Monday, May 30, 2016

Amanuensis Monday (Addendum), 2016 May 30: Diary Review, January 1 through June 30, 1853

On May 2, I entered diary entries from James Peter McPherson's diary for the first quarter of 1853 and on May 16, the second quarter The following is a review of the diary entries which gives a more clear vision of James P., his family, and the folks in and around Springdale, Wisconsin.

The James P. McPherson Family in 1853 
A Semi-Annual Review of the Diary

HOME AND FAMILY In 1853, James P. ws 37 years old, and his wife was 30 years old. They had five children, William , age 10; James , age 8; Jabez, age 6; Anne, age 3, and baby Elizabeth, who was born on 4 Dec 1851. The boys all had their mother's maiden name of Burns as their middle names. Anne's middle name was Adamson after the last name of her aunt and uncle, Anne and Thomas Adamson. Baby Elizabeth was named after her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Spink of Arbroath, Scotland. 

 The family of seven continued to live in the log home that James P. built in 1850. The only mention of changes to the house was when strong winds blew part of the roof off. Even this occurrence was only given a line in the diary on 15th of April, and the repair was not even given a line. James P. did note that their livestock increased with the birth of two new bull calves, one each for Nan and Bass, as well as seven piglets. 

 The family continued to maintain Sunday as their family day which was spent at home with visitors coming to the house, or sometimes James P. went visiting neighbors. Several times neighbors and their wives came visiting to the McPherson home, but James P. did not indicate when or if Mary went visiting with him to the neighbors. His visits might have been more than just social, and included talk about politics and farm work, or he may just have left her at home with the five children. 

It did appear that Mary was called upon as a healer when children or folks were ill, or for delivering a babe. Even though James P. and Daniel Lester were not speaking, Mary attended to Mrs. Lester at least three times in the spring of 1853. She was also called to the Bairds, Adam Davidsons, and Miles families. Once, James P. noted that Mary was at the store. It would have been nice if he had been more explicit as to Mary's activities, but then the diary was his diary.

During this year, there was a noticeable change in James P.'s farming habits. During 1850 and 1851, it appeared that his work was that of the new guy in Springdale; he worked for an exchange of services, but not exactly as an equal.  However, in 1853, although the work exchange was still occuring, the diary reflected that he was feeling like an equal in the exchange. This change may have come about because he was more sure of himself in regards to the farm work, but also between his tailoring ability and his ability to write, keep records, and interest in politics and local government, he also had other unique marketable skills. It was noticeable that when neighbors ploughed or hauled rails and such for him, it was because he didn't have a horse or ox.  James P. reciprocated with tailoring or other farmwork. He also wrote up mortgages, filed land papers and taxes, and letters for folks and was paid in cash. He was also called upon to make the sale of goods for folks in Springdale, although it is not clear whether this was a paid service or part of the local government.

 It was also interesting to read about the extensive garden that he and Mary grew. In addition to wheat and hay, they planted corn, potatoes, peas, carrotts, beets, beans, onions, tomatotes, rutabagas, turnips, cabbage, and salad greens. They also planted melons, as well as getting a couple of plum trees which he obtained from Henry Borland. McPherson also noted that he planted Osage orange which was not edible, but had a number of uses necessary to pioneer farmers. Although, James P. never mentions chickens, I would be much surprised if they didn't have a small flock. The McPherson family appeared to have had a very healthy diet of vegetables, milk, cheese, bread and meat. A far cry from the first year and a half, when their diet was primarily potatoes. 

Tailoring continued to be a source of income or exchange. James P. made vests for S. Lamount, Henry Borland, Jr., John Edi, and David Beats, as well as coats for Henry Oleg, Carl Lust and D. Douglas. Mary also cut a dress of C. Conchan. Considering this activity, though substantial, his tailoring did not appear to be his main source of income or exchange, as it did during the first two years. 

The danger from lightening storms was noted by James P., as "Mrs. Young was killed by lightening in Paton's lane" on the 29th of May.

