15 March 2018

Lucky Escape


Week 11: Lucky

Lucky Escape: Fleeing up the Columbia River

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

On March 26, 1856, Yakama, Klickitat, and Cascades tribes attacked American settlers who were living along the Cascade Rapids on the Columbia River in Washington Territory. Fourteen settlers and three soldiers were killed. My family was lucky — they escaped on the steamer Mary.

When the Indians attacked that morning, many settlers took shelter in a sturdy, two-story store at the Upper Cascades, owned by brothers Daniel and Putnam Bradford. Fortunately, especially for my family, the Indians failed to trap the two steamers Mary and Wasco, above the rapids. The escape of the Mary was a remarkable episode in Pacific Northwest history. The boat picked up Vanderpool and Sheppard families, who came out to her in skiffs, and then she steamed rapidly up the river to get help for the others. The Mary was not a luxury steamer, but rather was built for hard work in the swift waters of the mid-Columbia River. She also was rather shallow because of the need to be able to land at many places along the river to pick up and unload passengers, mail and freight in the rapidly growing Pacific Northwest.

History records this event as the Cascades Massacre (March 26-28, 1856) and notes that warriors of the Yakama and Cascade tribes, angered over broken treaties, and in an attempt to repel white settlers from their land, attacked settlers living near the Cascades Rapids of the Columbia River. The next day, on March 27th, 20 to 40 mounted dragoons, under Lieutenant Phil Sheridan, arrived aboard the steamer Belle from Fort Vancouver. The Yakama fled, leaving the Cascade behind, who surrendered.

For scenes and more history about this area, see:

Francis Marion Vanderpool (called Marion) married Nancy Priscilla Shepard (daughter of Henry Shepard) in January of 1853 (Lockley, Fred, and Mike Helm. Conversations with Pioneer Women. Eugene, Or: Rainy Day Press, 1981, p. 159)  and they first set up housekeeping on the Washington Territory side of the Columbia River — near what’s now the town of Stevenson.

·         Contributor: William E. Hill
·         Article Title: Oregon Trail
·         Website Name: Encyclopædia Britannica
·         Publisher: Encyclopædia Britannica, inc.
·         Date Published: February 22, 2017
·         Access Date: March 05, 2018

Marion and Nancy made the trip to the Pacific Northwest on the Oregon Trail in 1852, but whether they were in the same wagon train or not is not known, but it is possible that’s how they met. Nancy was born in Jefferson County, Iowa. Marion, although born in North Carolina, had moved to the Midwest by the early 1840s. He appears twice in the 1850 federal census — enumerated on 26 August with his father, siblings and his new stepmother, who was same age as Marion, in Dade County, Missouri, and again on 7 November in Wayne County, Iowa with relatives there. His mother (Polly Fuson) died 18 August 1849 in Decatur County, Iowa. His father (William Vanderpool), left with 10 children ranging in ages from an infant to Marion, then about 20 years of age, remarried quickly. Whether this remarriage had anything to do with Marion deciding to go to the Oregon country is not known. After all, he was a young, single man with carpentry skills — and the Oregon and Gold Rush fevers were especially prevalent in Iowa and Missouri at the time. Ironically, Nancy lost her mother (Elizabeth Mattern) in 1849 also.

The emigration year of 1852 was one of much illness and death on the trail. Most of the deaths were attributed to cholera.  However, both Marion and Nancy were lucky — they made it safely to Oregon. The diaries and journals available for that year mention seeing wagons "as far as the eye can see" both ahead and behind.  According to The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants on the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60, by John D. Unruh Jr., (published by the University of Illinois Press in 1979), it’s estimated that more than 10,000 started out for Oregon in 1852, plus about 50,000 headed to California, and 10,000 for Utah. How many actually arrived in the Oregon Territory that year is not known, but my family was among those who made the trip successfully.

By 1852 a considerable community had developed on the north side of the Columbia River, just a mile or so west of Stevenson. Its existence came about largely because of its proximity to the upper end of unnavigable water at the Cascades rapids. At this point, all travel continued by portage for some four miles around the Cascades on the north (Washington) side of the river, either by a tramway that had been recently constructed or, more commonly, by wagon road. Mary, the first active steamer on the mid-Columbia River was finished and ready for launching on September 12, 1853, and luckily for my family she was there to rescue them on that fateful day in 1856.

