Thursday, December 16, 2010

Computer Problems

This is not an excuse for tardiness, this is actually happening. I'm not sure what's wrong but my computer has been going wacky lately so if the young lady that keeps the thing going can take it, off it goes for a check up.
     With a little luck I'll be back to you in a few days. I know you can hardly wait---hmmmnnnn!!!!!
  To do this upsets me no end, especially with the holidays coming up. Be back as soon as I can, Bob

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Just Around The Corner

It's hard to believe the year is almost over. It's even harder to believe that this will be my 84th Christmas. It seems that it was only yesterday when we kids trooped down the stairs in wild excitement to see what Santa had left us under the tree. Ohh those wonderful tree's. Color beyond belief and packages galore spread everywhere under the heavily decorated branches. Such wonderful memories. Ahh, but there is always a negative side when you are old, you remember those who where there then but are no longer with us. You know though, it's nice to remember them and renew your love for them.
I've been pondering about what to put in my blog to commemorate those wonderful  Christmas's past. I'm open to suggestions.   My sister Virginia, Sis, and I are the only two remaining of the immediate family who participated in those wonderful Christmas mornings there at Holtdale so long ago but yet so fresh in my mind. I am working on my memoirs and have put a section in them on those wonderful mornings. I may just use that.

I get quite a few visitors to the blog but very few comments. I'd hoped to work up a dialog with those who are remembering along with me in the blog. Unfortunately and to my great disappointment that hasn't happened. I suppose I'm partially to blame by not being more prompt and prolific in my submissions. I'm going to try and do better next year so stick with me.  Maybe I'll somehow entice you to join me verbally. I hope so.  Bob

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Values, The 30's and Now"

Winter, summer, fall or messy spring, one particular treat we used to enjoy when I was a kid in the 1930's was going to the movies. It was usually always the Saturday afternoon matinee. Mostly we went to either the Beaver theater, the Majestic (dubbed the “Bucket of Blood”) or the Oriental in Rochester. We were usually given $0.16 cents, $0.11 cents for the show and $0.05 cents for a hot dog or ice cream cone afterward. The movie was either a “shoot-em-up western,” “Tarzan and Jane,” a spook thriller with “Boris Karloff’s fangs leering hungrily at his intended victim,” “Our Gang,” Shirley Temple or the Three Stooges, but always the good guy wins. Rochester and the “Bucket of Blood” was most often the choice. Besides, Grandad Holt had his Dental office just across the street from the “Bucket” and frequently worked on Saturday, so we could get a ride home after the movie. Otherwise, it was a five mile walk each way.

Because of the enormously increased violence and the apparent sea-change, negatively, in the moral values in our society these days, I have tried to think reflectively in comparing the entertainment for young folks then with now. Yes, we certainly were exposed to violence in the movies then, but no where near as violent, sexual, vulgar and graphic as that viewed today. Even when someone was shot, which was rare and even then always the bad guy, and he was usually only wounded. Indeed, sort of roughing up the bad guy was usually the extent of the violence. We practically never saw blood, never heard even mild cursing, the sex act was rarely even vaguely alluded too, even in adult movies.

Today, shooting, stabbing, bloody murder, unspeakable violence and sex are explicitly performed not just publicly in the Theater but on the television screens in our homes.

The only comparative conclusion one can come too is that our society has coarsened enormously over the eighty-four years of my lifetime along with the concomitant weakening of our all important moral values. And at the risk of being thought of as just a negative, old bellyacher, I don’t see positive change on the horizon anywhere. In fact, just the opposite, it appears to be getting worse. I saw an extremely disconcerting statistic just this last week, “ in just slightly over 48% of families with children are the parents married.” And even where there is a marriage, the parents aren’t always living together.

I submit that such a society cannot long endure. And unless we begin acting immediately to repair our sorely damaged moral values, even my generation’s grandchildren will not ever see or experience the wonderful, vibrant nation we were up until about forty years ago when the downward spiral began. Even our music has degenerated into nothing more than two and at most three instruments, a drum, guitar and maybe a violin. It consists mostly of rhythm (drum) noise and gyrations by the performers. "Country Western" still has a little of the old values but even there the deterioration is evident..
Am I just an old man unwilling to change? I don't think so. I first became disturbed years ago by the deterioration of our music from the wonderful sounds of many instruments playing collectively, rhythmically together and frequently supporting wonderful singing voices, individually and or collectively. The sound was the important thing not their gyrations and costumes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The children of Ralph and Agnes (Baxter) Ecoff, my Gr Gr Grandparents

      The genes of the long and illustrious line of the Ecoff family were brought to the Holt line by Agnes Baxter Ecoff when she married John Childs, and whose daughter, Agnes Gertrude Childs, married Frank Raymond Holt in 1898 in Beaver, Pennsylvania.
       Ralph Ecoff and his wife Agnes Baxter migrated from Harmon County, Maryland to Borough Twp, Beaver County, Pennsylvania sometime in the 1830's. Their son, Ralph (9 Sep. 1818- 24 Jan 1855) was the first of the line to marry in Pennsylvania when he married Margaret Alaman (15 Jun 1822- 18 Apr 1854) on 9 Dec 1840, in Borough Twp., Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Ralph's and Margaret's first child appeared on the scene not quite 13 months later when they were blessed with the birth of their first son, Samuel, on the 29th of Dec 1841. Five more children were born at  fairly regular intervals, starting with  Asa b 28 Nov 1843, Rochester, PA; John Henry, b 14 Dec 1848, Rochester; Agnes Baxter, b 28 Jan 1848 - d 22 Jun 1930, Beaver, PA; Mary Crawford, b 12 Nov 1851, Rochester, PA; and Margaret Alaman, 15 Apr 1854, Rochester, PA.  Unfortunately, the children's mother, Margaret Alaman Ecoff, died three days later on 18 April, 1854, probably from complications during  the birth of her daughter, Margaret Alaman. As an interesting aside, at least to me, my oldest sister Miriam, who lived just two short months in 1921, is buried on the grave of her Gr Gr Grandmother, Margaret Alaman Ecoff.
     My Gr Grandfather, John Worrell Marshall Childs, married Agnes Baxter Ecoff, the oldest daughter of Ralph and Margaret Ecoff, and their daughter,  Agnes Gertrude Childs, married Frank R. Holt, who were the parents of my father, John, and my Uncle Frank.
      Ecoff males served in every American War from from the War of 1812 through WWll. One may have served in the Revolutionary War, however, I have not been successful in my search for the immigrant Ecoff. The name Ecoff is reasonably common, historically, in Germany, Norway and Sweden but our immigrant Ecoff's country of derivation and when he arrived in America is still a mystery, at least to me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Joseph Leman/Lehman/Davis Update---DNA

          I want to bring you up-to-date on the attempts of my first cousin, Frank Davis, and myself to determine just whom Joseph Davis's father was. Joseph, you might recall, was the lineal ancestor, actually Grandfather, of my mother, Naomi (Davis) Holt. We know that Joseph's mother was an Irish lass named Agnus Leman.  (The name has been spelled several ways: Leman/Lehman, Leeman.)  She was born c1820 somewhere in the Emerald Isle.  We also know she had a son, Joseph, born c1840 who stated in the 1880 census that he was born in Pennsylvania. Where?  To date, no one knows. Nor does anyone know whom his father was.  My grandfather, Albert Hooker Davis, always said his grandmother's name was Agnus Lehman/Leman/Leeman.   He never mentioned a grandfather, and I never thought to ask.  
          Enter DNA testing. DNA testing requires a direct line male descendant in order to acquire the same DNA as Joseph's, which is exactly what Frank Davis, Joseph's Great Grandson, is. I am also a Great Grandson but through my mother so my DNA wouldn't get it done. When the results came in, low and behold, not Davis, nope, but Boyd.  Boyd???  Where the heck did that come from?  Joseph's father, obviously.  Or so we thought. The results were 36 markers exactly and 1 was not.  Bingo, 99.9% certain Joseph's father was a Boyd. Well, maybe.
          Months later, after searching for Boyds, another match came in.  This one with 37 markers right on, and  an absolutely perfect match, none of this minus 1 business. Perfect fit, but the name is Hamilton. Here we go again. The Boyd is a few generations back---probably. I have big questions about her pregnancy.   1) When did Agnus arrive in America, and was she pregnant when she arrived? I don't know. 2) Did she get pregnant in Ireland or America? I don't have a clue. If in America, where? Pennsylvania? I really don't know.  I need to know where and when she lived near a Hamilton in late 1839 to have a prayer of finding Joseph's father.
          I am assuming she became pregnant here in America. Ok then, where was she living in late 1839?  Where there any Hamiltons living close by? There is some question about Joseph's exact birth date since the 1840 census gives only male, head of household names, unless the female was the head of household.  In the 1850 census (when finally everyone is named) Agnus is living with her to-be husband, Samuel Davis, in Middlesex Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, and is listed as Agnus Leman, single, born in Ireland.  No Joseph in sight.  In fact he doesn't show up until the 1880 census living next door to his mother, Agnus and her husband, Samuel Davis in East Deer Twp, Allegheny County, PA.  As an interesting aside, in 1850 she is listed as Agnus, in 1860 and 1870, she is listed as Nancy and in 1880 she again is listed as Agnus. She died in 1881 and is buried as Nancy.
       By then, Joseph had married twice, first to a young lady whose name, (I think but have no proof) was Susan Potts, who died, possibly during the birth of Joseph's oldest daughter, Laura. He then married Sarah Ann Kennedy in 1869 and had four children by her.  Interestingly, in 1869, his Father-in-Law, William Kennedy, in his Bible, listed his name as Joseph Leeman (sp). In the 1880 census of East Deer Twp., Allegheny County, Pennsylvania he was calling himself Joseph Davis.
         I put all this in an earlier blog hoping to get a little help from an interested reader. I'm again calling for your help. The DNA data clearly establishes that his father's surname was Hamilton. The only thing I know to do is assume that Agnus got pregnant in Pennsylvania. The DNA Hamilton family whom Joseph matches have a long history of living in Pennsylvania.  Indeed, in Western Pennsylvania. 
           My guess is Joseph was an out-of-wedlock child, born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, father ---- Hamilton, mother, Agnus Leman. He obviously was farmed out, possibly to relatives on either side, somewhere in Allegheny County in 1850 because he doesn't show up with her in the 1850 census when she is living with Samuel Davis.
         He married Sarah Ann Kennedy in 1869 and his first child in this second marriage was Martha Bell Elizabeth, born 23 October, 1870. She was followed by Amy Nancy, Anna Theresa and Hooker Albert aka Herbert Albert. The last two are  not mentioned in the Kennedy Bible.The birth information on his new family is listed in his Father in Law William Kennedy's Bible, and the 1880 census.   I doubt he lived very far from his mother at any time from his birth in 1840 or early 1841 until her death in 1881 in East Deer Twp. (or Tarentum) Allegheny County, Pennsyvania.
         Where oh where was he in 1850, 1860 and 1870? Leman immigrants from Ireland show up in Allegheny, Butler,and Armstrong Counties during those years. I really would like your help in finding our Hamilton relative.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Find-A-Grave--We dId

