Z is for Zarah

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I explored a number of first and last names on my family tree looking for a Z to write about today. I’d written about baby Zora already in the story Vining Family Deaths. Zorobabel was already profiled back in April 2019 in Z is for Zorobable. Other Z names didn’t pan out. Some were merely shirttail relatives while others died young with few details of their short lives.

I was afraid that I’d have zilch to write about today. Sigh.

The NYA at Zarah, Kansas

Then I remembered that my great-aunt, Bertha McGhee, spent some time at the town of Zarah in Kansas when she worked for the NYA. She had saved a full-page newspaper spread about the camp. It was one of FDR’s New Deal programs to help get people back to work during the Great Depression.

First Lady visits NYA camp at Zarah KS 11-16-1936 KS City Star photo

In November 1936, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the NYA camp.

Bertha wrote some short memory pieces about her time there:

My next Depression years job was teaching at an NYA (National Youth Administration) camp on the grounds of a former country club near Zarah, Kansas.

We opened in the winter with around 20 girls housed in the clubhouse. The staff were housed there also. These were girls who had dropped out of school in their teens
because their parents couldn’t afford for them to attend. The camp featured a work project and an educational program. The girls worked half a day and attended class half a day. Divided into 2 groups, one worked in the morning and went to class in the afternoon while the other group reversed the schedule.

Their work project was making tennis nets, which were then sent to recreation projects. Classes were tailored to the level the girls had attained. At least one girl finished her 8th-grade level and received a diploma so she was eligible for high school. Others finished high school credits and became eligible for college.

NYA Camp at Zarah KS 1937

In the summer the number of girls attending was expanded by adding movable buildings on the grounds since heat was no longer needed. Even a permanent building some distance from the lodge was put to use.

It was a sizable building with screened-in porch on two sides, large enough to accommodate ten beds. This proved to be a place the girls vied to be assigned to. I was assigned as counselor there. It gave us some interesting experiences.

There was a small stream we hopped across between us and the lodge. Also the largest bur oak tree I’ve ever seen. Its base had a hole large enough for the girls to crawl into it. Its great limbs arched up and out and down creating an outdoor ‘room’ very near our cabin.

nya camp and Bertha

Bertha McGhee is the short woman in the back row. This is the NYA camp at Zarah, Kansas. I’m guessing that these are the instructors.

Janet Duncan provide this information about her parents who were instructors at the camp. “My father, Alden Krider, is on the right end of the back row and my mother, Peggy Bacon Krider, is in front of him, the right end of the first row. He was the arts & crafts director and she taught arts & crafts which I know included making tennis nets, book binding, pottery and marionettes.

They also worked at Camp Bide-a-Wee near Wichita, and I haven’t found anything about it yet. I know they taught marionette-making there and that the girls made puppets and wrote a play to perform about Joe Lewis, the new heavyweight boxing champ. My father also did an oil painting for Miss Laughlin (the KS NYA Director) about the work of the NYA which is now in the National Archives.”

More About the Big Tree

One very special 4th of July came while we were there.  Some time after we moved into it we began to see granddaddy longlegs on the window ledges and even on our beds.  We tried to think how to be rid of them.  Fly spray didn’t seem to bother them.  Then one of the girls found where they were coming from: the hollow of the big oak tree.  They tried taking water from the stream and dashing it on them.  It didn’t seem to phase them.  It was the 4th of July so we had no work or classes that day.  Then one girl said “We could burn them out.  Put paper into the hollow and set it on fire.”

One girl ran to ask permission, while the others began gathering papers.  The girl came back with the report that “They guessed it would be all right,” so the papers were stuffed in and lighted.  It was an effective end to the daddy longlegs but it wasn’t the end of our problems, for soon we saw smoke coming out of the limbs high up in the oak tree.  We were dismayed!  Then I thought of the club grounds caretaker who lived next to us to the south.  We went to him, told him what we had done and asked his advice.  How happy we were when he said that if we followed his instructions we would have done the tree a service rather than destruction.          

