Friday, February 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #9-The Disappearing Daughters of Roland Sisson

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.


Sometimes interesting things happen when you start looking closely at data you haven’t seen in awhile.  Putting together documents from an entire family and making a timeline can bring out some interesting scenarios, for instance, the disappearing daughters of Roland and Elizabeth (Wright) Sisson. 

Roland and Elizabeth were both natives of New York, probably Herkimer county where they lived with Roland’s father after their marriage.  Roland was born in 1822, Elizabeth in 1825.  Their first child, a girl named Rebecca, was born and died in 1848, living just past 2 months of age.  Son James was born in 1849; he committed suicide at the age of 26, in 1875.  Three daughters were then born, Ann, ca. 1851; Adeline “Addie”, ca. 1852, and Alice, ca. 1855.  All presumably died before 18931.    
Sons Alvin and John were born next; both lived to adulthood.

Next, four more daughters were born:  Katie, ca. 1867-1872; Adelia/Alilia/Alelia, ca. 1869; Baby Girl, ca. 1874, and Sarah, birth year unknown, but d. 1861.  Since she does not appear in the 1860 census, I’m assuming she was born later in 1860 or 1861, and had a very short life.

The last two daughters, Adelia/Alilia/Alelia and Baby Girl, are difficult to sort out .  Are these two separate daughters, or are they the same person? The 1875 Minnesota Territorial census shows both of these girls as Adelia, 6 and Baby Girl, 1.  In 1880, only Alilia, 11, is listed, no mention of Baby Girl.  Five years later, in 1885, the older girl would have been 16, and the baby, 11.  Alelia, 16, is listed in that census.  It would appear that Baby Girl died before 1880.

The mother’s obituary (Elizabeth) says she died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Blanchard of Spring Valley, in 1900.  The census of 1900 has a Lela Blanchard living in Spring Valley with a birth date of Sept. 1868 – my Adelia/Alilia/Alelia was b. ca 1869.  This is probably her.  Besides her husband, she has two children, ages 9 and 7.  I’m assuming a marriage date of ca. 1890 or earlier.

Everything seems in order, until finding the 1895 Minnesota census of Elizabeth, then a widow, with daughter Luela in the household, age 21.  This age fits perfectly with the Baby Girl listed in the 1875 census.  The older sister, Mrs. Blanchard, would have been 26, and presumably married with both children born by then.  I was unable to locate Mrs. Blanchard in the 1895 Minnesota census.

I turned to the cemeteries for some additional help – Roland and Elizabeth are buried in Duff cemetery, a small but well-kept rural cemetery in the vicinity of their home.  Also in that same area is Bateman cemetery, where I found daughters Katie and Sarah buried.   I visited the cemetery in 2012, and found it in terrible condition, broken stones, in the middle of a corn field.  Someone visited the cemetery in 2009 and uploaded photos to Find-A-Grave.  The cemetery was mowed and green, and in much better shape.  Their reading showed no other Sissons besides Katie and Sarah buried there.

Sign katiesarah

Left: Bateman cemetery, 2012.  Right: The gravestone of Katie and Sarah Sisson.

I have been through numerous cemeteries in this general vicinity, and made note of the Sisson graves I found, but cannot account for the missing daughters nor the son James who committed suicide.  Obviously, they are buried somewhere, and more work needs to be done. 


1Their father’s obituary was published in 1893, and three children survived him, Alvin, John and Lelia.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

52 Ancestors: #8–Charlotte Debolt: Making a Case for her Parentage

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.
Charlotte Debolt was my fifth great-grandmother, and someone I’m still getting to know.  Information has been hard to come by, particularly concerning her relationship with her husband, and discovering the identity of her parents.  Charlotte was married to Daniel Debolt, a man about fifteen years her senior.  They were the parents of seven children, at least that I’ve been able to identify so far.  The 1820 and 1830 censuses find them in Licking county, Ohio, and in 1840, Charlotte is still there and identified as “head of household.”  Daniel seems to spend the remainder of his life in the households of two of his children, but not again with Charlotte.  Charlotte and several of her children removed to Peoria county, Illinois, where she passed away in 1851 and is buried in Princeville cemetery. 

There’s certainly more to learn about Charlotte’s relationship with her husband, but I may be asking for too much.  However, I may be having some luck in identifying her parents.  I found a Charlotte Debolt listed in an index to abstracted wills in Washington county, Ohio.  She was listed as an heir of Patrick Burnsides.  My bubble was burst, however, when I saw that this Charlotte's husband was named William.  But something kept bothering me, so I decided to see review my documentation of Charlotte.

