Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: A Golden Anniversary

December 19, 1948 was a memorable day for me. I fingered the rich green velvet dress that my mother made for me. I felt so elegant with real lace edging on the collar and silver filegre buttons, as I danced around my grandparents house, the full circle skirt swirling around my legs that glistened with of my first pair of stockings and a new pair of black velvet dancing shoes. Thirteen, self-involved,and unaware of the real importance of this day, I only thought of going to my first grown up party. The occasion was the Golden Wedding anniversary party for my grandparents, Jabez Burns McPherson and his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth Alfreda (Foss) McPherson.

Every night for the weeks before the party, I would take out one of the black vinyl records and place it carefully on our phonograph and dance around our living room. Sometimes, in response to pleas, my dad would be my real life dancing partner. Daddy and mother often went out to dance, which sounded so wonderfully romantic to me. I was sure that I would be asked to dance and have wonderful memories of dancing, my full skirt twirling, and impressing my favorite uncle, Allen, and cousin, Tommy.

A photographer came to take a picture of my grandparents, surrounded by their ten children. Now sixty-one years later, I look at the picture taken that night and memories upon memories flood over me. The darkened dining room of the Casa Blanca Restaurant glittered with twinkling Christmas lights, while a real band played at one end of the room. My parents, aunts and uncles, in their finest dress clothes, danced around the room. My dad danced with me several times. It was a wonderful night.

Back Row,L to R: Harold Lloyd (my father). Marjorie Bryant, Helen Jansky, Betty Enos, Allen Clifford, Lorraine Lippert, Verna Higgins, Clive Walter;
Front Row, L to R. Bertha Clouse, my grand parents Jabez Burns McPherson and his wife Elizabeth Alfreda, Ralph Jabez.

I focus on my grandparents, Jabez Burns McPherson and Elizabeth Alfreda (Foss) McPherson, as they stare back at me from this remnant of that night in 1948. When I was a child, I never thought about them except as my grandparents -- and old. Now I search for clues of who they were when they were first married. For this task, I am fortunate that I had my Uncle Ralph, who gave me letters of memories and stories of my grandparents. Both of my grandparents were born in December; Jabez, my grandfather, was born on December 23, 1872 and Elizabeth Alfreda Foss, my grandmother, on December 12, 1883.

They were married on December 19, 1898, when Elizabeth was but 15 and Jabez was 26. Years later, I was surprised to have one of Ralph's letters indicate that they were married in the spring of the year; however, they always celebrated their anniversary on December 19th. I have often wondered how the 26 year-old Scot met and wooed a young girl of 15, who grew up in a very close knit German family – a family that rarely was far from their 2-acre farm in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ralph tells us of how, in the spring after their marriage, young Elizabeth had one of the most memorable trips of her life. Jabez and Elizabeth, were joined by his parents James Burns & Harriet Elizabeth McPherson, as well as his aunt and her husband, Anne Adamson McPherson and Alonzo Foy, on a trek from Madison to Iowa. According to Ralph's letters, “there were two or 3 rigs of them & the folks (Jabez' parents) had a surrey which is a 3 seat buggy with a hard top & equipped with side curtains.” Then, as now, a McPherson will travel hundreds of miles to see family. The McPherson group from Madison was headed to Lawlar County, Iowa to visit Jabez's aunt Jessie Stewart McPherson Watts and her family. What a trip for 15-year-old Elizabeth who had rarely gone more than a few blocks from home.

When I think of my grandparents Jabez and Elizabeth, I always think of them as one, as Grandma-and-Grandpa. As I look at this Anniversary picture, I realize that in all of the pictures that have been taken of them, rarely were they separated. They traveled together from Madison, to Iowa, to Madison, to Minnesota, to California, to Oregon, to California, to Minnesota and back again – always together.

Now when I look at this picture from a long ago night in 1948, I see a sandy-haired Scot smiling at a lovely dark-haired girl; I see them hand-in-hand, the young man showing a whole new world to his young wife; I see them always together, raising their family; and in old age, always together. I am so fortunate to have stories and pictures to follow them through their lives – always together.

