Shotgun Wedding?

When I discovered and confirmed the identity of my third great-grandparents recently, I was extremely excited. My husband had the fortune of a distant relative on his mother’s side that was a genealogist. Without any effort on his part, we had the history of one side of his mother’s family back to Europe in the 1600’s. So to say that I was elated to have information that went clear back to the early 1800’s for one side of my father’s family was a vast understatement.

Needless to say, I wanted to know more about my third great-grandparents and their family. To start, I wanted to get a complete list of the children that I knew about. Based on the 1850 and 1870 US Census data, Samuel was estimated to be born about 1804, and his wife, Rachael was likely born around 1811. I ignored Adam Neff and the other Neffs from the 1880 Census for now, not knowing if they had any kinship with the Gochenours. Based on ages in the census, the Gochenour children were:

  • Mary C Gochenour – About 1832 – Female
  • Caroline Gochenour – About 1835 – Female
  • Elihu H Gochenour –  About 1838 – Male
  • Luviza Elizabeth Gochenour – About 1840 – Female
  • William A Gochenour – About 1843 – Male
  • Angeline Gochenour – About 1846 – Female
  • John W Gochenour – About 1849 – Male
  • Silas E  Gochenour – About 1852 – Male
  • James J  Gochenour – About 1855 – Male

When I started looking at the ages and birth years of these children, I came to a realization, and did a quick look back at this 1870 US Census:

Luvisa and Georgianna Chrisman 1870

I had set aside the Neff records when I started looking at this, but now I focused in on one person: Mary C Neff. Her age appeared to be 37, which would mean she was likely born in 1832 or 1833. This would put her at an age almost identical to Mary C Gochenour. Perhaps this was coincidence, but what if it wasn’t? What if both Mary G and Mary N were the same person? Could Mary Gochenour have married Adam Neff?

Back to my favorite site for West Virginia vital records I went and looked a while. In the end, I searched under Grooms named Adam and Brides named Mary in Lewis county and hit the jackpot!

Clip Marriage Records Neff and Grochenour

The two records for 1850 are for the pair I was looking for. One record is the marriage license, while the other one is a statement from the minister that married them. Adding  extra credibility, the bride’s father, Samuel, had given consent. The wedding date is August 17, 1850, which means Mary and Adam were married about a month after the census was taken.

Then, I started thinking of the 1870 census data again. Columbia, who I felt was very likely Adam and Mary’s daughter, was 19 at the time. This would put the estimated year of her birth as either 1851…or 1850. That made me wonder more; exactly when did Mary become pregnant?

Shotgun Wedding

“Shotgun Wedding” by wood carver Andy Anderson


How often has a shotgun wedding taken place? While that may be uncertain, the concept of a forced marriage because a girl got “in the family way” has been around for a while. In times when a child being born out of wedlock carried with it not only social stigma, but could even affect (in some places) things like the right of inheritance, there certainly was reason to get the parents to tie the knot before the baby was born. Even then, some people will speculate, as in this, a favorite comeback of mine from “Dear Abby”:

Dear Abby: Our son married a girl when he was in the service. They were married in February and she had an 8 1/2-pound baby girl in August. She said the baby was premature. Can an 8 1/2-pound baby be this premature? —Wanting to Know
Dear Wanting: The baby was on time. The wedding was late. Forget it.

I know I am characterizing myself as Wanting to Know My curiosity is whether or not social pressures might have influenced the timing of this marriage. Legitimacy issues that were prevalent for centuries started waning in the late 20th century. While there may be some places in the world where they still exist, many nowadays hardly raise an eyebrow when a baby comes before a wedding (or without a wedding at all, for that matter). Had Mary been born one hundred or so years later, would it have made any difference in her choice to marry?

To find out when Columbia was born, I was not going to be able to search for birth records in Lewis County. Why? Because Columbia was born before 1853. Why did that make any difference? You see, Lewis County records are only available from 1853 forward. To be thorough, I did look for all sorts of variations in all counties for Columbia, but, as expected, I found nothing.

I was not sure when Columbia died, and whether she was married or not at the time. I did a search in the Lewis County marriage records, and after a few false starts, I found a record for a Corambia V Neff that married a Cornelius V Rollins in 1871. Looking into it further, the parents for the bride were Adam and Mary Neff. Unfortunately, the marriage record did not have a date of birth, so now I turned to a search for a death record for Columbia V Rollins.

While I was able to find a death record, it was a ledger and not a death certificate. It did not list date of birth. So birth record and death record were strikes. Where else could I turn?

Fortunately, I got a hint from Ancestry for a record on FindAGrave. It was there that I found the date of birth:


So, Columbia was born May 6, 1851. This was almost exactly nine months from the date of her parent’s wedding. So, it might not have been a shotgun wedding, but it must have been one heck of a wedding night.

So, some of my curiosity was settled about the Neff family. I still wondered where Adam might be, since by 1870, he was no longer in the household. Had he perhaps been a casualty in the Civil War? It was a question that I would likely have to visit at another time, as my searches for Adam after 1850 have yet to discover a likely match. So, my next goal was to explore the Gouchenour family further to see what else I might be able to find.


My Trek: The Next Generation


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In my last journey into records, I had used information from Fold3 to discover the identity of the father of my great-grandmother, Georgianna Chrisman. Georgianna was named after her father, George Chrisman, who died of Typhoid Fever about six months after joining the Union Army in 1862.

After learning of his fate, I searched the muster records to see if George may have seen some battle prior to his illness. Other than him being present at muster, the only entry prior to his death noted that he was in the hospital due to illness in August. I further looked into it, and Typhoid Fever is usually due to contaminated food or water, though people can also contract it from an infected person. It does not sound like an easy way to die, especially since it appears he was ill for three to four weeks before succumbing to the disease.

I also wanted to fill one gap I had in records from the life of my great-grandmother. I had found census records available for every decade she had been alive except one: the 1880 US Census (since 1890 records were demolished by fire, 1890 would remain a mystery unless I could find state census records). Since she did not marry until 1883, I felt it likely to find her living with her mother and her step-father, Henry Oldaker. I did a search for the Oldakers, and this is what I found:

Clip Oldacre 1880 US Census

So, we have a Henry and Levisa Oldacre listed with several children, but none of them are my great-grandmother. We know Georgianna is alive at this time, and she has a few years before marrying my great-grandfather, so where is she? Was this even the right Henry and Luviza Oldaker?

My searches were turning up nothing regarding my great-grandmother in 1880, so I decided to look into confirming the 1880 US Census record I found really was her mother and stepfather, and then to see if I could trace Luviza’s line back further. Since I could not find out about her daughter Georgianna, maybe I could find out about Luviza’s parents.

I wanted to see if I could find birth records for children born to Henry and Luvisa, to confirm that I had the right group of people for 1880. I ran through my known facts:

  • This Henry and Luviza were living in Lewis County, West Virginia in 1880.
  • My Henry and Luviza were married in 1872 in Lewis County, West Virginia.
  • If this was a correct match, the three older children (Grandison, Mary L., and Sarah M.) would have been Henry’s with another woman or women.
  • If this was a correct match, the two youngest children (Lucy Alice and Wm. Marion) would be children Henry and Luviza had together.

