My Grandfather’s Sword

Ornamental-SwordAs a young child I can remember opening my father’s closet and seeing a very fancy looking sword hanging in there. I don’t think I knew whose it was until I was older and learned it belonged to my mother’s father. My grandfather, Harold James Davis, died about 2 years before I was born. The one thing I remember being told about him was that he was a military man through and through. Tough, no-nonsense and a strict disciplinarian. However, I do think he had a soft spot as my older brothers’ remember Sundays when he would give them money for an ice cream … if they had finished all their dinner.

But back to that sword. Some time ago I was looking through photographs of my grandfather and noticed that sword at his side in his wedding photograph. Just barely peeking out but it immediately reminded me that I had no photographs of the actual sword. My mother still has it in her home in South Africa and I immediately asked her for photographs of it so I could document it in my files.

Here is the wedding photograph of my grandparents, Harold James Davis and Hazel Jane Keown on their wedding day, 19 June 1937 in Johannesburg, South Africa.1 It’s a little difficult to see as the resolution isn’t great but the yellow circle shows the hilt of the sword at his side, just near the hand of his wife as she holds onto his arm. You can also see the baldric (my new word of the day: a baldric is a belt worn over one shoulder that is typically used to carry a weapon (usually a sword) or other implement such as a bugle or drum.)2

HaroldJamesDavis1908_Weddin

There are no other photos of my grandfather wearing that sword. Used only for formal ceremonies, I imagine that there weren’t many of those that came up. He spent many years in the military, serving part-time at first in the Imperial Light Horse Regiment, then entering the South African Defense Force full-time during World War 2. He served in Egypt with the Allied Forces in the North African Campaign. He was honorably discharged in 1947 due to the partial demobilization of his unit.3 Family heirlooms have stories to tell. How have you used them in telling the stories of your ancestors?

 

 

 


  1. Harold James Davis and Hazel Jane Keown wedding photograph, 1937; digital copy in Sue McNelly collection, Phoenix, Arizona. Original photograph in possession of Estelle Davis Thomas, South Africa. 
  2. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki), “Baldric,” rev. 31 May 2018. 
  3. Harold James Davis military papers, compilation of enlistment and service records; privately held by Sue McNelly [address for private use], Phoenix, Arizona, 2018. This collection includes records from the S.A. Defense Force, unit service timelines, enlistment and discharge papers. 

The Story Behind the Headstone of George A. Craft

Last year I came across a photograph of the gravestone of George Albert Craft, my husband’s second great-grandfather.  He is buried in the Chico cemetery, in Chico, Butte County, California. 1 As I studied the gravestone I realized that I really didn’t know much about him. What I discovered was a hardworking, family oriented man who tragically died far too young.GeorgeAlbertCraft1852_gravestone

George Albert Craft was one of eight children born to James Craft and Susan (Hammond) Shortreid. When Susan married James Craft in 1847 she was a widow and brought with her 3 children from her previous marriage.2  George was born on 13 November 1852 in Illinois, James’ fourth son.3  When George was a young boy the family moved from Illinois to Franklin Township, Allamakee Co., Iowa where James was a cabinet maker and several of George’s older brothers began farming.   Between 1870 and 1880 James Craft died and Susan was a widow once again. Many of the older children had married and moved away but George stayed with his mother, supporting her and his younger siblings,  brother Winfield –  designated as ‘idiotic’ (a highly objectionable word but one used on the 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes) and sister Mary Ann.  George was 28, single and supported them by digging wells in Ida Grove, Iowa.4

In 1882, having moved about 16 miles from Ida Grove, to the very small ‘city’ of Danbury (population of 69 in 1880) George met 20-year-old Amy Patty Gaylord. They married on April 8, 1882 in Ida Grove, Iowa.5

GeorgeAlbertCraft1852_marriageregister_for web
George A. Craft and Amy Patty Gaylord, return of marriage entry.

George and Amy Craft settled in Iowa for the next few years.  Between 1892 and 1896 they moved the family to Corning Township, Tehama Co., California where George worked as a farm laborer.  George and Amy would go on to have a total of 12 children, with the last six born in California between 1896 and 1908.  George himself had come from a large family of 11 children (including the 3 half siblings from his mother’s first marriage).

