Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Holiday from the Past

Merry Christmas!  I like to imagine these are my ancestors hanging their stockings on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Methodist Orphanage - Mt. Vernon, IL

This picture postcard postmarked 1946 is the Methodist Children's Home in my hometown, Mt. Vernon, IL.  I remember as a young girl while in grades three and four having a friend from the orphanage; I couldn't really grasp why she lived there, why she couldn't come to my house for sleepovers, etc.  Looking back as an adult I see  this picture and realize how lucky I was to have two parents and a real home.

The orphanage was relocated to this building in 1921 from Creal Springs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Daniel W. McGuire - Murfreesboro, TN

Daniel Washington McGuire 
Born: 15 Aug 1869
Died: 9 Jan 1953
Father:  William Henry McGuire
Mother:  Amanda Jane Martin

I have written previously of my 3X great-grandmother, Amanda Martin Sewell McGuire Clifton who has fascinated me for over twenty years.  I have spent much time documenting her life.  One detail I had trouble with was finding the death date and place for her son Daniel W. McGuire from her second marriage to William Henry McGuire.  Several months ago, my distant cousin, Mike Clemmons who writes, Clemmons Family History and is also descended from Amanda contacted me to let me know he was going to the Nashville, TN area and would look for the obituary.  Aren't genealogy cousins great?!?  He was successful and several mysteries were solved.  I had always assumed Daniel's middle name was William after his father, but according to the obituary it is Washington.

According to the 1910 Wilson County, Tn and 1930 Rutherford County, TN he listed his occupation as Chief Engineer Ice Factory.  According to the obituary he worked for the Christy and Huggins Company, and ice company and Coca Cola bottlers for forty-two years.

He was survived by his wife Lucy and two daughters, Mrs. Josephine Patterson and Mrs. Margaret Price.  There was no mention of a son Howard Jefferson McGuire who was born in 1892.

Thanks again Mike!

Egyptian Hospital - Mt. Vernon, IL

This postcard depicts a short-lived hospital from Mt.Vernon from nearly one hundred years ago.  According to Dr. Charles K. Wells, M.D. in his book, "A. History of Hospitals in Jefferson County, Illinois" the Egyptian Hospital was only in operation between the years of 1909 - 1919.1 It was located in a brick building erected by Mrs. Walter Fly at 106-108 North Eleventh Street.2

It was originally run by Dr. J. W. Hamilton, then eventually taken over by Dr. J. T. Whitlock until 1917 upon the onset of WWI when a number of doctors from Mt. Vernon volunteered to serve with the Armed Forces.  With the failing health of Dr. Whitlock, the hospital was for a short time taken over by Dr. S.A. Thompson until it was turned into the Illinois Hotel sometime before 1920.  It was later torn down and the site became a parking lot.

1 A History of Hospitals in Jefferson County, Illinois.  Dr. Charles K. Wells, M.D.  1993 Azusa Printing, Mt. Vernon, 62864.
2 Mt. Vernon A Pictorial History by Thomas A. Puckett, 1991 G. Bradley Publishing, Inc. United States.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

International Shoe Factory - Mt. Vernon, Illinois

I have been shamefully absent from my blogs the past month for a myriad of excuses, first vacation, then a death in the family, stresses at work and finally just plain laziness.  I was going through a number of old postcards I have purchased and this particular one struck me as I remember my Grandmother, Doris Wade Smith, telling me how she went to work at the Shoe Factory when she was just fifteen years old.  This would have been around 1928, I believe when her father, Joseph Wade, lost his job with the "Car Shops" in Mt. Vernon and she had to leave school and get a job to help out her family.  It appears, however, by the 1930 Census of Madison County, Illinois that Joseph had moved his family to the Village of Madison and secured a job as a machinist at the Car & Foundry Co. and my grandmother was back in school.

International Shoe Factory, Mt. Vernon, IL
I remember seeing this old building all my life, it is located at 19th Street and Perkins in Mt. Vernon, IL.  It was owned by the International Shoe Factory and produced many famous lines of shoes.  According to an article in the Mt. Vernon Register News, April 15, 1964 in the text of a speech given by M. R. Chambers, President of the International Shoe Factory, "the production of the 75,000 square foot building was finished and production started in 1920."  By 1963 the factory had made over 31,755,000 pairs of shoes and at one time employed over 800 people.  Sometime In 1968 it announced it's closure of the factory; In July 1969 in another Register News story, Florsheim Shoes stated their intention to take over the factory and keep on many of the 350 employees.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Downtown Mt. Vernon, IL

Another postcard that I purchased of my hometown of Mt. Vernon, IL - this one is from the West side of the square.  This is the Third National Bank and it is postmarked 1909.  According to Thomas Puckett's book "Mt. Vernon, A Pictorial History, 1991 the address is 101 South Tenth.

