52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Library

There they stood facing me…all seven in a row. If they could reach out and speak, they might say, “We have a story to tell. Listen as all of our tales are different. We were witnesses to courage. We were pitted against a might-filled force in the world. We pledged our lives and sacred honor all even though we could have lost dearly. We sought to gain much as we contributed the little we had. In the end, we won it all for generations to come. Find us now…understand who we were.” My magnificent seven are Joseph Story, Joseph Boultinghouse, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, and John Nichols. I set out on a quest to find them.

I discovered those who knew of them and their claims on them. Six of them had been proclaimed as the very rebels that they were against the king , and descendants had stepped forward to gain remembrance and honor for them. One of them, Joseph Boultinghouse, had not yet been recognized by the sisterhood.

Part of my journey took me to the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Beautifully appointed and elegant in design, this facility is free to the public for research. Employees are most helpful and friendly. In a special technology room, one can find the proclaimed ones…the ones recognized by the sisterhood. I can find which of my aunts and cousins have gained further honor for the six. To plan ahead, perhaps, I can tag on to their memberships with their research and documents, which could make my journey easy. Perhaps…

DAR Library

Taking the road less travelled, I am going to claim honor for Joseph Boultinghouse. It amazes me that no Boultinghouse has stepped forward to gain recogniton for Joseph, who was a member of the Third New Jersey Regiment…no one in the DAR and the SAR has done so. This will be the beginning with locating documented connections and bridges to him and back to me. This journey will be long as I connect seven generations. The DAR Library will be visited many times as I seek help.

Perhaps, once Joseph is honored by me, the other six can follow along. Perhaps…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: I Would Like To Meet…

We first met when she was 25 years old so I knew nothing of her early years as a Kansas farm girl. Little by little, she unwrapped the layers and the complexities. She told her stories and shared her family with me. It took several decades to unravel some of the nuances of her being. Some tales she told willingly, others needed questions to commence the revealing. Some tales reduced us to smiles and laughter, others reduced us to sighs and tears.

But what were her first 25 years like? I would like to meet her when she was a toddler, when she was a girl, when she was an adolescent, when she was a young woman. I long to be there and witness some of her growing up experiences and hear the exact words of conversations, share secrets, meet her friends. She did share that as a grade school student she rode her horse Beauty to her one-room school house. Each morning, she would meet a fox along the way which peeked at her through tall grass. She grew up loving horses and dogs. She did not grow up loving farm work. She grew up loving Midwest starry skies. She did not grow up wanting to be a farmer’s wife. She grew up loving the dream of working in a city. She did not grow up wanting to stay in one place. This is just a sampling of what she did share about those first 25 years. Wish she were here to answer my questions and delve a little deeper.

Yes, I would love the meet the young Merna Mae Storer. At the age of 25, she would become my mother…I would visit her world through her eyes and memories.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Unusual Names

The Lone Star State

Well, holy bronco busters…if this isn’t the tale of three Texas buckaroos! No, siree, they did not bear the usual cowboy names like Black Bart, Buckskin Joe, and/or Curly Bill. Yes, ma’m, their dagburn names came right off the pages of a history book. Their mammy and pappy, Daniel and Mary Franny, must have been real lovers of history. Why, the boys’ granddaddy, Daniel Boultinghouse, was a War of 1812 veteran while their great granddaddy, Joseph Boultinghouse, was a veteran of the American Revolution. So, why not name three of their younguns after heroes and the rest of their 14 kids with regular names…like Martha Jane, Calvin Gage, and Lizzie Ann.

The first of the boys was Christopher Columbus Boultinghouse, born in 1857…now isn’t that a handful of a name? Like his pappy, he was a farmer. He married his 20 year old sweetheart Nancy Lou Lewis when he was 30. Together they raised a passel of younguns ( a dozen to be exact) to learn the love of the land, especially the Lone Star State. He lived to the ripe old age of 85. His obituary states that his death brought sadness to San Saba County. One could tell how well loved he was by the number of floral tributes at his funeral.