I have a great deal of luck with vital records available through the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, so I went in search of birth records for Lucy Alice and William Marion. I did the search first for Lucy Alice looking for a female with the last name Olda*, using the wildcard search so that both results for “Oldaker” and “Oldacre” would show up. Searching in Lewis County turned up nothing, so I expanded the result to all counties, restricting it to birth records within three years either way of 1875. This time, I got a hit, but not where I expected:


Summary of birth record for Lucy Alice Oldaker

Where was Braxton at? And did they give Louisa’s married name, or her maiden name?

This was not the first time that I had seen a variation of “Louisa” for Luviza. I also knew it was possible that they had used the mother’s married name instead of her maiden name. Braxton County had never hit my radar before. While it was possible Henry and Luviza could have married in Lewis County in 1872, moved to Braxton County, had Lucy Alice in 1874, and then moved back to Lewis County by the time of the 1880 Census, how likely was it? When I looked at a map showing the area around Braxton County, it made a bit more sense.

Braxton County Map

Braxton County is adjacent to Lewis county. This might mean it wasn’t the Oldakers that moved; it was the border. Even if the people moved, it could have been a short distance, and would be a more likely move back and forth than moving across the state and back.

My next step was to see if I could find a birth record for William Marion Oldaker, and see if it might allow me to match the 1880 US Census record without question to my great-great-grandmother and her second husband.

I turned once again to the West Virginia vital records search.


Clip Birth Record Wm M Oldaker

Back in Lewis County, but the record is still inconclusive. What’s my next step?

The birth records for both children showed as likely matches to each other, but there was still nothing I felt tied them with certainty to my great-great-grandmother. So, the birth records didn’t pan out; what about marriage or death records?

This time, I started with William’s death record. The death record had the date of birth as November 21, 1876 in Lewis County. This was slightly different from the birth date I had found of November 22, 1875. I re-checked the West Virginia records to make sure I hadn’t missed something; there was no male Oldaker (or variation of Oldaker) with any first name born in November of 1876 in Lewis County. This made me believe once again, a secondary record had a slight error on it.

The parents’ names gave me some hope:

Clip Parents of Wm OldakerNot only do we have parents both born in Lewis County, but we have the correct spelling of Luviza, and Goechnaur vs. Gochenour. How would we fare with Lucy Alice?

At first, I thought I would have to look for a marriage record for Lucy Alice, but I searched once with her maiden name in case she never married. I found something:

Clip Death Record Lucy Alice Oldaker

My only question – Did Lucy Alice marry another Oldaker, or did she revert to her maiden name after her husband died?

This is from the death record for Lucy Alice Oldaker. The date and county of birth are a match to the birth record found in Braxton County (note that someone did correct the year of birth, but it’s still a year off). We now have a middle name for Henry, and while poor Luviza’s name has once again been mangled, Gochner/Gochenour is similar enough, and since both William and Lucy have death records that point to what appear to be the same set of parents, I feel the evidence points to the fact that they are not only brother and sister, but that their mother is my great-great-grandmother, and they are the group I discovered in the 1880 US Census.

So, I started working backwards again. Luviza’s estimated date of birth was about 1840. I already had records for 1880 and 1870. In 1860, I found Luviza and George “Christman” living in Lewis County. In 1840, the census only shows the head of household and then shows the gender and age of others in the household. My last chance to tie Luviza to her parents would be the 1850 US Census.

It was not easy at first. Searching with Luviza specifically did not turn up any match that seemed plausible. I started playing with spellings, and still did not get what I was looking for. I then decided to strip back information. I looked specifically in the 1850 US Census for someone with the last name of Gouchenour born about 1840 (Luviza’s estimated birth year) in the state of Virginia (this because it was prior to the formation of the state of West Virginia). This time, I got a record that seemed interesting; it was for a Louisa E Geochenour born about 1840 in Lewis County Virginia. The record showed the following family members:

Clip 1850 US Census Gochenour

Adam Neff was listed as part of this household. Who was he? A family member? A farm hand?

The Geochenour family:

  • Samuel Geochenour – 45 – Male – Farmer
  • Rachael Geochenour – 36 – Female
  • Mary C Geochenour – 17 – Female
  • Caroline Geochenour – 14 – Female
  • Elihu H Geochenour –  12 – Male
  • Louisa E Geochenour – 10 – Female
  • William A Geochenour – 7 – Male
  • Angeline Geochenour – 4 – Female
  • John W Geochenour – 11 months – Male

Could I now confirm that Samuel and Rachael were my third great-grandparents? Would I be able to make the link back one more generation on my family tree?

I have so far been unable to find a death record for Luviza. While I found a marriage license from 1856 for her and my two times great-grandfather, George Chrisman, it unfortunately did not list either set of parents. I thought I had struck out, and then I thought of something. Luviza had remarried after George’s death. Would the marriage record for her and Henry Oldaker yield the information I sought?

Again, it wasn’t easy. Searches with both names did not show anything. Searches under the estimated year (between 1870 and 1880) had no results. Once again I stripped back the search, deciding to search marriage records for Henry Olda* as the groom, omitting any name for the bride, and searching for any date in Lewis County. If this did not pan out, I planned to search all counties before setting it aside. Luckily, I got a result, though at first glance, I wasn’t sure if it was right.

The good news was that it showed Henry Oldaker and a bride with the last name of Chrisman. Her first name was listed as *iza. This likely meant that the transcriber had not been able to read the name, so they only put the portion they could make out clearly. At least *iza and Luviza made this a likely match, so this was more good news.

The bad news was that it showed that the marriage record was from 1892, a full twenty years after the wedding was supposed to take place. There was only one way to know for sure; I selected the option to view the record.

When I looked at the record, I breathed a sigh of relief. The clerk who had made entries in the book would sometimes make a squiggle at the top of some numbers (it looked like it might be a method of writing two numbers without lifting the writing instrument). What someone had transcribed as a nine looked to me like a crazy seven; the year listed looked to me to be 1872, a more likely year for the marriage.

When I got to the bride’s name, I started to smile: Luviza E Chrisman. I’m not sure why the person was unsure of the name. I just knew that this was the correct record. So I went to the next page, where the parents’ information would be listed.

The first portion showed both Henry and Luviza were widowed; this confirmed that Henry had been married previously. Henry was born in Lewis County; Luviza in Hardy County (a new piece of information). Henry’s parents were Anthony and Sarah Oldaker. And Luviza’s?

Clip Parents of Luviza Gochenour

Yep! You got it! Saml and Rachel Gochenour! I looked at these names and realized I had just made a trek into the next generation! When I started my journey a few years ago, I didn’t know much beyond my great-grandparents, and in some cases, I didn’t know much beyond my grandparents. Now, here I was, about 200 years back in my family history, back before the Civil War. Could I now use this information and work forward and maybe see if I could find my great-grandmother?