This is what this site looks like today:

According to Wall's History of Jefferson County (thanks to cousin Jim Smith for sending me the Google search on this):

The bank was formed by a company of prominent citizens, John R. Allen, A. C. Johnson, D. H. Warren, R. J. Bond, W. C. Arthurs, I. G. Gee Morris Emmerson., L. L. Emmerson and F. E. Patton, who became the directors with others, purchased the Evans and Gee Banking Company and organized the Third National Bank, an institution of which Mount Vernon is justly proud.  John R. Allen was chosen president; A. C. Johnson, vice-president; L. L. Emmerson, cashier; F. E. Patton, assistant cashier, and Charles H. Patton, attorney.  It was organized with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars and began business February 4, 1902.

In 1903, the Banking Company purchased the Harvey T. Pace Corner, removed the “old land marks" and erected the present magnificent three-story building, in the first floor of which the Third National Bank makes its home, with all the modern improvements of banking.  The building is an ornament to the city, the bank occupying the entire first floor, except an office in the west end occupied by the Electric, Light, Gas, Heat & Water Company.  The second and third stories contain twenty handsome office, the whole outfit being lighted , heated and watered from the city light, heat and water plants.  It is by far the most prominent and commodious business house in the city, and is continuously and fully occupied by many of our best business men.  Other business houses have followed in the wake of the Third National and have taken on the light, heat and water utilities.

The lot where the bank was erected was originally settled by the Maxey family in 1823.  Mr. Maxey built a log house on the site now occupied by the Third National Bank.  Additons were later added and the house stood where it  was originally bult unitl about 1902, when the old building were wrecked to make way for the new building of the Third National Bank. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Mt. Vernon, Illinois Town Square View from Courthouse

Another great score from eBay, this postcard was postmarked 1916 and shows the town square view facing south from the Courthouse of my hometown Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Appellate Court House - Abe Lincoln & Clara Barton Stopped Here

My hometown of Mt. Vernon, IL is located in Jefferson County with a population of 15,277 according to Wikipedia.  One of the jewels of this town, is the Appellate Court House, a building which I have seen all my life.  It's one of those things you just take for granted and is located at 14th and Main; a beautiful stone building with twin wrought iron stairways, the 5th District Appellate Courthouse was built around 1857 and is famous for when Abraham Lincoln came to town to try a court case for the Illinois Central Railroad. It took three weeks to bring the iron stairways for the front of the building from St. Louis to Mt. Vernon via ox-cart.

On February 19, 1888 the "Great Cyclone" of  Mt. Vernon struck and destroyed over five hundred buildings, killed thirty citizens and injured several hundred other residents of Mt. Vernon.  An appeal went out for help to relief committees and medical providers.   Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross came to town to help the citizens of Mt. Vernon and an emergency hospital was housed in the Appellate Courthouse under her supervision.  Today the courthouse looks much as it did one-hundred and fifty years ago when it was first constructed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Joseph Wade & Charlotta Banks

Joseph W. & Charlotta Banks Wade
My great-grandparents, Joseph Washington Wade and Charlotta Ruth Banks were married on 24 Apr 1912 in Chester, Randolph County, Illinois.  Joseph was thirty-six (36) years of age, Charlotta, known as Lottie was just sixteen (16).  According to the "Application for Marriage License," Lottie's mother, Eva Bruce, gave her permission for her minor daughter to enter into marriage with Joseph.  She stated she was the legal guardian of Lottie who was born on 31 May 1896 in Allendale, Wabash County, IL.

Both Joseph and Lottie lived in Chester, IL at the time of the marriage.  I am writing a bio on Joseph and will talk later about how I believe Joseph and Lottie most likely met. Here is their Marriage License.

According to the Return of  Marriage to a County Clerk, Joseph was a Machinist, born in Carmi, Indiana.  His parents were Joseph Wade and Elizabeth Pelt.  It was his first marriage.  Lottie's father was Sherman Banks, although she was raised by her stepfather Frank Bruce.   The witnesses to the marriage were Thomas Devine, Justice of the Peace and Mary Bruce (most likely related to Frank).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Sarah Eva Talley Bruce - Mt. Vernon, IL

Sarah Eva Talley Bruce 1914
Sarah Eva Talley Bruce
23 Sep 1870 - 23 Mar 1953

My great-great-grandmother, Sarah Eva Talley Bruce was born 23 Sep 1870 Wabash County, IL to Richard Henderson and Jane Frances (Williams) Talley.  She died 23 Mar 1953 in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, IL.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Joseph Washington Wade

Joseph Washington Wade 7 Sep 1875 – 14 Jan 1942

Joseph Washington Wade 12 Apr 1912

My great-grandfather, Joseph Washington Wade, was born 7 Sep 1875 to Joseph R.H. and Elizabeth (Pelt) Wade in Carmi, White County, Illinois.    He was married to Charlotta (Lottie) Ruth Banks on 24 Apr 1912 in Chester, Randolph County, Illinois.  This small obituary was placed in the Mt. Vernon Register News (Mt. Vernon, IL)  on the day of his death.  

