52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 34: Non-Population


I love them.

I have too many.

I’m especially partial to Born flats, Land’s End boots, and Soft Walk work shoes. But, I also have Clark’s sandals, Land’s End wedges, and Keds tennies. I would have more if my wallet and conscience would let me.

I think it’s my ancestors who are to blame, though. My dad’s side of the family all came from Massachusetts, particularly Lynn, whose main industry for years once was the manufacture of shoes and boots.

From Wikipedia:

Colonial Lynn was an early center of tannery and shoe-making, which began in 1635. The boots worn by Continental Army soldiers during the Revolutionary War were made in Lynn, and the shoe-making industry drove the city’s growth into the early nineteenth century. This legacy is reflected in the city’s seal, which features a colonial boot.


Most of my ancestors worked in one way or the other in the shoe manufacturing industry in Lynn: Generations of Keenes, Breeds, Newhalls, Allens, and Thompsons worked side by side in factories or workrooms across Lynn.

The manufacturing non-population schedules of the US census for Lynn are full of familiar names.

But, first, what exactly is a non-population schedule?

Briefly, it is a census of a particular section of society. There are non-population schedules for agriculture, manufacturing, people with disabilities, and war veterans and their widows. These schedules give additional, and very different, information that a regular census doesn’t.

So, let’s look at a few examples, shall we?

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Amos Breed, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

The above entry is for Amos Breed, Jr., a shirt-tail relative, from the 1870 manufacturing census for Lynn. The columns across, from right to left, detail:

  • Name of company or corporation doing business in excess of $550 per year
  • Name of the business, manufacture, or product
  • The capital, real and personal, invested in the business
  • Kind of power, steam, water, hand
  • If steam- or water-powered, what is the horsepower
  • Name or description of machines
  • Number of machines
  • How many male employees above 16 years
  • How many female employees above 15 years
  • How many employed children and youth
  • Total amount paid in wages during the year
  • Number of months in active operation
  • Kinds of materials
  • Quantities of materials
  • Value of those materials
  • Kinds of production
  • Quantities of production
  • And, finally, value of production

Wow! That’s a lot of information.

For Amos Breed in the above example, he was manufacturing shoes, had a capital investment of $40,000, ran his factory on 40 steam-powered machines with 50 HP, had 50 male workers over 16, 25 female workers over 15, no youth or children workers, worked with leathers and trimmings that had a value of $125,000, and the entire business was valued at $225,000.

It would appear that Amos was rather well-off.

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Nathan Breed, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

This entry is for the same year, 1870, for Nathan Breed, a distant cousin. Again, he manufactured shoes, but wasn’t nearly as well off as Amos. His business was valued at $70,000. But, frankly, in 1870, that’s still doing quite well. I found the advertisement below in a box of family memorabilia from my Uncle George.

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Nathan Breed
Keene Brothers, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

Then, we come to the Keene brothers, again in 1870. As far as I know, these two are not my Keene ancestors. (I’ve done some research, and it appears that one brother’s initials were W. G. S. Keene. Not my great-grandfather nor his brother; again some shirt-tail relative.) But, they were quite the prosperous duo, judging by a total valuation of their company of $403,322.

So, you can see that shoes were big in Lynn.

On our trip to Massachusetts last year, my husband and I visited the Lynn Historical Society. And, of course, there were many references to the shoe manufacturing history of the town.

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These stained glass motifs are above the main entrance; outside is a “10-footer,” a small workroom common in the 1800s.
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A photo from 1880 showing the inside of a well-used 10-footer.
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A cobbler’s bench.
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A display of shoes made in Lynn.
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The city of Lynn dominated the shoe industry in Essex County. With the sheer numbers of workers, it’s not surprising that so many of my ancestors were cobblers, cutters, and cordwainers.
A brief history of shoemaking in Lynn; the photo is of Ebenezer Breed, brother of my 3x great-grandfather, Abraham Breed.

The non-population schedules give a little glimpse into the industry and wealth that shoes provided my family for decades. For my part, I will continue to love them for entirely different reasons.

“Til next time.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 33: Family Legend

Growing up, my siblings and I heard one particular family legend again and again.

But, we didn’t know it was a legend. It was presented as fact, a part of our heritage.

We were told that our Nana Keene, our dad’s mom, was “French Canadian/Indian.” (And, that was how it was phrased; there was no reference to Native American. I mean no disrespect.)

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My Nana, Perpetue Bergeron Keene

But, a simple DNA test seemingly disproved that in no time. A few years back, my husband and I tested with 23 and Me, mainly for the health information, but the heritage report was revealing. Not a drop of Native American. In the intervening years, the ancestry composition has  been refined, but still doesn’t show a smidgen of NA. (The remaining 0.2% is unassigned.)


My Uncle George, my dad’s brother, Nana Keene’s son, also tested with 23 and Me. His ancestry results there showed no NA as well. George is one generation closer to the source than I am, so if nothing showed up in his results…

Since ancestry composition can vary due to the specific testing population of each DNA company, I also uploaded my raw DNA to My Heritage. Although the ancestry composition results were different from 23 and Me, there was still no NA in the results.


I also used Gedmatch and ran a Eurogenes 13 admixture panel. And, now, what do I see???


Look at that: 1.13% American Indian. Could there be something to the family legend after all?

I ran another composition report, puntDNAL K10. And, lookie that! Another little bit of American Indian has shown up!


Well, now, this is interesting!

My cousin Peter, as I have mentioned before, has done a marvelous work for our family in documenting Nana’s French Canadian family tree. It is a huge 80-page document, and I am still flabbergasted at the tremendous work Peter did.

I think it’s time to do a deep dive into that giant PDF and see if there’s any possible genealogical link to a Native American ancestor.

(A one-percentage point of DNA equates to about 7-10 generations back, if any shared DNA even occurs. Genetics don’t always equate to genealogy, due to the remixing of DNA that occurs in each and every succeeding generation. I might very well have a Native American ancestor, yet have no DNA at all from that person. We all have both a genetic family tree and a genealogical family tree.)

The first reference I found to Native Americans was in reference to Marie Marguerie and Jacques Hertel, who married August 23, 1641 at Trois-Rivières. Jacques was a soldier who arrived in New France in 1626. He lived among the Algonquins and was an interpreter for the Jesuits at Trois-Rivières.

It isn’t a stretch to imagine that over the last 350+ years that the story of someone who lived among the native people could morph into that person being a native.

Another ancestor, Gilles Bacon, served with the Jesuits mission to the Hurons around the year 1645.

Anne Le Neuf, born around 1632, was probably illegitimate, and her mother’s name is unknown. It is a possibility that her mother was NA. Her husband, Antoine Desrosiers, served with the Jesuits about the same time as Gilles Bacon. He was also captured by the Onondagas and held for 11 weeks in 1653.

Peirre Forcier, born in 1669, was killed by the Iroquois in May 1690.

François Pelletier married a Montgnais woman in April 1660, but she passed away before any children were born. This, too, could be a possible source of the legend.

