Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pap, Because "Grandpa" Sounded Too Old

When I was a young child, I remember my father mentioning "Pap," but I didn't know who he was - except that he was someone I'd never met. As a young adult, I learned that Pap was my father's grandfather, William Doyle. I sensed that Dad held Pap in very high regard, but Dad didn't say much about him.

A number of years ago, after my father's death, I began corresponding with my father's half-sister, Tressa. I learned that she also held Pap in very high regard.

She said that Pap was "an extremely kind person and loved children." He was "short and just a little on the stocky side." My mother remembers hearing him make this comment to someone, maybe her: "You might be good for something if you weren't so tall." I don't know if the comment was made in jest or not. Aunt Tressa wasn't sure whether Pap held a bias against tall people, but said that Pap was "outspoken and definite in his opinions."

I asked Aunt Tressa how her grandparents came to be called Maw and Pap, she said they "didn't want to be called Grandma and Grandpa -- they thought it sounded 'too old.'" The grandchildren called him Pap, but the neighbors, his friends, and possibly adult relatives, called him Billy.

Pap was the oldest child in his family. In 1869, his father, Andrew Doyle, came to America from Northumberland, England. Then in October, 1870, at the age of 7, Pap came to America with his mother, Elizabeth Jane (Laws) Doyle, and 3 siblings. They lived in several different towns in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, until they eventually settled in Stoneboro.

He married Tressa Rose Froman on March 17, 1885. If you're interested, come back on the 17th and learn a little more about them as a couple and family.

Pap farmed, mined coal, and grew strawberries for a cash crop. After his widowed son, Gust, remarried, Pap and his wife built a home in Stoneboro and moved into town. Every day Pap travelled the 2 miles from town to the farm to help on the farm: he drove the car in the summer, walked in the winter.

This photo is of Pap standing outside the home of his closest and next youngest sibling, Elizabeth Jane or, as she was usually called, Liz Jane. A closeness developed on the ship from England that remained throughout their lives.

Pap was born on this day in 1863. Happy Birthday, Pap! It hope it's a grand one. I look forward to meeting you.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.


  1. Great story - "Pap" has such a kind face, no wonder his grandchildren regarded him so highly. I have many photos of ancestors who posed in front of their homes - I wish more of my "recent" ancestors had done that. Somewhere along the line it must have fallen out of custom. I love to see the old homes along with the ancestors.

    1. It seems like it was so much more common decades ago for people to stand in front of homes for photographs. I wish it happened more often with my parents and grandparents, too. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Karen.


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