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.

The Youngest Cousins – Memories


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.




A is for Almost Drowned


Gail McGhee and Clyde Martin married at the end of WWII. It was a struggle for the young couple who had 4 children over the next 6 years.

cylde and cindy

Little Cindy and her father, Clyde Martin.

It helped when Gail’s parents rented “the little house” to them, though it must have been quite a squeeze for a family of six. The house was fairly basic and had a few cinder blocks for the front step.

Rental house - owned by Clarence McGhee in 1951

The little house that the Martins rented from the McGhee.

Here’s the Story in Gail Martin’s Own Words

“My husband and I with our four children were living 3 miles northwest of Madison in northern Greenwood County, Kansas in the summer of 1951. We had never had to worry about the river, as it was a good half-mile away. But in 1951, after several days of steady rain, the Verdigris river became fuller than ever before.

While we were asleep the river started backing up every creek and stream that normally flowed into it. When our youngest woke up in her baby bed and began to cry at the sight of water in our bedroom, she woke us up. What a shock it was to swing my warm feet into cold, muddy, river water.

The river had silently backed up the tiny stream nearby and overflowed everywhere. It had slowly crept into our back porch on the ground level, then up higher and higher above the two cement block high foundation, before spreading its dirty mess into our house.

We waded around through the house trying to put everything up high on cabinets, the sink, and the stove because they were already standing in two feet of water.

When we first discovered the situation, the water in the county road was already three feet deep, so all we could do was watch the water rise higher and higher to the door handles of our car, parked in the driveway.

Our children, Owen, Susan, Ginger, and the baby, Cindy, were wild with the excitement of actually ‘wading’ in the house until they saw the rabbit hutches had tipped over into the water drowning their beloved pets. We never had swift water, so I think my terror came from the silence as the water just steadily flowed backward, rising higher all the time.

My brother-in-law, Norman Harlan, waded in from the shallowest west side and helped carry the children to safety. Our toddler ran out to jump into his arms and not being able to tell where the floor ended, she stepped off into the water and would have sunk if he hadn’t been quick to grab her.

I’ll never forget the beautiful breakfast my sister, Melba, had ready when my bedraggled, wet family arrived on her doorstep.


Gail’s sister, Melba and Melba’s husband, Norman Harlan. Their children – Vicki, Tim & Bob.

Of course, the rain did quit, the water went slowly away and we were left to clean out the mud and haul away what couldn’t be saved. Our children held a quiet funeral and mass burial of their pets.

To this day, some of our furniture has knee-high watermarks, sad reminders of what can happen while you sleep.”

flood madison 1951

The Emporia Gazette Emporia, Kansas 26 Jul 1951, Thu • Page 9

More memories of the Flood of 1951 and memories by Madison residents of the flood.

Women’s History Month – Quilter


On both sides of our family, generations of women quilted. Maybe in pioneer times, it served to use the pieces from damaged, worn clothing made from wool or flax while turning it into a warm cover for the bed. Once it turned dark outside, the wife and daughters would stitch pieces together as they sat by the fireside.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, it was Mom, Grandmother, and various aunts keeping the craft alive. They had more leisure time and often worked with store-bought materials and intricate patterns.

Cora Martin_roxio

Cora Joy Martin

Grandmother Cora Martin set an ambitious goal for herself to make a quilt for each grandchild to have when they married and a woven rag rug too. Here’s my Cousin Vicki with her quilt.

Each one was different. My sister, Karen’s, quilt from Grandma Cora was like a nine-patch quilt with postage-stamp-sized pieces within each one. I think for this one, our grandmother was able to use many of her fabric scraps saved over her many years of sewing.



Women’s History Month – Nearly Forgotten


Ancestor of the Week:  Marie Kennedy and Helen Martin
Prompt of the Week: 52 Ancestors week 12 – Nearly Forgotten

My great-grandmother, Marie Kennedy Joy, sent a keepsake to her granddaughter, Helen Martin Hunnicutt in California many years ago. It was a pen point that Marie estimated as being 140 years old. She wrote that it belonged to Helen’s great-great granddad.

