Monday, March 31, 2014

August 18, 1920 - A Day for the Ladies

This is one last post for 2014 Women's History Month, beginning with the briefest of history lessons about the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women....


The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex....

The resolution that become the 19th amendment was submitted to Congress for ratification on May 19, 1919.  In less than a month, on June 16, Ohio ratified it and just a week later, on June 24, Pennsylvania ratified it.  (Those are important states to my ancestors.)  But in order to become an amendment, three fourths of the states had to pass it.  It wasn't until August 18, 1920 that Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment.  Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby, certified the ratification on August 26, 1920.

What of my direct-line female ancestors who were living at the time?  Were they eager to vote for a president during their first time in the voting booths?  Did they follow politics?  Did they have strong opinions about local events?  I don't know and probably never will unless I find one of their names in a newspaper.  Still, I'm interested to think of these first-time female voters in my family.

I have eight direct-line ancestors who were living in August, 1920.

My mom, Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, was born on June 5, 1915.  She would have been five in 1920.  Although she grew into an adult who was avidly interested in politics I'm positive that she couldn't have cared less, or understood less, what women having the right to vote meant.  As an adult she was grateful to have the right to vote.

My grandmother, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, was born July 6, 1892.  She would have been nearly 28 the first year she would have been able to vote.  At the time she had two small daughters and a strong-will husband.  Was she interested in politics?  Did she have opinions as strong as her husband? 

Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff was born on 26 Oct 1872.  She would have been 47 when the amendment was passed but probably 48 by the time she first voted.  She lived in small, peaceful Mineral Ridge.  She may have kept up with issues and candidates through local newspapers.  She may have been thrilled to be able to vote.  She had 19 more years to enter a polling both.

Lydia (Bell) Thompson, born May 8, 1851, was 69 years old when the amendment was certified.  As far as I know, Lydia was literate but at 69, would she have been interested in women's rights, in politics?  She lived until February, 1930, so she would have had nearly 10 years to cast her vote in elections.

Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen was born on August 24, 1852.  During the year and months that the 19th amendment was being ratified, she was dealing with cancer on her face.  She died two months before women were given the right to vote.  Was she interested in women having the right to vote?  As an illiterate adult, would she have voted?

Elvira (Bartley) Gerner turned 66 in 1920.  Of all of my direct-line female ancestors, I can imagine her being interested and opinionated about women being able to vote.  She was a midwife, had her own buggy, and hitched her own horse to help women in need in her community.  She lived another 23 years.

Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle was born in 1867.  She was 52 or 53 when she would have had the first opportunity to vote.  Family tradition says she was strong-willed, but there's no information about whether she was interested in politics or interested in being able to cast her first vote for a president.  She would have been able to vote 15 more times.

Catherine (Saylor) Froman is my oldest female ancestor who was alive when women were given the right to vote.  She was 76; born in Germany on June 5, 1844.  Her husband, also born in Germany, became a natrualized citizen which, I believe, gave both of them the right to vote.  Catherine became a widow at a very young age, left with 7 little children.  Perhaps she was too overwhelmed to be interested in voting, or perhaps her English was limited.  Or maybe she was thrilled to be in America and have the right to cast a vote in the first election in which women in America could vote.  She would have been able to vote for eight years.

Having written this post I realized that I truly know nothing about my female ancestors' voting habits.  I wonder if voters lists are available for the areas in which they lived.  It's a new area of research for me so I will have a lot to learn when I begin that search.

Do you know if any of your female ancestors voted in the first election in which women in America could vote?  Do you have any ancestors who actively participated in the efforts to help women get the right to vote?  Do you know the voting history or political leanings of any of your female ancestors?

You can read more about the 19th Amendment on NARA's Featured Documents.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Overlapping Lives

During this Women's History Month I've been thinking about the mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters among my ancestors and how much time - how many years - their lives overlapped. 

Audrey, Emma, Mary
My mom, Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, was born in 1915.
Her mother, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, died in 1973.
Audrey was 58 when her mother died.

