Women’s History Month – Unknown Women


Sadly, many families have a stash of unlabeled ancestor photos. They end up wondering, “who are these people?” Sadder still, some end up tossing them out when they get discouraged over identifying the mystery photos.

The ones I’m sharing here today are women’s photos sent to me by my distant DNA cousin. Our connection is through the Ellison/Martin/Skaggs lines but these ladies could be sister-in-laws or daughter-in-laws with different surnames. I’m hoping that by sharing these here and mentioning the locations for the mystery photos that someone will recognize them.

My connection to those surnames is a 2nd great-aunt, Upha Martin whose mother was Sarah Ann Ellison. Upha, also called Effie, married Henry Talbot Skaggs.

The photos show 3 women with dark hair and a long, straight noses. The photos are from different locations. The older woman is in Abingdon, Illinois. The middle-aged woman is in Eureka, Kansas. The youngest dark-haired woman poses with a man (possibly a brother), and another young woman who is blonde. There is no location given for that one.

It doesn’t seem that these are all the same woman. The westward progression of the family was from Abingdon, Illinois to the Emporia, Kansas area and later in Oregon. It would be more likely if the younger woman was in Abingdon and the subject grew older as the family progressed west.

The eyebrows on the first woman are not a good match for the second, younger woman. Possibly, they are mother/daughter or aunt/niece or in some way related.

I did a reverse image search using Tineye but found nothing on the Internet that matched any of the three photos. I’ll leave them here and hope for some revelation in the future. For now, they are unknown, but I know they deserve a place somewhere on our family tree.

Many thanks to Effie Skaggs great-grandson,

Dean Presnall, for sharing these photos with me.

Women’s History Month – Ruth’s Gingham Dress


A newspaper advertisement in the 1921 Kansas City Star reminded me of my grandmother and a dress she had. It was the time when hemlines were on their way up and it was acceptable to show a little of the ankle. Women were no longer constrained by the bustle or hoopskirt of earlier generations.

gingham dresses with wide collars, 1921gingham dresses with wide collars, 1921 24 Jan 1921, Mon The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) Newspapers.com

The picture of Ruth Vining in her plaid dress with a white collar dates to 1918 or 1919 as it was sent in a letter to Ruth Vining’s brother Albert in France. Apparently, gingham and wide collars were the style for several years. In that era, many women of modest means had only a few dresses.

Lucy Vining Bolte and Ruth Vining McGhee with their mother, Nancy J. Vining.

The price in the advertisement seems quite affordable, but Ruth would have depended on her husband’s earnings as a soldier in the U.S. Army. She might have earned a little from taking care of the chickens and selling the eggs to the local store. Since she married right before her husband, Clarence Oliver McGhee, went off to France, I’ve always presumed that she lived with her mother while he was overseas.

The dress appears to be in soft colors and I always imagined the plaid to be soft pinks, yellows, and greens. At this time, there’s no way to know the actual color of the dress. Even her hairstyle looks similar to the sketch in the ad, with the puff of hair on the forehead. About this time, women were starting to have their hair bobbed. Ruth lived in a small Kansas town named Tyro, so I don’t know if she was that progressive or if her hair was long and twisted up in a bun at the back.

Women’s History Month – Lois Joy Leslie


Lois Adelaide Joy was the third daughter born to George Washington Joy and Dacy Richards. Lois’ younger brother, Alfred Joy was my great-grandfather. She was born September 25, 1867 in Vinland in the eastern part of the new state of Kansas.

Lois Adelaide Joy (from the collection of Dick Joy)

Her older sister, Mary Frances Joy, died when Lois was just one. More sisters were added to the family and some boys too. The family moved to nearby Eudora when Lois was three. When Lois was eight, her mother died after giving birth to another baby girl, Ella Susan Joy. Lois left school after the 8th grade (according to the 1940 census).

