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).