4/19/14

Traces of a Queens Genes

AtoZ Challenge...Letter Q's fiction from forgotten fotos

Who Do You Think You Are?

Really!!!  Isn't it considered rude to answer a question with a question, I thought to myself as I looked the 'Professional Genealogist' in the eye and said....

"I think I am the 17th Great Granddaughter of the Queen of Scotland." 

Her pupils dilated, she bit her lip and her eye began twitching as she replied, "Uh huh, and I am descended from a Pope".

OMG!!!  She thinks I'm some kind of nut job, I thought as my heart raced and my left eye twitched.   I bit my lip, furled my eyebrows, peered over the rims of my specs, and retorted...

"When Pigs Fly".
"Exactly".
 
She handed me a Kleenex and said, "Here wipe your eyes, and let's get started tracing your Queen Genes".

Another gale of laughter and uncontrollable flow of tears streamed down both of our faces, as I took the tissue, dabbed my eyes and handed her the photo of my Great Great Grandfather Rene.  "I thought his given name Rene was unusual for a man from the deep South and after ruling out his paternal namesakes, I found another Rene on his mother's side of the family.  He was named after his mothers grandfather".

After sharing the rest of my confirmed research which ended at Plymouth Rock, I left the 'ProGenealogist' a 'cheek swab' and a down payment toward the search and confirmation of my 'Queen Genes'.

Two weeks later a package arrived with this book and accompanying note....

Dear Sue...just a quick note to let you know that your 'Queen Genes' may be so, although grave digging through Scottish Royalty is a bit tricky.  Seems you're ancestors may have suffered from GVD....an inherited disease.

Genealogicus Vulgaris Disease...A chronic mental disorder usually contracted in mid and late adulthood, though  occasionally found in teenagers.  Disorder is characterized by a strong desire to conclusively identify every member of a family. 

Sufferers enjoy reading obituary columns and frequent trips to cemeteries.  Physical symptoms include:  an involuntary twitch when the word "ahnentafel"* is mentioned in casual conversation, dilated pupils and increased heart rate when passing local libraries or state archives, sweaty palms in the presence of a microfiche.

Only known cure is death, which must be proven with the appropriate certificate.

EXACTLY!!!
*ahnentafel...genealogical numbering system for listing a person's direct ancestors in a fixed sequence of ascent.  Wikipedia link.

4/18/14

The Child Prodigy

AtoZ Challenge...Letter P's fiction from forgotten fotos
...continued from Letters N-O...Naturalization Papers and the Orphaned Boy


"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the conductor for this evenings performance of La Boheme, Henry Schurtz Thorensen".

As our son turned to the audience and acknowledged the introduction, I turned to his mother and said, "Look, Hilda, our Henry has fulfilled his destiny." 

Henry raised his baton and with a subtle motion to the 'Strings', the violins opening chords filled the Metropolitan Opera House.  Tears filled my eyes and I was transported back to the time I first heard these opening strains of La Boheme....

....he stood on the chair, violin tucked under his chin and drew the bow across the strings.  The Missionary Office was packed with displaced immigrants seeking their way to become a part of America's promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Every man, woman and child stood in awe of the child on the chair as he performed the opera.  I was among them.  I was to be this childs father.

After weeks of searching, no relatives were found and no one came forward to claim the Orphaned Boy.  For days after discovering his dead mother in my Naturalization Office, I could not get the boy out of my mind, or the idea that we had missed some identifying clue on his papers.  The overlooked number on his citizenship papers was finally traced to his mother's application which revealed his last name and her immigration history.

The immigrant crowd burst into applause as the music came to an end.  I took Henry by the hand and we walked away as father and son.  Through the years, Henry continued to perform a repertoire of operatic music beyond the grasp of a child. 

It was after his use of English improved we learned that his grandfather from the old country had given him the violin. "Mama's papa made violins.  My Papa played the violin at a big concert house". 

It was not until Henry entered Julliard, that his violin was taken to a violin specialist for tuning.  It was there that Henry's natural parents and grandparents gifts and legacy were fully understood.

The 'Old Violin' found in his Mama's bag...the one tucked beneath a small boy's chin...the one that brought crowds of people to tears...the one played by a small boy standing in a chair...was a...
Strativarius.

4/17/14

Naturalization Papers, and the Orphaned Boy

AtoZ Challenge...Letters N and O's fiction from forgotten fotos

It had been a long day of hearing oaths in so many different accents that the Naturalization Officer hardly recognized the 'Oath of Allegiance' anymore.  As he stamped and certified the last oath taker, he called for the next person in line.  A small boy stepped forward and handed him his papers.