          Good morning everybody, I hope you had a good weekend.  We did. Genie signed us up with an interesting group called  So yesterday we responded to a request to "find a grave," actually two graves, both in one of the local cemeteries, Skull Valley Cemetery. 
We successfully photographed them with Genie's digital camera and sent them along to the "Find a Grave" folks. This morning there was a grateful "Thank You" in our email. You know, doing something for others benefits both parties.
          The Skull Valley Graveyard is a tiny little graveyard, I'd say maybe fifty or so graves at most,  with two recent burials and the oldest around 1900. As you might imagine, Skull Valley isn't a great big community. How did it get its name? Well, we are told when the first white folks, a couple of trappers, visited the area some time in the mid 1850's they found a lot of human skulls laying around. It is suspected that those skulls were all that remained of bodies left unburied after a battle between two rival Indian groups many years before. But no one really knows.
          Sometime after the Civil War, in the 1870's, people began to move into the area and it has been occupied ever since. Current population? Oh maybe fifty or so. The tiny village now boasts a post office, grocery store, one tiny, tiny restaurant, one pump service station and a small building occupied by the local Historical Society. Neat place.
          I just know you folks are all excited now about Skull Valley. As an interesting aside, last fall when Genie and I drove through the area on our way to Prescott, we saw a small Elk herd just outside of town with two really nice Bulls. That alone recommends the place to me.
          Okay, okay, I'll move on to other things. My next family blog should be ready to go either tomorrow or the next day if something doesn't come up, like photographing a grave somewhere in another tiny rural cemetery around here. Yes, we live in a tiny community out in the boonies ourselves and drive thirty miles to Prescott to do our shopping once a week. Fun huh? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
          I'd really like to hear from any of you that read my blog. It would help me a lot to know what you think and get your suggestions as to how I can make it better--write to me more often.  See ya tomorrow.  Bob

!!!!!!!!HAPPY SPOOKS DAY!!!!!!!!!

     When I was a kid--uh boy, here he goes again--Halloween had a dual meaning. Go out and knock down corn shocks, soap car windows, knock on doors and run. Or, dress up as a spook, dress up as a bum, or fairy, you name it. Then knock on doors with your goodies sack held out in front of you and delight at what the folks put in it. Nibble on it all the way around the neighborhood as you beg for more, then go home and compare to see who got the most and the best of the wonderful, usually sweet, goodies.

     When your old, dottery and grumpy like me, you try and remember the good times you had tearing down a neighbor's corn shocks, soaping his car windows, you name it, anything devilish. You tell anybody who will listen your funny stories, at least you think they're funny. They may have heard them all before, indeed if it is a family member, I'm sure they have heard it all before.

     You remember that you got lots and lots of goodies, some homemade, others store "boughten," but you didn't really mind just so you got something.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Passing of a Friend, Ed Criley

     I recently learned that I have lost probably my oldest friend, Ed Criley. Ed and I attended Kent State University in Kent Ohio together from 1948 through graduation in 1951.  We both received degrees in geology, specializing in hard rock geology.  Ed continued on and became a leading geologist in the United States Geological Survey specializing in volcanology. I went to the University of Utah and specialized in Mining Geology with an emphasis in mining.
      The summer between our Junior and Senior years at Kent State we participated, along with seven other geology students,  in a required class mapping geology on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. The course was taught by our leading professor at Kent, Carleton Savage, a Maine native.  To say we enjoyed ourselves would be the understatement of the year---we enjoyed every second of it.

      Without a doubt the highlight of the fun part of the summer was a nasty hurricane that slammed into the Maine coast. The winds blew everything that wasn't tied down ashore or out to sea. Many of those "things" were Lobster Pots. The shore line was mostly irregular and smoothed granitic rock outcrop. After the storm all along that rocky shore were storm-tossed lobster pots. And in most of those tossed-up pots were wiggly, big-clawed lobsters and still alive---feast makers if there ever was such a thing. And, according to Professor Savage, they would be considered salvage---anyone could harvest them. And boy we did.

      The motel we stayed in had a special lobster holding well which we filled to the brim with reaching, clawing lobsters. The pots we  gave back to the lobster men who were happy to just retrieve their pots. We then proceeded to have a lobster boil to end all lobster boils and gorged ourselves on those delicious but rich, rich, super-rich wonders of seafood.  And, everyone of us got sick, sick and sicker. But, you guessed it, a happy sick. Not once, not twice, but three times, and still had lobsters left over. Ed and I reminisced about that lobster feast as often as we contacted each other. He will be missed not only by me but everyone who knew him. I've lost a wonderful friend.

      Most geologists have a hard time with the concept of God and life after death. But, if there is such a being as God and a place such as Heaven,  I know he took Ed home. And if I luck out and make it, I'll look forward to reminiscing again with Ed. My Friend.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ancestors of William Thornhill, b 1735

     I have searched many years for the ancestors of  Revolutionary War Veteran William Thornhill, who fought at the Battle of Cowpens and who resided in Bedford County, Virginia. His wife was Sarah, maiden name unknown. They had eight children: William, Ezekial, Rachael, Briant, Edna, Sally, Leonard and James. Virtually all of the researchers I have communicated with over at least thirty years have maintained that William was born in Maryland. In fact, it was stated that William had actually made such a statement. How that could be known I have no idea. No one that I am aware of  though ever found his parents there or, as a matter of fact, any where else-- up until now.
     Just within the last month I received information stating that William was not born in Maryland but in Rappahannock County Virginia to Bryant Thornhill b1705 also in Rappahannock Coutny, Virginia and _______ Thompson. Bryant was the son of Bryan Thornhill, the immigrant, who was  born abt 1670 in Yorkshire, England and Elizabeth Phillips.
     It is interesting to note that William named his third son Briant . The second son was named Ezekial. Could  that have been his wife Sarah's father's name?  As an interesting aside, I've seen three spellings, Bryant and Briant and  Bryan for the family name. I haven't the vaguest notion which is correct. Maybe all three were used to help determine which was which. I do suspect, however, that all will be found to have the same name, Bryant or Briant or Bryan. As the old saying goes, "you pays your money and you takes your pick."
     I would really appreciate some input on this family lineage.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thomas Holt, First of the line born in America

