Wordless Wednesday – Anna Mae Newell


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Anna Mae Newell

Read more about Anna Mae:

From Paternal to Maternal – A New Path

One Hit Wonders


A Milestone and Some News


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In my email today, I received a note from FamilySearch Indexing.  Apparently, last night, I indexed my 50th batch of information.  Most of the batches that I’ve indexed have been for the 1940 US Census.  I’ve indexed over 1,700 names since I started.  It’s probably not all that much, but every bit counts.

If you don’t believe that, check out the numbers from a few weeks ago on July 2nd:

Over 46,000 people indexed and arbitrated over 10 million records in one day!  Pretty impressive, especially considering that they had set the goal at 5 million.  In 16 hours, we had surpassed that goal.  Yes, I participated that day, and I was able to post 400 names that day, all from the 1940 Census.  So far, I’ve indexed records in 11 states, as well as in the District of Columbia.  Most of the states I have indexed are those in which ancestors of myself or my husband have lived.

If you’re a regular visitor, you may see that the picture of my header has changed.  The person that took the photo is Bobbie Creech, my first cousin, once removed.  He has been a wonderful ally in my genealogical journey.  We have shared many pieces of information back and forth, primarily on the Newell and Whittaker lines.  In an email the other night, he said, “I think all this Genealogy should be open to all and you do have my permission to reproduce any and all of the photos I send to you.”  I am very excited about this!  I really don’t have any of the family photos myself, other than what my Dad or others have sent to me via email.  Bobbie allowing me to share photos he has shared with me allows me to introduce other family members to you in both words and pictures.

The cemetery above is Henry Cemetery, located in Putnam County, Tennessee.  Many of my relatives are buried there, including two of my great-great-grandparents, and several of their family members.  It sounds like it’s not an easy place to get to.  According to Bobbie, “It was so far back in the woods they had to pipe sunlight in…”  It looks like such a wonderful place though; I’d love to visit it one day.

I’m going to post a Wordless Wednesday this week.  I plan to introduce you to my Mom’s oldest sister, whom I’ve mentioned a few times before.  So get ready to meet Anna Mae shortly.

The Nature of Trees


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I’ve been home getting over a stomach bug the last couple of days, so I’ve been able to keep up with my blog reading (love that Google Reader allows me one easy place to keep up with all of them).  I was reading today’s post of “Barking Up the Wrong Tree“.  There were several quotes collected from various sites, each making claims of famous ancestry, being able to trace their lineage to Adam and Eve; in other words, people who have probably not done a lot of research on their own, and have taken at face value trees other people have created.

One quote in particular stood out:

I don’t need ancestry at the moment because my tree is complete.

This sparked a comment from Lianne Lavoie, who wrote:

Also, people who say their trees are “complete” are hilarious. I’ve never understood quite what they mean. I guess if they don’t care at all about “sideways” genealogy, and every one of their direct lines has reached a point where you can’t reasonably go back any further (eg. with Acadian ancestors, you usually can’t go further than the original immigrants)? I guess there’s a point at which I would call my tree “complete”, but I doubt I’ll get there in a lifetime.

This got me thinking of the nature of trees, and how trees and family trees share many of the same traits.  To LLG70 and LinnaeLavoie, my thanks for inspiring this rare midweek post.

I think one can never call a tree “complete”.  A tree is a living thing.  It has roots that go down deep into the earth, drawing from it water and nutrients to sustain it.   From its sturdy trunk, branches come forth, sprouting new growth each season.  It is the nature of a tree to grow.  A tree without growth will eventually die.

In the same way, a family tree is a living thing.  Its roots are our ancestors.  They go down through the ages.  They are the foundation of the family.  Our ancestors, like roots, provide through their lives and histories sustenance, maintaining our place in this world.  Their descendants spread out through the years, each generation providing new branches, new leaves, and new growth.

I think that only when the life cycle ends could a tree ever be called “complete”.  However, a dead tree will eventually decay; its roots will shrivel, its leaves and branches will fall.  It will become nothing more than a stump which will in time be reclaimed by the earth, all trace of it vanishing.

My family tree I hope will never be “complete”.  Even if I in my lifetime could ever hope to discover every last root, and find the story for each of my ancestors, the story still would not be complete.  For the true story of any family tree lies not only in its past, but in its future as well.  The branches of my family tree spread wide, and there are many leaves among those branches.