According to his death certificate (see below), he died of bronchial pneumonia and undernourishment.  The funeral director was H. A. Myers of Myers Funeral Home and he was eventually buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Mt. Vernon, Illinois Town Square

I bought this old postcard on eBay of my hometown, Mt. Vernon, Illinois postmarked 1915 that shows the North side of the downtown square looking West.   I just love these old postcards because I can imagine my ancestors strolling the streets, or perhaps pulling up to a store in their horse and buggy to go shopping.

Mt. Vernon, IL Postcard Postmarked 1915

Monday, July 4, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Nancy Scott Martin, DeKalb, TN

I wrote recently about my 3X great-grandmother, Amanda J. Martin Sewell McGuire Clifton.  Amanda has always been one of my favorite ancestors and I wrote how thrilled I was to recently receive pictures of her from a distant relative, Mike Clemmons who writes the Clemmons Family History Blog and who is descended from Amanda through her daughter Nancy Lucinda McGuire who married William K. Clemmons 23 May 1886 in Wilson County, TN.

Mike also sent me pictures of Amanda's parents William Nelson and Nancy (Scott) Martin  and I can't tell you how grateful I was to get them!  I will write about what little I know of William in a later post and show his picture as well.  Today I am posting a picture of my 4X great-grandmother Nancy Scott Martin born ca 1829 and died sometime after 1880 probably Wilson or DeKalb County, TN.  It has always been rumored that my great-grandmother Verna Merritt Smith was related somehow to Nancy Scott and that she and my great-grandfather Robert Calvin Smith were distant cousins through his Scott relatives.  This has never been proved however.  Someday I would like to find this connection if it does indeed exist.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Happy Father's Day, Dad from your Daughter!

I was born on October 31, 1955 and this picture was surely taken within a few days of my birth.  My Dad, Arthur Howard Wilson was only nineteen years old when I was born, but he has been the best dad a girl could ever ask for. He has worked hard all his life, but always taken time for his children,whether it be coaching ballgames, hauling us around to our numerous activities, or just to be there when we needed him.
With a new generation of great-grandchildren coming into the world he has been just as involved if not more. Here he is in 2005 with my grandson Blake.  Happy Father's Day, Dad - I love you!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Charlotta Ruth Banks Wade Berry

Charlotta Ruth Banks Wade Berry
Charlotta Ruth Banks Wade Berry 
31 May 1895 - 9 Sep 1960

My great-grandmother, Charlotta Ruth Banks, was born 31 May 1895 in Wabash County, IL to Sarah Eva Talley and Sherman Banks (see previous story).  Charlotta grew up without her father and had four younger half-sisters when her mother remarried Frank Z. Bruce.  On 24 Apr 1912 at the age of sixteen Charlotta married Joseph Washington Wade who was twenty years older than her.  Their first child, my grandmother Doris, was born 27 Aug 1913 followed by Mildred in 1917 and Hugh Joseph in 1919.

Charlotta ca 1905 age 10

Great-grandfather Joseph was a foreman at the car shops in Mt. Vernon, IL cand they lived a good life for the times. Unfortunately, sometime around the late 1920's business slowed and Joseph lost his position.  Sometime after 1930 Charlotta and Joseph divorced and Charlotta later married Mack Berry.  Charlotta was bedridden in the last years of her life; as a little girl I remember going with my parents to her home in Granite City, Illinois.  She and her husband kept many Chihuahua's as pets and the dogs on her bed would growl and snap at me.  As I young child I was terrified of them, strangely enough I now have two chihuahua's of my own.  Charlotta died 9 Sep 1960 in Madison County, Illinois and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Robert Calvin Smith - Mt . Vernon, Il

Bob Smith Age 35
Robert Calvin Smith 16 Sep 1888 - 31 Oct 1958

Last week I wrote briefly about my great-grandmother Verna Merritt Smith.  This week's obituary is about her husband, my great-grandfather Robert Calvin Smith.  Robert, or Bob as he was called, was born in Mt. Vernon, IL on 16 Sep 1888 to Milton A. and Mary F. (Scott) Smith.  Despite trying his hand early on at his father's occupation as a plumber, with the advent of automobiles Bob quickly found his niche.  Smith men have always been very mechanically inclined and working with engines seemed to be his calling.  He ran a garage in Mt. Vernon for many years with several of his sons.

