My Nanna

My mother’s mother, Vida Bula Gard Wells, known to me as Nanna, had a huge influence on me growing up.

She was a formidable woman in both body and spirit.

In body, she was a life-long corset/girdle wearer, so her hugs weren’t soft, but rather like hugging a tree trunk. In her later years, she permed and colored her hair into a curly red cap that didn’t move. I never saw her in pants; she was always in a dress with stockings and proper shoes.

In spirit, she was determined, strong, and smart. She attended normal school and became a teacher. She held a steady job through the Great Depression, while my grandfather was self-employed, and the family depended on her regular and sufficient salary. In 1935, she drove herself, her mother, and my 14 year-old mother across the country to Kansas at a time when most women didn’t have a driver license, let alone their own car.

She was born in 1896, and married my grandfather in 1920. She was 24; he was 19. I suspect this caused a bit of a stir.

She was a terrible cook, but thankfully, she often took us out to eat when we visited.

For lunch, we went to the five-and-dime, where I would get a club sandwich (Three slices of bread! Bacon! Little toothpicks with red, yellow, or green cellophane toppers! Bread cut into triangles!).

For dinner, we would all get into her big car and she would drive us to LA’s Chinatown, where we always went to the same restaurant. It was fabulous! A dozen or more different, and to this country girl, exotic, dishes arrayed out on the table. Egg drop soup. Chow mein. Little cookies with messages. Almond cookies with a single slice of nut in the middle of their crusty tops.

She was a life-long member of the Methodist church. On Saturdays, she would arrange the flowers for the next day’s service, and I often was allowed to tag along. Strangely, I don’t remember ever attending a service with her.

vida-bula-wells-671-s-humphreys-ave-los-angeles-march-1926

I loved her, but I do wish I had loved her better. I miss her now.

A Family History of Veterans

I come from a long line of military veterans. It makes me proud that there were men (yes, only men it seems) who were willing to lay down their lives for this nation. And, amazingly, it seems that all of them survived the various wars, engagements, skirmishes, expeditions, etc., that cover such a wide definition of military service.

Beginning with the Revolutionary War, on my mother’s side of the family, my great-great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gard served with the militia in New Jersey and, later, in the ill-fated and ill-reasoned Sandusky Expedition. Through the near-perfect hindsight of 2016, I can’t say that the latter is exactly a matter of pride, but I can’t judge the motives and judgment of someone who was living in very different and perilous times.

gard-jeremiah-jr-1782-sandusky-expedition

The Sandusky Expedition Soldiers

His son, William Gard, served in the War of 1812 and was taken prisoner by the British in Detroit. He was released and sent home, only to arrive a few days before his wife died, leaving him with a toddler and a new-born. He quickly married his wife’s sister, which I’m sure was the act of a desperate, grieving man.

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The Original Tombstone for William Gard

William’s son, William Perry, who was just a baby when his father passed away, served in the Mexican and Civil Wars.

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William Perry Gard and his Wife Phebe

On my father’s side, he, his brother, and his father all served in the military. My dad enlisted in the Army twice. Once in 1938, and again in 1944. My uncle, his brother, is also WW2 veteran, having served in the Navy,  and he is a Pearl Harbor survivor. Their father, my grandfather, was commissioned in the Merchant Marines.

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Uncle George

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My Father and Grandfather

So, to all these men, I hold a debt of gratitude for the freedoms and privileges I have today. And, to their families, especially their wives, who sacrificed, too.

Thank you.

A Father’s Letter, Part 3

Today, I’ll finish up with William Gard’s letter to his eldest son, Jesse, my great-great-uncle, and half-brother to my great-great-grandfather, William Perry Gard.

“In the next place, from the very time you come to do business for yourself, always bear in mind the disadvantage of being in debt. That so long as you are in debt you are laboring to a fourfold disadvantage and living on the mercies of your creditors.

