Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fearless Females, March 17, 2011:Social? Butterfly? Not In My Family

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

My grandmothers and their mothers,  and grandmothers, were  way to busy raising children, keeping house, doing the laundry, cooking, canning, ironing, cutting wood, boiling water to do dishes, making quilts (because they needed quilts for bedding), sewing clothes --- O my goodness, I am tired just thinking about their lives.  

My great-great grandmother Susan Ward Keyes may have come the closest to being social because of the status of her husband and his family in the community.  But even so, Susan Ward Keyes seemed to be serious; she appeared to be very involved in her church.  When the Keyes family came to Benton County, Oregon in the late 1860s, the house was full of young people - the six Keyes young adults and their cousins and friends.  From all that I know about her, Susan took her job as wife, mother, and manager of the home seriously.  She provided a gathering place for her children and her husband and their friends, but she too seemed to fit the mold of the too busy wife and mother to be a real social butterfly.

No, I don't think we do "social butterfly" in my family.  Even later generations are way too driven to be proper social butterflies.  No, not in my family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fearless Females, March 16, 2011: Lunch with Elizabeth Lowery Doran

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

"Welcome, Mrs. Doran,  I thought it would be nice to have lunch out on the deck.   Looking out across the tree-covered hillside  might put you in a mind of your home in the hill country of northeastern Tennessee."

"I thank you for your hospitality, but madam, just where do I know you from?"

"O you don't really know me --- and I don't really know you, though I wish to make your acquaintance.  I am your great-great-great granddaughter."

"Posh now, that is nonesense."

"Tis true.  I called  to you in my mind  --- and here you are,"  I said as I poured tea for the lady.

"These little sandwiches and strawberries are quite lovely.  Now tell me why you called me --- I am most confused."

"You are very special to me -  a one of a kind 3rd grandmother.  Your daughter Margaret married James Keyes and their youngest son David Lowery married a cousin Susan Ward.  Her mother was your daughter Janet.  David and Susan's second son was my great grandfather James Edward Leonardis Keyes.  So in my mind you are twice my great-great-great grandmother, which makes you very special to me.

"I have long been intrigued by your history.  Your husband Alexander Doran fought in the war against King George -- and in fact, fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain.  He also fought in the War of 1812, and died of during that war.  But more importantly,  your children moved from Abingdon, to Tennessee, and ever westward to Texas and on to the Pacific coast taking their history and names throughout the country.

"But I really want to know about your life in Ireland -- or perhaps even Scotland, as I  understand the Lowerys were Scots.  How did you meet up the the Keyes, Dorans, Wards, and Gordons?  I have heard rumors that in the mid-1700s you all came to  America from Ireland on the same ship.  Is that true?  Did you know each other for a long time in Ireland, or Scotland? 

"Oh, and I wondered if it's a true story that James Doran, Alexander's father, was born at Donegal Castle and that his father was the Earl of Donegal.  What do you know about Donegal?  It sounds like a fairytale place -- Donegal Castle.  And what .."

"O my goodness, child, you ask a lot of questions.  What is this nice cold soup  -- does have a bit of a snap to it?"

"Gazpacho -- I like it on a summer's day.  Now back to my questions..."

"Missy, I am an old lady --- you called me, but now I am tired and must be going back."

And she was gone -just like that, leaving me with  a whole list of unanswered questions.  Well, perhaps the next time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fearless Females, March 15, 2011: Six Word Memoir

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 15 -- Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

Scots-Irish lass to Tennessean Consort,  Matriarch.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fearless Females, March 14, 2011: Newsmakers

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

1938, Verna in front of
The Desert Beauty Salon
The above 1938 newspaper clipping, which  came from my grandmother McPherson's album, was the first public indication that her daughter Verna had her eye on the future.  At the time, Verna was just 18 years old, and fresh out of beauty school; she thought it quite reasonable to start out with a flair.  She went on to own several more beauty salons  before she and her husband started a very successful beauty college in San Diego.  By the time she was thirty years old, she was a successful and vivacious beautician and business woman.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Synopsis:Just under the wire, 2011 March 13th

Seems like I got a lot done, but possibly not what I intended - so we will see as I take stock.

This past week I accomplished the following:
   *  Posted Days 7,8,9,10,11,12 &13 for the Fearless Females series.
  *  Worked on James P. McPherson by reviewing old newspapers from 1850 thru 1900.  Still have some more, plus being intrigued with what I can find out on other family members of that place and time.
  *  Spent some time on Picassa. Now I am really confused.  Have been in contact with a couple of Geneaboggers who use the critter.  It appears I have many, many duplicates, but I have modified stationary panic about what to do about the situation.
  * FINALLY have a draft Release form and letter for the book on UR'sL.