My own branch will go no further; when my leaf falls, my part of the story ends.  However, the branches of my brother and my cousins will go on.  Many of their branches have new growth; branches that have forked and started leaves of their own.  While my own branch may vanish into history, I can only hope that what I’ve learned keeps the roots of our family tree strong to nourish generations of new branches to come.


A Tale of Two Irons


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I had been struggling today to decide on what to write about.  Not having any particular thing in mind, I turned my attention to my Google Reader, to catch up on the genealogy blogs I follow.  In doing so, I came across a post made earlier this month by Sheryl Lazarus on her blog “A Hundred Years Ago” about ironing.  It brought to mind two pieces of family lore about irons and ironing.

The first story is about my Aunt Georgia and my Grandma Taylor.  When the ironing had to be done, Aunt Georgia told me that to pass the time, she and my grandmother would read poetry to one another.  They would take turns, one of them ironing, and the other reading aloud, until all the clothes were pressed.  My Aunt Georgia’s favorite was “The Fool’s Prayer” by Edward Rowland Sill:


by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“‘T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!
“Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”
“The Fool’s Prayer” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

The second story of ironing is about my brother, Tim.  At one point in his young age, Tim liked to iron when he would visit my Grandma Newell’s house.  For hours I’m told, he would pretend to iron, using a container of baby powder as his iron of choice.  Back and forth his little arm would go, smoothing out the wrinkles of imaginary pieces of fabric.

At some point, the family decided that since he liked to iron so much, they would get him a toy iron so he could play with a “real” iron.  The gift was given, and the family waited to watch Tim with his new toy.  From what I’m told, he picked it up, set it aside, and went right on “ironing” with his baby powder box!

The toy iron did get some use though; when I was old enough, I played with it. 🙂

Thanks, Sheryl, for inspiring me to share these stories!

A Father is to…

In May, I shared a book I had written in about second or third grade (about 40 years or so ago) about my Mother.  Today being Father’s Day, I wanted to share the book I wrote for my Dad.  I don’t know how long it’s been since he’s seen this.

Again, the cover still looks good, despite its age.

The book formula is the same as the book I wrote for my Mom.  Each page starts with “A father is to”, and then the illustration and words relate to what I felt a father was supposed to do.

It is interesting looking at them side by side to see the differences in what I wrote about.  The roles of Mom and Dad are very different in the eyes of my younger self.

As I did with my post in May, I’m going to present the book page by page.  If you scroll over the picture, there will be my comments as an adult looking back on what I wrote.

A Father is to Let You Bat
Pam Taylor

A father is to give you an allowance.

A father is to let you bat.

A father is to watch you when your mother is gone to the store for some groceries.

A father is to wear a necktie to work and on special occasions.

A father is to hold your hand when a lion roars at a zoo.

A father is to let you play baseball with your brothers.

A father is to take you to the Detroit Zoo.

A father is to cook breakfast when your mother isn’t up yet. He is in an apron.

A father is to tell jokes as he gets home from work.

A father is to get a raise from his boss at work.

A father is to get a job is his workshop is on strike. He got a job at Hank’s and Herman’s

Though distance separates us, my Dad is always close in my heart.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you!

Lines To My Wife


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I was having a bit of writer’s block tonight, so rather than trying to force some new thoughts to come together, I thought I’d share a piece of family history.

“Poppa”, my great-grandfather Joseph McCombs, wrote a poem after his first wife died.  A copy of the poem was made for my Aunt Jeanette, one of his daughters, and given to her as a gift.  After her death, it was given to my Aunt Georgia who then passed it on to me.

A scan of the copy I have is below:

On the cardboard backing the parchment, the inscription reads “To Aunt Jeanette–Christmas, 1983”. James Ray Slaughter, who copied this poem was the son of Jessie Rae McCombs, Jeanette’s sister. My great-grandfather, Joseph Jeremiah McCombs, wrote this poem some time after the death of his first wife, Georgia Almeda Brazal (referred to as Meda in these lines).  After Aunt Jeanette passed away, my Aunt Georgia (daughter of Mattie Beatrice, another sister) kept this poem. One day, when I was visiting her at her home in Lapeer, she passed it on to me.

‎–Lines by Joseph Jeremiah McCombs–

“Lines to My Wife”

Oh, Meda Dear; Thy Toil Is Done
Thy Work on Earth is O’er;
That Gentle Word, That Pleasant Smile
Will Greet Us Here No More.

I Gaze into That Marble Face,
In Life so Dear To Me;
Yet Dearer Still in Death Thou Art,
With All Thy Purity.