And, that’s about all. Just possibilities. Theories. There could still be some distant branch with a Native American ancestor, as there is that 1 percentage point in my DNA. But, certainly nothing substantial enough for us to consider that we are in any way significantly Native American.

I don’t know the source of the story, and I might not ever. But, it’s time to set it aside and focus on the real stories.

‘Till next time.







52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 31: Oldest & Week 32: Youngest

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1958 Oldest and Youngest: Great-grandma Gard and Me

I was searching for quite another item (the travel journal to Kansas) when I came across this photograph. I had previously scanned it, so I knew it existed. I had correctly recorded the names and dates in the file information. But when I turned over the physical photo, I knew I had my blog posts for these two prompts.

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That’s me, at 2 months old. The youngest.

And, holding me is my Great-grandma Gard. The oldest.

The occasion is her 90th birthday.


Apparently, there was quite the shindig!

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That’s me, held by my mother. Gramdma Gard is almost hidden in between my two sisters.


Eva M. Kesterson Gard was born on Septmeber 30, 1869, in Sugargrove, Tippecanoe Co., Indiana. She was the first child of Geroge Sylvester Kesterson and Susan Norwood. (No one seems to know what the M. stands for, by the way!)

In 1870, Eva, her sister Olive, and their parents were living in Jackson Township, Tippecanoe, IN.

In 1880, the family were in Randolph Township, Tippecanoe Co. Her parents now had three living children, Eva, Olive (1869-1963), and Clint (1873-1956). Their little son James had died in 1873, a few months after his first birthday. Youngest sibling Bert would come along soon (1881-1959).

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The Kestersons: Bert, Eva, father George, Clint, mother Susan, Olive

August 3, 1887, Eva, 18, married Willis David Gard, 32, in Neosho Co., Kansas.

June 2, 1888, Eva had her first child, Lex Bion Gard, while living in Switzerland County, Indiana. This little boy’s name has always puzzled me; there’s no one else I’ve found in our family tree with a name anywhere close to Lex Bion. I’d love to know more about that.

Little Lex passed away August 13, 1890, when he was two years, two months, and 11 days old.

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My grandmother, Vida Bula, Eva’s second child, was born in 1896. Between the death of Lex, who was buried in Thayer, Kansas, and the birth of Vida, the Gard family had moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles, California.

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Eva, Vida, and Willis Gard, 1898, Los Angeles, California


In 1902, my great aunt Dola Zella was born.

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Eva, Dola, and Vida Gard, circa 1905
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Vida, Dola, and Eva on the same porch in 1911
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Willis and Eva Gard, 1923, on a trip to Kansas

Willis passed away on September 4, 1926. After that, Eva lived with her daughter, my Aunt Dola, and her husband, Uncle Frank, for the rest of her life.

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Mother’s Day, 1964

She passed away December 22, 1964, at age 95, when I was six years old. She had remained the oldest, but I had long lost my place as the youngest, being displaced by a younger brother and a niece.

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1960 Oldest and Youngest: Great-grandma Gard and my younger brother, Richard
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1964 Oldest and Youngest: Five Generations from Great-grandma Gard, Nanna Wells, Mom, my sister Jeanne, and my niece, Marie

I remember her as always looking the same, with her hair in a bun and wearing a dress with old fashioned shoes and stockings.

She remains warm, lovely, and kind in my memories.

“Til next time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 30: Colorful

Our family isn’t known for being colorful. We’re a pretty mundane, middle-of-the-road, don’t-make-a-scene kind of people. “Muted” would be a more accurate description.

Occasionally though, we have our moments, within reason, of course. And, I’d like to illustrate what that looks like in my family. I know; I know… I have taken great liberties with the term “colorful”, but it’s my blog and this was fun. So, here we go!

Homer Pratt, Nov 1, 1918

Homer is/was my first cousin twice removed; he was the first cousin to  my Nanna, Vida Wells. I think anyone who was riding a motorcycle in 1918 can be categorized as colorful. “Cool” even…

A dance number by Mary Elliot MGM starlet, March 5, 1955,  Solomon Islands

I have a whole collection of photographs from the South Pacific during WWII. The thing is, I have absolutely no idea who took them. I’ve asked my Uncle George, who was in the Navy during the war, and he says they aren’t his. They are more than a bit culturally insensitive, in addition to being rather colorful. This is one of the tamer ones.

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The photo above is my Aunt Betsy, my dad’s sister. She passed away a few years ago at the age of 99. She was a seamstress for NBC back in the days of live television. She worked with big name stars and designers, including Irene Dunne and Bob Mackie. She was ALWAYS put together and quite respectable, wearing immaculate clothes of her own design and making, with her hair professionally styled, her nails perfectly manicured, and her tiny size 3 feet in heels. Even her slippers and house shoes had heels. When I came across these photos, I was a little taken aback, as this younger Besty is certainly much more colorful and risque than her older self.

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My “colorful” dad, from his Army scrapbook

Dad! Put some clothes on! This photo was taken in Hawaii, while he was stationed there in the Army in WWII. Again, very culturally inappropriate, but certainly colorful.

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My grandfather, Nampie Wells, is on the far right

This photo makes me think of gangster movies, but these were the good guys. Apparently, Nampie worked as a guard at a power plant for a time.

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Probably Long Beach, circa 1920s

On the left in the photo above are Nanna and Nampie Wells; the little girl in the middle is my mom. Nampie was certainly being a goof-ball on the beach here!

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Robert and Jeanne, October 1947

These are my two oldest siblings, Robert and Jeanne, dressed up for Halloween. I sure wish this photo was in color!

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Mom, 1951

This picture is famous in my family. Mom looks so happy and carefree in her bright, colorful yellow swim suit. My dad would often refer to this photo, accompanied by a sly wink and a satisfied grin…

Sir Rooster, the boss, 1970

Out on the farm on the desert, there wasn’t much for color, unless you were partial to beige, tan, and brown, with the occasional dusty sage thrown in for good measure. Which is why I really like this photo of our colorful rooster, Sir.


Despite being in a desert, we did have a great supply of underground water, which made our garden rather productive. This was a bumper crop year for colorful squash and pumpkins.

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State Fair, Missoula, Montana, 1974

My parents were visiting my brother and his family and our Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul in Montana when my brother snapped this great photo of our parents. I love the color of the sky against the colors of the Ferris wheel.

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Mom’s colorful flowers, 1976

My mom knew how to make the desert bloom…


And, lastly, I have no idea who this lively lady is, but I would love to be her friend. Doesn’t she just look like she’d bring color to a room, a conversation, or a friendship? I suspect she is a shirt-tail cousin from Kansas, based on the group of photos this one was in. Regardless, I like her. She’s fun.

“Till next time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 29: Music

I am not very musical. Despite piano and flute lessons and trying to teach myself guitar when I was younger, I remain hopelessly, decidedly un-musical. Which in retrospect, I find a little puzzling. Both sides of my family were rather musical.

