Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Allen and Margaret Miller Robertson - December 24, 1868

Wedding photo of my great-great grandparents, Allen Robertson and Margaret Miller, who were married on Christmas Eve, 1868.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Sitting In The Outhouse

This photo makes me laugh every time I see it.  The young lady on the left is my grandmother, Mildred Robertson Gannan.  The other young lady is her future sister-in-law, Belle Robertson.  They are sitting (for some unknown odd reason) in their grandfather's (William Yager Waterbury) outhouse.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Helen Gannan Eberhart

It's been a year since my grandmother's sister, Helen Gannan Eberhart, passed away.  Aunt Helen was a wonderful person, full of life and good stories.  In spite of battling lung cancer and losing her eyesight, becoming a widow when her husband (Uncle "Pint") passed away after suffering through Alzheimer's, and spending her last years in an assisted living facility, she remained upbeat and positive until the end.

She was buried on a beautiful, crisp, clear New Year's Day in 2011, as the sun was setting over Gilman City, Missouri, the small northern Missouri town she had called home in her youth.

Her obituary does not begin to describe the wonderful life she lived, and how much she is missed.

Graveside service and burial for Helen Eberhart will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 1, 2011, at the Masonic Cemetery in Gilman City [Missouri].  The family will receive friends from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Roberson Funeral Home, Bethany.  The family requests memorials to the Masonic Cemetery in care of Roberson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 46, Bethany, MO 64424.  
Helen Arlene Eberhart, 90, Gilman City, died in Dallas, Texas on December 24, 2010.  
She married Charles Marion Eberhart.  He preceded her in death on February 1, 2001. 
Survivors include one son, Carl Eberhart; one brother, Don Gannan; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Henry Reynolds Military Records

One of my favorite sources of genealogy information is a military pension file.  Sometimes it's a gold mine of information; sometimes it's a bust.  However, you can always be sure it will contain affidavits from the pensioner, family members, neighbors, or military comrades.

Henry Reynolds was my 4th great grandfather.  He was born 5 April 1815 in Anderson County, TN, and died 26 Nov 1884 in Harrison County, MO.  He is buried in the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in Coffey, MO.  Henry served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and was discharged in 1863 at Brownsville, AR, due to a lingering illness.  At the time of his discharge, he was 48 years old.

From his Certificate of Disability For Discharge:

Pvt Henry Reynolds of Captain Elijah Hubbard's Company F of the Merrills Horse Regiment* of the United States, was enlisted by Capt Eli Hannah of the Regiment of Merrill's Horse on the third day of August 1861 at Bethany, MO, to serve three years; he was born in Anderson Co in the State of Tennessee, is forty-six years of age, five feet eleven inches high, dark complexion, dark eyes, black hair, and by occupation when enlisted a framer.  During the last two months said soldier has been unfit for duty sixty days. 

[*Merrill's Horse was the nickname of the 2 Missouri Cavalry.]

As was typical for the time, his wife's [Elizabeth Oaks Reynolds] application for a pension after his death was a slow, painful process.  She had no proof of her marriage to Henry, and relied on affidavits from neighbors and Henry's brother as proof of marriage.  Below are excerpts from several of the affidavits in Elizabeth's pension application file:

Officers and Comrades Certificate
[Affidavit of Amos Foster, who served with Henry]

...well known to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who being duly sworn, declare that the above named soldier [Henry Reynolds] while in the line of his duty, as a soldier, and without any fault or neglect on his part, on or about August 1863, at or near a place called Clarendon in the State of Arkansas received or contracted Enysipilas [sic] and disease of the heart and was so poorly that he was halled [sic] in ambulance to Brownsville was left there in hospital and never was able to do deuty [sic] after he took sick - was discharged December 1863 sean [sic] him often after he come home and know that he almost invariably complained of being weak and not able to work.  I sean [sic] him some times once a weak [sic] and some times once a month from the time he came home till he died.  My knowledge of the above facts is from being present with the company at the time and being with him every night that I could get to the sick tent.

Another affidavit, from Thomas Taylor:

Officers and Comrades Certificate
[Affidavit of Thomas Taylor]:
...received or contract Enysifelas [sic] and disease of the heart that after his discharge I traveled from Brownsville Ark to St. Louis Mo. with him.  He was so sick weak and imitiated [sic] that I had to assist him on and off the boats and cars and carry his luggage.

Below is an excerpt from the General Affidavit of Howard Reynolds, Henry's brother, offered as proof of marriage:

I was personally acquainted with Elizabeth Oaks and Henry Reynolds.  Henry Reynolds' married Elizabeth Oaks in Anderson County Tennessee.  I saw them the next day after their marriage.  I attended their [unknown word that looks like insfarr].  The [insfarr] was at my father's.  Henry Reynolds was my brother and he and his wife lived together until a few years since when he died.  I can't recollect the date of marriage, my brother's marriage, I was only a boy.  I recollect very distinctly of attending the [insfarr] and of little incidents that transpired.

I'm really curious about the "insfair" or "insfarr" which appears to be some sort of reception or after-marriage party.  If anyone has information on this tradition, I would love to have it.

Henry and his wife Elizabeth had six children:  Mary Jane (my 3rd great grandmother), Paulina, James, Catherine, Nancy, and Hossuth (I am not sure about this last name).  After Mary Jane died in childbirth, they raised her two daughters as their own.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

My grandson Jack's favorite holiday activity is baking and decorating cookies.  We use my friend Laural Watson's recipe, which makes big, soft sugar cookies.  This is the only sugar cookie recipe you'll ever need.