My intent for the week is the following:
  *  Host my writing critique group on Tuesday ( o, no, that means dreaded house cleaning!!)
  *   Finalize the Release form and letter (a must do, as I need to present it to folks at the family reunion in April)
  *  Draft 2 McPherson bios ( I would like to have 10 done by the reunion, but starting a bit late.)
  *  Finish the rewrite of "Clay" and submit for publication.
  * Post for Fearless Females series.

This past week I have found myself in a quandry about blogging;  I really like the two series that I have been doing, but they are major time slurpers.  I hope that I don't have to let them slip by the wayside.  I have been thinking about posting in the evening (which means I need to get ahead of the time line and post for the next day on the night before.)   Then if I can't get the posting done at night, then I will have to let that day slip. I really like to write these pieces, but I can't let that kind of writing take over my prime writing/working time, which is in the morning.Nonetheless, this was a fairly good week.

Fearless Females, March13, 2011: Moments of Strength?

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 13 - Moment of Strength: Share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

Moments of Strength - A phrase that has rattled around in my brain today. I went down the list of female ancestors, one by one, and found that strong-willed women people my past. But I am not sure that strong-willed necessarily equates into strength. However, it is the McPherson women, particularly my aunts, that seem to best represent moments of strength to me. They have little in the way of subterfuge -- "what you see is what you got" is a favorite saying of theirs.

These women are absolute in their support and care of family. When my grandmother passed away, my aunt who was a beautician would let no other "fix" her mother's hair; so my grandmother went to her grave with lovingly coiffed hair -- most likely sprinkled with a few glistens of tears. The McPherson aunties take care of one another, even to their dying death. With the same love and care, they take care of their spouses and children to their last breath. They never waiver from their duty and love. These aunties of mine are role models and have taught me, both when I was a child and now as an adult, the meaning of family --- the meaning of "I've got your back."

I pray for these moments of strength, and not to be just strong-willed, for I too am a woman of the clan.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fearless Females, March12, 2011:Those Sigford Twins

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

As usual, following instructions is not my long suite.  However, when I think of women of my family working outside of their homes, my twin aunts, Loise and Joyce Sigford, come to mind.  The twins were born in 1907, and of course, by the time they were in their twenties, the girls were the epitome of the flapper girls.  They were very bright and quick with numbers, so both found employment as bookkeepers.

1947, Joyce Sigford Williams working
 at the Baranof Hotel,Juneau, Alaska
In the early 1930s, Joyce got a job as a bookkeeper in a Seattle Hotel, and Joyce soon followed her.  The sisters worked in Seattle for a couple of years before Joyce was hired as the head accountant of the elegant Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska.  Barely out of her twenties, Joyce, alone and without her twin sister, boarded a steamship and headed north to Alaska. I think this was perhaps the most exciting decade of her life; she met her husband, bought a boat, traveled along the Alaskan shore, and had a job that she loved.  She worked at the Baronof Hotel throughout WWII and a few years after, and then returned to the lower 48 where she and her husband bought and operated a berry farm near Puyallup, Washington.

1949, Loise Sigford Stradtman
working at Hinch & Kaye, San Franciso

Loise, left Seattle and returned to Klamath County to work for a year or so, before heading south to San Francisco, where she worked as an accountant for a couple of major trucking firms.  San Francisco was her town with its sophistication and energy.  She also met and married the love of her life -- though the marriage ended in divorce.  Loise worked in San Francisco until she retired  --- and although she was alone in the city, she hated to leave.  But finally Joyce convinced her sister to moved to Washington where they lived until Joyce's death.

When I was growing up,  my aunts would visit us a couple of times a year and it was always the same.  We would meet Joyce at the airport from her flight from Alaska and she would spend  an hour or so telling us all about her important work, and the people she met in Juneau.  Then when the plane was met from San Francisco, we would hear the same words and stories, just set in Loise's city by the bay.  I was enthalled as a little girl and teenager with their stories of the big cities and the elegant (at least to me)suits, hats and gloves; my mother was less impressed.