"Where is your Mother, young man", he asked as he looked around the now empty room.  The boy pointed to a chair in the far corner of the room and began to cry.  "Mama, Mama", he sobbed.  The Officer came from behind the counter and approached the woman who appeared to be sleeping.  He placed his hand on her shoulder, and spoke softly to her, "Madam, it is your turn". 

"Mama, wake up", cried the boy as he attempted to climb in her lap.  As he did so, the woman slumped forward and fell to the floor with her sobbing child holding her in his arms. 

In the minutes and hours that followed, the Officer sent for the immigration/morgue authorities, searched the woman's bag for identification papers and comforted the boy, who between sobs, had revealed his name as being Henry.   The search for the woman's identification yielded only the papers the boy had given the Officer, which proved that his name was indeed Henry, but the last name was unreadable.

With no other alternatives left for identifying the child and finding his next of kin, an Immigration Missionary Representative was notified.  The Missionary organization provided assistance to those immigrants who needed temporary shelter and protection especially, to women and children. 

The Naturalization Officer knew that young Henry would be in good hands and receive the care and attention he would need as an Immigrant Orphan.   He gave the Missionary Representative Henry's mother's oversized bag with the old violin, and the citizenship papers, such as they were, in hopes that they would contain a clue to Henry's identity. 

Little did he know that he held the key to Henry's identity the whole time.
And never would he have guessed the part he would play in Henry's future fame and fortune. 
To be continued with Letter P's fiction from forgotten fotos
The Child Prodigy

4/15/14

Mrs M's Mink and Mable's Perm Machine

AtoZ Challenge...Letter M's fiction from forgotten fotos

Her name was Maggie.  I'll never forget the day she bolted into my Beauty Parlor with two dead weasels draped around her neck and a towel wrapped around her head.

The driver gave her the all clear before she stepped out on the curb and dashed into my shop.  As soon as the door was pulled closed, she started giving orders to close the shades and lock the door...like SHE owned the place.

My girls jumped to it as if a machine gun was in Maggie's hand instead of her purse.  Satisfied the shop was locked down and the threat of becoming the Chicago Tribune's next days headline, Mrs. 'M' jerked off the turbaned towel and began to wail, "Just look at my hair!!!  That Butcher Beauty Operator has ruined it."

You could hear the 'GASP' of all three of us Beauty Operators as we stood in the semi-darkened, locked, beauty shop in a stunned state as we stared at her neon orange stripped and spiked head of hair.  I quickly slipped the scissors I was holding in my pocket.

By now, she was in a state of sobbing snot and smeared mascara.  With all the compassion and care I could muster, I slipped the 'Mobster Mink' from her shoulders and seated her in a chair facing away from the mirrored wall.  Then assured her we could restore her color and fix the 'Butchers Botched Bob'.

Soon the flaming stripes were covered with 'Mary T Goldman's Hair Restorer' and Maggie's botched bob was clipped and layered for the latest  and stylish 'Wave'.  "Now, Mrs. 'M' the very best thing for your new style is a perm, I said as I guided her over to the 'Perm Machine'.
"I don't know Mable, it looks kinda scary".  You sure it's safe? 
One threat of electrocution in the family these days is enough."

4/14/14

Letters Written by Lamp Light

AtoZ Challenge....Letter L's fiction from forgotten fotos
 
August 5, 1861 
My Dear Brother Jessie,
      It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that our Mother has joined her heavenly father in the promise land.  Praise be, she is free of the pain and suffering that has long been her burden to bear.
      In her final hours, Jessie, her thoughts and prayers were for you.  Tears of love and sorrow filled her eyes as she prayed to Our Lord and Savior to comfort you with his healing touch on your wounds and heart. 
'Sweet Jessie, we will be together in the Glory of Heaven." 
With those last words, she went peacefully to The Glory.