Of Soul, That Shines Upon Thy Face–
The Celestial Light of Heaven
The Smile Upon Thy Coral Lips–
Sweet Token of Thy Welcome.

Our Little Girls, Thy Tender Care
Will Forever Be Denied.
By Other Hands, Less Fond Than Thine,
Their Wants Must Be Supplied.

Our Pathway Here was Sometimes Rough–
Strewn With More Thorns Than Flowers,
But Thou Wert Ever By My Side
To Beguile My Lonely Hours.

But Now Thou’rt Gone To Thy Reward,
We’ll See Thee Here No More.
Those Loving Smiles And Tender Words,
We’ll Miss Foverevermore.

Forever, Did I Say? Well No,
When My Here is O’er,
That Beauteous Form Again I’ll Clasp,
Upon The Other Shore.

Together Then, We’ll Ever Roam
The Fields of Paradise,
Our Dear Ones All Be With Us There,
Oh Won’t That Be So Nice.

I Wonder if Thou Cans’t Look Down
From Portals in The Sky,
And See And Know Our Deeds And Thoughts
As Time Rolls Swiftly By.

I Only Hope Thou Cans’t, Dear Love
Look Down on All We Do,
Our Deeds Shall Thy Approval Meet,
Our Thoughts, of You of You.

J J McCombs

(Copied 1983 by his respectful & devoted grandson – James Ray Slaughter)

The first time I read it, I was struck by several things.  I could see how very much Poppa had loved Meda.  I could see that he was dealing with how he would be able to raise their girls.  And, I could see his faith through these words, knowing that while they were parted in this life, they would meet again in Heaven.
The other thing that struck me was that the rhyming pattern and format was very familiar to me.  I knew that many traits could be passed on through the generations, but I did not know poetry style was one of those traits.
Here is a poem I wrote almost twenty-six years ago.  It is a summary of my faith, and it ties me to Poppa in a way I never imagined.

Little Lambs

I often think of little lambs
So gentle, meek, and frail;
Their little voices – how they bleat!
Their coats so curled and pale.

Always bounding off somewhere
In search of pastures green;
Looking for something better
That ever remains unseen.

Then I think of one Little Lamb
So gentle, meek, and mild,
Who came into this world for us;
Our God’s most holy Child.

This holy, sacrificial Lamb,
His sinless life He gave;
For all of us–HIS little lambs–
He went into the grave.

Then rose again on Easter morn,
And reigns with God on high.
I gave my life to this holy Lamb;
His little lamb am I.

©Pamela J. Sabados 30 July 1986

In Search of…Baby Taylor


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Does anyone else remember the television show “In Search of…”?  I used to love watching it.  My Dad turned me onto it at first.  It was in the late 70’s and early 80’s; about the time I was in high school.  The show was hosted by Leonard Nimoy, and was done documentary style.

The focus of the show was to explain mysteries and phenomena.  Some shows dealt with natural occurences like tornadoes.  Others delved into things like ESP or UFOs.  Several shows dealt with mysteries of historical significance as well, like Jack the Ripper, the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia, or even Dracula (Vlad the Impaler, but of course, they did touch upon the vampire as well).

“In Search of…” never claimed to have the correct answer.  It gave the facts, provided some possibilities, but ultimately, it left it up to the viewer to make up their minds as to what the explanation really was.

In going through my family history, I have a few mysteries.  One that keeps drawing my attention is a child without a name.  So today on my genealogical journey, I’m going ‘In Search of…’ Baby Taylor.

I’ve actually mentioned this baby before.  I first discovered information about this child on the 1900 US Census when tracing my great-grandparents’ travels from their native West Virginia.

My Grandfather and His Family

My great-grandmother has eight living children, but had nine children in total.  The ninth child, Baby Taylor, is our mystery.  When and where was the baby born?  Was it a boy or a girl?  How long did the child live?  When and where did it die?

Assuming the child was not born out-of-wedlock, the date of birth would be some time after my great-grandparents were married.  My great-grandfather’s obituary stated:

He was married on March 15, 1883 to miss Georgia Chrisman and to this union nine children were born….

I was able to confirm the date of the marriage using data from a vital records search at the West Virgina Division of Culture and History site (West Virginia has been probably one of the easiest places I’ve found to search for such information, and if you have family members that are from West Virginia, I would recommend searching there).