CORRESPONDENCE Personal corresponde continued between James P. and Anne Adamson as well as with the Cairncross family. In April 1853, Alex and William Cairncross traveled from Cincinnati to Springdale, and arrived on 17th of April. James P.'s other correspondence appeared to be more business and politically oriented. He wrote to Senator Whalley for information on the State Agricultural Society. He also corresponded with Ben Eastman, G. Bjornson, and Harper Brothers. He also ordered , for 25¢, the Evening Post from W.C. Bryant. 

SOCIAL The McPherson family started off the New Year by “Keeping” the holiday, which in Scotland was Hogamany, the “first stepping” or first visiting of the new year. They were visited by J. Cunnningan, Thomas Miles, and Mr. and Mrs. Baird. Throughout the first half of 1853, the McPherson family often visited or were visited by the Thomas Miles, S. Lamount, William Jackman and wife, David Beat, A. Brown, A. Anderson, George Davidson, and the Henry and William Henderson families. McPherson also visited numerous other folks throughout the area. He attended "raisings" for David Beats' grainary and George Davidson's house. After the Cairncrosses (and A. Smith) arrived, he went “land hunting” with them. Many times visits to or from folks appeared to be work oriented because later a coat was made, or a raising occurred, or a barter for services, or for community busenss. For a variety of reasons and needs, James P. and Mary had a very busy life in their village of Springdale, Wisconsin. 

COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL LIFE James P. showed his interest in local government, education and politics in the first months that he arrived in Springdale. He worked on the school, right along with working on building his own log home. He attended community meetings and by 1851 he was elected Town clerk. This interest not only continued but increased in 1853. He was elected Chairman of the Town Board on 5 April 1853, and jumped right in with his dealing with Town Business with J. Berges, T.Thomson and S. Shumway. He approved the Town Superintendent and others. 

One of his first orders of business was to meet with S.Shumway to make out the road list. Some of the visits that he made, such as on the 14th April, to John Oleg, the Hendersons, S. Lamount and Adam Davidson may have been related to town busines and/or the roads. He was at S. Shumways on 23rd April to make out road lists. He also was at Thomas Miles on the next day with letters for Clerks of the County Court and the Board of Superisons. Then on the following Monday he was at the “village” (Springdale) and Town Treassurer and H. Hendersons. He also granted some kind of a liscense to Charles N. Collin. 

 Road business took up considerable time in April, May and June. McPherson made road lists as well as delivered road petitions to W. Thomson, H. Johnson, and made a road agreement between Jones and Lust. He also made and delivered an agreement between William Jackman and his brother-in-law regarding some issue. 

On the 9th of June, he was "suponead" to appear at the Shumway case, and was, indeed, at Squire Thomas's, in Primrose Township, the next day in regard to the Shumway v. Holden case. The Squire found in favor of Holden. 

 On the 22nd of June, McPherson went to Madison, accompanied by “Messers. Cairncross, Smith, Beard and J. Conchan,” This was most likely in regard to land for Cairncrosses and Smith, as he was at “Forbes land with A. Cairncross and A. Smith” on Sunday, the 26th of June. 

 James P. McPherson had a busy and eventful first half of 1853, and we will be looking forward to see what the last half of the year brings to the McPherson and the folks in Springdale. 

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Synopsos: 2016 May 29, The Trouble with A Diary Review?? Osage Orange??

Fruit of the Osage Orange
Courtesy of Wikipedia
After I post a segment of the diary kept by my great great grandfather, James P. McPherson, I do a review of what his life was like during that period.  I don't really like to do these reviews as the work is more intensive than transcribing the diary.  However the benefits usually far outweigh the time and effort.  For instance, when he put a chimney inot his log house  a year after it was built, I had to rethink how the family cooked and kept warm during the previous year -- and where did the smoke from the fire go. 

The last post from the diary, January through June of 1853, had a long list of what James P. planted so they would have food and feed for the animals throughout the year.  In addition to wheat, oats and hay, he planted corn, potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, onions, cabbage, tomatoes and salad greens.  I was interested in this list of garden plants and I realized that except for tomatoes and salad greens, the produce from the garden could be kept through the winter in a pit or ice house.  This wealth of vegetables, supplemented by eggs, milk, chicken,beef and pork, provided the family with a healthy diet.