11 March 2018

Exploits of a Tiger Mom in Captivity


Week 10: Strong Woman

Exploits of a Tiger Mom in Captivity

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

Catherine Sea (See/Zeh) appears in various publications pertaining to the history of Augusta County, Virginia, Bouquet’s Expedition, and the Muddy Creek Massacre. The Shawnee called her “Fighting Squaw” for her defiance of a warrior and for successfully running the gauntlet. I think of her more as a Tiger Mom, fighting to save her children and herself.

Catherine Sea was one of the approximately 200 captives whose release was obtained by Col. Henry Bouquet. Her name appears among those released at Fort Pitt in December 1764. She had been a captive of the Shawnee since July 15, 1763. On that day, a party of 80 or 90 Shawnees arrived at Muddy Creek (Augusta County, Virginia) where several scattered families, including the Seas, were living. The Indians killed and scalped Catherine’s husband, Fredrick Sea, and the other men, then took the women and children prisoners and forced them to go to Ohio.

Family stories claim that the Sea children held up [on the long trek to Ohio] for two to three days. But, the smallest, John, was quite weak and Catherine, his mother, feared for his life. Seeing a warrior riding their stolen horse, Catherine indicated to him that she wanted it. When he refused, she picked up a club and attempted to knock him off the horse. About to kill her, the amused Indians prevented the warrior from doing so, calling her a “fighting squaw."

Once they reached the Indian campgrounds in what is now Ross County, Ohio, the Shawnee had a celebration. The women were forced to sing for them, and Catherine was called upon to run the gauntlet. Grabbing a stick she began making whirling moves and swinging the stick, which pleased the Indians. Another family legend claims that Catherine was able to iniquitously secure places for her children so they could sleep inside when the weather became cold. However, through the years, the history, the legends, and the genealogical data about her have become increasingly intermingled and distorted. Historically, she lives on in such publications as “Indian Captives Released by Colonel Bouquet.”[i]

She also is found in many family trees — in print and online. The latter require careful examination as few of them are sourced and almost all of them have the “wrong” Catherine. See an earlier blog of mine about this:  “Fighting Squaw.”

So who was this Catherine Sea? It has long been claim that her maiden name was Vanderpool, but nothing in primary sources has been found to substantiate this — such as a marriage record, or a mention in deeds, or in a will of her purported father. However, proximity places a Vanderpool family in Augusta County, Virginia and “on the Greenbrier (river)” in the right time period. That family was Abraham Vanderpool’s and he was the only one of that name who settled there. He had a daughter named Catherine. This Abraham Vanderpool was from the Newark, New Jersey area, but he had been baptized 9 February 1709 in the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany, New York.[ii] His parents and the family removed to New Jersey ca 1725-30.

Abraham married first Jannetje Weibling about 1733, probably in New Jersey and by her had six children, among whom was Catherine “Kitty” Vanderpool who was baptized 14 May 1738 in the Second River Dutch Reformed Church (Second River) in Belleville, Essex County, New Jersey.[iii] In the early 1740s, Abraham and Jannetje removed to the frontier of Virginia, living on the South Branch and the Greenbrier. Three sons — Wynant (named for Abraham’s father), William and John — are believed to have been born to them in the 1740s in what was then Augusta County, but no birth records have been located and probably do not exist. Settlers on the American frontier in the mid-18th century had more pressing needs than the recording of vital records.

Jannetje died about 1747 as Abraham married secondly to a Rebecca [—?—] whose surname is unknown. They were married about 1748 and in 1751 they sold 430 acres in Augusta County[iv] and in 1753 are listed as living on the Greenbrier (River)[v]. The last known record of Abraham Vanderpool in Virginia is when he is in Winchester in May 1757. By August of that year he appears in land records in Orange County, North Carolina.[vi] He remained in North Carolina until about 1778 when he and Rebecca removed to what’s now Tennessee, where they both died.

His daughter, Catharine “Kitty,” grew up on the frontier of Virginia and it is much more likely that she was the “Fighting Squaw” — a 25-year-old rather than the older Catherine Vanderpool many family trees have claimed. The Catherine Vanderpool who was bp. 1725 in New York City was a younger sister of Abraham Vanderpool and the paternal aunt of the younger Catherine. The older Catherine grew up in the Newark, New Jersey area and evidence points to her having married William Sandfort, as his second wife, in 1741 in Bergen County, New Jersey. That locality is near where her parents and most of her siblings lived. Her brother, Abraham, was the only one out on the Virginia frontier.