Laural's Sugar Cookies

1 c. softened unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. sour cream
4 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter, salt, and sugar together.  Add egg and sour cream and mix well. Add vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.  Chill dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Roll out and cut into shapes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients well.  (I also add a little milk to thin.)  Frost and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar - The Sprint Santa Claus

Every year, Sprint has Santa visit their Overland Park, KS, campus.  Employees bring in their children to sit on Santa's lap for a holiday photo, and sugar cookies are served to the sound of live Christmas carols.
The highlight of the activity isn't the selfish fact that we aren't standing in line at the mall for hours, it's Santa himself.  This is the nicest, most sincere, and genuine Santa I've ever met.  Year after year, he comes to the campus, and is patient with every child he sees.  This is a photo of Santa with my grandson, Jack, when he was two months old.  You can see the genuine affection in Santa's eyes.  I hope every child has the opportunity to meet such a wonderful Santa as The Sprint Santa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Lloyd Robertson

My grandfather's brother, Lloyd F. Robertson, served his country during World War II.  He wrote a short memoir of sorts regarding his life and military service.  In honor of December 7, here is an excerpt from his memoir.  Reading it, you'll get a sense of the sacrifices our military make for us every day.  My Uncle Lloyd is still alive, living a quiet life in northern Missouri with the love of his life, Norma.  Thanks to my Uncles Lloyd, Don, and Cloyd, for keeping us safe and sacrificing so much.

After high school, I worked with Dad on the farm until enlisting in the Army Reserve Corps in September, 1942 at the age of 21.  My brother-in-law was teaching Radio classes to Army recruits in Omaha and advised me to join the Signal Corps.  I went to Kansas City where I went to school for three months of theory and three months of hands-on radio repair training.

There were 256 in our Signal Corps Company.  We were sent to Bougainville Island, New Guinea, where we lost several Corps members during the rough fighting.  We were trained in Japanese code on Bougainville Island by experienced Signal Corps members.  Two Signal Corps companies, the 111nd and the 112th, cracked the Japanese code which was a great breakthrough and saved many American lives as we could more easily deter the Japanese plans.

We worked eight-hour shifts with 30 guys listening to radios on each shift.  Listening to static and interference for eight hours was nerve-racking, but we would hear messages periodically and decode them.  A trick chief made the rounds of radio sites, picking up our messages.  By putting all of them together, officers did a good job of guessing the enemy's next move.

I had a close call at Luzon while on guard duty on the ship's bow.   We changed shifts at 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  My relief came early and I went below.  My replacement was injured during a Japanese attack soon after I left.  The plane that hit him was shot down.  Our ship required repairs after this battle.  The Japanese were attacking all the time.  We had to watch for swimmers going toward the ships.  They wore explosives on their backs to blow up or damage our ships. 

We set up a permanent camp further inland.  Six of us slept on cots in a tent.  After the island was secured, the motor pool picked up lumber brought in by ships.  We used some of this lumber to put floors under our tents.  We had to take antibiotic pills and sleep under mosquito nets to ward off malaria.  I did contract "jungle rot," a fungus, in my ears.  There was daily rain.  We could set our clocks by the 2:30 p.m. downpours.  It was hot and humid and miserable some days.  One night I woke to find my cot rocking back and forth.  I shrugged out of my net, jumped out of bed, and could not stand up!  I finally realized that we were having an earthquake.  It probably only lasted a minute or two, but it seemed to go on forever.

The food was edible, but very basic.  While in battle mode, we lived on Army rations.  We couldn't determine was was actually in the cans!   In permanent camps, we had better food.  Our cook on Luzon was excellent.  At stateside bases, they received good grades of meat, but some cooks ruined it or put it into stew.  Ship food was decent and on U.S. ships we ate three meals a day.  We transferred between islands on one British ship; they only served two meals a day.  They did have a PX on board where we could purchase all kinds of food.  

Mail call was a major highlight for us all.  It was disappointing if we didn't receive a letter or a package from home.  Those who wrote to me regularly were my mother; my brother, Donald, who was with the Infantry in Europe, part of the D-Day invasion; my brother, Cloyd, in Mindanao, Phillipines, working with Medics; and "Kad" Harrison, a friend of my parents from the Gilman area, who wrote faithfully, keeping me up-to-date on happenings in my hometown..

Advent Calendar - Outdoor Decorations

My favorite neighborhood Christmas decoration.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards

This is my beautiful golden retriever, Pete, who died in January at the age of 11 years.  My favorite Christmas card was one with this photo on it.  I remember taking the photo in early fall of that year, and what a good sport Pete was about wearing the silly hat and collar.   
No matter who or what is on the front of your Christmas card, be it the family pet, kids in matching sweaters, or a Hallmark card, it's a way of letting people know you're thinking about them during the holidays.   I send cards to those who mean something to me, even if they don't send one in return.
A quote from John Greenleaf Whittier sums it up nicely:  "A little smile, a word of cheer, a bit of love from someone near, a little gift from one held dear.  Best wishes for the coming year...These make a Merry Christmas."  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Ornaments

I suspect my Christmas tree ornament collection looks a lot like yours:  an eclectic selection of cardboard stars, Hallmark series ornaments, clothespin tin soldiers, handmade lace angels, and old glass ornaments inherited from grandparents.  I have several ornaments I purchased on family vacations, ornaments my son made when he was a child, and glass ornaments in a variety of themes, including Santa Clauses, angels, and snowmen.  While I admire what I call "designer" trees (those with a color theme and coordinating ornaments), there is  something special about pulling out the box of mis-matched ornaments each year and remembering the story associated with each one.
For the record, if forced to choose a favorite ornament, I would have to say it's my beautiful glass bluebird, although the sentimental winner is a small wreath with my son's picture in it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Foods