Charlotte was born in New Jersey about 1790.  I did find a Patrick Burnsides in Essex county, New Jersey in a tax list dated 1793, which of course, doesn’t prove much.  In 1830, when Daniel and Charlotte lived in Licking county, Ohio, they lived next to a William Burnsides – perhaps a coincidence.  I decided to go ahead and order the probate file for Patrick Burnsides from Washington County.   Sure enough, right off the bat Charlotte is mentioned with her husband, William Debolt.  However, further into the probate file Charlotte is mentioned again, this time with her husband named as “Daniel” DeBolt!  Also listed among the heirs was William Burnsides... the same William Burnsides who lived next to Daniel and Charlotte in 1830?   Hmmm....

This is not exactly ironclad proof, but I’d say I probably have the right father for Charlotte, at long last.  Now, if I could just figure out why she and Daniel parted…

Saturday, February 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7–Ray Christensen- Making a Night Fighter out of a Farmer

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.


FO Ray_Color
© Karen Seeman.

Whatever possessed Ray Christensen to do an about-face on the life he had planned, and enlist in World War II?  He was 28 years old; had two and a half years under his belt at the University of Minnesota, and was working on an agricultural degree; he had a job selling insurance for State Farm, and admittedly had a “pretty good setup” living rent free as a grounds-keeper in a women’s boarding house (not bad for a self-proclaimed “ladies’ man!”)  

Agriculture was in Ray's blood, and after high school he continued to help his father on the family farm, then traveled the midwest as a hired man.  Autumn of 1938 finds him at the University of Minnesota to work on a degree in agriculture.  I don’t know what his plans were – go back to farming?  Extension work?  Something else?  But he worked hard to pay his tuition, and was the first in his family to go to college.

And then suddenly, between semesters, he enlisted.  Did the attack on Pearl Harbor 3 weeks prior have anything to do with it?  I don’t know, but before you can say, “What happened?” he’s at Scott Field in Illinois.

Scott Field, 1942
One of his first letters home says he’s learning code and electricity, and eventually will learn radios.  He’ll have to “work like heck to make it,” but hopes to make the grade as a radio man on a bomber, or an instructor.  His scores on the exams are high - sometimes the highest.  Well, he did work like heck, and he was eventually a navigator on one of the most wild rides a soldier could get – an assignment to a night fighter squadron.

A typical radio class at Scott Field.

Ray seemed to enjoy his time at Scott field – good food, comfortable bed, and only four men to a room.  The food was so good, in fact, that he complained about his uniforms getting “a bit snug.”  The only problem is that passes were hard to come by, even on the weekends, and for a guy like Ray who loved to dance, well, that part did not go over well.

By June, Ray had completed his coursework at Scott Field and has moved on to the AAFTTC Technical School in Boca Raton, Florida, which had just officially opened for business on June 1st.1

The main mission of the Boca Raton AAF was radar training – a field that was considered top secret at that time.  The personnel attending this school had to pass a “rigorous background investigation” and be among the most highly ranked candidates academically.2  During this time, Ray was also doing some instructing of some sort; his letters don’t say much, but do frequently mention his students.

During his time at Boca Raton, Ray passed the aerial gunnery board, and was anticipating gunnery school before going “across.”  

In March of 1943, 7 months after arriving at Boca Raton, Ray is still there, but anticipating being sent to Japan “any day now.”  By the time of his next letter in June, he has been sent to Kissimmee, Florida, and would then go to the 417th Night Fighter Squadron by way of the British Isles for additional training.  The night fighter assignments were so dangerous, men were considered on a volunteer basis only.  I don't know what might have prompted Ray to ask for this hazardous work - perhaps an adventurous spirit, perhaps something else.  From the British Isles, he began his career as a night fighter navigator in the European Theater.  So much for going to Japan! 