Jabez Burns McPherson and Elizabeth Alfreda McPherson
December 19, 1948

Text copyright by Joan G. Hill, Roots'N'Leaves Publications, Ashland, Oregon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

new post

The list was complied by my great-great grandfather James Peter McPherson, acting in his capacity as town clerk. On May 23rd, 1850, J. P McPherson first set foot in Springdale after leaving New York City, traveling up the Hudson River to Albany, then by “canoe boat” through the Erie Canal. In Buffalo, the family transferred to the Steamer “Globe Sterns” for the trip on the Great Lakes, and finally by wagon from Milwaukee to Madison. So to me, it is quite surprising that J. P. McPherson so quickly became a town leader. However, there may not have been many of the townsfolk who could read and write well. The following is from the Centennial History Township of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin 184-1948, p.140.

There is no indication of why this Militia List was drawn up; however, the “old timers” relate that “there were numerous indians in the area when the first white settlers arrived in 1846.”


James P. McPherson Foster Thomson
Barnet Brink John L. Bartell
Thos. Anderson Franz Bartell
John Edi Erie Olson
James Lyle Harold H. Huff
Abram Jacket James Arney Huff
William Thomson Hets Hulverson
George Harlow Tony Lee
Richard Blackburn John Olson
Thomas Blackburn William Dryden
William Blackburn Krund Mikelson
Thomas Thomson A. H. Ashmore
Michael Brown H. H. Dryden
Levi Jacket A. Malone
Michael Jacket Hawley Childs
Samuel Whalley David Bright
William Jackman Morgan L.Curtis
John Oley Hanry Boland
James Connor William Morigh
William W. Kechnie Philander Hash
James W. Kechnie Andrew Hash
Ole Hansen William Anderson
Hendrich Johnston Thomas Bentley
Evor Losen Henry Olson
Lever Anderson Toston Tostonson
Andrew Knudson Lurs Stinson
Ole Finhert John Michel
Ole Hauvdet Lanford Shumhumway
John Knudson Henry H. Lewis
Knud Knudson Edmund Spears
Knud Sorenson W. J. Reed
Ole Sorenson Henry Davis
Gilbert Olson Laurence Smith
Michael Larson William Cairncrop

Springdale, Dane Co., Wisconsin, July 1st, 1852. The above is a full return of the able bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 years of age residing in said town, so far as I could ascertain by diligent inquiry. James P. McPherson

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blogger's Best Friend Award

What a nice surprise! One of my very loyal readers, Carol of Reflections From The Fence gave me the Blogger's Best Friend Award.

The developer of the award 'Bandit' "A Blogger's Best Friend Award" says it shall be given to your most loyal blog readers. Thus, the award should be given to a follower of yours who takes the time to comment regularly on many of your posts. In addition his or her blog should be creative, funny and always entertaining. Upon receiving this award, pass it along to two fellow bloggers who fit this criteria.

Now, Carol, my first thought is that you certainly fill that bill, but then do so many others. So Carol, Thank you, and know that I so enjoy your blog.

My two choices for this award tonight, are Sherry of Family Tree Writer and Herstoryan. Both of these gals have well written, creative and interesting blogs. I eagerly watch for and read their postings.

I thank my lucky stars for this company of writers and genealogists.

Surname Saturday - McPherson

James Peter McPherson
circa 1860, Madison, Wisconsin
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

James Peter McPherson
b. Nov.14, 1816, Dundee, Scotland
d. Aug. 11, 1900, Verona, Dane Co., Wisconsin

James Peter McPherson, my great-great-grandfather, left Dundee, Scotland with his new bride Mary Burns on July 16 , 1842 aboard the sailing ship Medora. They arrived in New York harbor on Sep. 13th of that year. He and his descendants are the focus of my current writing project, so over the next few months, bits and pieces of the project will show up on my blog.

Below is a copy of the Birth Record for James Peter McPherson, which was entered into the Old Parish Records almost two years after his birth. His father was Peter McPherson, who was listed as a sub private in the R artillery. The wee babe was named for his uncle James Spink (his mother's brother) and his father Peter.