Christmas food at my house falls into three categories:  1) cookies; 2) candy; or 3) other stuff that would kill you if eaten long-term.
I love to buy Christmas cookbooks and magazines with the carefully decorated cookies on the cover.  Unfortunately, never in a million years do my cookies ever turn out looking like that.  I have a wonderful sugar cookie recipe that is my go-to recipe for all occasions, especially Christmas.  I'll share it with you in my Advent Calendar Christmas Cookies post.
Candy.  Little bites of heaven.  My favorite, hands down, is my grandmother's peanut brittle.  Unfortunately,  I haven't been brave enough to try making it myself since she passed away several years ago.  My mom always made a ton of candy during the holidays:  fudge, peanut brittle, lollipop candy to name a few. She would wrap it up and take it to the neighbors, or send it to work with my dad to share with his co-workers.
Now to my favorite category:  stuff that would kill you if eaten long-term.  My dad's family is from Eastern Europe:  Croatia/Austria/Slovakia, home to many artery clogging favorites like povitica, pohance (you know them as a rosette cookie), and nadlavanje (sausage).  Because they are so time-consuming to  make, my dad and step-mom only make them once a year, for the Christmas holiday.  My brother Bob and I fight over who is going to take home the left-over nadlavange.
As my husband, son, and grandson are all picky eaters, we unfortunately don't have a traditional Christmas food that everyone loves.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar - The Christmas Tree

December has finally rolled around, leaving us with 24 days until Christmas.  I'm traveling on business close to the holiday, so I really only have 13 days left, including putting up the Christmas tree.
Some families have a wonderful tradition that takes them into the snowy Thanksgiving eve woods to cut down a live tree (think the Griswolds of Christmas Vacation fame); others, picking out the perfect live tree from a lot strung with lights and Christmas music playing over a tinny loudspeaker.  My family's tradition involves fake Christmas trees.  
My oldest brother has had asthma since he was a child, and seemed to be allergic to everything under the sun, including live Christmas trees.  My mother finally broke down one year and decide to buy a plastic trees vs. listening to my brother sneeze and wheeze throughout the holiday season.  I have to admit, once  we  covered the tree with ornaments and threw on a pile of tinsel, it looked pretty good.  AND, we never had to water it, vacuum needles up from the carpet, or haul it out to the curb on New Year's Day.  The tree decorating always took place shortly before Christmas, while we watched The Wizard of Oz  (which only aired once around Christmas), and listened to my dad play Christmas music on his accordion.
The tradition of a fake tree has stuck with me all these years, and I can only think of one time I decided to go with a live tree, a decision I regretted well into January as I was pulling dead needles out of the carpet.  I still have the family Nativity set, complete with paper mache Wise Men, angels, Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus.  My mom purchased it at the local dime store back in the late 1950's, and it still has the old price tags on the bottom (one of the Wise Men was $.10).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Traditions

My cousin Susan sent me an email yesterday, asking if I had our grandmother's recipe for Scalloped Oysters, which she wanted to serve for Thanksgiving dinner.   Fortunately, when Grandma Robertson passed away several years ago, I ran across her recipe notebooks while cleaning out her house.  She never had a "formal" cookbook that I'm aware of, but instead wrote out by hand whatever recipes she used, or filled the notebooks with clipped recipes from the newspaper.  I love to go through the tattered, well used notebooks, and see her hand written notations of where she got the recipe, and if it was a favorite, her "good" notation.
I'm fortunate to be the cousin who inherited the handwritten recipes, but my cousin's inquiry made me realize that I should scan the recipes and put them into a family cookbook for my cousins to enjoy as well.  If you have something that belonged to a ancestor that you think your cousins might enjoy as well, now is the time to making a plan for how you can share your treasures with others in the family.

Mildred Gannan Robertson's Scalloped Oysters

2 cans oysters
2 c. medium coarse cracker crumbs (4 - 6 crackers)
1/2 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. half and half cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. worcestershire sauce

Drain oysters, reserving 1/4 c. liquid. Combine crumbs and butter.  Spread 1/3 of the crumbs in an 8x8x2" baking dish.  Cover with 1/2 of the oysters.  Sprinkle with pepper, cover again with 1/3 of the crumbs.  Cover with the remaining oysters.  Mix cream and reserved oyster liquid, salt, and worcestershire sauce, pour over oysters.  Top with remaining cracker crumbs.  Take in 350 degree oven about 40 minutes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Prairie Traveler

I ran across a great little reference book the other day, titled "The Prairie Traveler, A Hand-Book For Overland Expeditions, With Maps, Illustrations, And Itineraries Of The Principal Routes Between The Mississippi And The Pacific," by Randolph B. Marcy.  Marcy was a career U.S. Army officer, who retired in 1881.  The book was originally published in 1859, while Marcy was a Captain.
The book is a fascinating glimpse into life on the prairie during the time of westward expansion, and includes such topics as how to pack, treatment of animals, fording rivers, quicksand, marching with loose horses, descending mountains, making fires, tracking and pursuing Indians, hunting, and stampedes. 
My favorite section of the book is Captain Marcy's detailed overland route itineraries.  Each contains distances between camping places, character of the roads, and wood/water/grass facilities.  An excerpt from the Leavenworth City to Great Salt Lake City itinerary:

Leavenworth City to Salt Creek (8 miles) - Good camp; wood, water, and grass.
to Cold Spring (12 miles) - To the right of the road, in a deep ravine, plenty of wood, water, and grass.
to Small Branch (12 miles) - To the north of the road, in an arroya, good wood, water, and grass.  Here enters the road from Atcheson, 6 miles distant.
to Grasshopper Creek (16 miles) - Good wood, water, and grass.
to Walnut Creek (9 miles) - Road passes a town called Whitehead, 5 miles from last camp.  Water in pools, but 1/2 a mile below is a fine spring; plenty of wood, water, and grass.

