Working on my family tree has brought out my detective skills: gathering and analyzing clues, following hunches, communicating with others, piecing together facts. Blogging will give me the opportunity to share with my genealogy buddies, whether they be cousins or companions. Welcome...
Fun fact: During the beginning of the Great Depression, my great uncle Jack took his family home to meet his parents for the first time. On a motorcycle with a sidecar, they traveled from Sheridan, Wyoming, to Bloomington, Kansas. Their dog accompanied them on the journey. It was a trip of 700+ miles on unpaved roads. Wife Zola and daughter Betty Lou met the in-laws and grandparents after a dusty, dirty journey. Can you imagine?
If Uncle Jack could be interviewed, here are some questions for him. What planning went into this trip? How did you plan what roads to take? When you stopped for the night, in what kind of places did you stay? What did you do when you ran into bad weather? What provisions were taken along? How did you convince Zola that this was an important trip to take? What unusual wildlife did you see along the way? How long were you on the road? How did it feel to be back in Kansas after all this time? What did Betty Lou enjoy the most about meeting her cousins and grandparents?
All in all, Uncle Jack lived quite a life. His jobs ranged from cowboy, roustabout on an oil field, hunter and fisherman, game preserve manager, Army wagoner during World War I, and designer for the Remington Arms company. He loved adventures and challenges. He never put down roots. He never had a permanent home. I wish I could have met him to get his real story…not just a fun fact.
What made them who they were? How did they see themselves? Were they complex personalities or simple folk?
He was a victim of religious persecution. He was an indentured servant. He dared to come with the family that held his contract. The voyage was long, and the ship on which he traveled was blown off course. He and his fellow passengers were not headed to the Virginia colony as planned. Instead, they landed offshore in Massachusetts. No form of civilization awaited them. They would begin anew. His identity…George Soule, one of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.
He was born in Massachusetts but had moved on to New Hampshire. His country was in crisis, and his ideas and beliefs would be considered treason to the Crown. Would he stand with his fellow patriots and sign an association test to proclaim his allegiance to a new idea of government? His identity…Joseph Story, patriot during the American Revolution.
He had previously enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of nineteen. He had served his country as he came from a family that willingly gave of that service. Then, his country needed him again at the age of 43. His country was divided by Civil War. His president asked for volunteers. He had a farm and a family that would be left behind. He had a talent for caring for horses as horses were paramount to the battles. His identity…Amos Howell Boultinghouse, 55th Illinois Infantry.
She was an orphan from a small Polish village. Her brother had immigrated to America. He invited her to join him. Could she travel to Italy to board a vessel headed to New York? With three other girls from her village, she made the weekslong trip. She had very little that she carried in her knapsack. She had $9 in her possession. She knew no English. She was an unskilled worker. Her brother met her at Ellis Island to escort her to Connecticut and a position as a domestic in strangers’ home. Her identity…Anna Mroz, a new American.
None of these left behind letters or diaries so future generations could discover their inner thoughts. They were simply souls longing to create new lives with new ideals. Their identity…they left legacies for their people.
His mama had grown up with a fascination for the author’s stories. They were tales taken from German and Dutch legends. This writer had written in a different tone than others. He wove tales to entertain and delight…to evoke a sense of wonder. Both his mama and the author were born in New York.
This child named after her favorite author was born in Woodbury County, Iowa, far from New York. He was the fourth son of this farming family. The family would move on to finally settle in Osborne County, Kansas. The young man would work from sunup to sundown to help his family in the fields, barnyards, and pastures. Perhaps, at night his mama read the short stories the author wrote. Or maybe, she retold them by heart before he fell asleep.
The young man was never called by his full name by family and friends, let alone by his full first name. He shortened his name to Wash. If he signed a document, he signed W. I. Storer. When his friends were told his full name, they probably replied, “We didn’t know that.”
My great grandfather was named Washington Irving Storer after the author of such tales as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. Wonder if after a hard day’s work as a farmer, he wished he could nap under a shady tree for 20 years.
Numerous times I have come across mistakes on death certificates. I always looked at the informant’s name and thought he/she had misinformed the funeral director. Not so anymore…first hand experience taught me differently.
My father-in-law died in October, 2018. When my husband brought home a copy of the death certificate, I read it. Four mistakes! One was his middle name. Another was the address of his residence…transposed number. Another was the name of the assisted living facility…left out a letter in the spelling. The last was the information about the duration of the illness. I had gone with my husband to the funeral home to make arrangements, and I did not remember the funeral director asking my husband about the information per se. I asked about correcting the mistakes and learned they cannot be corrected once submitted. It appeared that the funeral home secretary did not proofread the information before submitting it. To top it off, the memorial programs given at the visitation listed his year of death as the next year!