Colonel Bouquet negotiating the release
of the Indian captives 1764-1765.
The problem with so many family trees is that they have assumed that the Catherine Vanderpool, bp. 1725, was the wife of Fredrick Sea, and since most of Fredrick’s known children were born in the 1740s and 1750s, her name and age to be the wife and mother “fits,” BUT (always the big problem in genealogy), what’s been overlooked is that Fredrick Sea married first Maria Ottilia Stemple 22 May 1744 in Pennsylvania,[vii] and while no marriage record has yet been found for Fredrick Sea and Catherine Vanderpool (bp. 1738), she probably was his second wife, the mother of his younger children and stepmother to his older ones. This makes sense when you compare the ages of the SEA children that are given on the “Indian Captives Released by Colonel Bouquet” in 1764-1765. They were: Peggy, 19; Sally, 10 and Mary 7 (all listed as taken from the Greenbrier, which helps distinguish them). There’s also a John Sea is listed as age 7. These 4 SEAs are on the G list of the captives. The other SEAs listed are: Catherine, George, Michael and Mary. The children born between 1745 and about 1754 most likely are children of Maria Ottillia Stemple, the first wife of Frederick Sea. But, the children — John, George, Mary, and Sally, who were born ca 1755 to 1761, would be Catherine Vanderpool’s children.

Historians and genealogists have assumed that all of the SEA children on the captive lists were the children of Catherine, the wife of Fredrick in 1763. However, it is my conclusion that some of them are her children, but others are her stepchildren — and they all deserve to be recognized properly, even though Catherine apparently was a Tiger Mom to all of them. 

[i] The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volume 39, Number 3, Fall 1956. Available in PDF. https://journals.psu.edu/sph/article/view/2529/2362

[ii] Dutch Settlers Society of Albany, Yearbook, Volume 41 (Albany, New York  1966-1968), p. 13

[iii] Genealogy Magazine of New Jersey, Vols. 3 and 4: Catharine bp. 14 May 1738; d/o Abraham Vander Poel and Jannetje Wibling, Second River (Belleville) Reform Church, 1727-1794, Belleville, Essex County, New Jersey.

[iv] Lyman Chalkley, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 3 volumes, 1912-1913, reprint, 1965), Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850 extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, Virginia, Vol. 1, p. 423.
“25th May, 1751. Abraham Vanderpool  and Rebecca to George Yoccum (Yoccomb), No. 10 held by patent of Lord Fairfax, 19th October, 1748, on ye south fork of ye Wappaconee (or) Great South Branch of Potomac, 430 acres. Endorsed and delivered to James Machir for George Harnost, Sr., one of the heirs of the grantee, 16th July, 1806. Teste: Wm. White, Thomas Moore.”

[v] Chalkley, p.  307. “MAY, 1753. Rogers and Sutton vs. Vanderpool.--Not executed by reason Abraham Vanderpool lives on Greenbryer.”

[vi] Orange County [N.C.] Records, Vol. V, Granville Proprietary Land Office, Deeds & Surveys, 1752-1760, edited by William D. Bennett, CG (privately published, NC: Raleigh, 1989). Abraham Vanderpool (1709-1778) removed to Orange County, NC area by 20 August 1757 where he is found as a Sworn Chain Carrier on that date. (353. 25 July 1760. Harmon Husband, planter, 10 schillings, on waters of Sandy Cr. and Rocky R. called Level's Addition Tract . . . surveyed 20 August 1757, Abraham Vanderpool and Joseph York, SCC.) [p. 120.] referencing also N. C. Patent Book 14:409

[vii] Pennsylvania, Lutheran Baptisms and Marriages, 1730-1799 [database online], Provo, UT, USA. Ancestry.com Operations Inc. 2000. Original data: Early Lutheran Baptisms and Marriages in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA, USA: n.p., 1896. John Friederich Zeh, marriage date: 22 May 1744; marriage place: Swatara, Pennsylvania; spouse: Maria Ottilia Stempel.

03 March 2018

The Mystery in the Old Will

Week 9: Where There’s a Will

The Mystery in the Old Will

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

 It looks like an ordinary will and starts out that way, although it soon becomes apparent that the 80-year-old testator, Isaac Pierson, had specific ideas about who and what his widow and his heirs were to inherit. The Will was made 31 March 1859 and probated eight months later in Preble County, Ohio.