The bigger cities and more abundant job opportunities may have contributed to the family’s next move in 1905, from the small rural township of Corning, California to the bigger city of Chico, California.  Newspapers of the time were full of articles about the Diamond Match Company coming to Chico and the availability of jobs and homes.  Owning one’s home was part of the American Dream and it was perhaps in George Craft’s reach for the first time. It was also a chance for the Craft family to put down roots and stay in one place.  George had moved a total of eight times since he was a child.

On Saturday, April 11, 1903 6 the San Francisco Chronicle published the following article:

Capture1

Within the city of Chico was a working class residential neighborhood which had been settled to house the employees of the Diamond Match Company, the largest manufacturer of matches in the United States.  By 1903 the Company had built its’ factories and sawmill close to this neighborhood.

DiamondMatchCo
Diamond Match Company Factory, Chico, California 1910 (creative commons license)

According to historian W. H. “Old Hutch” Hutchinson five events can be identified as the most seminal in Chico history. They were: 7

  1. the arrival of John Bidwell in 1850
  2. the arrival of the California and Oregon Railroad in 1870
  3. the establishment of the Northern Branch of the State Normal School in 1887
  4. the purchase of the Sierra Lumber Company by the Diamond Match Company in 1900
  5. the development of the Army Air Base which is now the Chico Municipal Airport

In 1905, George and Amy’s 11th child, a baby girl they named Eunice Aimee Craft was born in Chico, California.  The 1910 census confirms that for the first time George and Amy owned their home at 1447 Ninth Street, Chico.8  This must have been an incredibly proud moment for them. A member of the Craft family would live in the home until at least 1935.

George and oldest son Harry, aged 23, had secured jobs with the Diamond Match Company and had begun work there in 1907.  George and Harry were both mill hands in the sawmill. Over the next 10 years almost all of George’s children, including his daughters, would work for the Diamond Match Company.

Tragedy would strike on August 6, 1910 when a huge explosion ripped through the Diamond Match Company’s factory, killing 2 men instantly and seriously wounding 3 others.9

GeorgeAlbertCraft1852_newspaper3
Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), August 7, 1910

George Craft was one of those seriously injured.  On August 9, 1910 George died from the injuries he sustained in the explosion.10  He was only 57 years old. Amy Craft was left a widow with 9 children still living at home ranging in age from 26 to 3.   Tragedy would strike again only 14 short months later, on October 21, 1911 when Amy Craft also died. 11  Eldest daughter Hattie, aged 23 in 1911, would become the head of the family and by the 1920 census, had kept the 9 siblings together, living still in the home George Craft purchased at 1447 Ninth Street, Chico. 12

Craft gravestones_2
Front view of the headstones for Amy P. (Gaylord) Craft and George A. Craft, Chico cemetery, Chico, California

George and Amy Craft are buried next to each other in the Chico cemetery.  Their gravestones are beautiful and my attention was drawn immediately to the symbols and the wording on them.   On the top of both headstones rests an open book with fabric draped across it.  Below are open gates with an anchor in the middle.  Anchors typically represent hope and steadfastness and the gates represent the gates of heaven.  It is the back of the stones which is of even more interest. George’s headstone contains a circular symbol with the words ‘Dum Tacet Clamat’ (‘Though Silent, He Speaks’).  At the bottom of the stone are the words ‘Here Rests a Woodman of the World’.  (see photo at the start of the post)

The back of Amy Craft’s stone also contains a circular symbol with the words Courage Hope Remembrance around it and ‘Erected by the Women of Woodcraft’ near the bottom of the stone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Amy P. (Gaylord) Craft’s headstone

Woodmen of the World or W.O.W. was founded in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root as a fraternal benefit society which would “bind in one association the Jew and the Gentile, the Catholic and the Protestant, the agnostic and the atheist.” He used the word ‘woodman’ after hearing a sermon that talked about ‘woodmen clearing the forest to provide for their families’.  By 1898 there were more than 88,000 members throughout the country.  At its most basic W.O.W was an insurance benefit company to which members paid their insurance dues, but it also encouraged charity, compassion and neighborliness. Although no women were admitted into the society, there was a woman’s auxiliary known as the ‘Women of Woodcraft’ created in 1897.  This is the symbol on Amy Craft’s gravestone.  By 1917 Women of Woodcraft changed its name to Neighbors of Woodcraft, reflecting that both men and women were a part of the group.   The symbol with ‘Neighbors of Woodcraft’ can be seen on the gravestone of George and Amy’s oldest daughter, Hattie Craft, who married William H. McNelly in 1920.  Her gravestone lies next to her parents in the Chico cemetery.13

HattieCraft1888_gravestone
Hattie (Craft) McNelly
Craft gravestones
The graves of Hattie, and her parents Amy and George Craft

 

W.O.W was known also for providing distinctive gravestones to its members.  This was part of the benefit of early membership in the society.  Most typically the grave stones would be in the shape of logs or tree stumps or tree trunks. In the 1910s gravestones would more likely contain the W.O.W relics and symbols etched onto the stone as in George, Amy, and Hattie Craft’s case.