James Peter and is wife Mary Burns lived in New York for nearly eight years,September, 1842 to April, 1850. These are years that tweak my curiosity, possibly because I know so little about their lives in New York. They came too late to be in the 1840 census, and left too early to be included in the 1850 census. However, I have some excerpts taken from the diary that he kept that give a hint of their lives. I have also tracked the diary to a family member in Wisconsin and am hoping to get a copy . If I dinna have a copy in my hands by mid-March, I will contact my Wisconsin cuzins to see if it is ok to come to Wisconsin with my trusty digital camera and photograph the diary. The diary haunts and taunts me.

For me, this new year's Surname Saturday will, for several months at least, focus on my McPherson line, as well as those that intersect with it -- cuzin' they're cuzin's.

NOTE: The picture of J. P. McPherson was most likely taken in about the late 1860's, during the time that he served as a Justice of the Peace in Dane County, Wisconsin. Although many family member's have a copy of this picture, this one resides in JGHill's private collection.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carnival of Genealogy's Ode to My Family History: I Dinna Hear The Voices


Aye, once to Scotland I did go
Dreaming of hills of heather and gold,
Hoping chanters, pipes and drums
Would speak to me with voices of old.
Alas, I dinna hear the voices,
The voices I dinna hear.

The Bruce trampled thru Stirling castle and town
But would never sit upon the Stone of Scone,
Tho Wallace had won the day at Bannock Burn,
Edward took the stone to London, leav’ Scots in ruin.
The voices I dinna hear.

Along the Sprey, from Inverness to Castle Cawdor
Highlanders gathered to the to Prince’s call.
An abortive night march to meet the Duke at Nairn,
Lord George turned the sons of the hound back to Culloden Moor.
Alas, I dinna hear the voices,

Camerons, Stewarts, Atholls n' Clan Chattan,
With no food or sleep,
Were sore galled by English canons
Till Clan Chattan broke ranks and charged.
A Highlander snarl, kilts pulled high, swords in hand,
The Sons of the hound came for meat.
Leaping kilted warriors charged like lions,
Over the bodies of brave chiefs, four deep.
Alas, I dinna hear the voices,

Trod old Cluny’s castle grounds with owner new,
Looked across to Cluny’s cave on Craig Dubh
Where once a haven from the outside world,
Soon no place of safety for a Highlander true.
The voices I dinna hear.

Followed the holy mile from David’s Holy Rood to Edinburgh,
Stood in St. Margaret’s chapel on castle’s rock, standin' there still.
Her lineage to Edwards, Exile and Confessor, wife of Malcolm,
And David’s mother, ever so pious, she knelt in daily prayer.
Touched the holy stone where she prayed so still.
Alas, I dinna hear the voices,

In the streets of Edinburgh, I was feeling all alone.
Markets, pubs and parks, I plied stone on stone.
A sandy haired boy looked at me, --Ahh, young Rob of home,
Now, hooded eyes of my father and brothers,
and a look of Steffie Jo had she been born,
T'were voices I couldna hear.

The Voices were always there, watching me,
Voices in the faces, in the set of the jaw,
The sandy hair, the stance, and complexion ruddy,
The voices were there, watching, watching me.
Alas, I wouldna hear the voices.

* * *

Written in 2005 and included in Along the Way: Stories From Here and There, by Joan G. Hill, Roots'N'Leaves Publications, 2007. Text copyright by Joan G. Hill, Roots'N'Leaves Publications, Ashland, Oregon.

Treasure Chest Thursday; Centennial History of Springdale, Dane County Wisconsin 1848-1948

In 1850, my McPherson family settled in Springdale,Wisconsin. So when I first heard of the Centennial History of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin 1848-1948, my ears pricked up and I was on the search for a copy. Fate was good to me, and I acquired a copy this last summer.

Springdale, the town, no longer exists; however, many stories of the town and it's pioneers are held within this slender volume. The book includes specific rememberances of James Peter McPherson and his family, as well as many others who lived in this areas southwest of Madison Wisconsin, nestled against the hills and along the Sugar River.

The following exert, from page 105, is apparently a reprint of an obituary for William Burns McPherson, the eldest son of James Peter and Mary Burns McPherson.

William Burns McPherson
April 24, 1843 - March 15, 1926

Wisconsin and Madison lost a pioneer and Civil War officer when Major W. B. burns died in St. Cloud, Fla. He was buried beside his parents in the Verona Cemetery.