Emma was born in 1893.
Her mother, Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, died in 1940.
Emma was 53 when her mother died.
Audrey was 25 when her grandmother died.

Mary was born in 1872.
Her mother, Lydia (Bell) Thompson, died in 1930.
Mary was 58 when her mother died.
Emma was 37 when her grandmother died.
Audrey was 15 when her great-grandmother died.  Again, she didn't have much contact because this grandmother lived a day's drive away.

Beulah, Elvira
Beulah Gerner, my father's mother, was born in 1888.
Her mother, Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, died in 1943.
Unfortunately Beulah died in 1913.  They had only 25 years together.

Elvira was born in 1854.
Her mother, Rebecca (Smith) Bartley died in 1899.
Elvira was 45 when her mother died.

Tressa (Froman) Doyle, my father's paternal grandmother, was born in 1867.
Her mother, Catherine (Saylor) Froman died in 1928.
Tressa was 61 when her mother died.

. . . . .
I been thinking, too, about what skills and values the older generation taught their daughters and granddaughters.  I know some things my grandmother taught my mother, and can imagine some things my great-grandmothers taught my grandmothers, but I need to do a little more research before writing that post.  The times in which they lived, especially two generations apart, would have changed some of the details of their lives.  A post for another time.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Section of Real Life & Family History

In the telling of a story the narrator takes a bit from life as definitely and completely as one would cut out a paper doll, trimming away all of the flimsy sheet excepting the figure.  A section of real life is not so detached and finished, for the causes and consequences of it reach backward and forward and across the world....

There are those who would call it the end of the story....  To say the story is finished is not true, for no mere story can ever be complete, no family history contain a beginning or an end.  One may only cut out a bit from life, trimming away all that went before and all that will come after.

first and last paragraphs of the novel
 Spring Came On Forever by Bess Streeter Aldrich

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mom's Pies, The Great Depression, and Rationing

I'm sure you've heard others praise their mother's pies.  They talk about the perfection of the filling -- just enough sugar, a perfect combination of spices, not runny but not dry; and the crust - tender, flaky, melt-in-your mouth.  Perhaps your mother was one of those ladies who baked perfect pies.  But my mother was not.  Her pie fillings were generally good; but the crusts were another story completely.  The crusts were tough, sometimes cut-with-a-knife tough, sometimes almost cardboard tough.  (Forgive me, Mom, if this truth hurts your feelings.)  If I could manage it under the watchful eye of my mother, I ate the filling and left the crust on my plate. 

I knew my mom didn't learn to bake pies from her mom, my grandmother, because my grandmother's pies were perfection.  Everything about her pies was perfect.  They were delectable with just enough thickening to keep the filling from being runny; not too sweet, not at all sour but tart when necessary.  And her crusts truly did melt in our mouths.  I thought perhaps my grandmother had tried to teach my mom to bake pies but my mom just didn't have the touch. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw a 4-H blue ribbon among my mother's things.  She never once mentioned having been in 4-H.  Imagine my even greater surprise when I discovered the ribbon was for a pie she'd baked!  A blue ribbon for a pie my mom baked?!  Maybe the blue ribbon pie was a fluke.

I mulled over that pie and blue ribbon for a while.  It gradually began to make sense.

My mother was a child of the depression.  She turned 14 just a few months before that awful Black Friday in October, 1929.  Everything must have changed for her and her family after that.  Plentiful was probably no longer a word in their vocabulary nor a description of food in their larder.  What food they had was probably not used for such treats as delectable pies.  Surely the blue ribbon had been won the year before.

Having been a child of the Great Depression, she became a mother during that same Depression, then during the rationing of World War II.  What her mother may have been able to obtain during the Depression could have been beyond my mother's reach during the time rationing was enforced. 