I tried to find an 1860 US Census record for the family, but I was unable to do so. I was mainly looking for this to see which family members might have died, moved out of the home, etc.. I then went to 1870, and found Samuel and Rachel with several of their children. The family list:

  • Samuel Gochenour – 66 – Male – Farmer
  • Rachel Gochenour – 59 – Female – Keeping House
  • Caroline Gochenour – 35 – Female
  • William  Gochenour – 25 – Male – Farm Laborer
  • John  Gochenour – 21 – Male – Farm Laborer
  • Silas E  Gochenour – 18 – Male – Farm Laborer
  • James J  Gochenour – 15 – Male – Farm Laborer
  • Mary C Neff – 39 – Female
  • Columbia Neff – 19 – Female
  • Lavina C Crisman – 30 – Female
  • Gorgia A Crisman – 8 – Female

Wait a minute…Lavina and Gorgia Crisman? Haven’t I seen this record somewhere before?

Luvisa and Georgianna Chrisman 1870

Adam Neff is no longer in the household, but Mary and Columbia Neff now show up. I may want to investigate the Neff family further to see if there is any tie-in to my family.

In the second installment of Off the Beaten Path, I had listed this to show where Luviza and Georgianna were living after the death of George Chrisman. Where are Samuel, Rachel, and Caroline you say? They are at the bottom of the previous page of the 1870 US Census, a page I had neglected to add to the previous post.  This shows I had already determined Samuel and Rachel were Luviza’s parents (DOH!). However, having more records confirming that fact just adds to the confidence in my findings.

After some additional searching, I was able to find what I had set out on a quest for at the beginning of this entry: where my great-grandmother was at the time of the 1880 US Census.

Clip 1880 US Census Gochenour

So, “Georieanna Christman” (once again misspelling made things difficult to locate) was not living with her mother. Instead, she was living with an uncle, who seems to be the person supporting his older, spinster sister and his widowed mother (Samuel died in 1878), as well as his niece. Did Georgianna continue to be supported by the pension for which her step-father was the guardian? I would hope so.

By searching for the gap in census data for my great-grandmother, I not only was able to fill in her whereabouts, I was able to learn more about the early life of my great-great-grandmother, and in turn, discover and confirm information about my three times great-grandparents as well. When I started this particular trek, I did not know it would lead me to the next generation.


A Genealogical Road Map

DNA HelixRecently, both my husband and I decided we would like to take a DNA test to get a better understanding of our respective heritages. Because both of us have had family members that have done testing through, we decided to use their service. We wanted to see if we would match to the family members that had already tested, as well as find out if there were other Ancestry members that could potentially be family matches.

The process was pretty simple. First, you register your test on the Ancestry DNA web site. Then, you spit in a little test tube-like receptacle up to a line. Once you close up the tube, you shake it to mix in a chemical that is in the tube. Then, you put it in the pre-paid envelope, mail it in, and wait.

The-Results-Are-InI was glad to see that Ancestry gave us a notice when they received the test, as well as one about mid-way through the test process, and finally, one when the results were ready. From start to finish, it took us about 4 weeks to get notified that our test results were waiting for us on the Ancestry site. We actually got the email just before Christmas; appropriate since this was our Christmas present to each other.

So, before sharing some of the highlights of our results, I wanted to share some of our expectations, and a few of the questions that each of us had. Kind of like thinking about a road trip, we were thinking about what things we expected to see on these genealogical road maps of ours.

Pam’s Expectations and Questions

My expectations were based on my family lore, and also the names that I have found so far in my family research. Many of the names show origins in the British Isles, so, I felt it likely to see roots in England, Ireland, Wales, and/or Scotland. Family lore also said that I had Native American ancestors on both sides of my family, so my biggest question was how much Native American blood would my test show? Also, neither of my parents ever talked about any nationalities other than the Native American background, so my other real question: what nationalities went into making me?

Bill’s Expectations and Questions

While I really had no clue about the nations that came together to create me, Bill knew a lot more of his. He always said he was a SIGH guy:  Scottish, Irish, German, and Hungarian. The Hungarian side was his father’s; his Dad’s parents had been Hungarian immigrants to the United States. The rest was from his Mom’s side. His questions were more about the proportions of each of his known nationalities. There was also a family lore item he wanted to see whether the test would show as being plausible, or whether it would be nothing but a story.

According to the rumor, Bill’s great-grandfather could not have children. So, with her husband’s permission, the great-grandmother supposedly had slept with, and had children by, multiple men. One of these men was possibly Jewish.

Now, Bill heard about this from one of his aunts, but the information was third hand from his grandmother, who really did not have a good relationship with her mother-in-law. So was this a story made of nothing but spite, or was there a bit of truth to it?

One event did make him wonder. One of his brothers had shown signs of anemia and was taking iron supplements. One day, he passed out while in a store, and had to be taken to ER. The doctor felt it was due to a disease that hits those of Jewish decent more frequently, and had mentioned that if the family had told them he was Jewish, he would have discovered it sooner, Of course, the reaction was “We’re not Jewish.” I’m not sure if this is when the story was originally told, or if this just gave a bit of credibility to the tale. Either way, inquiring minds want to know.

Pam’s Results

  • Great Britain (which includes primarily England, Scotland, and Wales) is a BIG part of my genetic makeup. The estimate is that 58% of my genetic makeup is from Great Britain.
  • Surprise #1 – I am 23% Scandinavian. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark were not places I expected to be shown on my genealogical road map.

With just over 80% of my genetics coming from Great Britain and Scandinavia, it’s no wonder there are red heads in my family.

  • Surprise #2 – Most of my “lower confidence” regions run throughout Europe to the borders of Asia. From the Iberian Peninsula all the way across to the Caucasus makes up most of the rest of my genetic road map. But there were a few other areas that showed very small traces that are mere blips on the map.
  • Surprise #3 – While I am supposed to have Native American ancestors on both sides, my genetic makeup doesn’t show much of it. Less than 1% of my genetic makeup shows as Native American.
  • Surprise #4 – There were two other less than 1% areas on my genetic road map. Both were from Africa. One was North Africa, and the other was the Southeastern Bantu. Now knowing that Africa is supposed to be the cradle of humanity, I figured there might be some trace amount of African blood, but I didn’t necessarily expect to see it from two different regions on the continent.