Now this was the good part of the review of the diary.  Then I re-read the notation, "planted Osage Orange and melons."  I almost passed on this entry.  I figured that Osage Orange was some sort of fruit.  Almost -- but when one has Google at one's fingertips, it's like magic.  Google "Osage Orange."  What with Wiikipedia,  USDA, Great Plains Nature Center, University of Nebraska  and Mother Earth News all weighing in on this plant called Osage Orange, (the maclura pomifera, or also know as hedge apples, bodark, bow-wood, and yellow wood, I was in for a Google-journey. 

I couldn't stop.  I went from one site to another, and then back again for some interesting tidbit.  In the early 1800s when the first mention of this tree occured, it was noted that the Osage Indians, as well as the Commanches, highly valued this wood for making their bows.  It is said that the indians would travel hundreds of miles for Osage Orange.

Now James P. was not making bows, but he most likely planted it for a living fence, or for it's strong
Osage Orange felled in
1954 Exhibits little rot
Courtesy of Wikipedia
dense wood which was used in furniture, fence post, tool handles and tree nails.  The Mother Earth News also noted that because the wood was strong and pliable, it was also used in making wagon wheels and hubs.  Some believe that the fruit has insect repellent qualities as well as medicinal values.  On the other hand, the fruit is also said to cause stomach problems if ingested.  It is also said to cause skin rashes.

An hour or so later, after reading the wealth on information on the Osage Orange and viewing dozens upon dozens of pictures, I finally had to say "Enough is enough."  No more Osage Orange.  It dinna even have anything pertinent to the diary.  I just got sucked in on a Google-journey.  The problem is that this Google behavior seems to be particularly troublesome when I do a diary review.

"Why," I ask myself.

And no answer comes, not from the Diary, not from James P., and certainly not from Google.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sepia Satuday 332, 2016 May 28:

The quaint connection between buildings over an city waterway speaks to me of times of old.  However this is not the place in which I grew up, nor does it resemble that high desert basin of my childhood, or the childhood  of my parents and grandparents.

The largest town in southeastern Oregon is Klamath Falls, located on the bank of Link River, so called because it linked the Upper Klamath Lake to Lake Ewana and on to the Klamath River.  When I write about it, the lakes and rivers around Klamath Falls, it  makes it sound like the town was surrounded by water.  Not so,  Link River is only about one and a half miles long and the surrounding  land  is arid and prone to sagebrush.  The native Klamath Indians called Link River,  Yulalona, which means "back and forth."  At times, strong winds would blow the water upstream into Upper Klamath Lake, and partly draining the riverbed. At the upper end of the river there are some rapids, not falls, but those rapids ultimately gave the city the name of Klamath Falls.  Later, in 1921, a dam was constructed at the head of the river for irrigation and hydroelectricity

Courtesy of Klamath County Museum

The photograph to left shows an 1874 Klamath Falls, or Linkville as it was known from 1867 to 1893.  Obviously, it was a calm day as the river is calm.    The early town was located near the river, just before it flows into Lake Ewana to the south.  To me, the bridge looks to be a  somewhat questionable passage for horse and wagons, but those early folks had no such qualms.

Courtesy of Klamath County Museum
By 1900, the bridge across Link River is much more substantial.  The river is almost unnoticeable from a distance, what with buildings and vegetation.  The business section of town was moving ever eastward, leaving the river's edge to cater to the needs of travel by the horse and wagon trade.

Courtesy of Klamath County Museum

This is Klamath Falls in 1909-1910.  The city had grown eastward, with a number of substantial brick buildings.  You can see the river boat, probably the steamer Klamath, docked at the eastern edge of the river ban.  During this period, riverboats routinely transported folks from upper Klamath Lake to the north and as far south as to Laird's Landing which was in Siskiyou County, California.  The stage from the south brought folks to Laird's landing for their trip north to Klamath Falls by boat.  Boat travel did not last long after this photograph because by 1909 the railroad made it's first appearance in Klamath Falls.