David Kennedy_Marie Joy_Pen Point_Ireland_Dinnegal

The gold pen point and the letter is in the possession of Helen Martin Hunnicutt’s daughter, my cousin Lori. So, we are talking about our 3x great-grandfather. I sure wish that Marie had included his name. It could be Edward Kennedy, but he was born in Pennsylvania.  Edward’s father was born in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Our 3rd great-grandfather – Edward Kennedy
Born – 10 OCT 1789 • Philadelphia, Delaware, Pennsylvania.
Died – 24 MAR 1864 • Muddycreek Township, Butler, Pennsylvania

Our 4th great-grandfather is DAVID KENNEDY.
Born – 1752 • Monaghan Co., Ireland
Died – 17 DEC 1840 • Portersville, Butler, Pennsylvania, USA

Then I puzzled over the phrase “who came from Dinnegal.” I looked at the list of villages in Ireland, but there was no Dinnegal. I knew there was a County Donegal so I looked for information on that county. It said the Ulster-Scots called it Dinnygal. That fits, as I knew the Kennedys were Ulster-Scots or Scots Irish as Americans usually say.


Marie and Alfred Joy with their grandchildren. I’m not sure which one is Helen. I think the baby is my dad, Clyde Martin. About 1924 or 1925.

The 1942 date next to Marie Kennedy Joy’s name is when she sent the heirloom to her granddaughter. She died in 1945. Helen Martin Honeycutt died in 1989, so perhaps the 1981 date is when she gave this to her daughter.

I liked the last part where she said Helen’s great-great granddad ate potatoes, “skins and all.” I’m guessing that in the 1940s everyone peeled their potatoes. Now for higher fiber, it’s not uncommon or considered low-class to eat potatoes with their skins on.

Here’s a photo gallery of Marie Kennedy Joy

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Amy Johnson Crow challenges genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” This is week 12 of the 2020 challenge.


Women’s History Month – Cordelia Jane Stone


My great-grandmother, Cordelia Jane STONE, was born on March 4, 1865, in St Joseph, Missouri. Her father, Lorenzo Dow Stone, was 31, and her mother, Martha Ann Carrol, was 28. Cordelia was the second of seven children. Her father was a farmer.

She spent most of her childhood in Washington, Dekalb County, Missouri. By 1884, the family was living three miles north of Virgil in Greenwood County, Kansas. Sadly, her younger brother died that year.

Cordelia Jane Stone Martin topaz gigapixel (2)

Cordelia Jane Stone Martin (photo courtesy of Barbara Presnall)

She married John Thomas MARTIN on August 14, 1888, in Greenwood, Kansas. In 1895, the Stone family mourned the death of Cordelia’s younger sister. Ora Modena Stone died of pneumonia at age 16.

This 1896 news clipping gives a little insight into John and Cordelia’s life eight years into their marriage. It is written by a former teacher of hers.

John Martin family praised 1896John Martin family praised 1896 Fri, Jan 31, 1896 – 8 · The Leader (Virgil, Kansas) ·
John and Cordelia Martin’s children were:

In 1900, Cordelia lost another sibling when her brother, William Stone, committed suicide, leaving behind a wife and two children.

John martin and wife

Cordelia Jane Stone and her husband, John Thomas Martin. I’m guessing the date to be between 1900 and 1910.

The Martins moved to Madison in 1919 and lived in town until 1926.   Both are members of the Madison Methodist church.   For several years Mr. Martin was superintendent of the Sunday school.   Mr. Martin is a member of the Woodmen lodge and of the Grange and is a justice of the peace–but that job doesn’t bring much business, he says.   They lived for a few years on a farm in the Prairie Belle school district, southeast of Madison, and there he was a member of the school board.   He is a Democrat–but proud of the fact that he and Mrs. Martin voted for Hoover.