Bill’s Results

  • He definitely is Scottish, Irish, German, and Hungarian. Ireland, Scotland and Wales was 30% of his genetic makeup. He is 22% Eastern European, which includes Hungary. German was the weakest of the group, with only 5% of his makeup showing in Western Europe.
  • Great Britain is also showing as 21% of his background. Because that includes Scotland, Wales, and England, that could just be more of his Scottish side showing through. There is a chance though, that he could have some English or Welsh blood in the mix.
  • Surprise #1 – Maybe the I and G in SIGH could also stand for…Italy and Greece? 5% of Bill’s background is showing as Southern Europe, which would indicate some ancestry in Italy and/or Greece.
  • Surprise #2 – The I could also stand for…Iberian Peninsula? Another low confidence region, the Iberian Peninsula accounts for 3% of Bill’s genetic road map.
  • Surprise #3 – Some of Bill’s ancestry comes from some cold places. Scandinavia accounts for 3% of his genetics, while 4% is Finland and Northwest Russia. Bill has been in Alaska before, so he has been used to the cold, and cold New York winters were also part of his past, so maybe he has a genetic predisposition to tolerate the cold.
  • Surprise #4 – The Carpathians aren’t the only mountain range that defines Bill’s genealogical borders. The Caucasus region accounts for 7% of Bill’s genetic road map. This was probably the biggest surprise, as this was a higher confidence region, and we did not expect his genetics to go to the borders of Europe and Asia.


Both Bill and I had some confirmation of genetic history; his based on a combination of family lore and names, while mine was mainly based on the family names alone. We both still had some surprises. With my darker hair, complexion, and eyes, I thought for sure I would have more Native American blood than a paltry, less than 1% amount. For Bill, he knew of four countries that contributed to his genetic road map, but the road seems to cover a lot more regions than the SIGH acronym suggests. Both of us have new questions that stem from the revelations of the genetic test. Bill still has one family lore question that remains: was the story of his great-grandmother sleeping around true? We know that it is plausible; many of the countries have Jewish communities, so there is a possibility of a Jewish ancestor. Would that Jewish ancestor be part of a tryst? We might never know for sure. Perhaps by reaching out to some of Bill’s genetic matches on Ancestry, we may find a family link that we never knew existed before. Only time and research will help us prove or disprove the tale.



Off the Beaten Path – Part Two

In my last entry, I was using information found at, discovering new facts about some relatives on my father’s maternal side. is not one of my normal sites for research; I chose to move off the beaten path of sites I had researched over and over again to see if I could pick up new leads on my ancestors.

While it was rewarding to get some insight into the travels of the McCombs and Slaughter families, and somewhat heartbreaking to view the information regarding the deaths of two Slaughter children, I really wanted to see if I could find information about someone I was directly descended from.

I decided to try to find my way a bit farther back on the line of Georgianna, one of my great-grandmothers. I had a little bit of confusing and conflicting information on her from a few different sources.

First off, there is her name. I have seen it as both Georgianna and Georgia Anna. I tend to prefer Georgianna, and in either case, her name was probably the basis for naming my father’s sister, my aunt Georgia.

Secondly, there was some conflicting information in two records I had found. The first was the death certificate of my great-grandmother, where her parent’s names were given:

Parents of Georgianna

So, her father’s first name was not listed, but the last name was shown as Chrisman or Christman. Her mother’s name was listed as Eliza Gouchnour. I tried several times unsuccessfully to find a marriage record to get my great-great-grandfather’s first name, but had no success.

This however, did not match up with some information I found in the 1910 US Census:

Taylors in 1910

So, here we have the mother-in-law of William, which would be Georgianna’s mother, listed as Luveza. The last name of Olaker didn’t phase me as much as it was possible she could have remarried. Luveza to me seemed to be a bit distant from Eliza; only the -za at the end of the name was similar. So, which record was right? Or, was it possible they were both wrong? These are secondary records, after all. It is possible that either the person reporting the information, or the person recording it, could have made a mistake

One more record gave me a bit of a hint about the name. This time, it was from the marriage record for William and Georgianna:

Parent of William and Georgianna

So, Eliza was actually William’s mother, not Georgianna’s. The person reporting the information on the death certificate probably got confused, and who could blame them? A death can be a stressful event, especially for those closest to the person passing.

I had a hard time deciphering the initial for Georgianna’s father, but the mother is listed as L. Chrisman. This tended to confirm Luveza was more likely the correct name for Georgianna’s mother.

However, I will admit that just like some maps, I had neglected to update a change in information, so there was an error on my family tree. I had left Eliza in as the first name for Georgianna’s mother, and so every search I did for quite some time resulted in a dead end. It took a look at a hint given at to get me to make the correction. It was this hint that gave me the idea that it might be time to venture off the beaten path once more.

The hint was for the names of both of Georgianna’s parents. They were listed as George W. Chrisman and Louisa E. Gochenour. Here was another deviation; they listed the name as Louisa, whereas the one record I had found so far listed the name as Luveza. I could at least see more similarity between Louisa/Luveza than I did with Luveza/Eliza.

I could also understand Georgianna’s name a bit more. She was named after her dad. I don’t see girls named after their dads as often, but it does happen. Though my mother went by her middle name, her first name was Billie, and she was named after her dad, Bill (William). I decided to click on George’s record on FamilySearch, to see if there was any other information I could see.

I actually found a piece of information that sparked my interest. They listed military service for George. The record indicated that he had served in 1862 in Company D of the 10th West Virginia Voluntary Infantry. I noticed the fact that only one year was listed. That made me wonder. Did something happen to George in the Civil War? Had he been badly injured, and discharged? Had he been killed in battle?

I decided my first course of action would be to try and find George and Luveza in both the 1860 and the 1870 US Census. This would tell me whether George and Luveza had been married prior to 1860, and whether George had survived the war years long enough to hit another census.

Sure enough, I found George and Luveza in 1860, living in Lewis County, West Virginia:

George and Luvisa Chrisman 1860_edited-1

Of course, the spelling is slightly different, It’s hard to tell if this is Louisa or Luvisa in this case. A case could be made for either.

So, now on to Lewis County, West Virginia in 1870 (the image was light, so I inverted it because I felt it was easier to read):

Luvisa and Georgianna Chrisman 1870

Once again, the name is Luvisa, and daughter Georgianna is listed as Gorgia A.. Sadly, they are not living with George. Instead, it appears that they are living with a male family member (Luvisa’s father, perhaps?), along with several other male relatives. There also seems to be another married (or widowed) female relative with a daughter.

At this point, I started operating on the theory that George died in the Civil War. That meant that Luveza/Luvisa/Louisa was a war widow and entitled to a pension. To search for it, my off the beaten path search went to a resource specializing in military records,

Again, Fold3 is not one of my usual places to search. It has been helpful though. I found information about a cousin of my father’s that was a Prisoner of War in World War II. I also found information about my husband’s great-grandfather, who fought in the Spanish-American War. Up to this point however, I had nothing confirming that any member of my family had served on either side during the Civl War. Family lore says my great-grandfather Taylor was a Confederate soldier, so this would be interesting to confirm that his father-in-law was on the opposing side, since the 10th West Virginia Voluntary Infantry fought for the Union.