In their retirement years, Loise and Joyce were still very active  and were the spark plugs of thelocal Senior Center.  They ramrodded crafts and classes with the same attention to detail as they gave to their work.  Their friends at the Senior Center always gave them a birthday party and, in the picture below, they looked pretty darn good for their 80th birthday bash!
Joyce Sigford Williams and Loise Sigford Stradtman
80th Birthday Party

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fearless Females, March 11, 2011:Tragic Death of Adeline Foss

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

Adeline Foss, or perhaps she was Magdelena, or Magdelena Adeline, was one of my  Great Grandmothers. In   1882 she emigrated from Germany with her two sons, and presumably her husband - though he might have arrived on American shores at an earlier, or later time.  By 1884 she and her family, which now also included my grandmother, Elizabeth Alfreda Foss.  They purchased, for about $5,  a couple of acres of land which was located only a few blocks from Camp Randall, near what is now Randall Field in Madison, Wisconsin.   According to the letters of my Uncle Ralph, who remembered them from his childhood, his grandparents were a very hard working and frugal couple from the old country and produced almost everything they needed on those few acres.

Adeline and her husband Ferdinand lived on this small acreage for forty years -long after their children had grown up and had homes and families of their own.  In in 1922, with the city of Madison growing up around them, they sold their home and moved out a town to a house on Kendall Ave.  According to a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Charles Foss (Gertrude), the couple desired to have the convenience of a gas stove, so their sons, Charles and Otto were "attentive to the wishes to their parent's wishes, and stove installed."

And so it happened on the night of  June 26, 1924,  the elderly couple who had lived for many years in their old cozy home, content  with its furnishings, went to sleep in their new home with it's new gas stove.  Ferdinand never woke up and died from asphyxiation, and his  wife, Adeline, lay beside him near death.  She was closer to the open window and still breathed with their daughter-in-law found them the next morning.

Adeline was rushed to the General Hospital where heroic attempts were made to save her life, including an emergency blood transfusion from her 17-year-old grandson, William Foss, son of Charles Foss.  Although she reportedly rallied at one point, but succumbed later in the evening.

Evidently, some time in the evening one of the old couple accidently turned  the gas jet partially on and the deadly gas filled the house, snuffing out Ferdinand's life, and ultimately, Adeline's as well.

She was 79 years old and after over 70 years of cutting and hauling wood, cooking and heating by a wood burning stove or fireplace, she had hoped to have a bit of ease in her old age.  Adeline did not live to enjoy the new luxury of a gas stove.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fearless Females, March 10, 2011: Sarah Almira and Methodist Church

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

Last year I wrote about My Religious Melting Pot, so this year I am going to tell you what I know about my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Almira Duty Brown, or Grandma Brown as she was known.

Sarah was born on the edge of the Indian Reserve lands in western Tennessee on January 4, 1834. By 1838, just about the time of the major relocation of the Indians from Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Alabama,  four-year-old Sarah and her younger sister Mary were in Greene County, Missouri where the family homesteaded. Three more children were born to her mother before her death in about 1844 when Sarah was only 10 years old. By 1854, Sarah had married young Jonathan Perry Brown and had two young daughters when they head west on the Oregon Trail.

Her father, Henry T. Duty could read and write and I have a number of letters that he wrote in his later life. However, Sarah could not read or write when they headed west. The stopped in The Dalles, which at that time had a fairly large Methodist mission for teaching the Indians -- and of course, bringing their Word of God to the heathens. Sarah lived in the vicinity of The Dalles for about seven years, before heading to the Mitchell area in eastern Oregon..

Now what all of this has to do with  religion in her life; A few years ago I was talking with another 2nd great granddaughter of Sarah's (who had stayed in eastern Oregon. I mentioned that I had a book that was given to Grandma Sarah Brown by one of her daughters. The book, 1776-1876, A Century of Gospel Work, A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the  United States , appeared to never been read and I wondered if Sarah could read.  My cousin told me that Sarah could indeed read as she had taught herself to read from the Bible and that she was very involved in the Methodist church.  Also her husband Jonathan Perry Brown was a very devout Christian.

Now this is the same 2nd great grandmother who is purported to have taught my grandmother, who passed it down to my mother and aunts, the Indian shuffle and chant.  I sometimes ponder these stories and find  my religious melting pot has some interesting beginnings.

Fearless Females, March 9, 2011: Is this my Adeline Foss' ship record

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

I have never ceased to be amazed at the fearlessness of my female ancestors. They appeared to be unhesitating about trekking across the Oregon Trail with little children in tow, or leaving Scotland aboard a cramped sailing ship to come to America, or travel down the eastern seaboard to cross the Isthmus of Panama on their way to Oregon. These women of my past I know about. But it is Adeline Schwartz Foss that has caused me sleepless nights. I know that she had two small sons when she came to America from Germany, so I have sat at my computer for numerous hours looking at ship records --- and this is all that I have found.