The date of the 1900 US Census was the 29th of June.  So, I was looking at a window of birth somewhere between March 15, 1883 and June 29, 1900 (about a 17 year window).

Looking further into my great-grandfather’s obituary, it provided me with more information:

He moved with his family to Nebraska in 1884 and for nine years resided in that state. In 1893, he moved to Gallatin, Mo., where he made his home for sixteen years, moving from there to Arkansas, where he lived for three years.

So, unless born on the move from West Virginia to Nebraska in some state between those places, the baby would have been born in West Virginia, Nebraska, or Missouri.  Those were the three states the family lived in within that 17 year window.

The birth months and years on the census of the 8 children known are:

      • Millard D. – October 1885
      • Oscar R. – March 1887
      • Boyd – July 1888
      • Lucy D. – April 1891
      • Ethel – November 1892
      • Anna M. – February 1894
      • Hazel – May 1896
      • Floyd R. – April 1900

I decided to look at the gaps between events:

      • From Marriage until birth of Millard D. – 31 months
      • Between Millard D. and Oscar R. – 17 months
      • Between Oscar R. and Boyd – 16 months
      • Between Boyd and Lucy D. – 33 months
      • Between Lucy D. and Ethel – 19 months
      • Between Ethel and Anna M. – 15 months
      • Between Anna M. and Hazel – 27 months
      • Between Hazel and Floyd R. – 47 months

I excluded any gap that would be too small for another baby to be born (assuming a normal term of 9 months for each baby, that would mean less than 18 months).

So, that left me with the following possibilities for Baby Taylor’s birthday (assuming the baby was not a twin of a sibling):

      • Between March 1883 and January 1885
      • Between April 1889 and July 1890
      • Between January 1892 and February 1892
      • Between November 1894 and August 1895
      • Between February 1897 and July 1899

The third one I found highly unlikely.  My great-grandmother would have been almost constantly pregnant!

One day on familysearch.org, I was searching for more information on my great-grandparents, and I got a suggestion for an ancestral file.  I went to look at it, and it showed the names of both my great-grandparents, and there were correct dates, including the date of their marriage.  Underneath that it said “Show Children (9)”.

I figured that perhaps when I clicked on it, I would get eight names and then some “?” type entry for Baby Taylor.  Instead, I got a name:

name: Amy C TALOR
gender: Female
birth: 15 Dec 1883
,, WV
death: 11 Aug 1885
afn: 6WK2-VK

AFN stands for Ancestral File Number, and is a unique indicator for that file.

Whoa!  Not only a name, but a birth date and a death date too!  The birth date and place listed was plausible; it was exactly nine months after my great-grandparents were married (that must have been some wedding night)!

But, before getting too excited, I wanted to check this out.  Could I find the records that matched the information?  Was Amy C. Talor (not sure why the different spelling) truly Baby Taylor?

So, back I went to my favorite vital research page in West Virginia, typed in Amy C. Taylor (figuring the Talor was a misspelling), Lewis County (last residence place of my great-grandparents), 1883, female, and hit search.  I got back…nothing.

I started playing around with it.  I changed the search to All Counties.  Nothing.  I changed the spelling to Talor.  Nothing.  I changed it back and just tried Amy.  Still nothing.

Finally, out of frustration, I decided just to search just the last name.  Show me all female Taylor babies born in West Virginia in 1883.  That time, I got a list.  Two results on the list of 25 caught my eye:

7 Annie C Taylor 1883 Lewis 1390 Kb
23 Taylor 13 Dec 1883 Upshur 856 Kb

My great-grandparents were also born in Upshur county, and the date was two days off from the date given on the AFN record.  While record 7 said Annie C. instead of Amy C., it was the same initials, and Lewis county was a possibility as well.

The unnamed Taylor girl did not turn out to be the right one.  While the father’s name was listed as Wm., the mother was Idella M. and not Georgianna.  Would I fare any better with Annie?  See what you think:

The father’s name is hard to read here.  It looks like a W and another letter.  On the opposite page is listed the mother’s name, and the name of the person who reported the birth.  The mother’s name is listed as “Georgie”.  I wondered…would someone have heard the name Georgianna and thought it was two names instead of one (Georgie Anna)?  I looked over to the name of the person that reported the birth.  It happened to be the father, and he was listed as W. H. Taylor.  The birth date was December 15th, an exact match to the record for Amy C.!

I thought of what that would mean that my great-grandparents had a child in 1883.  They would have traveled miles with the baby in a wagon across several states to reach Nebraska.  Where was she when she first started to crawl?  In which state would she have taken her first steps?  How would she have been kept occupied while her father worked on building their home?