The Martins have three sons and one daughter.   A. L. Martin lives on the home farm in the Prairie Belle neighborhood and C. L. and Robert Martin live in the same neighborhood.   The daughter, Mrs. Faye Halligan, lives in Madison.   There are 13 grandchildren and every Christmas the entire family gathers at one of the homes to celebrate the day.”    (Madison newspaper clipping – November 19, 1931)

Cordelia died on April 20, 1946, in Madison, Kansas, at the age of 81, and was buried there.

Away in the Army


Ancestor of the Week: Owen Lee Martin
Prompt of the Week: 52 Ancestors – So Far Away

I was a teenager and then a college student as the Vietnam War ramped up and started taking away the young men in our community. My older brother was the prime age for the draft. Attending college to study engineering should have exempted him but somehow that didn’t work out.

After several times of getting “accidentally” dropped off the exempt list and having to appeal that error to the draft board, he gave up and enlisted. We laughed at the photos he sent us from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. That army haircut was terrible.

Getting through basic training was tough and at one point he ended up in the hospital there. He’d gotten an infected blister from those awful long marches in stiff boots. A number of times, the family drove from Kansas over to Missouri to bring Owen home for weekend leave. It didn’t give him much time to relax and see his friends, but he made the most of being away from the Army. Returning to Missouri (which he pronounced “misery), must have been so hard for him.


Owen Martin – U.S. Army (Vietnam War era)

The family worried, the same as families all across the country did, that their loved one would end up in the jungle warfare of Vietnam. Two of our cousins who were in the Kansas National Guard were sent there. Other people we knew ended up dying in Vietnam and one returned blind from a booby trap in a tunnel.

With a sigh of relief, the family heard the news that Owen was assigned to Germany. So far away, but sounding so safe compared to Vietnam. Long months would go by and many letters were sent. The family bought a small reel-to-reel tape recorder to send messages to Owen. A duplicate recorder was sent to him so he could listen to the tapes of the family news, then tape over them and return the tape with his own messages. Too bad that it didn’t occur to us or were too thrifty to get additional tapes and save the messages.

The letter below was to his little sister back in Kansas.

owen letter to shannon from germany

Owen was assigned mail duty which sure beat toting a gun or repairing engines on army trucks or peeling endless potatoes in the mess. Since he was assigned regular hours, he was able to take a job in the evening to make a little extra money. He ran the projector in a movie theater.

Homesickness and loneliness plagued the young soldiers. Luckily, Owen struck up a friendship with some great guys. One was married and lived in an apartment off the base. That gave Owen time away from the military and held the loneliness at bay.

Owen gave the little dachshund to his friends in appreciation. Years later, he got in touch with this buddy who now lives in Florida. Our sister, Susan, was able to track him down on Facebook. He sent these photos to Owen a few years ago.

So, here’s one last photo of my brother in Germany, so far away. He was able to take one short trip to the Netherlands while he was stationed in Europe. I don’t remember seeing any photos from that excursion though.

Owen Martin with a friend in Germany_edited-1

I don’t know the story behind this picture. Looks like they were on leave and sightseeing someplace–Black Forest?

Eventually, his enlistment was over and he was able to return to college.

Amy Johnson Crow challenges genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” This is week 5 of the 2020 challenge.


The Heirloom Wedding Dress


Ancestor of the Week: Cora Joy and her great-grandmother, Eleanor Dunn Rosebaugh
Prompt of the Week: Week 1 – Fresh Start

I thought about resolving in the New Year to follow a plan and approach the family history in an organized fashion. Right away, that was shoved aside in pursuit of a shiny object when a first cousin, Lorna Stafford Geist, brought out some family heirlooms she had in her care.

dress made by rosebaugh 3

My cousin’s photo of a dress she has

We debated the identity of the seamstress who made this beautiful dress in 1840. Was it the same dress worn by our grandmother, Cora Joy when she married Charles Lorenzo (Ren) Martin in 1915?

dress made by rosebaugh - label
The label clearly attributes the gown to our Kennedy/Rosebaugh line. I’ve put their names and dates below to help us sort this out.  If this is Cora’s dress, then the label might have been made by her mother, Marie Kennedy. Cora’s great-grandmother would be Eleanor Dunn Rosebaugh.