The edition of the book I have does not include the complete list of itineraries as published in the 1859 edition, but does contain information on the routes between Ft. Smith, AK to Santa Fe and Albuquerque; Leavenworth City to Great Salt lake City; Great Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and San Francisco; Indianola and Powder-horn to San Antonio; St. Paul's MN to Ft. Wallah Wallah, OR; and a few others.  

If you have ancestors who ventured beyond the Mississippi River, or you are a student of American history with an interest in westward migration, this is a great read.  As a genealogist searching for places your ancestors may have stopped along their march west, the book might contain that last helpful clue you've been searching for.

Marcy's hope was to arm the pioneer with knowledge he himself had gleaned from years spent on the prairie.  In his preface, he says, "With such a  book in his hand, he will be able, in difficult circumstances, to avail himself of the matured experience of veteran travelers, and thereby avoid many otherwise unforeseen disasters; while, during the ordinary routine of marching, he will greatly augment the sum of his comforts, avoid many serious losses, and enjoy a comparative exemption from doubt and anxieties.  He will feel himself a master spirit in the wilderness he traverses, and not the victim of every new combination of circumstances which nature affords or fate allots, as if to try his skill and prowess."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Find the Living

Yesterday I mentioned the Dollarhide/Thorndale book, "Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920" as a great resource for family historians.  On Tombstone Tuesday, I'd like to mention another valuable resource book, "Your Guide to Cemetery Research" by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.  An excerpt from her book is below:

Finding The Living In The Cemetery
So  you thought you would find only your dead ancestors in the cemetery, huh?  Not true.  Visiting the cemetery around Memorial Day or a town's Decoration Day, you might find living relatives of your ancestors.  If you can't visit the cemetery on one of those days, leave a note or ask someone in the area to do it for you.  Professional genealogist Marcia K. Wyett wrote a note saying she was interested in contacting relatives of the person who was buried there, and left her name and number.  On the envelope, she addressed it to "The Relatives of.  . ."  She put the note in a small self-sealing bag, bought an inexpensive plant to leave at the grave, and attached the note to the plant.  (She thought this might look better than duct-taping a note directly to the tombstone.)  The note attached to the plant worked like a charm.  The Monday after Memorial Day, she got a call from a relative.

I think this is a great tip that could possibly lead to contact with that elusive cousin who has all the information you've been searching for.  Sharon's book has lots of other helpful tips, and I highly recommend it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thorndale and Dollarhide

I have a bookcase full of genealogy research books such as "The Hidden Half of the Family" by Christina Kassabian Schaefer, "A to ZAX, A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians" by Barbara Jean Evans, and an old worn copy of "Migration, Emigration, Immigration Principally To The United States And In The United States" by Olga K. Miller.  However, my favorite go-to resource is the classic "Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920" by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide.

The Map Guide includes maps for all states, broken out by census year, and also depicts the changing county boundaries overlaid onto the current county lines.  In addition, it gives availability information for each census year.  For example, I am looking for my third great grandfather, John Gannan, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, b. 1826.  I can quickly tell by looking at the New Jersey map for the 1790 - 1820 census that the Federal Census was lost for all counties except extant for Cumberland County in 1800, and so it will be a waste of research time to search for any type of Federal census information for John's parents.

Another example is Hocking County, Ohio.  I have early pioneer families there, and by reviewing the Ohio map for 1800, I know that part of the current county falls into the Washington extant census; in 1810, the Federal census was lost for all counties except Washington (which is now much smaller); and that today, old Hocking County records might be held in Fairfield County, Athens County, or Vinton County.

The Map Guide by Thorndale and Dollarhide has been a valuable resource tool, and is one of very few books I will actually take along on research trips.  If you haven't seen the book, chances are your local library has one.  It's been around since the late 1980's, but it's a classic that I highly recommend for any genealogy home library.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Mildred and Floyd Robertson

I was lucky to have very loving grandparents, Floyd and Mildred Gannan Robertson, as a constant presence in my life.  My younger brother, John, and I spent summers with them, and I lived with them during summers while in college.  Every happy childhood memory I have is somehow associated with my grandparents.
While in college, my grandfather bought me my first car, a red Kharman Ghia.  I think he spent $200 on it, the front end was dented in, the paint was faded, but I loved it!  He and my grandmother didn't have a lot of money, but somehow they managed to surprise me with the most wonderful gift anyone had given me.  I was so proud of that car, which made me very popular at school because there were very few others with a car at the time.
One Saturday morning, my grandfather decided it was time to repaint the car and spruce it up a bit.  He woke me up that Saturday morning and said, "let's get to it."  I went out to the garage, and to my surprise I found my grandmother already there, taping the chrome on the car.  My grandfather proceeded to "unbend" the front bumper with a sledge hammer, then he spray painted the car.  That car had so many issues, including melting the soles of the shoes off anyone who sat in the backseat, and having to drive with the window rolled down in the winter because the defroster didn't work, but I didn't care.  The car served me well for several years, when it finally burned up the by the side of the road.
My grandfather called me every Sunday to check up on me, even after I was grown with a family of my own, and every Sunday morning I still think of he and my grandmother.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flip Pal Scanner - Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first review of the Flip Pal scanner (which I love, by the way!).  At the time I posted the review, I had only used what I'll call the "standard" scanning feature, but not the "flip" feature.  Since my initial review, I've seen a lot of other blogs mention the scanner and how much they like it.  Now that I've used the flip feature, I can post the second part of my review, which can be summed up in three words:  BUY THIS THING.  The flip feature is easy to use (you snap off the lid, flip the scanner over, and push the green scan button).  I've scanned a couple of larger documents and stitched them together with great results.   Overall, it's lightweight and extremely portable, produces good quality scans, and is very very easy to use.  I highly recommend the product!