My great grandmother may have been born Adeline Schwartz; I say maybe because on her death certificcate her name is given as Magdelena -- well perhaps her son might have been mistaken, or Adeline was a diminutive of Magdelena, or perhaps her son knew something we don't.

Adeline married Ferdinand Foss in Germany, most likely some place in Prussia. According to my grandmother's stories, they came to America shortly before she,Elizabeth Alfreda Foss, was born, and Elizsbeth's death certificate states that she was born Dec 17, 1883 in the state of Vermont.

I did not think it would be so hard to find the Foss family on a passenger list during this period, as I had a pretty narrow window of time and location. That was not the case; I searched for several permutations of the name Foss, I searched for Ferdinands, Fredericks, and more, with no luck.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I had heard that Foss was German for fox --- or more rightly perhaps, Voss for fox. Again I hit Ancestry.com with renewed vigor --- and finally this is what I found. Is it my Adeline? Perhaps.

On September 11, 1882, the SS Oder landed in New York City; she hailed from Bremen by way of South Hampton. Listed on the Passenger list included the following:

Adeline Voss, age 38, departed from Bremen, Germany
Carl Voss, age 3 yrs, 6 mos, departed from Bremen, Germany
Otto Voss, age 11 mos, departed from Bremen, Germany

Adeline's age is consistent with her age given in obituaries and newspaper articles. She had a son who was called Charles here in America who was about the same age as the ship list Carl; and a son Otto who was about the same age as the ship list Otto. My grandmother's birth date was listed as in 1883, but a year's discrepancy might be expected at the end of the year that included an ocean crossing while pregnant and then delivering a baby. So am I grasping at straws with this Adeline Voss? Perhaps.

I scoured every page of the Oder's Passenger List for Ferdinand Voss,and Foss, but to no avail. I tried to track Ferdinand on earlier or later passenger list, but no Ferdinand Foss/Voss, or Frederick Foss/Voss, or other derivations.

Now I keep this Passenger List close by --- and periodically, I poke around some more. But so far, this is the only possibility that I have found. Is this my Adeline Foss' ship record? I wish I knew.

52 Weeks of Genealogy, Week 10: Disaster by Fire

Thank you to Amy Coffin of the  We Tree for the series 52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy.  My topic for Week 10 is: Disaster by Fire.

On February 17, 2011 I wrote about the Sigford home on Matney Way. My mother's parents suffered a great loss and in many ways never fully recovered from the effects of the fire that took the only home they ever owned. Not only were they nearly fifty years old, but in just a few short years they would be devastated by the Great Depression. They were also caught in the changing times; the burgeoning industrialized world had little use for their skill set of ranching, farming, and horse drawn transportation.

A few years earlier, in October, 1918, my father's parents suffered a similar catastrophe. At that time, the close-knit McPherson clan lived in close proximity to one another in the area around Little Falls, Minnesota. Jabez' older brother Jim had lost his wife and then moved in with his parents so they could help raise the family – and Jim to help support his aging parents. They all lived fairly close to Crow Wing Lake, which was the site a a well-photographed family get-together the previous summer.

At the time of the fire, my Uncle Ralph was about 14 years old and the fire was indelibly etched in his mind. The following is hs account of the fire that burned their house to the ground:

The year 1918 was quite a year, 1st Bertha & Cecil were married. Dad had the Newman & Foster places under rent. Walt & Grace Mc lived on the foster placer we worked the land. Walt & his family moved to Little Falls in the spring of 1918 & Dad rented the house to a Norwegian couple & also early that Fall Clare was going to give up his lease on the Clute place in the spring of 1919 so Dad leased the Clute place & to take possession in the spring of 1919. In July of 1918 a family from Montana bought the Newman place. Our lease wasn’t up till Jan of 1919 so Newman gave Dad 250.00 to move by Sept meanwhile Dad sold 6 of the cows & a team of horses with a few other things to the family from Montana. We moved into the place by the lake. It was 17 rooms & was really built for two familys as both Clare & Goldie & Elmer Schamp & his family both lived there before the grandfolks. We were all moved there stock & everything by Oct 1sr. Gladys or Jerry as she liked to be called was married in that house the day it burned down.