Bob & Verna Smith 1950's

At some point in the late 1940's or early 1950's poor health forced him to retire from his garage.  He and Verna spent a couple of winter in Flagstaff, Arizona and then Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I like this picture of them - not sure where it's taken, but he looks very relaxed and enjoying his retirement.  On 31 Oct 1958 (my third birthday) he died in a Fort Lauderdale nursing home.  He was buried in Williams Cemetery in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Verna A. Merritt Smith

Verna A. Merritt
Verna Anna Merritt Smith 17 Jan 1889 - 29 Mar 1972

My Great-Grandmother, Verna Anna Merritt Smith was born in Wilson County, TN 17 Jan 1889 to Obidiah J. and Florence (Sewell) Merritt.    The family moved to Jefferson County, Illinois around 1900.  Verna was the second of six children and her mother Florence died when Verna was just thirteen years old.  From all accounts, times were hard for the Merritts after their mother died.  In 1909, Verna married Robert Calvin Smith and they had eight children, one of those being my grandfather, Diamond Milton Smith.  They raised their children in Mt. Vernon, Illinois where great-grandpa Bob was an auto mechanic.

Verna A. Merritt Smith

Great-grandma Verna was quite a character and had a wicked sense of humor.  She was full of gumption right up until the end.  I like to think she got this from her grandmother, Amanda J. Martin.  Verna's husband Bob Smith died in October 1958, Verna 29 Mar 1972 in Fort Lauderdale, FL where they had lived for a number of years.  The following obituary is from the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Mary F. Scott Smith - Mt . Vernon, Il

Mary Frances Scott Smith
My great-great-grandmother, Mary Frances Scott Smith was born in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois on 17 Apr 1862 to Joseph McDonald "Mack" Scott and his wife Delilah (Hunt) Scott. She was the fourth of eight children of whom only two would live to adulthood, the other being her sister Rebecca Jane Scott who married Cyrus Edward Bullock. On 2 Mar 1886 In Mt. Vernon, Mary married Milton Albin Smith, son of Daniel and Barbara Ann (Wade) Smith. She died in Mt. Vernon on 17 Aug 1936.  She is buried in Williams Cemetery.

Smith Family, Mt. Vernon, Illinois 1920's

This is the only picture I have ever seen of her, it's taken in Mt. Vernon around the middle 1920's.  From L-R; Mary Frances Scott Smith, son Milton McDonald Smith and wife Sylvia Allen Smith, son Robert Calvin Smith, son Roy, and  Robert's wife Verna Merritt Smith, son John Smith and wife Lena (unknown) Smith.  Daughter Fannie and husband Alva Merritt are missing from the picture.  Also missing is daughter Dollie Ann Smith Hayes who died in March1923.

Mt. Vernon Register News 18 Aug 1936

Monday, April 18, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Amanda J. Martin Sewell McGuire Clifton


I think every genealogist has one or two “pet” or favorite ancestors.  One of my favorites is my 3x great-grandmother, Amanda Jane Martin.  She has fascinated me for nearly twenty years and my obsession has followed her back and forth through four states and three husbands in an attempt to solve all the mysteries of her life.  When I first started putting this biography on paper several months ago, I wrote how it pained me that I had no pictures of her, but how I could almost picture her in my mind.  Well, in the last month, to my great delight, I have had a distant cousin, Mike Clemmons who writes Clemmons Family History,  come forth with pictures of our shared ancestor and the pictures are very close to what I had imaged.  They are not close ups, but I am so very grateful to have them.  This biography is in no way complete, and continues to be a work in progress.

Amanda J. Martin Sewell McGuire Clifton 
 Amanda was born in December of 1845 in Tennessee, most likely DeKalb County (3) to William Nelson and Nancy (Scott) Martin.   Family history has it that Nancy Scott is related to the Scotts that came to Jefferson County, IL in the 1830’s, Daniel Scott, wife Sarah and children Martha and Joseph McDonald, but I have yet to make the connection.  The 1850 DeKalb County census records show Amanda age four living in Alexandria with parents William N. and Nancy Martin as well as a sister Mary E. age 1.  Her father William was a wagon maker.

On 18 Oct 1860 at the age 14 Amanda married Daniel William Sewell son of Daniel M. and Falby (Capshaw) Sewell.  According to an interview between Carol Smith and Amanda’s grandson Dewey Merritt, Dewey related Amanda discussing the early days of her marriage.  She laughingly told this story about her naiveté and innocence as a bride.  “The first day Will (this is what she called her husband) went into the fields to work I got out my dolls.  At noon, Will came home for lunch and I had seven dolls on the living room floor.  I didn’t know that I was supposed to fix lunch.”

Sadly this youthful marriage was not to have a happy ending.  On 5 Nov, 1861, just a little more than a year after their marriage, their only child, Florence Jane Sewell was born.  Just six months later on 31 May 1862, Daniel was killed at the age twenty-three in the Civil War at 7 Pines – Fair Oaks, Virginia.

