Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past

After my Grandma Andrews died, I came across a few old photo albums in her house that I had never seen before, despite visiting her several times to talk about family history. Now I had no one to tell me who was who in the photos. Some I could guess at, but others' names have been lost forever. The only clue I had was the name of the photographer: Smead's Rooms in Bellefontaine, Ohio, but they are long gone, too. Maybe some day I'll make a connection and can once again give names to the nameless.

Some day I'll make it out to Bellefontaine, and I'll figure out who these people are!

There is one face in this particular photo album that has stuck with me ever since the day I learned his name years ago from my grandmother, and that is Cookston Ash. I first came across his face when my grandma pulled an old tintype of him out of a box. She said he was her great-grandfather, the father of her beloved grandmother, Lottie. She didn't know much about him, but she knew he was always sickly and died young. Here he is:

How many of you just hold an old photograph in your hands and stare at the face, begging for them to come to life and share their secrets? You wonder at how many hands that very photograph has passed through, and the thoughts of the person in the picture. How long did they have to sit still for the photo to be taken? Who was there with them? Don't ever let old pictures like the ones above pass into oblivion. The lives of your ancestors are too important to let them be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Year's Eve 1932

Tonight I want to shine the spotlight another writer in my family: my great-great aunt, Elsie Bishop Mulry. I never knew her, but I was blessed to read her narrative of the night she met her husband, my great-grandfather's brother, John Mulry. Without further ado, Elsie Mulry:

New Year's Eve, 1932 was a magical night. My future husband happened to be walking by The Club and saw me working behind the counter. I was wearing a dark red dress and when he saw me he said to himself, "There's the girl I'm going to marry!"

He came in and sat at the end of the counter. I waited on him and then went about my business, but every time I glanced at him he was looking right back at me. Something was nagging at me, and I finally realized I'd seen those eyes before, but where?

Then it struck me! In my daydreams about descending a staircase and looking into the adoring eyes of my escort, I had always pictured the eyes that were looking at me now!

It was nearing midnight and The Club was deserted except for the two of us. I walked over and refilled his coffee cup and we began talking. We talked about the weather, the basketball tournament, and of course about Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had recently been elected president and was promising to do so much to ease the pain that had gripped America.

As the horns and whistles began to blow, and the bells of St. Patrick's began to ring out the old and welcome the new year of 1933, a strange thing happened. Maybe it was because I was feeling sorry for myself for having to work while others were out whooping it up, or maybe it was the familiarity of the eyes I had seen so many times before, or maybe it was plain old Fate, whatever it was, I kissed a perfect stranger!

But John wasn't a stranger. Our kiss was as natural as if we had known each other forever. What should have been a casual kiss, wasn't. It was the start of something mighty sweet, and we both knew it. It was the start of the love and commitment to each other that would last the rest of our lives.

I'd had my share of proposals and propositions, but I'd never had a real romance, and that's what we had. There were love notes everywhere! We had a special way of holding hands, and a secret code. We had "our" song, "our" movie, "our" favorite radio program, and all of the other silly and sentimental things that memories are made of.

We were together as much as possible. We liked all the same things, the same food, the same movies, the same politics, everything! He even shared my belief in no sex before marriage, or at least he was smart enough to say he did! We were marvelously, outrageously, completely in love!

So, on May 30, 1934, the beautiful princess married the handsome prince. The rest, as they say, is history.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surname Saturday: My maternal line

For a woman, there's something extra special about discovering your female ancestors. They are the most elusive, aren't they? How many of us do a little happy dance when we find a maiden name. (Come on, you know you do.)

I've always been particularly interested in my direct maternal line. Just think how much we have been influenced by our mother, our mother's mother, our mother's mother's mother, and so on? It gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Now, I'm not saying that our mothers were perfect, but that's what makes them beautiful. They faithfully raised their children despite all their flaws. So, as a part of Geneabloggers' Surname Saturday, I am going to highlight each woman of my direct female line.

1. Eliana Grace Potter

This is my daughter. She's part of the direct female line, too! She was born in September 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

2. Kathryn Suzanne Andrews

That's me. I was born in September 1985 in Indianapolis, Indiana. I married Ben Potter in 2007 and we have two children, Eliana and Micah.