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My new guitar, circa 1968

My Nanna Wells and her sister, my Aunt Dola, were both music teachers in the Los Angeles public school system. Aunt Dola had a grand piano in her home, always covered by a piano shawl. I inherited music books and an upright piano from Nanna, both of which remain largely unused. Strangely enough, I don’t ever remember hearing either one of them play…

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Aunt Dola’s grand piano

Dad played a variety of musical instruments in high school (tuba and trombone, perhaps others) and served two enlistments in the Army, playing in the band both times.

Dad with Trumpet 1934

Dad with Trombone 1934

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I grew up in a house where music was heard nearly every evening. We regularly watched The Lawrence Welk Show. My dad had a love for The Boston Pops Orchestra and had quite a collection of LPs. He would put on a record or two, recline in his chair, close his eyes, and escape.

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My brothers with our niece and nephew; you can see Dad’s stereo set up and some of his records on the right side.

I remember him saying to me, “Babe, close your eyes, and you can see them dancing.” And, I did, and I still do from time to time.

‘Till next time.



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 28 : Travel

In 1935, my intrepid, independent, ahead-of-her-time Nanna Wells got in her car  with her mother (my Great-grandma Gard) and her daughter (my mother) and drove the three of them halfway across the United States and back.

According to my mom, Nanna bought the car when my grandfather was out of town with his car. I guess she wanted the independence and had places to go and people to see. Nanna was a school teacher and, consequently, had her own steady source of income. My Nampie always worked odd jobs or for himself, from chauffeur to auto mechanic and finally ended up as a watch and jewelry repairman with his own shop.

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Nampie with his car, 1929

So, at a time when not many Americans had either a driver license or a car, Nanna had both. And, quite a bit of moxie, apparently.

Nanna had bought the car, a Dodge, as Mom remembers, about 1929. Her only driving lesson was about 10 minutes at the dealer’s the day she brought it home. Nanna told Mom that she didn’t even have to take a test before California granted her a license.

I know the story because a while back Mom gave me a handwritten travel journal of the trip, written by my Great-grandma Gard. I’ve transcribed it here, only edited a bit for length and clarity.

I’m not sure if this is a photo from the trip, but it’s about the right vintage.

The three of them began their journey in June 1935, when Grandma Gard (Eva) was 64, Nanna Wells (Vida) was 39, and my mom (Bula) was 14.

The story begins:

June 22, 1935

Left Vida’s at 4 o’clock. Had supper at Maurice’s. Stayed at Barstow from 11:30 to 3 Sunday morning. Ate breakfast at Ludlow. Lunched at Needles Cabin and Campground on west edge of town. 11:15 to Oatman. Car runs hot and made many stops.

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Uncle Maurice (Great-grandpa Gard’s brother) and his wife, Aunt Ella

23- Sunday

Hot; head wind. Stayed at Kingman and had a good cabin. Ate lunch at Seligman. Rode 19 miles upgrade with Vida’s striped bag on the running board. Discovered by the oil station attendant out the 19 miles from Ashfork. 

Grand Canyon in the afternoon. Stayed at Williams overnight. West End Auto Court… Car too stiff to travel fast.

Grandma didn’t record many details for Monday, June 24, except to say that it was warm with a breezy headwind.

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A typical auto court along route 66

June 25

Saw Painted Desert. Breakfast at Winslow…Stayed all night at Albuquerque Open Air Hotel Cabins.

Route 66 in Winslow, AZ, Circa 1941

June 26

Cooler and tail wind. Had a splendid cabin. Left Albuquerque at 5 AM. Saw hundreds of sheep grazing. Had to stop to let them cross the highway to go to water hole. Ate waffles at Santa Rosa. Ate lunch on the west side of New Mexico-Texas border in the auto…Thousands of acres of wheat that had to be plowed under on account of  dust storms and drought. Thousands of acres of ground had been plowed and some planted to corn. Fine dirt roads. Stayed at McLean, Oklahoma overnight at Real Texan’s Auto Court. Cabin was $1.25. Cheapest yet as other were all $1.50 per night. Warm…had a good day to travel.

June 27

Landed at Nellie’s (Great-grandma’s niece, her brother’s daughter, Oklahoma City) at noon with all hands on deck to meet us but Ira and Charles who came in later. Had lunch and visited, done some washing, prepared picnic lunch, and went to the dam to eat, then back home. Sightseeing in the town. George and Junior went to sleep with heads on Bula’s shoulders. Leland, me, and Bobby slept, too.

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Ira, Ira Jr., Charles, Lela Mae, Nellie Kesterson McMahill

June 28

Went to Mary Edmiston’s to lunch after shopping and had an enjoyable afternoon. Went to a park concert after evening dinner, then to see the speedboat come in. Saw amusement park, public market, and home late evening at 12:30.

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Charles, Lela, and Nellie Kesterson; check out those beautiful shoes Nellie is wearing!

June 28

Left Nellie’s for Cherryvale about 7 o’clock. Bought some eats. Vida got lost, so saw some oil fields, Ragtown… before getting on the the right street to leave Oklahoma City. Ate lunch in the car along the highway. Took a detour to avoid stalling as four other cars did, and we got by safe and sound. This after leaving Chandler. They had had heavy rain the night before and  (we) run into showers for an hour or so. 

June 29

Arrived at Ma’s 15 minutes of four and found her alone and looking real bad. Started to make calls and got to Hellen’s where Clint found us.

In 1935, Great-great-grandma Sarah Kendall Kesterson, Eva’s mother, would have been just short of her 87th birthday. Clint was Eva’s brother; Helen a niece, her sister’s daughter.

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Sarah Ann Kendall Kesterson, my 2x great-grandmother, 1848-1936

At this point in their journey, Eva, Vida, and Bula had traveled approximately 1,500 miles, from Los Angeles to Cherryvale, Kansas, mostly along the iconic Route 66.

June 30, Sunday

Spent the day with Hellen… Hellen’s kiddies have measles. Vida broke the Bendix spring on the auto, so left it at garage for repairs and cleaning. 90 degrees in Cherryvale. Hot.

Eva, her mother Sarah, and other family members spent the day visiting friends and family. You can read about a Bendix spring here. Apparently, the spring design required a bit of a “clash” to get a car started, so it could happen to anyone, Nanna!

July 1

Vida and I went up town and saw Ed Eagles and Johnnie Joseph–67 on the 11th of April. Olive came to Ma’s expecting chicken dinner, but found hamburger. After lunch, Ma, Olive, Vida, Bula, and I went to the cemetery to visit Pa’s and other relative’s graves… Mrs. Strickler came to call on us at Ma’s when we were ready to go to the cemetery. Brother Bert came down from Kansas City in the evening. 92 degrees in Cherryvale today. Hotter.

My great-great-grandfather George Kesterson’s grave in Cherryvale, Kansas.