Be not in haste to contract marriage for perhaps it may not prove so great a blessing as you may think, for, if so, the longer time in procrastination the less time you will have to live in trouble. For you must remember it is for life. This advice you must communicate to your sisters and brothers, of whom you are the older, and attend to their welfare as far as circumstances will admit of. This advice with that you you can get from good authors and that of your aged friends, who will be willing to advise you for your good, may suffice to take you through this world by making use of good economy yourself. 

Therefore, I must leave you, hoping that the God of Heaven may smile upon you and the balance of the family, is the sincere wish of a father and friend to his children.

William Gard”

Upon William’s death in 1827, Jesse, who was away working in another town, returned home to take care of the family, just as his father wished. He would have been proud.

Now, I will leave you  a photograph. This is Nora Gard Cummings, 1871-1941, youngest daughter of William Perry Gard and Phebe Stewart. There is no date on this photograph, but she looks to be late teens. She seems a very composed young woman.

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A Father’s Letter, Continued

Welcome back! I am picking up where I left off in in my last post in Part 1 of William Gard’s letter to his eldest son, Jesse.

“In the next place be very cautious not to keep company with those of bad character for you will be branded with the same, marked by those who stand and look on, that is of a better character. Avoid making use of bad language for it is an evil habit and mark of bad breeding and disgusting to good company. 

In the next place, for the good of your health and the good of society and a comfortable living, make use of common industry, so that you may live without being dependent of strangers with whom you will be left, and let your life be marked with strict honesty and benevolence should you be blessed with this world’s goods, in plenty never withhold your hand from helping the needy for you know not how long prosperity will last with you, and if adversity crowds upon you, bear it with fortitude, like a man, always keeping the golden rule before you and by so doing you will find friends in a strange country, whether in prosperity or adversity.” 

I’ll finish up this missive in my next post, but for now I will leave you with a little treasure I found. This is a photo of William Gard’s youngest son, William Perry Gard, and his wife, Phebe Stewart, my great-great-grandparents. William Perry was only a year old when his father, William, passed away, so he never had the benefit of knowing this truly wise man. This was taken in July 1861, in Indianapolis, IN, right at the beginning of the Civil War.

gard-william perry-phebe stewart-july 1861-indianapolis-in

Until next time!

Application Status: Filed!

I can’t say enough about the Clara Barton chapter of the DAR in Huntington Beach, CA. I just couldn’t have done it without the help of Jenice, 2nd Vice Regent, and Sharon, Registrar. They both put in hours of their own time to help me research and then to fill out the application and proper paperwork.

Thank you, ladies!

Our application was submitted the first week of May. I was told to expect to wait weeks, perhaps months, to hear back. Because of my mother’s age, 94, the process might be accelerated, so I was hopeful it would be.

The next week, I got an email from Jenice saying that the DAR genealogy department would be sending out letters to all three of us, probably requesting more information. Neither she nor Sharon knew what would be needed, but that I should call as soon as I got my letter and we’d get working. Truth be told, that was a bit discouraging.

The next day, I see an email from Jenice: Call me right away! So, I did.

Jenice: Are you sitting down?

Me: Yes…

Jenice: You’re VERIFIED!

Me: WHAT??? HOW??? WOW!!! Etc., etc., etc.!

Jenice’s thought was perhaps another genealogist reviewed the application and decided that all was indeed in order. We will never know, but according to the DAR website, we’re in!

There will be a vote June 5th, so I’m keeping my emotions in check, and not telling my mother, until I know without a doubt. But… squeal!

And, even though I (probably) won’t be needing the information I gathered after the application was submitted, I am very glad that I did a bit more digging.

For years, there was a publication called The Guardian Quarterly. Unfortunately, it’s out of print now, but the past issues are digitized at Family Search and are a goldmine of Gard family information. And, in its pages, I found this letter, written by William Gard to  his eldest son, Jesse, half-brother to William Perry Gard. I believe William wrote it during his last, fatal illness. It was copied from the Record of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in the family Bible by Uncle James McHenry on April 9, 1849.