Three years after the death of her mother, her father remarried and so a new baby came along two years later. That completed the family. Since Lois was 13-years-old by then, she probably helped take care of her little half-brother, Stephen Garfield Joy.

At 18, Lois married William Leslie whose nickname was Willie. He was 8 years older than Lois. I don’t know if the photo below is from their wedding or later on in life.

Lois and William Leslie’s Children

  • Lloyd Rodger LESLIE
  • Vernon Dee LESLIE
  • Vera Justina LESLIE (called Tina)
  • Alfred Willie LESLIE
  • Bessie LESLIE
  • Alonzo LESLIE (called Lon)
  • Dolly LESLIE
  • Ruth LESLIE
  • James Arthur LESLIE
  • George LESLIE

There were some sad times in their lives. Bessie only lived 3 months and Dolly died at birth and the last baby (George) died at the age of 5 months.

The picture below shows their first four children. You can read more about this picture in an earlier blog post. Tina, the girl standing in the photo, died suddenly at age 14. The oldest boy lost a finger in an industrial accident at age 17. In WWI, their oldest son, Lloyd Rodger Leslie, served in an Ambulance Company in France. What a worry that must have been.

Left to Right; Tina, Alfred, Vernon & Lloyd Leslie (photo from the collection of Dick Joy)

The 1925 Kansas census gives a glimpse into Willie and Lois’ later life. They were living in the Kansas City area and 65-year-old Willie lists his profession as grocer. Their 19-year-old son, James, is living with them and lists his work as railroad coach cleaner. William Leslie died on Christmas Day that same year, leaving Lois a widow at age 58.

Lois Adelaide Joy Leslie died in 1947 at age 79.

Read More About the Joy Family

Women’s History Month – Sarah Buckland


I set to work today sorting out the Sarah Bucklands on my family tree. They were really confusing me, so I’ll separate them out here with some sources relating to their lives.

Sarah Smith Buckland

Sarah Smith is my 4th great-grandmother. Her father, John Smith, and her mother, Ruth Kernes were both 30 at the time she was born in 1738 in New Haven, Connecticut. She married Alexander Buckland on October 1, 1760, in her hometown. They had nine children in 17 years. She died on July 19, 1823, in Ellington, Connecticut, having lived a long life of 85 years, and was buried there.

Sarah Buckland (daughter of Sarah Smith Buckland)

Little Sarah lived just 5 years, dying the 19th of May in 1769. She was buried in the Ellington Center Cemetery in Tolland County, Connecticut.

Source: Connecticut, U.S., Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934

Sarah Buckland’s gravestone from Find-A-Grave

Sarah Heath Buckland (daughter-in-law of Sarah Smith Buckland)

Sarah Heath, my 3rd great-grandmother, married Erastus Buckland, the son of Alexander and Sarah (Smith) Buckland. He was born on April 2, 1774, in East Windsor, Connecticut. Erastus and Sara Heath married on June 8, 1798, in his hometown. They had 11 children in 16 years. He died on November 28, 1820, in East Windsor, Connecticut, at the age of 46, and was buried there.

Sarah Heath was born on April 19, 1775, in East Windsor, Connecticut. Her father, Stephen Heath, was 24, and her mother, Sarah Polly Osborn, was 20. Sarah Heath Buckland died on October 21, 1850, in her hometown, having lived a long life of 75 years, and was buried there.

Sarah Marie Buckland Bower (daughter of Sarah Heath Buckland)

Erastus and Sarah (Heath) Buckland named one of their daughters, Sarah Maria Buckland. She was born on March 28, 1804, in East Windsor, Connecticut. This Sarah married Sidney Bower in 1836 and they had two son. Sidney died in 1854, leaving Sarah widowed. His will listed the property he owned such as the home lot and some meadow land, as well as details like 1 hog, 1 cow, 1 gold pen, $360 in the bank (which was quite a bit in those days).

Her mother, Sarah Heath Buckland was living with the family in 1850. In the 1870 United States Federal Census, Sarah Bower lists her work as tailoress and the value of her estate as $4,200. Ten years later, she was living with her son, John.