Your devoted sister,
Mary Amanda

August 20, 1861

 My Dear Brothers George and John,
      It is with a greater sadness than you will ever know that I write to you of the death of our beloved Mother. I do so at this later date than her passing to include the Obituary from the Jacksonville News.
      As I write this letter and think of Mother's last days, I am reminded to tell you of her concerns for her three sons as you fight in this terrible war.  Her prayers were constant for her sons so far from home in Tennessee and Texas.
      Days before her passing, we recieved a letter from Jessie.  It was penned by another, but were his words of news that he was mortally wounded and lying in the hospital at Camp Bristow, Tennessee.  Jessie passed from this earth one day after Mother on August 6, 1861.  Her faith and close conversation with The Lord opened her heart and soul to a vision of the Glory of Heaven.  In my minds eye I see her inside the Golden Gates, her loving arms reaching out for Jessie as he walks the golden path to comfort and love of his Mother and the Lord they so love.
     I pray, my Brothers, that Mothers vision and words are prophetic for the safety and well being of you both.  It has been many months since you left Alabama for Texas, and the lack of news from you gives us concern.  We continue to pray for you both and for news of your safety and well being. 
Your loving Sister,
Mary Amanda
Obituary - The Jacksonville Republican News, Jacksonville, Alabama - December 12, 1861
Agnes Susan Castelberry Leatherwood departed this life August the 5th, 1861, aged 52 years, on month and 15 days.  The deceased was a native of South Carolina, then moved to Benton County (now Calhoun) Alabama where she remained until her death.  She had been affected for some time, and the latter part of her afflictions was very severe and yet she bore the same without murmur.
The deceased lived a member of the Baptist church and adorned her profession by a godly walk and close conversation;  but her seat is now vacant in the church house, and also in the family circle;  but in the language of Revelation, "blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from hence forth, yea saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works, do follow them." 
Her Christian walk will still live in the memory of those with whom she associated.  She was a warm and devoted friend, and generous and forgiving to her enemies - a good and generous neighbor - a kind and affectionate wife and mother.  She has left a husband, 10 or 11 children, and many relatives and friends to mourn her loss, but their loss is her eternal gain.  We sympathize with the family in their bereavement, and may the Lord give them grace to sustain them in their heavy bereavement.
Letters Written by Lamp Light is a fictionalized account based on true facts, dates and names from my Leatherwood Family Tree.  Agnes Susan Castelberry Leatherwood  was my 4XGreat Grandmother.  Her oldest son John Moore was a Confederate Soldier in the 20th Regiment Texas Volunteer Infantry. He survived to become my 3XGreat Grandfather, but his brother George died of wounds inflicted on a battlefield in Texas.

4/12/14

Kinfolk from King Williams County

AtoZ Challenge...Letter K's fiction from forgotten fotos
"According to these documents, your 6th great grandfather was a Chancellor to King William and established the colony now known as King Williams County."

Finally, a small scrap of information explaining, what for generations, has been called the family's 'Royal Curse'. 

I thanked the Antiquity Records Librarian for her help in tracing the recently discovered maiden name of my fathers great great grandmother whose ancestors hailed from King William County.

My quest for answers to an affliction that has plagued the men in my family for many generations began with this question asked of my father...

 "Pa, why do you not own a straight razor?"

Little did I know then as his youngest girl child, that his answer would lead me to my life's work.  Not to mention the discovery of a Royal Family's secret that lead to my own Royal Blood Line.


"Daughter, I have no need of a straight razor, for I am cursed...as was my father and his father before me.  For as long as we know, the men of our line do not shave for fear of bleeding to death.  For some unknown reason, it has been called our family's 'Royal Curse'."

In conclusion:
~The Chancellor was King Williams illegitimate son and carrier of the 'Royal Disease'.
~The Chancellor's son, my father's grandfather, bled to death from a musket ball wound to the leg on the battlefield of the Revolutionary War.
~Chancellor Kingston, my father's father, died of old age having never shaved or owned a musket.
~My father, Chance Kingston, lived a long life with the knowledge that the 'Royal Disease' he was cursed with ended with his death...he was the last of the male heirs of King William's illegitimate son.

Signed:  Dr. Chauncey Kingston, M.D. of Hematology
 Director of Haemophilia Research
King Williams County
~Photos in this story from CollectInTexas Gal's OldPhoto©Collection...representatives of the periods and not meant to be taken as persons named in this story.
~All Family names are fictious and used to enhance the story's Alpha theme of the Letter K.
~This author's 5xGreat Grandfather was born in King Willliam County, Virginia, and was a decendant of Royalty with no known or documented 'Royal Disease' in lineage.
              

4/11/14

'Ordinary Court' Judge's Greenback Judgement

AtoZ Letter J's...fiction from forgotten fotos

"All rise for the Honorable Daniel Pittman".  At the command of the bailiff, the buzz of conversation turned into a combination of noise from chairs scraping on the wood floor and the rustle created by the standing of a packed courtroom.

The Honorable Judge rapped the gavel and declared, "This Court of the Ordinary will come to order and remain orderly throughout the 'Declaration of Judgment' in the case of the Fulton County Greenback Party versus the Congressional Resumption Act of 1875."

At the mention of the Congress, the courtroom burst into a shouting of slurs, fist pounding, and foot stomping....Damn Yankee Bankers...Crooked Money Changers.  After a good bit of gavel pounding and threatening to clear the courtroom, order was restored and the Judge continued, "Before I declare the courts Judgment in this case I offer this 'communication' recently published in the *Macon Weekly Telegraph, April 2, 1878."  (for brevity, the following is in parts from the original article sourced from GenealogyBank.com)

~The talk of too many greenbacks is all bosh, suggested by the bondholders to mislead and deceive the people. 
~Look at the wide and undeveloped West and southwest, which is waiting for money even as the ripened wheat fields of Ohio and Illinois yearn for the mowers and reapers to save the golden grain in July.
~Look at the natural increase of the population of this country from births and immigration.
~Above all, look at the ruin;  degradation, starvation and bankrupts which have all been caused by the contraction of the currency and the creation of the non-taxable bonds, and then tell me if there is danger of too many greenbacks.