In the past, I had tried looking under the name of the soldier, and then wading through piles and piles of documents. This time, I decided that, like my efforts with, I would focus on a specific set of records first. In this case, it was the Widows’ Pension records. I decided to focus only on the last name of ‘Chrisman’ and the search showed 401 records. I saw that I could filter by state as well. I asked it to show me only results from West Virginia, and of the 11 results that popped up, the top one was for George W. Chrisman, Company D, 10th Regiment. I held my breath as I clicked to bring up the record. What would I find?

This was the first page that came up. It was from the middle of the over 100-page document that comprised the application, but this one paragraph spoke volumes:

Georgianna Chrisman as a ward

“I, J. Woofter Clerk of the County Court of the County of Lewis in the State above named do hereby certify that Henry Oldaker who made the within declaration for pension, was on the 8th day of April, 1873, appointed guardian of Georgianna Chrisman Minor Child of George W. Chrisman deceased, as appears on the record of the said Court, and that he is Still the duly legal acting guardian of Said Ward.”

At first, I had wondered if Luviza had died also, since I did not understand why Georgianna would need a guardian if her mother were alive. However, other later searches confirmed that Henry became Luviza’s 2nd husband, which would also have made him Georgianna’s step-father. Remember in 1910 how Luviza was under the name Olaker? That was likely a misspelling of Oldaker, her new married name.

As to George’s military service, it was summed up in a single sentence:

George Chrisman Military Info

The Adjt Gen’l reports that Geo. W. Chrifsman was mustered March 17, 1862, and died at Beverly, Va September 12, 1862 of Typhoid Fever.

So, less than 6 months after joining the Union Army, my great-great-grandfather died of Typhoid. I have yet to see anything that shows whether he saw any battle action.

I have yet to go through all of the pages of the widow’s pension, and I will have to see if Fold3 will have additional service records for George. I did see one thing in the record that I felt I should share, my great-great-grandmother’s signature (witnessed by two people on the records), which puts to rest how she spelled her name.

Signature Luviza Oldaker

So, as you can see, it’s Luviza E. Oldaker.

When researching, you may find that branching off from your usual sources of gathering information may help you in fleshing out research you have already done. Perhaps you may even find new information that, like in this case, gets you farther back into your family tree.

Off the Beaten Path – Part One


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For a while, it seems like I have been spinning my wheels. The adventure has gotten bogged down, and less exciting. While I have been successful in broadening my knowledge of certain family members, the ones I really want to find out more about seem to be quite elusive. After a time, it just seems like I am getting nowhere fast.

Much of my searching has been through sites like and For relatives in Missouri, I have made use of certain state resources, particularly the search for death records. Going farther back, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History has a vital research records search that has been helpful.

To try to make some headway, I decided to venture off to a few sites that I have made limited use of in the past. These sites both do charge after an introductory period, but they also have the ability to link found records directly to, which makes it easy for users of Ancestry’s site to add records not available on it.

So, I decided to go off the beaten path; away from the records I was very familiar with, and toward the unknown. What would I find? Would I find anything? And, would what I found be useful, either in adding information to people I already knew about, or in leading me to previously undiscovered relatives?

My first stop was to Up until recently, my searches had been on names of people only, and the results have been hit or miss. On a recent search for members of my husband’s family though, I found several records, not in the San Francisco papers that I expected, but in a small local paper in Petaluma, California, the Petaluma Argus-Courier.

Dad on Stage

The clipping above is of my father-in-law rehearsing for a local production of “Guys and Dolls”. I was able to find several clippings of Little League pictures of my husband and his brothers (some with their dad as coach), as well as an article that mentioned his grandmother. There were also lots of clippings of activities my in-laws took place in: local theater, square dancing, and cards groups to name a few. It was really nice to get an idea of their life in Petaluma, which was years before I became a part of the family.

So, I decided to apply the results I got for Petaluma to other local areas where family was located. What would I find in other areas?

At first, my searches came up with nothing. Unfortunately, Malden, Missouri and Flint, Michigan didn’t have their papers digitized on, so I struck out on those places. I felt that Nebraska and Arkansas might not yield much, so I decided to try a state where I knew a few relatives lived, but wasn’t sure, since one was a cousin of my father, how much searching for them would reveal.

My father had a cousin, Thurmon Taylor, that lived in Carbondale, Illinois. It turned out that Carbondale did have a local paper, so I decided to do a search for Thurmon. It did not reveal as much as I had hoped. There was a list of property assessments that listed him, and a mention in an article. It did not give me the depth of information I had found for my husband’s family in the Petaluma paper.

I decided to try another line of inquiry. I knew that my father’s family on his mother’s side had often visited Illinois. I thought Carbondale was one of the places they went, so I decided to search the Daily Free Press for ‘McCombs’.

At first, I thought I was going to strike out on this as well. However, I happened to see in the thumbnail of an article the name J. J. McCombs (my great-grandfather perhaps?) and “Mal-” (Malden?), and decided to bring up the article. There, on the Society page, was this brief note:

Weekend in Malden

Bingo! This was definitely my family. I knew Jimmie Ray Slaughter. He was also one of my Dad’s cousins, this time one from his maternal side. When I knew Jimmie and his parents though, they lived in the Detroit suburbs. I had not known they lived in the area of Carbondale, though it made sense why I had heard of trips from Malden to this part of Illinois. His mother was Jessie Rae McCombs, the sister of my grandmother.

I decided that it would be best if I searched for the name “Slaughter” in the Carbondale paper. I got over 1,000 hits. However, most were for the word “slaughter” rather than the name. When I found the name though, I got a better picture of the Slaughters lives in the Carbondale area. Jessie was involved in a few social clubs, including sewing circles, Sunday School groups, and a club with the initials J. U. G., which my guess is that it stood for “Just Us Girls/Gals”. There were several trips by the family or its individuals to Malden, Missouri, and I found a mention of Paducah, Kentucky, and even a longer trip to parts of Texas and Mexico (Jessie’s sister, Donna, lived in Texas).

Most of the articles I found were quite pleasant, but there were two articles that were quite tragic. The first was about their oldest child, Bettie Joe Slaughter.

Possible death of a Slaughter child.

So, their daughter died in a fire that destroyed their home. I cannot imagine the total sense of loss. You not only have lost your possessions; you have lost what is at that time your only child. How heartbreaking that must have been!

This was not the only child they lost however.

Younger brother of the Slaughters that died young.

So, now, their youngest son had smothered to death under the covers of his bed. I still cannot imagine how Uncle James and Aunt Rae would have felt. This was not a story I remember, and usually stories of loss I have found are those that are often kept under wraps by those of the earlier generations. Even my mother never really talked about the death of my younger brother a few days after his birth, even though I know she felt his loss even later in her life.

I would say that a search of local newspapers in areas you know your family has lived has a good possibility of turning up information that may help flesh out the lives of your ancestors. If you happen to be in an area near where your relatives lived, a trip to the local public library may yield information. Otherwise, search online resources to see what you may find.

Memories of My Dad


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My Dad

My Dad

On Monday, I received the news from my brother that our Dad had passed away. This was not unexpected; his health had been declining the past few months, and doctors had recently advised us that there was nothing more they could do medically for him. I am sad that he is no longer with us, but glad that he no longer is suffering.