I don’t know where Amanda went to live for the next few years, most likely with her parents, but on 25 Dec 1865 in Wilson County, Tennessee she married William Henry McGuire.  By 1870, William Henry and Amanda are living in Piney Fork, Sharp County, Arkansas.  According to the 1870 census for this county, H.W. age 22 and Amanda age 23 are living with daughter Jane McGuire (this is actually Florence Jane Sewell) age 8, daughter Mattie, age 3 and son Daniel age 9 months.

Unfortunately, Amanda’s luck with husbands was to run out again and William Henry McGuire died sometime between 1875 and 1880.  Amanda and her children returned to Wilson County, Tennessee and are found in the 1880 census.  A. J. McGuire, widow, age 34 and daughter M. H. (Mary Henrietta) McGuire, age 4 are found living with the W. N. Steed family and Amanda is working as a cook.  Also in the same census living with her parents W.N. and Nancy Martin are D.W. Guire (Daniel)(grandson) age 10 and N. L. McGuire (Nancy Lucinda) (granddaughter) age 8.  Mattie McGuire born 1867 was not found which leads me to think this child has died.  Daughter Florence, is found also in Wilson County living with the D. W. Baird family working as a cook as well.  This family is neighbors of grandparents William and Nancy Martin, the Steed family, the Merritt family, the Clemmons family and the Clifton family. 

Her oldest daughter Florence married Obidiah Merritt in 1882.  On 28 Apr 1885 also in Wilson County Amanda again remarried to Jesse Clifton.  Daughter Nancy Lucinda married William K. Clemmons in 1886.  This Clemmons family connection is important as this is where the distant cousin comes in who supplied me with the pictures of Amanda.  Around 1900 the Jesse and Amanda Clifton family and Obidiah and Florence Merritt family moved from Wilson County, Tennessee to Jefferson County, Illinois. 
Jesse & Amanda Clifton Family Mt. Vernon, IL ca 1900
The Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County census shows Jesse Clifton age 57 and wife Amanda age 53 with son W. B. age 19, son Samuel age 17 and son Jesse age 14.  Although some family history notes that Amanda had a son named Sam, sons W. B. and Samuel are from Jesse Clifton’s first marriage to Martha J. Shorten.  Son Jesse is actually a daughter Jessie G. born 10 Feb 1886 who later marries Walter Newton Shelton. 

The 1900 census states that Amanda is the mother of six children with five living.  This would make sense if her children were Florence Sewell, Mattie McGuire, Nancy McGuire, Daniel McGuire, Mary McGuire and Jessie Clifton as it appears Mattie McGuire died before 1880.  However, the same census states that Amanda and Jesse have been married for 31 years which is not true as they were married in 1885 which would be 15 years.

Jesse & Amanda Clifton Mt. Vernon, IL ca 1900
In 1910, we again find Jesse and Amanda in the Jefferson County, Il census as Jesse Clifton age 67, Amanda J. Clifton age 64 and with William B. Patterson orphan age 10.  Daughter Florence J. Sewell Merritt died in 1902 leaving husband Obidiah and six children, Novella, Verna, Amanda Louranne, Claude, Alva and George Dewey.

By 1920, Amanda is once again widowed.  Date and place are unknown for husband Jesse’s death although it is suspected to be in Jefferson County, IL.  Amanda is found in the 1920 census living in West, New Madrid, Missouri with daughter Nancy Lucinda “Lula” McGuire Clemmons and husband William.  She is listed as Mandy Clifton age 74.

After much searching, I finally found Amanda’s final resting place in Friendship Cemetery, Annieville, Lawrence County, Arkansas.  The date on her stone is 1927 which I used to order a death certificate from Arkansas, but I was greatly disappointed when no death record was found.  I did have someone take a picture of the stone for me which I was grateful to get. 

Amanda J. Clifton, Friendship Cemetery, Annieville, AK
 I obviously never knew Amanda, but I feel a deep connection to her on many levels.   She was a woman with a lot of resilience and spirit, and I suspect she was quite a character.  According to a conversation Carol Smith had with Amanda’s grandson Dewey Merritt, she did not like living in Arkansas but couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.  In his recollections he also stated that she liked to dance.  He recounted a story about her car, a Dodge with a cloth top and Bob, a relative, racing with a Ford on a rock road in Arkansas.  She enjoyed the race and shouted “Don’t let him pass us!”  She was probably in her late 60’s at the time.  Her life was a hard one, but she never let it get her down and she kept her sense of humor.   I can only hope that I have inherited a tiny bit of this grit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Daniel Gale "Danny" Smith

Daniel Gale Smith

Daniel Gale Smith

Daniel "Danny" Smith, 65, of Mt. Vernon, died at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, 2011, at St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Illinois

Danny was born Sunday, Dec. 30, 1945, in Mt. Vernon, the son of Diamond Milton and Doris Charlotte (Wade) Smith.

