Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Twin Aunts, Loise and Joyce


My twin aunts, Loise Aurelia and Joyce Marie (pronounced Mariah) Sigford were born to Frank and Agnes Laura Sigford on February 19, 1907,about 1 1/2 years after the death of their first born, Baby Irene. From the time of Loise and Joyce's birth in Mitchell, Oregon, to the end of their lives, the twins were well photographed. The above 1914 photo, taken in Klamath County when they were 7 years old, is one of my favorites.

The picture below was taken in 1992 on their 85th birthday. My Aunt Gail watches them as they cut their birthday cake. Loise and Joyce would have been 98 years old today. Joyce died in 1993. Loise died seven years later, in 2000.

Sentimental Sunday: Harold McPherson - A Happy Birthday Remberance

My dad would have been 98 years old today, February 19th. Although his death, nearly six decades ago, left an ongoing emptiness in my life, I do have wonderful memories of my father. The following story , which did happen, reflects my childhood view of that “bigger than life” scotsman – my dad, my hero – then and now. All these years later, my sister reminded me that our Dad rescued the school bus several times when we were going to school. He had big caterpillar tractors with dozer blades that could cut through the biggest drifts and he was always ready to come to the rescue or lend a helping hand.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!


Outside the schoolroom window, the snow had changed from dusting the old, dirty snow with a new white coat, to great flakes of snow coming down, covering the teeter totter. The swings soon looked like they had small, lumpy children sitting on the seats. Now the wind picked up and blew the snow straight at the window next to where the little girl was sitting.

“Children, when I call your row number, I want you to get your coats and things from the back of the room and then return to your seats until every one is ready,” instructed the teacher, in a high anxious voice. The little girl knew something was wrong, even though the rest of the children seemed so excited with the change in activities. Second graders can be so dumb!

“Row 1. Hurry now.” The sounds of little chairs being scooted away from the tables and giggles at the coat rack seemed to annoy the teacher. “Hurry now, no talking.” The noise subsided as the children from row 1 returned to their little tables. “ Now row 2.” Then row 3, and finally , row 4 was called. The little girl put on her new coat that her Momma had made for her as a Christmas present. She pulled on her ugly rubber galoshes that her mother insisted that she wear. Then, she picked up the little suitcase that carried her new Christmas doll, with all the little clothes that Momma had made, and the Grandma's little handmade doll quilt. She checked the latch to make sure it was secure, and then returned to her seat.

Even though it was too early to go home, the teacher led them out into the hall, through the front door and out to the line of buses. The girl climbed up the bus steps and found a seat next to the window. She was glad she got a window seat before the big kids got on the bus because they always pushed the little kids around. She hugged the little suitcase close to her chest as the bus filled up with jostling kids. The school bus pulled out on to the highway and they began the long road home. The little girl fingered the suitcase, and thought to herself, “Maybe when some of the kids get off of the bus, I'll get my new doll out and dress her in the green dress with the white rickrack.”

The kids that lived along the highway got off first. Didn’t seem fair to her, as they were the last ones to get on in the morning but the first ones to get off after school. The Dixon kids got off, then the Simons, Flemmings, Browns, and the Dehlingers. Now the bus route turned up onto the dirt road that followed the foot of Stukel Mountain. Wind was blowing the white snow and engulfing the yellow bus. Drifts began to form on the less traveled road, as the bus trudged up the hill, letting children off at their homes along the road. Then up along the foot of the mountain, the drifts got deeper, but still the big yellow bus plunged through the drifts, depositing children in the knee-deep drifting snow in front of their homes.
Now up the hill road, past Tollivers, then the past the house of the new family that had moved into down by the RxR tracks, along the river. The snow got deeper and the drifts got higher as the bus ker-chunked and thumped it’s way through the growing snowdrifts. Then the bus came to a shuddering stop in a great snowdrift. The bus driver tried to go backwards, then forwards, then backwards, but the yellow bus did not budge. The bus driver pulled on his heavy gloves, pulled the earflaps of his cap down and got out to try to dig the bus out. The two or three big boys, who were still on the bus, jumped out of the bus, to help the bus driver. Soon they all got back in the bus, as the snow was too much for their meager efforts.

