52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Pet (Project)

Deciding to travel around the country, my cousin Melvin Storer was a one man family history information gatherer. He started in the 1970s after retirement with just a notebook and a pencil. No computers, no Ancestry, no Family Search…just himself, his organizational skills, and a notebook. He was going to put together a family tree using his own research skills.

Locating as many cousins as he could, he mailed out questionnaires to them…102 questions that covered all the basic facts plus hobbies, occupations, locations of other cousins. When he received word of another unknown to him cousin, he sent a letter and form to them. He was devoted to the finding of family members.

When he could, he would fly to various cities in different states to do one-on-one interviews. He figured he got to see different parts of the country to meet his relatives. He did this for several years and piled up bonus miles for the purchase of the next ticket. He carried all his research in a briefcase that was his companion on each flight.

One day, he was headed out on another flight accompanied by that briefcase. He left the briefcase by his chair in the lounge and wandered up to the window to order a snack. When he came back, the briefcase was gone..stolen…all his records and notes taken. Melvin suddenly lost all desire to continue with his journeys and research. Along with the briefcase, his zest for discovering family history was stolen.

When I decided to do family history, I took along the spirit of my cousin Melvin. Using a computer, Ancestry, Family Search, and various vital state records, I would find those cousins along with grandparents, uncle, and aunts. DNA would also introduce me to more cousins. I would piece together a tapestry of family history. Melvin would be proud to know I found from the Storer line our 9th great grandfather who was a passenger on the Mayflower. Here’s to you, my dear cousin…I inherited from you a passion for family history.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Should Be A Movie

Eddie Muller on Turner Classic Movies introduces the audience to film noir…black and white films…use of flashbacks…intricate plots. Eddie would have interesting comments on this film noir as it were…The Case of the Elusive Wife. The storyline would be shrouded in secrets that only the actors/players know. The audience is left wondering just who was this character is and how does she truly fit into the story.

Let’s give some background to this story. My second great grandparents were James Nickel and Mary Emily Weaver. They were Ohio natives who came to Osborne County, Kansas, in 1878. Mary Emily died in 1903 while James lives until 1923. It is all recorded in the history of the county. End of their history…well, not so. Another person never mentioned, never explained pops up.

She appears in James’ obituary as his second wife. What?!? It appears she has four daughters, her first husband is deceased, and she is from Lowell, Massachusetts. Who is this Josie Meserve Dixon? How did she find her way to Kansas? Why is she never mentioned…anywhere, any time, except in James’ obituary? The weekly county newspaper gives no mention of her as it did all the other little social goings on in a small farming community. But wait…she moves back to Massachusetts after she is widowed a second time. In James’ will, he left her land in Osborne County, but she has never paid the taxes on it. Her estate is sued for the money. If not paid, the land goes back to the county. The story ends…

The elusive Josie Dixon…never really mentioned, never really acknowledged by our family. The ending fades to black.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Solitude

In solitude, she scanned the prairies for any sign of his homecoming. He had gone out with his military company to look for restless and warring Indians. He had been appointed by the governor to be a captain to this company. Yet for her, solitude in waiting and worrying were taking its toll.

She was alone, but not alone. She was a mother to his stepchildren while she awaited the birth of her own child. Her responsibilities were crushing…taking care of the kitchen and garden, managing livestock, overseeing the homestead. She prayed that no harm could come to them if Indians discovered she was alone. After all, her stepson Joseph had gone out to check on livestock one morning and was murdered by these people. She waited in solitude.

She had married Daniel Boultinghouse just last year on 31 January 1813. On that cold day, they had exchanged promises to love one another in good times and bad. This anxiety she felt this day was part of the days that were ridden with worry. She seemed all alone…in solitude, trying to glue her family altogether.

The day did come when she spied him coming across the grasslands with his son. He was coming home to be their protector and provider. No longer was she in solitude for now she would be coupled with her beloved Daniel.

Note: Rhoda Howell was my third great grandmother who waited for her husband Daniel Boultinghouse to return from duty in the War of 1812. They were pioneer settlers in the Illinois Territory.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Starts With A Vowel

Almina Nickel was a farm girl from Ohio as she was born in Williams County in 1872. She lived with her parents, Jim and Mary Emily, along with her sister and three brothers. Just an ordinary girl with ordinary dreams, just a young school girl…until an adventure beckoned her family.

Her grandfather John had made a proposition with her father. It was now 1880, and John’s wife had passed away. He was getting antsy and filled with a desire to move on. Would Jim and his family be willing to join up as a team and take a wagon train to Kansas? The Homestead Act was offering 160 acres free to any applicant if the land could be settled within five years. Why to eight year old Almina that sounded astonishing…where was Kansas? A life on a wagon train seemed like a magical tour to Almina, but the family had been warned that the trip would be long and unrelenting. If they could make it to Kansas, grandfather John was willing to finance the move and the land.

They made it to Osborne County, Kansas, in that year. Before them, spread grassy plains. A few buffalo still remained…powerful giants grazing as they witnessed the young girl studying them. Vast farmland welcomed them. A one roomed schoolhouse awaited Almina along with children to meet as friends.

The years passed, and Almina was 19. She married a local farmer whose family had settled in Osborne County several years before hers. Her husband was Washington “Wash” Storer, and they became the parents of eight children. Her third and fourth babies were twins (a boy and a girl), and they were born in a cave on the farm! Their two story farmhouse had yet to be built.

Through the years, Almina loved to bake, crochet, and quilt. There was always a tin of sugar cookies waiting for visitors in the pantry. She belonged to a monthly quilting club, Riverside Busy Bee Club, where she and her lady friends gathered together for lunch, chitchat, and sewing. She learned to drive the family Model T. She was a wife and mother known for her hospitality to neighbors. She especially enjoyed having young people visit. In her final years, the widowed Almina lived in California with her daughter.

Almina Nickel Storer was my great grandmother. Her baby boy twin born in a cave was my grandfather Andrew Earl Storer. And so, A is for Almina.