Of course, I thought too about the death date that was listed.  Annie would not have been quite two before she died.  What happened?  A sickness?  An accident? Where would I find confirmation of the death date and would that provide other information?

Unfortunately, answers to those questions have yet to be answered.  I have yet to confirm the death date, but I’m working on trying to reach the submitter of the AFN to see if I can get more details.  I’m still looking for any other data on the family.  I was hoping the 1885 Nebraska State Census would be helpful, but it hasn’t.  I haven’t found any record of my family in it, even though I know they were there for Millard D.’s birth in 1885.  They were supposed to have moved to Nebraska a year before that.  Had something delayed them on the journey?

If I find out more information, I’ll share it when we go ‘In Search of…’ Baby Taylor Annie C. Taylor.

Memorial Day Memories


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While I don’t remember doing it every year, I can remember many a Memorial Day visiting the graves of my paternal grandparents.  On some occasions, I went with my Aunt Georgia, and I can remember her showing me how to use a knife to cut away some of the grass that was starting to encroach upon the edges of the headstones.  While I worked on my grandparent’s stone, I believe she worked on that of my Uncle Orvall, her first husband.  We also cleaned around the stone of “Poppa”, my great-grandfather (and my Aunt’s grandfather), Joseph Jeremiah McCombs.  I can remember being shown how to bring up the urn that was a part of my grandparents’ headstone, so we could place the flowers we had brought.

I can remember visiting with my Mother as well.  The area in Flint Memorial Park where my grandparents were buried was near to the area set aside to bury children.  By this time I knew I had a younger brother, Michael, that had died only a few days after being born.  I had wondered where he was buried, and I think I asked my mother that day.  I thought she and I would be walking over to where the children were buried, but I learned that day that Michael was buried at my grandmother’s feet.  No headstone marked the place where he lay.

The last time I visited Flint Memorial Park on Memorial Day, I was alone.  I was in college by that time.  I did the work by myself, cleaning around each headstone.  I think I had picked some early lilacs and had brought them with me (lilacs usually didn’t start coming in on our bushes until June).  I pulled up the urn and placed the flowers and stood there a moment, reflecting on the past before getting back in my car.  I went out that afternoon, not to a picnic or a barbecue, but to go visit my Aunt Georgia.  I would tell her of my visit that day, and listen to her tell me her memories of my father, my uncles, and my grandparents.


One Hit Wonders


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In music, a “one hit wonder” is when a singer or musical group has one chart-topping song.  They have one big hit and that’s it.  However, some of those single hits for one group have gone on to be hits for others.  Still more of them have gone on to be featured in countless collections of hits from their era, or have been immortalized in movie soundtracks.

I personally didn’t know who Bobby Day was, but say the name of his one hit wonder “Rockin’ Robin” and I not only think of the Jackson 5, I also think of one particular hand clapping game we used to play to this tune; the first verse was pretty much the same as the original, but the second was a bit different.  I don’t recall the original lyrics being “Your Daddy’s in the back yard, shootin’ them dice/your Mama’s in the kitchen, cookin’ that rice.”  And, I didn’t know that before a group called the Crew Cuts did the song “Sh-boom”  (aka “Life Could Be a Dream”) that it was a one hit wonder for a group called The Chords.  If you’ve seen Pixar’s movie Cars, then you heard this song playing as the cars were cruising the neon lit streets.

There are plenty of other examples in music of course.  However, the “one hit wonders” that I am referring to in this case are those in our genealogy.  They are children in our families that show up on a single census.  Their presence is a one time occurrence for a single decade’s list, and they are never seen again.

When going through the 1940 US Census, I was looking for a potential one hit wonder in my own family.  When I started looking into my mother’s side of the family tree, I had mentioned the tragic circumstances of her older sister’s death.  Because of when she was born, I knew that 1940 would be the only census on which she would appear.  The question remained though:  would she be on it at all?

The family lore varied a lot on when she had actually died.  Some made it sound like she was just a baby or toddler.  My gut feeling though was that she would have been older.  I made that conclusion based on the story.  If she was trying to go after a bottle of nail polish on a fireplace mantle, I felt she would need to be at least three or four to attempt to climb or reach up to the mantle.

I knew where the family should be at this point, because I was able to find birth records for both the sister and my mother in the same location.  Letcher County, Kentucky is where I started my search.