He said we would simply prepare mud and spread it both inside the hollow and up the tree wherever we saw smoke coming out. The mud patches on the outside would stop the circulation of air so the fire and the mud plaster within would help heal the rotting hole. We worked all day. The girls climbed into the tree until every smoking spot was closed with mud and at least for the remaining years we spent at the site the tree showed no ill effects of our project to keep granddaddy longlegs out of our cabin.         

So remember, if you need to mend a wound on a tree, you don’t have to have some expensive paste.  Common mud-dirt and water mixed to a paste consistency placed over wound worked really well!!

This is the last of the A to Z Blog Challenge for April 2020. If you missed any of the earlier posts, there’s a list at that link.

The Youngest Cousins – Memories

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martin cousins in redding

Front row: The youngest cousins: Brenda, Karen, Raymond, Bonnie, Vickie, Cindy, Lori. Back row: Older cousins: Tommy, Susan, Sharon, Marilyn, Owen and Ginger.

 

Cousin Lori from California started the memory sharing:

Martin cousins, I have so many fond memories of my Kansas summers with each of you. It felt like being in a foreign country compared to my California life. Grandma’s toy cupboard in her kitchen, the smell of her basement, staring for hours at her button collection, Grandpa taking me to ride the train, the lightening bugs, chiggers, the shrill of the locust at night, swimming in ponds, gooseberries, the Clyde Martin’s zip lines across their creeks (which my mother wouldn’t like me enjoy), Aunt Zella’s steaks the size of the plate and the warm milk from the cow (ewww), peanuts in my coke at the Madison drug store, I could go on and on mentioning all my memories. Thanks for the memories guys.

Karen added hers:

  I didn’t remember that you came to visit when we had that zip line–I don’t know what my folks were thinking to let Owen rig that up! I remember Grandma’s toy cupboard in the kitchen and being fascinated by the button collection and the salt and pepper shaker collection. I hadn’t thought about so much of what we took for granted in Kansas being foreign to you.
gail howard button collection

Family reunion – seeing the button collection brings back memories.

Lori responded, “We don’t have a lot of those things I mentioned above in CA and I didn’t grow up in a rural farm area. Plus we don’t do tornados. Our disaster of “choice” is an earthquake. Although you seem to love fracking so we are sharing with you.”

Karen added, “I guess it’s sort of like me not realizing the wind didn’t blow all the time until I visited the east coast in my twenties.”

Virginia remembered, “When I stayed with Grandma one year while I was in college, I was in the bedroom with one of the button wall hangings. I loved examining all the unique buttons. I think Vickie brought them to a reunion in the 1990s.”

Bonnie added,  “I loved Grandma’s salt and pepper collection. Who has that these days? I remember spending a lot of time looking at those shakers. Lori, I had so much fun when you stayed at the farm. Great memories! I have the book of Grimm’s fairy tales.”

Cindy joined the discussion,”I too was fascinated by grandma’s salt and pepper collection, so I started my own. Picked up my 1st pair at a garage sale for 25 cents and all who’ve ever collected know what happened…., 200 pairs later. But I don’t know who got the Martin collection. The item I received and treasure was the old secretary.
Victorian secretary

The secretary sits next to the fireplace in Cindy’s home.

Lori also remembered, “I loved that your bedroom was the attic, Bonnie. I asked my dad if I could live in our attic. And your wringer washer was so foreign, but cool. And the phone — one ring for this family, two rings for that family.

More Photos of the Martin Cousins

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To get your cousins sharing their memories and pictures, start a Facebook cousins group and invite all your cousins. Share your photos and stories to get everyone started dredging up their own memories.
If you need tips for starting a Facebook group, check out my blog post on Collect Family History From Your Living Relatives.

 

 

 

X Marks the Spot

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I’d love for this map to have some Xs on it to indicate exactly where my Irish ancestors lived. Thanks to DNA testing, at least it shows the general regions that I’m likely to find my great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. Now, it is up to me to identify these ancestors and put an X on the map for their place of birth.