Danny is survived by two sons, William Smith of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Daniel Nabors and wife Yvonne of Navarre, Fla.; a daughter, Shannon Thomas of Atlanta; six grandchildren; two special grandchildren, Chase Chelf and Alanah Chelf of Mt. Vernon; two sisters, Pat Wilson and husband Art of Mt. Vernon and Sue Stewart and husband Dwight of Mt. Vernon; several nieces and nephews including David Gale Smith, Jeremy Diamond Smith, Ted Wilson, Todd Wilson and wife Stacy of Mt. Vernon, Robert Thomas, Jennifer Clevenger and husband Ray of Centralia, Jamie Houle and husband Derek of Mt. Vernon (Danny made his home at Jamie and Derek's house, Teresa Rogers and husband Jim of Plantation, FL, and Tracy Hawkins and husband Lyndon of Apache Junction, AZ, Wade Stewart and wife Lauren of Edwardsville,IL, Paul Stewart and wife Patty of Buckner, KY and Danny Warner and wife Melissa of Chattanooga, TN; and two lifelong friends, Jeff Roberts of Sebring, Fla., and Kenny Rogers of Okeechobee, Fla.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Yvonne Warner; a twin brother, David G. Smith; and four nephews, Joshua Smith, Trent Wilson, Derek Warner and Donnie Warner.

Danny was a self-employed carpenter, and accomplished cabinet maker and woodworker, was musically talented and was a cherished brother, father, grandfather, uncle and friend.

Funeral services were held at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at Hughey Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  Mr. Marty Mills officiated.  Cremation following the funeral service and inurnment of ashes will be held at Williams Cemetery in Jefferson County, Illinois at a later date.

Williams Cemetery, Jefferson County, Illinois
Note:  This obituary was created using the original obituary from the Mt. Vernon Register News, the Hughey Funeral Home Register and my own additions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Good Samaritan Hospital, Mt. Vernon, IL

Here are two views of the hospital I was born at in 1955, Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  The first is a postcard circa 1943 and the hospital was called Mt. Vernon Hospital at that time which I never knew.  This picture was taken I believe from the North side.

Mt. Vernon Hosp . 1919 - 1943

Correction (July 4, 2012):  Pointed out to me by a interested reader, the first postcard is actually the Mt. Vernon Hospital operated by Dr. S. A. Thompson between 1919 - 1943 on North Twelfth Street until it became the Good Samaritan Hospital and operated by the Sisters of Saint Francis officially on January 1 1944.  The second postcard below is the second Good Samaritan Hospital built and opened by the Sisters with funding from a number of sources in 1952.  A new Good Samaritan Hospital is being built this year and scheduled to open February 2013.

This second postcard, I believe is dated circa 1959-1960 based on the 1959 Mercury in the picture.  No, I am not an expert on cars, this was noted on the card when I purchased it.  :-)  This picture is taken from the Southeast.

Good Samaritan Hosp - Opened by Sisters of St. Francis 1952

All of my brothers and sisters were also born in this hospital.  Additionally, my twin uncles, Daniel and David Smith were the first twins ever born in the hospital operated by the Sisters of Saint Frances on December 30, 1945,  their picture was hung in the lobby and moved to the new hospital when opened in 1952 and hung there for a number of  years.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ancestor Approved

 As is usual these days, I am running way behind, but I was pleased as punch when in December Shelley from A Sense of Family gave me the “Ancestor Approved Award.” The award was started by Leslie Ann of Ancestors Live Here in March 2010.  Thank you Shelley for your recognition of my fledgling blog!

Recipients are asked to make a list of ten things they have learned about their ancestors that have humbled, surprised, or enlightened them. Then they are to pass on the award to ten other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud.

It's kind of hard to know where to start because it seems like everything I learn about my ancestors surprises me.  Just when you think you know what to expect they knock you for a loop!  And I think it goes without saying that the lives our ancestors led are very humbling to us all.

Where to start, what to say!  Well here goes:

1.  When I first started researching back around 1994 I expected to discover that my ancestors immigrated to the United States within the last one hundred years or so.  Imagine my surprise to find most of them had been here much longer than that, in fact, many coming here in the 1700's and some in the 1600's.  I only found one ancestor, who emigrated for certain in the 1800’s from Germany, my 2x great grandfather Sarillas Lofink Neibel.

2.  It was humbling to me to realize that my ancestors were flesh and blood people with real lives, problems, loves and hardships.   Somehow I had this cartoon picture in my head, perhaps from watching old movies where the people looked and acted silly.  This truly has been one of the most mind-boggling things to wrap my head around.  These people really existed and because of them, I am here.

3.  When I first started genealogy in 1994 I was more concerned with how many names I could put on my chart and how far back I could go.  Now I care more about what I can learn about the lives of the people I discover.  I am obsessed in learning who they were, how they lived, what they thought, what they experienced.  This sea change in my thinking has been truly humbling and enlightening.