First Lieutenant Glenn W. Jones

While organizing my office today, I ran across a book called "The First Hundred Years, Belton, Missouri 1872-1972."  One of the sections in the book is called "These Paid The Supreme Sacrifice," a listing of local boys who had gone off to war and were killed in action.

From the book, author unknown:

First Lieutenant Glenn W. Jones entered the Air Corps in December, 1942.  After attending Officers Training School, he was commissioned in 1944.  He was the first pilot of a B-24 bomber and was assigned to the 15th Air Corps based in Italy.  He was sent overseas August 15, 1944, and was on his 24th mission when he was killed over Italy, March 8, 1945.  His family received word that he died in an effort to save his crew.  At least three did escape death.  His body was returned to Belton in December, 1948, and he was buried in the Belton Cemetery.

I'm grateful that men like Lt. Jones are willing to serve and protect, even if it means they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

My grandparents, Floyd and Mildred Gannan Robertson; my uncle, Ron Robertson, and my mother, Glenda Kay Robertson Stubler.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

My third great grandfather, Absolom Reese. Not someone you would call a classically handsome man.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tombstone(less) Tuesday

I don't know why, but I'm always surprised when I find an ancestor buried in an unmarked grave. It seems that everyone should be remembered by some sort of marker, something that descendants can visit and touch, something that documents the beginning and end of a life.
While researching my husband's family, I was excited to uncover the cemetery where his third great grandparents, Michael Charles and Ellen Allard Bellmer, are buried. Sadly, we learned Michael and Ellen are buried in an unmarked grave, along with their three year old son Arthur. Ellen died of opium poisoning around the same time Arthur died, with Michael dead several years later from typhoid fever. I assume that they died destitute in the years following the Civil War, leaving no one behind to mourn their passing but several small children. According to probate records, there were no funds left to purchase a headstone, and the three were left to rest in obscurity.
I would love to purchase a small, simple headstone for Michael and Ellen and Arthur, so their final resting place can be honored by future generations, and to let them know that they are not forgotten.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Hiram Wendt, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween, everyone!
Occasionally, I run across an interesting mystery during my family history research. The story of Hiram Wendt, my husband's great great uncle, was one such mystery.
Hiram was b. about 1840, probably in Pennsylvania. He enlisted in Company G, 59th Infantry Regiment, Illinois, on August 6, 1861, was promoted to Full Lieutenant 1st Class on September 9, 1863, and eventually mustered out on May 1, 1865. Records indicate that Hiram never married and listed his mother as his next of kin on enlistment papers.
Once Hiram mustered out of the Infantry, he returned home to his parent's house, where he lived until 1873. In 1873, he vanished into thin air and was never heard from again. I haven't been able to find any mention of Hiram after that date.
His mother, Sarah Kitchen Wendt, applied for a Dependent Mother's Pension in 1894. The pension file indicates she attempted, unsuccessfully, to collect a pension until at least 1901. The pension applications/appeals were denied because there was no material evidence that Hiram had died.
One letter in the pension file was written by Hiram's sister, Margaret Wendt Keyes, dated July 1899:

Carlinville, Ills, July 1899
President of the United States
Kind Sir:
Pardon the liberty I take in sending these few lines to you, and do not pass them by unheeded, for they are in behalf of a good kind feeble old lady whose son was in the army of the great rebellion who fought gallantly for three years, was on the battle field, and never entirely recovered from the shock. She has mourned him as dead for almost twenty-five years, and has tried to get his pension for years but as yet has failed to accomplish it. She is a deserving old lady depending upon the cold charities of the cruel world for a living, now surely something can be done for her. He son was Lieut H Wendt, Co G, 59th Reg Ills Vols. Please don't pass this by without perusing it carefully. I know the good god will reward your address.
Mrs. C Keyes, Carlinville,Macoupin Co, Ills

Another letter in the pension file was from a neighbor of the Wendts.

While in the army her son Hiram received a sun stroke from which he never fully recovered and she believes that it was at last the cause of his death among strangers and that he was unable to fully identify himself as that absolute proof could be made of his death. About 1872, he left for a visit to friends in Quincy, Ills. Since that time no word has ever been received from him and his whereabouts if alive is unknown. Mrs. Wendt is 83 yrs. old and dependent entirely on friends and a married daughter, who is in very straitened circumstances and barely able to support herself by close economy...Living in her extreme age and her great destitution, I would ask as a favor to have her claim placed for special consideration.

Sadly, all of Mrs. Wendt's applications were denied, and no word of Hiram's fate was ever received.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TombstoneTuesday - Margaret C. Gibson Miller - October 25, 2011

My fourth great grandmother, Margaret C. Gibson Miller, is one of my favorites. Her father, George Isaac Gibson, immigrated from Ireland to Virginia, where he served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Margaret was one of 11 children, b. 6 May 1799 in Lee County, VA. She married Herold Miller sometime before 1817, and had eight children of her own. She and Herold moved to Buchanan County, Missouri, where Herold died before 1850. She was a widowed land-owner in Buchanan County, eventually moving to Doniphan County, Kansas, to live with her daughter Thursa Ann and family. She died 22 June 1874, at the age of 75, and is buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery, Highland, Doniphan County, Kansas.
I often wonder about all the things she must have seen and done during her lifetime. Her father was a Revolutionary War veteran who probably told her stories of his wartime service. She moved to the frontier with her husband, raising seven children before moving to Missouri with her own family and several of her brothers and their families. Her nephew, Robert Gibson, was killed on the trip across the Plains in 1855. Several other nephews made to the trip to California in 1849 in search of gold. Always, she was at the front of the westward movement, living the hard life of a pioneer wife and mother. I truly admire her accomplishments.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - George Isaac Gibson, October 24, 2011

The main reason I began my genealogy journey was the possibility of uncovering ancestors with Revolutionary War service, leading to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. In spite of finding several ancestors who qualify, nine years later I have yet to file my membership packet.

