Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: A is for Alvin


“We need to get together more often and not at a funeral.” How many times have you and a cousin said that? Funerals are much like a family reunion. You can learn a lot about a family just by looking at who showed up. Using my grandparents’ guest books and sympathy cards, I’ll be exploring “Who came to the funeral?

is for Alvin Russell Marshall Sr.

Alvin attended the funeral for my maternal grandfather Orvin Owen Davis (1899-1963) held in Shenandoah, Virginia in October 1963.  Alvin and Orvin were first cousins. Alvin’s mother Zibiah Saloma Davis Marshall was an older sister of Orvin’s father Walter Davis.

Alvin was born September 30, 1895 in Rockingham County, Virginia, the second of six children of John Lewis and Saloma Marshall. According to the 1910 census, the family lived along Simmons Gap Road, just across the ridge from Beldor, home of many in the Davis line. Alvin was a farm laborer, likely on his parents’ farm

In 1917 Alvin registered for the draft. How interesting to learn he was tall and had grey eyes. It appears his father was the registrar. I have found no records to suggest that he ever had to serve.

Alvin R. Marshall WWI draft registration  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Alvin R. Marshall WWI draft registration  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


















Boarding house 1920 Washington DC  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1310 Q St NW Washington D.C.
Boarding house where Alvin and Edith met
Still single in 1920, Alvin earned a living driving a fire truck in Washington D.C. He was one of nineteen boarders at 1310 Q Street NW.  Most of the residents were clerks and stenographers for the Treasury Department and War Department. One of the boarders caught his eye: Edyth Terwilliger of Pennsylvania. 


Based on the 1930 census for Washington DC, Alvin and Edyth married in 1923. They had twin boys, Alvin and Lewis. Alvin Sr. was a fireman earning a respectable salary allowing the Marshalls to own their home at 806 Decatur Street. 

In 1940, Alvin made room in this house for his widowed father, John Lewis Marshall. Edyth had returned to work as a typist for the Veterans Department. Alvin remained a fireman until retirement. 

Alvin died in August 1979.
Alvin R. Marshall Sr. obituary  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com



I advise you to advance to the A to Z April Challenge where you are assured of amiable company among the most affable artists and authors.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.  

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #13

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown sailor on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sepia Saturday: She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a tractor. Generations of my family walked behind plows and drove wagons pulled by oxen and horses. But after the turn of the century, most of my ancestors left the farm for careers in carpentry or with the railroad. My husband’s family, on the other hand, continued to farm, some of them even today.   

As a young married couple just starting out in 1938, my in-laws Ervin and Helen worked for large farm owners.  

Ervin Mathias early 1940s http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Ervin Mathias on some heavy-duty tractor

For a time they lived in an old farmhouse on the Gardner farm in Bridgewater, Virginia.

Farmhouse Bridgewater, Virginia mid-1940s http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Farmhouse Bridgewater, Virginia
where Ervin and Helen lived

Later Ervin and Helen worked on the Wampler farm in Weyers Cave, Virginia. While Ervin managed the cattle, Helen assisted Mrs. Wampler with meals, care of the Wampler children, and household chores. 

Farming 1940s Rockingham County, VA  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
What is the cart being pulled by the tractor?
It appears to be separating the grain.

Mrs. Wampler and Helen Mathias with their children http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Right: Helen (just 16)  with baby Donald
Left:  Mrs. Wampler, daughter, and son













Farmhouse Weyers Cave, Virginia mid-1940s  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Farmhouse in Weyers Cave, Virginia














From there they moved to Timberville and rented from the Ryans, a family that became life-long friends of the entire Mathias family.  The Ryans are orchard farmers, growing both peaches and apples.  

Virginia Ryan and Nancy, Helen Mathias and Linda  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Left: Virginia Ryan and Nancy
Right:  Helen Mathias and Linda





Eventually Ervin and Helen saved enough money to buy some land from the Will family along Little North Mountain Road in Timberville. Ervin’s skills in carpentry were put to the test in 1946 as he built the house that 8 children called home until they each moved out and established their own families.   