During those difficult years, my mother seemed to have adopted an that she carried throughout the rest of her life:  an attitude of  "make do or do without," an attitude of scrimping and saving (of food as well as all other necessities) for some future possible need.  An attitude that a pie is still edible even if the crust is tough.  Several pies with less shortening could mean a cake or cookies later or shortening for some other purpose.  After all, having lived through the depression, World War II, and rationing, one could never tell what the future might bring and what would be needed to survive through it.  

As a descendant it's easy to take things at face value or to assume I understand situations based on my own experiences.  But the times in which my ancestors lived is very different from the time in which I live.  I keep learning, in new ways for each ancestor, that things aren't always as they appear.  There may be more to the story than meets the eye. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Beulah and Gustave - Wedding Wednesday

          Hark!  the bells were ringing but
       they were not Christmas bells.  Gus-
       tave Doyle and Miss Beulah Gerner
       were married on Wednesday evening
       the 20th.  Some 200 guests were in-
       vited and an elegant wedding supper
       was served.  We wish them a long
       and happy life.

Weddings are a cause for joyful celebration.  It is the beginning of a  new life together, often in a new home for the wife and sometimes for both spouses, the beginning of a new family.  In Beulah's case, she moved to the farm where her husband had been born and raised.  Having grown up on a farm she surely was accustomed to the work, chores, and routines of a farm. 

I can imagine the joy they and the rest of their families must have felt on that wedding night and at the wedding supper.  But from the perspective of 100 years, I feel sorrow for subsequent events.

If only the sentiment in the newspaper, "We wish them a long and happy life," had been prophetic instead of only a wish, the lives of many would have turned out much differently.  Beulah and Gust had a short marriage.  Beulah died in April, 1913, little more than two years after her marriage and four weeks after the births of twin babies and death of one of them.  She was just 24.  Gust remarried a few years later and was the father of several children.  He died of cancer (or complications of surgery) 20 years later in 1933.  He was just 44.

No descendant survives who can tell me whether Beulah and Gust's marriage was happy, whether Beulah enjoyed her new home and life on a different farm.  I can only imagine and hope there was joy....

This newspaper article from the December 26, 1911 issue of The (Greenville, PA) Record-Argus was a gift from Dayna, a cousin who recently found my blog.  Her line and my line meet at Gust's daughter, Tressa Doyle Wilson.  Thank you, Dayna.

Seeing my grandfather named as "Gustave" took me by complete surprise.  His descendants who I know have always given his name as Gust or Gus. 

Civil records give the marriage date as December 19, 1911.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Those Little Arrows on FamilySearch Search Results - Tuesday's Tip

Am I unobservant or are those arrows at FamilySearch new?  Do you know the ones I mean?  After you've typed in a name and the search results appear, there are little arrows on the far right side for each name.

See, on the way far right, below where it says "Preview?"  There are little downward facing arrows.  If you mouse over an arrow is says, "Show Preview."

Look what happens if you click on that arrow.

All the extracted information is shown with a single click.  No need to unnecessarily click back and forth between screens.  By looking at the preview information I can generally tell whether I want to look at the actual image.  If so, I can click on the individual's name.  If I find this is not the person I'm trying to find, I can click the arrow again and hide the preview.

FamilySearch keeps finding great ways to make things easier for us!  Thank you, FamilySearch.


Monday, March 24, 2014

52 Ancestors - Learning about Mary

Mary Richardson is my great-great grandmother.  I was thrilled to find an image of her marriage record online today at FamilySearch.  She married Jacob Thompson on July 24, 1848 somewhere in Jefferson County, Ohio.

The marriage record transcribes as,
No 26            Jacob Thompson & Mary Richardson

              The State of Ohio, Jefferson County SS
                                         I hereby certify that on the 27th day
              of July A D 1848 Mr Jacob Thompson and Miss
              Mary Richardson were legally joined in marriage
              by me a Justice of the Peace.
                           Given under my hand this 24th day of
              August A D 1848
                                                      Thomas Thompson

Could Thomas Thompson, Justice of the Peace, have been related to Jacob Thompson?