Link River does not quite look like the quaint city waterways with a connecting walkway betwixt old buildings, but it was the connecting point in Klamath Falls.  All traffic from the west came into town over the Link River Bridge.  It still remains the town's waterway, though today one is more likely to see crew races, kyaks, and ducks and geese  -- and possibly a couple of Bald Eagles.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2016 May 24: The book, The Jabezes in My Tree, is now at Amazon.com


  HOORAY!! The final version of the book, The Jabezes In My Tree, is finished, printed, and now listed on Amazon.com. Although the last 1% of the book felt like 95% of the work, in my heart I know that it wasn't that much. Once an author sees what the book will look like, it is so hard to wait til the final moment of publication. I was so impatient.

     A couple of weeks ago, I took a few sample books to California for a family party. The book was well received, especially by the many dsecendants of the Burns and McPherson families.  The photographs, stories and history of the times kept the readers turning the pages.  In addition, friends,  neighbors and my writing groups have also been very generous in the praise of the book.

     If you are interested in the lives and times of  the thirteen Jabezes of the Burns and McPherson family, you will want to buy a copy of the book.  Go to Amazon.com and buy a copy of The Jabezes In My Tree


    If you are interested in more stories of the McPherson family, go to Amazon.com and purchase a copy of  My Uncle Ralph Never Wrote to Me

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Synopsis: 2016 May 22: My Genealogy Nighmare

On April 26th, I published a story that has been of interest to me since I first saw the following words in J.P. McPherson's diary:

went to Lester's to thrash, but found my services were not required;At Nash's. Commenced to lift my potatoes.”

I had gone over the related entries several times, until I felt sure of the cirmstances and the folks involved. I had the 1850 and 1860 Census Reports; the 1860 Springdale, Wisconsin, Census listed the children, and none with the name of the father, Daniel B. Lester. I had a marriage record for Daniel B. Lester and his Scots bride Margrerte. I also had the Oak Hill Cemetery Record that listed a burial stone for Daniel B. Lester. To my mind, I also had the most important document, the Diary of James Peter McPherson. 

So why did I hit the genealogist skids!! A few weeks after I had posted this story, I was given a gift of a renewal to Ancestry.com. As was my way, I was putzing around the site, when I came across a reference in a family tree that indicated that a son, Daniel B. Lester, had died on May 15, 1862. 

Horrors upon horrors, did I make a mistake? Did I not check far enough back or forward to have been sure of whether this was the son, or actually the Daniel Lester of my 3x great grandfather's diary? 

 I went into serious research mode. Retraced all of my previous work. Expanded my search for Daniel, his wife and children thought the 1870s up to the early 1900s. I found a man who was most likely the son of this Daniel B. Lester, John R. Lester, but no further information on Daniel or Margrete Lester. Lastly, none of the family trees listing Daniel B. Lester on Ancestry.com had a date or place of death. 

My angst lessened. So what did I learn from this flurry of work? 

First, and foremost, I am a storyteller. I like the stories of times and lives past lived. Beware, storytelling has a life of it's own and it tends to lead one down slippery slopes. 

Second, I have the heart and training of a historian. I like the facts that support my stories. Researching is second nature to me and it gives my historical characters depth and breadth; it can breathe life into those who lived long ago. 

Third, document,docuent and document. Had I listed my resource documents, I wouldn't have gone into a panic mode. Also, the very fact of listing the documents, shows the writer where the nasty little holes in the story are. You can choose to have a hole and discuss why the hole is there, or just note that pesky little hole and get on with the story. 

 It's not easy to be a storyteller with a heart of a historian.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sepia Saturday, 331, 2016 May 21: Addendum to My Twin Aunts, Loise Aurelia and Joyce Maria Sigford


As I was cleaning out a bookcase yesterday, I came upon the Klamath County Historic Photo Album, Vol. II, which was published in 2003 by the Herald and News with the assistance of the Klamath County Museum.  I gave a copy of this album to my mother, Ruth Sigford.  She was sure that the following photograph included my twin aunts, Joyce and Loise.  Although this does not really fit this Sepia Saturday prompt, it is a continuation of my post.

