Friday, October 13, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Girls in White Dresses

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo is of a young girl in a white dress writing at a desk. My great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh dressed her own little girls in dresses like that. It was the style in the early 1900s. 

Killeen and Walsh sisters about 1914
Helen Killeen Parker captioned this photo "The Royal Four."
The photo dates about 1914.
Killeen and Walsh sisters but am not sure who is who - -
Three standing left to right LOOK like Catherine Walsh,
Helen Killeen, and Julia Walsh.
The one seated would have to be Lillie, Mae, or Margaret. ??
But white dresses were not just for little girls. When white gauze, eyelet, voile, tulle, and lace came together, a delicate tea dress was born.

Lillie Killeen 1919
Lillie 1919
I can almost feel the dress my grandaunt Lillie Killeen wore in 1919, likely on Easter Sunday and throughout the summer.

Lillie Killeen 1960s-1970s
Aunt Lil late 1960s-early 1970s

When I knew Aunt Lil, she was already old. She was the only one of the seven girls in her family not to marry. At family gatherings at the home of her younger sister Helen Killeen Parker, Aunt Lil busied herself in the kitchen or orbited the dining room table offering second and third helpings of ham.

Aunt Lil always looked rather frail, almost demanding to be pitied. She rented an apartment and lived what seemed to be a meager life. We used to chuckle over stories of Lillie and her sisters shopping together at the grocery store. My cousin Jennifer as a child sometimes went with them. Her role was to run up and down the aisles fetching whatever the aunts needed to save them time and steps. Aunt Helen and Aunt Mae would reward her with coins and candy. Not Lillie. She never gave Jennifer a thing.

Killeen and Walsh sisters 1970s
The Grocery Store Crew
Lillie Killeen, Helen Killeen Parker,
Mae Killeen Holland, and Julia Walsh Slade (my granny)
My impression of Aunt Lil as a penny-pinching spinster dissipated though following a recent visit with one of Aunt Mae’s granddaughters. She recounted stories told to her by her father that revealed a different side to my prim and proper Aunt Lil.

Aunt Lil used to say that SHE was the lucky one, that her sisters were actually jealous of her. Why? Because she was SINGLE. These are not her exact words, but in essence Lillie boasted, “When I come home from work, I do not have to cook for anyone. I do not have to change diapers. I can do whatever I want, when I want.”

What Lillie enjoyed most was her free weekends of dining and dancing. (Who knew?) I was surprised to learn that there used to be a ferry or some kind of ship that sailed from Norfolk to Baltimore and back on weekends, leaving Friday night and returning Sunday. Live music and dancing and food all night and all day! Passengers could rent a room on the boat. It was small and not a bit luxurious, but Lillie did not care. After all, she was there for the dancing.

Lillie Killeen 1930s
Lillie Killeen 1930s  https://jollettetc.blogspot.comAnother reason Aunt Lil’s sisters were supposedly jealous was that her money was her own to do with as she wanted. By all accounts, she dressed very well.

Lillie must have made good money working for a doctor. I used to think she was a nurse. After all, she dressed like a nurse. 

However, she was actually the bookkeeper. She was asked to wear a nurse uniform so that she could join the doctor in the examining room when he had a female patient. 

Lillie Killeen at work
Lillie at work - judging by the
shoes and hose, a uniform is
under that coat

Lillie became a valuable and trusted employee as she colluded with the doctor in other ways, too. She kept two sets of books (read into that what you will) and two calendars. Why two calendars? The good doctor had several women on the side, it seems, and the calendars helped cover his tracks. I have to wonder how Lillie felt about that because the doctor’s wife gave Lillie lovely gifts at Christmas and on her birthday. Oh, the guilt Aunt Lil must have felt, being the good Catholic that she was.

Lillie did find love. She dated one fellow a long time but saw no future with him. “He drank too much,” she said. She had seen too much alcoholism in the Killeen and Walsh families to put up with one more alcoholic.