The hard part was that I didn’t know exactly in what section of Letcher County to start.  I used the 1940 Census Enumeration District Finder created by Stephen P. Morse, PhD  &  Joel D. Weintraub, PhD to show me all the districts for the county.  I then looked at the descriptions.  From the 1930 Census, I knew that my grandfather’s family had lived in Magisterial District 1, which had four possible enumerations districts that made it up.  I decided I’d have to search page by page.

In enumeration district (ED) 67-1, I saw the name ‘Whitaker’ a few times, but almost all the names were unfamiliar.  One name I tucked away for a future date to research because I thought it might be a son of Vetter Whittaker, whose name helped me link up several spelling variations on multiple censuses.  So, not finding any of my family in that district, I went on to ED 67-2.

I was eleven pages in and I almost missed it.  It wasn’t my mother’s sister, but it led me to believe I was on the right track.  It also thoroughly convinced me that somehow, the census takers had decided to make things difficult for me because once again, they were mixing things up on me again.

For the fourth time, they have spelled my great-grandmother’s name wrong! And, they got my great-grandfather’s wrong as well!

The reason I almost didn’t catch this was because both of my great-grandparents’ names are incorrect.  Manford is listed as Langford, and Thenie is listed as Dina!

So, you might ask, how do I know this is really my family?  It’s because of the twins.  However, once again, we have a gender-bending census taker, because Rolie and Trolie Lawson were actually identical twin boys!  Rolie and Trolie (or as I knew them, Uncle Roll and Uncle Troll) were not just names to me.  I knew them both growing up, and they were both down to earth with great senses of humor.

In finding my great-grandparents and two of my grand-uncles, I figured I was starting to get nearer to finding the family.  In fact, on the next page, I found another possible relative.  The name was listed as Esta, but I think it might be Delbert Estes, another grand-uncle.

After that, page after page went by without seeing another familiar name.  Then, turning to my 26th page to review, I found what I was looking for (and more):

The first family listed is my great-grandmother with her second husband, and two of my grandfather’s half-siblings (I think that the last name is Juanita, which means we once again have a census taker that is a sex change artist).  You can see that the census taker probably missed filling in one field, and he was entering things in the wrong spots.  He had to go in and make corrections, and unfortunately, his correction for Juanita made her a boy.

The final line contains the name of my one hit wonder:  Anna (Mae) Newell.  As you can see, she is the only child at the moment.  Not for long though.  You see, my grandmother was a few months pregnant by this time, and before the year was out, she would be giving birth to my Mom.

My grandfather used to tell us about how when Grandma was pregnant with Mom, she would chew ice all the time.  He would say, “All day long she would just be crunchin’ on that ice.  Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch!  Sounded like a hog chewin’ on corn!”  I guess she got over it eventually; I was told when she had one of my aunts, it was peaches that she craved.

I was glad to see Anna Mae on the census.  I had already found her birth record.  Seeing another record for her made her seem more real to me.  She had lived.  She would have been about 18 months old at the time of the census, so she would have been walking and talking.  But, I knew at the same time, this young girl would in a few years die tragically.  It was a bittersweet discovery, but one that I feel helped me make a deeper connection to the aunt I never knew.

I wonder if any of you have any one hit wonders in your family?

A Mother is to…


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When I was in either second or third grade, our teacher had us make books for our parents.  Since Mother’s Day was yesterday, I thought I would share the book I made for my Mother.  It’s been about 40 years since I wrote this.

The cover shows amazingly little wear, despite its age.

We wrote the book with a simple formula.  Each page started with “A Mother is to”, and then we would write what we thought a mother was expected to do.  Looking at this book is a peek back at the things I felt important at the time.  It has a lot of good memories associated with it.

With each part of the story, we drew an illustration.  I can’t say that my artwork shows much imagination, but then again, I was a young child at the time.  Our teacher typed our stories and then bound them into books for us.

I’m going to present the book page by page.  If you scroll over the picture, there will be my comments as an adult looking back on what I wrote.

A Mother is to Take You to the Beauty Shop to Get Your Hair Cut
Pam Taylor

A mother is to help you with homework after school.

A mother is to go to the market with you after school.

A mother is to keep you company when there’s nothing to do.

A mother is to join you in brownies.

A mother is to take you to the beauty shot to get your hair cut.

A mother is to let you make gingerbread by yourself.

A mother is to boss you.

A mother is to take you places.

A mother is to move things.

A mother is to help you in bed at night.