“Okay, I want all of you kids to sit close together to keep warm. Help should be on the way soon,” directed the bus driver, the gruffness of his voice belied his fear. The older boys and girls got the younger children together in the front of the bus. When one of the older boys tried to get the little girl to sit with the other children, she just shook her head. “I am quite warm, I have my doll blanket that my grandma made,” she said as she spread the blanket over her Stockinged legs. “My coat is quite warm. My Momma made it for me.”

Unsure what to do with the resolute child, the boy returned to the front of the bus with the other children. After a bit, he returned to the little girl and again tried to get her to move up front with the rest of the children. She looked up at him for a moment, and then said, “No, I am waiting for my Daddy. He will come and get me.”

The boy shook his head and went back to the front of the bus again. Some of the children in the front of the bus began to cry. Winter’s early darkness was coming on; the snow was still coming down in blowing swirls across the road; and the temperature in the bus continued to drop. Still the little girl sat in her seat by the window, her doll blanket tucked around her legs, and the little suitcase hugged tight as if there were warmth coming from it, waiting for her Daddy to come and take her home.

“I see lights coming behind us,” yelled one of the boys. The driver and older boys went to the back of the bus and peered out through the snowy frosty glass. There were lights coming. “Looks like two, no three sets of lights. Now we will get some help getting out of here,” growled the bus driver, sounding as though he had ordered the help. The big boys were cheering, and the younger children were still snuffling and crying. The little girl piped up, “My Daddy is coming, I told you he would come after me.”

As the rescuers arrived, the first one on the bus was the ruddy-faced Scotsman, snow covering the brimmed hat he always wore. He strode to where the little girl sat with her blanket, and suitcase. “Daddy, I was waiting for you to come,” she whispered to him as he picked her up and carried her to his warm car. The little girl’s Daddy, along with the other men, put all of the children in the warm car and pickups. Then he and the men began digging the snow from around the bus. Once the bus was out of the drift and along the side of the road, the driver left the bus until the county road crews cleared the roads. With their chained tires gripping the heavy snow, the three-children laden vehicles chunked through the snow, back down the hill, depositing children at their homes along the way. There were still several children in the car, when the little girl’s Daddy drove into their yard. Momma, laughing with relief, came running out of the house --- coatless --- through the drifting snow to hug the little girl and her Daddy. She then began helping the cold frightened children into the house. “Come in. Come in. Get those wet coats off. I have hot chocolate on the stove, just waiting for you --- all of you.” The little girl’s Momma got children settled around the warm oil-stove with cups of steaming hot chocolate. She then began to call the parents of the children stranded at their house. Not a difficult task, as when she called the first parent, other worried parents picked up the phone on that old fashioned party line. Soon there was a stream of parents, coming through the snow to pick up their children and take them home. The feeling of relief that the children were safe, made it seem like a party. Some stayed and had a cup of hot chocolate, talked about how deep the snow, how high the drifts.

Later that evening, the little girl held her baby sister and softly told her, “Daddy will always come through the snow to take you home and Momma will have hot chocolate waiting for you.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Letter from Uncle Ralph, 1980 October 2nd

Below is a letter he wrote on 2 October 1980. My Uncle Ralph was "wordy", his letters ranged from 4 pages on day when the news was light, to his usual 8 to 12 pages. I have kept his wording and spelling for that too tells part of the story of my dear uncle that I knew not so well.

This is a wonderful world of my Minnesota McPherson family, the family of my father, aunts, uncles and grandparents, as well as great uncles and great grandparents. Enjoy, as some of this will resonate with many of you. Uncle Ralph was really rather an Everyman. He writes these letters with unique sense of a common history of time and place.