On there wedding day it was snowing, Clare & Walt were both out west but there were about 30 people there for the wedding not counting the kids. I was upstairs changing into my suit of clothes when I heard someone yet the house is on fire. I run down the stairs & outside & looked up & the whole roof was a fire. I run back up stairs & change into my work clothes again & instead of throwing everything I could out the window I left everything upstairs. With that much help we got everything out downstairs, I can still seek like carrying the stoves out with fire still in them. It was still a big loss because there was 600 bushels of potatoes, 100 gal of sorgham 700 to 800 jars of fruit in the cellar besides most of the bedding , clothes & so forth besides a tough winter to get thru, we had another house a mi from there to move to but all the stock & fee had to stay at the place on the lake so it was a chore to go over twice a day to milk & take care of the animals.

We were able to stay over at the Wright farm while the Petersons were able move off of the Foster place that winter. They got out in a couple of weeks so we could have it, The only thing was all the food for the stock was on the place by lake so we only kept 1 team on the Foster Place that winter but it was quite a chore going back & forth between the two places to milk & do the chores twice a day.

By 1922, the idyllic life by Crow Wing Lake was gone. With all of their belongings and eight of their 10 children packed into their 1914 Studebaker touring car, my grandparents, Jabez and Elizabeth McPherson began their long trek to California. [Note: One daughter and her husband were already living in Calipatria, and the baby of the family would not be born for another three years.]

In many ways, the fire of 1918 affected my McPherson grandparents as the later fire of 1921 affected my Sigford grandparents. Both men were in their fifties and their best working years were behind them. Although my McPherson grandfather was a bit more comfortable in the automobile age, he had spent his life “wheeling 'n' dealing” with horses, cards, and hard physical work. After the Great Depression had lifted, the jobs available were made for living in a different world than he knew – just as they were for Frank, my Sigford grandfather.

* * *
For other postings on Gladys/Jerry and the tragic shooting of her father and grandmother, see the following:

Shooting Deaths
Newspaper Account of Sentencing
Tragedy in the Life of Jerry Rose

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fearless Females, March 8, 2011: My Mother's Address Book

 Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

My mother was a list maker -- and lists were made to be thrown away upon completion. Those lists would have been like a diary, but now gone as she is gone. However, I do have her address book stashed away in a box or a drawer or closet. I always liked to sit at the bar in her kitchen and peruse her address book. A history of her life and the people that she knew or had known. She never purchased a new address book; if she ran out of space, she tucked in additional pages, envelopes, addresses on scraps of paper, or even a napkin or two. Family or friends that often moved had a page, or pages, just to keep track of where they had been and were. For those family members or friends who had died, she summarily "X"ed out their names. Her address book reflected her history for more than 50 years. I do need to ferret out that address book as it is the history of my siblings and me as much as it was her history.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fearless Females, March 7, 2011: Aunt Bertha's Cranberry Cake

 Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

I loved my Aunt Bertha's cranberry cake from the moment I had the first yummy taste. This delightful cranberry cake has become one of our holiday treats.

2 1/4 C flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. chopped nuts
1 C. chopped dates
1 C. fresh whole cranberries
orange peel, grated from 2 oranges
2 eggs
3/4 C. vegetable oil
1 C. buttermilk

Sift flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and soda. Stir in nuts, dates,cranberries, and grated orange peel. Combine beaten eggs with oil and buttermilk. Stir in flour mixture and pour into well-greased 10" angel food tube pan.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and set on rack to cool. Leave in pan for 15 minutes. While the cake is cooling, combine 1 cup orange juice and 1 Cup of sugar. Heat over low heat until dissolved and clear. Remove cake from pan, put on rack and set over another pan to catch drippings. Pour glase over cake and pour drippings back on cake.

(Note from Aunt Bertha: I added glazed cherries, pineapple and lime peel. Freeze if desired.)

Sunday Synopsis: A bit late, 2011 March 7th

O man, doncha just hate Sundays that fly by, frittered away.  Breakfast out, followed by the major monthly grocery shopping at Costco, Winco --- and Big R (for the critters), I was bambozzled by the time we got home.  Read a book about the Tea Trade in China, (Costco had an array of new books and I couldna resist), then later in the day I remembered that  I needed to post for my Fearless Females series.  Well, that require photographing my grandmothers gold-plated pin which is composed of her initialwhich strayed my mind into a variety of labyrinths that seems to surround the complexities of my Grandmother Agnes Laura Sigford.  After I finally posted for March 6th, I puttered around doing set-up for the rest of the week, chatted a bit on Skype, and called it a day.