Transcription of the Label

“Made by great grandmother Rosebaugh

Mrs. Elizabeth Kennedy

Made in 1840

By Grandmother Rosebaugh

Marie Kennedy”


Line of Descent

Eleanor Ellen Dunn 1792-1850
3rd great-grandmother (married George Rosebaugh II)
Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh 1826-1918 (married David Greacen Kennedy)
Daughter of Eleanor Ellen Dunn
Marie C. KENNEDY 1864-1945 (married Alfred Joy)
Daughter of Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh
Cora Myrle Joy 1896-1969 (married Charles Lorenzo Martin)
Daughter of Marie C. KENNEDY
Vivian Martin (married Edward Stafford)
Daughter of Cora Myrle Joy
Lorna Stafford
Daughter of Vivian Martin
Here’s the puzzling part:
  • If the dress was made in 1840 by Eleanor, who was it made for? Maybe her daughter Mary who likely married around that time. Perhaps the dress was passed along to other sisters (Jane and Elizabeth) who married later.
  • A dress from 1840 would be in a completely different style with a very full skirt while the dress Lorna has is slim in silhouette like the decade leading up to the 1920s.
  • How did the 1840 dress get preserved through a wagon trip to Kansas in pre-statehood days and survive to be passed down through 4 more generations? It would currently be 180 years old.
  • Who wrote the inscription? Do we have any samples of Marie Kennedy’s handwriting?

Sample of Marie Kennedy’s handwriting

I had this list of Marie Joy’s siblings and parents that she wrote. It gives us something to compare to the inscription on the dress. Note the curlicue on the capital E and the way she writes the capital M. Also the letter B is open at the bottom of the handwriting example below and you’ll see the same open capital B in the inscription on the gown.

I’m comfortable that we have enough matches to confirm that Marie Kennedy Joy wrote the inscription that goes with the dress.

marie kennedy joy list family dates

List of family members written by Marie Kennedy Joy

Now, let’s compare the two dresses using the photos from my cousin and the studio wedding picture that I have of our grandparents, Cora and Ren Martin. I’ve used the Topaz Gigapixel AI software that I have. It uses artificial intelligence to enlarge photos, adding pixels. I was able to increase the studio photo to 3 MB to see the details better.

Comparing the Two Photos

My cousin’s photo is on the left and the vintage studio photo enlarged with Gigapixel AI software is on the right

I believe the dress that Cousin Lorna has is the 1915 wedding dress of Cora Joy. the beadwork has darkened over the years making it more visible in the 2019 photos.

What confused us was the inscription by Marie Kennedy about 1840 and Great-Grandmother Rosebaugh. Here’s my best guess on that:


This old saying meant that brides should include each of those things in their wedding attire. I believe the inscription is from a much older cotton or linen dress and was attached to Cora’s 1915 wedding dress to satisfy the “something old” part of the saying.

The dress is now 105 years old. My cousin was worried about the care of the dress and how fragile it is. My thinking is the logical place for the dress to receive the preservation and care that it deserves is the local history museum.

A Dream Gone Bust


This story about my father didn’t make it into his book, Clyde Owen Martin: Family Stories of His Life And TimesHere’s what Mom said when I asked about including it, “Let’s leave the Dream Gone Bust out. I think it needs more to it. I wrote it and added the pictures as a sample for one of the Shepherd Center writing assignments, so it was really short. As I read it over it triggers more memories of that time.”

Unspoken perhaps was the feeling that Dad might not want to be reminded of this time of failure.

Clyde Martin farm sale roxio

In Gail Martin’s memory piece, she gave 1948 as the year of the mastitis, but the sale announcement is from 1947.

For some background, here are my sister Karen’s notes on that time, “As a young couple, they started a dairy operation with an Ayrshire herd, only to have that dream dashed when, after a particularly rainy season, mastitis spread through their herd. State health regulations forced them to sell the herd as butcher cattle at a loss.”

You can see from the sale flyer that they sold 33 head of cattle and some of the equipment is listed as “nearly new.”