We are quite sure if the people could be made to understand aright, they would never consent to the restoration of the old banking system which flooded the country with a deluge of bills, not one in five of which could be redeemed......in gold or silver.  What is needed, is all the gold and silver that can possibly be utilized as a circulating medium, supplemented by an additional issue of greenbacks to supply the wants of trade, guaranteed by the United States government, and made receivable for taxes and all other dues not inconsistent with previous contracts. 

Then we would have a uniform currency and be in no danger from spurious wildcat money. 
by Mr. Daniel Pittman of Atlanta, Georgia for the Atlanta Constitution.
 
The courtroom burst into appreciative and courteous applause as all stood and quieted as Judge Daniel Pittman stated the courts judgment....
"I find in Favor for the People of Fulton County, Georgia in declaring the
Congressional Resumption Act of 1875 unfair and unacceptable."
Court Adjourned!
~The Honorable Daniel Pittman was my 1st Cousin 4XRemoved.  The photo is a representation of the period and not to be taken as Daniel Pittman or any person named in this story.
~The courtroom scene and court case is fictional, but the historical events and Daniel Pittman's writings are authentic and sourced via the links included.
~* Macon Weekly Telegraph, Macon Georgia Vol.LIII, Issue 13, pg.4...copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society, 2004
~One dollar Greenback of 1862...The Color of Money   ~  The History of the Greenback Dollar

4/10/14

The School Teachers Improvised Identity

AtoZ Challenge...Letter I's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'

Geo. W. Crossley was the name signed on the application being considered by Carter Malone.  Mr. Malone was a widowed rancher with six school age children.  It had not been easy, fulfilling his wife's deathbed wish of rebuilding the school and hiring an Eastern Educated School Master.  It was about to become a reality.

None to soon too...to his way of thinking, as he studied the 'Dandy' in the photo from the only application received from the ad placed in the New York newspaper.  He would have to do...the school was finished and the town was ready for their children to resume their studies after the untimely and sudden death of their teacher and the mother of his children.

Under the signature was a well penned postscript...Arriving April 10 by train.  Ready to assume teaching position.  Self assured 'Dandy'...not waiting for a confirmation, thought the rancher as he continued to study the photo.

The next day the entire town turned out to welcome the new School Master with a 'Welcome Mr. Crossley' banner.  As the train conductor helped the first of the travelers down the steps, Carter pulled the photo from his jacket pocket.  Not one of the disembarking passengers looked like the Dandy School Master.  A hush fell over the crowd of anxious children and their parents as the last passenger stepped off the train, looked out over the crowd and spoke...

"Thank-you for the warm welcome. It's wonderful to be here after such a long journey."  At that moment, the conductor, escorting two men carrying a makeshift pine box asked, "Where should we put this box?"

Suddenly everyone started talking at once.  The children were crying.  The train whistle was blowing and steam poured from the smoke stack as it stoked up for departing the station.  Finally, Mr. Malone directed the assumed pall bearers to his wagon noting how easily they bore the weight as they practically tossed it onto the wagon. 

Turning his back to the crowd, he came face to face with a pair of familiar eyes.  Still holding the photo, he held it aloft near the New Yorkers cheek confirming his suspicion.  He felt as if he had been punched in the gut.  He took the travel worn satchel, nodded toward the pine box and asked, "Is this all of your baggage?"

Georgina W. Crossley, affirmed with a nod of her head that the satchel and pine box was all of her baggage...for now.
To be continued...

4/9/14

Here Ye, Here Ye...Headlines From The Big House

AtoZ Challenge...Letter H's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'
...continued from Letter G...

The newspapers had a 'Headline Hay Day'...
 
Laude, Laude! VP's Girl A Lawyer
Needless to say our ritual breakfast following 'The Suffrage Hike on DC' and my incarceration were a bit strained.  Father's headline ranting could be heard from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.
 
Mother, bless her heart, tolerated his outbursts with a practiced ease.  "Hannah, tell your daughter, that I refuse to pay another cent toward her bogus law degree", was his reaction to the revealing of the 'First Woman Law School Graduate' from his Alma Mater.
 
"Yes, dear.  I suppose that means you will decline having the new Law Library named after you", mother said as she turned to me and continued..."Georgina, you must know how betrayed your Father feels knowing that you deceived him in the pursuit of a Law Degree rather than a Doctorate in the Arts."
 