Major McPherson was born in New York, April 24, 1843. He came to Wisconsin with his parents in 1950 and soon after settled on a farm in the town of Springdale. In 1862, he enlisted in the Civil War, Co. E, 8th regiment of Wisconsin Infantry, with which he served until the end of the war.

Soon after his return he was married to Miss Razatta (Rozetta) Miles, and moved to Clark County, where eight children were born. His wife died in 1890, and he returned to Madison, where he was appointed assistant attorney general under Gov. G. W. Peck.

Major McPherson is survived by six children, Mrs. Clara Manley, Minneapolis; Charles C. McPherson, Wagner, Oklahoma; James P., Seattle, Wash.; Jabez B., Bently, Alberta; Allen V., San Francisco; and Mrs. R. L. Homes, Hawthorne, Calif.; a number of grandchildren; two brothers, James B. Mura, Minn. and Peter B., Madison; three sisters, Mrs. Mary Blair, Winter Haven, Fla, Mrs. Jessie Watts, Fargo, ND, and Mrs. Margaret Burmeister, Madison.
* * *

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Margaret & Abiathar Newton, Mt. Union Cemetery, Benton Co, OR

This is the final resting place for Margaret Delilah Keyes Newton and her husband Abiathar Barrett Newton. Margaret was the youngest daughter of David Lowery Keyes and his wife Susan Jane Ward Keyes. Married in 1875, Margaret Delilah and Abiathar spent over 50 years together on their farm in Benton Co., Oregon. They are buried in Mt. Union Cemetery under the spreading oak tree, not far from her Keyes family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Veturia Ann (Keyes) Cornett, Mt. Union Cemetery, Benton Co, OR

NOV. 10, 1848
MAR. 7, 1880

Blessed are the pure in heart
For they shall see God

Veturia. What a wonderful name and it intrigued me. So I searched for her grave, up one row and down the next. Considering that I thought she would be close to my Keyes ancestors, I had a fair amount of searching to do. When I finally found her grave, it was up close to the fence line, next to the road. It was so close to the fence, that I was leaning against the fence to get this picture of her headstone. Her final resting place is far from the Keyes area of the cemetery, and I did not find any Cornett's in the cemetery. So Veturia's headstone stands alone - a way from kith and kin.

Although I have a fondness for the name Veturia, it appears that she preferred to be called Ann, as that is how she is listed in the 1870 Federal Census, Johnson Co., Tennessee. She married Jacob Cornett, October 25, 1866. They had 5 children while they lived on their farm in Johnson Co., Tennessee. Sometime after 1877, they decided to move their family from Tennessee to Oregon, to where a number of the Keyes family had migrated. She had two brothers, Zachary T. and Robert Russel Keyes, and a sister Margaret C. Thomas, who were living in Wheeler Co., Oregon. Her uncles, John, James, and David Lowery Keyes and David's family were prosperous settlers in Benton Co., Oregon.

By 1880, the Federal Census, Benton Co., Oregon, reflects that Veturia Ann Keyes Cornett, at only 31 years of age, had died. She left her husband Jacob with six children, including a newborn.

Now, perhaps only I remember that Veturia lies beneath the headstone, up next to the fence line -- alone -- far from kith and kin.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thank for Happy 101 Sweet Friends Award

Thank you to Greta at Greta’s Genealogy Bog, Carol at Reflections From The Fence, and Renate at Into The LIGHT for choosing me for the Happy 101 Sweet Friends Award. I especially appreciate their thoughts and nice words, as I am a fan of all three of their blogs.