I know little about Mary other than what I can discern from this marriage record and census records plus what I've found about her children from Ohio death certificates.  It seems that she had (at least) 8 children, born between 1849 and 1869.  She is named as the mother (and her husband the father) of these individuals on Ohio death certificates.
  • Elizabeth R., born 17 Jun 1849
  • John, born abt 1850 or1851 (my direct ancestor)
  • Martha Jane, born 4 Mar 1853
  • Rachel Anna, born 7 May 1856
  • Mary Ellen, born 20 Jan 1858
  • William Henry, born 4 Apr 1861
  • James R., born about 1866
  • Amos R., born about 1868

Census records reveal the following.
  • In 1850, Mary was 26, living in Cross Creek Township with her husband and one child, Elizabeth.
  • In 1860, she was 37, living in New Athens Township, Harrison County, Ohio.  Jacob was a coal digger.  There were 5 children:  Elizabeth, John, Martha, Rachael, and Mary.
  • In 1870, she and Jacob were back in Cross Creek Township.  She was 47 years old.  There were the same children as in the 1860 census, plus William, James, and Amos, a one-year-old baby.
  • In 1880, at age 58, Mary was a widow living in Cross Creek Township.  Her children, Mary, William, and James were living at home; in addition; her son John and his wife, Lydia, and their four daughters were living in the home.

There is no sign of Mary Richardson Thompson after the 1880 census.  And since Amos, about 12 years, wasn't at home in the 1880 census, I'll have to look for him.

By my calculation, Mary was born between 1822 and 1824, and died sometime after she turned 58.  How I wish the 1890 census hadn't been destroyed.

Obviously, I have more work to do.  At the very least, I hope to find death records or obituaries for her and her husband.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our Two Memory Boards - Book of Me

The two boards in this post are the closest we have to memory boards in our home.  (Sorry for the reflections in the one below.  The board is in a location where it doesn't get much light so a flash is necessary.  And neither are the very clearest of photos, but you get the idea.)

This board... at the end of a hallway leading from near our kitchen to our family room.  I see it a dozen or more times every day.  It holds all of our most recent family photos (at least the ones we've printed or that have been sent to us) and it reminds me of the preciousness of my family.

It's about 25" x 35" and is made from a 50-cent mirror frame purchased without the mirror, some foamcore, fabric, ribbons, buttons, embroidery floss, and a few toothpicks.

This board ...
... is not exactly a memory board in the strictest sense of the word.  It's more like a bulletin board with plenty of reminders to jog my memory and help me stay focused.  It is 4 feet by 5 feet and sits to the right of our computer.  It has just one family photo, other photos and images I like, quotes with thoughts that I need to keep in mind, a clock, a calendar, a list of family birthdays, and other miscellaneous flat, hang-able things that are interesting (to me, at least).  My daughters and I made this a dozen or more years ago from homosote with Osnaburg stretched over it.

I love having both of these boards:  adding, subtracting, and rearranging are so easy and I enjoy looking at them.

This is another post in The Book of Me series, created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.  The prompt, #23, for this post was "Memory Board."


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Creating an Abstract of a Document

I've been transcribing John Froman's Orphan's Court file.  Most of the pages are completely handwritten.  The handwriting is beautiful and generally easy to read, but if I want to know the essence of the contents of a page I thought it would be easier if there were an abstract of the information so I could visually scan it instead of having wade through the handwriting or even the transcription.

I had never abstracted a document before and wasn't sure how to do it or what information should be included.  My guess was names, dates, locations, and anything else of importance that I'd want to refer back to for genealogical purposes. I searched and found several helpful articles.

Kimberly Powell's article, "Abstracting & Transcribing Genealogical Documents:  Cutting Out the Fat;  rules & Techniques for Genealogical Abstracts"  recommends including "everything which a genealogist might find significant or helpful - names, dates, places, monetary amounts, land descriptions, witnesses, relationships, etc."