Sources: Find-a-Grave, North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000, Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915

Sarah Buckland Bower - deathSarah Buckland Bower – death 05 Jul 1892, Tue Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) Newspapers.com

Women’s History Month – Charity Bourne Blair


This month, I’ll be featuring women from my family tree for Women’s History Month. I’ll launch this with my fourth great-grandmother, Charity Bourne. Her parents were William Bourne and Rosamond Jones (called Rosa). I wrote earlier about their burial place in Virginia.

Charity had a long life for that time, dying at age 83 on July 13, 1860 in Grayson County, Virginia. Her gravestone can be seen in the Blair Cemetery in Cliffview, Carroll County, Virginia.

Photo by a descendant, Nuckolls.

She was born the 7th of November in 1775 in Grayson County, Virginia where her parents were among the first settlers. Here’s a little bit about the early history of Grayson County and the Bournes. There’s a photo of the log barn belonging to William Bourne. I’m amazed at the size of it and that it was still around in 1950 to be photographed for this story.

William Bourne's barn and early Grayson County history.William Bourne’s barn and early Grayson County history. 11 Jun 1950, Sun The Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia) Newspapers.com

Here’s an excerpt from the clipping above: “When Grayson County was formed from Wythe County in 1792 there was, of course, no courthouse. The first court held in the county was held in 1793 in William Bourne’s barn near Spring Valley. As the court sat in this barn which was constructed of white oak logs with pine siding and cedar shingles, a group of civic minded squires got together and made plans to ‘fix upon a place for holding courts.’ It seems according to the Galax Gazette that the court ‘fixed upon a place known as Rose’s Cabins.’

Then progress took hold. Three gentlemen, Charles Nuckolls, Flower Swift, and Philip Gaines conveyed 100 acres of land to the cause. Streets and lots were laid off and in 1794 a log courthouse was constructed. Since a jail was needed to back up the judging that went on in the courthouse a structure was built of logs fitted tightly together. Huge hand-forged nails were driven into the logs so closely together they gave the effect of being almost solid metal. The place was named Greenville but the post office was called Grayson Courthouse.”

Also in 1793, Charity Bourne married John Blair. John Blair was the son of Thomas Blair (who came to America from Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland) and Rebecca Andrews. His parents came to Chestnut Creek and acquired large tracts of land where his father, together with Matthew Dickey, manufactured iron. John was an only son and inherited most of his father’s land and became “the wealthiest and most influential man in the county. For years he sat in the Legislature but was defeated for re-election in 1842 by John Carroll.” 

John and Charity lived at Blair’s Forge near what is now Blair Depot in Carroll County, Virginia. The couple had 9 children between 1794 and 1818.

Polly Blair

Rosamonde Bourne Blair

Thomas Blair

Rebecca Blair

Lorenzo Dow Blair

Celia D Blair Jones

Elizabeth H Blair

Algernon Sidney Blair

Lucinda Blair


  • Pioneer Settlers of Grayson County, Virginia By Benjamin Floyd Nuckolls 1914
  • Ancestry.com
  • Find-A-Grave
  • Newspapers.com

Family History Tidbits – Charley Richards


A Goal for 2021

One goal for me this year is to share the bits and pieces of family history that I find. Some stories will never be fully revealed to the current generation as they are lost to living memory and otherwise undocumented. Even though I don’t have the full story of someone, I do want to share the crumbs that I find and hope they are helpful to future searchers.

An Intriguing Signature

Charles Richards signatureCharles Richards signature Thu, Apr 29, 1915 – 4 · The Eudora Weekly News (Eudora, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

I happened upon this tidbit while hunting for news of the Richards and the Joy family in the Eudora and Lawrence vintage newspapers. My bigger project was to find out more about the Richards family’s involvement in the abolition movement leading up to the Civil War.

