52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Non-Population

 

 

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When you are a child, places and spaces seem bigger, gigantic, enormous. The world beckons you to new discoveries, adventures, curiosities. Children know the world through a tiny window of experiences that grow each day. When I was a child during the 1950s, I vacationed every other summer with my grandparents Andrew and Isabella (Boultinghouse) Storer on their farm in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas. I explored their world and was in awe. Fields of wheat and corn populated the plains. I vividly remember my grandmother setting up a makeshift dining room with tables made with sawhorses and plywood. Here she would feed the farmhands who came to harvest the wheat. Most farmers could not afford the cost of owning combines. A neighbor owned one; with a handshake to seal the deal, that farmer would come on an appointed schedule to help his fellow neighbors harvest their fields. My grandparents and their daughters were a team in raising food for “America’s breadbasket”. A culmination of the harvest was taking the grains to the elevators where the farmers met on Saturdays to gab and grab a pop bottle from the cooler. Conversations at the elevator included gossip, local goings on, and farm prices.  Also, big in my memory was my Gramps letting me ride on his John Deere with him to do cultivating…we had to keep the rows straight, according to his instructions. All those details form pictures in my recollections of time spent on the farm.

In 1940, ten years before those memories began to form, the State of Kansas conducted a county census. Part of the census focused on farmers: acreage rented or owned; acres of winter wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, spring wheat, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes. When I found the entry for my grandparents’ farm, I discovered the facts about his farm which he rented from an uncle who lived in Mississippi. He had 630 acres with 82 acres in winter wheat, 20 acres in corn, and 40 acres in oats and barley. That left about 500 acres some of which was used for pasture land for Black Angus and goats. Those were the facts and figures about the farm. This information gives me an idea of the real size of that childhood  sense of  bigness.

In my memories, the sweetness of the vacation visits overshadows those pure facts. To me, finding the facts is the role of the genealogist while collecting memories is the job of the storyteller.

 

 

 

 

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Family Legends

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Legends can be plucked as fruit from every family tree. The tastes can be sweet, sour, savory, salty,  or bitter. When bitten into, they can bring smiles, laughter, sighs, or tears to the one indulging in their flavors. This fruit is always in season. As they are consumed, pits or seeds lie at the core. The core holds the truth of the legend…the real story. The following legends can be picked from my family tree, and then the core truth will be told.

Legend: On my mother’s paternal side, it has been told that an ancestor came from England on the Mayflower…as the story goes, it was not on the maiden voyage but after the Puritans came in 1620.   Truth: Our ancestor George Soule did arrive on this ship. He was the indentured servant of fellow passenger Edward Winslow. He came in 1620.

Legend: The Story family arrived in the Colonies in the mid 1600s. In time, male members of the family would join the Patriots’ cause during the American Revolution. As the expression goes that when someone tells a “story”, that person is telling a lie. Hence, the Story family changed the spelling to Storer so these Patriots would be known as true to the cause and not “story-tellers”.   Truth:  In the 1820s, a branch of the Story family moved to Franklin County, Maine. When going to the land office to register their property, the clerk recorded their surname as Storer. It seems that their Maine accents made the spelling of their name sound like “Storer”. To this present time, different branches of the family spell it either way…we are all related.

Legend: Two brothers, John and Joseph Boultinghouse, emigrated from England. They entered through the port of Boston in 1773 just as the Boston Tea Party was happening. They were witnesses to the protest of taxes on tea. Later, John would head west and Joseph to the east.  Truth: Both brothers were born in the colony of New Jersey in the 1740s, where their parents had also been born. The family is thought to have emigrated from either France or Germany. After their participation in the American Revolution, they received land warrants for property in the Ohio Valley.

Legend: Daniel Boultinghouse was one of the first settlers in Ohio in the late 1790s. Later, he moved on to Illinois where he was part of a militia that protected white settlers from Indian raids. During one of these raids, he was scalped and killed. His grave in on an unknown place on the prairies. He was killed in 1818.   Truth: Daniel died from unknown causes in 1823, and he is buried in a cemetery in White County, Illinois. He was preceded in death by two wives. His third wife and 13 children survived him.

Legend (of a different sort): Melvin M. Storer was a Kansas farm boy who married and started a weatherstripping business. He became interested in genealogy way before  modern technology would make it easier for him. His records were organized papers and folders. When he retired, he decided to travel across the country to meet members of this family. Each person was asked to fill out a 5-page questionnaire about his/her place in the family. He rejoiced in all the genealogy findings he had uncovered. He kept many files in a special briefcase which he carried when he traveled. One day at the airport, he set the briefcase down and turned to speak to a fellow traveler. When he turned around, the case was gone…it had been stolen! Melvin had spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours on his work. He lost heart because he would not be able to duplicate his travels and gather the information again. He was devastated…he did not return to his work. He is known in the Storer family as a legendary genealogist.  Truth: The legend continues today with another family member who glories in finding branches on the tree. She is blessed to be able to use modern technology and DNA findings to locate aunts, uncles, cousins. She dedicates her work to her cousin Melvin’s memory…the honest-to-goodness truth of the story.