"Transcribing and Summarizing Genealogical Documents.  Abstracts:  Summarizing the Document," recommends looking for names, dates, places, and events.  Further, the article states, "Although there are fill-in forms available for use in abstracting, they are constraining and not recommended.  Trying to conform to the order on the form means rearranging the information from the document.  In adapting the information to fit the form, omissions can occur or clues in the wording and order might be lost...."

"Index, Abstract, Extract, Transcripton, Translation", published by the California State Genealogical Alliance
gives this definition:
Abstract -- A summary that records all the important detail from a whole document.  Generally the abstract would retain the information in the same order it is found in the original.  It should contain all the important elements of the original document including the individuals involved, description of any property involved, dates[.]  An abstract might contain an extract, in which case the extract should be set off by quotation marks.

A section of Hints & Tips Ten:  Palaeography, Part 1:  How to Create Abstracts from Old Documents gave an example of an abstract.  I realized that I hadn't included relationships in the first page I abstracted.  When I looked at the transcription again, I realized that no relationships were listed on that page (but I know that several other pages in the file do mention relationships, which I will be sure to identify.

This is part of the abstract I created for the first two pages in John Froman's file.

I thought it would be helpful to put the abstract at the side of the page I was transcribing so everything would be together.  I also thought it would be helpful to include legal terms that are new to me.  I may change this up completely, but this is my beginning idea.

Have you abstracted documents?  How have you done it?


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Old and Interesting, Home Things Past - Tuesday's Tip

I am fascinated by the old ways, the old equipment, and the old methods of  home-keeping.  Old & Interesting is a website where I can learn how my female ancestors may have done the laundry, ironed the clothes, and about some of the utensils they may have used to prepare food.  I can also learn about brooms, buckets, beds, and the covers that kept them and their families warm on cold winter nights.  Old & Interesting is devoted to all things about the home and home-keeping in previous centuries.

I have often wondered how women with young children managed to keep them safe while cooking over an open fire or using a wood cookstove.  I was pleased to see an article about baby walkers that answered some of my questions.  I learned that one can cook without a fire.  And what pigs and cherry stones have in common.

As the creator of the site uses old paintings to illustrate some of the entries.  You can see a list of topics on the left sidebar on this page and the page with the sitemap has a list of all topics

Home Things Past is a companion website to Old & Interesting but seems somewhat broader in scope.  Kitchen and work items are included but there are also sections on crafts, furniture, and textiles.  Mushrooms and eggs?  (But not for eating.)   What do you do with your old clothing?  Learn what your ancestors may have done with those worn out britches or aprons.  Maybe you will enjoy the articles in the hygiene section.

Traditionally, the realm of the kitchen and the care of the home belonged to women.  The wife, the mother, the daughters and sisters managed the keeping of the home and all things associated with running the home smoothly.  I'm thankful to live in times in which we have modern conveniences including electricity, running water, and an assortment of tools to make food preparation and home cleanliness easier.  But I love learning how my foremothers may have managed the same jobs I do at home.

No, it's not eactly family history, but it helps me understand the environment in which my female ancestors lived.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

52 Ancestors:  Cora Bickerstaff

Cora Bickerstaff was born on February 28, 1911.  She was the youngest of 9 children born to Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.

She was an aunt before she was born.  Her oldest brother, William, married in 1909 and he and his wife, Lucy (VanKirk), had their first daughter, Emma, on April 15, 1910.  (And their second daughter, Helen, was born on July 16, 1911, just 4½ months after Cora was born.)   Do you imagine there might have been some competition as those girls grew?  Might Cora have tried to insist that her older nieces call her "Aunt Cora?"  Perhaps, but I'll probably never know.

In fact, Cora was "Aunt Cory" to me, a great-aunt:  she was my maternal grandmother's sister.

In 1920, Cora was 9, living at home on Warren-Canfield Road, Austintown Township, Mineral Ridge, Mahoning County, Ohio, with three older brothers ages 14, 18, and 23.  Poor her.  I'm sure she was teased.