As Carol mentioned in her blog, things happen at the most appropriate time. For me the past two months have been difficult. I had foot surgery on December 7th. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park, and it turned out to be slogging through murky dismal swamp. So as I write down the things that make me happy, I thank the three of you for reminding me of the following :

1. Of course, my family, my husband of 56 years (yes, I was a child bride), 3 wonderfully brilliant and interesting children, and 4 grandchildren for whom I am a doting grandmother.
2. My sister Sue. She is my best (two legged) friend and my most devoted and energetic fan of my writing. In addition she is just good company.
3. Going out on my deck and watching Orion move across the sky, and especially my favorite star Sirius.
4. Looking out the window in my office and seeing my flock of Peacocks (only 11, to date), or our resident deer making their way across the hillside.
5. Taking a cup of tea down to my fish pond, and just enjoying the morning (a deferred joy, until the weather warms up).
6. Coming down my hillside road at Christmas time to a wonderful fairyland of lights( a joy that I keep in my memory bank until next December.)
7. My good fortune to have found my way into the great writing groups; the writers and researchers here at Geneabloggers and my writing/critique groups in Ashland.
8. “Being on the search.” Running down a story, whether through interviews, census reports, newspaper articles, peering at old documents stuffed in out of the way nooks and crannies.
9. Going out on a “research trip,” which means packing computer, scanner, GPS, camera and Coll and heading out to the hinterlands to meet all the interesting characters along the way.
10. Lastly, but certainly not the last in importance, is my best friend, of the four-legged kind, Colldubh. Coll is my big, black German Shepherd. He goes in and out with me; he is always happy to see me and be with me; he is my ever constant companion.

Now, to passing this HAPPY 101 SWEET FRIENDS AWARD on to other bloggers is easy, but also hard. There are so many wonderful blogs out there. It makes it hard to choose, but here are some of the ones I enjoy.

Vickie at BeNotForgot

Amanda at ABT UNK

Diane at CanadaGenealogy, or ‘Jane’s Your Aunt’

Patti at Consanguity

Sherry at Family Tree Writer

Herstoryan at Herstoryan

Tracy at The Pieces of My Past

TCasteel at Tangled Trees

Tonia at Tonia’s Roots

Valerie at Begin with 'Craft'

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: David Lowery Keyes laid to rest in Mt. Union Cemetery, Benton Co, OR

David Lowery Keyes, b. May 10, 1822, d. May 20, 1895, joined his wife, Susan Jane, and son Alexander Doran Keyes here under the old oak tree in Mt. Union Cemetery near Philomath in Benton Co, Oregon.

In 1867, he left his family home in Johnson County, Tennessee and brought his wife and family to Oregon, to where his brothers James and John had previously immigrated. The Keyes went overland to the east coast, thentraveled by ship, and probably across the isthmus of Panaman, and then to continued by ship. David Lowery Keyes and his family settled in Benton County, between Corvallis and Philomath.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Madness: Who Was Axie Root?

Yesterday I posted a birthday tribute to my aunt that was based to a great extent on letters written by my Uncle Ralph. He was nearly 80 years old when he wrote the letters and he was telling about memories when he was 15 years old. Knowing we all have strange filters for our memories, I consistently check resources to confirm Ralph's stories, and usually find his reporting of family stories fairly accurate --- sometimes the dates are off a bit --- give or take a year or so. However, yesterday I was in a dilemma, fraught with inner turmoil. My training as a historian was at odds with the storyteller. I chose to tell the story as told to me in my uncle's letters.

Today is another day. Today, I am going to look at Axie Root. According to my uncle's letters, she was an old Indian, corn-cob pipe-smoking, reticent, mid-wife. However, she was familiar enough with my grandparents that she wanted them to name one of their daughters after her. She apparently had a fairly long association with my grandmother, as she reportedly helped deliver a daughter in 1908, and the two more daughters in 1920 and again in 1922. She was also about the same age as my grandmother.

All in all, it was a rather colorful story, but looking a bit further I came across the following bits of information about this Axie Root:

First, awhile back when I was gathering verifiable birth records for my father's family – which is not an easy thing to do for this peripatetic family – I came across a birth record for Axcey McPherson, b. 05 Sept 1908. When I really examined the dates, this is apparently the birth record for my Aunt Avery Marjorie McPherson; it's her birth date, but “Axcey?” I suppose it could be a misspelling of her name Avery, or perhaps, the teasing of my Aunt Marjorie that she was named after the “old Indian midwife” might be closer to the truth than she would have liked. Needless to say, I shook out the old credit card and ordered a copy of the birth certificate. Hopefully, that will clarify the issue of Aunt Marjorie's name.