Jesse, my son,

After I am dead and gone, I want you to take good care of this record, for your own benefit and the benefit of the family; and, as you are the oldest, I must commit to to your care , so as you may all know your ages, and by looking this over, you will see that you once had a mother, although you had very little recollection of her, and when my name is entered on the death page just below where your mother’s death is recorded, there you will see the name of a father and friend, although I expect to be called from you while you are yet young and ill-prepared to be left without father or mother. I must therefor recommend you to the hands of your Creator with following advice:

Strive to gain as good an education as you can for your opportunity. all this advice has been given to you while I am alive, but much neglected. Therefore I hope that this, my last request, will not be neglected as it had for your own benefit; and no one else can enjoy the benefits of that study only as a public good that every one ought to enjoy and without it you will step into the world like a man from the clouds entirely naked.

There is more to this lovely letter, but I shall save it for another day. Until then, I will leave you with this photograph of William Perry’s wife, Phebe Stewart Gard.

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The Search Continues…

We thought everything was ready. A stack of documents. Completed applications with notarized signatures. Money was involved.

However, the registrar of the DAR chapter we (myself, my mother and my daughter) are joining, noticed something we had overlooked.

There was no supporting evidence between William GARD and William Perry GARD to document the father-son relationship. Oops.

So, we are scurrying around trying to fill in the blank: Phone calls, research, the random acts of kindness that fill the genealogical world.

And, in all the searching, I’ve found some interesting facts to round out the story of William’s life.

He was born in 1788 in Fayette, PA, but as a young man he moved to Ohio. I’ve found that lots of Gards lived in Ohio, including relatives that I can’t sort out. They might have been uncles, cousins, or nephews. It’s a tangled web of Jeremiahs, Levis, Jacobs, and Ephraims.  It’s a job for another day.

Once in Hamilton, Ohio, William married Sarah Woodruff in 1810. They had two children, Jesse in 1811 and Elizabeth in 1813.

In the mean time, William had volunteered for the Butler Co., Ohio volunteer militia for the War of 1812. Also in his unit were Ephraim and Levi Gard (relationships to be determined).  And, sometime before April 1813, he was taken prisoner in Detroit.

(Which answered a mystery. In my research, I’ve run across countless family trees that have William dying in Detroit. I couldn’t figure out why that random fact kept popping up. But, my theory is that someone, somewhere mistakenly thought he had died either in battle or in prison when his unit fought in the Siege of Detroit. And, it keeps getting copied to new trees.)

Sometime around April 1813, William was released and then mustered out. Three days later, on April 27, his wife Sarah died, leaving a tiny new-born Elizabeth without a mother.

Sometime later that year, William married Sarah’s sister, Phebe, in Hamilton, Ohio. Both his parents, Jeremiah and Experience, died soon after, also in 1813. It was a difficult year for William, I’m thinking.

Years later, William was a prosperous farmer in Indiana, having received a land grant for his service in the war. He was also one of the first representatives to the state legislature. He and Phebe had three children, Julia, Sarah, and William Perry, born in 1826.

On his way home from a legislative session in late 1826 or early 1827, he was caught in a storm, became ill, and never got better. He died April 14, 1827, and he was buried on his farm in York. He left Phebe with  five children, including my ancestor, William Perry, not quite a year old.

Probate 158 (1)

Above is a page for the probate of William’s estate. He had extensive possessions and property. The papers list his wife, Phebe, but there is no mention of his five children. I also have census records for 1830 and 1840, listing Phebe as the head of the household. But, until 1850, only the heads of households were named; all others were only counted in their appropriate age groupings. Below is the 1830 census.

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It appears that Phebe never remarried. She passed away in Clinton Co., Indiana, in 1859.

I’m hoping that there is a guardian record on file in an Indiana courthouse to find the evidence I need. Until then, we are going to try to make our case with the information we have.

Until next time…

My Promised Follow-Up

In my last post, I wrote about Cyndi, the genealogist in the Switzerland County recorder’s office. And, yes, bless her; she did go out to the Gard Cemetery, spoke with the owner of the land, trekked out a mile off the road, and took pictures of William Gard’s grave and tombstone(s).

And, there’s more.