I give and bequeath to my present and beloved wife in lieu of her dower in the farm I own in state aforesaid, township and county, one-half of all the monies and credits that are in my possession at death, but if my wife would rather choose, the sum of $20,800 . . .  I will in addition to the above to my present wife one mantel clock now owned by me and a closet, a corner cupboard and furniture.

His “present wife” was his second wife, Elizabeth (née House) Utz, widow of Lewis Utz. She and Isaac Pierson married in December of 1834 (his first wife, Hannah Ayers, died in March of 1834). They both had children by their first spouses, but they had no children together. Isaac and Hannah (his first wife) had had seven children, but only four were living at the time Isaac made his Will; the other three had died young and left no heirs.

I will and bequeath my daughter, SARAH, and her children 30 acres of land off of the north side of my farm that I now own in Twin Township, Preble County, Ohio.

Fathers sometimes gave  their daughters land, especially if they were newlyweds, but Sarah Pierson had married William Hixson Jr. in 1831 — 28 years earlier, so this bequeath was somewhat out of the ordinary, but perhaps there was another reason — something my research had not yet turned up. It might throw some light on why I had been unable to find Sarah in the 1850 and 1860 censuses as she was not with her husband and children in those Preble County, Ohio enumerations.

And I have given to each of (my) children something heretofore to give them a start in the world and considering that I have given to my son Briam [sic] A. Pearson $100 more than I gave to [each] of my other children, I therefore make it his duty after my death to see that there be paid only $5 to REBECCA's children, $25 to my daughter MARY, and $25 to my daughter SARAH for the purpose of making these all equal . . .
[caps on the daughters’ names are mine].

Did he really mean to give only $5 to Rebecca’s children (she had two) rather than $25?  I re-checked the Will to be sure, and the transcription is accurate. It is impossible to know for sure why the Testator did this since he did not record his reasons, but perhaps he had already given her children money or property. The Will continues:

 and the balance of my property after the debts are fully paid to be divided equally among all my children by my executor in the manner he may think most profitable  . . . I appoint John VANWINKLE and William UTZ as my executors to settle up the estate and they shall have full power to execute any instrument of writing that may be necessary for a conveyance of a title and the title so conveyed shall be as good as if I had made it myself.

Then, evidently he remembered additional things he wanted to include:

. . . and further as I have forgot to mention, I will to my present wife the young bay mare that I have always considered should be hers and the buggy . . .

And then he threw the curve:

. . . also that SARAH is not to have any more after she gets what I have willed to her -- the 30 acres of land and the $25 she is to have from my estate. [and in almost a conversational letter-style manner, he continues giving instruction to his son] Biram, after she gets this, her interest in my estate, she is not to have any more.
The balance is to be divided among my other children or their heirs. I desire that sale of my personal property be made.

So, Sarah, what did you do or not do that evidently displeased your father? More importantly, where did you disappear to and why can’t I find you and unravel this mystery?

22 February 2018

I Bequeath

Week 8 Heirloom

I Bequeath . . .

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2018

Taylor, I bequeath my class cake plate to you.

You may wonder why your grandauntie would leave you such an ordinary thing as a glass cake plate. It certainly isn’t worth any money. It’s not rare or a collector’s item, but it is an heirloom. It’s one of the few family “treasures” that I inherited and that is why I want to pass it along to you.

You see, there is a story behind this cake plate that makes it special.

Eufaula, Oklahoma in 1940

Once upon a long time ago — back in 1940 to be exact, a pretty, young mother was pushing her baby in a carriage. She was going to visit a friend who lived several blocks away. Her baby was a fat, dark-haired girl.

It was hot and muggy in Eufaula, Oklahoma that early summer day and the mother hurried along to get to her friend’s house so she could have some ice tea, visit   and show off her baby’s new tooth and pretty yellow dress.

She pushed the buggy down the uneven sidewalk by a vacant lot where an old mansion, at least by small-town Oklahoma standards, once stood. There was still some trash in the yard, waiting for the cleanup crew to come in and haul it off.