Charles F. Richards’ signature isn’t vital to our family story. He’s a first cousin 3 times removed since his father, Oscar Grinman Richards, was the cousin of our second great-grandmother, Dacy Richards Joy. She was orphaned at an early age, so was raised with her cousins. I’m guessing that Charley was like a nephew to Dacy.

Now, back to the signature. The news tidbit made me curious to see the actual signature so off I went to Ancestry to see what documents I could find. Hurrah! I found the signature on his 1914 application for a passport and it is every bit as bad as the newspaper described it.

There are a few other tidbits to glean from this document. Charles was born in Leavenworth County, Kansas, on 29 April 1866. He deals in real estate and insurance in Eudora, Kansas. It isn’t clear why he is going abroad. The description shows that he is 48-years-old, 5 feet 7 inches, with a high and full forehead. His eyes are blue, his nose is straight and common, his mouth is common, and his chin is full and round. His face is full and smooth with a fair complexion. He has brown hair but is balding.

The Postman


My 2nd great-uncle, Erastus Laban Tower, served a number of years as the postmaster in Uniontown, Indiana. I wanted to find out more about his time as postmaster which at first I thought spanned from 1886 to 1911 (his obituary).

Then I found that he was appointed on January 13, 1892 (U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 on Ancestry.com).

The 1900 census listed him as a farmer but perhaps being postmaster did not pay well enough so he combined farming and postal work. In his wife’s obituary, it said she served as assistant postmaster. There was a 1903 list with the compensation for being a postmaster. It listed Erastus L. Tower as receiving $103.87. I believe that amount was the total annual payment, not a monthly payment.

Laban and Clarvina Tower

The USPS site gave this information on how a person became a postmaster:

From 1836 to 1971, postmasters at the larger Post Offices were appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate. Postmasters earning less than $1,000 per year were appointed by the Postmaster General, generally upon the advice of the local congressman or townspeople. Regulations required that postmasters execute a valid bond and take an oath of office. Prior to 1971, it was also required that postmasters live in the delivery area of their Post Office. 

I’ve shared some information about Erastus Laban Tower on this blog and also on a page at a site called Hubpages. Below is his obituary which I found in a library when we visited Indiana some years ago.

The newspaper mistakenly put an “s” on Tower.

This post is part of my participation in the Sepia Saturday blog challenge. They post a photo each week which sets the theme. Here’s their picture for this week, a postman in Sweden. I doubt that small town postmasters in the U.S. had official looking hats like that.

Sepia Saturday Theme Image (P) Postman, Swedish National Heritage Board

Bearded Men on the Family Tree


The prompt for the 52 Ancestors challenge was “beards,” so I started hunting through my family photos for bearded fellows. Wanting to be thorough and systematic, I started with the Kansas Vinings. It turns out that they were a pretty clean-shaven bunch.

I did find some handsome mustaches that must have been a popular look for the early 1900s.

Vining Family

Kennedy Family

I had better luck with the Kennedy family of Baldwin, Kansas. David Greacen Kennedy wore an impressive beard. His son, Jim, choose to go with a mustache.

Tower Family

For the Tower line in Kansas, my Civil War ancestor wore a beard most of his life. Abraham Bates Tower opted for the chin beard minus the mustache.

Martin Family

Three Martins with mustaches represent the Martin family.

McGhee Family

The McGhee family moved from Arkansas to Montgomery County, Kansas. Samuel Newton McGhee is the fellow with the mustache here.

Sam & Matilda 1903, with their children Clarence 7; Jesse 5; Roy 2; Bertha baby.

Joy Arrives in Colonial America


Peter Joy, my 7th great-grandfather, left England in 1663 for the British Colony of Maryland. His parents Mary Dover and Richard Joy had died in 1630 when Peter was just 2-years-old. The family had lived in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England which was part of Greater London.

We don’t know who raised the orphaned Peter and his sisters, Susannah and Rebecca. He chose a good time to leave in 1663, as the Great Plague of London started several years later killing over 100,000 people. It is possible that he left for religious freedom and economic reasons.