My personal goal for the remainder of 2011 is to file for membership in the DAR based on my direct connection to George Isaac Gibson, a Major in the Revolutionary War. He served with George Washington at Valley Forge, and was at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktowne, October 19, 1781 (230 years ago last week).

Major Gibson, my fifth great-grandfather, is one of my most esteemed and interesting ancestors. He married the daughter of a Revolutionary War veteran, Elizabeth Smith, and they had 11 children. Family tradition has it that one of his sons, Matthew Moss Gibson, was captured by Indians when he was a small child. He lived with the Indians until grown, when he was identified by a birthmark and ransomed by his father. He never became accustomed to living with his family, and would often be found outside the door, listening and not entering the house. He often returned to his Indian parents, staying awhile and returning to his own parents. He later moved to Missouri, where he spent the remainder of his life. (The story of Matthew Moss Gibson was taken from "Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia," Number 4, 1968, pages 1 to 26, by Emory L. Hamilton.)

Below is the Last Will and Testament of George Isaac Gibson:

Lee County, Virginia, Will Book I
Jonesville, Lee County, Virginia
10 October 1818

In the name of God amen, I George Gibson Sr., of Lee County State of Virginia being weak in body but sound in mind and disposing memory for which I thank God and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life and being desirous to dispose of all such wordly estate that it hath pleased God to bless me with I herefore give and bequeath and dispose of the same in the following manner.

First: I desire and direct that my executor, there after appointed as soon as practical proceed to sell all my estate both real and personal at public auction except such as herein excepted and out of money arising there from all my just debts and expenses be paid, also personal expenses.

Second: I give and bequeath unto my wife Elizabeth Gibson in line of her dower in my estate to be enjoyed by her only during her natural life or widowhood my dwelling house together with the yards and all the out houses appertaining and joined heretofore with the use of the orchards contiquior and two feather beds and furniture and such other household furniture as she and my executors may conclude she stands in need of. Also 100 acres of good land to be laid out in such manner as she thinks most convenient and may direct. Also my Negro slave Cate and other slaves of whom my said wife is to have choice, out of all the slaves I might possess at my death, except Navoh who is hereafter otherwise disposed of. Also two horses, three milk cows, twelve hogs and twelve sheep of which my said wife is to have her choice at my death out of my whole stock. But in case my executors make sale of everything devised which legally followeth herewith except two 100 acres! of land which she is to hold as a dower during her natural life and enjoy the profits thereof and out of the proceeds of sale make divisions among all my children as directed by the fourth clause of this testament and at her death if one remarried then her dower land is to be sold by my executors and divide the proceeds to be made in a way above directed and in case of her death before remarrying then everything real and personal devised to her by this will is to be sold by my executors the proceeds to be divided among my children.

Third: I desire and direct that my daughter Elizabeth Gibson to have and enjoy all the privileges of my mansion house along with her mother in the same way she enjoyed them during my lifetime and so much as my said daughter has lived longer than any of my other children and tenderly waited upon me in my feebleness and age, I give and bequeath unto my said daughter, Elizabeth, my Negro slave child Novah and her increase to her and her heirs forever and above my equal division of her other estate and in case the said Negro child Navah should die before me, it is my will and direction that out of the proceeds of my other estate my executors pay unto my daughter, 100 dollars compensation in full for such loss.

Fourth: It is my will and desire that the proceeds of all my other estate whatsoever not known before specifically disposed of be equally divided after my death among my children Isabella Camp[bell, Robert, Zachariah S., Rachel Click, George, Matthew, James, William, Elizabeth, Margaret (Peggy), and John to be enjoyed by their assigns forever.

Fifth: Should my Negro slave Harriet who has brought suit maintain same, it is my desire that my son Robert from whom I purchased her shall pay no more to my estate for her loss than three hundred and thirty dollars for her loss.

Sixth: In case of my death before my son John Gibson arrives at legal age, it is my will and desire that he shall live and remain in my dwelling house during his minority under the protection and government of his mother. I do will and direct that my executor put out his dividends to my estate at interest with good security until he arrives at 21 years of age.

Seventh: As whereas my sons Matthew, George, and James have purchased certain parts of my land and taken my bonds for the title, therefore adn given me their notes for the purchase money thereof now it shall be the wish of my said three sons or either of them after death to throw the said lands in hotch potch and have them sold by m y executors for the benefit of my estate, they or either of them are at liberty to do so. Whereupon my executors are to give them or either of them up their notes now held by me for the purchase money thereof but should my sons or either of them choose to retain the land so purchased then my executors will proceed to collect and distribute the purchased money as directed with my other estate and make them or either of them, return the said land letters thereunto as required by my bonds given therefore in all sales of land made to my exectutors I do hereby to make letters therefore.

Eighth: I hereby cancel revoke and disannul all and every will and testament heretofore written or subscribed. I do hereby make ordain and declare this my last will and testament.

Ninth: Lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my sons Mathew Gibson and James Gibson my sole executors to this my last will and testament. I do earnestly request that they take upon themselves the execution thereof conforming themselves in all things to be true spirit and meaning thereof producing harmony and peace form all interest.