As she went by, she noticed a piece of glass sticking out of the red mud. She stopped to look at it more carefully. On closer examination, she could tell it was a dish or bowl of some sort. She grabbed the edge and began to work it gently out of the mire. It was much larger than she realized at first. Finally, she retrieved the item — a clear glass plate with a pedestal. It’s a beautiful cake plate thought the young mother who was just setting up housekeeping and did not have many dishes. What a lucky find.

She took one of her baby’s diapers and wrapped it around the cake plate and tucked it into the buggy. Off she went to her friend’s house — eager to show off her new-found treasure.

Later, back at her little house, she washed the cake plate and set it out to admire. “It is just perfect,” she thought. She waited eagerly for her husband to arrive home from work so she could share the day’s adventure and show him the plate.

Next time I bake a cake, I’ll have a pretty plate on which to put it,” she said. And, so she did. Through the years — a half century in fact — she baked cakes for her husband, her daughters and her sons. Always on their birthdays, plus holidays and other times, the glass cake plate would hold a beautiful cake.

That young mother was my mother — and I was the baby in the buggy the day she found the pretty glass cake plate.

Through all the moves she made — in Oklahoma, Kansas and Washington — she took extra care of this cake plate and it has survived without a chip. It held my birthday cakes, your Grandpa’s and his twin’s (Granduncle Jim) and even your great-grandfather, Frosty Vanderpool’s, last birthday cake on 9 April 1984.

A few years before she died in 1991, my mother asked if I’d like to have the cake plate. Of course, I said yes. There are so many sweet memories wrapped around that little cake plate. This is why I saved it.

Taylor, perhaps someday you will bake cakes for your children’s or your grandchildren’s birthdays and put them on this little glass cake plate. If you do, serve them with lots of love and ice cream.

And, remember me and how much I love you — and the story about this cake plate -- our family heirloom.

14 February 2018

Love in the 19th Century

Week 7 — Valentine

Love in the 19th Century

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018\

When Nancy Jones’ beau died during the Civil War, she must have been heart-broken, though no diary or letter has been found that records her emotions — only a poignant note written by him (whose name has since  been lost) during a battle wherein he told Nancy  that he had
“Laid as close to the ground as ever a squirrel laid to a limb.”

At the time of the war, Nancy lived with her parents, Evan Jones and “Polly” (née Weaver) and some of her 10 siblings in Laurel County, Kentucky. Nancy, born in 1839, was one of the couple’s younger children. Exactly when or how Nancy met Ephraim Clayton (called E. C.) Anderson, a young man eight years her junior, who lived about 20 miles away in adjoining Clay County in mountainous southeastern Kentucky is another story that’s been lost in the passing of the years.

On February 14, 1868, Nancy took a sheet of lined paper, folded and cut it artistically. When she was done, she had four hearts. There were also four hands and four designs that appear to be flowers at the sheet’s corners. In the confines of the cut hearts, she wrote this valentine to E. C. Anderson:

Heart 1
Last lots ware (were) cast
From them I drew kind fortune
It must be you
Look at the first letter in every line to your right hand
I send my hart (heart) in hand to you.
You may think strange of this.

Heart 2
Kind sir if this you do refuse
Then burn the paper and be excused
Answer from you I will expect
Say answer by a line
Will you be my valentine?
Beauty is but a flower
And may be wilted in an hour

Heart 3
[Taking the first letter of each line and reading vertically, it spells out her name]
and love will
no (know) that we must
consult our minds
youth and beauty will
Just do for a flower
one is all we trust
nothing else can we study but
each other. You are
so far away.

Heart 4
My bosom swells
with deep concern
I love but cannot love but one.
I guess I’ll never love another
so let us live in love together.
If this Valentine you do refuse
please burn the paper and be excused.

Obviously, he did not burn the paper. E.C. and Nancy were married Nov. 19, 1868. They had six children, but only three survived to adulthood.

More than a hundred years later, in 1977, when descendants were selling their ancestral home and dividing up the furniture, one of the heirs took a small wooden table with one drawer. It had sat in a combination room that served as both bedroom and living room.

Later, when she and her sister were going through things with a purpose — to leave some old papers to Berea College — they found the valentine. It was among old photos, receipts, Confederate money and memorabilia, folded up in a little square. They read it, made a copy and then folded the original back into its small square.

E. C. and Nancy (Jones) Anderson died within six months of each other with Nancy going on December 26, 1917. Nancy was 78. Ephraim lasted six months longer, dying June 5, 1918, at the age of 71. They are buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Marydell, Laurel County, Kentucky.