I have had a lot of thoughts running through my head about my Dad, and wanted to share some of my memories of him.

My Mom may have taught me how to read, but my Dad taught me to love reading

I remember Mom working with me on learning to read when I was young.  I started reading before I was in Kindergarten.  However, when I think of who inspired me to read, it was my Dad.

Other than magazines, I don’t ever recall in my younger days my Mom reading much of anything. Dad, on the other hand, was always reading.  He loved science fiction in particular, and loved Star Trek books.  E. E. “Doc” Smith was a favorite author of his, and he, like me, would read favorite books over and over.

One of the things I remember most though was that Dad was the one to read me bedtime stories.  He had a book called “The Little Lame Prince” that had other stories in it as well.

The book was given to my Dad as a Christmas present by his Aunt Jeanette.

The book was given to my Dad as a Christmas present by his Aunt Jeanette.


I was enchanted when I was little about the stories of the Brownie, and all of the mischief he would get into. Dad made reading come alive for me.

An illustration from the story "Brownie and the Cherry Tree"

An illustration from the story “Brownie and the Cherry Tree”

Thanks to my Dad, I grew up on Star Trek and Godzilla movies

Dad’s love of science fiction extended beyond the page, and I grew up watching a lot of sci-fi with my Dad.  Most of the shows we watched were broadcast by the Detroit TV stations.  WXYZ (channel 7) showed a lot of monster movies, and Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Gamera made regular appearances on our set.  WKBD (channel 50) was the channel to watch for Star Trek, and Dad made sure we were tuned in almost every week.

Dad had a lot of other shows he watched regularly.  Again, most of the shows I can remember watching with him had a sci-fi slant.

  • Twilight Zone
  • The Outer Limits
  • Lost in Space
  • Space 1999
  • Battlestar Galactica

Dad almost wore out our video tape of Top Gun watching one scene over and over

He would start at about 2:48 and watch the multiple plane shots over and over. It amounted to less than a minute of film, but he would watch it for several minutes at a time. I don’t know what he was trying to see, but it was something on which he would really focus .

Dad loved cartoons, especially Yosemite Sam

Dad would watch cartoons with us sometimes. He liked Loony Toons in general, and his favorite was Yosemite Sam.  His all time favorite cartoon was High Diving Hare. He would get a chuckle out of watching Sam fall for every trick Bugs Bunny would play on him.

Dad could do a pretty decent Yosemite Sam impersonation, too.

Dad liked to play games

Times spent with family usually meant some type of game.  When we would go to my Aunt Marion and Uncle Howard’s, Pinochle or Euchre of some other card game was normal.  When we would go to Grandma and Grandpa Newell’s house, the adults would usually play Aggravation. They would play teams with my Mom and Dad against her sisters and their husbands. When we were at Aunt Georgia and Uncle Neil’s, it was usually Tonk.

Dad made this Aggravation board on his Shop Smith Mark V. That shows you how much he liked to play the game.

Dad made this Aggravation board on his Shop Smith Mark V. That shows you how much he liked to play the game.

Games didn’t have to just be indoors. The male pastime in the summer was typically horseshoes. When we were younger (and they were still legal) we used to play Lawn Darts at our house. I can remember playing both football and baseball in our front yard, as well as badminton and volleyball.

Dad waiting his turn at the horseshoe pit.

Dad waiting his turn at the horseshoe pit.

Dad was competitive

Dad I think would have played sports more in high school if not for two things:

  1. He twisted his knee in high school, an injury that gave him trouble on and off throughout his life.
  2. He had Polio in high school, and missed time because of it.

I think part of his liking to play games was part of his competitive nature. There were other competitions as well. When we would go to my Aunt Georgia’s house, he would sometimes get together with my Uncle Neil (and if he was there, his brother, Howard) and do some type of shooting competition.  They would set up a target and take turns at it.

Dad taught my brother and I to fish

Fletcher’s Pond is the name of the place where I remember going one of the first times fishing.  However, it was not the last.  We fished at Crystal Lake on my Uncle Tom’s boat and caught salmon in the Betsie River.  We fished at the pond at Aunt Georgia’s farm.  We fished from our own boat on Mott Lake and Lake Nepessing.

1992 - I still had fun fishing even when I got older.  I never cleaned a fish, but I did bait my own hook and I did take the fish off the hook.

1992 – Using the skills my Dad taught me.

Dad made sure I knew how to cast a line and reel in my catch, and he made me bait the hook as well.

One movie scared my Dad so much as a child, he would not watch it as an adult

While this seems rather tame by movie standards today, this movie scared the heck out of my Dad when it first came out in 1946. To a six-year old child, a murderous disembodied hand was probably extremely scary. As a teenager, I was up watching it one night (a late night movie in the dark), and my Dad came in, took one look at the screen, and retreated without a word. Perhaps a scene like this one brought up those frightening childhood memories:

Dad taught me girls can do the same things boys can

Dad didn’t keep me from doing things just because I was a girl.  I never had any interest in shooting a gun, so he never taught me to shoot, but he did teach me to fish.  I learned to leg wrestle, as did my brother.  I was included when there was a game of football, or baseball.  We played Horse together.  When I first started driving, Dad showed me how to check and maintain my oil and tire pressure, basics that he said any driver should know. I never felt that I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.

Car trips with Dad were fun

Dad was always doing something to keep a car ride entertaining, especially if it were a long ride.  I am not sure if he was the one that came up with the ABC game, but he was always a participant when one started.  My brother and I, if tied and waiting for the last letter, would be waiting for the chance to spot the Zephyr station at Carpenter Road and Saginaw Street.

He had a few standards that he would pull out.  He did a parody of the old Ajax commercial that went like this:

Use Ajax (bom bom)/The foaming beer (ba baba ba ba bom bom)/Floats your guts/Right out your rear (baba baba baba bom)

And, at some point, he would usually sing the last verse of this song, beeping the horn at the last part:

There was also a word game that I believe my cousin Danny introduced to us one Christmas that came up from time to time.  The idea was to start with the first line and have everyone say that line, then continue adding lines.  If you made a mistake, you were out.

  • A big fat hen.
  • A couple of ducks.
  • Three brown bear.
  • Four running hare.
  • Five fat females sitting on a fence.
  • Six Simple Simons sitting on a stump.
  • Seven Sicilian sailors sailing the seven seas.
  • Eight egotistical egoists echoing egotistical ecstasies.
  • Nine Nubian nymphs nimbly nibbling on gnats knuckles and nicotine.

My brother and I added a few more:

  • Ten treacherous tarantulas torturing Turkish troops.
  • Eleven Lebanese lions lurching on luminous llamas.

At one point, I had it up to twenty, but never played that far most of the time, so they are forgotten.