Lillie Killeen and boyfriend 1944
Lillie and boyfriend 1944
Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Lillie was not the sad little creature that I saw from the viewpoint of a child. In a time when women were expected to marry and raise families, she chose to go it alone. She chose to be free and to dance.

Note to self: Dance on over to Sepia Saturday for more stories of girls in white dresses.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Book is IN but the Jury is OUT

My new book
8" x 10"     174 pages

I kept dragging my feet, but I finally completed my second book which I have titled Jollett Family Reunion. Having received a copy of the finished product, I am glad that I took Blurb’s advice to order JUST ONE copy. It would have been embarrassing to send out so many goofs. 

So what did I do wrong?

First problem - the Cover
I like the layout, but I see small problems that I did not detect on the screen. The title is not truly centered, so I have shoved it slightly to the right so that the “i” in “Reunion” is centered over Vic’s head.

Next, James Franklin Jollett’s portrait did not fully fill the photo box resulting in the gap between the photo and the white frame. That might also explain why the white band seems to be sliding over the frame and under the portrait.


Second problem - Conflicting information
As I was reading my book, I noticed that I did not include some details in the family charts giving the impression I did not know the information when, in fact, the information was provided elsewhere in the book. For example, I listed only a year for the birth and death of James Henry Jollett, yet a photo of his tombstone gives complete dates. There was no marriage date for Lewis Jollett and Mary Neville Peluso, but a news article provides the full account. Sloppy! 


Third problem - Inconsistency in style
In most of the family charts, I spelled out the states in capital and lower case letters. However, here and there I found MD or VA or VIRGINIA.

A few minor misses in proofreading suddenly stood out: too much or not enough spacing between paragraphs; a letter cut off a word. Sloppy!


Fourth problem - Misidentification    

I had looked at the photo a thousand times. In my grandaunt Velma’s photo album, it was labeled “The Three.” I assumed it was Mary Frances Jollett Davis and two of her sisters, Laura Sullivan and Sallie Clift, but as I was going through the finished copy of the book, I suddenly noticed the dress on the woman I had identified as Sallie.

Why wouldn’t I think it was Sallie? After all, in numerous photos she stood with her head cocked. But that dress. That same dress was in another photo, but the woman wearing it was NOT Sallie. It was Sadie Lam Jollett, sister-in-law of Mary Frances and Laura. 

Close up from the photo
with Mary Frances and Laura
Sadie wearing that same dress
at a Jollett reunion

The irony is that I had used that dress to identify Sadie in another reunion photo.

I was not sure who this lady was
until I noticed that detail in the dress.


Fifth problem - Citations
I noticed some of my citations were incomplete or missing altogether.


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate my book. There are several features I am very proud of:
  • As with my first book, I did not upgrade the paper or end sheets. The standard looks and feels good.
  • I was able to use many stories from my blog.
  • The format is good beginning with the story of James Franklin Jollett, followed by biographies of his two wives, and then biographies and photos of their children.
  • I was not sure I would like the green that I selected for the cover and for the graphic elements, but it looks good. It’s a good green, not limey, not too forest-y. The green chapter tags and photo frames add a little umph to the pages.
  • There are lots of photos and newspaper clippings.

  • Headers will help readers find a particular chapter easily.
  • I am proud of being able to identify so many people in a reunion photo. The corresponding image - faded and numbered - makes me look like I know what I'm doing. HA!
  • The index was a pain to create, but I imagine future readers will be glad it is there. You’re welcome.

Blurb is not cheap. Even as author, I wait for a good sale. The next time Blurb offers a 50% sale, I will order copies of the new and improved version for my family, libraries and historical societies in the counties where my Jolletts once resided.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Email and Elusive Ancestors

My blog has been rather quiet recently. The excuses reasons are numerous: working on house projects, vacationing, helping others with research, writing another Jollett family history book, blah blah blah.

