a close line.   There was a galvanized bathtub right up close to the back of the house.  We all shared the same bath water which had to be heated on the electric kitchen stove.  The house originally had three rooms; living room, eat in kitchen and a bedroom with two full size beds in it.  There was a sink in the kitchen with a drain, but no faucets.  Inside the front door, which opened into the kitchen, was a stand with a water pail, ladle and wash basin.  We all drank from the same ladle and we put it back in the water pail after we took a drink. After washing our hands in the basin, the dirty water was tossed out the door. They had a party line telephone.  If someone was on the line, you had to wait until they got off before you could make a call.  I remember the kitchen table, chrome with a grey marble Formica top. It is the first one I remember, they could have had one before it.  In the living room was a sofa that made out into a bed with storage underneath.  They had a wall furnace for heating and an evaporation water cooler for the summer time.  At night time, she brought in the chamber pot, a.k.a. 'Thunder Mug' as Grandpa called it.  In the summer time, my aunt and I would sleep outside on an iron bed with an open metal spring foundation that Grandma covered for us.  There was nothing like sleeping out under the stars!

I remember the holidays at the farm.  Grandma made chicken 'n' noodles, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, divinity, fudge and peanut brittle.  No one could top my grandma's cooking, especially her noodles and pecan pie, my favorites!   She made her own egg noodles and could cut them as thin as spaghetti noodles.  When we and all of my cousins were there, we numbered 10 kids and six adults.

Grandma made her own butter in a churn that belonged to her mother, Myrtle Paris Hedrick.  She always let her cream sour before she made butter, consequently, I never liked butter.  I didn't care for raw milk either, but would put it on my cereal.  To this day, I don't drink milk.

I don't remember the year, but my grandparents decided to build on to the farm house.  They built on a long room along the back that had a door from the kitchen into it and then it went across the back wall of the living room and had a door that exited to the outside.  The first Easter after they started construction, we hid the colored eggs in the stud walls which hadn't been covered yet. It was particularly cold Easter that year. One of the full-size beds was moved to this addition for my aunt.  Grandma's deep freezer was in this room as well.

There was a big elm tree next to the house and Grandpa made a tire swing for us.  We had a lot of fun on that tire swing.  We used to play a game where one of us would toss a ball over the house and  and the other one would catch it on the other side.

Grandpa had an old car that they didn't drive to town anymore.  He would load us up and head out into the pasture.  Following the two wheel trail down through the sandy hills toward a place he called "the thrill hill."  Grandpa would get going pretty fast then off the top of the hill we went!  I have no idea how steep the down side was, but it gave us quite a thrill!  My grandpa was pretty ornery.  He loved to tease us.   Grandpa had a bed time snack every night, bread and milk.  He put the bread in his glass of milk.  I don't know as I ever asked him why.  Grandma made bread, never bought it from the store.  She used to fry the dough on a hot griddle and we ate it with butter melted on it.  She called them 'fried toads.'  I should have asked her where this name originated.  I never knew anyone else who called it that.

Great grandma died in 1974 and the farm was put up for sale.  Grandma and Grandpa moved to town so my aunt finally lived in a modern house.  I know she was thrilled since no one else in her high school lived like she did on the farm.  I supposed it I had lived there all my life, I would have felt the same way.

I collected porcelain enamel ware in red and white like Grandma used on the farm.  She just couldn't believe I liked that old stuff.  It seems to me we collect things that bring back fond memories of our childhood.  I no longer have the enamel ware, I sold it during my first downsizing.  Letting go is hard.

Grandpa died in 1992 and Grandma died in 2003.  My parents made each of us kids a packet of pictures from the albums that Grandma had.  The picture at the top of this post was in that packet.  I don't know who the car belongs too.  My sister was born in Dec. 1959 in Lubbock, Texas but I cannot tell if the plates on this car are Oklahoma or Texas.  I am sure there are car aficionados out there who could identify the make and model by the style of the tail lights.