Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 is coming

I can't believe 2013 is almost over.  The years seem to get shorter and shorter.  I made some wonderful additions to my family tree this year.  I made connections with a second cousin that I had not talked to in over 40 years.  His input will add even more to my Hamilton tree.  Another amazing find was a friend from my early off road racing days.  I have yet to talk to him but just knowing that he is well is enough until we do talk.  This is another 35 plus year connection.  I anticipate a positive year ahead and pray that all of my friends and family join me in celebration of 2014.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

SEMA coming to Las Vegas

I am looking forward to reporting on the new products and cool cars coming up in a couple of weeks.  Small clips here but full reports on Las Vegas Motorsports News.  Http://

Friday, October 25, 2013


Had a chance to start a new tree for some friends yesterday.  Starting with the 1940 census was fun and very productive in just a few ( 30 ) minutes.  Unlike the brick walls of the current family tree.  An example?  I found n
My friends parents and after hours of searching and page by page, line by line in sheets where they should be, I have yet to find my own parents.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I was watching the GRC global rally cross and had a thought!

An off shoot of the x-games rally cross which provides a stadium course that simulates the terrain of the worlds rally courses.  Does this idea sound familiar ?  Mickey Thompson did the same thing back in the 70's.  First in the Santa Ana river bed near Van Buren Blvd..  He then moved the races to the Riverside Raceway.   These races were a huge success and I believe they were the last actual spectator race at the closed track.  While doing these races Mickey was developing the stadium style races which premiered at the Los Angeles Coliseum. 

Today, Robby Gordon is promoting stadium races for off road trucks and buggies.  

Ascot Speedway in Gardena, CA also had weekly off road races during the '70s.  Internet searches for these subjects will provide you with loads of stories, pictures, and videos if you want to learn more.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where have you been?

I have no excuses for my lack of posting.  It's not like I have much else to do for a few minutes every two or three days.  So this one is just a note to say that I am back and hope to hit the keyboard more often than ever in the coming weeks.

Check out this little fella I found in my back yard.  A desert Tortoise.  I have not seen him after letting him down off the block wall.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

So today is Father's Day.  A day that always brings forth both happy and sad feelings.  Sad for the loss of loved ones and happiness for all your dad has done to shape who you are today.  For those of us who grew up in the 40's and 50's our fathers were very much like the famous fathers of the television sitcoms.  The bread winners who came home to dinner with the whole family at the dinner table.  Dad's who had survived the depression of the 30's and WWII in the 40's.  Dad's who had a job that had a future and the hope of something better for their kids.  My father provided all of this plus a strict hand in his discipline for misbehavior.  A guy that worked hard and sacrificed to provide the best that the time could offer. 

The house that Dad built and the pine tree planted at the beginning of construction are seen in this photo taken at Christmas with Joe Kerr, Dorothy Kerr and sons Jerry and Terry with their new red wagons.  This was always a favorite gift from my Dad.  He loved giving wagons to kids for presents and cast iron skillets to newly weds.  Oh how that neighborhood changed over the years.

For me, I really appreciated the major sacrifices he would make to provide vacations that we have never forgotten.   From Jeep runs over a weekend, or holiday trips to the Salton Sea, or the 52 day cross country trip, we always had interesting and educational experiences..  Not sure how much of a "vacation" they were for him,  Often, he would work extra jobs prior to the trip to earn enough money so we could go.  If that failed, he would borrow from the bank just for the trip and then work extra to pay off the loan.  This was his way of making sure that we had the opportunity to see all we could about our great country.

One of my favorite Dad moments was this one in 1969 when Dad brought his 14 month old grandson Jason his little red wagon. Jason's bib overalls and Dad's playful look always brings a smile to my face. 

Dad, I hope these photos and our memories of these times brings a smile to your face too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let's go to Iowa

Interweb searches for my maternal relatives around the time of the Civil War seem to focus on Iowa.  In particular, Marshall County Iowa.

My great grandmother Lura Weatherly Nye was born there in 1874.  Her grand father is John Calvin Weatherly.  Pictured here around 1895.

John is listed as a resident of Liscomb Township in a book titled "The History of Marshall County Iowa.  His brothers George and Timothy are also listed.  All three are listed as farmers, but Timothy seems to have a more prominent status in the community.  He has a biography listing rather than a single line.  Maybe he married into a more political family?

In 1851 John married Mary Magdalene Fulk in Owen County Indiana.  By 1855 they were established in Marshall County Iowa. 

I have yet to find documentation that John served in the Civil War.  His brother Timothy's biography shows him as serving in an Iowa militia. 

It is always nice to find little bits of information that support your personal ideals.  Like your 3rd great grandfather was a Republican, a successful farmer (considered to be rich by his peers), and a member of the Liscomb Christian church.  Today he would be branded a Christian Conservative Rich Republican enemy of the progressive government.    Way to go Grandpa John C.

He and Mary had a total of 9 children.  5 boys and 4 girls.  There oldest son is my 2nd great grandfather James W Weatherly.  John died in 1906 at the age of 75.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

God Bless the United States of America.  Lord, today more than ever our country needs your blessing as we fight to promote your name even at home.  You inspired our founding fathers and many generations that followed but our leaders have lost their way in the name of political correctness and godless teachings.  Please help them to see the truth through your name.  Amen

As we honor those who have served our great nation, let us not forget that we must continue the fight against terrorism at home and abroad.

Previously I posted two men from our family who represented the "greatest generation" to us.  Now I post photos of others that fought the fight for freedom.

 This Marine is my Dad's oldest brother, Cecil Kerr.  Picture taken around 1923.
 My Uncle-in-law Carroll Reish who enlisted in the Army on September 28, 1942.

This picture was taken in September 1944 and represents the Hamilton military family at the time. L to R is my maternal grandfather and WWI Navy veteran, William Hamilton.  The tall fellow in the back is Richard Kimball, US Army and husband to my mother's sister Irene.  The Navy got both of the Hamilton boys.  Pictured is William Hamilton, Jr. and still in training was his brother Harold.  The other Army pfc is my dad Joe Kerr married to Dorothy Hamilton. 

This is Van Reish, my brother-in-law.  Photo taken in 1964.  He served most of his time guarding our gold at Fort Knox.

My thoughts and prayers are given out to those now serving and the difficult task they endure everyday.  God bless every one of them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Indy 500 and Coke a Cola 600 Auto races - The day before Memorial Day

This weekend we honor those who have served in our countries military.  Those serving today, those that served yesterday, and those that gave a part or all of themselves so I can become a couch potato on Sunday while watching cars run around on my TV screen.  
So today I wish to say thank you to those of you who have served and to your families for the sacrifices they endured while you served. 

1943 - Joe Kerr, Camp Hahn, California
I am fortunate to have two men in my family who served in WWII and continue to amaze me with their stories.  1st a call to my father, Joe Kerr (94 yrs old) who served in the Army and was based at Camp Hahn in Riverside County California.  It is gone today, but was located to the west of what is the remains of March Air Force Base.  Dad spent most of his time driving trucks and taking various Generals out into the desert training grounds and camps.  Obviously this influenced his love of the desert and joy in exploring it's depths.  The base was one of several POW camps for Germans.  He has told me about my mother bringing me to the base for a visit when I was just a few weeks old and that the prisoners were very pleased to see a woman and infant that gave them some memories of their loved ones.  Thanks Dad for serving and for your life teachings to your four boys.

31 year old - Major Dave Lower
Next may I present  Major Dave Lower who served in both WWII and the Korean War.  Dave is my uncle-in-law and at 94 continues to provide many stories about his service.  He is very active with many of his fellow servicemen an enjoys keeping his friends and family up to date on their activities.
This is part of his story about his arrival at radio operator school.  "When I arrived at Scott Field, Illinois radio operator school, a S/Sgt. and a Corporal had charge of Barracks #248 where I lived (stayed is a more proper term.). They had a soft job since after they got us up in the morning and got us off to school, they loafed all day in the service Club playing ping pong and shooting pool, With a shortage of manpower in the Air Corps right after Pearl Harbor these experienced men were sent to more important assignments and students governed themselves."  

Thank you Dave for your many years of service and for your friendship over the past 45 plus years.  No doubt you could still beat me at ping pong too!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lets go back to 1794 and the Samuel Lamb household

My 4th maternal great grandfather is Enoch Lamb.  Born in Groton Connecticut on July 17, 1794 to Samuel Lamb and Tabitha Wightman Lamb.  Our country is less than 20 years old and Enoch is born to grow with it.  The Louisiana Purchase and Louis and Clark explorations would soon open a whole new world for young Enoch.  As a young boy he worked in his father's business as an Apprentice Cooper.  He would continue this work for the remainder of his life.  What is a 'Cooper'?   I had to Google "Cooper" and I copied this from Wikipedia: "Traditionally, a cooper is someone who makes wooden staved vessels of a conical form, of greater length than breadth, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads. Examples of a cooper's work include but are not limited to casks, tubs, buckets, barrels, butter churns, and hogsheads."

In 1818 he married Priscilla Avery.  20 years later they and their 6 children are in Circleville Ohio.  In 1838 Enoch and Priscilla were among the hand full of residents who established the First Baptist Church in Circleville.  Like Enoch, his sons continued the family business as Coopers.  Enoch died in Jun 1851 and was laid to rest in the First Baptist Church cemetery.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Avery's of New London and Groton, Connecticut

My research has connected my great grandmother Lura Nye to Christopher Avery of Devon, England.  It was Christopher and his wife Johanna (or Joanna) who bore their son Christopher Avery who immigrated to the colonies some time around 1631. His son James was 11 years old at the time.  In 1643 James married Joanna Greenslade in Massachusetts. Their son James was the first to settle in Groton, Connecticut where the Avery name would remain for generations.

My quest is to document their movements and daily lives.  If anyone has research material and documentation on families in New London and Groton, CT I would appreciate the source information or copies of documentation for Avery, Lamb, and Wightman.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day - 2013

The past few days I have tried to share some stories about the women of my family who have in some way influenced my life.  They have all been part of my blood.  But, like many of you, there have been other women (read: Mothers) who participated in our total development over the years.  One of my high school friends mother who provided a Mr. Hyde to my mother's Dr. Jekyll.  Thus increasing my appreciation for my Mother.  My girlfriends grandmother Gertrude who gave me advice on how to interact with her son.  Allowing me to become that beautiful woman's husband.  Then my wife's mother Ann.  What a grand lady and friend to me from day one. Gone now over 14 years, she is missed every day.
Judy, Jason and Ann - 1983

Today I celebrate Mothers Day with my best friend Judy.  Quick with her beautiful smile and the most thoughtful person I have ever known.  She has me under her spell and I love every minute.  I have tested her resolve through the years and she has always been there to encourage and support.

In a single word, she is 'adventurous'. My partner in life for over 47 years - I Love You Babe!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

California Girl - 1920's Version

1943 - Dorothy Faye Hamilton Kerr
My mother, Dorothy Faye Hamilton, was born August 26, 1920 in Santa Monica, California. The first child of Colorado natives William Hamilton and Faye Nye Hamilton. William was a construction worker specializing in concrete and stone masonry while Faye was the typical, for the times, stay at home wife and mother. Dorothy attended the Christian Science Church with her parents and graduated from the Santa Monica High School in 1938. She loved the beach and ocean and was active in Girls Baseball and Volleyball. During these high school years, summers were spent with her family working at various locations in the agriculture fields of California and Oregon picking everything from Oranges to Hops. She worked in the employee cafeteria kitchens of the Douglas Aircraft Company until marrying Joe Lee Kerr on February 25, 1940.  

The story goes that Dorothy would walk past the gas station where Joe worked.  They said hello a few times and then went on a few dates. This lead to their marriage in 1940. They lived in a rental house at 654 1st Street, Hermosa Beach as Dad now managed a service station on Pacific Coast Highway and North Catalina Ave in Redondo Beach. This would come to an end as he entered the Army as a Private on February 1, 1943. 

Mom and me and Sox (her dog)
By the end of WWII I had been born and a home was being established in Redondo Beach California.  Mom quickly became involved in community activities and eventually lead to being a precinct captain.  Every election brought neighbors to our house as their designated polling place.  Then came Little League baseball.  Her love of sports in general and baseball specifically was
instilled in me and my brothers.  She loved being involved in every aspect of the baseball program.  By now she has 4 boys to watch over and with each year her involvement seemed to double.  All of us learned from her the personal joy and fulfillment of service to others. 

She has been gone from this earth 34 years but never from my heart.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Maternal Grandmother - Faye Irene Nye Hamilton

April 1966 - Faye Hamilton and Larry Kerr
Grandma Hamilton was born in Colorado in 1898.  During her formative years, the Nye family was moving around the Weld and Denver counties looking for work and saving money to get their own farm.  She would live on the farm for only a few years before meeting a Navy cook in training.  Based at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, William Hamilton found himself smitten by Faye Nye and the two were wed on May 25, 1918.  This was a double marriage, as Faye's sister Marie took vows with Elbert Lawson at the same ceremony.

With both husbands in the military preparing to serve in WWI, Faye and Marie moved to Greeley and attended Greeley Teachers College.  They remained in Greeley working as substitute teachers until their husbands returned from the war.  Marie and Elbert remained in Colorado, but William and Faye moved to Santa Monica, California.

An active member of the Christian Science Church, Faye was a loving and caring member of every community where she lived.  I was very fortunate to live only a few houses away from her as I grew up in the late 50's and 60's.  She loved baseball and followed the Dodgers every day.  For as many years as I knew her, she drove a 1938 Willys California.  Right up until her death in 1987 just 10 days after her 89th birthday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Maternal Great Grandmother - Lura Weatherly Nye

I'll start with this photo, taken October 1, 1944 at my great grandmothers home in Santa Monica California,  The baby is me at 17 days old being held by my grandmother Faye Hamilton.  My mother Dorothy Faye Hamilton Kerr is in the middle and our subject for today is on the pictures far left.  She is Lura Weatherly Nye, born in Marshall County Iowa July 26, 1874.

Parents are Iowa farmers James Weatherly and Viola Denbow.  By the time she was 18, she was in Longmont Colorado where she married Oscar Nye in 1893.  Lura was a part time school teacher and housewife.  She and Oscar had 3 girls, Marie, Faye, and Fern.  In 1928 Fern married and family stories have the Nye's loosing the family farm in 1929.  By this time Faye and Fern have settled in the Los Angeles area.  Making a move from Colorado to California a logical choice.  They settled in Santa Monica and Lura took up work as a seamstress plus taking on a few students for home taught piano lessons.

Memories of her are vivid to me as I mentally revisit their modest but tidy home at 1934 22nd Street.  Holidays were spent with her playing carols and the family doing our best to sing along.  I am very happy that I was old enough to know my great grandmother Lura.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My other paternal great grandmother

Yesterday I wrote about grandmother Molly.  Her mother was Elizabeth Nuckols Walters.  Born about 1854 in Kentucky, her father was Bennet Nuckols and mother Ruth Collins .  My Aunt Vivian Lillian Young provided all of the information I have about the Walters and Nuckols families.  Following Elizabeth's marriage to John Walters they had 8 children.  Grandmother Molly was number 7.  Other than the Walters being farmers in the hills of Whitely County Kentucky not much else is documented.  Updates will follow discovery of documentation.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My paternal grandmother Molly

Born Mary Magdalene “Molly” Walters in December 1882, this is my paternal grand mother. At 18 she married Samuel D Williams in 1900. Their only son Everett, was born in 1905. Sam and Molly were neighbors to Joe and Meade Kerr. Sam died in April 1909 and Meade died in May 1909.

Joe and Meade had a daughter and son. Soon after Meade's death, Joe hired Molly to keep house and take care of his two children. His work on the railroad kept him away from home for periods of time.

The family story goes that one Sunday, on the way to church, Joe asked Molly to marry him since she was already taking care of his house and kids.  It turned into a prolific match that lasted until his death in 1945.

Molly was a true hillbilly in the mold portrayed by Granny in the Beverly Hillbillys TV show. She was tough on everyone who might have stayed for any time at the family farm in Scarborough. An earlier post told the story of the farm. One cousin related that if you stayed at the farm, you were expected to work just like her kids. With the first electricity on the farm, Joe bought a washing machine. He returned to the farm one day to find Molly taking a switch to JL because he had taken the washing machine a part and was not having any success getting it put back together. Joe stopped her and his only comment was “that's what boys do”.

Molly was a frequent visitor to our home in California in the years after WWII. I remember as a child, meeting her at the train station in Los Angeles. As she stepped off the train she is holding a 1 pound coffee can full of her tobacco spit. Then the hugs that smelled of long train rides and tobacco.

As tough as she could be, family members respected her for all she had been through in her life. 14 children in 28 years. 6 of them dieing in their first few months. Widowed twice and moved from the family farm prior to WWII. She represents the hearty spirit of the early 20th century women.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mother's Day is coming.

My focus recently has been on my grandfathers and great grandfathers.  With Mothers Day coming on the 12th of May I thought it time to share their stories. 

Today we explore my paternal great grandmother Rausannah Brulla Underwood.  Known within the family as Rausa, she is the daughter of Sally Underwood and an unknown father. There are clues to her father in the works of Edgar M Egner.  Based on interviews with relatives from the Underwood's, Egner's, Carr's, and Kerr's he published his findings in 1973.  The story goes that Rausa's father was a member of a neighboring Carr family.  To date there is no documentation, but the fact that Rausa took her grandfather's surname of Underwood, and was raised by her grand parents seems to add a bit of truth to the family stories.

The same publication has the following marriage information:

Rausannah Brulla (Rausa) Underwood married Joseph Lincoln Karr at the Widow Betty Underwood's house on March 2, 1871.  The wedding was performed by W. G. Sawyers in the presence of Speed Hill and John Egner.

This marriage produced 4 children.  Three of which were living at the time of the 1900 census.  Sarah Jane Karr, Andrew Jesse Karr, and Joseph Lee Karr.  Sarah Jane used the name Carr on her marriage documents and Joseph Lee used Kerr in his work documents. 

Typical of those living in the hills and hollars  of  Whitley County Kentucky the family were farmers.  Tobacco being their main money crop plus other staples such as corn, varieties of vegetables for canning.  Pigs, chickens and the family milk cow sustained them during the hard times following the Civil War.  All indications are that Rausa was this typical farmers wife.  Taking care of her aging mother in the 1880's and then her family following her husbands death in 1891. 

On the 1900 census, she is living as a widow with her 21 year old son Andrew on the family farm.  Neighbors are members of the extended Underwood family and a few of the Egner's and Karr's.  She lived out her life in this close knit family supported environment.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My other maternal Great Grandfather

This is Archibald Hamilton, born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1856.  Archie, as he was known, apprenticed in building trades as a bricklayer.  By 1880 he had come to America and was living with his older brother James in Providence Rhode Island. It did not take long for him to see that his future was here in the states.  He was convinced by his friend and fellow Scotsman Alex Harvey to head west to Denver Colorado.  William Harvey, Alex's brother was already there with hopes to start the W & A Harvey contracting business.  Archie went to work as a stone mason for a rival contractor.  The death of William Harvey in 1890 brought Alex and Archie together to form Hamilton & Harvey Company.  Together they were involved in doing stone work for some of Denver's most well known buildings.  Included were the Brown Palace, Church of Christian Science, and the original city hall.  
Archie married Isabel Scott in 1891 and they had 5 children, including my grandfather William P Hamilton.  One of Williams possessions passed on to me is a 1910 daily calendar used by Archie for appointments and business notes.

Feeling the paper and reading his written words is a unique experience.  It is especially significant because of his entry of an appointment in Phoenix Arizona in late February.  While in Phoenix he became ill and died on March 12, 1910 at the age of 54.  

The men and women of this era have a special place in our family and our countries history.  They are the true builders of the west.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Lesson Learned

My searches in the 1940 Census have been rewarding on many levels, but frustrating on another. I should start with my main search – for my parents. My mother Dorothy Hamilton Kerr and my father who is still living. He is not able to answer the question “Where were you in 1940?” So I will concentrate on the search for my mother.

In my search for her, I have found my grand parents, great grand parents, mom's cousins, her uncle, and every other member of our family who was alive in 1940. The area of search is in Los Angeles County, California. Mom lived in Santa Monica and that is where they met and eventually married on February 25, 1940. Based on their stories and actually showing me where their first home together was located in Hermosa Beach on 1st street, I located my father in the 1940 Voter Registration list and got the house number - 654 1st street. Since dad's name was not coming up in any searches, I decided to do a page by page search of the enumeration district where this house is located. Looking for just the address, to see who was there in April 1940. I could not find the house number. Looking at the last pages of the district, in case they had to go back to the house was also a bust. I have been assured that every page of that district is available for searching. So why the missing addresses of the 600 block of 1st street. Was it just missed?

Mother was not old enough to vote, so she is not on the voter registration list. There is not a specific date on the list, but it would seem to be for the 1940 elections in November. If it was for the primary, then it could be as early as June. That still leaves 3 months of unknown residence. I know that they spent their honeymoon at the San Gorgonio Inn in Banning, California. What I don't know is when. Immediately after marriage? Maybe in April? This is another lessen learned. I have not searched the pages for the Banning census. Writing down all the known information can result in another search area. I can not depend on the spelling of our name to be searched every time. I am sure that dad's hillbilly accent could cause misspelled entries. In all of my searches, I am always aware of a problem with the spelling.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Who was my mother's grandfather - chapter 2?

The Nye Family
Lura Nye, Oscar Nye, Marie Nye
This picture was taken in 1898 at the Stiffler & Killgore photo studio in Longmont, Colorado.  Oscar and his wife Lura with daughter Marie.  At this time, he is working as a day laborer.  Farming and truck driving are his primary income sources.  A second daughter, Faye, is born in October 1898.  Oscar continues to find work in the farming regions around Longmont.

Their third daughter, Fern, is born in 1908 and Oscar is still working towards getting his own farm.  This happens in 1911 when he is granted 160 acres near Olive Branch in Weld County, Colorado.  His life as a farm owner is a success through the 1920's.  His two oldest daughters both marry at the same ceremony in 1918.  Fern will marry in 1928 and the farm will default in 1929 and Oscar moves to Santa Monica, California.  He is now 62 and begins to seek work in construction.  He soon lands a job as a truck driver with the city parks department.  This will be his job until his retirement in 1942.  Oscar W Nye died in his sleep January 3, 1949 at the age of 80.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Here we go again!

I just got started and then I stopped.  Last post on March 30 and today is Saturday April 6th.  Can't say why, but I needed time away from the computer and genealogy this past week.  This time of year has always had more than it's share of . . . . . for lack of a better word . . . . . stress!  Taxes, insurance, anniversary of Mom's death, my wedding anniversary . . . . all in the last week of March and first two weeks of April.

Not much we can do about taxes and insurance and our wedding anniversary plans are set so I will put a little tribute to my mother down for this 34th year since she died.

Dorothy Faye Hamilton was born in 1920 in Santa Monica California.  Raised during the great depression, she had a tough life moving around the western states as her parents sought work wherever they could find it.  Stories of farm labor jobs in Oregon and all through California were a part of my early education when I would complain about my chores.  "Eat everything on your plate" was also a daily ritual.  Going hungry in the 1930's would do that to you.  Mom has left a diary which has daily entries from 1934 through 1938.  I have reluctantly left it unread until now.  I plan to read it and then make plans on the best way to share the contents. 

This life and her marriage to my dad in 1940 and their early life through WWII years shaped her desire for her children to pursue stable jobs with utility companies or a government agency.  Job stability and regular income were the most important thing to her. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Who was my mother's grandfather?

Oscar Nye and 18 mos old Jerry Kerr
Every once in awhile we find a photo like this one, and wonder what was the person in the photo like?  Here we have Oscar William Nye, born in Circleville, Ohio Novermber 27, 1868.  His father William and mother Anna lived in Clear Creek, Ohio in 1880.  In 1893 Oscar, now living in Colorado, married Lura Weatherly.  All of these details give me a path to follow as the Nye family moved west, but they don't tell me much about the man.  It is obvious in the picture that he was a proud man who was content with his life in the home he had established in Santa Monica, California where the picture above was taken in March 1946.

As Oscar moved from Ohio to Iowa, then Colorado and eventually California he worked at many different jobs.  Early on he worked as a laborer on farms where he learned to drive teams of horses.
Like many young men growing up on a farm, he learned to do just about anything from caring for animals to fixing mechanical things.  As he moved westward to Iowa, he began driving large trucks and buses.  Still working at any labor intensive job he could get, he mad his way to Colorado where he met his bride, Lura Weatherly.  They are married in 1893 and Oscar has now turned to factory work making brooms. 

He is in Weld County Colorado, a basic farming area very similar to the part of Ohio were he was raised.  A farm is his goal and that is realized around 1906 when he leases a small farm for his growing family of two girls.  In 1911 he receives a Land Grant for 160 acres.  He is 42 years old and his dream of his own farm is a reality. 

Hard working, and goal oriented, I would say that by this time in his life Oscar Nye was a great example of the American spirit that represented the beginning of the 20th century.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shopping Saturday

Where to begin? My early memories of shopping at Dorr's Market in North Redondo in the 1950's? Typical of the neighborhood grocery store's that popped up following WWII, the owner and his family were the back bone of the staff. No scanners, feed belts, or fancy cash registers, just a simple mechanical cash register and a counter for you to place your purchases. A meat counter where you paid the butcher directly, right over the display case. Today, specialty stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods come the closest to the feel of shopping in the 50's.

My Aunt Lillian who was born on the Kerr Farm in Kerr Hollow Tennessee relates the experience of shopping at Hob Brimers store which was down the road from the farm. She would pick wild berries and take them to Hob and barter for cloth to make her clothes. If the family had an excess of eggs, they would trade eggs for script to use for future purchases. The time period for this shopping was from 1925 to 1942. These country stores had every thing from hard candy to shovels. They were the primary source for staples such as sugar, salt, coffee and canned goods. Farmers raised their fresh veggies, meat, and corn. Local gossip and news was also a staple of these country stores.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A new find

When I first came to this land-
I was not a wealthy man,
Then I got myself a farm-
Called my farm – muscle in my arm;

But the land was sweet and good
and I did what I could.”

and so the old ditty goes -
“got myself a shack, called my shack -break my back;”
“got myself a hen – called my hen – no eggs again;”
“got myself a wife – called my wife – run for your life;”
"got myself a son - called my son - my jobs done;"
"got myself a dog - called my dog - sleeps like a log;"
“but the land was sweet and good; and I did what I could.

This ditty, with origins from a simpler old Pennsylvania Dutch ditty describes with quirky detail what life must have been like in Central Tennessee at the turn of the 20th century.  In 1925 my grandfather Joe Lee Kerr bought two farms that totaled 140 acres.  With 3 main dwellings for living and plenty of out buildings to support their farming needs the family moved from Corbin, KY to this land dissected by Scarboro creek.  The little valley would soon be known as Kerr Hollow.  Located between Bethel Valley to the South and Union Valley to the North it would be home to Joe and Molly Kerr until 1942 when the entire hollow was taken by the Federal government in support of the Manhattan Project.

The main house on the South 40 of the Kerr Farm
During this entire time, Joe was employed by the L&N Railroad and made runs from Clinton, KY to Etowah, TN.  Molly was in charge of the farm and raising the kids.  The last two born in the house pictured here.  Joe would spend his railroad down time at the farm.  He was known locally as a horse trader and would often take off on a two or three day ride to sell a quality farm horse.

Molly ruled the farm with a fierce hand.  She believed in discipline by leather belt or tree switch.  She was know for keeping a revolver in her apron pocket for varmints and vagrants.  She is the grandparent that I have the most knowledge about since I spent a small amount of time with her in my youth.  Her full story will come at another time.