      I am not absolutely certain as to what day in August of 1733, and where, Thomas Holt Sr. was born. I am certain that he and his parents, Henry and Dorcas, were present in the Episcopal, Christ Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on  27 September, 1733 when he was christened at "one month of age". It is recorded in Christ Church baptismal records. My guess is he was born in Philadelphia.
     As an interesting aside, Benjamin Franklin was also a parishioner at that church at that time and is buried in the church graveyard. Wouldn't it be interesting to know whether he was present at the church when the christening took place.
     It's not certain how long the family remained in Philadelphia. The next recorded occurrence of the family's whereabouts was in 1735 when Dorcas, Thomas's mother, was reprimanded  in court  in newly founded Lancaster, Pennsylvania for beating up on one of her neighbors. It appears he had slapped around one of  her female friends. That Scotch-Irish fire is still alive and well in her descendants today.
     Thomas's father Henry disappeared c1735. It's not known whether he died in Pennsylvania or was lost at sea returning home to England as the inheritor of his deceased father's estate. His mother remarried in 1738 to Arthur Buchanan, another Irish immigrant. She and Arthur had five children.
      On February 3, 1756 in St James Episcopal Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Thomas married eighteen year old Elizabeth Mitchell, daughter of John and Jane Ross Mitchell.  Thomas and Jane soon followed his mother and Arthur Buchanan to the vicinity of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Arthur died there in 1759.  Dorcas and her five Buchanan children and Thomas and his little family moved into the Pennsylvania wilderness where Lewistown is now sited on lands each had purchased from William Penn's sons.
       Thomas and Elizabeth had nine children: William, November,1756; John, 1 February, 1758; Thomas Jr. April 1761; James 1762; Elizabeth 1764; Mary 1766; Jane 1769; Dorcas 13 March 1772; and, Eleanor 22 September 1774.
        Over time, Thomas became influential in the area and was elected to several posts of importance in the local governing body. By mid 1776 the causative political currents that eventually fomented the American Revolutionary War against England were nearing fever pitch and the local Militia was formed. Thomas as a matter of course joined the Militia.  Some time during the summer of 1777 the militia personnel were afield honing their shooting skills. According to George F. Stackpole, a descendant of Thomas, "Thomas was shooting mark with, among others, his half- brother, Robert Buchanan on what is now Dorcas Street, Lewistown, Pa. Thomas was marking shot locations. He was concealed behind the target tree, Robert was shooting and for some reason, possibly a hang fire, he was slow in getting his shot off. Thomas stepped from behind the tree, possibly to determine why his half brother hadn't shot, and was hit in the head and killed."
       Elizabeth lived on in what eventually became Lewistown, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania until her death in 1798. Most of those members of the Holt and Buchanan families of the time are buried in the downtown Lewistown cemetery that is dedicated to Thomas's mother, pioneer woman Dorcas (Armstrong)(Holt) Buchanan.  About fifteen years after Dorcas's death, several admirers erected a  large, homemade,  dark bluish-gray, shale headstone over her grave that is still standing today, 200 years after her death. Thomas and Elizabeth's graves were lost to posterity when the Erie Canal was built through the area during the first half of the 1800's.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Smokin' a Seegar & Chawin' Tabakee---eeeyuk--oooffff

      I don’t recall how old I was, I suppose eight or nine, when I tried smoking. We were still living at Granddad Holt's house so it was before 1936. Bob Buckley had gotten several cigars and a partial pack of Mail Pouch chewing tobacco from his father’s supply and came and got me. We went down over the hill to the spring house that covered the spring that at one time supplied the family with fresh water. We crawled up on the roof for some reason or the other for our great adventure.
      Bob had smoked before so he started on the stogie and gave me the Mail Pouch for openers. He showed me how to form a plug and put it in my mouth, which I did. The stuff had a sweet, not totally unpleasant taste and made spit real fast. I "splooshed" a few streams of juice off the roof and decided, heck what’s the big deal, and ask Bob for a puff on his cigar. He obliged by giving me one of my own. He lit it for me and I began to puff, choked, gasped for air, then swallowed smoke, tobacco, juice and all. Bob thought that was real funny. All of a sudden I felt dizzy, so dizzy in fact, I couldn’t stand up.  So I slowly collapsed down on the roof with my head hanging over the side and began heaving, and heaving and heaving some more until I was sure everything including my toenails would soon go over the side. I couldn't stop. I just wretched and wretched and wretched some more.

     Bob got scared and ran up the hill and brought Mom down. By the time she got there I had, at last, stopped heaving and recovered somewhat. Although, I guess I was whiter than the provervbial ghost and more than a bit "willowie" on my feet.  Boy did she ever give Bob a reaming. I don’t know whether she ever told his parents, but one thing I do know, he never offered me a "seegar" or a "chaw" of tobacco again. I owe him a debt of gratitude for that experience. I never tried smoking or chewing tobacco again, right up to now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I have no excuse for being away from my blog so long, only an explanation—It’s been brutally hot in these parts this summer, even though we live at 5200'. Hot summer heat has always enervated me. So why do I live here? Good question. Up until recently, all my immediate family lived in Arizona. Also, Genie teaches in the Wickenburg School District. But believe me, during the summer, she would rather be some place else—around Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks National Parks.. We both like Montana and Northern Wyoming. Especially in the summer and fall. We’re devoted fly fishing fans and it’s hard to beat the areas in and around the two parks. In fact, we lived in Bozeman, Montana several years trying to get a magazine off the ground servicing the motels and hotels around the two Parks. And boy did we love the fishing. Unfortunately, we decided after 18 months that part of the franchise conditions were just not to our liking so we dropped the franchise.

Enough crying—on with the blog. With a little luck and the “Lord willin and the creek don’t run dry,” I’m going to try and meet a twice-a-week publishing schedule. Until I get rolling that schedule is going to work me “ah” mite hard. So please bear with me.

I’d like to toss the ball into your court a little. I had plenty of visitors to the blog but very few comments pro or con. I was hoping for a bit of participation from the blog readers; Could you do this family or that family or, did you know gr gr granny had this funny thing happen to her, or, flesh it out more, or, I did or didn’t like it because----I’d really appreciate reader participation. I know, it’s my blog and it’s up to me to carry the ball. I will but I sure would like to hear from you,

That old Pennsylvania Bugger livin’ in Arizona, Bob

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eakin School, A Little Red Brick School House

Eakin School, 1932-33

Names read from left to right beginning in the front row
with Bob Holt (me), then beginning at the left for the next
 row back. Read the list vertically beginning on the left..

My first seven years in school were attended in a  one-room, red-brick school house. One lonely teacher taught all eight grades, maintained discipline over as many as 32 students,  keep the school clean, the fire going in the winter--with some help from the older boys--and somehow, with the help of the good Lord, I'm sure, maintained his/her sanity. First, always, came the Lord's Prayer followed immediately with the pledge of allegiance to the Flag and Country.   Once the day got underway, each grade, in turn, would be called up to stand by the teacher's desk for their lesson in a particular subject. Recitation and questions would be given out loud. For some reason or the other, it didn’t seem to interfere with the studying of those other students in the room. The subjects were standard, reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, history and some form of art.

The spelling, writing and arithmetic would frequently require the student to work at the blackboard.
I remember one time when my class was up at the teacher’s desk doing our thing when my close friend, Bill Bailey, put a tack on the teacher’s chair while the teacher, Harold Ivell, was working at the blackboard with another student. To say that, after he sat down, the teacher rose to his subject would be the understatement of the year. Those of us who were aware of the reason for the bellowing outburst when he sat down, were petrified. It had to be one of us because we were the only ones standing close enough to his chair to accomplish the deed. When it began to look like we were all going to be hung out to dry, Bill manfully confessed, much to all our relief, for none of us would have exposed Bill.  We all would have accepted our punishment without a word.

Bill Bailey became a lifelong friend. We attended Kent State University together 1948/49. As kids, we used to sleep over at each other’s home. I remember one cold winter day while still in grade school, when I was staying with Bill, his father, Jess, who was part Menominee Indian from Wisconsin, made each of us a Bow and Arrow using limbs from a hickory tree. He first fashioned them with a hand ax, then shaved them to their final shape with a piece of broken glass. Talk about two proud boys.  You can’t imagine how we felt about those bows. That was at least seventy-five years ago, and it is still strong in my memory. Bill died in Tucson in 1991 and is buried in the cemetery on East Grant Road. Bill’s mother, Dicey, became like a second mother to me. She lived to be 97 years old.

Within the first ten days of class at Eakin School I fell hopelessly in love with a sweet, little, blue-eyed blond named Betty Merriman. She remained my special girlfriend from first through the fifth grade. She lived with her family on a small farm in Mudlick Hollow. We would sometimes eat together at lunch and if she was on my side when we played prisoner’s base and she got caught, I’d work especially hard to get her free. The love affair died on the vine when I was transferred to Stokes School where they had a teacher they were sure could keep me in line. 

At Eakin,the entire school would go on a picnic at the end of each school year. We would walk from the school across a meadow west of the school and down through the woods to Four Mile Run where we would eat our lunch and spend the day. That was always a special time.

Did we enjoy school? You know we did. Did we learn anything? That’s the more important question. I can speak only for myself. I came away from my seventh grade in school with an outstanding ability to read and comprehend, do arithmetic easily in my head, was well versed in history and geography, and was as wild as a march hare. As an attendee in such an environment though, I became a prankster supreme.  I ran Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer a good race in grade school.

 I attended two one-room schools, Eakin and Stokes, and was sufficiently incorrigible that the school board, with the concurrence of my parents, sent me to the much larger Beaver School System for my eighth year to try and get me under control. I never had a bit of trouble there, possibly because they had a big, big library with all kinds of wonderful books to keep me busy.