Obviously being a member of the Woodmen of the World was something George Craft was proud of.  His gravestone and that of his wife and oldest daughter, reflect their good standing with the society at the time of their respective deaths.

Joseph Cullen Root hoped the society would have as its’ purpose “to minister to the afflicted to relieve distress; to cast a sheltering arm about the defenseless living ;… to encourage broad charitable views…”   In 1910 with George Craft’s tragic death I’d like to believe that the society did cast a sheltering arm around the widowed Amy and her 9 children.

Every headstone has a story to tell.  We just need to find it and tell it. This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 17 prompt: Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 2 February 2016), memorial page for George Albert Craft (13 Nov 1852–9 Aug 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32513614, citing Chico Cemetery, Chico, Butte County, California, USA ; Maintained by Sandra Bessent (contributor 46992879). 
  2. 1850 U.S. census, Stephenson County, Illinois, population schedule, Freeport, p. 481 (penned), dwelling 53, family 55, James Craft family; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2016); citing NARA M432, roll 129. 
  3. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 2 February 2016), memorial page for George Albert Craft (13 Nov 1852–9 Aug 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32513614, citing Chico Cemetery, Chico, Butte County, California, USA ; Maintained by Sandra Bessent (contributor 46992879). 
  4. 1880 U.S. census, Ida County, Iowa, population schedule, Ida Grove, enumeration district (ED) 137, p. 22 (penned), p. 93D (stamped), dwelling 115, family 119, Susan Craft; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2016); citing NARA T9, roll 0345. 
  5. Ida County, Iowa, Marriage Returns Vol. 308, p. 11, George A. Craft and Amy Patty Gaylord, 1882, recorded license and marriage date and return; Clerk District and Circuit Courts; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2016). 
  6. “New Factories Come for Chico Timbers,” San Francisco Chronicle, California, 11 April 1903, page 6, col. 1; image, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 22 March 2016). 
  7. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “History of Chico, California,” rev. 4:10, 25 April 2016. 
  8. 1910 U.S. census, Butte County, California, population schedule, Chico, enumeration district (ED) 5, sheet 16-B, household 1447, dwelling 316, family 316, George A. Craft family; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2016); citing NARA T624, roll 73. 
  9. “Fire Proves Fatal,” Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 7 August 1910, page 2, col. 1; image, Genealogybank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 22 March 2016). 
  10. California Death Index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2016), George A. Craft, death index number 19967. 
  11. California Death Index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2016), Amy P. Craft, death index number 26555. 
  12. 1920 U.S. census, Butte County, California, population schedule, Chico, enumeration district (ED) 8, sheet 9-A, household 5447, dwelling 178, family 202, Hattie Craft family; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2016); citing NARA T625, roll 94. 
  13. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 April 2016), memorial page for Hattie Craft McNelly (27 Mar 1888–25 Jun 1928), Find A Grave Memorial no. 58801976, citing Chico Cemetery, Chico, Butte County, California, USA ; Maintained by Adriana (contributor 47328225). 

Two True Friends – the Soldier and the Nurse

Charlotte Lillie Davis never married and probably would have been known as the maiden aunt of the family. However, that doesn’t mean she never loved nor led a fulfilling and interesting life. She was my second great grand-aunt; a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, and a fiancée.

Very little is known about Charlotte’s fiancé, not even his full name. Official records refer to him only as R.L. Harrison. In 1901 he was with the British Army Post Office Corps, serving in South Africa at the time of the Second Boer War.1 It’s unclear when R.L. Harrison and Charlotte met, but likely Charlotte was already in her late 30s. Charlotte, aged 39, was working as a nurse at Beckett Hospital in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1901. 2

Their long distance love story is encapsulated in the seven envelopes that are framed, hanging on the wall of my cousin’s home in England. Addressed to Miss L. (Lillie) Davis, they were sent from South Africa by R.L. Harrison, complete with incredibly detailed hand drawn sketches on the front. As befits Private Harrison’s job with the Army Post Office Corps, the franking is very thorough on each envelope. Below are 3 of the 7 envelopes.