Cora graduated from Mineral Ridge High School in 1930.  She was, of course, still living at home (on Cherry Street) at the time of the census.

In the 1940 she was 29, single, and living at home with her parents and brother on Morris Street in Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, Ohio.  She was working as a packer at a glass factory and earned $800.00/year.  I think I remember my mom saying that she worked at the General Electric Glass Plant in Niles, Ohio, where they made light bulbs.

Cora never married.  My mother once said that Aunt Cory wanted to go to nurse's training as my mother had and regretted not being able to go.  Her mother, Mary (Thompson), died in September, 1940, her father, Edward Jesse, in December, 1945.  After their deaths she and her brother Daniel lived together in a little house at the end of our street.

Aunt Cory was a pleasant lady.  I remember that she always had a little dog -- maybe named Trixie, but I don't remember the breed -- that I enjoyed playing with.

Aunt Cory died on February 26, 1999, just two days shy of her 88th birthday.  Interestingly enough, Cora's older sister, Mary (known to us as Mame), died just 8 days later on March 6 at the age of 99.   They were the last living children of Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks



Ten Plus One for Women's History Month

Here's another list of books I enjoyed that seem to fit with Women's History Month.  They are all fiction, but every one has either a strong woman (or women) as the main character or is about a woman and family history.  I think all give an idea of an earlier time period to help the reader understand the social and physical environment of a time in which our ancestors lived.

I hesitated to share fiction but felt encouraged to do so after reading Jill Lepore's discussion of history vs. fiction in Book of Ages.  It seems that in earlier times -- late 1700s -- some people believed that history was less true than fiction and that a story made up from one's mind could be more accurate than someone's version of history.  I've already returned Book of Ages to the library so can't quote from it but the discussion definitely gave me a different view of historical fiction and of history edited and rewritten.

So here are eleven historical fiction books I've enjoyed in recent years.  Perhaps you will enjoy them, too.

The Trees.  Conrad Richter
This is the first book in The Awakening Land trilogy.  The setting of the story is Ohio before it became a state in 1803.  The heroine of the story is Sayward (pronounced Saird) Luckett, a girl as the story begins.  Along with her father, mother, and four younger siblings, she travels to the wilds of Ohio and the family begins to make a home there.  By our current standard of living, the challenges they face seem insurmountable.

The Fields.  Conrad Richter
This is the continuing story of Sayward and her family.  In this second book of The AWakening Land trilogy Sayward marries and has children.  The forest becomes fields and by the end of this book there is a small town around her house.  I think this series is excellent for social history for the genealogist. 

The Town.  Conrad Richter
I think Sayward Luckett Wheeler is one of my heroes!  There is a quiet, sensible (and sometimes almost primitive) wisdom about her – very down to earth.  This book received the Pulitzer Prize in 1951.  While the series takes place between the late 1700s and mid-1800's (through about the Civil War), the last book seems timely for today.  It's the story of a woman and her family but in addition, the reader is presented with the change of values, living conditions, and expectations that took place during the story's time period.

Maisie Dobbs and others in the series.  Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie served as a nurse during World War I.  At War's end she opened her own business as a private investigator.  In this first book, through her memories, we learn about her earlier life as a servant, as a battlefield nurse, and how she came to learn the skills to be a private investigator.  All the books in the series present cultural and social situations of the post-World War I time period.  Which of any of our ancestors didn't live through World War I, either in the U.S. or somewhere else in the world?

The Illustrated Lark Rise to Candleford.  Flora Thompson   
This is autobiographical but presented as a fictional story.  The author Flora becomes Laura in the book which takes place in 1880s Oxfordshire, England.  Lovely.  This is a great book for anyone interested in social history for that time period in England.

Wives and Daughters.  Elizabeth Gaskell
I saw the movie before I read the book.  I liked both equally well but for different reasons.  The book, as nearly always, gives more insight into the thoughts of the characters.  This is a story about the child, Molly Gibson, who grows into a young woman in early 1800s England.  Elizabeth Gaskell wrote about the time period in which she grew up so there may be more accuracy to this book than some of the others. 