Then an email arrived to spur me back into the ring, but it was not a result of “cousin bait” doing its best to lure new contacts who might share photos and stories about our common ancestor. No, the email was from someone who will remain a stranger. Still, I am grateful for what he had to tell me.

“Ron” and a friend had recently purchased an old box of weaving drafts. They are making it their mission to identify the women that wrote them and learn their story. One of the drafts was signed by Miss Frances Jollette and another by Fannie E. Jollett, same woman. One more was written on reused paper with a note on the back:
Draft signed by Fannie Jollett 1869
While I do not know the circumstances of this transaction, I suspect Henry Sampson
was son of Smith Sampson, who would have been Fannie's cousin.
Smith's mother and Fannie's mother were sisters.

Not surprisingly, when Ron Googled “Frances Jollett,” my blog popped up. What he learned from my blog about Fannie Jollett was not much, just the bare minimum: a year of birth, the name of her mother, and her association with a few family members. No real story. Not even a date of death.

Ron’s email reminded me that I have not thought about Fannie Jollett in quite some time. She has always been just a minor character in the drama of my family tree. Yet she is the star in a minor contradiction that has me puzzled. Let me start from the beginning.

Fannie was born in Orange County, Virginia in 1822, the daughter of Tabatha Jollett. Just going by the tick marks in early census records when only the head of household was named, Tabatha was likely an unmarried daughter of James Jollett and Nancy Walker Jollett. I do not see a spot for an unnamed son who might have married a girl named Tabatha and left her widowed before 1850, so I am sticking with my theory of “unwed daughter.”

In 1850, Tabatha and daughter Fannie were living in the household of Elizabeth Jollett King (daughter of James and Nancy) and her daughter Columbia. By 1860, Tabatha and Fannie were on their own in Greene County even though they seemed to have no visible means of support. If Fannie earned a living as a weaver, she did not declare it in the census. Elizabeth had moved to Rockingham County to live with her daughter who married Thomas Marsh in 1853.

Tabatha apparently died before 1870, so it is no surprise to find Fannie once again in the household of her COUSIN Columbia Marsh along with husband Thomas Marsh and mother Elizabeth King. I emphasize “COUSIN” because in 1878 when Elizabeth King died, Fannie - not Columbia - was the informant. In the record, Fannie claimed she was Elizabeth’s GRANDDAUGHTER.

So there is the minor puzzle. How could Fannie be Columbia’s COUSIN as well as Elizabeth’s GRANDDAUGHTER? I cannot come up with a scenario that makes sense. If Fannie was indeed Elizabeth’s granddaughter, then Tabatha was Elizabeth’s daughter making Columbia Fannie’s aunt, not cousin - unless, Columbia was also Elizabeth’s granddaughter, of course. However, there is no evidence of that being so. If Fannie was indeed Columbia’s cousin, then Tabatha and Elizabeth were sisters (or maybe sisters-in-law). But then why did Fannie claim to be Elizabeth’s granddaughter?

Since Fannie is such a distant relation, the puzzle has not been important to me until now. That email revived my interest in this elusive ancestor. I recalled that some time ago I found a chancery cause at the Library of Virginia in which Peter Haynes sued Fannie Jollett for failure to make payments on property she purchased from him.

It seems that in 1866 Fannie Jollett purchased from Peter Haynes twenty-five acres two miles east of McGaheysville in Rockingham County, Virginia.  She promised to pay in four annual installments, but apparently failed to follow through. Haynes claimed she was wasting the land by selling off the timber thus making the property less valuable. He further claimed that since she was insolvent, the only recourse would be for the Court to seize the property and sell it.

The case became more complicated because Miss Fannie Jollett had sold one-quarter of an acre to a group of men who wished to build a school. While the group did not object to Fannie’s land being sold out from under her, they considered their little purchase from her a good and valid sale.