My mother was positive that the photo included Loise and Joyce, front and center, where they liked to be.  Now my mother was somewhat notorious for giving me wrong information in the most positive manner.  I have often been called to task when I have taken her words for gospel truth.  However, looking at the photos, I am inclined to believe her in this instance.  According to family lore, during that period of time,  Loise and Joyce were the only twins in the County of that age.  I do not believe that they won the beauty contest because if they had, my grandmother would have had newspaper clippings galore and would have sent them to everyone in the family!  Of course the Great Depression was just ending, but not for my grandparents, so maybe my Grandmother had more pressing matters - like food and shelter. And then there is the fact that I had never heard about the time Loise and Joyce were in a bathing beauty contest before I found the photo in this album of historical photos of Klamath County, which gives a bit of doubt to the story.

Here is a cropped enlargement of the two girls.  What do you think?
To me, the girls rather look like my aunts.  I wish there was a way I could be sure.  Oops, back to the research stacks.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sepia Saturday, 331, 2016 May 21: My Twin Aunts, Loise Aurelia and Joyce Maria Sigford

Award Wining Babies!!  What a good prompt.  I immediately thought of my grandmother, Agnes Laura Keyes Sigford.  On February 19, 1907 she gave birth to twin daughters, Joyce Maria (pronounced "Mariah") and Loise Aurelia Sigford.  The middle names of the girls were in honor of their grandmothers, Maria Salsbury Sigford and Agnes Aurelia Brown Keyes.  If there had been cutest baby contests around, Grandmother would have entered the twins.  That was not the case.  Nevertheless, Loise and Joyce were well photographed. 

Until 1929, the Sigford family lived in relative comfort, not rich, but they had the necessities of life.  However, after the Great Depression, the family spiraled into poverty.  Their parents were in their fifties and had skill sets more suited for horse and buggy days.  Loise and Joyce found good jobs and made their way in the world.  They, Joyce especially,  helped their parents during their later years. 

 Here are some of the pictures of the twins.

April, 1907  Joyce and Loise
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

August, 1907, Loise and Joyce
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

February, 1908, Loise and Joyce at one year of age
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1911,  Joyce and Loise
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1914,  Loise and Joyce, seven years old
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1914,  Loise and Joyce, seven years old
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1921,  Loise and Joyce driving horse and buggy to
Lone Pine School, Klamath County
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1928,  Loise and Joyce, 21 year-olds
at the Steel Place in Klamath County
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Easter, 1937,  Joyce and Loise
Young Business Women in Portland, Oregon
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives
 Until 1937, Loise and Joyce seemed inseparable.  They both left Klamath County for jobs in Portland in the mid 1930s.  In 1937, Joyce headed to Juneau, Alaska to work at the Baronof Hotel.  Near the end of WWII she and her husband bought a berry farm in Puyallup, Washington, where they lived for many years.  Loise, returned to Klamath County for a few years, and then moved to San Francisco where she lived until she retired.  After Loise's retirement, she went to Puyallup to live with her twin sister.   They gardened, sewed, cooked, and  travelled in their later years.
1970s, Joyce and Loise
Bound for a Hawaiian Vacation
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1993, A Last Birthday Celebration
Courtesy of Joan G. Hill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives

 Joyce sold her berry farm and the twins lived in a retirement community.  Every year they had a big birthday party and the Center's Hall.  The above is the last birthday party for the girls.

Joyce passed away on July 2, 1993.  Loise moved into a retirement facility near one of her neices, and spent several year enjoying the facility's activities.  It was often said that the facility's bus never left the grounds without Loise on board.  She passed away on July 20, 2000.

Although neither had any children, Loise and Joyce were well loved by our family.  

Oh, and my grandmother would have loved the photos  --- definitely award winning babies in her eyes.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications