Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zilpha “Mama Zip” Johnston

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

Z is for Zilpha “Mama Zip” Johnston

Zilpha was the second wife of my great grandfather, Thomas N. Johnston. They married 12 December 1931 in Stephenville, Texas. This was the second marriage for both of them; he was a widower and she was divorced.  She had previously married Walter Burford and in 1920, they lived in Fort Worth, Texas. He worked for the railroad as a receiving clerk and she was a telephone operator for a hardware company.

I found her in the 1930 census and she worked as a PBX operator for a lumber company. She was divorced sometime between 1920 and 1930. I bet she worked at the same lumber company as Thomas N. Johnston!

She was the only grandmother my mother knew. She called her “Mama Zip.” A cousin of my mother wrote:
She “was a grandmother to die for. She was very neat about everything. Dressed really well—worked at a department store selling really nice clothing.”

West End Cemetery, Stephenville, Texas; photo by author

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Elizabeth Young

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

Y is for Elizabeth Young

Elizabeth Young was my 4th great-grandmother. She married Dempsey Welch on 21 Jan 1821 in Clarke County, Alabama. I scanned a copy of their marriage record from microfilm today.

1821 Marriage for Dempsey Welch & Elizabeth Young
Not long after marrying, Dempsey got land in Copiah County, Mississippi where they lived until their deaths.  They had possibly sixteen children, depending on the sources. I have records for seven known children.

Here is the only census record with Elizabeth’s name on it. In 1850 it was the first federal census that listed everyone in the household. Dempsey was a planter, not just a farmer, and his property was worth $2400. Perhaps they also had a large house and Elizabeth had household slaves. The Melissa A. that is 10 years old was my 3rd great-grandmother, who married James Madison Coor.
1850 Copiah Co, Mississippi population schedule for Dempsey & Elizabeth Welch's household
A 1852 tax list for Dempsey listed some luxury items: a pleasure carriage was worth $100. He had 1 watch and 2 clocks. He had 40 head of cattle and 1 stallion. Also listed were 37 slaves under the age of 60. By 1860, his estate was worth $15,000. I have no slave schedule for 1850, but in 1860 he had 12.
Elizabeth died on 1 July 1952. She was buried at the Welch Plantation Cemetery.  A book written in 1953 gave the cemetery inscriptions that can’t be read today.[1] Their tombstones read:

Dempsey Welch                               Elizabeth 
b. Dec 24, 1798                                Wife of Dempsey Welch
d. Dec 6, 1864                                  b. Jan 8, 1804 
                                                         d. Jul 1 1852

The end of Dempsey’s life was during the Civil War. He had no probate taken out in court in Copiah county that I can find. Perhaps there was either nothing left of the estate or he had already given away most of his property to his children. More research is needed to determine this. I do know that his daughter Melissa A. had some land that she sold to her husband. She might have inherited it.

[1] Mississippi Genealogical Society, editor, Cemetery & Bible Records Vol 1 (Mississippi: n.p., 1954.), 44.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for the Cross of Churches

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

X is for the Cross of Churches

I have no ancestors with the first or last name starting with X. I could have shown the X-ray of my back but that’s pretty boring. Yes, I have scoliosis just like my grandmother.

So I thought about all of the churches my ancestors have attended. My dad’s side of the family was Roman Catholic; all the way back.

I’ve collected some photos of churches my families have attended, and some were captured from Google street view.
St. Mary's Church, Walnut Creek
I was confirmed and married here.
Two of my siblings were baptized here.
St. Peter Martyr Church, Pittsburg
My first communion was here and three of my siblings were baptized here.
Queen of All Saints, Concord
My parents were married here and I was baptized here.
St. Patrick's Church, Butte, MT
My grandparents, Wm Cyril Hork & Anna M. Sullivan
were married here.
St. Paul's Church, Anaconda, MT
This is where the Sullivan's attended

St. Philip Church, Richmond, Ontario, Canada
The Gleesons attended church here and their children
were baptized here.
St. John the Baptist Church, Joliet, IL
Where the Sieverts attended.
Kirche St Peter und Paul, Kirchhundem, Germany
My Horks attended this church
photo by Wolfgang Poguntke, Creative Commons
So here are just some of the churches I've encountered in the research of my family who were Catholic.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

W is for William Joseph Hork

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

W is for William Joseph Hork

William Joseph Hork was born 23 April 1930, just days after the 1930 census, so he wasn’t listed. His parents were William Cyril Hork and Anna Marie Sullivan.

As a child he was called Billy and he was the youngest of four children. I think his older three sisters probably doted on him a bit. His sisters still called him Billy.
He was young when his parents separated and was ten when his mother moved the family to Napa, California. There he served as an altar boy at St. John’s Catholic Church and was in Boy Scouts. In high school he played football. He once told me he could throw the football with either hand, and it was a clever deception to the other team.

Although he was left-handed, he could print very well and if the times had been better, perhaps he would have worked as a draftsman or even an architect. He used his skill as the sign maker for the weekly specials at the grocery store, LoRay in Walnut Creek. In those days, large paper signs were posted in the large windows at the front of the store announcing that week’s specials. He made the signs at home and it was fun to watch him use the large magic markers. Our house would have that chemical smell afterwards which I still find pleasant. I wish I had a photo of one of the signs.

He worked hard, most of the time six days a week while we were growing up. His hobbies I guess would have been watching football. In the early 70’s he had season tickets to the Raiders games. After the Raiders moved to Los Angeles, he became an even bigger 49er fan. In his later years, he kept track of the teams using paper spreadsheets; the same way he kept track of the stocks he purchased, another of his hobbies. He also liked to garden until his health prevented him from doing that.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

V is for Virginia Anne Hork

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

My dear Aunt Virginia passed away this past week so I changed the focus on my V ancestor to honor Virginia.

My Dad's three sisters: June, Lorene, Virginia
when living in Napa
She was my father’s sister and one of four children born to William Cyril Hork and Anna Marie Sullivan. 

She was well-loved by all and a sweetheart to everyone. She had such class as well as being very beautiful. 

Before her marriage she worked as a stewardess for Western Airlines and was once a contestant for Miss Aviation. She met her future husband, John H. Gertridge while flying. They married 19 August 1950 at Carmel Mission and had four children.
June, me, Virginia
I always enjoyed visiting my Aunt Virginia and we had such a wonderful afternoon together on our last visit talking about family both past and present.

I will miss you, Aunt Virginia.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Urselle Hork

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

U is for Urselle Hork

Urselle Clementine Hork was my paternal grandfather’s sister. She was born 23 March 1892 in Portland, Oregon and was the ninth child of Johan Anton Hork and Julia Ann Sievert.[1] She grew up in Hamilton and took part in activities at the Catholic church. In December 1909, she participated in the comic opera “The Mikado” as a member of the chorus.[2]

Before her marriage, she worked as a telephone operator for the Montana Independent Telephone Company.[3] She married Bernard V. Schwalen on 25 June 1913 at St. Francis Catholic Church in Hamilton.[4] The Missoulian newspaper gave a wonderful story about the announcement of their marriage:

"Miss Urselle Hork To Be Married in June" Well-known young lady of Hamilton to wed Bernard V. Schwalen.
   Hamilton, May 20--(special)--At a party given last evening by Mrs. Julia Hork, at her handsome home on South Fifth street, announcement was made of the coming marriage of her daughter, Miss Urselle C. Hork, to Bernard V. Schwalen of this city, the vent to take place in June The bride-to-be is one of Hamilton's most popular young ladies, and is a sister to Clerk and Recorder A.J. Hork of this county. She is at present chief operator for the Montana Telephone company here, being employed at the Bell Telephone exchange before the coming of the Independent company to the city. She formerly made her home in Missoula. Mr. Schwalen is employed as draughtsman in the local engineering offices of the Bitter Root Valley Irrigation company, and is most popular among the young people of Hamilton. The young people are receiving the congratulations of their many friends of this community.
   The guests at last evening's announcement party were Misses May Howley, Mabel Smith, Carrie Hork, Sophia Lemm, Elizabeth Lemm, Theo Swayze, Hattie Helwig, Anne Helwig and Jessie Strong; Mesdames C.H. Christenson, Homer Benson, TJ Burns, WO Fisk, JO Read, Harvey Fullerton, Kenneth Romney, OB Finney, CH Donson, CA Smithey, Albert Bauman and Julia Hork.”
Small town newspapers are great. There was another article about the wedding:[5]

"Pretty Ceremony Unites Valley Couple" Miss Urselle Clementine Hork becomes Bride of Bernard Victor Schwalen.
  Hamilton, June 25--(Special)--The nuptial ceremony that united Miss Urselle Clementine Hork and Bernard Victor Schwalen in happy wedlock was performed this evening at 9 o'clock at St. Francis Catholic church by Rev. Father M. A. Lynch. Miss Elizabeth Lemm played the processional Lohengrin's wedding march as the bridal party was entering the church and taking position before the altar, Mendelssohn's wedding march being played following the ceremony. The bride was attended by Miss Mai Howley, the groom by Anthony Hork, a brother of the bride. Justin Shannon and A.E. Walsh acted as ushers.
   The bride was beautifully gowned in a creation of cream marquisette over crepe messaline and wore a dainty chiffon hat, with white gloves and slippers. She carried a lovely bridal bouquet of orange blossoms, a gift from her sister, Mrs. M.J. Coleman of Los Angeles, Cal. The bridesmaid wore a gown of blue marquisette over blue messaline and a blue hat trimmed with pink rosebuds. She carried a bouquet of pink carnations.
   The church was decorated in pink, white and green, roses, peonies and ferns and green foliage being tastily used in the color scheme.
   Following the ceremony there was a wedding lunch served to the relatives and a few intimate friends of the bride and groom at the home of the brides' mother, Mrs. Julia Hork. Wedding cake was served in neat white boxes tied with ribbon. Floral decorations made the rooms especially beautiful for the occasion. The bride and groom left this evening by automobile for Missoula, where the 7:30 train will be taken tomorrow for Helena. A week's honeymoon trip will be made to several cities of eastern Montana, following which the couple will be at home in this city in the Holroyd house on South Third street.
   The bride is the youngest daughter of Mrs. Julia Hork and a sister to Clerk and Recorder A.J. Hork and some of Hamilton's most estimable young ladies, having many friends in that city and at Missoula, where she formerly resided. She recently resigned her position as chief operator at the local exchange of the Montana Independent Telephone company, in which position she established a record for courtesy and efficiency. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schwalen of Stevensville and is employed in the local engineering office of the Bitter Root Valley Irrigation company. He has traits of character which bespeaks a splendid future.
   Out-of-town guests at the wedding were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schwalen, the Misses Agnes and Margaret Schwalen of Stevensville, parents and sister of the groom, and Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Hart of Missoula, the latter being the bride's sister.
   Many beautiful and useful gifts were received by the bride, silverware and cut glass articles predominating.
There was even a photo of Urselle in the newspaper as well.[6] The best part of these wedding stories was the description of the wedding attire and the flowers.

Bernard and Urselle moved to Tacoma, Washington. They had four daughters.

[1] Oregon State Archives, Oregon Historical Records Index Detail Information,, Case#6096, Hork, Ursula Clementine, 03/23/1892, delayed birth, Multnomah Co, Health.
[2] “Actors Are Ready For Play,” The Missoulian, 15 Dec 1909, p. 8, col. 1, Ursulla Hork; Chronicling America ( : accessed 9 Nov 2014).
[3] Missoula and Hamilton City Directory, R.L. Polk & Co, 1911, p 377, Urselle Hork, digital image, (
[4] Ravalli County, Montana, Marriages, , v. 3-4 1912-1929, p 114, 1913, Schwalen & Hork, FHL film 1905837.
[5] “Pretty Ceremony Unites Valley Couple,” The Missoulian, 26 Jun 1913, p 3, Chronicling America ( : accessed 9 Nov 2014).
[6] “Mrs. Bernard V. Schwalen,” The Missoulian,  29 Jun 1913, p.7, Chronicling America ( : accessed 9 Nov 2014).

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Share Your Childhood Memories

Randy Seaver has a great Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post for us to do from his blog Genea-Musings.

1)  Judy Russell asked six questions in her Keynote address at RootsTech 2014 to determine if audience members knew certain family stories about their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.  She demonstrated very well that family stories are lost within three generations if they are not recorded and passed on to later generations.

2)  This week, I want you to answer Judy's six questions, but about YOUR own life story, not your ancestors.  Here are the questions:

a)  What was your first illness as a child?

b)  What was the first funeral you attended?

c)  What was your favorite book as a child?

d)  What was your favorite class in elementary school?

e)  What was your favorite toy as a child?

f)  Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?

Here are my stories:

First Illness
The first illness I remember as a child is being sick with Scarlet Fever in 1960. The doctor came to our house and I hated the tongue depressor. I thought he was trying to stick it down my throat. As I check out the Wikipedia entry for scarlet fever, I see that diagnosis is confirmed with taking a throat culture. That was probably what he was trying to do. I was 5 years old and in Kindergarten. I think our family was quarantined but I’m not sure. I remember missing lots of school and had so much back-ordered milk that they tried to make me drink two a day. Gawk, I hated milk.

First Funeral
The first funeral I attended was my grandfather, Tom Johnston’s funeral in 1973. The four oldest children attended but my mother didn’t let the youngest two go.  The service was at Oak Park Hills Chapel and although my grandmother didn’t want an open casket, it was anyway. He looked so serene in the casket. We then rode in a limousine to the Oakmont Memorial Park where the burial service was held. I sat on one of those small jump seats. The get-together afterwards was at my grandmother’s house. It was weird meeting all of these cousins of my mother’s whom we’d never seen before. Wished I’d been a genealogist then.

My Favorite Book
As a young child, my favorite book was Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack. I loved the story of the mischievous dog and the illustrations were wonderful. My husband found out I liked the books when we were first married and ordered them for me.  The second favorite was Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss.  I’m thinking now that these were favorites because our family had copies of the books and I could read them over and over. Most of the books I read as a child came from the public library.

Favorite Class in School
Spelling was my best subject because I figured out a way to score high on the Friday tests. I would write the words over and over again, especially on Friday morning. This never guaranteed that I remembered to spell them later, but getting 100s on papers was rewarding. It also taught me that writing out what I’m trying to learn was helpful to me.

Not my first but one like it
Favorite Toy
My favorite toy was a Troll that I bought myself in the 5th grade. I still have that troll and others I have collected over the years. I was never much with dolls but the troll was small and we made little houses for them out of cardboard boxes.

Learning to Swim

I was so afraid of the water that I didn’t learn to swim until 6th grade. But boy did I learn fast. My mother signed us up for lesson at the high school and I got put into a class of beginners which was full of 6-7 year olds. Through sheer embarrassment I put my fears to the side and learned to swim well enough to get put into an older aged group. I can swim most strokes but the free-style. I don’t like putting my face in the water and blowing out the air, so my strokes cheat a bit.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tom J. Johnston Jr.

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

T is for Tom J. Johnston Jr.

Tom J. Johnston Jr. was my grandfather. He was born in Gustine, Comanche Co., Texas to Thomas N. Johnston and Nell L. Hutson.[1] He had two older sisters and two younger brothers.

He married Pansy Louise Lancaster 14 December 1933[2] and they had only one daughter, Lela Nell.

Pansy, Lela Nell, Tom & the yellow Jeep
We called our grandfather Tom-Tom. He was a bit gruff and not too talkative. I do remember that he loved working with his hands, especially in carpentry. Many pieces of his handicraft were found in their home: lamps, tables, and picture frames. My mother had a built in ironing board he had made.

He loved fishing and I thought the catfish from Clear Lake tasted good, fried up the way my grandmother did rolled in cornmeal.  He loved his cars and his dogs. The dogs waited patiently for the evening ritual of an after dinner treat.

One of many dogs Tom owned
He worked at Diablo Valley College in the carpentry department.[3] One time he got tickets for the Harlem Globetrotters when they came to the college and I got to go. It was pretty cool!

His life was cut short at 60 years when he died 11 Jul 1973.[4] His was my first funeral but he looked so serene in the casket, not the gruff old grandfather.

[1] Bureau of Vital Statistics, Comanche County, Birth Record of Tom J Johnston Jr, 1912, Vol 8, pg 553, certified by county clerk, 14 Feb 1942.
[2] State of Texas, County of Hood, Marriage Record of Tom Johnston and Pansy Louise Lancaster (certificate copy), recorded in Vol I, p 161 Marriage License Records.
[3] Employee Performance Report for Tom Johnston Jr, Contra Costa Junior College District, 30 March 1965, Diablo Valley College Campus, Maintenance Department, Carpenter.
[4] State of California, Dept. of Health Services, Death Certificate of Tom J. Johnston Jr (73-087531), Contra Costa County, Tom J Johnston Jr, 1973.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Sullivan Sisters

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

S is for Sullivan Sisters

Five daughters were born to John H. Sullivan and Anna Marie Gleeson.

The first two were born in Mitchell, South Dakota (actually Dakota Territory). Helena M. “Nellie” was born 25 May 1883 and Loretto M. was born 28 February 1885.

Rosemary Sullivan  was born in 1889 and the birth might have been in Mitchell, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint when the family moved to Montana. Rosemary died in infancy.

Once the family was in Anaconda, Montana, the last two daughters were born: Ethel Elizabeth on 11 February 1891 and Anna Marie "Anne" on 15 October 1892.

Their mother, Anna, died young on 3 January 1912.

The five Sullivan children
Later that year, Nellie married Harold Hutchinson Goe on 13 August. He worked for the Anaconda Copper Mine and they lived in Anaconda their entire lives.

Ethel and Jack, her only brother, moved to Portland to live for a while with Anna’s parents, John and Margaret Gleeson. Ethel also spent time with her aunt, Elizabeth M. Gleeson and then moved back to Anaconda, where she worked as a clerk at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company until her marriage to John Virgil Quigley sometime before 1926.

Loretto remained in Anaconda and worked as a milliner for the Copper City Commercial Company. She married James LeRoy Patterson on 8 January 1917.

Anna attended Normal College in Dillon and then spent time teaching until her marriage to William Cyril Hork in Butte, Montana on 30 November 1922.
Nellie - Loretta - Anne -- 1940's
Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for R.D. Lancaster

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

R.D., my grandmother’s brother, was born Rayburn Dinion Lancaster on 3 July 1920 in Erath County, Texas to George Warren Lancaster and Lela Ann Loveless.[1] He attended Tarleton Agricultural College where he was editor of Grassburr and president of the Press club. World War II started before he finished and he was exempt from taking finals.[2]

He joined the Army Air Corps on 14 January 1942 and trained in Chickasa, Oklahoma.[3] By November 1943, R.D. was a Captain and had completed 50 combat missions in a P-40 Warhawk in the European theater.[4]

After World War II, R.D. remained in the Air Force and served as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. As a major, he commanded the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Itazuka Air Base.[5] He also participated in the Vietnam war. By the time he retired in 1972, he was a colonel.

R.D., sister, Pansy, & wife, Barbara

He married Barbara Sutherland 1 Sep 1944 and they had seven children, some of whom were born in Japan while he was stationed there.

I remember the time R.D.'s family visited us and the kids removed their shoes when they entered the house. R.D. liked Japanese culture and built his house in Texas with a Japanese flavor. When I visited him with my grandmother, we removed our shoes inside the house.

R.D. loved his family, writing letters to the newspaper editor, and fishing. He died 28 Feb 2004 and was buried in Upper Greens Creek Cemetery.[6]

[1] Erath Co Birth Records, Bk 4a 1917-1922, #548, RD Lancaster, 7/3/1920, Warren Lancaster, farmer & Lela Loveless, 24, FHL film 1428064.
[2] "Student Council Responsible for Hilarious Good Time," The J-TAC (Stephenville, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 1, Ed. 1, 19 Sep 1939, p 1, digital image, The Portal to Texas History, ( : accessed 14 Mar 2013), R.D. Lancaster. Also "Staff Reports Eight Hundred Yearbooks Sold,"  The J-TAC , Vol. 19, No. 6, Ed. 1, 24 Oct 1939, p 1, The Portal to Texas History,  (http:/ : accessed 14 Mar 2013), R.D. Lancaster, editor.
[3] "R.D. Lancaster Now Attending Aviation School,” The J-TAC (Stephenville, Tex.), Vol. 21, No. 21, Ed. 1, 17 Mar 1942, The Portal to Texas History ( accessed 14 Mar 2013).
[4] "R.D. Lancaster Awarded Large Number Honors, "The J-TAC (Stephenville, Tex.), Vol. 23, No. 2, Ed. 1, Tue 9 Nov 1943, The Portal to Texas History, ( : accessed 14 Mar 2013).
[5] "Military Briefs, Spouse of Flier Pens Fine Letter," Dallas Morning News, 13 Mar 1951. 
[6] “Rayburn D. Lancaster,” Star-Telegram, 2 Mar 2004.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for John Quigley who grew up to be a Judge

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

Q is for John Quigley who grew up to be a Judge

John Quigley
John James Quigley was born 15 Aug 1926 in San Francisco to John Virgil Quigley and Ethel Elizabeth Sullivan. He would not know his mother growing up as she died the next year as a result of eclampsia and a premature delivery of his younger sister, Ann on 26 Oct 1927. His paternal aunt, Margaret would fill those shoes.

Later in 1940, his southern California cousins, Lorene, Virginia, June, and Bill Hork along with his mother’s sister, Anna, came to live with them. June was the same age and they attended high school together. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and then served during the Korean War in the Navy. He attended Hastings Law School and admitted to the California Bar.

John at his retirement party with his cousins
He practiced law in San Francisco, Mendocino, and Napa. He was elected municipal court judge in 1978 and served for 16 years, retiring in 1994.

He enjoyed life, music, theater, photography and volunteering. He died 26 September 2008.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Martha Jane “Mattie” Polly

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

P is for Martha Jane “Mattie” Polly

Martha Jane Polly, called “Mattie,” was born to Nathan H.O. Polly and Lydia Margaret [--?--]  in Texas. She was my third great grandmother. She was born in August, though the year is not certain. Early census records give ages that make 1854/55 being likely,[1] but her later census records indicate a later date around 1856/57.[2] Her death certificate gave her birth as 26 August 1856. Her family was living in Montague County in Texas in 1860, but since her father was a minister, they might have been living elsewhere.  She was the third daughter of seven children, with only one boy.

At the age around sixteen or seventeen, Martha married George W. Lancaster in Kaufman County, Texas on 25 October 1871.[3] 
1871 Marriage between George W Lancaster & Martha J Polly
They would have six children together:
  • William Carl Lancaster
  • Lonnie Osborn Lancaster
  • Margaret Rose Lancaster
  • George Eldon Lancaster
  • Reginald F Lancaster
  • Jesse Polly Lancaster

I could only find George W. Lancaster in later census records and no Martha Jane. What had happened to her? Had she died? I couldn’t find any record for a death nor a cemetery record. It was such a mystery for many years. I couldn’t find the younger children either, only William Carl, who was my second great grandfather.

Then one day I got a message explaining that Martha Jane married Noah F. Parks in Arizona and later moved to California. This opened up a whole new avenue to research. I have since learned:
    Land George W. Lancaster obtained. If he'd kept it, he'd be rich today.
  • George W. Lancaster bought land in Maricopa County, Arizona in 1886 & 1887.[4]
  • He registered to vote in Maricopa County in 1888[5]
  • In 1889, he sold some land in Maricopa County[6]
  • On 27 Dec 1892, Martha J. Lancaster filed for divorce in Maricopa County.[7]
  • The divorce decree was issued on 23 December 1893. She would have sole custody and control over children: Lonnie, Maggie, Eldon, Reginald, and Jesse.  George W. never answered his summons. He had returned to Texas.[8]
  • On 28 Dec 1893, Martha J. Lancaster married Noah Flood Parks in Phoenix, Maricopa Co, Arizona.[9]
  • She and Noah sold land in July 1896.
  • Mattie and Noah have two children of their own: Daisy Omelia Parks and Rosy A. Parks.[10]
  • Sometime after 1900, they have moved to Tulare County, California, where Noah was a farmer[11]
  • Martha died 7 Apr 1932 and was buried in Tulare Cemetery[12]

It was wonderful to find Martha and her children throughout California. A photo of Martha can be found at the Find-a-grave memorial for her here.

[1] 1860 U.S. census, Montague Co, Texas, p. 76b (stamped), dwelling 721, family 743, H. O. Polley, digital image,  ( accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M653, roll 1301. 1870 U.S. census, Kaufman Co, Texas, p. 31, dwelling 372, family 386, N.H.O. Polly, digital images, ( accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M593, roll 1594.
[2] 1900 U.S. census, Maricopa, Arizona, enumeration district (ED) 36, sheet 9a, dwelling 182, family 182, Noah F. Parks, Digital images, ( accessed 8 May 2005), citing NARA T623, roll 46.
[3] Kaufman Co, Texas, Marriages, 2: 51, Geo W. Lancaster-Martha J. Polly, 1871; FHL microfilm 1302500.
[4] Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office, database & digital images,, AZAZAA 014321, Serial Patent, Cash Sale, George W. Lancaster, 1890.
[5] Arizona, Maricopa County Voter Registers 1876-1932, FHL film 1405007, 1888, #2510, George Wilson Lancaster.
[6] Territory of Arizona, Maricopa County, Land Deeds, Bk 21, p 32, 1889, Lancaster-Coulson; FHL film 2196859.
[7] Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona Republican, 1892-12-28, p1, “Local Briefs,” Mattie vs Geo Lancaster, digital images, Chronicling America,
[8] Pima County, Arizona, RG 110, Superior Court Records, SG 8 case 2250, Lancaster v. Lancaster, decree, 23 December 1893; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Phoenix.
[9] Maricopa County, Arizona, Marriage Licenses & Certificates, RG 107, SG 8 Superior Court Records, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Phoenix, 1893, Noah F Parks & Mattie J Lancaster, p 405.
[10] 1910 U.S. census, Imperial, California, Imperial Twp, enumeration district (ED) 13, sheet 7b, Noah F. Park, Digital images, (, NARA T624.
[11] Dana Burks, San Diego City Directory, 1905, p 642, Noah F Parks; 1906, p 738, Noah F Parks; digital image,
[12] California Department of Health Services, Death Certificates, death certificate,32-024489,1932,Mattie Jane Parks. For burial: Find A Grave, database with images ( : ), 9 Sep 2011, Martha Jane "Mattie" Polly Parks.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Olivia Jones Johnston

I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2016), where we write 26 blog posts featuring each letter of the alphabet.

O is for Olivia Jones Johnston
When I discovered that my second great grandfather, Reuben Mack Johnston had married Olivia Jane Jones, I had about cried.  Johnston was hard enough to research but now I had a Jones. Would I ever find her parents?

Question: Who were the parents of Olivia Jones Johnston?
R.M. Johnston married Miss Olivia Jones on 23 Dec 1879 in Erath County, Texas.[1]

1879 Marriage R.M. Johnston to Olivia J. Jones
What I learned about Olivia and her family came from an article in the Comanche Chief about her son, O.D. Johnston, nicknamed “Pig.” [2] He was interviewed by the newspaper when he was 81 years old and the paper printed photographs of the family.

Reuben & Olivia
Olivia Jane Jones was Reuben’s second wife, his first wife dying between 1877 and 1879.  She helped raise the three daughters, and she and Reuben had thirteen of their own. My great grandfather, Thomas Johnston was their fourth child.

But finding Olivia’s parents was not easy and I’m still not sure I have them. Olivia and Reuben were living in Comanche County in 1880 and their neighbors included his brother Marion J. Johnston; Henry Wright; George Knox, whose household included Amanda A. Jones (his mother-in-law), Laura C Jones (his sister-in-law) and Mattie M Jones (sister-in-law); and Thomas W. Jones.[3]

1880 U.S. census, Comanche Co., Texas: for Jones, Wright, Knox, & Johnston families
Analyzing the birthplaces, Amanda was born in Mississippi and her parents in Virginia and Mississippi. Looking at the Jones members in the George Knox household, the two sister-in-laws were also born in Mississippi with parents born in Virginia and Mississippi, as well as George’s wife, Bettie.  Thomas W. Jones’ birthplace was the same, as was Henry Wright’s wife, Mary F. These families were likely kin.

So a possible family:
Amanda A. Jones, b. 1827, MS, age 53 in 1880
Mary F. Jones Wright, b. 1847, MS, age 33 in 1880
Thomas W. Jones, b. 1850, MS, age 30 in 1880
Bettie E. Jones Knox, b. 1856, MS, age 24 in 1880
Olivia J. Jones Johnston, b. 1859, MS, age 21 in 1880
Laura C. Jones, b. 1863, MS, age 17 in 1880
Mattie M. Jones, b. 1864, MS, age 14 in 1880

So if this is the hypothesis of the Jones family, then search for them in the 1870 census. A possible family was found in Hays County, Texas.[4]
             Jones, Amanda, 43, F, W, keeping house, $200 personal, MS;
           Walter A, 21, M, W, farm laborer, MS;
           Thomas W, 19, M, W, farm laborer, MS;
           Bettie E 13, F, W, at home, MS; 
           Oliva J,  11, F, W, at home, MS;
           Columbus 9, M, W, MS; 
           Laura C, 7, F, W, MS;
           Ellen S, 7, F, W, MS;
           Mattie M, 5, F, W, MS.  at bottom a note that Laura C and Ellen S were twins.

Comparing this census to the 1880:

Amanda Jones, 43, MS
Amanda A. Jones, age 53
Walter A, 21, M, W, farm laborer, MS;

Thomas W, 19, M, W, farm laborer, MS;
Thomas W. Jones, age 30
Bettie E, 13, F, W, at home, MS
Bettie E. Jones, age 24
Olivia J,  11, F, W, at home, MS;
Olivia J. Jones, age 21
Columbus 9, M, W, MS; 

Laura C, 7, F, W, MS;
Laura C. Jones, age 17
Ellen S, 7, F, W, MS;

Mattie M, 5, F, W, MS
Mattie M. Jones, age 14

There is a good case that this is the same family. So let’s find them in 1860. Likely to be found in Mississippi where all of the children were born. A family was found in Rankin County, Mississippi.[5] This one is more difficult to analyze because everyone was listed with their initials only.