You have to remember, this was before the time of hand-held devices and video players in cars.  We were having fun, and scenes like this rarely, if ever happened:

Dad could sing and play the piano, but he wouldn’t always play/sing the whole song

Growing up, we had an old upright piano.  Dad would often go in and play.  He would never use sheet music, so he would play from memory.  I think though that is why he would only play up to a point.

One of my favorite pieces is this one, which he learned to play in high school:

Dad also played The Moonlight Sonata, The Lord’s Prayer, Cool Clear Water, Yellow Bird, Young Love, and Jailhouse Rock.  I learned the first part of The Moonlight Sonata because it was another favorites piece of mine, and, even though I do not have a piano now, I still have much of my Dad’s sheet music.

Dad was a good dancer

While I am not that great, Dad was a good lead, and though we didn’t have a lot of dances together, this one is the one I will always remember.

1999 - Dad and I dancing at my wedding

1999 – Dad and I dancing at my wedding

I love you Dad!

Three Records; One Life


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In the last week or so, I have been trying to flesh out more of the family of one of my paternal Great-grandfathers, William Henry Taylor.  William Henry, or W H as he is often listed in records, was born in West Virginia.  A few years after marrying my Great-grandmother, they moved to Nebraska.  They moved around over the years, and in earlier blog posts I have detailed the moves.  Eventually, my Great-grandparents settled in Malden, Missouri, where they lived out their remaining years.

What I originally set out to do was to locate the birth record for William Henry Taylor. I knew his birth information from his obituary and his death certificate.  There was a one day discrepancy between the two.  While both showed November, 1857 as the month and year, the obituary listed the day as the 10th, while the death certificate listed it as the 11th.  Which one was correct?

From the death certificate, I also knew the names of both parents:  John C Taylor and Eliza Ann Oldaker.  I hoped I wouldn’t have much difficulty in locating the birth certificate for William Henry.

My research was done on the search site for West Virginia Vital Records.  If you have family from West Virginia, I recommend using this site if you want to find records of birth, marriage, or death.  While most records start in the 1850’s, there are a few counties that go back to the 1790’s, long before West Virginia was declared a state in 1863.

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.  W H was proving to be elusive.  He however, was not the only child of John and Eliza Taylor, and I had more success with some of his siblings.


These are the names of the children of John and Eliza Taylor in birth order (name in bold type means I have found their birth record:

  • Lydia A (have also seen Phoebe A M listed on a record as an alternate name)
  • Benjamin Ison
  • William Henry
  • Joseph Elza
  • Alonzo F
  • Aaron L
  • Luretta A J (have seen Lunetta R as an alternate name)
  • Margarett J
  • John C

This post deals with the youngest sibling I have found:  John C Taylor.

I believe John C was likely named after his father.  I don’t know much about naming traditions yet, but I have seen a lot of children whose names were a combination of their grandparents names (a hint on that I haven’t followed yet shows that my 3x Great-grandfather could be Henry Taylor and I believe William could have been an Oldaker based on other hints I’ve received.

I found John’s birth record quite easily:

The year is 1880.  As you can see, the date of birth is April 8th.

The year is 1880. As you can see, the date of birth is April 8th.

Being this was the beginning of a new decade, the US Census was likely to have a record for baby John, and I was not disappointed.  This was the household on June 12, 1880:


As you can see, the oldest four children, including my Great-grandfather, are no longer living with their parents.  Notice that both mother and child are listed as ill at the time of the census.  I cannot be sure, but it looks like the word listed there might be dysentry - possibly dysentery.  Dropsy is also listed as an illness for the mother.  The older John's sister Catherine is living with them.  Is she there perhaps to help take care of her sick nephew and his mother?

As you can see, the oldest four children, including my Great-grandfather, are no longer living with their parents. Notice that both mother and child are listed as ill at the time of the census. I cannot be sure, but it looks like the word listed there might be dysentry – possibly dysentery. Dropsy is also listed as an illness for the mother. The older John’s sister Catherine is living with them. Is she there perhaps to help take care of her sick nephew and his mother?

Wikipedia lists dysentery as “an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing blood and mucus in the feces with fever, abdominal pain, and rectal tenesmus (a feeling of incomplete defecation), caused by any kind of infection.”  Dropsy is edema or swelling, and could be caused by any number of factors, including diseases of the kidneys or heart.

Especially for such a young child, dysentery could have serious consequences, as the diarrhea could cause dehydration.  And, unfortunately for young John, that was the case:

The death record says the cause of death was not known.  John died on June 16th, just 4 days after the Census was completed.

The death record says the cause of death was not known. John died on June 16th, just 4 days after the Census was completed.

It is sad to see any life cut short.  For this one life, three records are all that we have to show the brief span of time that young John was on this earth.



50 Random Thoughts on my 50th Birthday


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There’s not much in the way of genealogy here; just some random musings, some thoughts about my past, and maybe, a hope or two for the future.

  1. I think a lot of people don’t think about the impact that being a victim of a bully can have on your life.  I can still tell you the name of guy from elementary school, two years older than me that would tease me until I cried.  Even to this day, when stressed, I cry easily.
  2. We often hear about how catty high school girls can be to other girls, but in my high school, I never experienced that.  When I was sixteen, I developed alopecia, and for the next ten years, had a bald spot about the size of a quarter on the back of my head.  Rather than give me a hard time about it, the girls in my school watched out for me, and let me know if my hair needed adjusting to cover over that spot.
  3. I still remember the look on the face of the guy at Junior Achievement that thought it was cute to come up to me and say “Hey Baldy!” at the top of his lungs, trying to be funny.  He didn’t think it was so funny when I grabbed him, and slammed him against the wall.  While I do regret getting angry, the look of fear in his eyes said he probably thought twice before being a smart Aleck again.
  4. The words “I’m sorry” or their equivalent can have such a powerful healing effect.  In my senior year in high school, a girl who had teased me in elementary school admitted she and a friend had been mean to me, but that she wished she hadn’t because I was “so nice”.  Just thinking back to that in a moment when I’m not feeling very positive about myself can lift my spirits in a way that no self-affirmation ever could.  And Brenda, if you ever read this, thank you.  I don’t know if you remember saying it, but I still remember, and it still impacts my life in a positive way.
  5. I may not agree with my brother all the time, but he’s the only one in the world who could convince me to beat up a girl two years older than I was because he’d get in trouble for it (he wasn’t allowed to hit girls).
  6. Never, EVER trust a girl who comes up and randomly starts stirring your hot cocoa while you’re standing there, holding the cup.
  7. The ability to fight might come in handy, but the ability to talk your way out of a fight might save your skin.
  8. Never try to push a car by yourself on an icy hill.
  9. Reading aloud is one of the best gifts you can share with a child.  Thanks, Dad!
  10. If I had ever had grandchildren, I always had wanted to say:   “When I was your age, we didn’t have all these fancy games with their 3-D graphics, and digital sound.  You know what we had?  Pong!  You know what Pong was?  Two lines and a dot!”
  11. The best gift I ever gave myself is learning more about my family tree.
  12. My brother and I once got in trouble because we stayed in the Capitol Theater to watch a second showing of “Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster“.  Mom literally came in and dragged us out.  Years later she asked me why I didn’t come outside on my own to wait for her.  I looked at her and said, “If I had done that, I would have gotten in trouble anyway for being outside on my own.  If I was going to get in trouble anyway, I might as well watch the movie.”