It seems likely that the Joy family traces back to Joyce in Ireland, but I have more work to do on that. Many of the immigrants to St. Mary’s in the colony of Maryland were Catholic and the Joy name appears on a list of marriages, births, and baptisms for the county.

He married Martha Goldson who had traveled to the New World with her parents in 1659. Their first child, Monica Joy, was born in 1663. His son, Peter Joy was born in 1665. Here’s my line of descent.

Richard Joy 1600-1630 – 8th great-grandfather
Peter Joy 1628-1686 – Son of Richard Joy
Peter Joy 1665-1740 – Son of Peter Joy
John Baptist Joy 1700-1778 – Son of Peter Joy
John C. Joy 1770-1856 – Son of John Baptist Joy
Thomas Tarlton Joy 1802-1888 – Son of John C. Joy
George Washington Joy 1836-1914 – Son of Thomas Tarlton Joy
Henry Alfred Joy 1874-1937 – Son of George Washington Joy
Cora Myrle Joy 1896-1969 – Daughter of Henry Alfred Joy
My father – Son of Cora Myrle Joy

Colonial couple – graphic from Pixabay

I found a few brief details on Find-a-Grave, “Catholic Carpenter. Landowner whose tracts ‘Joys Fortune‘ and ‘Kingston‘ were patented in Calvert County but later fell into the jurisdiction of Prince George’s County, Maryland.”

The 52 Ancestor prompt for this week was PROUD. I’m proud that my ancestors took part in the early history of the United States.


Newest Ancestor


I can rattle off the surnames that populate our family tree after some years of working on them. There’s Martin, McGhee, Vining, Joy, Stone, Kennedy, Tower, Babcock, Buckland, and Richards. I’m getting more familiar this year with Summers, Ellison, Wright, and Blair but still have a lot to learn about those.

The DNA test has opened up new connections and using Ancestry’s DNA tool (called Thrulines), I find new probable ancestors to investigate. Even though I share DNA with a dozen or more people that links back to the names below, it’s important to verify and document their place on my family tree.

It gets tricky following the female lines, so I’m on new territory with:

Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield
BIRTH 28 JUN 1793 • Sullivan Co., Tennessee
DEATH 10 OCT 1860 • DeKalb, Buchanan, Missouri
3rd great-grandmother

Sarah Easley
BIRTH 1 DEC 1752 • Chesterfield County, Virginia
DEATH 1817 • Hawkins, Grainger, Tennessee
4th great-grandmother

Betsy’s mother was Sarah Easley who was born 1 Dec 1752 in Chesterfield County, Virginia. She died 1817 in Hawkins, Grainger, Tennessee. Someone later in the family must have been Mormon, as I found this, “She was sealed to her parents on 14 Sep 1796 in the Atlanta Georgia temple. Sarah was baptized 12 May 1778. She was endowed 15 Jun 1778. Sarah married Robert Loxley Stubblefield on 15 Jul 1772 in Halifax County, Virginia.”

I found out that applying Mormon rituals binding people can be done by a descendant. The people can be long dead, never having been members of the Mormon faith. The Mormon Church started in 1830.

My thanks goes out to the people who preserve these records and digitize them. The Stubblefield Bible is in the Tennessee State Archives. I’m sure many researchers have been ahead of me so I’m anxious to see what they’ve found and connect all the dots.

What were their lives like in Colonial Virginia and in the frontier times in Tennessee? I see in their dates and locations the steady westward movement that formed these United States.

Here’s the complete line of descent:

Sarah Easley 1752-1817 4th great-grandmother
Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield 1793-1860 – Daughter of Sarah Easley
Martha Ann Carrol 1837-1887 -Daughter of Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield
Cordelia Jane Stone 1865-1946 Daughter of Martha Ann Carrol
Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin 1891-1968 – Son of Cordelia Jane STONE
My Dad