Christopher Columbus Boultinghouse

The second boy was Napoleon Bonaparte Boultinghouse, born in 1859…now isn’t that a moniker for a Texas lad? He married his gal Sarah Jane Ray when they were both 21 years old…had a double wedding with her sister and her groom. Sixty years later, they would celebrate that anniversary with them along with 11 out of 12 living children, their children, and their children. N.B. lived out most of his 84 years on his farm in Karnes County.

Last of the trio was Stephen Austin Boultinghouse, born in 1865. Now isn’t that a great handle for a Texan? According to census records, he held many jobs…farmer, carpenter, cafe owner. He was 16 years older than his bride Johanna Brocksch. They remained childless. They made their home in San Patricio County.

Stephen Austin Boultinghouse

So these Texas gentlemen lived out their lives nobly, honorably, and faithfully to the glory of the Boultinghouse family. One last piece of information for y’all, readers. If the Boultinghouses are in your tree, the ancestor that is granddaddy to them all is Joseph Boultinghouse…he is the start of the whole dangburn dynasty here in the United States. And that is history!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Challenge

Standing in the shadows of her husband, Mary Etta Soule was married to a man with wanderlust. Born in 1817 in Weld, Franklin, Maine, her husband settled in half a dozen places before he homesteaded in Osborne County, Kansas. It is easy to trace how he settled in new territories across the Midwest…how he made a name for himself by volunteering and being elected to local government positions. He left behind records of land purchases everywhere he settled for whatever brief period of time he lived in those territories. She was married to Andrew Storer. But what of her and her chapters in this story? Indeed, it is a challenge to piece together the life of a pioneer woman who stood behind her man.

Mary Etta was born in Albany County, New York, in 1833. She was 14 years old when her papa George died. For whatever reasons, Mary Etta, her mother, and several of her brothers decided to travel down the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo and took a steamer through Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan to Milwaukee. They traveled by seed wagon to Watertown, Wisconsin. Her brothers found jobs in a brickyard. Teenage Mary Etta found work as a yard girl for a widower named Andrew Storer, who was also the manager of the said brickyard. Did she work at the brickyard or did she work at his home? At the age of 19, she and Andrew married…he was 35. (He had already buried a wife and a child.) They did not be stay put long in their little prairie town.

The couple left Mary Etta’s mother and brothers behind as they moved on to Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas. It is a challenge to find the reasons for their leaving family behind…but then again, husband Andrew had left Maine on his own to make his way across the Midwest. Little is recorded about Mary, but Andrew is mentioned in Homestead Act deeds and documents. They became the parents of nine children. Their final home in Kansas was a large farm where sheep were raised. According to the 1880 Non-Population Schedule, Andrew raised over 1,500 sheep and lambs. Livestock was plenty while acres were planted in crops.

But what of Mary? How did she weather the grasshopper plague of 1874 when the insects devoured crops, food, clothing…she must have had to start all over…how? How did she handle the isolation from neighbors that women of the plains suffered? What was her daily schedule in the care and feeding of her family? No pictures, letters (if she was literate), nothing remains of her…what a challenge to even try to know her!

Mary Etta Soule was my second great grandmother. She died at the age of 53. All that has been written of her is this: “There was a large attendance at the funeral of Mrs. A. Storer. Rev. Osborne conducted the service.” Mary died eight years before her husband…she lies buried in the shadow of her husband’s tomb.

Update: After I posted this, I added my post to the Generations Cafe FB discussions. Lo and behold, a reader posted Mary Etta’s obituary, which appears below. Thank you, Lori Thomas Halfhide.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: First

First things first…first and foremost….first on the horizon…right now, these first thoughts are propelling my blog for this week. A new year welcomes new challenges and new goals as a first line approach to what comes next with my family tree research.

First things first: thank you, Amy Johnson Crow, for hosting 52 Ancestors. The weekly prompts spurred me on to start a blog about my family. Without your help, I most likely would not have written on a scheduled basis. Ideas and research would have fallen by the wayside. Thank you for the nudge, the mentoring, the prompting.