Irish Population Report - 23andMe Oct 2019

In our family tree, we have that our 4th great-grandfather DAVID KENNEDY was born
in 1752 in County Monaghan, Ireland. He died on the 17th December 1840 in Portersville, Butler, Pennsylvania, USA. In a family story, it said the Kennedys came from Donegal so perhaps the family moved after he was born.

In looking at the top 10 regions shown by 23 & Me, County Monaghan didn’t even make the list. Of course, the whole of Ireland is shades of blue indicating stronger or weaker evidence of ancestry over the past 200 years. The Kennedy DNA is reaching back 250 years so maybe it’s harder to trace that far back.

David Kennedy’s wife, JANE GREACEN, was born in 1757 in Eyrecourt, Ireland. “Eyrecourt, historically known as Donanaghta, is a village in County Galway, Ireland.” Both of her parents died in County Monaghan.

I don’t have a county identified for John Dunn, only that he was born in Ireland in 1755.

I have Catherine Gibson as being born in Ireland. She married James Donnell who seems to be of Scottish descent. She died in Kentucky in 1784.

It looks like I have a lot of work to do before I can put Xs on my map of Ireland. It might be easier if these Irish ancestors weren’t so far back in the tree. Sigh.

mcghee martin family tree

Mcghee & Martin family tree

William Buckland’s Will

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Finding a will gives a glimpse into the life of an early ancestor. In the case of this will (my 6th great-grandfather), it gives me the married names of his daughters. That allowed me to find more about them and their descendants, which will help me connect to more DNA cousins.

It sheds light on what property he owned. Now I can look at very old maps of Hartford, CT to see if they have the Pine Swamp and the Indian Fort marked on them. The land was apportioned to the sons, while the daughters received money possibly intended as doweries. I have no idea what 35 pounds would be in today’s dollars.

LOCMapofPioneerHartford

Library of Congress – map of pioneer Hartford, CT

The old spellings are intriguing. Loe = low, ye = the, and the symbol next to the numbers is the British pound since this is a Colonial-era will. The ages of the 4 youngest children are included. I need to look further into the names of the witnesses as 2 of them are Bucklands so possibly brothers, cousins, or uncles of William.

quill pen ink pixabay

Will of William Buckland III

Name: William Buckland
Location: Hartford
Date of Will: 9 December 1724
Died: 12 December 1724.
Inventory taken by Timothy Cowles and Charles Buckland. Will dated 9 December 1724.

I, William Buckland of Hartford, do make this my last will and testament: I give to Elizabeth Buckland, my wife, 1-3 part of my estate during her life. I give to my son William Buckland 3 acres of upland butted west on John Forbes’s heirs and Obadiah Wood’s heirs, north and east on ye country road, and south on sd. Forbes; and also half my homelott between ye country road and ye Pine Swamp or ye Indian Fort, that is to say, ye east end of sd. lott; and also a equal part of ye sd. lotts eastward, with ye rest of his brethren.

Item. I give to my sons John Buckland and Jonathan Buckland my dwelling house and barn and half my homelott, that is, the west end of my above sd. lott; and my sons John and Jonathan shall have the choice of 3 acres of meadow land and also that small upland lott butting on ye meadow bank west, and also all the loe land to the west side of ye pond; and the rest of my meadow land equally divided to my three sons.

Item. I give to my daughter Mehetabell Cole £35 in money, of which she has already received the sum of £26-01-00.

Item. I give to my daughter Prudence Easton the sum of £35, of which she hath received £35 already.

Item. I give to my daughter Elizabeth ye sum of £35, to be paid to her at her arrival at ye age of 18 years.

Item. I give to my daughter Ann £35 at 18 years of age.

And my will is that my wife and my son William be executors.

Witness: Samuel Woodbridge, Charles Buckland, Joseph Case. William X Buckland, ls. Court Record, Page 62–5 January, 1724-5: Will exhibited by Elizabeth Buckland and William Buckland, executors. Proven. Page 72–2 March, 1724-5:

John Buckland, 19 years of age, chose his mother, Elizabeth Buckland, to be his guardian. Recog., £100. And this Court appoint Elizabeth Buckland guardian unto her children, Elizabeth, age 15 years, Ann 12 years, and Jonathan, age 9 years.