Tombstone photograph by the kind permission of Hank Cox. Photo Copyright 2010, Hank Cox, originally uploaded to Find-A-Grave.

Thanks to my cousins, Mary Martin Cheek and Shirley Martin Chandler, for sharing this story and other family information with me.

See also: “Treasures in Old Letters: I Have Taken me a Woman . . . “

08 February 2018

Help! My Ancestors Have Turned Green

Week 6 — Favorite Name

Help! My Ancestors Have Turned Green

by Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

At first I thought it was just one of those naming fads our families went through. You know, where all the girls are named for flowers or jewels. I always think of my Grandaunts — Lily and Pearl — who weren’t my grandaunts at all, but rather cousins, but in my childhood, everyone over 20 or so was called “aunt” or “uncle” if they were even distantly related. And if they were “old” (like 40+) you tacked on the “grand” in front of aunt or uncle to show your respect.

However, a particular given name keeps popping up in various branches of my family tree. Who on earth names their bouncing baby boy — GREEN?

Naturally, as a seasoned genealogist, I assumed there had to be a valid reason for this colorful name — perhaps a maiden name of someone or in honor of a famous military hero or a local celebrity? My family is a bit eccentric, to be polite, as well as creative, but this Green given name keeps showing up so often, there has to be a story behind it. Or so I thought.

I snickered when I first encountered Greenberry Autry (Awtrey) — an older brother of my ancestor. Naturally, he was called “Green” for short. Thank goodness, my 4g-granny chose to name my ancestor just plain old Eldridge. This Greenberry, was born about 1803 in Georgia and I spent considerable time searching for someone with the surname of Greenberry because why else would my 4g-granny pass along the name? It had to be a family name.  If it is, it is hidden well.

When additional research revealed someone named Green Nathaniel Bankston in another of my Georgia families, it appeared he most likely was named in honor of the Revolutionary War soldier, General Nathanael Greene, and his parents transposed the given names. His son was named Young Green.

Gen. Nathanael Greene

But were these other “Greens” named for the general also? I really don’t know. There simply is no rhyme or reason that I can determine as to why so many of my families on non-connecting branches and different generations chose to name their sons Green.

One of my relatives was John “Green Bottom” Connally, but that was just a nickname based on a topographic name. He built the Green Bottom Inn near Huntsville, Alabama about 1815. However, typically, for my family, his genealogy is in dispute, so I’m not sure about our relationship.

I’ve even found a couple of boys named Green Hill in my tree. That made me smile, but when I discovered Olive Green on a gnarled branch, I snorted coffee on my computer monitor. So far I’ve counted 30 Greens. Can’t you just hear their mothers yelling for those sons to come home for supper?

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. They could have chosen another color — like puce.

03 February 2018


No. 5 — Jan. 26 2018


Using the census to track a family in its Dust Bowl migration

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

Dorthea Lange photo (public domain)  of a family arriving in California from Oklahoma ca 1935.

When Elmer Hodge Blair married Attelia Pryor in the summer of 1914[1] in Oklahoma, times were pretty good and the future looked bright because Oklahoma was bubbling in oil, and its businesses and farms were thriving. He was 23 and she was 19. Elmer was a farmer, though it is doubtful that he ever owned one. He registered for the World War I draft[2] in Muskogee County, Oklahoma where he then lived and at that time claimed he was married with two children. Apparently, he never actually served in the military.

His father died in early 1918, leaving Elmer with a younger sister as his nearest relative. He also had several half siblings via his father’s second marriage. In the 1920 census[3] of Choctaw County, Oklahoma, Elmer and Attelia and their three sons are renting a place and he is farming. Their sons — Elmer Leroy, Marion Floyd and Paul Vernon — were born in 1915, 1917 and 1918, respectively.

By 1930, Elmer and family had moved again — to Eufaula in McIntosh County, Oklahoma.[4] About this time there was a global economic slowdown and one of the worst and longest drought in America’s history hit. The drought created the Dust Bowl period in the 1930s with the most intense years occurring in 1934 and 1936. While eastern Oklahoma where the Blairs lived was not as severely hit by the dust storms, the area also was impacted by great economic losses and the Depression. Like hundreds of thousands of others, the Blairs joined the so-called Dust Bowl refugees and went to California.

