Thanksgiving Wasn’t Always Turkey


It’s great fun searching out the tidbits in vintage newspapers about our ancestors. Probably it’s more appealing to me as a retired librarian than to the average person. Of course, it’s a lot easier searching for news with my online subscription using keywords. In my mother’s day, she had to visit libraries and struggle with the microfilm reader. The newspapers were not indexed then, so she would have to scan page after page looking for the family names.

Thanksgiving cartoon by John T. McCutcheonThanksgiving cartoon by John T. McCutcheon 28 Nov 1913, Fri The Coffeyville Weekly Journal (Coffeyville, Kansas)

Here are some of my finds relating to Thanksgiving.

Harry Joy - ThanksgivingHarry Joy – Thanksgiving 27 Nov 1946, Wed The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas)

This 1946 Thanksgiving is at the home of my grand-uncle, Harry Joy. I found it interesting to see roast goose, pheasant, and chicken on the menu, but no turkey. It doesn’t give his wife’s name, but it is Mildred, also called Millie.

The guests included their daughter, Harriet, who was married to Theoren Miller. The Joys younger daughter, Orvetta was there also with her husband, Morris Yeager. I’ve no idea about the Morrison and Vaught families and how they connect.

Clyde Martin's parents spend Thanksgiving with them in El Dorado.Clyde Martin’s parents spend Thanksgiving with them in El Dorado. 24 Nov 1959, Tue The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas)

This 1959 Thanksgiving brings my grandparents, Charles Lorenzo and Cora, from Emporia to El Dorado for the holiday meal. Again, it is without turkey. Maybe Dad had been hunting while laid off work, but I don’t remember eating duck, quail, and prairie chicken. I would have been about 9-years-old. How many quail and prairie chickens would it take to feed six children and four adults?

Usually, the company handed out turkeys to the oilfield workers at Thanksgiving. Sometimes they just gave them a bottle of whiskey which probably was a big hit with the young single men, but was a big disappointment to those with family to feed.

Here are some more family stories about Thanksgiving:

1920s Couple


Here’s a photo that I wish I knew more about. What I do know is that the solemn couple is Ed and Bessie Bolte. Bessie is my grandmother’s sister, so one of the Vining siblings. The hairstyle and dress make me think this is from the 1920s. Probably it is in Teterville, Kansas, an oil boomtown where my Vining, McGhee, and Bolte relatives gathered during that era.

Men’s clothing don’t seem to change enough to help with dating photos, but Bessie’s short, crimped hairstyle and short dress help me set this in the 1920s.

I’ve delved into Bessie’s life a few times. You can read more about her in these.

Below is the blog challenge photo that reminded me of the photo in our family album.

Sepia Saturday (20 November 2021)

In the Army Now


In participating in the Sepia Saturday picture challenge, I rummaged about hunting a photo of soldiers. I’d already shared this one of my mother’s cousin. You can read more about Ralph Vining’s fascinating life here.

Ralph on the motorcycle handlebars

It was a good match for the photo prompt that showed a moment of light-hearted camaraderie among soldiers. I’m guessing the Sepia Saturday picture features British soldiers, while my family photo shows American troops. Still, they are both probably from the same era, World War II.

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)

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 – 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)

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)

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
  • Find-A-Grave

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

Ancestors — The Movie


The 52 Ancestors prompt for this week was “should be a movie.” I tried to decide what family story was worthy of becoming a movie. Would it be our great-great-grandfather, James Vining, in the Kansas Cavalry protecting the wagon trains from the Indians in Idaho? I’m picturing the scene where James was wounded when the troop was ambushed by 250 Indians. Another scene would show his brother struggling to reach the fort in a blizzard.

How about Clarence and Ruth, my grandparents, marrying in 1917 then saying farewell as he left on a troop train bound for combat in France in WWI? He was wounded by shrapnel, but survived. Scenes from War Horse come to mind.

Maybe it would be a Oh Pioneers kind of film with ancestors settling on the Kansas prairies. Living in their covered wagon while they built a cabin or sod house. Putting the plow to the virgin prairie land for the first time.

Another topic that would make an exciting movie was my abolitionist ancestors who aided escaping slave on the underground railroad and then helped Kansas become a Free State. There could be scenes showing the border clashes with Missouri. Historic figures, John Brown and Jim Lane would both have a short appearance in the film.

So many more stories come to mind featuring immigrants in a small wooden ship from England, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, our own Rosie the Riveter, the Oklahoma Land Rush… I’ll stop now.

The Bourne Family Plot


It’s not always easy to find where an ancestor was buried. Quite often in colonial and pioneer times, families started their own family plot for burials. Time passed, families moved on or died out, and all that was left was an untended, isolated collection of headstones.

Whit Nuckolls provided this photo of the Bourne Family Cemetery

That’s why I was thrilled when a DNA match contacted me to say he was trying to fix up the Bourne cemetery in Grayson County, Virginia.

Our Family Connection

William Bourne Sr, my 5th great-grandfather was born 23 August 1743 in Louisa County, Colony of Virginia. He married 15-year-old Rosamund Jones in 1765 in Hanover.

New land opened up in 1768 when the Iroquois Nation signed a treaty and white settlement began in land south of the Ohio River and west of the Cumberland mountains. This led to William and Rosa getting a land grant in 1782 in southwest Virginia.

Our line is descended from their daughter, Charity, who was born in Grayson County on 17 November 1775. Charity married John Blair.

William Bourne Sr 1743-1836 – my 5th great-grandfather

Charity Bourne 1775-1860 – Daughter of William Bourne Sr

Rebecca Blair 1801-1879 – Daughter of Charity Bourne

Lorenzo Dow Stone 1833-1917 – Son of Rebecca Blair

Cordelia Jane STONE 1865-1946 – Daughter of Lorenzo Dow Stone

Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin 1891-1968 – Son of Cordelia Jane STONE

My father


The Letter

My name is Stephen Nuckolls and, like you, I am a descendent of William Bourne and Rosa Jones. Today, their homestead and the old family cemetery still stand in present-day Spring Valley in Grayson County. Unfortunately, the cemetery has become overgrown and the stones are in poor condition. We have created a GoFundMe to help maintain the cemetery and we hope you will donate! Stephen Nuckolls

The link for the Bourne Cemetery Go-Fund-Me if family members want to help preserve the graves of our 5th great-grandparents, William and Rosamund Bourne.

I’ve ordered this book from Amazon to learn more about my Bourne ancestors and what life was like for them and other early settlers in Grayson County, Virginia. Click on it to request a sample for your Kindle or to “See Inside the Book.”