Source: A DIGEST OF THE EARLY CONNECTICUT PROBATE RECORDS. 1723 to 1729.

The Very Old House

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In researching a Revolutionary War ancestor, Jonathan Buckland, I found that the house he built in 1792 was still standing in Ellington, Connecticut. Wow! The owners in 1992 were interviewed by the Hartford Courant newspaper but the accompanying interior photo too dark to be helpful.

I was glad to read that the owners had faithfully restored the house, even finding period furniture, though the house does have modern appliances. They wanted it to be true to the past but comfortable to live in.

Here’s the rest of the description from the article.

The roof is a little crooked, a door frame is cockeyed, and it looks unmistakably old which is fitting, as the house was built by Jonathan Buckland in 1792. The heart of the house is the old-fashioned “keeping room” once three small, separate rooms. With several walls knocked down, the room is nearly 40 feet long, and it serves, as kitchen, dining room and family room. It is the heart of the house, where the family lives.

Despite its size, the room is cozy and friendly. The 200-year-old fireplace is hung with cast-iron kettles, and beside it is the oven where the Buckland family used to bake. An old-fashioned grain sifter, a wooden yoke used to carry buckets of water and a corn drier are part of the Andersons’ collection of old kitchen utensils. 

“Jonathan Buckland lived to 96 years old, and had many children,” Betsy Anderson said. “They lived with that fireplace, and they cooked in it.” The furniture, upholstered in red, gives the room a cheery feel on a winter’s afternoon. Swags are hung over the small 12-over-12-paned windows. Red geraniums bloom in a copper kettle, originally used to boil clothes., The wide floorboards, though not original, look as though they have always been there. The Andersons have lived in the Buckland house called the Patrick house by many Ellington residents since 1976.

Although it was extensively renovated by prior owners, the Andersons have continued to pour time, energy and money into improving invisible but important items like plumbing and wiring. But their strongest efforts have gone into turning the house back to its original self.

David Ransom, an architectural historian who has studied Connecticut’s old houses, says that there are still hundreds of 18th-century houses in the state. But houses that have been “sensitively treated” like the Anderson house are very rare, he said. More frequently, houses have been extensively altered and remodeled, although Ransom said careful attention and lots of money can usually restore them to authenticity.

After they moved into the house, Clark Anderson, an engineer, ordered 19 custom-made window sashes in the appropriate 18th-century style. It took him more than a year to glaze the windows, each of which had 24 tiny panes. He used old glass with imperfections to simulate the crudely made glass of 200 years ago. He has rewired much of the house, replaced a lot of the plumbing and replastered many walls. Both bathrooms were remodeled. The former living room has been turned into a guestroom dominated by a large four-poster bed, and there is no separate television room. 

I couldn’t resist hunting for the house on Google Earth. From the front, it doesn’t look very large. The side view shows that the house extends back a fair bit. Along the side of the drive is old-style split rail fencing.

Google Earth jonathan buckland house frog hollow road street view

Google Earth front view of the house built by Jonathan Buckland in 1792.

Google Earth jonathan buckland house  frog hollow road side view

Side view from Google Earth of the house.

I also checked out the local tax information on the house where it provided such tidbits as there are 3 fireplaces, a gambrel roof, the exterior is clapboard, and the interior walls are plaster. It is a 1 1/2 story house with 1,690 square feet. Part of the extension at the back is the garage which I’m assuming was added at a later date.

It gave the replacement cost for the house in 2018 as $214,221. From my perspective as a descendant of the original owner, the house is priceless.

Sources

U is for UNKNOWN

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Sad to say, but I have quite a few Unknowns on my family tree. Sometimes I have a first name but not the surname or vice-versa. Unfortunately, there are also the Unknown Unknown where I have neither name and no clue on where to start.

I’m determined for today to take one of these and see what I can figure out. Maybe some new hints have come in on Ancestry or I’ll check on Family Search or an Internet search, just in case. New information is added online all the time and maybe I’ll hit it lucky!