Second, I found Axie in the Federal Census Schedules of 1910 and 1920. In 1910, Axie (Root) Tardy (age 28, white, divorced) and her son, Jerry Tardy (age 4, white) were living with her mother Addel Root (age52, white, widowed). The Root family was living right where I expected to find them. In addition a number of the individuals and families listed as neighbors were names that I recognized from family stories and Uncle Ralph's letters.

I also found Axie in the 1920 Federal Census, under the name of Axie Saunders (age 37, white, widowed, and the proprietor of a hotel). Also included in her household were her brother Chester A. Root, a boarder Doris Zarm, and Axie's children: Jerry (Tardy), Walter, June, Eugene,and Harold (all of which were listed as white).

The third bit of information that I acquired came from a couple of Family Trees on Ancestry.com. Axie Root was listed as Axasha (Axie) Root, born to Mary Jane Barnhart (not Addel) and Henry Root, both Henry and Mary Jane were listed as being born in New York. Although several items in these "trees" were in contradiction to the census schedules, the “trees” confirmed her marriages to Tardy and Saunders, as well as the names of a few of her children. It is possible that Axie's mother Addel's heritage was from an Indian tribe, but that is conjecture at this time. I have sent out communications to the owner's of the “trees,' and perhaps they can shed some light on Axie Root's life. Also I am trying to track down a death certificate for Addel Root, which could also shed light on her heritage -- or at least provide me with another lead to follow.

Ahh, the inner turmoil is quiet. The historian is satisfied (sort of ); I have checked the story against the records that I have available at this time, and that I have queries out for more information. The storyteller is satisfied; the story is as accurate as can be expected 90 years later; that Ralph's story, burned into his 15-year-old memory bank, of driving the bobsled through the storm to get a midwife for his mother has been corroborated to a great extent. Now I can stop my thrashing and put my “issues” about Axie Root on the back burner.

McPherson, Axcey, DOB: 05 Sep 1908;Mother Maiden Name: Foss; County of Birth: Crow Wing; certid# 1908-05780.
1910 Federal Census, Fort Ripley, Crow Wing, Minnesota; Roll T624_694; page 6B; Enumeration District: 37; Image: 244.
1920 Federal Census, Fort Ripley, Crow Wing, Minnesota; Roll T625_829; page 7AB; Enumeration District: 124; Image: 394.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3rd: A Very Special Day

My Uncle Ralph remembered this special day of January 3, 1920, when he and his McPherson family lived in a two-story house situated along the banks of the Mississippi river about 20 mi from Little Falls, Minnesota. There was a snow storm in progress with "the temperature at about 40 below," when his dad told him to go down to the barn and put the wagon box on the sledge. His mother had most likely nodded to her husband, saying “Jabe, it's time.” Jabez Burns McPherson knew what that meant – a new babe, the eighth child in their family. Ralph,the oldest son and at 15 already worked alongside the men, made his way to the barn. He remembered that he “put the wagon box on the bobsled, the side boards 3 ft high & fill the box with hay & blankets.” He then drove the horse drawn bobsled seven miles through the snowstorm to the village of Belle Prairie to pick up the midwife.

According Uncle Ralph, the "old Indian midwife Axie Root" had helped deliver his sister Marjorie almost decade before. After he put the midwife in the bobsled, he said that he would never forget how “she looked sitting there in the box all bundled up & with that corn cob pipe always in her mouth, staring at nothing & just grunting if you spoke to her. I was ... afraid that she would set the hay on fire but it was snowing hard ... & besides I don’t think the pipe was lit.”

And so it was that ninety years ago, Verna joined her brothers and sisters in what my Uncle Ralph described as “the nicest place we ever lived. It belonged to a couple that made their money running booze from Canada to Chicago. The house was two story painted white & in the summer time smelt of lilacs. The rest of the buildings were in good shape. The pasture was all wooded & along side the Mississippi for about a mile with some nice picnic spots along the river. The river at that point was about 300 yds wide (a big city block). The only thing in those days nothing was modern out in the country. Along close to river you had wild currants & gooseberries. The pasture was full of blue berrys & Hazelnuts (Filberts) & the meadows full of strawberries.”

A special day it was in 1920, and today, ninety years later, we celebrate that special day with our dear Aunt Verna who turns ninety today.