Envelope1
“Two True Friends – the Soldier and the Nurse”
Envelope2
“Tommy’s Smile” (Tommy was slang for a common soldier in the British Army.)
Envelope6
“A Gentleman in Khaki”

Sadly, their love story was short and sweet. R.L. Harrison never returned from South Africa. His exact death date is unknown but in the Roll of Individuals entitled to the South African War Medal he is noted as ‘Deceased’ as of 9th July 1901. 3

Also in my cousin’s possession are Corporal Harrison’s medals. The Queen’s South Africa Medal was presented to British, Imperial and Colonial troops serving in the Boer War. It has bars representing individual campaigns fought in. Corporal Harrison’s medal contains bars for service in the Cape Colony between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902, service in the Transvaal between 24 May 1900 and 31 May 1902 and a third bar for service at Wittebergen 1 July 1900.

RlHarrisonMedal
R.L. Harrison’s Queen’s South Africa Medal.

There is also a British War Medal for Charlotte Lillie with her name, C.L. Davis and S.(Staff) Nurse, 1914-1918 written on it. Charlotte Lillie served in France as a member of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR), which was the nursing branch of the British Army. 4

Charlotte Lillie fit all the requirements for entry into the QAIMNSR which stated that members were to be over the age of 25, single, educated, of impeccable social standing, and must have completed a three-year course of nurse training in a hospital approved by the War Office. 5

CLMedal
Charlotte Lillie Davis’ British War Medal.

During the time that she served as a Staff Nurse, Charlotte kept a small autograph album which some of the men she was nursing, wrote in.  One of the pages is shown in the photocopy below. The large black square is a plaster (bandage) stuck to the page. A transcription of the page follows.

DavisAutogrph
Page from Charlotte Lillie Davis’ Autograph Book.

“This court plaster is warranted
Not to heal “unkind cuts” “wounded feelings” “injured innocence”

“cracked heads” & “broken hearts”
              ___________

If you should carve the Xmas goose
This plaster you may find of use
For you’re so kind upon my word
You’ll cut yourself and spoil the bird.”

A.W. Narrel. The E/Surreys
Ward 22
Sep ’17

To Sister Davis”

Charlotte Lillie Davis never did marry.  Perhaps I am being fanciful but I wonder if her heart ever recovered after learning of Corporal Harrison’s death.

After her service in the war, she lived for some time with her older brother, William Davis in Doncaster, Yorkshire. Later, she moved to a Nurse’s Home in Wentworth, West Yorkshire. From 1931 until her death in 1940, Charlotte Lillie lived at 14 Woodland Road, Wath-Upon-Dearne, near Rotherham, Yorkshire.6

CharlotteLillieDavis1862_lastresidence
14 Woodland Road, Wath-Upon-Dearne, as it appears today.

The maiden aunt of the family perhaps, but so much more. I would have liked to meet her and hear her tell her love story in her own words, and listen as she described her care of the ‘boys’ fighting in France during the Great War.

 

WordCloud

 

This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 14 prompt: Maiden Aunt

  1. “Natal & South African Forces Death, 1899 To 1902, Army Post Office Corps”. Database with images, Findmypast.com (www.findmypast.com : accessed April 3, 2018), Roll of Individuals entitled to the South Africa Medal, entry for R.L. Harrison. 
  2. “1901 Census for England and Wales,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 February 2004); entry for Charlotte Lillie Davis, Barnsley, Yorkshire West Riding; citing the National Archives, RG 13, piece 4314, Folio 79, p. 1. 
  3. “Natal & South African Forces Death, 1899 To 1902, Army Post Office Corps”. Database with images, Findmypast.com (www.findmypast.com : accessed April 3, 2018), Roll of Individuals entitled to the South Africa Medal, entry for R.L. Harrison. 
  4. Scarletfinders, (http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/2.html : accessed April 7, 2018), “Researching A Nurse.” 
  5. The National Archives (U.K.), “Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War,” database, Discover Our Collections (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ : accessed 6 April 2018), “Medal Card of Davis, Charlotte Lillie”; citing catalog reference WO 372/23/10656. 
  6. West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962, Township of Wath-Upon-Dearne, p. 36 for Davis, Charlotte Lily, 1940, residence 14 Woodland Rd; image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 February 2012). 