Ralph Jabez McPherson, 1945

Dear Olive & Norman,

Your letter came the same day I wrote to you. Getting some funny weather now. Supposed to be a Santa Ana that can get only within 5 mi of the beach. Most of your Santa Anas, its just as hot at the beach as it is on the desert. This ones different. 70 degrees at the beach till 5 mi inland then to 95 to 100 & the desert 116 yesterday at Palm Springs.

Knocked $30 off the elect bill this last month but it was still almost 46.00 but the weather had cooled so we just had the house open with a fan or two on.

Not much news, its mostly all political now. The Liars are out in full force now. So I never listen to them. I just read their record and on most of them its pretty shoddy.

Yes I suppose being the youngest & coming to Calif so young you might not even heard of most of your relatives. I didn’t keep in touch like Margie did but I met lots of them & knew of others & nearly all the older generations are in Wisconsin. Some in Iowa, not many in Minn or Mich. In wis there were the Burmeisters, Fosses, Irelands & McPhersons, also a few Foys , in Iowa, the Fiskes. In those days people were close knit, some of them never got over 50 mi away from home in their life time. In those days, and late in the afternoon would pull into any farm house & ask to stay all night. It was common precedure if you lived close to a highway & very few would take money for putting a person up. I know 2 or 3 times a year some one would stop at our place to stay, team & all & all of them Perfect strangers. In one way it was a way of getting outside news (outside of a 20 mi circumference). Also in those days you might work for a neighbor 4 or 5 days but never think of getting paid except by him helping you.

I can remember Dad giving me hell. He was going to shock grain for another farmer & then that fellow was to shock corn for Dad. The only thing Dad and Mother had to go to Madison so Dad told me to go in his place which I did but when I finished shocking his grain, he asked if I’d rather have the 3.00 or have him come up & shock corn for me. The 3.00 looked big to me & it was no problem for me cut and shocks the corn. Only I didn’t know what bawling out I was going to get when Dad got home.

Write when you can & say Hi to everyone. Love,

Ralph & Sally

Ralph was my father's older brother and in this letter he was writing to his baby sister Olive Lorraine and her husband Norman. Olive Lorraine and Verna, being born at the end of the quarter of a century age span between eldest and youngest, were always asking about family history. My McPherson family tends to be clannish and the in-laws soon become part of the clan. Foy, Ireland, and Burmeister were of his grandfather's generation; Foss and Fiske were of his father's generation. For me these are the names of my past, the names of my tree.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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

Margaret Delilah Keyes Newton rests beside her husband Abiathar B. Newton.

Although Margaret Delilah Keyes was the youngest daughter of my ggg grandparents David Lowery Keyes and Susan Jane Ward Keyes, she was the first to marry. The 1875 wedding was a big affair for the Keyes family and the occasion for many family photographs.

Below is the wedding picture of Margaret Delilah Keyes and Abiathar Barret Newton. The shared their lives for nearly 52 years before Margaret passed away. Two years later, Abiathar followed her. They are buried in the Keyes area of the Mt. Union Cemetery, near the little town Philomath in Benton County, Oregon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: A Love Story At A Burger King

Some people collect pictures, salt & pepper shakers, or old shaving mugs. I collect love stories, love stories told in Christmas trees, old cemeteries, waterfalls and garden paths. I was on a research jaunt when this love story came to me --- on an ordinary evening in a Burger King.

I was feeling alone and separate. A stranger in town, engaged in solitary pursuit of remnants of lives long past. Museums, the library, and historical sites gave up bits and pieces of the stories I sought. At lunch I sat on a rock, a single figure gazing out on the Columbia, dreaming of Lewis and Clark, Indians and Emigrants landing at this estuary. Now I was again sitting alone for the second night in a row in BK, toying with the usual order, “grilled chicken salad, no dressing please.”