B.W. Jones, 38, male, farmer, VA, $2842, $8323;
AA Jones, 31, F, MS;
MF Jones, 13 F, MS; school
WA Jones, 11, male, MS; school
TW Jones, 9, male, MS;
EB Jones, 5, F, MS;
OJ Jones, 1, F, MS;
David T. Gillman, 20 male, dressier, MS.

Everyone except B.W. Jones was born in Mississippi and he was born in Virginia, which matches the census entries in 1880. Now create the chart with all three census records:

1860 Rankin Co, Mississippi
1870 Hays Co, Texas
1880 Comanche Co, Texas
B.W. Jones, 38, VA

A.A. Jones, 31, MS
Amanda Jones, 43, MS
Amanda A. Jones, age 53
M.F. Jones, 13, MS

Mary F. Jones Wright, age 33
W.A. Jones, 11, MS
Walter A, 21, MS;

T.W. Jones, 9, MS
Thomas W, 19, MS;
Thomas W. Jones, age 30
E.B. Jones, 5, MS
Bettie E, 13,  MS
Bettie E. Jones, age 24
O.J. Jones, 1, MS
Olivia J,  11, MS;
Olivia J. Jones, age 21

Columbus 9, MS; 

Laura C, 7, MS;
Laura C. Jones, age 17

Ellen S, 7, MS;

Mattie M, 5, MS
Mattie M. Jones, age 14

The family was also found in the 1850 Rankin County census.[6]  Everyone was approximately ten years younger and Benj. W. Jones was listed as born in Virginia. It looked like a surname of Haley was written next to Amanda and then crossed out.
Jones, Benj W. 28, male, farmer, $300, VA.
Amanda Haley [crossed out], 25, F, Miss;
Mary, 4, F, Miss;
Walter, 2, male, Miss."

And next door was this family:
Thomas Haley, 61 NC
Elizabeth, 58, SC
Thomas, 27, physician, Miss
John, 17, student, Miss, school

This family was named Haley. Amanda’s age of 25 would fit right between brothers, Thomas and John.

Next I checked for the marriage for Amanda and Benjamin.  A marriage was found between B.W. Jones and Amanda Haley in Rankin County, Mississippi on 26 June 1845. I do not yet have this record, this is from an index, which points to FHL film 879737.

Now to look at the previous census (1840) to see if a female at the age of 15 was living in the household of Thomas Haley.  Thomas Hailey was found with a total of 22 members in his household.[7]
Name: Thomas Haley. Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Rankin, Mississippi
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 60 thru 69: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 49: 1
Slaves - Males - Under 10: 1
Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23: 5
Slaves - Males - 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves - Females - Under 10: 6
Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves - Females - 24 thru 35: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 12
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons - Under 20: 4
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2

Total Free White Persons: 7
Total Slaves: 15
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 22

There was a female in the age bracket of 10-14, so this could have been Amanda.

So my current thinking is this: Olivia J. Jones’ parents were Benjamin W. Jones and Amanda A. Haley, who was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Haley.

[1] Comanche County, Texas Marriage Records, Comanche County Clerk, Marriage Bk B1 p 299, Johnston-Jones, 1879; digital images, FamilySearch (
[2] “Wagon Wheels Keep on Turnin’: O.D. (Pig) Johnston of Gustine,” Jewell Dukes Huddleston, Comanche Chief, 29 Nov 1979 & 6 Dec 1979.
[3] 1880 U.S. census, Comanche Co, Texas, ED 30, p 95a, fam 173, M. Reubin Johnston; digital image, ( : accessed 18 Apr 2016), citing National Archives and Records Administration, T9, roll 1297.
[4] 1870 U.S. census, Hays Co, Texas, Precinct No. 2, San Marcos P.O., p. 215, dwelling 40, family 23, Amanda image, ( ), citing NARA M593, roll 1590.
[5] 1860 U.S. census, Rankin Co, Mississippi, Brandon, p 74, household 482, fam 501, BW Jones, digital images,  ( National Archives and Records Administration, M653, roll 590.
[6] 1850 U.S. census, Rankin Co, Mississippi, p 237b, household 480, fam 480, Benj W Jones, digital image,  (, citing National Archives and Records Administration, M432, roll 380.
[7] 1840 U.S. census, Rankin Co, Mississippi, p 191, Thomas Haley, digital image, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration, M704.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.