At that, Father slammed the offending headline down on the table and proceeded to the next daily newspaper with a dramatic gesture of unfolding the front page.  Mother calmly reached for the 'Laude, Laude' article and began clipping it from the front page as she leaned closer and whispered, "Don't worry, dear, I will continue to pay your tuition.  I'm so proud of you."
VP's Daughter In Holding Tank
VP Suffers Over Suffragette In Slammer 
"OUTRAGEOUS!!!  I can not believe that my own flesh and blood has put me in this position.  Women's Right to Vote!!!  Never happen!!! Mark my words, young lady!  Hannah, tell your daughter how sensible women like you have no business messing in politics or a say in who runs this country", Father ranted as he again slammed the paper on the table and stormed out of the room.
 
Mother rolled her eyes, picked up the papers and her scissors and said, "Now, Georgiana, as soon as you see 'General Jones', assure her that I have procured the space and staff we talked about.
My, my, we are so close to fulfilling our Law School Pact. 
 I wish I could be more public in my support.  

4/8/14

The Graduate and General Jones

AtoZ Challenge...Letter G's "fiction from forgotten fotos"

Father was just finishing his morning coffee and ranting over the headlines when I sat down for our ritual breakfast.  "Ridiculous", he shouted as he backhanded the offending headline...General Jones and Troops Prepare March on Washington

"What's that Father?" I asked, knowing full well what set him off. 

"Nothing to worry your pretty little head over, Georgina.  Just a bunch of trouble making women making fools of themselves over the absurd notion of women's right to vote. 

I'm ever so thankful you have such a sensible head on your shoulders and have chosen to study Art.  With your talent and cultural upbringing you will have no trouble marrying well."

"Yes, Father, of course.  Speaking of studies, I must be on my way.  I am running a bit late. Oh, and remember I will be away for the next two weeks on the Watercolor Retreat."

By then he had retrieved the slap-torn paper and was engrossed in an article announcing his Alma Mater Law School Graduation and it's first woman graduate who requested to remain anonymous until Commencement Ceremonies. 

"Ridiculous", he shouted again and threw down the paper as I quickly grabbed my hat and bag.  General Jones was adamant about being on time, and as the 'Legal Counsel' for 'The Suffrage Hike on DC', being late would not serve well for my position as her 'attache' to the Press.

 I met 'General Jones' at Mrs. Wilson's Capital Charity Ball.  As a wealthy Senator's wife, she was a sought after attendee at political fund raisers and socialite events.  Her involvement in the 'Suffrage Movement' and the little known fact that she held a Law Degree was the catalyst of our fast friendship.  She became my mentor and I...her right hand woman.

Two weeks later, that is where I found myself...right beside 'General Jones' in the 'Slammer' as the Washington Post headlines read.   Somehow, the DC police were not impressed with my Summa Cum Laude almost Law Degree, but were quite taken aback by my 'Headliner Last Name'.

I knew from all the clamor that Father had arrived....
"Yes, Sir, your daughter was arrested right along with the other 'Suffragette Demonstrators'.  Yes, Sir, on the steps of the Capitol Building.   No, Sir, she has not been arraigned or her name released to the Press."

"Here she is, Mr. Vice President!"
 
To be continued with Letter H...

4/7/14

Flora's Fight for Texas State Flower

AtoZ Challenge...Letter F's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'
'The Dames', congregated on the steps of the State Capital carrying baskets of bluebonnets.  "Ladies, let's make our entrance into the Legislative Chamber one they will never forget". 

At that 'The Colonial Dames of Texas' stampeded through the massive double doors of the chamber and marched down the center isle tossing bluebonnets right and left. 

The pandemonium that followed was a sight to behold, and certainly achieved the unforgettable entrance my Great Aunt Flora was after.

I first heard this story from my Aunts...Bea and Irene as they stitched on their Mother, Flora's Bluebonnet quilt block.

"Sister and I pieced this top years ago.  How many was it, Bea?", Irene asked.

 Beatrice paused with her needle stabbed in a blue floral hexagon, and answered Irene, "Well, now let me think....I believe it was right after Mama decided she wanted Bluebonnets in her flower garden."

 "That's right, I remember now", Irene said and launched into the Bluebonnet story.
Mama was a member of the Colonial Dames of America In Texas who were instrumental in getting the Bluebonnet named as the State Flower.   Remember Sister, when she told us about speaking before the Texas Legislature to convince them to pick the Bluebonnet over the Cactus? 

There she was debating the merits of a flower that only blooms in the spring, lasts for only a couple of months and is difficult to grow from seed, against *Cactus Jack.  He certainly had the upper hand, being a known politician and promoting a plant that was found from Brownsville to Amarillo and from Texarkanna to El Paso. 