I looked up from my mound of lettuce as a couple sat down in the adjoining yellow molded plastic booth. They appeared to be in their late 50’s, or they might have been younger but had lived a hard life -- just an ordinary couple. She was wearing a polyester sweater that had an odd iridescent sheen to it, and her dyed, dull brown hair was pulled into a ponytail and fastened with a multicolored elastic tie like my granddaughter once wore. As the woman sat down, she turned around, smiled at me and gave me a friendly, “Hi.”

The man, wearing a faded red western shirt with an equally faded Indian design across the front and the back, slumped into the booth. The shirt, unbuttoned and worn over a faded blue T-shirt, hung down below his belt. His blond scraggly beard, was not a long beard, but a beard that had been “tended to” for quite some time. Wisps of hair stuck out from the sides of his cap and from the back dangled a short blond stump of a ponytail. I kept staring at the baseball type cap he wore. I could make out the bucking horse embroidered across the front, but I couldn’t see the writing well enough to read the words. In a few moments he got up to make his way to the restroom. His short-legged body was engulfed in over-sized Levis that nearly covered the cheap tennis shoes. As he turned to leave, I caught a flash of silver from under his shirt.

While he was gone, the woman turned to me and said, “He just got out of dialysis in the city. He has to go back 3 times a week.”

I nodded. She waited for me to respond.

Groping for something to say, I blurted out, “That must be tough. Is he going to have a kidney transplant?”

“No. He doesn’t want to be in the hospital that long.”

“Mmm. I noticed the belt buckle he was wearing … ,”

“O yes, I bought that for buckle for him last year on his birthday. He rode bulls up north when he was just a young man. That belt buckle cost me over $100, but he is worth it. I love him so,” she confided, her plastic earrings jiggling, earrings with 3 pink plastic hearts hanging one from another. She tossed her head and said with a pride as if the hearts were sterling silver, “He bought these for me. He loves me too.”

As the man returned to the table, I found myself mesmerized by the gigantic silver belt buckle that was fastened below his paunch. The belt buckle was the size and shape of those given to rodeo champions. He nodded to me as he sat down, and the words on the baseball cap were now clear. The cap with the bucking horse was emblazoned with the words, “100 % COWBOY.” He wore the buckle and the cap with pride. As he sat down, I noticed his hands. They were white and soft. Hands that had not held the riggin' rope of a bucking bull for a very long time.

The woman introduced herself as Sally, and her husband Leonard. We talked of southern Oregon as we discovered that was where we had both been raised. She told me the story of how her dad lost an arm at a sawmill. We talked of places we knew, of cowboys and loggers, and the way it was when we were young. They gave me directions I should follow in the morning, “Just go up and over the breaks.”

Then her cell phone rang, and she talked a bit before handing the phone to Leonard. As he recounted his hospital stay into the cell phone, Sally turned back to me saying, “That’s our foster daughter. She calls us Mom and Dad and her children call us Grandma and Grandpa. We don't have children of our own.”
every night they said their prayers for him. Her face glowed with pride as she recounted the flowers, candy and cards with prayers that had been brought to his hospital room.

Leonard mumbled a “Goodbye.” He looked up as he snapped the cell phone closed. “They were worried about me.”

The two of them finally turned back to their burgers and fries, and I finished my chicken salad.

When I got up to leave, we exchanged warm good-byes, as though we were long time friends. I left BK no longer feeling alone and separate, but with a smile, a smile that touched my heart and soul. I had heard a love story, no fairy tale love story, but one lived day by day with plastic heart earrings and a huge silver belt buckle.

* * * * *

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday; Gail Sigford, WASP Class 44-W-10

Gail Sigford, left, who died in 2007 at the age of 85,
will be honored March 10 with the Congressional Gold Medal
for her service during World War II with the Women Air Service Pilots.

Female WWII pilot lead the way
H&N Staff Writer
Monday, February 8, 2010 11:00 PM PST

Former resident to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Former Klamath County resident Gail Sigford will be honored this spring with the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously for her service with the Women Air Service Pilots, or WASP, during World War II.