She went with a friend, also on the local cemetery committee. (Who knew that there was even such a thing?) They literally poked around in the area, finding what might be one or two more unmarked graves.  They weren’t sure if what they found was truly a grave or a rock; there needs to be more investigation to be sure.

And, there’s even more.

The local American Legion has offered to move William’s grave to the East Enterprise cemetery and rebury him with full military honors.

That just gave me goosebumps. I’d love to do this, for a variety of reasons. Where the grave is now is on private property and hard to access. Cyndi mentioned that the land will soon be up for sale, and that while the current owner has been gracious in allowing access, there’s no guarantee that future owners will be.

I’ve posted in genealogy pages on Facebook and on Find a Grave, asking for other Gard ancestors’ input. I’m not even sure if I have the legal authority to authorize a move. I need to do more searching, trying to find other descendants.

I’ll keep you posted!

 

Genealogists: Some of the Kindest Folks

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been working on my DAR application, and by jove, I’me just about to have my application sent in! And, not just mine, but my mother’s and my daughter’s, as well. My mom is 94, and her application might be expedited. I’m hoping that all three of us will have consecutive numbers, just like our consecutive generations.

Today, in searching for proof of my ancestor, William Gard, 1788-1827, living in Switzerland County, IN, I called the records office for the county. I just wasn’t coming up with anything through the usual search engines.

Now, you must understand, I really dislike using the phone, especially to call strangers out of the blue. But, if today is any indication, I need to get over it. Because, you see, genealogists are just the best people. They get it.

When I called the recorder’s office, I explained that I was looking for deeds for William Gard, and could this office point me in the right direction to find them? The woman who answered the phone said that she couldn’t, but that the office had a genealogist. She was out for lunch, and could I call back?

Well, yes, I could, thank you!

When I called back a bit later, the genealogist, Cindy, answered the phone. I explained what I was looking for, and she said she’d look and call me back. Which she did, about 30 minutes later.

She’d not found any deeds, but she HAD found land patents; was I interested? She walked me through the steps to get to the government site for land grants and patents, and sure enough, there was my William!

Before we signed off, I asked if she could help direct me to the right people who might have a photo of his grave site, said to be on his farm. And, this is where it gets good!

She said that she was on the cemetery committee (Who knew such a thing even existed!?) and would ask around for me. And, once again, she got right back with another phone call.

She had found that his grave was in the Gard Cemetery (What?), and that it was raining, but a soon as it cleared up, she’d be out to get a photo for me.

Wow. Just wow… the kindness of strangers, indeed.

Here is the land patent granted to William, while he was still living in Hamilton County, Ohio:

And, the list of patents led me to his son’s, William Perry Gard, as well:

gard-william perry-1851-land patent-tipton co-IN- B 001

I have no doubt that Cindy will provide me with a photograph. I’ll let you know!

The Mystery of the Missing Little Boy

For years, my siblings and I have heard about a little boy, one who died very young, who was possibly a sibling to our mother, an only child.

There are lots of stories like this in our family; short on details and long on speculation.

But, thanks to the incredible modern day tool that is the internet, I have found this little boy.

I recently signed up for a My Heritage full-access account, and I have been using the research tool compulsively.

“Dinner’s ready, but I just need to do one more search. You’ll never guess what I just found!”

Researching this morning, rather than tackling the list of tasks at hand, I found a family tree on another site that listed my grandmother, Vida Bula Gard Wells, her sister, Dola Zella Gard Strong (obviously both of whom we knew about), and their brother, Lex Bion Gard.

I tried to not get very excited, as I’ve learned already in this new genealogy adventure that there are probably LOADS of people with names similar to what I’m searching for.

I dug a little deeper, until I found a record on FindAGrave.com.

lex bion gard

And, there he is. Little Lex, older brother to Vida and Dola. Born June 2, 1888, and died at two years and two months on August 13, 1890.

I’m confident that this is correct; the parents’ names are my great grandparents’ names, and the location is correct.

I also found another record that mentions an unnamed child born between Vida and Dola, but I will need to do  a little more digging.

But, there’s the missing little boy…