The Forgotten Garden.  Kate Morton
At age 18 Nell learns that she was raised by parents who were not her own, that she was found by the man she thought was her father, a shipyard worker, on a dock in Australia.  She searches to find out who she really is and the search continues with her granddaughter, Cassandra.  This is perhaps this book is the one that most clearly focuses on family history of this group.
     From the book:  “How odd that she should be so moved by the plight of forebears she’d only just learned she had.”

Remarkable Creatures:  A Novel.  Tracy Chevalier
I enjoyed this book.  It took a bit to figure out the time period, which turned out to be early-mid-1800s.  This is a biographical novel of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot who were both early discoverers of fossils in Lyme Regis.  Though there’s about a 20-year difference in their ages, a friendship develops.  I thought it was very tenderly written.

Mama’s Bank Account.  Kathryn Forbes.
This is the book on which the movie “I Remember Mama” is based.   The book is just as good as the movie was.   This is about a Norwegian-American family in about 1910.  The book is filled with vignettes in which the family members face challenges and overcome those challenges with the help of Mama.  It was a pleasure to read this book.   

North and South.  Elizabeth Gaskell
Margaret lives with her aunt at the beginning, then moves back home with her mother and parson father.  Her father gives up his calling as a priest and moves the family to an industrial town in the north of England.  Changes all around.  Again, Gaskell wrote about what she knew.

My Name Is Mary Sutter.  Robin Oliveira
Strong-willed, independent Mary Sutter, midwife, desires to become a surgeon on the eve of the Civil War.  When rejected by the medical schools of the time she becomes a nurse for the Union Army.  The author places fictional Mary into historical settings where she interacts with both fictional characters and historical figures.  The book primarily focuses on the medical environment during the Civil War, particularly on the battlegrounds and immediately after battles.  Be prepared for some gruesomeness.

Happy reading!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Arches, Hallways, and Windows at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places to visit.  I became acquainted with it as a youth when I passed through with my parents on a very brief vacation.  I really discovered it with my own family about 15 years ago when we bought a season's pass and visited throughout the year for a week or two each visit.  

One aspect of the site that I really enjoy are the buildings with their delightful architectural details.  Below are three photos of the Wren Building and one of Wetherburn's Tavern.  Don't look too closely at the photographs or you will notice that I'm not much of a photographer.  Even so, looking at these photos reminds me of pleasant times with my dear family at Colonial Williamsburg.

Sunlit Arches at the Wren Building

We spent a rainy afternoon touring the inside and looking toward the outside.
Looking through an Arch in the Wren Building

Window in the Wren Building

It is hard to imagine living in a building with a hallway along this slanted roof with windows, but then I guess no one really lived there full-time since it was a tavern where visitors lodged for a night or two, then moved on.
Upper Floor of Wetherburn's Tavern

Do you love architectural details, too?  If so, click through to Sepia Saturday 219 and find links to others' posts with images of arches, domes, and ceilings.


Daniel and Cora Bickerstaff - Sibling Saturday

Daniel Bickerstaff was the fourth child and third son of Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.  He was born in 1897.  He married, divorced, and never remarried. 

Cora (or Cory, as I knew her) was the ninth child (the youngest) and fourth daughter of Edward Jesse and Mary Bickerstaff.  She was born in 1911.  She never married. 

In later life, after their parents were both gone, they lived together in a small house near the end of our street.  When I was a young child I thought they were married.

This photo was taken sometime between 1941 and 1945.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Picnic Caramel Cake, Baked Apple Pudding, & More Recipes from Gramma's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book - Family Recipe Friday

Gramma usually used only the fronts of the pages in this spelling booklet but this page has recipes both front and back.  And this is the only time she pasted recipes that she'd clipped from a magazine or booklet onto the pages.  Most certainly the first recipe came from an advertisement for or from a box of Swans Down Cake Four.  By the pristine appearance of this page I can only guess that my grandmother either did not use these recipes or memorized them.