This past week I accomplished the following:
  *  Wrote and scheduled the Week 10 offering for 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History (scheduled for March 9th).
  *  Posted Days 1,2,3,4,5, &6 for the Fearless Females series.
  *  Worked on the rewrite for the "Clay" piece.  Had some major learning curves with "Open Office" and finally decided to cut and paste.  Sometimes old tried and true methods are more time efficient  ---  but I learned a few things along the way.
  *  Spent some time on Picassa.  I actually have not a clue how this thing works, but  some how -- without my knowledge or intent -- I have pictures on Picassa.  I think this may be a functional way to set up pictures for the book of  Uncle Ralph's Letters, but we will see.  Perhaps I can find someone in town that knows how to use Picassa.

My intent for the week is the following:
  *  draft Release form and letter for the book on UR'sL (This is now a 3-week left over. Hmm, a tad bit of resistance, I see.)
  *  Finish the rewrite of "Clay" and submit for publication.
  * Post for Fearless Females series.

The past week has been an OK week as far as writing, blogging is concerned.  I wandered into areas that took up too much time, but I like learning and delving into stuff I don't know about.  I dinna finish the piece I had started for the COG's Womens History.   I am also finding that the two blogging series are major time slurpers.  If these series become too much of a time-drain, I may have to just let them slip by the wayside.  However, I am finding them useful for some sort pieces that I haven't thought about before, so -- I'll wait for more clarity about this situation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fearless Females, March 6, 2011: Agnes Laura's Brooch

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

Agnes Laura Sigford's Brooch
My Grandmother Sigford did not often wear jewelry, but this pin is the only piece of jewelry that I ever saw her wear.  If I were going to be absolutely correct, I would have to say that I never saw her wear it.  However, not long after the pin came into my  possession, I noticed that she wore this pin in the only formal picture taken of her and my grandfather Frank.

circa 1940, Frank and Agnes Laura Sigford
Now that there is no one left to ask, I am consumed by questions.  Although the pin appears to be gold-plated, it appears to be hand-made with her first and middle initials flanking the "S" for Sigford.  My grandparents never had much money, so my grandmother would never spend money on an extravagance of a pin.  I considered the possibility that it was a gift from one of her children, but I was certain that there would have been big-time bragging rights so that I would have heard about it.  The last possibility is that my Grandfather bought the pin for his "Pet," as my grandmother was called as a child. Was it a wedding gift? Or just a show of affection later in life?  As I remember them, my grandparents were never outwardly affection, so I rather like the possibility that Agnes Laura received this pin as a gift from her husband.  This seems to be an excellent working assumption.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fearless Females, March 5, 2011: Courtship

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

I have often heard the story of when grandmother Agnes Laura Keyes met her future husband, Frank Sigford in Mitchell, Oregon, near her family's homestead, he had both hands and wrists encased in casts. Some family versions say that he broke his wrists fighting, which considering his feisty bearing that could indeed be true. However, a more likely story is that he fell out of the barn while he and his brothers were putting up hay near John Day. No matter the reason for the casts, they young man from Wisconsin, who had come west with his brothers, then courted and married Agnes Laura Keyes.

I know many family stories before my McPherson grandparents met and after they met; however, I have never heard much about how they met. I have always thought was because of their age difference. Jabez McPherson was nearly 26 years old when he married the barely sixteen year old Elizabeth Alfreda Foss in Madison, Wisconsin. Jabez' grandparents, as well as his parents and aunts and uncles, were long time residents of Springdale, Wisconsin, which was about 15 miles south of Madison.

The newlyweds and members of Jabez' family left Madison in couple of wagons and a buggy to visit other McPherson family members who had moved to Iowa. According to my Uncle Ralph, his mother often mentioned this trip as a high point in her life. They stay in Iowa a couple of years before returning to Madison.

My uncle, Clem Sigford introduced my parents. He worked at the Zuckerman Farm where my father, Harold McPherson, was the straw boss at the young age of 17. At that time, Harold's family was still in California and he was glad to have an invitation for a home cooked meal. Of course, Clem's younger sisters were in attendance and the fourteen year old, dark-eyed Ruth caught Harold's attention. My mother said that on dates, they would go to movies, or out to the airport to watch the airplanes that Harold loved, or to the dirt race track where his brother Clive raced. They were married a couple of years later when Ruth was almost sixteen.

Although I know a little about how my parents and grandparents met, the more interesting question to me is how they lived – stories for another day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females, March 4, 2011: James E. L.Keyes & Agnes Brown Marriage Record, 1877

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

James E. L. Keyes and Agnes Aurelia Brown 
Joined in Marriage, June 15, 1877 

Copy of the original 1877 marriage record;
  Wasco County Court House, The Dalles, Oregon

 Agnes Aurelia Brown was only 17 years old when she married 26-year-old, Tennessee-born James E.L.Keyes.  Agnes was the daughter of Sarah Almira and Jonathan Perry Brown,  early settlers in Oregon's eastern Wasco County.  The Brown family  came to the remote hills along the Snake river sometime around 1867.  In fact for a few years, Sarah and her daughters were the only white women in the area.  In the early 1870s, James and his cousin Zachary had been staked to a herd of 600 Cotswold ewe lambs, which they drove from their Benton County home, near Corvallis, across the mountains and to what is now Wheeler County.