I recently learned that the Beaver grade school I attended, Fort MacIntosh, was built from bricks made in a brickyard owned or leased by my Gr Gr Grandfather, William Taylor. And, some of those same bricks were hauled from the brick yard to the school site by my Gr.Grand Father, Samuel Jacob Holt.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thornhill Relatives at the Alamo

My lovely wife, Genie, was helping me this week research the early Thornhill folks—in all honesty, she was doing it all—when she discovered a clue that a descendant of an early Thornhill, and the husband of that descendant’s sister, had perished at the battle of the Alamo and her research talents tingled. She hit the research trail in earnest. Genie is a died-in-the-wool Texan and when she got a hint of such a thing her excellent genealogical instincts soared. If it were true, she would no longer have to apologize to her Rebel kin for her Yankee husband. And wonder of wonders, it was true. She found that the daughter (Edna) of one of my fourth Great Grandparents, William Thornhill, had a son and son-in-law killed in that great Texas battle. I must admit that I was absolutely thrilled at the discovery. And—well, here is the background and story of those two brave individuals, relatives of ours, along with 30 of their companions who selflessly went to the aid of their countrymen, in the Battle of the Alamo in early March 1836.

Edna (Edney?) Thornhill, born in Virginia circa 1769, the middle daughter of three girls of William (1735–1788) and Sarah Thornhill (1740–Sept 1802), married widower Henry Dearduff (Deardorf) in September of 1802. It was Henry’s and Edna’s son William, born c1811, who was killed at the Alamo along with his brother-in-law, James George, husband to Elizabeth Dearduff. William was probably named after his grandfather William Thornhill, and had followed his sister and her husband to south Texas.  There the two men joined DeWitt's Rangers to go to the aid of the men at the Alamo.  To me, the fact that their small unit of 32 men under the command of a Major Williamson chose almost certain death as they marched past the Mexican army of possibly 7,000 men to join about 150 Texians already inside the Alamo. That’s courage way beyond the call of duty.

You can get a more detailed account of the Dearduff and George families before and after the battle at these links:

DeWitt’s Colony, DeWitt's Rangers:

William Dearduff:

Elizabeth and James George:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

George Washington Thornhill & Martha Ann Blake

George Washington Thornhill, the eighth child of the ten children of James Lewis Thornhill and Polly Corley (Cauley), was born in Roanoke, Roanoke County, Virginia 3 May, 1831. George moved to Gauly Bridge, Fayette County, Virginia in 1855 where he married Martha Ann Blake, born 16 March, 1836, in Roanoke, Roanoke County Virginia, also. She was the oldest child of the eight children of Lewis and Margaret (Wiseman) Blake. I'm not certain when the Blakes moved to Fayette County, but what information I have states that George and Martha Ann were married in Gauly Bridge on the 10th of September, 1856.

One year minus one day, in Gauly Bridge, on the 9th of September, 1857 their oldest son, James Lewis, was born. His picture is immediately to the left.  Then on the 27th of January, 1860 John Newton was born. Their next child, William Hammond was born the 28th of February 1862 in Gauly Bridge also. The family must have been pro North because sometime during that year they moved north to Steubenville, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from then Virginia, now West Virginia. That northwestern part of Virginia refused to secede from the Union and became the state we now call West Virginia but it was obvious the Thornhills weren't taking any chances, they were Unionists.
       Mary Margaret, their first daughter was born near Cadiz,  Harrison County, Ohio on 4 November, 1864. Hiram Bates was next in line and was born 17 September, 1866 in Jefferson County, Ohio. The terrible Civil War was finally over and life could at least begin to get back to normal.  But, the family moved still again and Eunice Ellewood was born 31 December, 1868 in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  On 2 December, 1870, Emery Emmit arrived on the scene. Martha Ann had been having children almost every two years since they married in 1856, however. this time she waited four years and on the 6th of May, 1874 Charles Albert was born. And last but not least, Elmer Ellsworth was born 3 March, 1877. My records are silent on where Charles and Elmer were born but I believe it was in that portion of  Ellwood City that is in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. George and Martha had nine children in 5 different locations in 21 years finally ending up in Ellwood City, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania where they lived the remainder of their lives. George passed away on the13th of November 1901 and Martha  November 2, 1910.

Charles died 11 January, 1881 in New Cumberland, Hancock County, West Virginia. Elmer was killed in September, 1913.  Unfortunately,  my notes are silent as to where and how he was killed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eakin School, my early years

I entered first grade at Eakin School in September, 1932. We lived about a mile from the school and, except for the first day when Mother took me in the car, I walked. That first year I walked with Bob and Marion Buckley, neighbors who lived about a quarter of a mile from us on the way to school. Bob was two years older than I was and Marion, four years older.

Eakin School was a one room, red brick building that housed all eight grades and had been around since before the Civil War. It had actually been used as a recruiting barracks during the Civil War. In the late 1800's my Grandfather and his brothers and sisters had gone to school there. Grandfather's brothers, Smith (Richard) and Clyde, taught there as young men. The red building bricks for the school were quarried and made on site. The building was approximately 12' x 40'x 60' inside dimensions. It had a fairly steep roof with two gable ends. There was only one door in the building and it was located in the front. Outside, there were four or five steps up to the door. There were four large  rectangular windows with multiple panes on each side.

Inside, the room was divided roughly in thirds down its long dimension with, I believe, nine rows of seats except the back-center half was open to the entry door. In front of the door as you entered was a large, round, pot-bellied stove about mid-way in the room that sat on a piece of metal which protected the oily-floor timbers from the heat of the stove. Almost the the entire front wall on the inside, from about three feet above the floor to a height of seven feet, was a large black piece of slate that functioned as a blackboard. The teacher's desk was centered in the front of the room, just in front of the blackboard. Along one side wall near the entry door were three rows of wooden pegs, one above the other, used for hanging hats and coats when school was in session. The other wall had shelves and was used as a library. There might have been forty or fifty feet of shelf space for books.

Outside, in front of the school, was a large graveled area about ten feet wider than the building on both sides and maybe fifty feet deep. Near the far end of this graveled area was the school water supply, a drilled well capped by a long-handled pump standing about four feet high. To drink from this well one had to either have a personal cup somewhere, or as most all of us did, someone pumped while you cupped your hands below the spout to form a cup and drank. A few fussy girls would wash their hands before drinking. The rest of us thought they were showing off and "uppity."

Along the right hand side of the building when facing the school, and about two thirds of the way back, were two large, slanting cellar doors covering the passage way to the area under the school floor. These opened to several steps that led down into a dank, dark, dugout-space beneath the school floor where coal for the stove was stored for use during winter.

Behind the school, and about twenty feet away from the building, were the outhouses–two-holers- one for Boys, one for Girls. Each outhouse had a shielding, wooden wall in front and side of its entry door and a low, sloped, hinged, wooden cover extending out from the back from which the waste material could be removed. As you might imagine, these could become quite aromatic in the early fall and late spring. We boys used to get large, flat rocks, sneak up behind the girls outhouse, quietly lift the covering door and hurl the rocks into the “maggoty” mess hoping to splash some poor unsuspecting girl seated inside.

One time, unknown to us, the school teacher, a woman, was using the facility when some of us older boys did our thing and the flat rocks did their thing. We gloatingly waited for the customary screams, which had always happened with every  gal we had caught. Surprisingly, silence.  No one in there? Hmmmm. In about a minute, and to our total surprise and chagrin, one angry lady teacher came boiling out of the outhouse.  As you might guess, no one would talk, so eight or nine of us were punished severely for that little caper.

On the north side of the school where the school’s long dimension was east-west and the entry door was on the west side, there was a grassy, upward sloping area with about ten very large old oak trees that provided wonderful shade under which to eat our lunches and for horsing around. Mudlick Hollow Road was about one hundred feet from the south side of the school and parallel with it. Going east from the school the road ran flat for just a short distance and then turned down as it wound its way down into “Mudlick” hollow. The road went from the school, where it intersected Sebring Road, all the way to Vanport, a distance of about five miles. During the winter when the snows were deep, this became a prime sled-riding slope. It was so long down to where it first leveled off that we could usually only make one or two runs during our lunch break.

Behind the school was a very large field that was farmed by the Hogue family who were my relatives.  The Hogues living there when my syblings and I attended school were descendants of Grandfather’s Aunt Rachel (Holt) and Uncle John Hogue. Corn was frequently the crop of choice and after it was harvested and the slalks cut there remained about a six or seven inch "stob" sticking above the ground. These became flying missiles during recess and lunch times.  Believe it  or not, no eye was put out during my six years attendance there and "stob" slinging every fall.   Don't tell me there wasn't a guardian angel watching over us kids.