July 2

Washed some, shampooed my hair, mopped the kitchen, dressed hair, helped pick beans, etc. Ma, Bert, Vida, Bula, and I went to Parsons… Saw Anna Kendall Carson, husband and children. They have a nice undertaking business… Otha came back to Ma’s so as to walk home with Vida, as she left her auto to have the battery charged. 94 degrees in Cherryvale. Getting hotter.

July 3, Wednesday

Ma, Vida, Bula, and I went to Thayer… to the cemetery… found Lex’s gravestone in bad condition. Paid $1.50 to… the caretaker to put it in good condition again. Walked over much of the cemetery and found most of my acquaintances’ names on gravestones… Back uptown to city clerk’s office to see about having correct address of ours on book regarding cemetery lot. Half of the town deserted. Sure dead. Went by old home farm on the way to Cherryvale, but not much to see but meadow and scrub or jack oak. Good graded road there now. Begun to pack after we had supplies. 95 degrees in Cherryvale. worse.

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Gravestone of Eva’s first child, Lex Bion Gard, Thayer, Kansas

July 4

Got our things together as best we could ’till time to put them in the auto. Started out to say goodbye to John and Mattie, Hellen… Claude. Went to Olive’s to tell her goodbye–old ice berg. Had lunch at Ma’s, then left for Madison at 2:35, Ma and Bert sitting on the the front porch seat. Arrived at brother Clint’s at Madison at 5:40. Found Lily and Hazel watching for us in their front yard. Had dinner there, then went into town to the baseball game… After the ball game, we went to Opal’s (Clint and Lily’s daughter) and sat in the front yard while the children had their fireworks. Afterwards, went to Clint’s for the night. Madison is a pretty town of 2500 inhabitants. Surrounded by fertile farms. Well improved. Best corn, wheat, oats, and alfalfa we saw anywhere. Oil fields a few miles out employing many men of the town… hot all day… 90 degrees at Clint’s in the house at 9 o;clock that night.

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Aunt Lily, daughter Hazel, Uncle Clint Kesterson, Oklahoma City, OK, 1941

July 5

Vida and Hazel tool all soiled clothes to Opal’s to do in the machine… In the afternoon, Clint laid off from work so he and I went out for a ride to see the sights and surrounding country. Bula so miserable from change of water, food, climate, and heat that she was in bed all day… Bula and Hazel slept at Amelia’s as neither felt good, and a bed was better than the floor to sleep on. Another hot day. 

July 6

Clint got up very early and went to a farm for chickens to try to fry for a picnic lunch at Emporia. Twenty miles. Flies nearly drove us crazy in the the park beside the heat, so we went into town….but no cooler there… 

July 7, Sunday

Got up early and left Clint’s for Kansas city at 7 o’clock. Nice scenery, but it was getting hotter all the way. Was 108 at 8 o’clock at Gardner… Ice cold milk was so refreshing. Got to Kansas City about 12:30 and found Bert on Hollywood Hotel bench waiting for us. He had us rooms next to his, so we freshened up and went to the Forum Cafeteria for lunch. Air cooled and a welcome relief from the heat. Done the town… the zoo and other things of interest. A thunder shower came up but not much relief. My head go big and my knees weak from the heat. In K.C. proper, they had had a hard shower. Went to our room and rested a while. At 6 in the evening the thermometer ran up to 101. At 1, it had been 91. Terrible heat and stuffy and everybody wilted. Bert went and got ice cream and donuts for our eats… After that we went to Kersey Coates Bluff and looked over the International Bridge between Kansas and Missouri…and the airport, watched the planes come and go.


July 8

Up at 5 o’clock; got Bert up and all went to breakfast across the street to a lunch counter. Left for Atchison about 7 o’clock. Stopped on the way at Leavenworth, Kansas for a drink. Passed the penitentiary where Al Capone had been. Could have gone through the institution had we known in time. Passed through some good looking farm districts and nice places. Arrived at Atchison about 9:45. Went to Homer Pratt’s (Eva’s nephew, her sister Olive’s son) home first to find Homer’s garage as Vida wanted him to grease the auto and look it over…(We went) out to the park and the sights from the hills, then rode through much of the town. Went past St. Benedicts College and Monastery, where 300 monks work and live. They have a nunnery holding 400 women. They have a school and all nice buildings with beautiful grounds and trees… Atchison has several gristmills and a foundry, besides being the railroad center… many hundreds of men are employed there. One man died of heat while he was rushed from river work to the hospital in town… Homer brought Vida’s car. We went to Nora’s for evening dinner… So very hot we sat outside most of the evening and fill the yard… 21 of us… Left there at 10:30 and went to North Topeka and got a very good cabin. Two dollars for the night. 

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Olive Kesterson Pratt (Eva’s sister) and her son Homer, circa 1901

At this point, the ladies began their journey home, but by a different route than their outgoing drive.

July 9

Slept late and would have been later but for the people east of us letting children fight and yell, and the baby cried most of the night and all morning! Ate at lunch counter nearby where the proprietress cut her hand on the electric fan set to keep us cool. Left about 9:30. Very hot and scenery on the decline. Ate lunch in Manhattan park and fought flies. A lovely looking town… getting hotter all the time and saw much of the burned up wheat belt. Stayed at Ellis Kansas at Camp Seclusion. Quiet, clean two rooms, two double beds and all slept well. Cabin $1.00. 106 degrees at Ellis.


July 10

Ready to travel at 5:25. Traveled many miles through level land and the loveliest sights on the trip. Many deserted farms, no livestock or crops on account of the heat and dust storms killing the wheat. Some farmers had put in corn, but too late for more than fodder or silage. Later, saw large herds of cattle and grazing land. Had hot wind all through this section, and Vida’s arm was par-boiled. Ate lunch in the auto under little cottonwoods in the rear yard of an oil station. A youngster about 16 or 17 attendant and thoughtful. Gave us a gift of ice water from his home. Crossed Colorado-Kansas line at 1:05. Eastern Colorado like Western Kansas, with vast wheat fields burned up. Getting into higher elevation, we found more green vegetation. When we got in sight of the Rockies, it began to rain so we put the luggage inside the car about 20 minutes before we got to Denver. Kept sprinkling, but no hard rain. Stopped at Aurora, a suburb of Denver at All States Auto Court; a very nice place, shady graveled walks and drives, flowers. Each cabin (27 in all) named for different states. ours was Georgia. Single cabin, two beds, gas and water $1.50. All slept well.

July 11

Left camp early and drove through Denver… saw East High School, park with statuary, picnic grounds, zoo, large lake… then through the residential district, ’round the capital building, mint, municipal buildings, library, courthouse, etc. Denver has lovely shrubbery, but shy on flowers. Denver elevation 5280 and flat as a pancake. All buildings of brick, even the residences. Called at the farmers’ market and bought lettuce, two heads 5 cents, cucumbers for 10 cents, carrots and beets, two for 5 cents. Ate breakfast a Longmont and saw thousands of acres in young cherry orchards and hundreds of acres of turnips for market or kraut. Mmany pretty, prosperous looking places as turned the curves on winding roads. Quite a climb to Laramie, Wyoming. Run into rain again, so bought oilcloths in Laramie to cover luggage with so we didn’t have to take it inside the car again. (Mom remembers being quite squished in the back seat!) Got some trinkets there; ate our lunch in the auto in the city park as they have no picnic tables. Large cottonwood trees and cotton flying everywhere. After leaving Laramie, we passed through the most barren country yet. Lots of coal in this part of the state. Stopped at Como Bluff, as wide place in the road miles from anything else, to visit a museum of historic animal bones from in the vicinity. Owner claimed no other collection like it east of San Francisco. Dinosaur joints of vertebrae, leg, and neck. heads of deer, antelope, buffalo skulls and antlers. an interesting collection of fossils, rocks, Indian jewelry, postcards, pictures made of bird feathers… had refreshments and was busy…


Leaving there, we saw Wyoming plains with miles and miles of greasewood, but fine highway and not as hot. Made better time, as it was not upgrade so much. Stopped at an oil station for water and refreshments at Valley, a desolate place with a woman attendant with a husky revolver on her hip, alone with her three children and aged mother. many railroad siding along the way for the loading of cattle and coal. Saw hundreds of cars of coal ready to move, as well as trains of it… No houses in sight for many, many miles… Stopped at Table Rock for evening bite, but a crumby looking place, so we rode on to Rock Springs. Found a good auto court by the railroad. Single cabin with bed, cot, cold water, and toilet $1.75. The proprietor was adding four more cabins to his 28, and all were filled and many turned away… didn’t sleep much, made 360 miles this day.

July 12, Rock Springs, Wyoming

Got up early for an early start and found the first flat tire. Had to wait for the shops to open at 8. Tire repaired, ready to start, and found the same tire going down and had another trip to the shop. Had waffles for breakfast and left at 9:30. Town of Green River was a very pretty place, and on the west side of town, a very pretty spot with green grass and trees on one side of the highway and the other a very high, sheer bluff that looked almost man-made instead of nature. A real oasis in the desert as we ran into many miles of barren country again. Then I had a wonderful view of snow-covered Rockies for some distance, then back to the hills, rocks, and plains. Some cattle and grazing land for a change. Stopped at Fort Bridger Museum and many relics of pioneer days and of the people who lived there when it was an Indian trading post and Pony Express (station). 

fort bridger

Fort Bridger was established in 1842. The old pony stable still standing with the exterior as when used for a school, but the interior was very modern-like and used as a home for the caretaker… He was a most interesting man and knew his subject well. Captain Bridger… is not buried on the grounds, but his daughter is… many large cottonwood tress on the place, chandeliers that hung in the Bridger home, photos of pioneers, Pony Express saddles, trappings, guns, Indian relics… Ate lunch in the auto by the roadside about two miles further on. Went to Salt Lake City, arriving about 4:45. Strolled through the Capital… Went next to the Mormon Temple… Got in on the tag end of a group of visitors touring the grounds with a very capable young woman guide who lectured and told many things of interest about the temple and oddities of their religion and beliefs…


Had a hard time finding a cafeteria, but at last located one in the Newhouse Hotel, which was fine in every detail.

newhouse hotel

Then started to find an auto court, and that was a job. One court had 125 cabins all full. Another 58, and so on down. Only two cabins left in the place, so took one at South Gate Tourist Auto Camp, and it was the nicest one en route. Good bed, cot, shower, toilet, and a kitchenette with range, and sink, and all clean, new, and not finished. Slept fine, and morning came too soon as it was real cool all night.

July 13, Saturday, Salt Lake City

Got up at 4:15 and had tea, packed, and left at 5:30 to the Great Salt Lake,a distance of 52 miles round trip. Found the lake drying up rapidly. Ate breakfast at Murry, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Stopped in Provo for a pint of oil for the auto… Bought some eats. Had lunch in the car under the shade of cottonwood trees in Scipio, Utah. The city park was outlined with cottonwoods, but poorly kept as it was filled with weeds. The drinking fountain was in order, and we got water there. Silver maple leaves turned up wrong side out, corn beetles rolled tight and stood upright, roosters crowed in the night, and everything indicated rain. After leaving Fillmore while in a canyon or pass, we had the pleasure of seeing a torrential rainstorm accompanied by wind and hail. Hail so heavy it drifted like snow along the roadsides… a real mountain storm that lasted while we rode about five miles. Had to drive slow as the storm was blinding. Cooled the air. No rain after leaving the canyon for some time. Then ran into straight rain that lasted while we drove 20 miles. Could see the rain in the mountains for miles, but no more for us. Got warmer and bright after leaving Mesquite, Nevada. Missed a real dust storm in Nevada after dark, so had the road to ourselves for miles as hundreds of motorists had to lay by during the dust storm. The sun was down, but air so hot it was like furnace blasts ’till we hit Las Vegas about 10:45. There the thermometer registered 97 degrees on the west front porch of Mrs. Fanatia’s… The hottest day to date in Las Vegas and everyone out on their porch trying to find a cool spot. Was 113 during the day… Drove 468 miles, and Vida was tired to say the least. 


July 14, Sunday

A hot day after a hot night, and not much rest for anyone. About noon, Vida, Viola, Bula, and Wilma Mary went to see Hoover Dam… they returned about 7 o’clock and said it was like being in a furnace most of the time… I was not feeling equal to the trip, so Mrs. Fanatia and I remained at her house. I had to call Dr. Van Meter to relieve my trouble. (Mom said that she had developed a terrible heat rash. I am not surprised.) Got cooler in the evening. Left Las Vegas at midnight to avoid much of the desert heat and profited by so doing.

July 15

Soon after leaving Las Vegas, found it had rained and the air was so cool we all put sweaters on. The full moon made it a lovely night to ride, but the moon was so bright we had to put the sun visors down to protect our eyes. Stopped the usual number of times for gasoline and drinks. Had our car inspected at Yermo for forbidden fruits and plants.

Mom remembers that Great-grandma had spent some time while visiting family in Kansas to sew many, many secret little pockets into her petticoats. She filled those pockets with seeds to bring back to California, hidden from the agriculture inspectors at the border. ‘Cause who would suspect a little old grey-haired lady of breaking the law so flagrantly???

Got into Barstow at 5 o’clock where Vida and Bula had breakfast. Saw 140 new cars being convoyed into California at the roadside for the drivers to sleep… two cars fastened together, a driver and assistant to every two cars, a marshal with star and gun and and guards… they had received auto plates in Nevada from California to avoid the tax. Getting warmer. Got into Maurice’s at 7:45 after trailing him home from the market. He and I ate tea and toast together… Was there about an hour, then started on the last leg of our journey and arrived at Vida’s at 10 o’clock and found it hot there, the first heat of the summer. Lawrence came in a few minutes after we did. Bula threw off her dress and shoes and went to her bed to rest as she was almost worn out, it being a hard trip of three weeks and two days of constant change of scenery, climate, and food and broken rest and too much excitement. Was almost 12 o’clock when I got home and found a hearty welcome.

In all, the three travelers covered over 4,000 miles. All in a car without air conditioning, through the heat of the American Southwest and Midwest. Without an accident. Only one flat tire. Only one repair (the Bendix spring). With a “woman driver.”

Great-grandma kept wonderful records of mileage, heat, and expenses, which I find to especially fun to read about. Here’s some examples:

  • Gasoline, 2 gallons .44
  • Oil, 6 quarts $1.75
  • Waffles .61
  • Wieners .10
  • Eggs .12
  • Melon .31
  • Breakfast .35
  • Ice cream cones .15

I’m so proud to have come from such strong women; I hope to instill and inspire such self-confidence and self-reliance in my own daughter and granddaughters.

3 generations, grandmother wells, vida, bula
Vida, Bula, and Eva, circa early 1920s

‘Til next time!




52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 27: Independence

OK, so I’m just a month behind schedule… No big deal. I’m sure I’ll catch up.*

*(She says as she’s coughing up a lung, having caught some awful crud due to sleep deprivation, an enclosed metal tube with sub-par air circulation, and over-work.)

But, I digress!

“Independence” was the theme for the 4th of July week, and I think nothing is more fitting than writing about a Revolutionary War patriot ancestor.

I became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution about two years ago. I wrote about that journey in several posts back in 2015 and 2016. But, I have never written a concise account of my research, nor a biography of our Revolutionary War patriot.

My Nanna Wells, my mother’s mother, had told me often as a little girl that we were eligible for membership in the DAR through her Gard family line. In fact, she spoke of it so often that I was quite surprised to find that she wasn’t a member when I looked into it. And, then it became my quest to join in her honor.

I began by finding the Gard patriots on the DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS). The GRS is free to the public and quite easy to use. The men listed below are all the current Gard patriots on the data base:

  • Alexander
  • Daniel
  • Daniel
  • Gershom
  • Jeremiah
  • Jeremiah, Sr.
  • John

It didn’t take long to conclude that Jeremiah Gard was our likely, but as yet unproven, family patriot. His name was in our handwritten family tree and his wife’s name, Experience, was distinct enough to eliminate the other Jeremiah (Sr.) as a possibility.

gard j

All of the men above (and one day I hope to find a woman to add to the list) were from the Morris County area of New Jersey. I have since found that they are all related, but the web of the Gard men has yet to be fully untangled.

(At first glance, one could decide that Jeremiah Sr. and Jeremiah were likely father and son. But, after years of plodding through files and records, comparing dates for births, marriages, and deaths, I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that the elder Jeremiah and the elder Daniel were brothers, and our Jeremiah was a son of the elder Daniel. Jeremiah Sr. would have then been an uncle to Jeremiah. The Sr. designation would, of course, mean that he had a Jeremiah, Jr., and therefor our Jeremiah had, at minimum, an uncle and cousin with the same name. And, he had a son that he also named Jeremiah. Arrrggg….)

I also believe that Jeremiah’s birthplace of Pennsylvania is incorrect in the GRS. Unfortunately, in the early years of the DAR, the proof standard for direct lineage could be rather lax, and mistakes could, and did, occur. Today, it is much more rigorous, and future applicants now need to meet much higher proof standards for many formerly “proven” patriots . Below, is an example from Jeremiah, Sr.’s record:

gard j sr

Looking at Jeremiah’s descendant list of DAR members in the GRS, there was only one son, Levi, and his wife, Sophia Barkdal, through whom all other members had descended. Meaning that I would have to prove descent through an as-yet unproven son, William Gard, opening up an entirely new descendant line for other applicants.

Clearly, I had my work cut out for me. With a lot of digging, and help from very generous DAR members, I was approved for membership in the DAR in June 2016, along with my mother and daughter.

This is my line from Jeremiah Gard to me:

Gard Line to Jeremiah

Let’s begin at the beginning now, with the story of Jeremiah’s life.

In the early 1700s, Daniel Gard and his three brothers (Jeremiah, William, and Joseph),  moved from Stonington, Connecticut, to the developing wilderness of New Jersey, becoming some of the first settlers of what would be Morris County.

Jeremiah was born in Morris County, New Jersey, on or about August 13, 1744. I’m not the only family researcher who believes that his father was Daniel, (1711-1777), rather than Jeremiah, Sr., but I don’t think any research is conclusive. His mother could have been Elizabeth Davis (?-1776), who was Daniel’s second wife. Daniel’s first wife remains unknown.

Jeremiah married Experience Brown about 1774, in Morristown. Unfortunately, not much is known about Experience’s family. She was born in 1755, also in Morristown.

In January, 1776, the Continental Congress called for second battalion of men from eastern New Jersey, and Jeremiah, age 27, joined the battalion of Captain Peter Dickerson.

Historic Morristown (1).jpg
Source for Jeremiah’s New Jersey service

This is the oath he likely took upon enlistment:

“I, Jeremiah Gard, have this day voluntarily enlisted myself as a soldier in the American Continental army for one year, unless sooner discharged, and do bind myself to conform in all instances to such rules and regulations as are or shall be established for the government of said army.”

According to records in the Pennsylvania archives, he also served in Pennsylvania in Captain Thomas Carr’s Militia Company during the war, but the year is uncertain, perhaps after 1778. What is certain is that sometime before 1782, he moved from New Jersey to the frontier of Pennsylvania.

He participated in the Sandusky Expedition, from 16 May to 16 July 1782, under the command of Colonel Crawford. He was paid 11 pounds for his service and supplies. (And, to any Native American readers, my heartfelt apologies.)

1782-sandusky expedition cover page-GARD-jeremiah-PA
The source for Jeremiah’s Sandusky Expedition service

In Pennsylvania, Jeremiah settled in Westmoreland County, part of which later became Fayette County.

In 1791, Jeremiah built a mill on Redstone Creek, which became a popular stopping point on settlers’ way through Pennsylvania to Ohio. He also ran a carding machine and  a fulling mill and manufactured linseed oil and grain scythes, for which the Gards were known back in New Jersey.

By 1793, Jeremiah owned a farm with approximately 250 acres in Fayette County, which he named Dremore, and an additional, smaller, plot of land.

union township south map
Map of South Union Township showing landowners
union township south map zoom 1.jpg
Map showing Jeremiah’s two lots in Union Township

In 1797, Jeremiah was sued in Fayette Co. by William Dehart for debt on a bond from 1775, when both men lived in New Jersey. The date of the bond was November 21, 1775, and the testimony of Dehart is that Jeremiah left immediately for Pennsylvania after the  signing.  (And, ah ha! We now know when Jeremiah moved to Pennsylvania.)

Jeremiah’s lawyer argued that the debt had been paid on the presumption of the time passed since the bond was due. Dehart’s lawyer argued that the intervening war and Jeremiah’s move presumed non-payment. Jeremiah lost.

Also in 1797, Jeremiah purchased for $25 lot #23 in Henry’s Addition, a new tract in Uniontown.