4.  I know that some people start their genealogy research hoping to find some famous and rich ancestors.  Even though I have a couple of very "minor" celebrities, I find I am more proud of the everyday, working people in my family.  I come from a long line of farmers, coal miners, mechanics, plumbers and laborers.  These are the people whose hard work made America great and they truly humble me.

5.  I was amazed and awed to learn that I had ancestors on several lines that fought in the Civil War.  Some survived, some did not.  My 3X great-grandfather, Daniel W. Sewell came from a family of five brothers.  He and one brother fought for the South; their other three brothers fought for the North.  I can't imagine a more difficult situation than fighting a war knowing that you might end up facing your own brother on the battlefield!  Unfortunately, Grandpa Daniel died in battle at the age of 23 before ever seeing his first child.

6.  The wife of Daniel W. Sewell, Amanda J. Martin married two more times, had six more children and outlived all three husbands.  Somehow she managed to persevere and keep on going.  By all accounts she was a real "pistol" who really enjoyed life.  This is humbling.  I don’t know if I would have that much gumption.

7.  I was equally amazed and surprised to learn that I had several ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War, one of those being my 5X great-grandfather Samuel Thompson Clemmons.  How wonderful to know that my family was part of the undertaking to secure our independence and create the wonderful country that I have been privileged to live in.

8.  I was shocked by the number of ancestors who were divorced.  Somehow I always assumed people "back then" didn't get divorced.  Well I'm here to tell you that yes they did!  Besides two sets of great-grandparents that I know of, it was always assumed that my great-great grandfather David J. Wilson's parents probably died sometime before 1850.  However, records now show they divorced and his mother remarried.  He went to live with his grandmother as a small boy and lived with her until adulthood.

9.  When I first began researching in the early 1990's I was very surprised to learn my great-grandfather Fred Ulysses Neibel first married Martha Ann Hunter in 1891 and they had one son Andrew Jackson in 1893.  Martha Ann died just one year later and Fred married Martha's sister, my great-grandmother in 1898.  They had twelve children, one of which was my grandmother, Alpha Laura Neibel Wilson.

10.  And finally, I am always surprised to find that I can still be surprised.  Just when you think you seen and heard it all, you haven’t!  There is always some new and exciting discovery that knocks your socks off!

Stay tuned for my list of ten deserving bloggers to pass the award on to. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Charlotta Ruth & Doris Charlotte Wade - Mt. Vernon, IL

My grandmother, Doris Charlotte Wade and her mother Charlotta (Lottie) Ruth (Banks) Wade
Mt. Vernon, Il Winter 1913-1914

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday – Found Relatives – Old and New!!

What an exciting week for me genealogy wise, all because of Facebook.  I have met or reconnected with a number of relatives through Facebook and as a result have found pictures of grandparents and other relatives that I have never seen before.  It always makes my day, but none so much as what I learned on Sunday.  I added a new Facebook friend, a Merritt relative I had never even heard of, that lives in my home town of Mt. Vernon, IL.  We have mutual ancestors, my great-great grandparents, Obidiah and Florence (Sewell) Merritt – his great-grandparents.

I always wondered why there were no pictures of Obidiah and Florence.  They were not well off, farmers who worked the land to support their six children.  I’m sure there was not much money for things like pictures, but even so I always wondered if there weren’t at least one or two pictures of them out there somewhere.  Well, my new Facebook friend (my Merritt relative) posted these formal portrait pictures of Obidiah and Florence on Facebook and I almost fell off my chair!  Halleluiah!  The pictures had been hanging for many years in his father, Dewey Merritt’s house until he died.
I will talk more about Obidiah and Florence in a later post, but for now I am thrilled and thankful for my new Facebook friends and relatives, that we can share stories, and to finally have these pictures.

Obidiah J. Merritt 1851 - 1914
Florence Jane Sewell Merritt 1861 - 1902

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday – Cooking, Fish Eyes and Spam – Lessons Learned!

The topic of food traditions has come up recently between me and my friend Kellie at She Finds Graves and on her facebook page.  Kellie always makes me laugh, but her thoughts on the matter made me think about my own experiences with food, especially as it pertains to my mother-in-law. 

I love my mother-in-law Margie dearly, but we’ve had an interesting relationship over the years, many times because she thought I was starving her child.  Margie came from Nassau, Bahamas and had a different background than any I had ever known.  Her family ate many exotic things, at least to a Midwestern girl like me; they grew their own vegetables, ate fresh fish from the sea, raised and ate fresh chickens, pigs and goat.  She came to Florida at age 16 as a nanny and soon met and married my father-in-law, Alvin Rogers who came from a wealthy, traditional Trenton, New Jersey family.  I can only imagine what that was like!  Believe me, I’ve heard stories.