In September, 2021, my husband Daniel passed away. Going to the funeral home I asked about the death certificate. The director related that the information placed on it of a non-medical nature was taken from the files of the parents’ funeral and records. I would be listed as the informant. I related to her that I wanted to see a dummy copy of the certificate before it was submitted. I told her I was a genealogist and accuracy was important to me. It would be e-mailed to me so I could have the final approval. When the e-mail came, I read the dummy copy in disbelief! My name was misspelled! I sent it off with an immediate correction. Correction made.
How many other certificates are filed where the staff have not proofread the information?
Captain Daniel Boultinghouse’s eyes scanned the horizon for any movement. The prairie grass was tall, and sometimes obscured his view. He was cautious. He had met this enemy before.
It was September, 1814. America was at war with Britain and with their allies. He and his company had been called up by the executive order of Governor Edwards. They were to protect the settlers from Indian raiders. Daniel had another conflict with this issue: his son Joseph had been murdered by the Indians a year earlier.
Born in Pennsylvania, Daniel had moved across the territories of the Scioto River Valley (Ohio), across Indiana, and finally into the Illinois territory. In Edwards County, he could set up farming and making a home for his large family. Having livestock in the vast pasture land was part of his homestead. He placed his son Joseph in charge of the herd. Later, Indians killed him and mutilated his body which his father found after his dog came home without the son. Such conflict ravished his heart and soul…avenge the death or peacefully run off the natives. The decision would be made by executive order of the Governor to form a military company. So, Daniel and his company patrolled the prairies until December of 1814. They kept settlers safe. The War was over.
Three years later in 1817, Daniel came across a band of natives and spied his son’s horse among the others. Would he exact his revenge, or be a man of peace? His decision and actions left no native witnesses. The conflict was finally over.
Ferguson, Gilliam. Illinois in the War of 1812. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2012.
History of White County, Illinois; page 453, Daniel Boultinghouse
In honor of this day, I would like to remember my husband Daniel who served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971. He spend 15 months in Saigon in an underground communications bunker. I decided this day to visit his memorial stone at the cemetery. I took him a gift that had been given to me many years ago. I wanted to pass it on.
You see once upon a time I was an elementary teacher. Many students would leave me little presents on my desk. One Monday morning, third grader Jenny L. gifted me with a rock that she had painted over the weekend. It bore the message “I love you”. I kept that little rock through several moves and retirement. I held on to that little nugget for all these years. This morning, I decided to regift it.
This morning as I went to the cemetery, I wanted to honor Daniel. I knew that it is a custom in some cultures to leave a rock when one visits a grave. That little rock was placed on the top left corner of his marker. “I love you,” it notes.
Final note: after Daniel served his country for three years, he served God for almost 50 years…as my husband.
My maternal great grandparents, Washington Irving Storer and Sarah Almina Nickel, married on 18 May 1891. Always assuming that the marriage took place at a little church in Osborne County, Kansas, I entered that information on my family tree. Hmm…I was just new to genealogy so it seemed like a reasonable guess.
In 1941, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party for family and friends. Every detail was related in an article in the local paper, The Osborne County Farmer. Best wishes to the happy couple as they remembered 50 years together.
Fast forward 78 years later, I was putting together two lineage society applications. I was proving the link from my 2nd great grandparents to myself. The proof included the link to these great grandparents as well. The connection through birth, marriage, and death was required. I began a county search for their marriage license…not found. I searched the State of Kansas records…not found. I asked a volunteer at the Osborne County Genealogical Society to aid in the hunt…not found. I noted on their timeline that they had moved to Mississippi where their first child was born three months after the wedding. I searched the State of Mississippi…not found. Every surrounding state was searched in case they married along the way south. Nothing.
I looked again at the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for a mention of where they were wedded and by whom. No place, minister, justice of the peace, church were mentioned. It remained a mystery.
By the way, the two lineage societies were satisfied with a letter from the volunteer at the OCGHS stating that a search had been conducted with no results.
So, Washington Irving Storer and Sarah Almina Nickel, where were you joined together? Your great granddaughter would like to know, please.
She came from a family that celebrated all the facets of her talents and personality. Her husband touted that his little woman, nicknamed Mamie, could grow flowers and beautify a yard to create a personal paradise. Her daughter, Isabella, claimed that she was kind and thoughtful toward others. Her granddaughter, Mary, bragged that she served the best hot dogs in Bloomington (population: 75). Her neighbors noted that she baked delicious fruit pies.