Lost in the forest

Much Later

Well, I’m back and have nothing to show for my efforts. These people will just have to stay lost in the forest. Ancestry kept taking a break so my patience was sorely tried. Then I found myself trying to stir up some clues on the mother-in-law of the paternal grandmother of the wife of my great-uncle.

Amanda Unknown will just have to stay unknown. Ten other trees had no ideas on her either and they are probably more closely related than I am.

Fortunately, a 2nd cousin 1x removed called and we hashed out the first and second marriages of someone on his tree. We successfully attached the right children to their proper fathers. That restored my faith in my research capabilities.

Now, I deserve a break.

T is for TOWER – My Civil War Ancestor

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In tracking my ancestor’s path with the 93rd Indiana Infantry, Company G, I found this account given by Bert King as told to him by his grandfather, Daniel N. King. It is from The Herald, Jasper, Indiana 26 Mar 1977, Sat  •  Page 6.

I’ve broken the narrative into bullet points to show the different locations and battles. I did not change the wording or sequence.

“A history of Company G, 93rd Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry follows: The company organized at New Albany and mustered into the service Sept. 1, 1862.

  • Nov. 9th it moved to Cairo, III., and from thence to Memphis, Tenn.

  • On Nov. 26, the regiment moved from Memphis to Hurricane Creek near Oxford, Miss, and was assigned to the Eighth Division of the 16th Army Corps.

  • Dec. 20, moved to Lagrange Tenn., where the regiment stayed until

  • Jan. 8, then it moved to Corinth and was deployed along the railroad,

  • marched on the 13th of January, moved to Memphis and from thence to Helena, Ark., and thence to Duckport, La., where it was transferred to the 15th Army Corps.

  • At Jackson, the company had its first engagement with the enemy, having three men wounded.

  • It moved to the rear of Vicksburg arriving there May 18, and remained there until June 22.

  • Arrived at Jackson July 10 and entered the city July 17. On the I6th, Capt. Spilman was wounded through the right wrist.

  • Moved to Oak Ridge, Miss., and from thence went on an expedition to Brownsville, Miss.,

  • and on 15 of October had an engagement with the enemy near that place;

  • Nov. 7, marched to Vicksburg, and embarked for Memphis where it remained doing picket and provost duty until Feb. 6, 1864. Several expeditions were made from Memphis,

  • and on June 1, embarked on what was termed the Guntown Expedition.

  • On the 10th of June, met the enemy under General Forrest. Here the company had four men wounded and First Lt. Munier and 24 men captured.”

I won’t follow the rest of the locations as my 2nd great-grandfather was one of the 24 men from Company G captured at Guntown (also called the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads). The 93rd Infantry was under the command of D.C. Thomas of Salem, Indiana. About 150 of the 93rd were captured there. Abraham Tower and the others were sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia where he spent the next 6 months of the war.

When he was paroled from that notorious prison, he weighed less than 80 pounds. He traveled to Missouri to join his wife who thought he had died. She had not heard from him since his capture.

 

Remarkably, Abraham Tower lived into his nineties outliving his wife. He died in 1930.

A._B._Tower_studio_portrait_from_Prague_Okla 1912

Abraham Bates Tower – 1912

I would love to see a better scan of this certificate. Perhaps the Indiana State Archives might have a copy. For now, this not-so-good copy that was in the newspaper will have to do.
Company G, 93rd Indiana certificateCompany G, 93rd Indiana certificate Sat, Mar 26, 1977 – Page 6 · The Herald (Jasper, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

S is for SEWARD Earthquake

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“Our policeman says he thinks he’s the only man in the world who was ever chased up the street by a boxcar,” said Miss Bertha McGhee in telling of the Alaskan, earthquake and tidal wave this year. “It wasn’t even on a track,” she added. “It was atop a wave.” The incident has a note of humor to it now, but Seward, Alaska at the time of the devastating earthquake was a city experiencing crisis.