When I met and married my husband at seventeen, yes seventeen, I couldn’t even boil water, let alone cook a meal.  My mother, a good cook, made good old-fashioned basic meals.  Since she worked for many of my growing up years, she was the queen of throwing together quick meals once she got home.  She was what was they called a town girl in our area.  She married my father, a farm boy who grew up eating all those things you would imagine from a farm;  fresh eggs, farm-raised beef, chicken, pork, home-grown vegetables, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Evidently he had eaten his share and to this day he will not eat gravy.  My mother was an inventive cook – with five kids and a small budget she could stretch a meal, something she surely learned from her mother and her mother before her.  My father always ate whatever my mother put on the table and it was expected they we would also sit and eat without complaint.  I do remember whining on many an occasion and believe me “the look” from my father was something you did not want to get!

I was a picky child (hard to believe now from my very healthy size).  I couldn’t stand for any of my foods to touch each other.  I didn’t like seasonings, sauces, onions, green peppers; everything had to be very plain.  When my mother tried to make something new is was always, “Yuk, what is that?”  There were many nights as a child I was not allowed to leave the table until I ate all my dinner.  Being a stubborn child let’s just say I sat there a looong time.

Now back to where this intersects with my mother-in-law.  By the time I met and married my husband I think he was expecting me to pick up the cooking banner.  Ought-oh!  My repertoire consisted of some basics like meatloaf, Spam (yes I said Spam – we used to love sliced, fried Spam sandwiches as kids), and my idea of fish was Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks.   Now when I served him the Spam the poor boy looked green.  Of course, I had to remind him that his divorced father bought him and his brothers and sisters frozen pot pies for dinner; they were five for a dollar and he would buy something like 100 at a time.  But the fish sticks were what broke the camel’s back so to speak.  I mean, for a boy who had been raised on fresh fish, shrimp, conch, and lobster he was aghast!  I had committed seafood blasphemy.

After a couple of years passed, I asked his mother for a little help. One lesson in particular sticks out in my mind.  She decided to teach me how to cook fresh fish.  Now I was thinking we would go to the grocery store and pick up a nice cellophane wrapped fish fillet.  No, she took me to a fish market and proceeded to teach me the finer points of choosing a WHOLE fish.  She asked the fish monger (if that the correct word) to lay out a particular fish for her review– I believe it was a red snapper and this thing was HUGE.  I mean it was bigger than my dog!  She said to me, “Now, what you do is you press down on the fish’s eye and if it pops back up it is fresh.   If it stays in it's old and you don’t want to buy that one.”  About this time I am looking at her in horror.  I realized I wasn’t going to be cooking a whole fresh fish.  Umm…..I don’t think so.  No ma’am, this girl won’t be touching any fish eyes! 

Having failed on this endeavor she decided to teach me how to bake bread.  Now here was something I could really sink my teeth into (pardon the pun)!  She proceeds to wipe off her kitchen table and dumps on a pile of flour.  I’m like, “Whoa!  First, shouldn’t we be doing this on the counter and how much flour do you use?”  Now, you have to understand, even from a very young age I have always been a very anal, detailed type of person.  I need lists, menus, instructions, visuals, everything written down.  She replied “Oh, you just add a little of this and little of that, add the yeast, let it rise, blah, blah, blah, throw in the oven and you’ve got bread.  Understand?”  Well, needless to say my first attempt at baking bread myself ended up with what looked like pizza crust.  So no more bread baking for me – I’ll just buy it at the bakery.

After that, I think she just gave up on me, just wrote me off as useless.  Now she really started worrying about her baby.  He was surely starving to death.  Actually the man was turning out to be a much better cook than me and I certainly wasn’t complaining.  However, every time she would come to visit she would leave all kinds of containers of food in our refrigerator and freezer.  Most of these were island dishes he had grown up eating.  Some he would eat, some not.   The most famous were the pigs feet and grits.  She would leave containers of these in our freezer and say, “These are Jimmy’s favorite.”  Well, umm, no they weren’t, but he was too afraid to tell her he didn’t like pigs feet until the time she decided to actually heat them up for him.  He had to man up and tell the truth.  At least that stopped the endless supply of pigs feet.  Seriously, can you imagine opening your freezer for ice cubes and looking at that?

The one thing Margie makes that we all agree on is her conch fritters and conch salad.  She makes the best conch fritters and salad in the world.  They are so much better than the ones you buy elsewhere – hers are loaded with conch.  For me, the Midwestern girl who grew up eating fish sticks to actually eat and love conch fritters and conch salad, well let’s just say “you’ve come a long way baby!”  My husband had been begging her for the recipe for years, which she greedily kept to herself, but she finally caved a couple of years ago and shared it.  Of course, he’s the one that makes them, not me.  He’s the seafood chef and steak griller, I just stick to the basics – you know, meatloaf, chicken, casseroles and oh – absolutely no Spam.
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