First and foremost: I discovered my writing voice. I discovered that I wanted to tell a story each week…not a story story, but the researched facts about my ancestors dressed up in personal vignettes. One thing I did not want to do was write scholarly articles spewing out all the references and sources for each ancestor. I would have faded fast on that route. Also, I discovered what I wanted to call myself as far as loving genealogy. I am a family history writer/author. I desire to craft out my writing…hopefully to bring my ancestors to life for one shining moment each week.

First on the horizon: I plan to let others in my family and friends circle know about my blog. I am not looking for praise and adulation…I am looking to inspire others to take pen in hand and create picture stories about their families. If one thread from an ancestor’s life can be shared, then the whole fabric of her being will be resurrected and remembered.

So a toast to the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project: may our postings be works from the heart!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Resolution

So seriously, it is NOT my family tree that has that huge, I mean huge, research-defying brick wall. That dang wall has been staring me in the face for 7 years now…and it is not even my third great grandparents…they belong to my dear husband. So here is the scoop and the resolution.

Benjamin Haffner was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1791. His family emigrated from Germany in 1745. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Lutheran church. Benjamin was raised on a farm…all a typical family history for that time period. Along the way, Benjamin settles in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia, where he becomes a plough maker. He marries Rebecca Beason in 1825, and they become the parents of six children. In the 1850 Federal Census, he is listed as a “pauper” which was a special notation recorded in that particular census. In the 1860 Census, there he is again in Martinsburg. In 1861, the Civil War will come to call in that part of the Shenandoah Valley. General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson will come knocking to commandeer the railroad. There will be unrest. Two years later, that western part of Virginia will join the Union and declare that they are the newly-born state of West Virginia. Benjamin and Rebecca disappear from all records…they cannot be found. They are not living with children. Their names cannot be found in any cemetery records. They are gone.

My resolution: I will find them by researching Lutheran Church records. Their two maiden daughters were buried in Martinsburg as their death notices declare. The girls’ parents are most likely buried in the same place. I will get copies of their death certificates, issued in 1912 and 1917. I will find them.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Nice

Emilia Slabik and Joseph Jaworowski

Big sister Emilia and her smiles had no limits. Her two brothers were typically rambunctious and playful boys. She loved them and kept them tucked under her angelic wings of caring. Her brother Stanley was two years younger while brother Edjui (Polish for Edward) was nine years younger. When she and Stanley went to school each day, her little brother Edjui would tap on the window and wave good-bye to them. Emilia would blow him a kiss. All of them could not wait to be reunited on the return home when Edjui would be looking out that window for them. They were growing up in the ethnic neighborhood in the area of Nicetown in Philadelphia in the 1930s. Along with their Polish immigrant parents, the children were learning the value of caring for others and seeing to their needs. Emilia grew up to be tender-hearted and loving.

As the 1940s came, America was going to war. Her two brothers had enlisted in the Army and were headed for overseas…Stanley to Europe and Edjui to the Pacific. She was the letter writer in her family as her parents’ skills in writing were poor. She was now married to the love of her life, Joe; together they had two boys. Her mother’s health was poor so Emilia and Joe welcomed her parents into their home. Helping her husband run a family business kept her busy, too.

When her brothers returned from the war, Emilia and Joe welcomed them to their home so they could reacclimate themselves back into civilian life. Brother Edjui would entertain her boys with exaggerated war stories, suitable for the ears of four and six year old boys. Her tender heart reached out to her brothers who would soon depart to marry and begin careers. She nursed her mother Anna until she passed away. Emilia was always the perfect hostess in welcoming others to her family home.

In the 1950s, Emilia and Joe bought a new home in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia…a large beautiful home with big rooms and a grand garden. Emilia took up gardening and landscaping while she favored caring for her roses. It was not unusual for Emilia to have company, overnight guests, and family gatherings. Such a sweet, generous lady who was loaded with smiles, hugs, and kisses. As a child, I loved visiting with my aunt and uncle and my boy cousins. It also gave me the opportunity to visit with my Polish grandfather. What a treat to be with them all!