My Seal October 1st, 1818
(Signed) George Gibson

Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of
Josh Ewing John L Hardy
William Sayers

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Technology Thursday - Flip Pal Review October 20, 2011

When I saw ads for the Flip Pal scanner on several blog sites I follow, I was intrigued. Was it just another gimmick? Could it really do what it claimed? After staring down the huge pile of photographs sitting in my upstairs closet, and fumbling with my current scanner, I decided to try the Flip Pal.
The Flip Pal arrived at my door a couple of days ago, and it was love at first sight. As advertised, it's small (roughly the same height and width of an iPad but maybe double the thickness), lightweight, and extremely easy to use. Set-up consisted of: 1) taking it out of the box; 2) removing a paper tab to activate the batteries; and 3) flipping the on switch.
Since its power source is AA batteries, you can scan virtually anywhere without your computer. Scanning is easy: 1) open the cover, 2) position the photograph or other small document; 3) push the green scan button. There is a small screen on the top of the scanner that previews your scan once it's complete.
Since the Flip Pal is so small, its optimal use is scanning photographs or other small documents. "Small" in this case means 6" x 4". I haven't tried the scanning and "stitching" feature yet, which allows you to scan larger documents, photographs, and other objects in sections, then "stitch" them back together using computer software. I'll review that feature in next week's Technology Thursday post.
The scanner comes with a 2G SD card and USB adapter. After scanning 80 photographs in less than a half hour while watching television, I popped the SD card out, put it into the USB adapter, then plugged the adapter into my MacBook Pro. In less than 5 minutes, I had everything uploaded to my iPhoto library. I opened a few images to check scan quality, and it was great!
The only issues I've run across so far:
1. It does suck battery juice. It takes two AA batteries, so my suggestion is to make sure those are rechargeable batteries. I'll be buying a battery charger and rechargeable batteries this weekend.
2. Make sure whatever you are scanning is flat. The majority of the photographs I was scanning are older (from the '60's, you know which ones I mean) and were curled from being stored scattered in a box. If the object you are scanning is not flat, it's hard to lay it on the scanner bed to get a straight scan. I had a few that scanned crooked, but was able to straighten them with the iPhoto software.
If you have a closet full of photos to scan, but hate the thought of sitting in front of your computer for hours on end, this is the gadget for you.
Next week: Flip Pal's scan and stitch functionality.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is the sign at the entrance to Christian Union Chapel Cemetery near Blue Ridge, Harrison County, Missouri. It's a beautiful little country cemetery, set on a hill between quiet pastures. Several generations of my maternal grandfather's family are buried here. Allen and Margaret "Maggie" Miller Robertson, Daniel and Bessie Jane Downey Robertson, Cloyd Robertson, to name a few. I love this cemetery and visit every time I am in Harrison County.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Ellen Allard Bellmer, 1865

In every family tree, there is one story that breaks your heart. For me, that story belongs to my husband's great great grandmother. She died a young woman on October 9, 1865, leaving behind a husband and six children. She is buried in an unmarked grave, next to her husband, in the same cemetery as Abraham Lincoln. Her husband died six years later from typhoid fever.

From the Daily Illinois State Journal, Springfield, Illinois, dated October 10, 1865:

Sad Casualty - Mrs. Ellen A. Bellmir, the wife of M.C. Bellmir, one of our old citizens, came to her death, yesterday, in a melancholy manner. She has, for years past, been subject to chronic, nervous attacks, accompanied with lock-jaw, which nothing but chloroform would relieve. Having a violent paroxysm of this character last Saturday, she took an overdose of the opiate, from which she never recovered. She was an estimable woman, and her husband, and friends have the sympathy of the whole community in their deep affliction.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Family Heirlooms - October 14, 2011

My house is full of comforting family heirlooms: my grandpa's St. Louis Cardinals ball cap, curved glass portraits of my great grandparents, my grandmother's rocking chair and foot stool, a china cabinet full of dishes, to name a few. Even though they have very little monetary value, I love and cherish them all. When my grandmother died, I helped clean out her house, which she and my grandfather had lived in since I was a small child and I considered home. Even though I knew she was never coming back, I felt her presence in all the things she left behind.
As I research my family history, I'm drawn to the physical items of my ancestors. While I roll out cinnamon rolls with my grandmother's rolling pin, I remember all the times spent in her warm and inviting kitchen. My great grandmother's wedding portrait takes me back to the dairy farm in northern Missouri where she and my great grandfather lived. I can remember him taking the cows out to pasture early in the morning, playing in the barns with my brother, and family reunions where the men ate first while the women cooked and gossiped.
The physical reminders left by our ancestors can help trigger wonderful memories which can add warmth to a list of dates and places. Dig through the boxes in the attic and see if it stirs some memories you can pass along to the next generation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Technology Thursday - October 13, 2011

I am not ashamed to say I am a huge geek, an Apple fan-girl, and lover of all new gadgets and software. I spent a couple of hours last night updating my iPad, MacBook Pro, iPod, and MacBook Air (I warned you I am an Apple fan-girl!) with Apple's new "iCloud" functionality. Now comes the fun part: what is its practical application to the world of genealogy research? How will it help me become a more efficient researcher? I currently use Family Tree Maker for Mac, as well as Ancestry's iPad/iPod mobile application, and with my genealogy documents in the iCloud, everything I need for mobile genealogy research will be at my fingertips. I've also customized my iGoogle homepage by adding widgets and links to favorite research sites, started experimenting with Evernote, and now use Google Reader to stay in touch with my favorite bloggers. Technology is a wonderful thing! Don't be afraid to embrace it to help you become a more efficient researcher and connect with your fellow family historians.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Irene Walsh Webster, 1910

As family historians know, every once in a while you run across a really interesting "skeleton" in the family tree. This is an article published in the New York times, January 1910, regarding the death of my son's great great grandmother, Irene Francis Walsh Webster.