Fannie did not just roll over. Her answer to Haynes was that she had made some partial payments but did not pay the full amount annually because she learned Haynes did not have a clear title to the property which actually belonged to a man named Mathias Kersh. Kersh was then added to the suit, but the evidence showed that Haynes was on the side of right. He did indeed have a clear title to the property in question.

In 1873 it became clear that Fannie was losing the battle. The question became whether she had paid Haynes anything at all, how much and when, and whether to sell the 24 ¾ acres as one parcel or two. Counsel for the defense brought in Fannie’s COUSIN Columbia Marsh as a witness. Here is part of the deposition:

Question by Def[ense] Counsel.  Do you know of your own knowledge of any payment of money by the Deft [Defendant]  Frances E. Jollett to the Piff [Plaintiff] Peter Haynes on the land mentioned in this cause if so state the amt. of said payment and the time and place it was made.
Ans  In the year 1868 or 1869 I saw Frances E. Jollett  pay said Haynes $40 at her own house.
2 By same  Did Haynes have the bond or bonds with him
Ans  No Sir he did not have them
3 By same  Did Miss Jollet take any receipt for the $40
Ans No Sir
4 By same Was it in the spring summer fall or winter
Ans In the spring
5 By same How many years ago was it
Ans It has been three or four years

and part of the deposition of Fannie Jollett in which she answered the same questions posed to Columbia:

Ans I paid $40 in addition to the credits on those bonds. I paid the $40 either in 1868 or 1869 at my house. I don’t remember which of those years. Mrs. Marsh, her mother who is my aunt, Mr. Haynes & his wife were present when this money was paid. 

Ta da - there it is. In her own words, Fannie confirmed she and Columbia were cousins and that Elizabeth King was Fannie’s aunt.

As for the death record in which it appears Elizabeth King was Fannie’s grandmother, that misstep can be chalked up to any number of reasons from nervousness to old age to clerk’s misunderstanding.

Case closed.

Oh, and if you are wondering, yes, the property was sold at auction. Unfortunately, poor ol’ Peter Haynes did not live to see it, but the property fetched enough to pay his estate and cover the costs of the lawsuit.
Newspaper ad for sale of Fannie Jollett's land 1873
From Chancery Causes at Library of Virginia
Rockingham Co 1877-48-C

“Niece or Granddaughter?” is hardly the exciting research question, but in following the advice to chase every clue even if it does not look like a clue, I found an answer and much more.

This is my contribution to the Genealogy Blog Potluck Picnic.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Happy Blogiversary #6

Jollett Etc. is 6. Yes, 6!

So what have I been doing in my sixth year of blogging?

First and foremost, I have been polishing up some old posts for inclusion in my next book about the Jolletts. The first one focused on my 3X great-grandfather Fielding Jollett; the current one is about my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett, his two wives, and their children. When this book is done, I plan to follow my direct lineage and create a book about my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis and her children.

When GeneaBloggers ended, so did my role as one of the interviewers for the “May I Introduce to You” feature. However, the leaders of the new GeneaBloggers Tribe saw some value in what our team did and invited us to be on the administrative team. Our first job was a time-consuming effort to update the old GeneaBloggers blog roll. It felt good to clean up over 3000 links, and it has been thrilling to see new blogs and bloggers being added daily.

The past year has been rather slow for this blog. I could blame life changes, I suppose. But the better reason is that I’ve written the easy stuff already. If I don’t want to merely repeat myself, I need to find more stories about the Jolletts, the Walshes, the Davises, the Sheehans, the Slades, the Ruckers, the Eppards, ETC. I’ve found the easy stuff already. Finding something NEW to write about is hard. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not giving up.

I am encouraged by the number of contacts I have made and new ideas coming out of conversations with my second-cousins that I had lost contact with. Recently my sister and I enjoyed lunch with a cousin and her daughter. What fun it was to hear NEW stories about our shared aunts and to hear an entirely different version of events from the past. The four of us may even have broken through a dark family secret. I hope to be able to write about that one day soon.