Whereas the Bluebonnet grows mostly in Southern and Central Texas.  Beatrice piped in with, "I loved it when Mama told about how she whipped the *Vice President of the United States on the floor of the Texas Legislature with a Lil Ole Blue Flower.

  After Flora's passionate speech on the floor of the Texas Legislature in 1901, the 'Lupinus subcarnosus', sandy land bluebonnet or buffalo clover became the only species of bluebonnet recognized as the state flower of Texas.  Wikipedia

Great Aunt Flora and her sisters owned and operated 'The Wall Flower Shop' in Wall, Texas.  The four sisters...Flora, Fern, Fauna and Fuschia were founding and charter members of 'The Dames'.  Their shop became known as 'The Great Wall Flower Shop' and the Bluebonnet their ©Trademark.

You may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know."  W.Lee O'Daniel, 34th Govenor of Texas 1939-1941
*Cactus Jack, aka  John Nance Garner, Vice President of the United States 1931-1933

PS...Great Great Uncle Fesscue and Aunt Ferna Flowers certainly did have a sense of humor when naming their four daughters. 

4/5/14

The Enumerators Error

AtoZ Challenge...Letter E's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'
 
Department of the Interior, Central Office
Washington, D.C. May 1, 1900
  Attention Enumerator:   enumeration must be completed within two weeks from June 1.
Particular Attention to Details in following Sections:  Name and Relationship Section-Column 3-4, #108 through #125...Personal Description-Columns 4-6.
June 15, 1900
Good Afternoon, Mrs. Carroll.  I am Mrs. Jenkins the Census Taker.  I apologize for the interruption of your evening meal, but I am down to the last day allowed by the Department of the Interior and your household is the last family on my schedule.  Is your husband home?
 
My Great Grandmother had just settled her children at the table for their supper. She offered the Census Taker a glass of tea and explained that her husband and brother were in the field and would not be in for at least another hour. 
 
While Mrs. Jenkins made ready to fill in the Census Form,  Janie filled the children's plates then sat down with her glass of tea and provided her husbands name as....Head of Household....Stephen Carroll, white male, birthdate..Nov 1872, married, 3 years, Farmer, born in Tennessee.  She was just finishing with the last person in the household, John her brother, when her oldest reached across the table for the basket of bread, and in the process knocked over the Enumerators glass of tea.

The Enumerator quickly picked up the completed Census Form and began shaking off the tea which had a few rivulets of tea and black ink spotting the page.  Janie had dashed to the kitchen for a cloth which helped to blot the now blurred letters of her children's 'Personal Description-Columns 4-6'. 
 
My Great Grandmother apologized as she dried tears and hushed bawling children.  Mrs. Jenkins packed up her papers and prepared to leave as quickly as possible.  It had been a long day.
 
Later that evening she envisioned the children as she had seen them at the table and attempted to repair the blurred lines of their names and relationship.  The oldest one was wearing a dress, and I can just make out O t h e l l, so the last letter is 'a', she thought to herself.  Then she completed that childs line with daughter in column 4 and F for Female in column 6.  A few months later, the Stephen Carroll Family sat for this portrait. 
Standing next to their father are sons Merritt Douglas and Othello Elisha. 
In Great Grandmother Janie's lap is my Grandmother Stella.
April 2010
One hundred and ten years later when this photo was found in Janie's Photo Album their identities were not known, and I tagged it  "couple and three daughters".  Through a lot of 'Photo/USCensus Research' including Mrs. Jenkins 1900 Census report,  I was able to determine that the couple was indeed Stephen B. and Martha J. Carroll and their three children.  Mrs. Jenkins in her haste, left Stella off completely, and mistakenly put an 'a' at the end of the name O t h e l l  instead of an 'o'.
 
One look at him in that skirt, and I'd have made the same Enumerator Error!

4/4/14

The Dowager of Dower Pond

AtoZ Challenge...Letter D's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'

"Get out of my house...you no good *Jackleg Lawyer!"

"But, madam, you must sign this *'Dower Release' in order for the property to be sold."

"Yes, I know," replied my great great grandmother.  "Now, my daughter will show you to the door, and you can tell my husband to go jump in the property's pond."

Those words echo in my head as I sit here with pen in hand contemplating the 'Dower Release' before me. The two generations of women before me faced this same piece of paper.  Had they signed, I wouldn't be in this position today.  Yet, I must consider the times...

Great Great Grandmother was known as the Dowager of Dower Pond long before she became a widow.  And, no her husband did not 'go jump in the pond' and drown, although he probably contemplated it more than once after years of wheeling, dealing and gambling with the 'Pond Property'.  The Dowager stood firm in her refusal to sign as did her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter.