Man Held as a Witness Discharged After an Autopsy.

A man who said later that he was Charles Phillips, a button manufacturer, of 110 Pennington Avenue, Newark, went to the Mirror Hotel, at 518 Willis Avenue, the Bronx, on Friday night. Yesterday morning at 9 o'clock the woman, who was Mrs. Irene Webster of 302 East 140th Street, complained that she felt ill, and Phillips called Dr. A. L. Smolen of 443 East 146th Street.

Dr. Smolen summoned an ambulance from Lebanon Hospital, but the woman had died before it arrived. Phillips was placed under arrest by the police of the Alexander Avenue Station, and the Coroner's office notified. Coroner Shongut and Dr. Curlin, his physician, held an autopsy, and found that Mrs. Webster had died of heart disease. Phillips was discharged.

William Webster of 105 Alexander Avenue, and Thomas and James Walsh, the woman's brothers, were summoned to the hotel by the police. Webster said he had separated from his wife two years ago, and had been paying her $3.50 a week. The landlady from whom Mrs. Webster rented a furnished room at 302 East 140th Street, said that her roomer had suffered from heart trouble.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Interview, Interview, Interview!!!

As far as I knew, my maternal grandmother, Mildred Gannan Robertson, had never ridden a bicycle, driven a car, or flown in an airplane. A few years before her death, my uncle Ron Robertson and I decided to interview her on camera, as she was blessed with a clear memory and good health. She and her sister Helen and brother Don were the last of their generation, and we wanted to record for posterity her memories of life as a young child, the Great Depression, World War II, and beyond. One story she told can serve as a lesson to my fellow family historians: don't make assumptions about your ancestors, because they just might surprise you.
It turns out that my grandmother HAD, in fact, flown in an airplane. When she was in her teens, a barnstormer came to Harrison County, Missouri, and was offering rides in a biplane for a small fee. She borrowed the money from her future sister-in-law, and off she went for a ride over the farm-dotted countryside. I can just imagine her as a young girl, flying high, laughing, wind-whipped hair, breathless after landing and thinking, what a great adventure I've just had! She never again flew in an airplane.
Had my uncle and I not interviewed her, we would never have known about her grand girlhood adventure, and would have assumed she always played it safe, feet firmly planted on the ground. Interview your living relatives if you're lucky enough to have some, you never know what you might find out!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Military Service

I have found very few of my direct ancestors who served in the military during what I'll call "modern times" (after the Civil War). My great great grandfather, Allen Robertson, served in the Union forces during the Civil War and never attained a rank beyond Private. George Isaac Gibson, my Irish immigrant fifth great grandfather, was a Major under George Washington at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. His father-in-law, Zechariah Smith (my sixth great grandfather) served under Captain Thompson in the French & Indian War. Our family was also represented in the War of 1812 by Josiah Oaks, my fifth great grandfather, and Joel Waterbury, my fourth great grandfather. Joel Waterbury's two grandfathers, Daniel Waterbury and Jacob Travis, also served in the Revolutionary War. Oddly enough, my original impetus for picking up my mom's genealogy was a desire to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, which I've yet to do.

Friday, October 7, 2011

John Gannan

Since the blog is titled "The Hunt for John Gannan," I suppose it's time to tell you about him. He is my great great great grandfather, and a total mystery to everyone in the family. The few things we know about him are that he claims to have been born in Monmouth County NJ in 1824; he married in Ohio; moved to Illinois for a few years; then purchased land in Harrison County MO where he lived out the rest of his life. There are no known photos of John, even though there is a single photo of his wife (Miranda Justice/Justus) and grown children, apparently taken after his death. There are family stories that he was a "wood colt" (born out of wedlock) and took his mother's maiden name, never knowing his father. Other stories state that he refused to have his photograph taken. There are no known vital records found in New Jersey or Illinois, only census records from Ohio and Missouri, along with his probated will and some land records. He is buried in the Fairview Cemetery between Bethany and Blue Ridge in Harrison County, Missouri. The tombstone is old and worn, and was replaced a few years ago by several members of the family. This is the sum total of what we know about him. I can say, however, his grandson John William Gannan (my great grandfather), was a wonderful man, a dairy farmer who worked hard his whole life and had the most amazing blue eyes.
"Old John Gannan," as I call him, has kept himself hidden for a long long time, and I can only hope one day he will decide to show himself and offer up a clue. I imagine my mom and grandpa meeting him for first the first time in heaven, "Oh, so YOU'RE John Gannan. Nice to meet you!"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old School Genealogy

I am fortunate to have inherited a suitcase full of my mom's genealogy correspondence from the 50's through the 70's. Before the age of internet research, family historians did things the "old school" way, writing letters to elderly relatives and county clerks, anyone who might have a scrap of useful information. The return correspondence is a fascinating glimpse into a different time, full of family stories, gossip, and if you were lucky, a clue that might knock down a brick wall. The best were those written in the shaky hand of the elderly, from relatives who had personally met my great great grandparents and could describe their physical appearance, personal preferences, or life events. While today's technology-based genealogy may yield more results in a shorter period of time, it's a lot less personal and is missing the human element of "old school" correspondence. I find myself returning to the letters from time to time, if for no other reason than it brings my ancestors to life in a way no computer database can.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday, October 4, 2011

George Isaac Gibson, b. 1732, Cork County, Ireland. d. 1819, Gibson Station, Virginia. He served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War.