My blogiversary wish: that year 7 will be LUCKY in uncovering more stories about my family. (Of course, I can improve my luck by concentrating on that harder research!)

Thanks to all my readers who have joined me in my geneadventure.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Hair Do's and Don'ts

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of the young man posed with hand to cheek gives me an excuse to share a photo that I really DO NOT LIKE. Here is my most beloved grandaunt Violetta Davis (Ryan) posed likewise in that thoughtful way with hand to cheek.

Violetta Davis

For some time the reason for my dislike eluded me. After all, the photo is clear. There is an elaborately carved table and chair. I love Violetta’s velvet dress with sheer sleeves adding another layer of elegance to an already elegant and formal setting. So what is there NOT to like?

I finally figured it out. It’s her hair. Sorry, Violetta, those bangs were not a good look for you. The Violetta of my memory did not do bangs.

Not as a toddler.
Violetta Davis ca 1906

Not as a school girl.

Violetta Davis

Not as a college student

Violetta Davis  1923

nor as a graduate with a Master of Science degree in education

Violetta Davis

The young schoolmarm hairdo served her well throughout the 1930s.

Violetta Davis Ryan

Violetta Davis Ryan 1946-47
In the 1940s she changed things up. I can picture her wagging her finger and joining in with the Andrews Sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”

Violetta Davis Ryan 1951-52 https://jollettetc.blogspot.comVioletta Davis Ryan 1952-53

In the 1950s, her beautiful grey hair was often pulled back allowing her to show off her earrings when she chose to do so.

1960s - Oh NO! A Perm! Aaaack -  Step away from the curling rods, please. Whew!

Violetta Davis Ryan 1960s

In her later years, Violetta’s hair always seemed wild and BIG to me. However, looking back now, I see that her hair was soft and wavy and, yes, BIG. And it suited her.

Violetta Davis Ryan 1981
Violetta in her living room
December 1981

With finger to your cheek, give some thought to visiting my friends at Sepia Saturday. You’ll get a bang out of it!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Mary Theresa in DC

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo featuring the handsome Taft Bridge in Washington D. C. brings to mind this photo of my grandaunt Catherine Walsh Barany, my paternal grandmother’s younger sister.
Catherine Walsh Barany 1936 Washington D.C.
Kat Barany 1936
It’s not the Taft, but it is SOME bridge in the Washington D. C. vicinity  oops Niagara Falls.

[EDITED: Thanks to Mike Brubaker, I now know these photos were not from the trip to D. C. but from a trip to Niagara Falls. No wonder I could not find the name of the bridge! Unfortunately, if Mary Theresa wrote home about seeing the Falls, the letter did not survive.]

My great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh rode the bus to northern Virginia to visit her two youngest daughters, Kat and Tate and their husbands. The sisters lived not terribly far apart, and they liked getting together to show their mother the sights. On this particular trip, Mary Theresa divided her time staying roughly a week with one before moving on to stay with the other.

In a letter dated March 10, 1936, Mary Theresa wrote all about her visit with Kat and Tate, but not once did she mention a walk across a bridge, going to a park that had a view of a bridge, or even seeing a river.
Mary Theresa Sheehan Walsh and Kat Walsh Barany 1936 Washington DC
Mary Theresa and Kat in Niagara Falls 1936 [ edited ]
However, Mary Theresa did report on all the things she did. She was especially impressed that they could go to so many different movie theaters and catch a different picture every night. One in particular was “The Prisoner of Shark Island.”
Never heard of it. It sounds like a horror movie but it was actually the story of Dr. Samuel Mudd who was imprisoned for treating President Lincoln’s assassin in 1865. The movie was directed by John Ford.

Other highlights included visiting the Rosemunds (who?), Willie Edwards (who?), and George and Mandy (who?). She had lunch out, visited a Catholic church and a 5 & 10 cent store. What a juxtaposition!