In 1940, Elmer, his wife and two of his three sons were enumerated in Taft Heights, Kern County, California. He had been unemployed for 16 weeks, was renting a home for $15 a month, and had an income of $350. The 1940 population schedule[5] asked an additional question that helped to pinpoint the migration of this family. It asked: “In what place did this person live on April 1, 1935?” Additionally, if it was a different place than in 1940, the enumerator was to enter the name of the city or town. The Blairs lived in a rural area (farm) in McIntosh County, Oklahoma in 1935.  

So sometime between 1 April 1935 and 18 April 1940, the Blairs had made the trip along the famous Route 66 to California.

Elmer is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, and Orange County, California where he died in 1950, and Artelia purportedly died there in 1959.[6]
However, they made at least one more trip back to Oklahoma because in 1942[7], Elmer is found in the “old men’s draft” of that year for World War II, living in McAlester, McIntosh County, Oklahoma. How long they stayed before returning to California I have yet to determine.

[1] Elmer H. Blair married Artelia Pryor, 9 Aug 1914, Muskogee County, Oklahoma.
Film Number: 001312360. Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

[2] Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Muskogee; Roll: 1851890. Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm. 

[3] 1920 U.S. census. Choctaw County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Wilson, Enumeration District [ED] 80.  Roll T625_1456, p. 13A. United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[4] 1930 U.S. census, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Eufaula, Enumeration District [ED] 14. Roll 1914; Page: 4A; FHL microfilm: 2341648. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

[5] 1940 U.S. census, Kern County, California, population schedule, Taft Heights,  Enumeration District [ED] 15-59; Roll: m-t0627-00214; Page: 14A. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[6] Find-A-Grave Memorial (no sources cited). Elmer H Blair Birth 1891. Death 1950.
Burial: Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, California, USA. Memorial ID 58489865.
Find-A-Grave does not show a burial record for his wife; and I’ve found no documentation to prove exactly when and where she died.

[7] World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration), for the State of Oklahoma. The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
© 2018, Ancestry.com.

26 January 2018

It's Chicken in Any Language

No. 4--26 Jan. 2018
Topic: Invite to dinner

Kyckling, Poulet, Hähnchen, Sicin, Kip:
It’s chicken in any language
 By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

 If we went to “grandma’s” for dinner — you could bet there would be chicken on the menu. It didn’t matter which grandmother’s house we visited on our Sunday and holiday trips.  That’s how it was back in the “old days” when I was a kid growing up in the hills of eastern Oklahoma. But, how the chicken was prepared depended on the grandma.

Both of my grannies were Southerners — one was from Alabama and the other from Tennessee — and they were born within a decade of each other. Their cuisine was similar in various ways, and both served fresh vegetables from their home gardens. They also created bowls of mashed potatoes, sinfully rich with real cream and butter. Of course, that was back in the days when none of us worried about our waistlines or cholesterol levels.

If we went to my paternal grandmother’s, there would always be fried chicken — and I’d usually help with the plucking of the feathers after Grandmother or Dad had “killed the old red roosters.” My squeamish older sister declined to help with that chore. But, she didn’t have any problem eating the chicken I noticed.  My younger cousins and I were served a platter of fried chicken at the “kids’ table” — it consisted of drumsticks and wings. I didn’t know there was any other part of the chicken until I was grown. Of course, we could have all the mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies that we wanted. Then we’d line up for dessert, which often was coconut cake or chocolate pie.

At my maternal grandmother’s, she served smothered chicken and dumplings, along with the usual fresh vegetables, including okra, which I loved, but never learned to cook like she did. Often there’d be corn-on-the-cob from her garden and watermelon in the summertime. Dessert frequently was a cobbler — made from fresh blackberries in the summer or apples or peaches at other times. Sometimes she’d make a vinegar pie, which was my all-time favorite.

My daughter who lives in Alaska, called the other day. She requested a recipe. “Send it by e-mail,” she said. Guess you never know which dish will be a favorite to be passed along in the family. She wants my tuna salad recipe.

Well, that’s something I can do off the top of my head. I’m so relieved her request wasn’t for Granny’s dumplings or for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. I might have a problem finding those recipes which are stashed away willy-nilly somewhere in my dozens of cookbooks and assorted recipe notebooks. Organizing ancestors is something I can do, but not 50 years of recipes.

Isn’t there an app for that yet?