The marriage of the two vibrant and attractive  young people must have been quite an event.  The area's meager pioneer population considered weddings, births, and funerals as major social occasions.  James and Agnes were undoubtedly the recipient of many good wishes for a long and happy married life.  But that was not to be.  Four years later, James E. L. Keyes buried his 21- year-old wife, who died a week after the birth of their third child - my grandmother, Agnes Laura Keyes.

* * *
Other posts about Agnes Aurelia Brown Keyes:

Fearless Females #11: A Death Too Soon

Agnes Aurelia Brown Keyes; An Incomplete Life

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearless Females, March 3, 2011: Names in My Memories

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.
I share my middle name with my mother's sister;  however, her name came from my grandmother fanciful naming practice.  My mother's three older sisters carried family names; the twins each had a grandmother's name for a middle name - Aurelia and Maria(h); the first born Irene was named for my grandfather's closest sister Lettie Irene.  However, when it came to my mother and her younger sister, their names came from books that my grandmother read.

I miss the days when children shared names with parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles - so much so I am going to share with you a rant that I wrote a few years ago.


My eyelids fluttered, trying to ignore the early morning light – or is it moonlight. I shut my eyes tight so that I might go back to that dark caccoon of sleep. But, no—the eiree half light conspires with my mind to go awandering. Tonight, or is it morning, no matter, names flit through my half consciousness. Names from my childhood, names of my past. Jeep. Earl Kesksy was his real name, which fitted him well as did Jeep. He was short, stocky and feisty man, and one of my childhood heroes. How he got the name of Jeep was always a mystery to me. Perhaps the war, but for whatever reason that short stocky name – Jeep – fitted him well.

Then there was tall, lanky, Boze with his bristly black hair and beard. I knew his last name, Wilson, and the full names of his wife and children, but never did I know Boze by any other name. He was killed by widowmaker when I was about 15, not too long after my dad was killed.

Then there were those strange and wonderful guys who spoke with a variety of long slow drawls, Arky, Big Arky, Little Arky, Oakie, Big Oakie, Little Oakie, and of course, Gutter Oakie (cuz he was so fast a gutting ducks!); there was Tex, and Utah, and even a guy named Nevada. Then there was Fid, Fid Ralston, who taught me the proper way to saddle my horse, while telling me stories of roundups, roping, and riding. O, and I can’t forget Kit, Kit Carson, my first true love --- when I was 5 and he was 18 or so. He worked on the ranch and was a good friend of my Daddy and Momma. I would hold onto Kit’s hand, follow him whenever he was around the shop and barns, and profess that I would marry him when I grew up.

Daddy was even called Mac or Angus, which I thought strange because neither was his name. Little did I realize that ruddy Scotsman who was my father also had nicknames that came from his Scots background and looks.

When I started school that I began to notice that most people had more boring names – Jack, Lyle, Duane, Morris, Virgil, Mary, Shirley, Nora, Ella --- and then of course, the ordinary names of my siblings and myself. The interesting names of my childhood receded into my memory bank --- just waiting for me to once again  pull them out and remember the potato fields, Old Tig, the last of work horses, who lived out his life in tall grass, potato harvest with Mexican nationals coming in on buses to pick potatoes and making the air alive with the sounds of their talk and music, hunting season, green fields of alfalfa, dozers clearing snow drifts --- odd that names can bring back all those old memories.

My grandmother had a way with names. Mother said she read too much. I loved the names that my grandmother wove from our family history and her world of books--- my twin aunts had wonderful names --- Loise Aureila and Joyce Mariah. How those middle names, which were names of their grandmothers, tantalized my tongue and imagination. Ruth Evangeline, my mother, she said that she was named after her brother’s school teacher, but my mind goes immediately to Longfellow’s Evangeline and images of lost love. I know not how my grandmother came up with Gail Gwendolyn, but if I let my mind flow I see images of medieval Welsh maidens kneeling along a bough strewn stream.