This account was clipped from The Ottawa Herald – Ottawa, Kansas 17 Sep 1964. Bertha McGhee was my great-aunt. Her mother (my great-grandmother) had arrived ten days earlier for an extended visit. Other family involved in this earthquake were Mr. Sam Davidson (Bertha’s nephew), his wife Shirley, their children Cindy and Julia. Mr. and Mrs. Davidson were house parents for the older group of boys at the Jesse Lee Methodist Children’s Home and Bertha served as a substitute house mother.

Here’s the rest of the story:

“Miss McGhee has been around Seward area for 24 years now and is house mother and supply secretary at the Jesse Lee Home (Methodist). Children come to it from all over Alaska, but mostly from broken homes. They attend public school. “We just furnish their home for them,” Miss McGhee said, “care, clothing, and living. Just as children in any home, they get some training as you have to do that to live together.”

Bertha McGhee and her mother, Viola Matilda McGhee

Bertha McGhee (left) and her mother, Viola Matilda McGhee.

Mrs. Viola Matilda McGhee, 91, had arrived March 17 to visit with her daughter, 10 days before the quake. Miss McGhee and her mother were in the dining room of the Jesse Lee Home with the children when the earthquake occurred. ‘”We have minor tremors frequently,” she said. “When it started, we thought, ‘Well, just another little earthquake,'” It proved, however, to be the longest five minutes and thirty-eight seconds they had ever experienced.

Miss McGhee’s nephew, Sam Davidson, is a house parent and fire marshal at the Home and conducts the fire drill. Because his wife and children were in another building (the youngsters were ill with the flu), he started to leave to go to them. Some of the children wanted to follow, so Davidson told them to file out as in a fire drill, it was quietly snowing at the time. A high school boy slid Mrs. Viola McGhee’s chair over to the door, and Davidson picked her up and carried her outdoors, again seating her in the chair. “It shook longer than it took us to get out,” Mrs. McGhee recalled. “Them that could stand good couldn’t hardly stand up.”

card from jesse lee home fb page

The Jesse Lee Home has a Facebook page with this graphic.

As soon as it was quiet, some of the group went back into the building to obtain quilts and coats for warmth. They stayed in cars and on a bus for the remainder of the night, parking around the outer rim of the circle driveway of the home. Other persons seeking higher ground joined them until the driveway was a ring of cars. After the night spent in cars and buses watching the holocaust and experiencing the harder-than-usual aftershocks which lasted a matter of second, those from the Jesse Lee Home went to the schoolhouse for breakfast. “During the night,” Miss McGhee explained, “our superintendent had gone with other people who were out with Civil Defense to set up a place for us to have breakfast the next morning at the schoolhouse.”

Friends invited Miss McGhee and her mother to stay in their home until they could return to the Jesse Lee Home. Through the day on Saturday the children stayed at the bus and at the superintendent’s house. That night they went to the Air Force recreation building to be housed. However, they were awakened in the middle of the night for a tidal wave alert as a wave from outside was coming into the bay. They were taken to the high school overnight and for breakfast the next morning. Then they returned to the Air Force recreation center to stay until returning to the Jesse Lee Home.

In the dining hall of the Jesse Lee Home, the earthquake had not even caused a glass of milk to tip over. But in the kitchen of the home, dishes had fallen from the cupboard and were broken. Heavy stoves with double ovens and a refrigerator had been moved. A large cement chimney in the kitchen that came up from the furnace was now slanted at a 30-degree angle. It did not fall but apparently acted as a battering ram. It had to be taken down, and steel stacks were put up in its place. After two weeks the Jesse Lee Home was again in use.”

Bertha and her mother rented a small home nearby as the girls’ dorm at the Home was damaged in the earthquake. Just seven months later, another disaster hit them when 91-year-old Viola Matilda fell in the kitchen suffering a broken hip. She was hospitalized but died the day after Christmas 1964.

I wonder about the possibility of osteoporosis which sometimes results in the hip breaking thus causing a fall. No matter what the sequence, the broken hip was too much for her and resulted in her death. She was buried in Robbins Cemetery near Tyro, Kansas.