Below is a property tax valuation from the year 1798. Jeremiah is listed as the owner of 260 acres and 80 perches with a sawmill, a cabin, and an old log barn.


During the years in Pennsylvania, Jeremiah and Experience bought and sold several properties and were, from all appearances, a successful and prosperous team.

Experience passed away May 6, 1813, at age 58. Jeremiah passed later that same year, on October 28, 1813, aged 69 . Shortly before he died, on September 17, 1813, he sold his farm, Dremore, in parcels to five of his six sons, Daniel, Lot, Jeremiah, William, and Levi. The price to each was $1. (There might also be a deed to Simeon, but I haven’t yet found it.)

The deed granting William’s portion of Dremore was the proof I needed for the DAR to establish descent from Jeremiah through William. It was a happy day when I received those documents.

Since that time, through a cousin connection, I have learned of several more proven patriots through my Wells line, my mother’s father’s family. But, that will just have to wait.

‘Til next time.




52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 26: Black Sheep

Well, it’s become painfully obvious that my “52 ancestors in 52 Weeks” will not be 52 consecutive weeks, or even 52 weeks in the same calendar year. It’s just going to be 52 in 52, whenever. I’ll get them done, but I’m not promising it in any sort of timely fashion.

So, on to this week’s prompt: Black Sheep.

I’ve already written about my grandfather, my mother’s father, who was a bit shifty with his birth date and never held a job for long, but he really doesn’t fit the bill either.

Black Sheep Ranch is the name of my younger brother’s place. But, he’s not a Black Sheep, either.

And, looking back at the information I have for my ancestors, I can’t find a scoundrel among them. They might be there; I just don’t have the information.

But, it’s also quite likely that I come from just good ol’ folks. The kind of people who kept a job, got married and stayed that way, served their country honorably in the military, had their families, and just lived quiet, respectable lives. I can’t find outlaws, scoundrels, ner-do-wells, horse thieves, etc.

The best I could some up with (and not spend my entire time off searching) was my 9x great-grandfather, Edmund Ingalls. And, even then, it’s certainly nothing scandalous, rather just a hallmark of his times.

My information about Edmund comes from this book.

Edmund was born in Skirbeck, Lincolnshore, England, circa 1598. He came to North America in 1628, to Salem, MA, in Governor Endicott’s company.

He, along with his brother, Francis, and several others, founded Lynn, MA, where oodles of my ancestors are from.

While he was a prominent member of the Lynn community, even he wasn’t immune to the norms of the day.

On April 20, 1646, Edmund, founder of the town, was seen carrying home sticks on the Sabbath Day. Get this: In BOTH HIS ARMS!

He was fined by Holyokkes Rails, with his his “upright” neighbors, Joseph, Obadya, and Jane Flood as witnesses to his scofflaw behavior.

My thought is that it must have been cold, and Edmund needed those sticks to heat his home. Have you been in Massachusetts? Even in the spring, it can be bitter.

Edmund met a sad end.  In March 1648, he drowned in the Saugus River while traveling to Boston. Apparently, a bridge was defective, and his heirs were granted damages from the town.

I’m off!

“Til next time.






52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 25: Same Name

Every family historian eventually stumbles upon this source of frustration and errors.

It’s not uncommon at all for several family members to be named exactly as another, be it a parent and child, a common saint’s name, or even after a deceased sibling.

I have all of these, and a few more, in my tangled family tree.

My dad, Charles Lawrence, Jr., was named after his father, Charles Lawrence, Sr.

Charles Sr. and Charles Jr.

My brother, Robert, named his son Robert.

2-1965, robert, beverly, bobbie at vida's
Robert Sr. and Little Bobby

My 2x great-grandfather, William Diamond Thompson, Jr., was named after his father, William Diamond Thompson, Sr.

thompson-william d sr
William Diamond Thompson, Sr.
thompson-wiliam d-photo
William Diamond Thompson, Jr.

In another line, I have three Samuel Ashtons in as many generations (my 5x, 4x, and 3x great-grandfathers).

In my DAR Patriot’s Gard line, my 3x and 2x great-grandfathers are both named William Gard. Both of them married women named Phebe.

My 2x great-grandmother, Phebe Stewart Gard, 1926

My Uncle George (named for his grandfather, George Augustus Keene) had a nephew, George, son of his sister, Bea, (named after her mother’s sister) as his namesake.

My Uncle George and his nephew, my cousin George

Most of the duplicate names are men; it isn’t as common to name girls after their mothers as it is to name sons after their fathers.

But, of course, there are quite a few in my tree.

My Aunt Virginia named her daughter, yes, Virginia. They went by Ginny Lou and Teenie, although I could never keep them straight.

My Nana Keene had a sister named Beatrice, so my Nana, of course, named one of her daughters Beatrice, too. They were known as Big Aunt Bea and Little Aunt Bea. Nana also had a sister named Emma, so yes, her first daughter was named Emma.

Beatrice and Emma Bergeron, two of Nana Keene’s sisters, my great aunts
Five of Nana Keene’s six children: Beatrice, Elizabeth, Emma, Virginia (my aunts), and Charles (my dad)

The most confusing instance of the same name occurs on my Keene side. My great-great-grandfather, Washington Keen, married a Lydia Ann Kent. Their son, George Augustus, married a woman named Lydia Ann Thompson. George’s sister was named Lydia Ann after their mother. This resulted in three Lydia Ann Keenes in two generations. It took a while to figure that one out.

KEENE-george a-THOMPSON-lydia
George A. Keene and Lydia Ann (Thompson) Keene

Over on my French-Canadian grandmother’s side, generation after generation of Joesphs and Maries make life difficult. It wasn’t uncommon for French families to name every child with those two first names (to honor Mary and Joseph), and then they would use the middle (or third or fourth) name to differentiate one Joseph or Marie from another.

Over on my husband’s German branch, his immigrant ancestor, George Henry Geyer, named most of his sons John and several daughters Anna. Reading his will and probate papers is a challenge!

All this makes me thankful for those unusual names that can pop up on occasion:

  • Lex Bion
  • Alpheus
  • Sumner
  • Minot Tirril
  • Vida Bula
  • Dola Zella
  • Destimonia

Well, that’s it for today.

‘Til next time!




52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 24: Father’s Day

I miss my dad.

He passed away June 6, 1996, just a short six weeks after receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He was only 77 years old.

I sure wish he was around now that I long to hear more stories about his life. It’s a sad, but true, fact that many of us don’t appreciate our family history until the ones who can best pass it on are long gone.

Thankfully, I have lots of records and a great paper trail for much of his life. There’s an upside to coming from a long line of folks who don’t throw things away.

I’ve never put together those bits and bobs of paper to document his early life. I’m going to do that now.

Dad, Charles Lawrence Keene, Jr., was born on March 13, 1919, in Rockford, IL, the fourth child and first son of Charles Lawrence Keene, Sr., and Perpetue Bergeron Keene. (Yes, if you’re paying close attention to dates, my mom did marry a man with the same birthday as her father!)