The school year in those rural schools was from the day after Labor Day until April 15th the following year, reflecting the fact that the community was still in the transitional stage between being a rural farming community where all available manpower was needed to help with spring planting to more modern times when machinery replaced manpower. Change was in the air everywhere, but in those little one-room schools, time seemed to stand still.    World War ll changed all of that almost overnight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thomas Holt ll & Elizabeth (Humphry?) Walker

Thomas Holt II, third son of Thomas Holt and Elizabeth Mitchell's nine children, was born in April 1761 in Oliver Twp (?), Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Mifflin County at that time was still very much frontier country and was recovering from the aftermath of the French and Indian War. Thomas was just 16 when his father, Thomas, on the eve of the American Revolution in 1777, was shot and killed during a target practice session of the local militia. It is hard to imagine the trials and tribulations his mother Elizabeth and the family must have gone through over the next ten or fifteen years. Her youngest child was just three years old at the time.

Thomas II was the oldest male in the household after his two older brothers, William and John, joined the local military unit and marched off to war. Even then, he did serve in the home guard or militia completing four short tours, mainly chasing roving bands of Indians. For that service he was granted in 1840 a Revolutionary War pension  #S4400. He was living in Trumbull County, Ohio at the time.

Thomas lived at home untill his mother died in 1798 in Lewistown, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He was still a batchelor living at home so his syblings permitted him to continue using his mother's iron cooking ware. It's interesting that such a mundane item as the pots and pans would be considered important enough to list in the final settlement papers.  Some time after that he moved to western Pennsylvania and then on to Ohio. Somewhere along the line, either in Mifflin County or Ohio, he met and married a widow?, Elizabeth Walker, b1778, seventeen years his junior. Elizabeth is thought to be the daughter of another Mifflin County couple, William and Jane Humphry.

 In the first week of June, 1806, Elizabeth gave birth to twins, William Humphry and Dorcas. Interestingly, William used the birth date of June 4 and Dorcas used June 2. Elizabeth apparently had a very difficult time giving birth to the twins for she died either during the children's birth or shortly thereafter. I have no information on where they were living when the children were born, the date of her death, nor where she is buried. Her death left forty-four year old Thomas with two newborns on his hands. He had been a bachelor for forty-two of those years and obviously knew absolutely nothing about caring for children let alone infants. So the babies were parceled out, William to his grandparents(?), the Humphrey's in Mifflin County Pennsylvania, and Dorcas to Thomas's sister, Eleanore (Holt) Windle and her husband, Francis, who lived in rural Trumbull County, Ohio.

 As an interesting aside, the Windles had eight children and shown here is a picture of the second of the six Windle daughters, Mary. The Windle children were, Elizabeth, b25 Oct. 1796, Mary, b3Mar 1799, Dorcas,  b7Aug 1801, Eleanore, b15 Jun 1804, William b2 Jan 1808, Rebecca b10 Apr 1810, Francis b6 Apr 1812, Martha Jane bJun 1817.

I'm not certain whether Thomas was living with the Windles or just near them. He lived on in Ohio until his death on the 29th of September, 1848. He was buried in the Eckis Cemetery, Milton Township, Trumbull County, Ohio as were the Windles and several of their children. The cemetery is in a rural area in the southern section of the county and is at the end of a fairly long lane leading in from the highway. As you come up on the cemetery the first thing you notice are four, fairly tall. black slate stones. These stones mark the graves of Thomas and the Windle family members buried there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring, Spring, Beautiful Spring at Last.

By now, in rural Brighton Twp, Beaver County, Pennsylvania,  on May 9th in the 1930s, school would have been three weeks behind us and long forgotten.  Shoes, shirts and long pants would have been abandoned, some hanging in the closet or, more probably, under the bed waiting for Mom to find them. Garden planting and watering time for Rod and me. Sis's assignment would of been to kinda watch baby "Leezer--Squeezer--Squirt,---never Lee" take your pick. The orchards would have been harrowed by Dad or Uncle Frank on the old Fordson Tractor with its steam-emitting radiator and giant, bladed, rear driving wheels churning away.

We would have tested the ponds still-much-too-chilly, murky waters  just in case. Little fuzz-ball "peepies" would be clustered around their almost-constantly clucking and scratching old mother hens leading them in search of weed seeds, bugs and, if lucky, a worm. And the mighty majordomo of the yard, big-daddy-turkey-gobbler, would be strutting his stuff for his small harem. Many of the fruit trees would be in blossom and some of Granddad's many flowers would have already exhibited their beauty for everyone's pleasure.
Spring on that old farm was was always a wonderful time for me and my siblings. It wasn't just that we were free of our school chores, we were free to just enjoy and explore everything around us. That kind of feeling is exclusive to youngsters and we had it in abundance.

We had a half-dozen or so neighbor kids to hobnob with: the Buckleys, the Bevingtons, the Gillespies, the Killians and Bankovitches, as well as a half-dozen or so cousins. The cousins were my Uncle Guy's kids,  the "Davis Glenn" clan, from over on the Dutchridge Road. Ruth was the oldest,  Ronny, next in line, whom we saw only occasionally because he was in the "CCC" (Civilian Conservation Corp), Cleo, Herb, and Ann, the baby of the bunch. We saw them a lot. We either visited them or they visited us.

By then the crows and songbirds would be nesting and Granddad Holt would be watching the skies for the purple martins to arrive and take up residence in the special boxes he had made for them and erected on great high poles. At least they were great high poles to us kids. Small dirt mounds appeared in many of the fields and if you were observant you could catch sight of Momma groundhog and her babies out of their holes enjoying the sunshine and eating the abundant fresh clover. There was "new" everything everywhere, confirmed by the old Burma Shave add which announced: "Spring has sprung, grass has Riz, where last year's wreckless drivers is." What wonderful memories.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jeremiah & Rebecca M. (Evans) Smith, Hancock Co,, WVA

Jeremiah E. Smith, son of John and Annie M. Smith, first saw the light of day in County Kildare, Ireland in the year 1825 ( according to his entry in the 1860 census, Fairview, Hancock County, Virginia). I have not been able to find when the family migrated to America. What I do know is that he married and that his first wife, Ann, died in Hancock, County, West Virginia on  8 July,1859 and is buried in the Methodist/Protestant Church Cemetery, New Manchester, Hancock County, West Virginia. I could not find any record of children or whether she was from Ireland or America.
Two and a half years later, on the 21st of January, 1862, in New Cumberland, Hancock County, West Virginia, Jeremiah married Rebecca M  Evans daughter of Isaac W. and Ruth (Dawson) Evans. The marriage lasted until Jeremiah's death thirty eight years later in very early 1900. He wrote and signed his will on August 7, 1899 and it was submitted for probate on July 14, 1900.  He was not listed in the 1900 census. He is buried in the New Cumberland Cemetery, New Cumberland, Hancock Co., West Virginia.

They had  ten children over a period of twenty years,  all born in Hancock County, West Virginia, Ann b1862, Isaac Kirby b18 February, 1864, Fanny Bell b23 March, 1866, John H  b1868, George R. P. b5 January, 1870, Benoni Edward bNovember 1873, Ida bJanuary 1876,  Blanche. b1878, Samuel, b1880 and last but not least, Bessie May, b13 January, 1883. I have death dates for only three of the ten, Isaac, 24 August 1864, Fanny Bell, 3 December, 1926 and George R. P., 24 October, 1928. In the 1900 census of the Clay District, Hancock County, West Virginia, only three were still at home with their mother, George, Samuel and Bessie. Rebecca lived on another twenty years until 2 February, 1820. She is buried along side  of Jeremiah in the New Cumberland Cemetery. Interestingly, her daughter, Fannybell lived only four more years dieing in Redondo Beach, California 3 Dec 1924. She is buried alongside her husband, John Newton Thornhill in the Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood Park, Inglewood, California, Los Angeles County, California.
 If anyone who reads this has any information on any one in this family, marriages, children,
pictures, deaths ,etc. I would really appreciate receiving it. Also, I have come across pictures of Jeremiah and Rebecca and will add them as soon as I get them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Send Me Your Pictures, Please