Picnic Caramel Cake
    Cream ½ cupful butter, or substitute, with ¾ cupful sugar.  Beat the yolks of 4 eggs until light and add ¾ cupful sugar, beating hard.  Add the egg and sugar mixture to the butter and sugar, mixing well.  Sift 3 cupfuls SWANS DOWN CAKE FLOUR, measure, add 4 teaspoonfuls baking powder, ¼ teaspoonful salt, and sift three times.  Add the flour and 1 cupful milk alternately to the mixture, then add 1 teaspoonful vanilla extract.  Fold in 4 stiffly beaten egg whites and bake in two layer cake pans in a moderate oven.  Put the layers together and cover the cake with caramel or any desired frosting.

Baked Apple Pudding
Cover the bottom of a baking dish about one inch deep with pared and sliced apples, add sugar and cinnamon and cover with a batter made by mixing together one pint of flour, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, one-half teaspoonful salt, one-half cupful sugar, one egg, well beaten, two tablespoonfuls melted lard and three-quarters of a cupful of sweet milk.  Bake about one-half hour.  Make a sauce of sweet milk, adding a little sugar and cinnamon to taste.  This recipe may also be used for cherry pudding, using the juice of the cherries thickened with cornstarch as a sauce.   Mrs. F. G. Steffen, Michigan.

Pop Corn Balls (236 degrees).
    For about six or eight quarts of well-popped corn take one cup of sugar and one cup corn syrup, with a little water, and cook to a soft ball, then add a little vanilla to it and slowly pour over the corn, stirring it well to get it all covered.  Now moisten the inside of your hands slightly with cold water, as this prevents it from sticking, take a small portion and press lightly into a ball.  If you wish, you may color this syrup pink and flavor with strawberry.  The corn syrup prevents the batch from going to sugar while stirring through the corn.
Pop-Corn Crisp.
   Take 2 cups of sugar and 1½ cups of corn syrup and 1½ cups water and cook to hard ball, or until it bubbles  up rather thick, then add one tablespoonful of butter and stir through batch and cook until it is a light golden brown.  This requires only a few minutes cooking after the butter is in, so do not let it burn.  Pour this over about six quarts of well-popped corn, sprinkling well with salt while stirring it.  Pour out an [at] once and spread out [to cool.]

Apple Fritters
1 cup flour                        ¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking        ½ cup milk
    powder                         1 egg
1½ tablespoons sugar        5 large tart apples
     Mix and sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together.  Add milk and beaten egg and mix well.  Pare and cut apples into quarters, then into thin slices.  Dip slices in batter and try in deep fat about 5 to 8 minutes until brown.  Drain on brown paper, sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar and serve hot.

    Banana Cake
1¼ cup sugar
scant ½ cup butter
1 cup sour milk
2 cup flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. B. Powder
2 egg
2 bananas
1 tea vanilla
Cream butter and sugar
add eggs well beaten
slice bananas.
sift flour, soda, and
B. powder to-gether
add with milk last
the vanilla.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two Armitage Sisters - (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

On the left is Annie (Armitage) Hardy, the dour-looking lady of yesterday's post.  If possible, she's looking even more dour, perhaps almost belligerent.  Not a woman to be messed with!  On the right is my great-grandmother Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen. The little boy is unidentified.

Is there a story behind this photo?  Why is Elizabeth holding a glass of water -- or is it some other liquid -- in the middle of a field for a photograph?  She appears to have a milder expression than Annie, at least somewhat less threatening.  The boy seems to be trying to hold a straight face while his eyes smile.  Who took the photograph?  What year was it?  Research on their waists and hats may help approximate a date.

This photo is such poor quality because it was given to me as a black and white photocopy.  How I wish I had the original or a good scan of the original!  The original is probably buried or burned or disintegrating/disintegrated at the bottom of a landfill.

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