Even without my Grandmother’s penchant for the romantic names, I miraculously named my children well; my first born daughter  for her grandmothers, a name that has grown more beautiful as has she; the second born daughter  for a dear friend and because I loved the sound and images the name brought to me which has become the embodiment of my beautiful girl; and our son's name suits him well and he likes that sense of history that goes with his name. Little did I know that both of his names are old family names from both sides of our family. Originally, I only thought about keeping traditional the RAH initials which have been handed down from my husband's family for generations – Richard Allens, Ralph Anthonys, Rossiter Allen, and now a son and grandson also carry on that "RAH" tradition.

I was fortunate to have missed the naming fantasies that enveloped my classmates, and their children and children’s children - names with no history, names of movie stars and celebrities, good and beautiful names twisted, tweaked, and twanged to make them different. So much more satisfying to me, to search through my ancestors and be able to trace the lineage through the children’s names. This babe was named for the father’s father/mother or grandfather/grandmother, this babe for the mother’s side, this babe for great grandmother/grandfather, for aunt/uncle --- ahhh, yes, a satisfying linkage of past to future. I do miss that sense of history that is missing from current naming practices  -  or rather lack thereof.

I have often thought that all new parents in my family need a list of the names of their forbearers --- names that have meaning and resonate through the centuries and touch our own time: Adeline, Arthur, Adelaide, Alfreda, Allen, Angus, Agnes, Anthony, Aureila, Almira, Alvira, Alexander, Beth, Benjamin, Bertha, Clementine, Clemmon, Cordielia, Clive, Cleona, Catharina, Celesteer, Evangeline, Elizabeth, Emmeline, Evaline, Gail, George, Gwendolyn, Frank, Ferdinand, Harold, Henry, Irene, Isaac, James, John, Jane, Jacob, Joan, Janet, Jabez, Joyce, Laura, Lloyd, Lorraine, Lois, Loise, Magdelena, Marjorie, Margaret, Matthew, Mariah, Martin, Maryette, Melvina, Olive, Phoebe, Peter, Richard, Rebecca, Robert, Ruth, Ralph, Rossiter, Russell, Samuel, Sarah, Susan, Susanna, Thomas, Verna, Walter, Zelma, Zachary. Names evoke memories and images of a time and place, of people that gave me life and history --- From Jeep to Kit, to Fid to Oakie, Arky & Tex, from Adeline to Zachary --- memories and connections are mine to keep --- by the grace of a name.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fearless Femaless: Sarah Almira Duty Brown, 1912

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Grandma Brown, August 30, 1912

I have always liked this photograph taken of 2nd great grandmother Sarah Brown because I can see in her the faces of my grandmother and my mother --- and perhaps a trace of myself. She was born Sarah Almira Duty on January 4, 1834 in Giles County, Tennessee.  In 1851, at the age of seventeen, she married Jonathan Perry Brown and three years later, they made the long trek over the Oregon Trail to The Dalles, Oregon.

A sense of familiarity emanates from this picture;  the look, the staunchness,  the earthiness that has been passed down through the generations. Although her life as a pioneer woman in eastern Oregon has been  fairly well documented,  I crave to know the child, the young girl and woman.  That Sarah Duty has always called to me, but never lets me in.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fearless Femaless: Elizabeth Duty - Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, or not

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, for this always interesting and evocative series about Fearless Females of our past. 
March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

Elizabeth - she would be my 3rd great grandmother - and I have no surname for her, except for her for her married name. 

I only know that  she married Henry T. Duty before 1834, gave birth to my 2nd great grandmother Sarah in Giles County, Tennessee,  on January 4, 1834, and to another daughter, Mary, in 1836.  By 1838, the  Duty family was in Greene County, Missouri.  The move to Missouri most likely would have been along the path and time of the Trail of Tears; however, that may or may not be relevant - just interesting.

In my mind, I call her "Cherokee Elizabeth," but she could have been part Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, or not.   The family lore that surrounds her is that she was of Indian descent, which most likely comes from stories and comments made by her daughter Sarah Almira Duty Brown. 

I can follow her via census reports from Giles County to Missouri.  She died sometime after the 1842 birth of her youngest daughter, Evaline, and the 1850 census.  Have been unable to find a death certificate for her, nor any other record of her in Missouri.

She is an enigma to me. Periodically, I poke and prod in her daughter Sarah's line, but to no avail.  In my early genealogy searches, I looked for answers in the lines of  Elizabeth's other children without much success.  Now that I am reviewing my old searches, I am finding that along the way, I have become a much better researcher -- so during this year, I will revisit my old leads and do a bit more poking and prodding.

I want to know more about this mystery woman of our family as she lived in a most interesting place in a most interesting time.