3. Laurie Jo Lutz

My mother, Laurie Jo. She was born in August 1963 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married my dad, Todd Andrews in 1982. They raised three children, myself, my sister Kristin, and my brother, Nicholas.

4. Jacqueline Ann Mulry
 My grandma, Jackie, was born in March 1945 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married my grandfather, Robert Lutz, in 1962. They raised four children. She died in a tragic car accident in 1993.

5. Mary Ann Fox

Mary Ann was born in March 1918 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married James Mulry in 1938. They raised four children. She died in 1975.

6. Katherine Margaret Garrity

Katherine was born in October 1889 in Connersville, Indiana. She married Arthur Fox some time around 1915, and they raised three children. She died in 1966.

7. Anna Walsh
Anna was born in August 1859 in England. She immigrated to Indiana when young and married John Garrity in 1879. They raised eight children. She died in 1905 in Connersville, Indiana.

8. Winifred
Winifred (surname unknown) was born in 1837 in Ireland. She immigrated first to England, where she married Edward Walsh. He died and she immigrated to Indiana in 1868 with her two daughters. She died in 1877 in Connersville, Indiana.

I do not have any information beyond Winifred. Someday perhaps I will. But I just love that my maternal line is only in Indiana and Ireland. It makes me feel so Irish, and so Hoosier. Love it. So, to sum up, my maternal line is as follows:

Andrews, Lutz, Mulry, Fox, Garrity, Walsh.

What's yours?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jesse Vawter

Inspired by Geneabloggers' theme, Treasure Chest Thursdays, I am going to take the next few Thursdays to talk about some of my "favorite" ancestors. The theme is supposed to be about an heirloom, but I think I'll switch it up a bit to talk about treasured people instead. So this week I will highlight my 6th great-grandfather, Jesse Vawter.
Jesse Vawter was born on December 1, 1755 in Culpeper County, Virginia. As far as I know, he was the first ancestor of mine to come to Indiana Territory, in 1806, shortly after it opened up for settlement. He was married to Elizabeth Watts on March 29, 1781. They had nine children, and lived in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and eventually Indiana. He died on March 20, 1838 in Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana.

Jesse is probably best known for his preachin'. In his words, he had "a mechanical turn of mind," and was a carpenter and farmer, but in the early 1800s felt the call to become a preacher in his Baptist faith. He writes, "When my mind took a turn to preaching, it was the greatest trial I ever met with." He judged himself too poorly too preach, but eventually made peace with the fact that the Lord was calling him. The first sermon he ever preached was one of the first in Indiana: "among the cottonwoods on the [Ohio] river beach, a little above the stone mill. The text was the first verse first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. It was a funeral occasion, the death of Widow Black." Jesse baptized over 800 people in Indiana alone, performed over 200 marriage ceremonies, and planted several churches in the surrounding counties. He and his family were instrumental in the spread of the Baptist faith in early southern Indiana.

Of course, I believe most genealogists are searching for more than facts. We want proof that our ancestors were people, who felt the same things we feel - love, sadness, peace, hurt. We are living proof that they lived and moved on this earth - they are our family, they helped shape who our families are today. So the true treasure of the day is about Jesse Vawter's character, in the words of his own family:

One piece describes Jesse: Jesse Vawter was a quiet, thrifty, brown-eyed, peace-loving man. One granddaughter recalls, "I can remember Grandfather well, and I love his very name." Another granddaughter, Frances (my ancestor), says of him, "Grandfather was of a gentle nature. Everyone loved him. He used to ride down horseback from Madison to see us. We would run to meet him, and he would say, "There come my chickens!" He had lost the sight of one eye in an accident. We used to slip up on his blind side and kiss him, and he would always jump as though we had surprised him greatly. He never was impatient with us."

In our search for our ancestors, let us never forget one thing: Our ancestors are first and foremost, family.

Who is your favorite ancestor? Share in the comments below, or message me on Facebook, and I might highlight your ancestor next!