Sigford, who was a resident of Burien, Wash., when she died in 2007 at the age of 85, will be honored with the medal March 10 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The medal is awarded to U.S. residents who illustrated the “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions,” according to information from the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s the recognition of their part in the war effort,” said Joan Hill of Ashland, Sigford’s niece.

The WASP was a civilian corps of pilots trained to do the work of male pilots who left their posts to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

“They were instituted during World War II to take over some of the mundane sorts of things,” Hill said. “Ferrying supplies back and forth, moving planes back and forth. They didn’t actually do combat or were on bases. They were a support group.”

Sigford, who had dreamed of flying since she was a young girl, joined in 1943, about 10 years after graduating high school in California. She attended Altamont and Mills elementary schools in Klamath Falls, and Merrill Junior High School in Merrill.

She traveled first to Winnemucca, Nev., for her training and became part of the 44-W-10, the last class to graduate WASP training.

After logging 35 hours of flight time in a Piper Cub training plane, Sigford traveled to Sweetwater, Texas, for continued training at Avenger Field. Because her class was the last to participate in the program, they became known as the Lost Last Class of Avenger Field.


Hill said her aunt told many stories of training in a Stearman bi-plane over the hot Texas landscape.

Hill said Sigford tried to have as much fun in the air as she could. She flew close to the male barracks at night, called “buzzing.” The rush of air from her propeller also blew laundry off clotheslines.

“It was far beyond anything in her wildest dreams,” Hill said.

Sigford soon piloted an AT-6 Texan, nearly on par with U.S. fighter planes in terms of maneuverability.

She graduated from the program Dec. 9, 1944. At her graduation ceremony, Gen. H.H. Arnold, U.S. Army Air Force, commended the efforts of WASP pilots.

“If ever there was doubt in anyone’s mind that women can become skillful pilots, the WASP have dispelled that doubt,” Arnold said.

After graduation, Sigford lived in San Francisco, North Carolina, Virginia and Illinois. She also studied art and pottery making at the University of Ohio and the University of Oregon, where she received her bachelor of arts and master of fine arts degrees. She spent the last 30 years of her life in Washington.

While she lived in a variety of locales, Hill said Sigford always considered Klamath County home.

Hill expects Sigford’s ashes to arrive home on Independence Day. She thinks they will be scattered at the top of Stukel Mountain in Klamath Falls.
* * * * *
This article appeared in the Klamath Falls Herald & News, February 9, 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gail Sigford: Happy Birthday, Aunt Gail

This is one of my favorite pictures of my Aunt Gail, Gail Gwendolyn Sigford. She would have been eighty-eight years old today, February 9th. She was my mother's younger sister, in fact Gail was the baby of their family. When we were growing up, Gail brought a sense of a different world into our southern Oregon farm-family home. She loved to tell stories of her experiences in the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots), of characters that she had met on her travels, of art and ideas, and her "take" on the world. Everyone who met her was enthralled, at one time or another, with this Gail that we knew.

I miss our conversations.

I miss the banter of ideas.

I miss Aunt Gail.

Looking for Answers

Recently I found pictures on FindAGrave.com of Jabez Burns'(1801-1876) gravestone, as well as a picture of the entrance to the Paddington Old Cemetery in London. I am currently researching and writing about my Burns-McPherson family and I would like to use these pictures, both on this RootsNLeaves blog as well as the book I am researching and writing. I had written the person who posted the pictures for permission to use the pictures. However,it has been over three weeks and I have had no response.

My question: Are the pictures on FindAGrave.com open for public use? Is it OK to just cite the web page as well as the creator of the pictures, even though I do not have permission to use the pictures? It seems that this is a normal courtesy gesture.

If any one can give me some guidance in this area, I would be most appreciative?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: My Sophisticated Rake


Sentimental Sunday, it is. ---- Although this maybe off the "mark" for genealogy, I believe those furry, four-footed creatures not only enhance our humanity, but they reflect our lives and passions as well. They tell our story in many different ways --- and as we tell their stories, our stories are again told. So to my dear departed Jake, here is your story.