My grandparents, Charles and Perpetue (Pearl or Ducky), were on a cross-country journey, moving their growing family, and Charles‘ parents George and Lydia, from Massachusetts to California. The story has it that they packed up and headed west, stopping when they ran out of money. They would stay wherever they were until they had saved up enough to continue on, until they reached Los Angeles sometime before 1920.

You can see this in the birth places of the children. The oldest sibling in the family was Emma, born in 1913, in Bristol, Virginia. (Although why they were in Virginia, I don’t know. Note to self: investigate.) The second child was Virginia, born in 1914, in Dayton, Ohio. Third was Elisabeth (Betsy or Betty), in 1916, also born in Dayton. My dad was next, born in Illinois. Beatrice, born in 1920, and George, born in 1923, both arrived after the family settled in Los Angeles.

Tragedy struck while they were in Rockford, however. George Keene, my dad’s grandfather who was traveling with them, passed away on March 7, 1919, just a few days before my dad was born. He was 86, and the death certificate lists his cause of death as cardiac arrest and old age. His body was shipped back to Lynn, Massachusetts, for burial.

The Keene family continued their westard journey, and were living at 3600 Dayton Ave. in Los Angeles by January 1, 1920, according to the 1920 census. The photo below is of my dad and his recently-widowed grandmother, Lydia, on the beach in California, dated July 1920.

keene-charles jr-lydia-july 1920
California, July 1920, Charles Jr. and Lydia Keene
charles, 1926
Charles, Jr., 1926

By 1930, they were living at 1004 Avenue 37 West, Los Angeles.

In 1933, at the age of 14, Dad was a Boy Scout:

1933-boy scout book-KEENEcharles jr-pg2.png

By the middle to late 1930s, Dad was very involved in both band and ROTC.

Dad with Trombone 1934.jpg
He played both trombone and trumpet.
Dad with Trumpet 1934.jpg

During 1935, 1936, and 1937, Dad attended several military or ROTC training camps. Below is just one of several records.

1935-ROTC-KEENE-charles jr-los angeles CA.jpg
ROTC certificate from January 1935

In 1936, he graduated from Franklin High School in Los Angeles.

1936-graduation program-benj franklin HS-los angeles CA.png

After graduation, he continued to serve in the ROTC. By August of 1937, he was working for United States Department of Commerce as a Messman-Utility Man in the Stewards Department. I think it likely that he was following in his father’s footsteps, as Charles Sr. was working as a chef for the Matson Shipping Line during these years. I think he was quite a handsome young man.

1937-messman certificate-KEENE-charles jr.jpg

But, wait, there’s a story here! In addition to the above Certificate of Service, I also have his Seaman’s Certificate of Identification. Do you see something strange about this document?

And, no, it’s not his height!

1937-seamans certificate with altered birthdate-KEENE-charles jr.png

Like Lawrence Wells, his future father-in-law, Charles Jr. has also fudged his age! His birthday is recorded here as 1918, giving him an extra year!

He would have been 18 at this time (August 1937), so I’m not entirely sure why he added a year. He certainly didn’t need to, as he was old enough to serve in the military. It might be that the fudged birth date was given before his birthday in March 1937, when he was still only 17, but trying to pass as 18.

Dad, I thought Boy Scouts weren’t supposed to lie!

In 1938, Dad enlisted in the Army. My Uncle George, his brother, says that Charles had to enlist in the Territory of Hawaii, as there was no height requirement that would disqualify him as on the mainland. His ID gives his height at 5′ 3″.

I found Dad on a ship manifest for the Matson Line SS Matsonia, which sailed from Los Angeles on March 25, 1938, headed to the Port of Honolulu:

1938-ship manifest-KEENE-charles jr-edit.png

Hummm… I wonder if his dad, Charles Sr., was working on that sailing. I’ll have to investigate.

I’m not sure if he then sailed back to LA, and then returned to Hawaii, as his military ID card states that he arrived in T. H. on May 9, 1938:

1938-military ID card-KEENE-charles jr-territory of hawaii (2).png

He sent a letter to his mom back home in California on June 26, 1938:

1938-letter home-KEENE-charles jr-territory of hawaii.jpg

The letter reads:

Dear Mom…

Well I got your chipper letter yesterday & was glad to hear from you again. It cost me 20 (cents) to get it.

I just got back from the show. I saw Robin Hood. If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss it. It sure is a swell picture. 

The pictures that you sent are sure nice, I have them fixed an album.

Ducky, I think that you would like it over here pretty well. No foggy weather, a few little showers once in a while that don’t amount to much. The weather isn’t too hot for comfort. The nites are warm. You can run around at night with no sweater or anything more than you wear during the day. 

You see that … waters the little bushes in front enuf so that they will get big in a few years.

I got a letter from Red’s girl Wednesday– say hello to the little kids for me. 

I guess that you will see Pop about the 4th of July. Give him some more pictures to bring over here.

Friday, I was excused from a Rookie drill all day to practice with the band in the morning. I play for the retreat parade in the afternoon then that nite the orchestra played for the NCOs Club.

Saturday, I went to drill in the morning & went to the beach in the afternoon. Then Sat nite the orchestra played at the N.G. armory in Honu for a dance. Today, Sunday, I went to the beach this afternoon & went to the show tonite.

Well I guess that is … for now

Love & aloha,


P.S. I think that you would like Hawaii

(Well, yes! Who wouldn’t???)

Amazingly, Dad’s scrapbook album still exists. Thankfully, he labeled most of the photos and only a few are missing.

Dad's Army Scrapbook (2).png
Schofield Barracks, T. H. 1938-1939
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On The Big Island

Years ago, my husband and I took a vacation to Hawaii and took a photo standing in the same spot by the Thurston Lava Tube as my dad did in 1938-9.

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The 19th Infantry Band; he’s in there someplace!

By June 30, 1938, he had completed what looks to be basic training:

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On March 2, 1940, Dad was promoted to Corporal from Private First Class Specialist 4th Class. He was still stationed at Scofield Barracks and was residing there for the 1940 US census:

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After 2 years, 4 months, and 16 days, Dad was honorably discharged on September 24, 1940:

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Despite having just served honorably, Dad had to register for the draft soon after, on October 16, 1940:

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Although the United States wouldn’t officially enter WWII until after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the country was gearing up for the likelihood of war. The Selective Service was part of that preparedness.

On December 30, 1940, Dad received an endorsement for work at the port of Los Angeles, as both an Ordinary Seaman on deck and in the Engine Department as a wiper (the lowest rank in the engine room, keeps the machinery clean) :

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I don’t think he actually served too long at the port. In a few months, he would meet my mother while they both worked at an insurance company. They would marry on May 29, 1941. The rest, as they say, is history.

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May 29, 1941

In 1942, Dad enlisted again in the Army. He served in Europe and was discharged December 8, 1945. But, all that is a story for another day.

“Til next time.