Family Pictures.  How important are they? Are they worth a special effort to preserve? Where do you keep them? Are they all identified? Why spend the time to identify them?  I know who they are. I can go on and on with such questions but the simple answer is--you bet they are important. Human memory, while excellent in some regards, remembering precisely how someone looked even a few years ago is difficult to almost impossible without some sort of an aid---a picture. Over time, pictures can reveal a lot of information about someone and if that someone is a long-ago, deceased ancestor, say a hundred and fifty years ago, without a picture you haven't the foggiest notion of their physical appearance, what their face looked like, kindly, friendly, fat, skinny, happy or sad.   A picture that has been preserved of that person almost lets you know them.
The individual farthest back in time of any of my genealogical lines of whom I have a picture is that of Elizabeth Windle, b25 Oct, 1796, daughter of Eleanore Holt and Francis Windle. With regard to my oldest direct ancestors I have a picture of William Humphrey Holt, born in 1806. He is one of only three of the 16  great, great Grandparents of whom I have pictures.  He appears to be friendly, tall, well built, not skinny or fat, obviously dressed for the picture taking occasion and I got the feeling that he was a competent person from his countenance.  How about his wife, Mary Noss? I know little or nothing of what she looked like, was she  tall or short, skinny or fat, dressed well or was sloppy. All I know is my Grandfather Holt described her as being small, fairly agile, enjoyed sitting on her front porch in the evenings smoking a small, white-clay pipe.  A picture of her would be worth more than a thousand words of description.  The other two you haven't seen yet: Jeremiah Smith b1831, and his wife Rebecca Evans, b l844, are the only pictures I have of any of my sixteen great, great Grandparents.
I am fortunate I have pictures of five of my eight great Grandparents, Mary Ann (Taylor) Holt, John and Fanny Bell (Smith) Thornhill and John and Agnes Baxter (Ecoff) Childs. I would really appreciate getting pictures of the other three, Samuel Jacob Holt and Joseph and Sarah Ann (Kennedy) Davis.  Unfortunately, few people smiled for their picture taking in the early days of photography, it took too long to take the picture, so most were solemn, almost pensive, while they waited for the blinding flash and the photographer to say okay. But that doesn't matter, I can still form an image of what they looked like if I have a photo of them.
If any of you out there have photos of any of the folks listed above, or their ancestors or descendants, I would really appreciate having a copy. I'll happily pay for the reproduction. I'd just like to know what they look like. I don't want to restrict my desire for photos to just my direct ancestors, I'd like photos of any of their descendants right up to today. Photos can be exchanged via the Net without any cost. If I publish a photo that you would like a copy of, just ask and it will  come flying your way. I promise you I will not publish a photo of any living person without that person's consent.  I'll wait awhile and then publish the pictures I have as a group.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lorenzo Childs, my Great Great Grandfather

Lorenzo’s birth place has long been an enigma for me. I first find him in the 1830 Brooklyn, Kings County, New York Directory as proprietor of his own store. He does not show up there in the 1830 census. Why?, Who knows? It was here that Lorenzo met the love of his life, Ann Caroline Marshall. She was born 8 May, 1813, the fifth child of John Marshall and Sarah Dayrell, all of whom were born in Barbados, British West Indies. Both John and daughter Ann Caroline were born in St. Thomas Parish and Sarah was born in St. Michael Parish, Barbados. As an interesting aside, back along the Dayrell line one of the Dayrell women was the mother of Jane Seymore, one of King Henry the 8th's many wives.
In those years Barbados had a large population of black slaves who from time to time revolted resulting in many deaths of both whites and blacks. Several years after one such revolt and with rumors flying of another, John, in 1821, moved his family to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York. It was in Brooklyn where Lorenzo and Ann Caroline met. At some point, John and Lorenzo decided to joint-venture Lorenzo’s grocery store and in the 1833 Brooklyn Directory, the store is listed as “Childs & Marshall Grocery.” Tragedy struck soon after the joint venture was consummated.  John Marshall died..

I’m not sure whether it was before or after John’s death, but Lorenzo and Ann Caroline married April 30, 1833 in the Episcopal Church, Jamaica, Long Island, New York. The family continued to reside in New York where the two boys, William O., August 1836 and John Worrell Marshall,  1 January 1838, were born. The family left Brooklyn in 1839, going first to Cleveland, Ohio then on to Pittsburgh and finally, settling in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

In the 1840  Beaver County census I find Lorenzo enumerated with an adult female and two young males under ten. The family then moved to Fallston to take advantage of the waterpower provided by a lively set of falls on the Beaver River. The third child, Nancy Anna, was born  5 December, 1840, a nice Christmas present. Unfortunately, Ann Caroline never really recovered from Nancy’s birth and tragically died the following 21st of March, 1841.

A few years later, Lorenzo married Sarah Mehaffey and had two more children, Charles C, born in 1844 and Caroline in 1847. Tragedy struck Lorenzo’s life again when Sarah died on the 28th of April 1859. Several years later, he married Deborah E. Green, and had two more children,both of whom died in infancy. I can’t imagine such a string of sorrows.
In 1861 the Civil War broke out and in 1862, William, Lorenzo's oldest son marched off with the local regiment. Upon leaving, he had Lorenzo made Guardian of his children. He fought in many battles but was wounded in the face in the battle of Spotsylvania. He eventually was transferred to a hospital in Pittsburgh. About that time Lorenzo contracted the deadly scourge, Small Pox. Within weeks, it proved fatal and he died in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, 19 August, 1864. William immediately went AWOL because of his children and never returned to his unit. That cost him a pension in later years.

Lorenzo was obviously a hard worker and a hustler, trying all kinds of things to make a living. In many ways he had a good and successful life. He went into the machinery business with considerable success, establishing his operation in Smith’s Ferry, Pennsylvania. Another of his entrepreneurial ventures was drilling for oil, interestingly, it was at the same time as Colonel  Drake, who was credited with bringing in the very first oil well anywhere. Drake made his momentous discovery near Titusville, Pennsylvania, not far from where Lorenzo’s efforts were taking place. As they say, close counts only in the game of horseshoes.

One of the long standing enigmas in my research on Lorenzo has been identifying whom his parents were and where he was born. In the 1850 census in Beaver, Lorenzo stated that he was born in Massachusetts . Surprisingly, in the 1860 census he stated he was born in Vermont. I have a bit of data from his son William’s research into where Lorenzo was born and he came up with Vershire, Orange County, Vermont. Unfortunately, he gave no indication where he found such data. I’ve queried both Orange County and Vermont historical entities and they have no record of a Lorenzo Childs born there, or that he ever lived there. But, there are two other items of interest. Lorenzo named his oldest child William. And living and enumerated in Thetford, Vermont, not far from Vershire, in both the 1810 and 1820 census, is a William Childs. The only catch,  in censuses prior to 1850, dependents are listed in gender and age brackets only, not named. And discouragingly, there was nothing listed for Lorenzo's age bracket as we think it was. Or, could he have been born after the census was taken. I don't have a verifiable birth date for him, however, there were two males in the next bracket up. Could one of them have been Lorenzo? And lastly, in the 1841 issue of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania City Directory, there is listed a "Lawrence Childs, Machinist." Remember, he was in Pittsburgh just before going to Beaver.  Makes you think about the fact that the name Lorenzo was popular in those days and he just started calling himself, Lorenzo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rhetta Hogan: Teachings Best of the Best

My Early School Years

We lived in the rural part of western Pennsylvania when my brothers and sister and I were growing up and our early schooling was in a small, one-room, red brick schoolhouse in Brighton Township, Beaver County known as Eakin School. First through eighth grade was taught by only one teacher. In fact, everything pertaining to that school from sweeping the floors, washing the windows, keeping the stove fired up in the winter and meting out punishment to an errant youngster was handled by that same teacher.

Those teachers, in Rural America who taught all eight grades by themselves had to be saints beyond belief. One such teacher whom I remember well and who lived about two miles from us and had been raised next door to my Grandfather, Frank Holt, was Miss Rhetta Hogan. Miss Rhetta, who had taught almost countless years in such schools and would often substitute for our regular teacher. She herself, had gone to Eakin School as a youngster. She continued her education finishing up at nearby Piersol Academy in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania. She died 21 November, 1945. She was a first generation farm lass who never married.

I had her only as a frequent substitute. When she was there, she would ring the bell promptly at eight to bring us all in from playing outside. She would quiet us down by going to the front of the room, turn around and stand, ramrod-straight, with an open Bible cradled in her hands just above her waist. There was always a wisp of iron-gray hair curling like a coiled spring over her heavy eyebrows, which shaded two of the most piercing, steely, blue eyes you ever saw. Those eyes would rivet all thirty-two of her first-to-eighth grade students to full attention as she recited, from memory, passages from the divine book that ruled her life. Next came the Lord’s Prayer. That completed, she would make a half-turn, lift her eyebrows slightly, and as one, she and the obedient class would pledge allegiance to that great symbol of this bold, brash, young country we all loved.

Rhetta was then, when I had her, a seventy-five year old spinster who had taught school for fifty-eight years and would never have dreamed of opening a school day without that ritual. Her entire career was lived out in one-room schoolhouses. Many generations of local Brighton Twp kids were drilled in the three R’s by this stern but gentle, caring woman. Farm born and raised by immigrant Irish parents, Thomas and Hannah (Mullins) Hogan, she lived, worked, and died within one county, Beaver, in western Pennsylvania. When she first started teaching, school was reached by either walking or driving a buggy. When she died, the skies over Europe and Japan were alive with angry, roaring airplanes.

Stories were legion around Beaver county about how this wiry, little woman managed to maintain discipline over pupils, some of whom towered over her by as much as a foot. Everyone, including students, referred to her with typical country familiarity as Rhetta, but no student dared to be so bold to her face. It was either “ma’m” or Miss Hogan.