That was then...and even through all the 'Wheeling and Dealing' the family home remained intact.  The Dowagers house was home to generations of daughters who refused to sign and threw out the Dower Release paper pusher Jackleg Lawyers.  This is now, and times have changed.  The family properties have been divided and divided again with each Dowager Daughters daughters. 

I am the last Dowager Daughter, and as I stand here looking out over 'Dower Pond', as it has been called since the first 'Dower Release' refusal, I hear the first Dowager's words in my head...."Get out of my house...you no good Jackleg Lawyer".
As this latest Dower Release is falling in tiny pieces around my feet, I am thinking...
To Hell with it! 
My Jackleg Lawyer soon to be Ex-husband can...'Go Jump in Dower Pond'...
right beside his Beloved Boat!
 
*Jackleg Lawyer...characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards. Merriam-Webster
*Dower Release...A married man in many U.S. locations could not, by law, sell land unless his wife consented.  She was interviewed apart from her husband and swore she was under no compulsion or duress from her husband regarding the sale.  She then swore and signed a 'Dower Release'.  pg 246 How To Do Everything Genealogy
~Photo from My Great Grandmother's Album...Unidentified, but possibly my Great Grandfather's Mother and Sisters from Tennessee.

4/3/14

The Confused Clergyman

AtoZ Challenge...Letter C's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'

"Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the holy matrimony of three sisters and three brothers." As the witness/guests gasp and snickered in unison, the clergyman realized how his introduction of the 'Triple Wedding' participants sounded and quickly cleared his throat and said, "What I meant to say was these three Sister Brides and their three Brother Grooms".

This time, the guests broke into gales of knee slapping laughter, the mother of the brides fainted and the father of the grooms nervously pulled at his overly tight bowtie. By now the Sister Brides were rolling their eyes and the Brother Grooms were jabbing each other's sides.  The clergyman, aware that his first wedding ceremony was not going according to the 'Good Book's Plan', decided to simply start over.  He raised his hand, and as the crowd once again grew quiet, he stammered out the opening lines...

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of  these Three Sisters and Daughters of...a nod and open hand gesture to the parents on the left...and these Three Brothers and Sons of...a nod and open hand gesture to the parents on the right.  The now recovered mother of the brides was whiter than her three daughters virginal wedding dresses, and the father of the grooms was as red as the Rose Boutonniere on his lapel.
The Clergyman, now feeling in control found his place in the 'Good Book' and continued with, "Please join hands and repeat after me Sister Constance and Brother Clyde".  Constance and Clyde repeated their vows, said their I Do's, kissed and stepped back.  Constance took both of her twin sisters bouquets and stood behind them to serve as their maid of honor.  Clyde in turn stood behind his brothers to serve as their Best Man.

The Clergyman motioned for the two couples to move together and join hands, and began the recitation of the vows.  As was traditional and stated during Constance and Clyde's vows, the question of "can any man show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined" went unanswered.  Relieved beyond belief, the Clergyman smiled at the Twin Sister Brides and their Brother Grooms, "I now pronounce you....."

At that moment before the final words were declared, the Mother of the Brides rushed to the podium and between sobs said...
"They cannot marry.  They ARE Sisters and Brothers".
 
The Confused Clergyman snapped shut 'The Good Book' and threw up his hands!
 
The Mother of the Grooms...slapped the Rose Red Faced Father of the Brides and Grooms!
 
Constance handed her shocked sisters their Rose Bouquets, hugged her new brothers-in-law and...
...marched down the isle with her new husband waving the Marriage Certificate signed by
The Confused Clergyman...
who was scratching his head trying to remember if he ever got to say...
I now pronounce you man and wife!

4/2/14

The Burglar and Betsy's Blue Transferware

AtoZ Challenge...Letter B's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'
"Take that you dirty rotten thief"!  Those words were followed by a freshly filled, fine china teapot flung with a fury to match the impudence of the person who dared to burglarize my great great grandmother Betsy's parlor.  At least that is how the story has been told and re-told down through the generations.

It was one of the first nice days in April after an unusually long winter of being cooped up, and Betsy was  looking forward to entertaining her father's new business associate with an afternoon tea.  She had set out her Mother's treasured 'English Blue Ridgeway' Tea Service being ever so careful with the proper placement of each piece on the tray.  The 'Family Heirloom' set with it's blue design known as transferware, had come all the way from England without a single piece being broken or chipped, and had been a gift from her father to his bride on their wedding day. 

In her will, Betsy's mother had stipulated that the china be gifted to her daughter on her wedding day.  Tears formed in Betsy's eyes as she remembered her promise to be the caretaker of the treasured, heirloom china.  And so it was with tears in her eyes and the words of her mother on her mind, that she entered the parlor with the teapot filled to the brim with steaming hot tea to find an intruder standing in front of the lace curtained window.  A clear view of the burglar was blocked by the sunlight as it streamed through the window and illuminated the fine china teacup held in the right hand of the burglar as he studied it's worth.