The Goodman family of St. David, Arizona

Goodman-Home,-St-David
The Goodman homestead, St. David, Arizona

The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up the American West to settlement. Any person (a citizen or someone who intended to become a citizen) could apply for a section of land (160 acres) in any one of the “public domain states”. “Public domain states” were all the states except for the 13 original states and Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas. There were other conditions that also had to be met: the person must be the head of a family, or a single person over 21, who had never fought against the United States. The land had to be surveyed, and the homesteader had to pay a fee to claim the land temporarily. He had six months to begin living on the land, and had to live on the land continuously for five years, after which, the government would issue a patent or deed for the land. During those five years the homesteader must build a dwelling and cultivate some of the land. 1

The Goodman home stood in the small southern Arizona town of St. David. It was built about 1882 by William Nicholas Goodman, an English carpenter, and his sons, on land that was close to the St. David cemetery. 2

AZ-Map
Arizona map showing location of St. David.

St. David was settled in 1877 by Philemon C. Merrill, a member of the Mormon Battalion who had passed through the San Pedro River Valley in 1846 on the Battalion’s overland march to San Diego, California. St. David was a tight-knit Mormon community. 3 Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and William Nicholas Goodman had joined the church in England in 1851. 4

When William was only 10 years of age his mother, Maria (Mary) died in 1854. A few years later, in 1857, William’s father, Thomas Goodman, also died. 5 William and his three siblings were left as orphans.

Perhaps feeling that there were more opportunities in pioneer America, and a chance to be with fellow members of their church, the Goodman brothers, William and Nathaniel, made the decision to leave England. They were among the 32,000 British and Irish converts to the Mormon church who, from 1847 to 1869, left their homelands for America. 6 William (20), and his younger brother, Nathaniel (13), left Liverpool, England on 14 May 1862 aboard the William Tapscott. The journey lasted 42 days and they docked in New York on 25 June 1862. 7 With Utah as their final destination, the Goodman brothers traveled first by rail, then steamboat on the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska where they stayed for 2 weeks. There they gathered provisions and made the rest of the journey to the Salt Lake valley by wagon. They arrived in Utah in October 1862. 8

William remained in Utah until the early 1880s. With his health failing and seeking warmer temperatures, he moved his family to Arizona, arriving in Mesa in the fall of 1882. They stayed only a short time before heading further south. William had married Margarett Ann Taylor in 1864. 9 Together with their nine children, the Goodman family prepared to settle in St. David, Arizona. Margarett’s sister, Maria, lived in St. David with her husband, Joseph McRae. With Joseph McRae’s help, the Goodman’s made adobe bricks and built their home east of the McRae homestead. 10

WilliamNicholasGoodman_Marg
William N. Goodman & Margarett Taylor Goodman

William Nicholas Goodman died at age 43 on 8 March 1885 in St. David, only a few years after moving there. 11 Margarett and the children continued to live in the home William had built. As the children grew older, many bought land and raised their own families in St. David. The connection between the Goodman family and the McRae family continued with the 1893 marriage of Joseph Thomas Goodman, son of William Nicholas Goodman, to Annie Maria McRae, daughter of Joseph and Maria McRae. 12

JosephGoodman1868_AnnieMcRa
Joseph Goodman & Annie McRae Goodman

In 1877 St. David was little more than a stone fort surrounded by crops of wheat and barley. Families like the Goodman’s worked extremely hard to build homes, cultivate land and provide a living for themselves, in conditions that were often difficult. Their legacy continues in St. David today where many of their descendants still live.

This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 13 prompt: The Old Homestead

 

 