 

 

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Youngest

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Pearl, Helen, Edward, Isabella Boultinghouse

Baby sisters can be the delight of the family. Baby sisters can be tag-alongs on siblings’ adventures. Baby sisters can be cute and adorable and/or annoying. Baby sisters can copy the behavior and mimic the words of their siblings much to everyone’s delight or chagrin. Little Isabella Mary Boultinghouse was all of that, plus she was the apple of her family’s eye. Born in 1903, she would live for 93 years and remain a little sis.

Little Sister grew up on a small Kansas farmette (as it would be called today)…it was just 14 acres. She learned to do “girl” farm chores, such as gathering eggs, feeding livestock, and learning to cook and bake. Her grandmother Isabella, after whom she was named, was a skilled seamstress so she acquired sewing skills along with crocheting and embroidery needle work. Her father and brother loved to hunt and fish so she was accustomed to frying fish and preserving meat. She was quickly learning to become a farmer’s wife.

Lil Sis also enjoyed the childhood play as she loved on her favorite dolly. She and brother Jack (Edward) climbed like monkeys on the side of the house so they could make their way up to the roof and look out across the plains. When mother Naomi could not find them, she knew to look up to spot her mischievous youngsters sitting up there, giggling, and trying not to give themselves away. The little joys of pretending and imagining!

During the school year, Isabella rode horseback with Jack to the one-room schoolhouse (Riverside School) they attended. Each term, the pair earned certificates for having no tardies or absences.  At the end of 8th grade, she graduated with her formal education completed. Later on, the regular teacher at Riverside would require a substitute; Isabella would be the guest teacher.

Isabella had a way to escape the hum-drum of living in the country. Her sister Pearl had married and had four children with the family living in Kansas City, Missouri. Many times, Isabella took the train to visit them and help care for the children. In the summer, she would go to get one or two of the children and bring them back to spend part of the summer with their grandparents. Then, she could escort the children back to their home. Kansas City had many attractions and activities to interest the teenage girl.

At the age of 15, Isabella became the charter member of a ladies’ sewing circle. The group named themselves The Busy Bee Club. They met in members’ homes on a regular basis with lunch being served and then a choice of sewing or card playing. She completed many embroidery and quilting projects. She would be a member of the club for the rest of her life.

Isabella turned 17 in 1920, not long after the end of World War I. Several of the single veterans returned home and wanted to court and eventually marry the county girls. That year, she caught the eye of 24 year old Andrew Earl Storer who lived within a few miles of her. They courted and married two years later.

Little Sister was all grown up and settled as a farm wife. All her experiences of girlhood contributed to the woman she became. But…she would always be a little sister.

Epilogue: Isabella Mary Boultghouse was my mother’s mother. Her daughter Merna Mae Storer became my mother. Unlike my grandmother, I would not be a little sister. I would be the big sister…that story will remain for another time.

 

 

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Oldest

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A simple man. A simple life. A simple story. He was the oldest child in my great grandparents’ (Wash and Mina Storer’s) family. He was born in 1891 in Louisiana where his father worked on the levees on the Big Muddy. The little family only stayed there a few months and returned to their former home in Kansas. His father felt that he was better suited working the land than near the water.

Once back in Kansas, the family home was in a cave until the little family could save up to buy lumber for the building of a real home. So the boy Roy Eugene grew up learning to love the land, to nurture the soil, and to respect God’s handiwork. He learned to use his heart, hands, and mind to learn farming from his father and grandfather. He attended a one-room schoolhouse until he reached 7th grade. He was the big brother to four brothers (including Andrew, my grandfather) and three sisters.

When he turned 22, he married his sweetheart Myrtle Alice Britt. He and Myrtle married in a double wedding celebrated with his sister Myrtle and her beau Earl. The year was 1913. Roy and Myrtle settled down on their own 440 acre farm where they would raise three sons. They passed on to their boys their simple faith and love of the land. He and Myrtle would be married for 44 years, and she would pass on to Heaven 18 years before him. He continued to stay on the farm and live out a simple life.

During his adult life, Roy lived to serve God, his family, and his community. He was the member of a school board, a Mason, a leader in soil conservation, and a Sunday school teacher. He earned a reputation as a kind and helping neighbor…there to help when needed. His nieces and nephews called him “Uncle Dad” because of these qualities. Then, his friends and neighbors began to call him “Uncle Dad”, too.  “Uncle Dad” Storer was a simple man with a simple life…he was my oldest great uncle. He went home to the Lord in 1975…to the rich rewards of a God-fearing and loving man. His grey eyes and sweet smile will always be treasured by his family.