The Rosemunds showed Mary Theresa a fine time. Here is what she said about their driving tour:

“Old man Fleming” was my great-grandfather, John Fleming Walsh who had died in 1918. I wonder what she meant by calling him that.

Since she saw the national cemetery, surely she also saw the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
Arlington Memorial Bridge
from Wikimedia Commons

Please cross the bridge to Sepia Saturday.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Camping with the Terrible Five

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

The gentleman in this week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt reminds me of so many men and boys captured on the film in my grandaunt Helen Killeen’s little box camera. Aunt Helen rarely labeled her photos with names, opting instead for funny little captions like 

“Oh Boy”
Beach friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919

Beach friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919

“Royal 4” 
Beach friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919

and “Terrible Five”
Beach friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919

Recently that silly caption “Terrible Five” has taken on a whole new meaning. I was going through some photos, letters, and other memorabilia belonging to Aunt Helen and her sisters when I unfolded a typed poem glued to a heavier piece of paper, maybe a folder or large mailer. As I read it, I recognized scenes recorded in photos of a camping trip which was the focus of an earlier Sepia Saturday post.

Poem about a camping trip Northwest, VA July 4, 1920 Helen Killeen Parker

** A triangle of paper is missing.  Words in brackets represent a logical guess based on the syntax of the sentence. If no logical guess could be made with any certainty, I inserted dashes inside the brackets.

The Memorable Camping Trip

The third of July dawned bright and clear
We all left home with merry good cheer.
Going away on a camping trip
To have a good time, sure you can bet.
Lots of dancing, and things to eat
Nice place to swim, good place to sleep.
Nothing to worry about in the care of the “Terrible Five,”
Now we are lucky to be alive.

Landed at Northwest, Va., about eleven o’clock
Tired, sore and hungry, it sure was a shock.
The roads were something awful, bump, bump, bump all the way
Gee, it’s a wonder our hair didn’t turn gray.
We went in bathing to rest our poor bones
But the water [was] full of snakes, mud and stones.
About that [time] someone called,
“Dinner is [ready], come one and all.”
Everyone [ - - ] for they were starved it seemed
But what [did they] get to eat, but beans, beans, beans.

Camping trip to Northwest VA July 4, 1920

The [ - - ] under two big trees
Camping trip to Northwest VA July 4, 1920 https://jollettetc.blogspot.comAnd [ - - ] down and ate what they pleased.
After dinner we loafed around awhile, and went out in the canoe
For there really wasn’t anything else that we could do.

Camping trip to Northwest VA July 4, 1920

Camping trip to Northwest VA July 4, 1920
Helen and Victrola

Then someone started the Victrola,
So we started to dance, and as we danced,
Someone said the country people were in a trance.
And if we did not stop, they would have us put in jail
And we would have to get someone to go [sic] our bail.

So we decided at last, to go to bed
But soon discovered there was no place to lay our weary heads.
So we stretched out on the ground under a tent
Then the wild animals their weird sounds sent.
They screeched and howelled and cooed
And scared us so bad we couldn’t move.
Somehow the night passed over
And Sunday came and went.

Camping trip to Northwest VA July 4, 1920

And we welcomed Monday, as some great event.
We left Northwest about half past two
And got bump after bump, until we nearly turned blue.
Arrived home about seven or that way
Only to discover that red bugs had come home with us to stay.

So I tell you dear friends, if you want to die
Just go on a Camping trip, with the “Terrible Five.”

The moniker “Terrible Five” must have been part of a running joke among the friends who seemed to enjoy getting together often whether at the beach or at a riverside camp. Perhaps the poem was written – AND preserved for presentation – to be read at some other gathering of “The Gang.”
Beach friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919
"The Gang"
Ocean View - Norfolk, Virginia about 1919

Jump in – the water is fine at Sepia Saturday, and so are the photos and stories.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.