  1. Greg Bradsher, “How the West was Settled”, Prologue. Winter 2012. National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/files/publications/prologue/2012/winter/homestead.pdf : accessed 28 March 2018). 
  2. Life sketch of William Nicholas Goodman, no author noted. Familysearch.org (https:www.familysearch.org : accessed 28 March 2018). 
  3. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._David,_Arizona : accessed 27 March 2018), St. David, Arizona. 
  4. Life sketch, p.1 
  5. Life sketch, p. 2 
  6. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, BYU Harold B. Lee Digital Collections (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/British_Isles,_the_Church_in : accessed 28 March 2018), “The Church in British Isles”. 
  7. Mormon Migration (https://mormonmigration.lib.byu.edu/mii/voyage/435?query=William+Goodman&dateTo=&voyage=on&netherlands=on&passenger=on&scandinavia=on&sweden=on&mii=on&europe=on&account=on&dateFrom= : accessed 29 March 2018), “William Goodman.” 
  8. Larrabee, Caroline E. W. W., [Autobiography], Our Pioneer Heritage, Comp. By Kate B. Carter, vol. 17 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1974) pp. 290-292. 
  9. Life sketch, p. 1 
  10. Life sketch, p. 1 
  11. “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QVKV-CF4L : 13 December 2015), William Nichlas Goodman, 1885; Burial, Saint David, Cochise, Arizona, Saint David Cemetery; citing record ID 49710174, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com. 
  12. California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980, Marriage Register, 1891-1895, Ancestry (https: www. ancestry.com : accessed 29 March 2018), Annie McRae and Joseph Goodman, July 12, 1893. 

‘Where there’s a (contested) will …Thomas Lantry of St. Lawrence Co., New York

ThomasLantry3

Well known as one of the first settlers in Massena, St. Lawrence county, New York, Thomas Lantry died at the age of 98 in August 1887. 1 He left an estate of some $35 000.00, equivalent to approximately $890 000.00 today.

ThomasLantry1
The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, October 13, 1887.

For the thirty years previous to Thomas’ death, he had been living with his son, Joshua Lantry and family. Thomas’ wife, Jane, died before 1880 and the rest of their children, all married, lived in their own homes. In 1872, at age 78, Thomas Lantry asked his nephew, Barnaby Lantry, to help draw up his will. Thomas Lantry left $500 dollars to each of his children and the bulk of the estate went to third oldest son, Joshua Lantry.

In May 1887, Joshua Lantry died suddenly of heart disease. 2 This meant his widow, Catherine and their children, would now inherit what Thomas Lantry had originally left to Joshua. Immediately, the other children of Thomas Lantry began to contest the will. They contended that the will was not properly executed, was not signed in the presence of the witnesses and declared the signature on the will to not be that of their father, Thomas. They also argued that the will was not properly published and that their father did not actually declare this his last will and testament. The contention to the will garnered a lot of attention from the county where almost all knew Thomas Lantry.

ThomasLantry2
The Sun, Fort Covington, New York, April 5, 1888.

Several newspaper articles were written, most favoring Joshua Lantry’s widow as the legal heir. Their sympathies lay with the family who had taken care of Thomas Lantry and his wife for over thirty years. Several hearings were held and the case finally argued in Norwood, St. Lawrence county in April 1888. The judge declared that the will was a valid document and that the principal property would go to the widow and heirs of Joshua Lantry.

Thomas Lantry was a well-respected and prominent citizen of St. Lawrence county, New York. Previously a shoemaker in Ireland, he had left there in his early 30s with his wife and two small sons. He arrived in St. Lawrence county around 1823. He managed to buy land in Massena and farmed there all his life. He became a wealthy man through hard work and determination. The Lantry family was well-regarded by all who knew them. It is hard to imagine that Thomas would have been happy with the contention surrounding his will.

This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 9 prompt: Where there’s a will …

 

 


  1. “Death of Thos. Lantry,” The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, St. Lawrence, New York, 13 October 1887, p. 5, col. 5. 
  2. No heading, The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, St. Lawrence, New York, 26 May 1887, p. 1, col. 6., Vol. XXII, No. 21. 

Family Heirloom: The Thomas family bible.

Bible4
The Thomas family bible.

The family bible is one of the most precious heirlooms a genealogist can have. A few years ago, my father was visiting his brother in England, and the subject of the family bible came up. My uncle was kind enough to pass the bible on to me, knowing of my passion for genealogy.  It is a beautiful, large, and heavy bible, about 14 inches x 10 inches and almost 5 inches wide.

Bible5

Our biggest hurdle was getting the bible from England to the U.S. where I lived. I did not want to send it via the mail.  Fortunately, my father was staying at a guest house with a couple from the U.S. who had brought their daughter over to York to begin university. These strangers very kindly offered to bring the bible back with them to the U.S. and send it on to me.

The bible is titled, ‘Brown’s Self Interpreting Bible’ and the cover is embossed leather with metal on each edge and beautifully engraved metal clasps (one of which is missing). The Self Interpreting Bible was Rev. John Brown’s (1722-1787) most successful work. It contained the scriptures with marginal references and explanations for the ordinary person.