More on Ray's story in a future post~


Photo of Scott Field and Radio class: “Scott Field, United States Army Air Corps: A Pictorial and Historical Revies of Scott Field.”  1942
Various Letters from Ray Christensen to his sister, Lillian.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Old Cookbook

30 years ago, as a new bride, I got this Betty Crocker cookbook from my dear Aunt Mabel. It was my first cookbook, and I consulted it frequently over the years, always thinking of her when I used it.  It was not only myself using it, but my children and grandchildren learned to cook with this book open on the countertop.  It is missing the front cover, pages are warped from being wet, and the pages with the best recipes have little bits of this and that stuck to the paper.  Here and there, pages are torn from over-anxious children wanting to see what goodies were on the next page. 
Someday, when I’ve gone on to a better place, someone will be going through my belongings here on this earth.  They’ll find this old cookbook and wonder why I still have it.  “Was she unable to afford a new one?” they might ask.  But little will they know, it’s this one that’s priceless.

Friday, February 7, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6–William Graves of NC, OH, IL

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.
William and Rebecca (Stretch) Graves
William Graves and his wife Becky Stretch will always be special to me, though I never even came close to meeting them.  Back in the late 1990’s, when my interest in genealogy became re-kindled, it was with them that I began my research. 

Bill Graves was born 20 Nov 1820 in Chatham county, North Carolina to John and Elizabeth (Freeman) Graves, the fourth of twelve children.  The following year, his family removed to Ross county, Ohio, where many of his father’s siblings had already gone.  There he married Ann Ratcliff, daughter of Simon and Rachel (Dixon) Ratcliff in 1842, on his 22nd birthday.

In 1844, Bill’s brothers Thomas and James had sojourned to Stark county, Illinois to see if the grass was greener there.  It was, they determined, and sent for their parents and siblings.  As John and Elizabeth prepared for the trip by
covered wagon, John took ill and died.  Elizabeth painfully continued the preparations and continued westward.  Everyone went except Bill and Ann – Bill owned about 210 acres of land in Liberty township, nearby that of his father-in-law, Simon Ratcliff.  They continued on in Ross county with their children Simon, b. 1844; Martha Madaline, b. 1846; and Saran Ann, b. 1855.  Their third child, James Newton, lived less than a month and was buried at Friends Church Cemetery near Londonderry, Ohio.

Six months after the birth of her youngest child, Ann died, and was buried near her son.  Six months after her death, Bill married Rebecca Stretch, daughter of Thomas and Rebecca (Rains) Stretch, who had helped out with the children after Ann’s death.  About 1864, Bill, Becky, and their family set out to join the rest of Bill’s family in Illinois.  Simon and “Madaline,” as she was called, went with their father, and Sarah Ann (“Annie”) stayed behind to be raised by her maternal grandparents.  In addition to these two children, Bill and Becky’s family consisted of Cynthia (4) and Thomas (2),   They purchased a farm in Peoria county, Illinois, just across the border from Stark county, and there they prospered.  Their twin sons, Oscar and Austin, were born in 1870.  Bill eventually had purchased enough land to give each of his children, including the girls, an 80-acre farm. 


William apparently retired at a fairly early age, as the younger children didn’t remember him working.  According to his granddaughter, Myrtis, William never hurried at anything, and was an easy going man.  He “made it a point to be out at the gate when he saw a wagon coming, which in those days of slow driving was not hard to do,” she said.  He always went to bed before dark, never smoked, drank, or kept late hours, and lived a long life to show for it.  He was also interested in his family’s history, and kept many of the birth and death dates in his Bible.  Though his people had been Quakers, Bill never professed any certain religion himself, and saw no need to “pay a preacher to tell people how to live.”  This perturbed his wife to no end, having been brought up in a church-going home, and the daughter of a choir-master.  He did, however, insist that his children attend Sunday school.

IMG_6506 Eventually their children grew up and left home – Simon sold his farm to younger brother Oscar and went to Nebraska; Madaline married Monroe Cox of Stark county; Annie married Monroe’s brother Charles Cox, also of Stark county; Cynthia married David Evans of Peoria County; Thomas also sold his farm to his brother Oscar and moved to South Dakota; and Austin did likewise, settling in Minnesota.  Oscar’s descendants continued on the farm, with his grandson still owning it as of at least 2008, making it eligible for designation as a “Centennial Farm”".”


Rebecca suffered a fall, breaking her thigh bone, and died a month later, the official cause of death being tuberculosis.  She passed away on 26 May, 1905 at the home of her daughter Cynthia.  Bill then lived with his son Austin at Stringtown, just across the border in Stark county, where he died on 16 Jun 1908.  Both Bill and Becky are buried at Sheets Cemetery in Stark county. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Old Pins in a bag of "Junk"

I love to buy old buttons and pins from antique stores or garage sales.  It's always interesting to see what odd things you'll find. 

