Saturday, July 30, 2011

The last one standing

They say if you dream that you see your name on a tombstone, you will soon die. Maybe that is why some folks don't engrave their family marker.

The problem is the last one standing is often the last one around. My wife's great great grandparents were William and Elizabeth Jones who lived near Chattanooga, TN.

Elizabeth died May 5, 1913 and a nice double marker was put on her grave at the Welsh Rogers Cemetery near Sale Creek, TN.

When William died on October 24, 1918 most of his children had moved away to Texas. He was buried in the same plot but his name was never engraved on the marker.

I discovered the omission recently when a volunteer from went out to take photos for me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Mormon Hunter

It looks like we will have two Mormons running for President this year for the first time. That reminded me of a story about my wife's great great grandfather. In the middle of the 19th century most of the men who went into the western states looking for renegades were called Indian Hunters. His was a different mission.

William Smith Telford was born October 7, 1837 in Ray County Missouri. Like many folks in that area he didn't stay long and moved west. Before he ended up in Abilene, Texas though he did a tour of duty as a Mormon Hunter for the US Army.

He was part of the 1857 US Army expedition headed by General Albert Johnson, sent to Utah to hunt down the Mormons who had tried to set up their own government. There wasn't a lot of actual fighting between the US troops and the Mormon army over the next two years and the Mormons eventually accepted the Governor of the territory sent by the President.

The Mormons massacred 120 people on a California bound wagon train in September 1857 and that is what most people would know of the war, if anything at all. I don't recall it being taught in any of my history classes.

A newspaper article about William Telford, written in the 1930s when he was over 90 years old says:

"Mr. Telford when but 17 went with the Albert Sidney Johnston expedition in 1857 to quell the Mormon rebellion. Returning, he was in the winter of '58-59 in the Black Hills grazing Government oxen. This was the habitat of Sitting Bull and his braves, who frequently visited the camp. White Eagle, one of the principal chieftains, often hunted game with the white men."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Old Photos

The Texas History web page has scanned a bunch of old college yearbooks. They did it in a format that allows you to search the text, which is very convenient.

I found a picture of my mother in law, Gwendolyn Glenn from her junior year at Abilene Christian College. This was in the 1950 yearbook.

As you can see, she was pretty good looking. Her third daughter was fortunate to inherit those genes from her.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Time is short

Sometimes when you are researching family history you come across something that is of a more current time.

My father's first cousin was Orrie Rebecca Green. She died in 1982 in Sarasota, Florida but I really don't remember meeting her. I probably did but since I never lived near her it would have only been at a funeral or possibly in passing on a visit to the area. Other members of my immediate family knew her and her children much better because they lived close by.

When I heard that her daughter Joanne had died this year I decided to look up her brother, Adrian. I didn't know anything about him other than his name and age. Unfortunately by checking public records, I quickly found that he died last year in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

His obituary is below:
Adrian Lee Hart, 69, of Chattanooga, passed away Friday, April 24, 2009, in a local hospital.

Mr. Hart was a truck driver, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean Conflict, and was preceded in death by his wife, Deborah Ann Hart in July 2008.

Survivors include his son, Michael (Kimberly) Hart; daughter, Taleisa (Lucas) Dooley; grandchildren, Gabriel Dooley and Liam Hart; sister-in-law, Leisa (Grady) Massingill; brothers-in-law, Terry and Jim Farmer; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Lois and Wes Farmer; nieces, Ashley and Amber Farmer; beloved dog, Scooby.

Private services and interment will be held at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dropping the bomb

This term is sometimes used when giving bad news. Men have used it when they were told they were a father, or about to be one, usually from a relationship other than marriage.

I was contacted recently by a woman who said she was the daughter of my wife's uncle, Reginald Eugene Glenn. The fact that she was 63 years old and the uncle had been dead for 50 years qualified the news as dropping a bomb. She found me via a Google search that turned up a story I did about the uncle.

We didn't know where to start with the information. Neither my wife or I had ever met the uncle much less this woman and no other family members had ever heard about her or her mother.

As I looked into it I found her mother had died in 2009 in Washington state. The woman sent me a copy of her April 5, 1947 birth certificate from Blanchard, Washington and sure enough, there was the uncle's name and identification, listed as the father.

This brought more questions on why no one ever knew about her or why she had never known anything about her father or his family. She sent other personal information and I sent her the one photo I had of the uncle.

My wife obtained a box of old photos and letters from the uncle to his mother, from 1944 to 1949. I also wrote to the National Archives and obtained a copy of his Navy service record. The letters and service record showed he was stationed in San Diego, Vallejo and San Francisco California during his years in the Navy. It also showed the names of the ships he was on. The faithful letters he sent to his mother over those years talked about where the ship was located. He was on the USS Pennsylvania during WWII and moved from Island to Island.

After the war the letters showed he came back to California but they also indicated the Pennsylvania was sent to mothballs in Washington State. In fact there are letters either postmarked or mentioning his being in Washington both in the spring and fall of 1946.

To be the father, according to my math would mean he was in Washington 9 months before the birth or July 1946.

This is where the bomb comes in. In the letters was one dated July 1, 1946 (64 years ago today) that I have scanned and attached. It says he was part of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll in the pacific. The US government started dropping atomic bombs on the small island to see what would happen, as if the two in Japan didn't tell them enough.

The first one was on July 1, 1946 and they dropped a second one on July 25th.

He was aboard the USS George Clymer, twenty miles from the island when the bomb hit. A subsequent letter talked about watching the second bomb. Since he was about five thousand miles from Blanchard, Washington I think it is safe to say he is not the father. Based on the personal information about him on the birth certificate I think he knew the mother and maybe she thought he was the father, but the math is off.