Without a second thought she flung the teapot and hit the silhouetted figure square in the back of the head.  As if in slow motion, she watched as the teapot shattered...spilling hot tea down the mans back and sending china shards and streams of tea in every direction.  The man yelped in surprise and grabbed the back of his head with the his left hand and slowly crumpled to the floor all the while protecting the delicate teacup in his right hand.

Seconds later, Betsy's father stormed into the room pistol in hand ready to shoot Betsy's 'dirty rotten thief' and yelling over Betsy's screaming and the man's moaning, "What in the Hell is going on here?"  Betsy was sobbing hysterically, "Oh no, look what I've done to Mother's Teapot.  It's all his fault father...Shoot Him!!!!" 

Months later,  as Betsy was telling her bridesmaids the story behind her mother's wedding gift of the set of Transferware, she went on to explain the mis-matched Teapot.  When she finished the 'Bashing of the Burglar' story, the bridesmaids were all talking at once with, "Did your father, Shoot Him?  Was he bleeding all over the carpet?  How did he break in the Parlor?  Oh, Betsy, you brave thing, what did you do?"  Betsy's reply...
 "No Father did not shoot him. 
Yes, he bled like a stuck pig all over the carpet from the gash on the back of his head. 
He walked in the front door with Father and was waiting in the Parlor for Tea to be served."
As for what I did...I agreed to marry him on one condition."
"What was that", asked the bridesmaids in unison.
Betsy pointed to her wedding gift from her 'Beloved Burglar'.



4/1/14

Alfred & April's Brush With Disaster

AtoZ Challenge...Letter A's 'fiction from forgotten fotos'
April 10, 1912...Southampton, UK

"Alfred, be a darling, and ring the concierge for a cup of Garfield Tea."  April's request, as she reclined on the settee in their posh honeymoon suite, caught Alfred in deep thought as he stood before the window overlooking the dock.

"Yes, of course my dear, right away," was his response as he gave the ornate bell pull a firm tug.  "I am so sorry, my Sweet, that you are feeling indisposed.  Perhaps we should postpone our return trip home."

Before April could reply, there was a courteous rap on the door, and within seconds Alfred was requesting a pot of the herbal tea for his ailing wife.  "Be certain the tea is Garfields, as my wife has a splitting headache and please, see that it is steaming hot," said Alfred as his peaked wife bound off the settee and made a dash for the 'Lue'.  Alfred's next request came as no surprise to the hotel service staffer, "please, send up a chamber maid as well".

When April returned, she courageously began packing their trunks while sipping the medicinal tea which Alfred had laced with a generous splash of Scotch.  "I am feeling some better, Alfred.  I believe we will make our departure time without delay," she said as she hurriedly packed her vanity items.

While Alfred saw to checking out of the hotel and engaged a porter for their trunks, April finished the pot of tea, made a quick study of the room, donned her hat and met Alfred in the lobby.  Soon they were crossing the busy street in front of the hotel to the departure dock where the porter placed their trunks in line with the other passengers waiting to board.

Suddenly, April let out a shriek as she opened her vanity case where she had placed their tickets for safe keeping.  "Oh no, my brush is not here.  I must have left it on the dresser in my rush.  Alfred, would you go back and get it for me.  I could not bear to leave without my lovely wedding gift from you, my Darling.  I will wait right here with our trunks."

Alfred checked his pocket watch, calculated the slow moving boarding line, handed April his hankerchief and turned to cross the street.  Now busier than before, the street was filled with passengers, their luggage and an extraordinary number of photographers and reporters.  The hotel lobby was a hub of activity as well, and getting to the desk for a key took forever.  Alfred checked his watch once he had retrieved  the forgotten brush, and noted that he had been gone more than a half hour.

A feeling of panic and dread overcame him as he rushed across the street in time to see the ship slowly being tugged out of the harbor. The massive crowd yelled and waved their goodbyes to the passengers now throwing streamers and confetti from the crowded decks.  Alfred pushed and shoved his way through the crowd to no avail all the while searching the decks for a glimpse of his bride.

As the ship floated farther and father away, the forlorn husband stood staring at the embroidered roses on the back of the brush envisioning his lovely wife sitting in their stateroom her hair a mess.  The crowd began to disperse, and still he stood there in disbelief.   Moments later he was shocked out of his despair when his wife flung herself into his arms sobbing uncontrollably.

Oh Albert...sob sob... I'm so sorry, I must have fainted from too much Tea.  I don't understand it's never affected me that way before...hic..sob..sniff..hic.  Now look what has..hic..happened!! 
 
We have..hic..missed the boat!

Five Days Later!

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