This is a United Hagie Seed Twine pin.  Perhaps the "5" is for someone's anniversary with the company, or a landmark anniversary for the company.  If you look closely you can make out the kernels of corn around the perimeter of the pin.  The red bucking mule is interesting as well.

I've seen these Women's Relief Corps pins before - immediately under the badge hangs a "25 years" plaque with attachments for additional plaques for every 5 years served.  The WRC is the official auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

A cute little Farm Bureau charm

West Midland Farmers LM pin.   I don't know anything about this organization or the significance of the pin.

3 gallons of blood donated to the Red Cross!

I have no idea what this pin is for.

"Dedicated to Excellence - CCC"
The picture doesn't do justice to the pretty red jewel in the center.  I could not find another example of this pin online, so I don't know what "CCC" stands for, or why this pin was produced.

That's all for now!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

52 Ancestors: #5–George Adams, Glover

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.


I was delighted to inch my way back to 14 generations of my husband’s Adams line, back to George Adams, the immigrant ancestor.  I was even more delighted to find out personal information about him, something more than birth and death dates.

George Adams, son of George Adams and Martha Streetholt, was born ca. 1620 in England, and was a glover by trade. 

George and his family may have been a part of the Puritan immigration into Massachusetts, as they entered the New World during the same time frame and settled in the same general area.  Many of these immigrants sold themselves into slavery for 6-8 years to pay for their passage.  George and his family are first documented in Watertown, Massachusetts.

George may have gotten himself into serious trouble by engaging in illegal trade with the Indians.  He had been granted 20 acres of land in Lancaster for his home, and as a result of his illegal transactions, it was “reconveyed” and given to a man by the name of Jonas Fairbank.  George was censured on 18 May 1653 in Watertown by the General Court for selling two guns and “strong water” to the Indians.  Since he had no money with which to pay the fine, he was ordered “whipt & discharged out of prison.”

In 1655, the Watertown selectmen granted him four acres of land on “Kinges Comen.”

In 1661, he and his family of five children were declared to be “living in need” by the town of Watertown.

In 1664, the family moved to Cambridge Farms, George selling his home in Watertown in November of that year.

In 1670, George was a landowner in Lancaster, Massachusetts.  He attempted to regain the land that had been “reconveyed” there many years prior, but since another family had put down roots there, he was unsuccessful.  The General Court, realizing that Adams had some valid claim to that land, granted him 60 acres near “Washacombe” in return for he and his son John dropping the matter, to which they both agreed.   George would eventually build a home there.

At the same time, George asked the General Court to reaffirm his ownership of 200 acres of land he got from the Sachem Shoniow.  On 12 May 1675, the Court did affirm George’s rights to this land, called “Washaame Hill.”

Late in the summer of 1675, and again in February of 1676, during King Philip’s War, Indian attacks devastated Lancaster, and after the latter attack, the town was abandoned. George was said to have served in Captain Joseph Sill’s Company in the war.  George and his family appear to have gone back to Cambridge Farms.  While he does not appear to have returned to Lancaster, a 1684 list of landowners who lived elsewhere bears his name.

A Cambridge Farms tax list for the year from 01 May 1692 – 01 May 1693 has both George’s name and that of his son George.

George’s life came to an end on 10 Oct 1696, at the age of about 76, “by the fall of a rock.” 



     Elmo Walter Adams, Genealogy of the family of Charles Adams, 1772-1801 : a fifth (5) generation American of Farmington, Connecticut : a record from his first New England ancestors, George and Frances Adams, settlers in Watertown, Massachusetts, 1645, and a record of certain of his descendants, including some representatives of the twelfth American generation to 1969. Burlingame, Calif.: 1969.
     Gerald James Parsons, M. S. (L. S.), F. A. S. G. (The American Genealogist, Vol. 55, No. 4).
     George Norbury Mackenzie, LL. B, Colonial Families of the United States of America, Vol. I. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.
     Notes from Chedwato. Vol. 7, No. 6, November, 1960.
     Unknown author, The Adams Family: Levi Finch and Hulda Adams, their descendants. 1926.
     Phelps, Oliver Seymour and Servin, Andrew T, The Phelps Family of American and their English Ancestors. 1899, Eagle Publishing Co., Pittsfield, Mass.
     Gene Pool Individual Records via
     Massachusetts Town Birth Records (