Mamie was the nickname of Naomi Ruth Stevens, daughter of Kansas pioneers. She married Lafayette Edward “Lafe” Boutinghouse and together they raised four children. They ran a small general store and cafe in “downtown” Bloomington, Osborne County, Kansas.
Note: Naomi died the day my parents were married…18 April 1947. Never having met her, I learned about her from pictures and newspaper clippings.
Isabella Mary Boultinghouse
She came from a family that had taught her how to be strong and resilient. Her parents Naomi and Lafe cherished their youngest child. Needlecrafts were her talents: crocheting, embroidery, quilting. Her husband referred to her as “his little woman”, and she made her mark as a farmer’s wife. She loved entertaining on Sundays and cherished her role in the Busy Bee Club. Together she and her husband Andrew raised two daughters in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas.
To her grandchildren, she was called Grammy. They declared that she made the best pies around. “Best crusts are made from lard,” she noted. Winning several ribbons at the county fair, she prided herself on those pies.
Isabella enjoyed visits from her daughters and families, who lived in Montana and Virginia. She introduced them all to her longtime friends who all celebrated different interests and hobbies.
Merna Mae Storer
Merna, nicknamed Mae Mae, came from a family that instilled in their daughter the virtues of being independent and self-reliant. She counted among her ancestors Kansas pioneer women who had forged names for themselves. Her parents Isabella and Andrew gave her examples of being hard working and going after dreams.
Her talents lie in needlework like her mother. She could bake pies whose recipes rivaled those of her grandmother and mother. Like her grandmother Naomi, she could transform the most challenging earth into a flowering garden.
Merna developed her artistic talents in tole (French for tin) painting. Using antique kitchen utensils, she delighted others with uniquely painting designs, flowers, and characters. She had found a talent all her own.
She pulled up Kansas roots and transplanted herself in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She blossomed from the seeds planted by her grandmother Naomi and mother Isabella. She married Edward, and together they raised three children.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I honor my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. May all women be recognized for their contributions.
Scene: 1943; Topeka, Kansas; VFW on a Saturday night
He said: I was just an 18 year old kid who had volunteered for the Army Air Corps enlistment. The fact be told, I lied about my age to join. Claimed to be 18 when I was still 17. I was from Philadelphia, a big city kid. I used to hitchhike to New York City on the weekends. Now here I was deep in the heart of America’s bread basket. I was stationed at the Topeka Air Base. Because of its vast pasture land, Kansas made a good location for long landing strips for training.
It was a Saturday night, and we could go into town. The local VFW was holding a dance so my buddies and I decided to give it a whirl. When we entered the hall, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra were blowing the jukebox with “In The Mood”. Then I saw her. Her name was Merna Mae Storer.
She said: Just 17 years old when I graduated high school, I decided I needed a change. You see, I was raised on a farm in a small Kansas town. I did not want to stick around and do man’s work on the farm all my life. I started studying the want ads and job postings at the state capital of Topeka. There was a listing for a secretary in the tax office based at the Capitol. I got the job plus lucked in to renting an apartment with four other girls. I was Topeka bound.
It was a Saturday night, and dances at the VFW were very popular events. We girls decided that if we met guys, they would be short-lived romances. These boys were going off to war any day now. Many would not make it back so no sense in tying up our heartstrings. When we entered the hall, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra were blowing the jukebox with “In The Mood”. Then I saw him. His name was Eddie Slabik.
Scene: 1946, Arlington, Virginia
He said: Survived the War in the Pacific and came back home to Philadelphia to stay with my sister’s family. I have been planning my future. Should I use the G.I. Bill and go to college to become an architect? Should I check out this Civil Service job to work for the Federal Government in Arlington, Virginia, close to Washington, D.C.? I have been seriously thinking about this girl I wrote to during the war. I love her…can I make a future for us? We only saw each other for two weeks back in Topeka. There are lots of job postings for secretaries in the D.C. area. Could I convince her to come east and eventually marry me? I am going to write her and ask her.
She said: The war is finally over, and thank goodness I am still in Topeka…not back at the farm. Got a letter from Eddie, and he has a suggestion. Do I dare take it? It would involve my moving to Washington and working in the office of the Department of the Navy. I have never, ever been that far from home. I love him…can I make a future for us? We only saw each other three times in Topeka. Am I willing to pack up and take the train to Washington? I am going to write him and tell my decision.
Scene: Saint Thomas More Church; Arlington, Virginia; 18 April 1947 Eddie and Merna Mae were married in a simple Catholic ceremony in the priests’ residence with the housekeeper and another priest as their witnesses. None of their family was in attendance. They took the train to New York City for a honeymoon. Then, they settled into their basement apartment to begin their married life. They remained married for 60 years with Eddie passing away in 2007 and Merna Mae in 2014.