Mathias house Timberville, VA  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mathias homeplace
1940s craftsman style





















Ervin became a carpenter full-time and a farmer part-time. A few dairy cows supplied the family while beef cattle were raised and sold for added income. Ervin also built a chicken house for Helen who became a reluctant chicken farmer. 

Free range chickens 1940s http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Free range chickens 1940s
(not sure which farm this was
but these are not Helen's chickens)

In her later years, Helen said she hated taking care of chickens. Ervin had wanted to give her a source of income, a little independence, as well as “something to do.” However, Helen never wanted chickens. They had 8 children; she already had plenty to do. 

Perspective is a funny thing. 



Mathias Farm 1983 Timberville, VA  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen's chicken house in 1983

Barry and Brenda about 1952  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Twins Barry and Brenda
about 1952

If you think this tractor is sexy, wait ‘til you see the others at Sepia Saturday.



© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #12

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.


Unknown sailors on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: Theme Reveal




This week as I was looking through some of my genealogy research and deciding where to store it all, I came across a large zippered pouch courtesy of Foster Funeral Home in Portsmouth, Virginia. Inside was my grandparents’ funeral “stuff”:  Guest books.  Sympathy cards.  Cards attached to floral remembrances.  Even a warranty from the casket company. Yeah, that’s a keeper.

I opened each wrinkled and torn envelope, and held lovely old cards of vellum. Messages penned in blue expressed sadness and also memories of good times. Cards once attached to sprays described the gladiolas, mums, carnations, and other flowers sent to remind us that we were not alone in our grief. Suddenly I was smiling. 

Nostalgia? Perhaps. But I realize the names are also clues that might advance my family research. Names grouped together indicate a possible family connection. One person signing for another practically guarantees to seal the deal. What’s a family historian to do? Start digging!



“Who came to the funeral?” will be my contribution to the A to Z April Challenge.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sepia Saturday: A Scrapbook Finds a Home

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt reminds me of the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”  In this case, you can lead me to the prompt, but you can’t make me follow it.  (There is some water, however.)


Iceberg Thule, Greenland 1946-47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Icebergs. Rugged terrain blanketed in snow. Inuit people paddling in kayaks. The moon shining down on a black ocean. 

Inuit in kayaks Thule, Greenland 1947 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com









Night in Thule, Greenland 1947 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com














Daddy's scrapbook 1946-47

Memories from a 19-year old boy’s year on the cutter Eastwind supplying military bases in Thule, Greenland are gathered carefully in a leather-bound scrapbook.

This scrapbook has been working overtime the past several weeks as photos of my father’s shipmates have been the focus of a series I call “Men of the Eastwind.” While they have not been successful at coaxing family members to step forward and share their stories, a better opportunity has come along.

One reader named Intense Guy sent me a link to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts because of its collection of Coast Guard memorabilia. He suggested maybe there would be some information there, particularly since the annual Eastwind reunions are held at the museum. 

But the museum did not have the names of servicemen. Instead they had an offer. The curator and Executive Director expressed interest in taking the scrapbook if I wished to donate it. They viewed the collection of photos as part of the Coast Guard’s post-World War II history. Apparently they actually looked at my blog because the curator commented on my dad’s “artistic eye.”

Historic value. Wow. I wish I could say something profound, but all I can I say is, “Wow.” Sixty-nine years ago, my father was a high school graduate with his eye on a G.I. Bill that would fund a college education. Now a collection of amateur photos taken by a young sailor with a little time on his hands could be on display, showing the world what it was like to be in the Coast Guard in Greenland in 1946-47.

Thule, Greenland 1946-47 http://jollettetc.blogspot.comMy sister and I discussed whether to keep the scrapbook for family or pass it on. It didn’t take long to conclude that Daddy would think donating the scrapbook to the museum would be absolutely the coolest thing ever. I’ve scanned the most interesting photos. Daddy appears in only about five, and really – how many pictures of icebergs does anyone need? 

As I write this, the scrapbook is on its way to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport. The plans are to enlarge some of Daddy’s pictures for display as part of a special Coast Guard exhibit being staged over the next several weeks.

Wow.

Please visit Sepia Saturday to see who else is horsing around.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #11

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown sailor on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.




© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.