I remember one warm, spring day when all the windows were open, and except for lesson recitations by students standing around Miss Rhetta’s desk, not a sound could be heard. Suddenly, titters interrupted the silence. Heads turned, first toward the sound and then toward Rhetta. The cause of the tittering was a wasp, with a string hanging from its waist, flying level, about eye-high, around the room. At one point, it flew straight toward a giggly little girl who let out a piercing screech that ignited screeches from half of the other little girls in the room. Pandemonium broke loose. Instantly Rhetta was on her feet and the clack! clack! clack! of her eraser against the black-slate blackboard restored order. Smoke seemed to curl from her eyes and up from her collar as she glared at the bib-overall clad boys one-by-one until something told her this was the culprit.

How did she know? I suppose the pink flush from cheeks or ears, the downcast eyes, or the bare toe scribing circles on the floor had something to do with it. The young man’s demeanor abruptly changed when he was commanded, by a deep, authoritarian voice, to report immediately to the front of her desk. Your obedient servant, who had been thoroughly chastised in front of everybody, was then dispatched to the woods behind the school to cut an appropriate switch with which to have the dust whacked not-too-gently from the seat of his pants.

Woe betide the clown who had the temerity to bring in an inappropriate switch. He would be nailed to his desk for the entire day for a week. His parents would be summoned for a conference and to mete out the required punishment in front of the class. She didn’t fool around and everyone knew it.

This caring woman, who dedicated all of her productive life to teaching had passively but positively, influenced a long line of young people, was of the last and best of the old. I count myself exceptionally fortunate to at least have had her from time to time as a substitute teacher. Also, I went to school with her niece and nephew, twins, Leona and Leo Hogan. Leona was a WAVE during WWll. In the summer I use to earn a little money by picking strawberries on the farm where she lived with her brother, James Hogan, Atty at Law, and his family. What wonderful memories.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

William Humphry Holt & Mary Noss: 1803 through 1896

        Together, they lived almost the entire 19th century. Mary was the longest lived, 8 may 1803 to 8 August, 1896, 93 years and 3 months to the day. She entered this world during Thomas Jefferson's firtst term and left during Grover Cleveland's term just 4 years short of the beginning of the 20th century.
     William Humphrey Holt (left) and his twin sister, Dorcas, of whom, unfortunately, I have no picture, were the only children of Thomas Holt Jr. and Elizabeth (Humphrey?) Walker. Thomas was a batchelor for 44 years and was 45 when the twins were born. It is thought, but is by no means certain, that Elizabeth, who was the eldest daughter (?) of William and Jane Humphrey,  had been previously  married to a fellow named Walker who had died. It appears that Thomas, for whatever reason, gave the  twins to his in-laws(?), William and Jane Humphrey. They apparently kept Dorcas to raise  and William was raised by  their daughter, Margaret and her husband, Thomas Fritz. William's twin sister Dorcas married Francis Windle and moved to Ohio. At some point in William's youth he was "bound" out for his keep. To whom is not clear. What is known is that when Margaret Humphrey, wife of William Humphrey, died, she mentioned in her will her daughter Peggy, wife of Thomas Fritz, and "bound" boy William Holt, to who she left a sum of  money. William named his first male child Thomas Fritz. Could he have been bound to Thomas? Probably.
    William married Mary Noss, daughter of Jacob Noss, on 2 September, 1828 in McVeytown, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. I have  made the assumption that Mary was the daughter of the Jacob Noss who died in the Mifflin County, McVeytown area c1820 without a will. I make that assumption because she named one of her sons Samuel Jacob. Unfortunately, Mary could neither read nor write. She was described by her grandson,  Frank Holt, as a small, very active individual, who in her declining years loved to sit on her porch and smoke her small, white-clay pipe. I would love to have a picture of her.
     William's life span was a little shorter. He came along during Jefferson's second term,  4 June 1806 and lived to 31 July 1877, 71 years and 27 days. Both he and Mary lived through the War of 1812,  Andrew Jackson's two turbulent terms, the Mexican War, and the  very trying times of the Civil War. During that time, communication took a giant leap forward with the advent of the telegraph. William died one year after Ulysses S. Grant's  administration came to an end.
     Mary, most of whose life was lived during the period when candles were the primary source of illumination, lived to see the very beginning of the use of electricity for lights and the very begining of the shift from the horse and buggy for transportation to that new fangled thing called an automobile. They lived through one of the most dynamic centuries of all times.
     William and Mary Noss were married on the eve of the beginning of Andrew Jackson's tumultous two terms as President of the United States. It is my understanding that in those pre-Civil War days, the Holt males voted Democratic. If that was the case,William, if he voted, voted for one of the country's most dynamic, and controversal, President's of all time.   They didn't waste much time in consumating their marriage as their first child, Mary Jane was born the 22nd of June, 1829. She was followed by Thomas Fritz Holt (at left) on 26 October, 1830.
     The family then moved to Vanport, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Living in Vanport, at that time was a Jacob Noss whom I believe was one of Mary's brothers. I have no proof of this however. I suspect the family may have lived with Jacob while William was building their cabin home several miles away in the then wilderness of Mudlick Hollow. As I stated previously, I had a grade school chum, Bill Bailey, that I visited regularly,who was raised about 300 yards from that cabin. I frequently passed the remains of the old cabin on my way to visit Bill, totally unaware of its family significance to me, and would occassionally poke around the old crumbled logs and tumbled down fireplace stones.  It wasn't until I began doing the family genealogy some forty years later that I became aware of its significance.
     On November 24, 1834, in the family's newly constructed cabin, a set of twins, John C and Samuel Jacob Holt were born. It was nine years later,17 November 1843, before the next child, Rachel Ann, was born. Then last but not least, Dorcas was born 13 May 1848. Tragedy struck the very next day when one of the twins, John C., now 13,  died. I have never been able to determine the cause of his death.
     If anyone reading this has a picture or pictures of anyone mentioned in my blog along any of the family lines at any time, or anyone related to anyone in this blog, I would greatly appreciate a copy of that picture. I would gladly pay the cost of duplication and mailing. Also, if anyone has additional information on anyone or their descendants please do not hesitate to send me that iformation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring is in the air

     "Spring has sprung, grass has riz where last year's wreckless driver's is."  Compliments of an old Burma Shave add of 70 or 80 years ago. Another old proverb fits this year in central Arizona; "March roared  in like a lion but is sliping out like a lamb." Beautiful weather these last few days.
     I've been working on several family histories to publish here over the next several days. Much to my sorrow,  I don' have photo's for a lot of the folks I will be writing about. For example, I have a photo of William Humphrey Holt, Sr. but not of his wife, Mary Noss. I have a photo of their son's, Samuel Jacob, wife, Mary Ann Taylor, but not of Samuel Jacob. And of their children I have photo's of only Smith (Richard), Mary, Frank and Clyde. I'm sure pictures exist for William and maybe, Jane and Jeffrey, the two who died a day apart and are buried together. And if any of you have pictures of any of the older generations,  and would like to share them, I'll run a special edition devoted to family pictures. I would like photo's of all lines, Holt, Davis, Childs, Thornhill etc., especially those going back to the Civil War time and this way, say up through at least 1950.  You can send them to me via email at . If you would prefer to "snail mail" them drop me a line via email and I'll give you my mailing address. They tell me I shouldn't put my "snail mail" address on such a public forum as my blog. Sigh!!!! what a society we have become.      

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mike; to your question about Agnus Leman's date of birth

Your question indicates I made a typing error when giving Agnus's age. She was born c1820 in Ireland. Where in Ireland? I don't know. The fact that she was enumerated with Samuel Davis, who was living  next door to his father, John Davis, an Irish immigrant from Bridgend, County Donegal, Ireland, suggests the possibility that John may have been a family aquaintence back in Ireland and when Agnus migrated, she sought him out when she came to America. John was living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when Samuel was born in 1800. Just when the family moved to Butler County, Pennsylvania, I'm not sure. I need to check the 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 census and nail that down.  Thanks for pointing out my error, I really appreciate the help. Tell your Mom howdy, Cousin Bob

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This time I'm really back----Update on ancestor Joseph Davis

We finally thawed out here and I am able to not only get to the computer, I can sit long enough to type. It's been colder than-------here and my computer is in our non-heated basement so I literally froze out. I know, I know, being in Arizona I don't even know how to spell the word cold. Wellll anyway, I'm really back and so shall remain. I hope to get you up to date on the family genealogy I've been doing over the winter---on Gene's portable computer in a warm room of the house. 

I have a little bit of new information on Joseph Davis--not much---but every little bit helps though
     I had a small breakthrough on the Joseph Davis conundrum and just, I mean like yesterday, was able to get in touch with a desdendant of one of Joseph's half-sister's through his mother's (Agnus/Nancy Leeman/Leman/Lehman) marriage to Samuel Davis with whom she and a Margarita Davis (widow of one of Samuel's brothers?) were living in 1850. He confirmed the marriage of Agnus and Samuel Davis and provided me with the names of Samuel and Agnus's (Nancy) children.  In that census in Middlesex Twp., Butler County, Pennsylvania. Joseph, 10 at the time, was nowhere to be be found. Where Agnus had him stashed then is a mystery to me and has been for 35 years.  If anyone out there has a clue, I'd sure appreciate it.