    Smog monster?? Tar monster maybe; methinks they would have needed computer graphics to really make him look like smog.

  13. The first field trip I ever remember taking was in Kindergarten riding the train from Flint to Durand.  I still love to ride trains.
  14. The biggest act of bravery I can remember is when my Mom and I went from Delaware to Virginia and we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  My Mom was very afraid of bridges, and while she didn’t make it all the way across (I drove the last few miles of it), she never showed any signs of panic, and she was able to make it to a vista point on the bridge where we could safely stop.  Many people each year have to be taken off the bridge.

    We were at the southbound side of where the “You are here” marker on this sign was when we stopped. As you can see, Mom made it about three-fourths of the way across, and through both tunnels.

  15. I used to love to listen to my Dad play the piano.  He would only play bits and pieces, but “Bumble Boogie“, “Moonlight Sonata“, “Jailhouse Rock“, and “Young Love” are all songs he would play (and the last two he would sing – he has a great voice too!).
  16. “Young Love” was the song I remember playing on the radio when I kissed my first boyfriend.
  17. One of the things I loved about my Aunt Marion and Uncle Howard’s house was sliding down their stairs.
  18. Roma’s Pizzeria still makes the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.

    Growing up, we lived behind Roma’s. On a good day, you could smell the pizza from my house.

  19. Whenever I visit Flint, I have to eat a Flint Style Coney for one meal, and a Haloburger Supreme Deluxe with cheese and olives (with a side of onion rings) for another.

    Done Flint Style….

    Please view the original picture of the Halo Burger and a good description at
    This is only a QP, but you get the idea….

  20. California drivers do NOT know how to drive in the rain.  It starts to sprinkle and you’d think that they were in a blinding storm.
  21. The thing I miss most about Michigan is having four seasons.  California has only two seasons:  rainy and sunny.
  22. I always said that I grew up on “Star Trek” and Godzilla movies.  I have my Dad to thank for that (Thanks, Dad!).
  23. Dad may have been the one to read to me at night, but Mom taught me how to read (Thanks, Mom!).
  24. The proudest moment I had as a child was as a Kindergartner   I went over to the first grade class and read to them!
  25. Mrs. Darby was my favorite teacher in elementary school.  Besides being my home room teacher in IGE (Individually Guided Education) for three years straight, she taught me two songs:  “Grand Old Flag” and “The Star Spangled Banner”.  Thanks, Mrs. Darby!
  26. I loved playing on the swivel stools in the breakfast nook of my Aunt Jeanette’s house.
  27. I can still remember playing “I’m Going Downtown to Smoke my Pipe”, “Pussy Wants a Corner”, and “Bloody Midnight”.
  28. I never really skipped rope solo until my Aunt Jeanette offered to give me a dollar if I could skip it ten times in a row.  It took a little practice, but I earned that dollar.
  29. I won’t be able to get it this birthday, but I do want a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner.

    Flip-Pal mobile scanner

    I might not get it this year for my birthday, but eventually, I’ll get one.

  30. My brother and I both had the lead in an operetta our parochial school did when we each hit 8th grade.  We also both had someone in the play poke us in the eye accidentally during one performance.
  31. One of the craziest (or stupidest) things I have ever done is swimming in Lake Superior, solo.  Even in the summer, the water is freezing!
  32. I have never been able to get up on a pair of water skis.
  33. The place I think might hold the answer to a mystery for me is Central City, Nebraska.
  34. The place I most want to visit is Malden, Missouri.  I want to see where my great-grandparents and my grandparents lived, and would love to meet some of my second cousins that are still there!
  35. They say “Whenever God closes a door, He opens a window.”  I’ve always wondered what happens if you close the door yourself?
  36. I am probably the only person I know that wrote a letter to a teacher asking for demanding a lower grade.
  37. The only time I cut a class as a senior, I got busted.
  38. I have only once cheated on a test.  It was in Geometry, and I was stuck on a proof.  I only read far enough to get unstuck, but I still know that I didn’t get that A on my own.  I still cannot believe the teacher left the key out on his desk (though to be fair, I did have to read it upside down and backwards in order to get the info).
  39. Being left-handed has its advantages (like the ability to read upside down and backwards).
  40. My first grade teacher had wanted to make me write with my right hand.  My Mom put a stop to that (Thanks, Mom!).
  41. The one class that I took that has helped me through life is typing.  I learned on both a manual and an electric typewriter.  I would recommend typing/keyboarding skills to anyone who is going to use a computer on a regular basis.
  42. The place I would most like to go away on a romantic getaway again is the Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove, California.

    Carriage House

    I’m pretty sure this is the room we were in the last time we stayed.

  43. Our anniversary is coming up (Bill:  hint, hint. 😉 ).
  44. I would love to visit Mackinac Island again.
  45. I love koalas.
  46. The oldest koala I have in my collection was given to me by my Mom for my 16th birthday.
  47. It’s a plush music box, it plays “Waltzing Matilda” and it still works!
  48. It’s amazing to think how many changes have happened in my lifetime.  From typewriters to computers, vinyl records to tapes to discs to MP3s, black and white TV to color, and vacuum tubes to circuitry, things have gotten smaller and faster.
  49. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten bigger and slower. 
  50. I hope to be around in another 50 years so I can do a list of 100 random thoughts.

Oh My, How They’ve Grown!


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I ran across this picture the other day:

Caption:  1900's Donna and Jeanette McCombs early 20th century Because my Aunt Jeanette was born in October of 1900, I'm guessing this was likely taken in 1902.  Donna was born in 1896, so that would have made her about five or six depending on the month in which the portrait was taken.

Caption: 1900’s Donna and Jeanette McCombs early 20th century
Because my Aunt Jeanette was born in October of 1900, I’m guessing this was likely taken in late 1901 or early 1902. Donna was born in 1896, so that would have made her about five at the time.

I had shared a photograph of my grandmother and her sisters in an earlier post.  It’s interesting to look at the two pictures and see the changes in the faces over the years.

Donna, the oldest is at the back of the group.  Jeanette is in the center.  My Grandmother, Mattie Beatrice is on the right, and the youngest, Jessie Rae, is on the left.

Donna, the oldest is at the back of the group. Jeanette is in the center. My Grandmother, Mattie Beatrice is on the right, and the youngest, Jessie Rae, is on the left.

Since Aunt Rae was born in 1905, I’m thinking this one might have been taken around 1908.  That would make Donna about 12, Jeanette about 8, my Grandma about 5, and Aunt Rae about 3.

I know that by 1910, the mother of these girls, Georgia Almeda, had died.  I wonder how “Poppa” fared with raising his “Little Women”.