My Sophisticated Rake

He’s my sophisticated Rake,

He’s my sophisticated Jake.

He stays in hotels,

Eats Morels,

And he dines on steak

He’s my sophisticated Rake

He’s my sophisticated Jake

I have a friend; he goes in and out with me. Many think he is my shadow, and in a way he is. As my protector and friend, his elegantly large black form is rarely far from my side as his piercing brown eyes stare down any and all oncomers; his black ears tipped sharply alert for sounds of danger. To strangers, his always-tense muscular body is a formidable reminder that he is serious about his job as my protector. He is my Jake, my sophisticated rake, my sophisticated Jake.

For the past 14 years, Jake has staked out his domain, our house on the mountain, and my car, and me. He cares for his domain well. He greets the morning with a deep bark at his squirrel friends and deer are allowed to roam freely. (Although I do wish Jake was a bit more protective of my roses!). He allows the peacocks, jays, mourning doves and miscellaneous critters to o eat in peace, but the peacocks are not allowed on the deck. Nor are the neighbors dogs allowed on the property. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, bobcats and cougars are definitely not allowed close to the house. He’s my Jake, he’s my protector, Jake

Jake is my traveling companion. On the coastal shores he has chased birds, wayward kites, and frolicked with the children. On mountain trails his long black form races back and forth from the front runners to the stragglers, as a good shepherd always does. In the eastern desert lands his long strides patrols his camp perimeter, always alert for dangers. He has been greeted by name at our favorite hotels and motels. In the legislative warrens, he has sat at my feet, his paws elegantly crossed, and eyed Directors and Legislators with a nonchalant gaze. He’s my traveling Jake, my companion Jake.

Now that he is getting to be the elder statesman of his world, he still does all of these things. He goes in and out with me. His alert eyes scan for errant dogs and strangers approaching, --- and always watching me. His black coat shimmers in the sun and his ears pointed sharply for sounds of danger. But now --- now --- I watch out for him. No longer does he race to stretch that magnificent body to it’s fullest. Now, less strenuous and more quiet are the games we play. Now -- I always watch for big dogs and strangers that might invade his territory. His fierce heart and unflagging loyalty is unaware that his once muscular body that leaped and ran with abandon no longer matches that great heart of his. He’s my Jake, my sophisticated rake, My sophisticated Jake.

* * *

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday; Centennial History of Springdale, 1948 Market List

The pages of this little book are a Treasure Chest to me, holding stories and images of the land and people of Springdale - the Scotch hamlet where my McPherson family first settled in Wisconsin. Although, I must say, the pages of this book are equally given to Norwegian families.

The following comes from page 164 of the Centennial History Township of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948. The Market List is in the general section about Klevenville and some of the families that lived in the hamlet. The Market List may or may not be about Klevenville, which was one of the cluster areas in the general area of Springdale. These little cluster areas usually had a post office and a general store.

Markets in Jan. 1948

Milk per 100 lbs. – Grade A Milk . . .

$5.03 3.5


Hogs . . . . . . . . . . . . $28.25 per hundred

Choice heifers . . . . .27.00 per hundred

Prime steers . . . . . . 30.00 per hundred

Common cows . . . . .15.00 per hundred

Good cows . . . . . . . 30.00 per hundred

Good ewes . . . . . . . . 24.50 per hundred

Old ewes . . . . . . . . . . . 8.50 per hundred

Live Poultry:

Heavy hens . . . . . . . . . . 30 c per pound

Heavy springs . . . . . . . . 40 c per pound

Ducks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 c per pound

Geese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 c per pound


Potatoes . . . $4.20 to $5.65 per bushel

Apples . . . . . $3.90 to $5.50 per bushel

Eggs sold for 72 c per dozen

Butter sold for 98 c per pound

Milk fold for 17 c per quart

Cheese sold from 44 ½ c per pound

to $1.25 per pound