The inside of the bible contains beautiful pictures of various bible scenes, in vivid color.

Bible2
Scriptural scenes inside the bible.

In the middle of the bible are the pages that every genealogist hopes to see. Those that contain handwritten names and dates of birth, marriage and death. I can see from the handwriting that most of the names and dates were written by one person at one time, not at the time of each event. And the names are of only one family, the James Thomas and Margaret Bruce family. They are my great grandparents, who lived in County Durham, England. 1

James Thomas was born in 18622 in Medomsley, Durham, and Margaret Bruce was born in 18663 in Sherburn, Durham. They married in 1888 at Bethany Church 4, a Christian Lay Church in Sunderland, Durham.

Bible3
Thomas family bible with the names of my great grandparents, James and Margaret Thomas.

James and Margaret Thomas went on to have six children with only two surviving infancy. Those names are written in their bible. How sad it must have been to write down the death dates of their precious little ones.

Bible1
Dates of birth and death for James and Margaret Thomas’ six children.

The Thomas family bible is a valuable resource but it is more than that. To me it is the precious feeling of being able to hold in my hands something that I know my great grandparents once treasured.

 

 


  1. Thomas Family Bible, The Holy Bible (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Adam & Co. Lmt), “Births, Deaths”; privately held by Sue McNelly, [address for private use,] Arizona, 2010. 
  2. England, birth certificate for James Thomas, born 29 January 1862; registered March quarter 1862, Durham District 10a/265, Lanchester Sub-district, Durham; General Registry Office, Southport. 
  3. England, birth certificate for Margaret Bruce, born 4 May 1866; registered June quarter 1866, Durham District 10a/365, Saint Nicholas Sub-district, Durham; General Registry Office, Southport. 
  4. England, marriage certificate for James Thomas and Margaret Bruce, married 3 March 1888, registered March quarter 1888, Sunderland District 10a/715, Bethany Church, Durham; General Registry Office, Southport. 

Charles and Ella Zimmerman – an Enduring Love Story.

The moment I saw photographs of my husband’s great grandparents I wished that I had been fortunate enough to have met them. They seemed to radiate happiness and love for each other, for their family and for life. They are the perfect choice for a post on Valentine’s Day.

Charles & Ella

Charles-Ella

Charles Stephen Zimmerman and Ella Lucille McMahon were married on 17 May 1919 in Stockton, San Joachin, California. 1 Charles was 22 years old and Ella, 19. Charles was the youngest son of German immigrants, Louis Wendelin Zimmerman and Philippina (Bena) Tischbein, and Ella was the oldest daughter of James Thomas McMahon and Adaline Slater.

Charles-Ella5
Ella and Charles on their wedding trip.

They began married life with a move to Phoenix, Arizona where they rented a small home at North Sixth Avenue. 2

I’m quite sure the house below is not the one they rented but perhaps one they went to see as tourists.

Charles-Ella3
Ella and Charles, tourists.

Their first child, a daughter they named Helen Rose, was born on 26 April 1920 in Phoenix. 3 The family didn’t stay too long, finding the Phoenix summers too hot. By 1921, they had returned to California and made their home in Modesto 4.

They would welcome three more children to their family: Robert in December 1921, Patricia in April 1924, and Jon in August 1934.

charles-ella6
Charles, Ella and son, Jon.

Their sweet story plays out in the photographs they left behind. I am sure there was loss and tragedy, hard times and difficulties, tears of sadness as well as joy, but when I asked my husband what he remembers of them, he replied, “They were happy”.

Charles-Ella4

This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 7 prompt: Valentine.

 

 


  1. “California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8ZF-457 : 13 February 2018), Charles S. Zimmerman and Ella McMahon, 17 May 1919; citing San Joaquin, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 1,841,865. 
  2. 1920 U.S. Census, Maricopa County, California, population schedule, Phoenix, ED 58, sheet 3A (penned), dwelling 50, family 68 , Charles Zimmerman household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 49. 
  3. Arizona Birth Records, 1880-1935, Helen Rose Zimmerman, 26 April 1920; image,  Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 February 2018). 
  4. 1930 U.S. Census, Stanislaus County, California, population schedule, Modesto, ED 10, sheet 9A (penned), 62 (stamped), dwelling 149, family 148, Charles S. Zimmerman household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 223.