Sources

  • The Ottawa Herald – Ottawa, Kansas, 06 Apr 1964, Mon • Page 8
  • The Ottawa Herald – Ottawa, Kansas 17 Sep 1964, Thu  •  Page 8.
  • The Ottawa Herald – Ottawa, Kansas, 17 Nov 1964, Tue • Page 10
  • The Ottawa Herald – Ottawa, Kansas, 29 Dec 1964, Tue • Page 8

 

Q is for QUEST

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family tree necklace

I’m on a quest to carry out my mother’s wishes to preserve our family history. When I started this quest, I had no idea how much of a challenge it would prove to be. One never finishes.

There is always one more family story to find, one more missing relative to track down, and one more mystery photo to identify. Some of these will never be solved as they are lost from current family memories or the paper records have been destroyed over the years. It might have been a courthouse fire or an overzealous clearing out by a relative who thought no one will want this old stuff. It’s hard to accept that it is gone and never to be restored.

Here’s what I’ve been able to discover this month and assemble for future generations to access. The A to Z Blog Challenge gave me the incentive to dig a little deeper for new information and to coordinate bits and pieces to form a more coherent profile of various ancestors.

E is for Emporia Mystery Photos

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I’ve received a further batch of photos from my Ellison distant cousin. We first connected through our both taking the Ancestry DNA test. We are working together trying to solve the mystery of who these shared ancestors in the unlabeled vintage pictures might be.

The ones I’m sharing today are all from studios in Emporia or Eureka, Kansas. I’ll share this in the Kansas History Geeks group on Facebook and send it to the historical societies in Greenwood and Lyon Counties. Who knows? Someone might recognize their great-grandparents or have a photo with these same people in it.


Just for fun, I ran the photo through the automatic colorizing offered on the Family Search website. It gives an added dimension to the people but didn’t help me in identifying them.

Who I Think They Are

The Ellisons and the Martins come together on my family tree when Sarah Anne Ellison married Charles Coleman Martin in 1854 in Knox County, Illinois. They came to Kansas Territory around 1860. Their fourth son, Francis Marion (Frank) Martin, was born in Emporia, Kansas in 1868 and their last child, Cora Gozena (Grace) Martin was born in Madison, Kansas in 1875.

Martin or Skaggs?

Since these photos are in the possession of a descendant of their daughter, Effie Martin Skaggs, it seems likely that the Emporia and Eureka photos could be either Martins or Skaggs. Siblings of Henry Talbot Skaggs who lived in the Emporia area would have sent photos to him in Oregon or Effie’s Martin siblings likewise would have sent photos. The photos mailed to them would have been 1890 or later. They could also be family photos prior to 1890 that they took with them when they moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Let’s Start With One Photo

The woman below might be a mother of Effie or of Henry.

  • Effie’s mother, Sarah Ellison Martin, died in 1887 in Madison, Kansas.
  • Henry’s mother, Rebecca Osborne Skaggs, died in 1900, possibly in Missouri. There’s a small possibility that she would have a photo taken in Kansas while there on a visit.
  • It’s possible that a picture of an aunt might have been sent from the Emporia area out to Effie and Henry in Oregon also.
  • Effie’s aunts: Minerva Ellison Redmon 1846-1921 (in Greenwood County, KS in 1886, later lived in ILL), Elizabeth Ellison Piper 1838 – 1917 (in Missouri), Mary J. Ellison Andrews 1837 – 1912 (in Abingdon, ILL)
  • Henry’s aunts: Mary Ann Skaggs Schwartz 1851 – 1927 (in Missouri), Martha Elizabeth Mattie Skaggs 1865 – 1929 (unsure of location)

ellison skaggs 20, older woman

I need to research the dress style to pin down the time frame for this photo. My first guess would be around 1890. I’ll also look into the years that these photo studios were doing business in Emporia. Here’s some information on F.A. Trader that gives 1887 as the start of his business in Emporia. That’s a valuable clue for this picture. The deep-black dress might indicate a widow in mourning.

The rest of the photos will be examined in-depth in future posts. One was from L.S. Page  which did business in Emporia from 1873 to 1899.