     As an interesting aside, living almost next door in 1850 was Samuel's 80 year old father, John--wife dead by then---who hailed from the town of Bridgend, County Donegal, Ireland. Living with John was one of Samuel's younger brother's and his family. It seems the family had moved from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where Samuel was born, to Middlesex Twp, Butler County, Pa.  Why is this important? Well, just maybe, Agnus also hailed from the same place, Bridgend, County Donegal, Ireland, and when she came to America she needed a place to go to so went to the home of a family aquaintenance who used to live next door in Ireland before migrating to America. A common happening in those days. I haven't checked this idea out yet but I sure intend to.

     As I stated above, in the 1850 census and living with Samuel Davis, Agnus is listed as Agnus Leman(census spelling of her name). In the 1860 and 1870 censuses, now listed as Samuel Davis's wife, she is shown as Nancy Davis and in the 1880 census, still shown as  Samuel's wife, but now as Agnus Davis. I have very little doubt that Agnus and Nancy are one and the same. I must admit though, I have no paper trail to back that supposition up. She died the following year, 1881, and is buried as Nancy Davis in nearby Prospect Cemetery in the plot owned by Samuel Davis. According to data from Prospect Cemetery, buried alongside her in the same plot, are children, Baby Davis, died 1863, John Davis d1872, Robert Davis d1872, (both children of Samuel and Agnus)  Rebecca Lehman, age 2, born 1884, Wilkins, Pennsylvania, died in Hite, Pennsylvania of Brain Fever (typhoid fever?), 6 February, 1886, and last but not least,  J. W. Lehman, born Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1840, died of Typhoid Fever, 12 February, 1886 in Hite, Allegheny County,Pennsylvania.

     All seems to fit, except, in the 1880 census---the only census that I can definitely say it is Joseph---he calls himself Joseph Davis. And, more puzzling, there is absolutely no family lore of the existence of a child of Joseph and his wife Saran Ann (Kennedy) named Rebecca. Compounding this, in the 1900 census Sarah Ann stated she had six children five of whom were still living. If I use Rebecca I can come up with six children, William Stevick, Martha Bell, Amy Nancy (?), Anny Theresa, Albert Hooker aka Herbert Albert and Rebecca. However, in 1900 two would be dead instead of one, Amy Nancy and Rebecca.  Martha Bell and Amy Nancy are listed in William Kennedy's bible however, Anny Theresa, Albert Hooker and Rebecca are not. And remember, living with Joseph and Sarah Ann at  the time was his daughter, Laura, from a previous marriage of his. Was Sarah Ann referring to Laura as the fifth living child even though she was not her's by birth and either Amy Nancy or Rebecca as the dead one? If so, whose child was Rebecca?   If any of you out there are working on this family I could sure use your help.

     I suspect Joseph Davis and J. W. Lehman are one and the same and that Amy Nancy and Rebecca are the children of Joseph and Sarah, but I have no proof, especially for Rebecca. Amy Nancy is at least listed in Sarah Ann's father's, William Kennedy, bible.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apology for Tardiness

I have an excuse rather than a reason for being absent from the blog for such an extended time: Genie, my wife, just went through an operation to repair a broken cuff in her right shoulder and I've been attending to her needs the past week. How was the cuff injured? She was taking our new German Shorthaired Pointer, Ruff2 on a walk, when Ruff spotted a rabbit and leaped after it. Gene was jerked so hard she hit the ground on her right shoulder, while still holding on to the leash. The fall resulted in tearing the cuff in her arm and when the arm failed to respond to healing she went to the Doc. He gave her the bad news, the cuff has been torn and you will have to have surgury to repair it. Thus the surgery. And thus my absence. As I said, its more of an excuse on my part for my absence rather than a reason. I'm back and working on a new blog entry which should get posted either later today or tomorrow at the latest. I promise you I will do better in the future,  Bob

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kindly Neighbors

As I've noted previously, I grew up in a time and place where the change was underway between the non-electrical past and the modern mechanical, electrical everything of today. Here, I've chosen a family of the past who were our neighbors and have described for you a bit of of how they lived and the things they used everyday which are now not on,ly things of the past, but today can only be seen in museums.  I am a little windy this time, but wanted to show your part of the distant past I actually interfaced with while growing up. I hope you aren't bored with my windy description of some of those things.
A typical neighbor and farm in the community I grew up in those day would have been that of our neighbors, John and Ada Gillespie, in their mid-seventies , veritable personifications of the past.  It would be impossible to find a more kindly, neighborly, devout, honest pair than they. Their son Bill lived next door and had several children that were my contemporaries. Their home was more ancient than they and was a weathered, dark gray, clapboard house of one story. It did not have running water or a bathroom and I’m certain they did not feel deprived one least bit.
Their drinking water was drawn from a dug well located just off one corner of the house. It was outfitted with a hand-cranked windless, set on a small rectangular, cemented-chunks-of-rock enclosure about four feet high. The enclosure was covered with a shingled-roof erected several feet above that. The windless was a horizontal round wooden shaft, six or eight inches in diameter and three feet long, that extended across the well opening. A rope was attached to the shaft. A wooden bucket was attached to the rope and could then be lowered rapidly, or tossed into the water in the well so it would sink when it hit the water’s surface, and fill. The crank handle attached to the windless was then turned and the rope wound itself around the large shaft bringing the bucket, with its cool refreshing contents, to the surface. That water, which was always sweet and cool, was to me the best there ever was.
Adorning the well and the house were ancient, flowering vines. The well and the house were sitting within an oasis of large shade trees and a carpet of exceptionally green grass. No matter what the summer temperatures, that oasis was always cool and inviting.
West of the house was a two storied workshop and granary and west of that, a very large black, two-story bank-barn (entry to three sides at ground level with dirt built up on the remaining side to the second floor for entry to that floor). Just north of the barn was a smaller building used as a butchering plant. The horses and cows were stalled in the lower floor of the barn and the hay and grain was stored on the upper floor. Hay stored in the great mows above could then be tossed down through openings for the animals below.
To harvest the hay and put it into the great mows was one of my pleasures as a kid. On a typical work morning I would help old John harness the two ancient white horses, Bob and Dick, and depending upon which operation was being undertaken, hitch them to a mower, rake, or wagon.

John wouldn’t let me use the mower, I was too young. I could use the dump rake--more modern folks had a side delivery rake. The dump rake had great curved set of tines probably four foot in radius, attached to a bar running the width of the rake between its two large, spoked, metal wheels. Centered on the width of the rake and extending at a right angle to it was a tongue about ten feet long, with a double tree extending across it with two single trees attached. Two harnessed horses, called a team, one on each side of the tongue, their harness traces attached to the double trees, pulled the rake.
When the gathered hay filled the inside of the curved tines the bar was pivoted by shoving your right foot down onto a lever pedal which would raise the tines and dump the hay. These dumped piles would be connected forming long “windrows” across the field. The windrows would then be pitched by hand into hay doodles--small piles of hay four or five feet across and three or four feet high--using a three tined hay fork. Later, The doodles where later hand-pitched up onto a large, horse-drawn hay-wagon. My job, at first, was to drive the horses between the doodles. Later, when I could pitch up hay, I learned the horses had done it so often that a driver wasn’t necessary. John would cluck to them and they would move to the next doodle and stop.
Frequently, the monotony of pitching the hay up on the wagon where another person would distribute it, was broken when a snake, usually a black snake that had crawled under the doodle for warmth at night, was tossed up with the hay. Everyone was always sure it was a copperhead, a poisonous rascal. Much shouting and jumping would occur, followed by laughter at the escape-antics taken by the recipient of the snake.

When the loaded wagon was brought to the barn, one of the horses would be hitched to a “single-tree,” a wooden shaft about three feet long, six inches wide and two inchdes thick with metal hoops attached to the ends and another positioned in the middle. The middle hoop had a rope attached to it which in turn was attached to a large, two-pronged fork. The rope then went up to a pulley system in the rafters of the barn. The large U-shaped fork was three feet high and three feet across. Each tine of the fork had a recessed prong on the inside that was retractable. These prongs could be opened after the fork was buried into the hay on the wagon and a large “jag” of hay could easily be lifted off the wagon. As the horse moved away, the jag of hay would then be pulled by the rope up to a special pulley attached to an extension to the top of the barn where it would then move horizontally on the pulley over the mow. When the desired location was reached, a smaller rope that hung from the tine frame and attached to a lever connected to the inside prongs, would be pulled retracting the inside prongs permitting the hay to fall in place. My job was to ride that horse and stop him when the jag of hay was in the right place for dropping into the mow. To put my job in prospective again, later when I was big enough to work in the mow and there was no one to ride the horse, the horse had performed that ritual so many times that when old John would "up Dick,or Bob," whichever one was hooked up, off the horse would go and stop when John called again, then turn around and come back and patiently wait until the next jag was ready.

I wonder how many folks today would have that kind of patience to work with a neightbor's kid who unquestionably slowed down the progress of the work at hand. I doubt there are very many. Those were different times.