Aunt Emilia always remembered everyone’s birthday and sent them cards and letters. I treasured the notes she sent me. My beloved Aunt Emilia passed away in 2008, a year after her baby brother Edjui who became my father. I miss them all…I wish we could spend one more Christmas together.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Winter

Yes, m’am…yes, sir…our little group of Southern belles rocked the Forest Hills neighborhood of Winchester, Virginia, during the 1960s. We were like sisters, and we were attached at the hips. If you saw one of us, you would quickly see the rest of us. Peach, Smitty, Cleo, and I were a solid four. Sometimes, a few other girls would be tagging along; but we were the core group.

When the snow would fall and accumulate a few inches, we could be found dressed in layers and heading with our sleds to our famous Feagans Hill. Other kids in the neighborhood went there, too, and there was plenty of fun space for us all. The hill was right in the center of the street, but few if any cars drove down it during the day…the dads had driven the cars to work.

The fun would begin right after a breakfast of Cream of Wheat and hot tea. We had to get our insides warmed up. Putting together the warmest layers of clothing we could fit together: undershirts, flannels shirts, sweaters, pajama bottoms, pants, scarves, hats, and gloves. We were the forerunners of the Stay Puff Marshmellow man (from Ghostbusters) trudging up the hill. Sometimes, we were unrecognizable to each other. Our gang would be gathering.

The first flight of the day was the most exciting. We would line up and with our hands and arms gives ourselves a starting push. We were laughing, we were screaming, we were singing, we were propelling ourselves down the hill.

When we reached the bottom, we would all cheer and salute the hill. We were having the time of our young lives…not realizing the memories we were making. Off we went to take another ride. Around noon, we would head home for a short lunch break and to change into dry layers. Mom would be ready with warm bowls of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.’

Our afternoon session would begin when Cleo would stop by for me. We would pick up Smitty and Peach. We would sled until dads started coming home from work. Being wet and cold played no part in our snowy playtime. We were the queens of Feagans Hill, and we rocked that neighborhood.

Postscript: This blog is dedicated to my best friend Cleo who died unexpectedly two years ago. I just know she is laughing it up by the side of the Lord reliving our girlhood escapades. Love you, girl!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Next To Last

Mina Storer’s next to last choices, her next to last decisions…was that how newly created widows thought? When some decisions had already been made for her, what would happen next? First, there were the grief and the shock of Wash’s sudden death. Second, there were widow’s weeds to place like a mantle over her shoulders. Third, there were family members to rally, consult, and console. How was the 74 year old farm wife expected to continue on her own?

Mina’s husband, Wash, had been ill for several years due to emphysema. It came from harvesting crops, and the small grain dust that invaded his lungs. Doctors could offer no relief, and suffering from the hardship of struggling for breaths had worsened Wash’s will to fight this condition. Evidently, he made a secret plan that would help himself and his wife. No one knew of the secret. The plan would unfold in time.

The spring of 1946 had brought visitors to the farm. Their son Leslie and his family were visiting from sunny California. Three of their eight children had moved off the farm when they reached adulthood. California was touted as the place to live with year-round warm weather and better jobs. Leslie had urged his parents to relocate, but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Osborne County, Kansas, was Wash and Mina’s home…they would not leave their farm.

During the last week of the visit, Wash put his plan into action. One morning when the rest of the family was out of the house, he left this Earth to find peace in the next life. He knew that without him by her side, Mina would chose to leave with son Leslie. Maybe with three of her children  with her in California, she could have warmth and sunshine in her final years.

And so, Mina made her next to last decision. She would go to California to live with three of her children. The remaining five would care for the farm and make it prosper. Sometimes, newly created widows find comfort and solace in those next to last decisions…maybe.

Postscript: Mina (Sarah Almina Nickel) and Wash (Washington Irving) Storer were my great grandparents. I never met them, and I have only two pictures of them. Mina lived for 11 years with her daughter Hattie in Fullerton, California. She died peacefully in her sleep after which she reunited with her beloved Wash.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Thankful

Heavenly Father, bless our gatherings today. Bless our memories of those who share Heaven with you and are missing from our tables. Bless our ancestors who brought us to this home of America and its freedoms. Bless our family members who each contributed traits and qualities to the people we have become. Bless us for hungering for that which is righteous, holy, and sacred. We ask that we be strengthened to pass along these blessings to our descendants. We thank You in the name of Jesus Your Son. Amen.