Clyde Martin with his registered Ayrshire calf – 1946.

Mom’s Memories of

The Dream Gone Bust

In 1983 while writing about the places they had lived over the years, Gail Lee Martin wrote that when she and Clyde married, they lived on a rented farm south of Madison. To be exact, she described it as 4 miles south of Madison, 2 miles east, 1/4 mile south.

The next winter, we moved into the Martin homestead back west 1/2 mile. Dorothy (Clyde’s older sister) and Orville Stafford were still living there, while they were getting their house in town fixed up. Clyde’s folks had retired and moved into town.

We lived there and farmed the home place and had a herd of milk cows. Clyde milked them and we bought several registered Ayrshires to go with the other cows. In the summer, we baled hay for people with Haynes and Marion Redding. They gave the nickname Butch to our son, Owen. 

The winter and spring of 1948 were very wet and mastitis, a dairy disease, got in our herd and we had to sell them as butcher cows. The Ayrshires were separate so we were able to take them to Uncle Jesse’s in Missouri for awhile. Later, we were able to sell them when they didn’t get the disease.

Here are the topics Gail wanted to add to the piece but never did,

“Using milking machines, and the cream separator and the cleaning and reassembling of all the parts. cleaning the cows’ udders and putting on the restraints for the two cows that always wanted to kick.  Learning to help Clyde milk the cows before we got the milking machines. Selling the cream that was picked up each morning by a truck. The big garden space, all those baby chickens that grew into big ones and the grouchy old hens that didn’t want you to get their eggs. More about baling hay for hire with Haynes and Marian. Following in Cora’s footsteps was a hard act to follow.” 

The 1924 Trip to Oregon


At age 57, my great-grandparents took an adventurous trip to the west coast of the United States. They left the plains and the rolling Flint Hills of Greenwood County, Kansas near Madison, on June 4th, 1924 for a two-and-a-half-month excursion with their daughter Faye (Anna Faye, age 22). The original plan was an auto trip of the Martins and a friend. When R. Wolcott canceled, John Thomas Martin and his wife Cordelia Jane (Stone) decided to go by rail.

They sent a card to R. Wolcott (I think this is Rolla Wolcott of Madison). The card was mailed from Tennessee, Colorado, which is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains. It has an elevation of 10,424 feet. The card said they had just passed through the Royal Gorge.

train 1924 - Colorado

 Sun, May 25, 1924 – Page 22 · The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) ·

The Martins were accompanied on the trip by Mrs. Effie Skaggs who was returning to Oregon after a visit to the Martins in Kansas. Effie was John Thomas’ sister. John Martin was the only one of the siblings who did not move to the west coast.

Miss Laura Brenkman went as far as Salt Lake City with them, where she would spend the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Brenkman. (I haven’t been able to figure out how she may relate to the family)

The Oregon trip was for John Thomas Martin to visit his brother, Frank. M. Martin in LeGrande and sister, Grace (Cora Gozena) Payne, and her family in Enterprise, Oregon. Frank made annual trips to Kansas bringing train carloads of apples to sell from his orchard.

John Thomas Martin is listed in the 1925 census as a carpenter and must have done quite well with it to be able to take this much time off and pay the costs for a trip like this.

john martin in oregon

John Thomas Martin in Oregon in 1924

The Hamilton Herald of Kansas reported on Friday, Aug 15, 1924 on page 3 about the trip.

“J. T. Martin and wife and their daughter, Miss Fay, returned home from Oregon Sunday morning, where they spent the summer visiting relatives and seeing the sights. There was a good wheat crop out there and the apple crop is good. They attended the Rose Carnival in Portland. In Portland, they saw a garden in which 700 different kinds of roses were growing. Miss Fay took 13 dozen Kodak pictures while she was in the west and on the trip.”

I found a camera ad that shows the kind of camera used at that time. Perhaps more pictures survive from their adventurous trip. I’ll look further for those. Perhaps the Halligan family has them.
kodak camera sale graphicKodak camera graphic Tue, Jun 24, 1924 – 9 · The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) ·