Mean while, there is more about the history of Kerr Hollow at this University of Tennessee site: Kerr Hollow History

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday and it is still daylight

Daylight savings sure messes with the old internal clock. Monday after the time change is the worst Monday of the year - and we are so privileged to get two of them.  I envy folks who live in Arizona.  No time change for them.  No clocks to reset,  no sleepless nights wondering if you will be on time for that early morning appointment,   They say that the time change was so farmers had more daylight for the planting of crops and such.  I think this was dreamed up by city politicians who had no clue as to what farmers go through.  Farm life is a sun up to sun down job no matter what the clock says.  Do you really think a Cow knows what time a clock has on it's face?  No she knows by the sun and daylight where she is supposed to be.  I figure money was the big motivator to changing the time.

Yesterday I talked about my grandfather, Joe Kerr.  He worked for the L & N Railroad.  I wonder how confusing it got for these guys back in the '20s and '30s dealing with the time changes from county to county.  I would assume that they would just operate on standard time all year round?  Any one know?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dad's Dad, My Grandfather Joe

Joe Lee "Poppie" Kerr was born July 25, 1881 in Williamsburg, Kentucky.  At the age of 18 he married Almeada "Meade" Adkins also 18 years old.  How they met was told to me by my Uncle Joe Edward.  Poppie was working in a field with a friend when Meade and her friend rode up and let their horses drink in the creek.  Meade dropped the horses reins and asked Poppie to hand her the reins.  Poppie reached down and held the rein and said he would hand them to her if she would marry him.  They were married two weeks later in Clinton, Kentucky.  Meade died in May of 1909.  The recently widowed Mary "Mollie" Williams was hired as a housekeeper and nanny for Poppie and Meade's 2 children.  Care of Mollie's son Ernest was also included in the arrangement.  Again the practical yet impulsive Poppie is on his way to church with 3 children and their nanny when he asked Mollie to marry him since she was already taking care of his house and kids.  It turned into a prolific match (an additional 10 children) that lasted until his death in 1945.  This picture is Poppie in 1939 next to his Plymouth Business Coupe,

Another story that gives you some insight into what kind of man my Grandfather was is this one, that I transcribed from a story printed in the L & N Railroad Employees Magazine, December 1938.

On August 9, 1900, Joe Lee Kerr walked a little matter of fifteen miles to work a half-day on the Knoxville Division section gang.  It took Joe Lee five hours to walk this distance and report for work.  Mr. Kerr says this initial working day for the L & N Railroad was a real letter day for him, even though for a half day's work he received only fifty cents.  By the end of August he had out an even sixteen dollars - three five dollar gold pieces and one in silver.  From the back end of the old pay car Mr. Kerr was handed this gleaming treasure, and although his pay-days since have been considerably larger, this was the biggest payday eh ever received.  Mr. Kerr has recently rounded out 38 years of service with Old Reliable.  In all the time he has not been injured enough to lay off a day nor has he caused any other employee to be injured.  A cinder in his eye has been the extenet of his injuries.  The accompany picture was taken on August 15, 1938.  Mr. Kerr is employed today as a brakeman on the K & A Division from Etowah to Corbin.  He has a farm near Edgewater, Ten. which he plans to live on when he retires from service.  His biggest thrill and hobby is swapping horses.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Here we are in 1940 again!

So I am playing Texas Holdem poker at my favorite casino yesterday and a couple of the younger (re: 20 something) players are talking about this picture on their smart phones.  Now you have to know that I am in possession of a cell phone, one that is about 3 generations away from the Motorola "brick" and I can see the time and make phone calls - no internet access, no music, yep it is just a phone.  Anyway, they can't figure out what the item in the picture is or does.  So the guy sitting next to me shows me a picture of an oil can piercing spout. I tried to explain that prior to plastic bottles, oil came in sealed paper cans that you pierced the metal top with this thing and you could then pour the oil into your engine.  Before paper the cans were metal, but back in the early days of auto care and clear up into the early 60's you could also find oil in the bulk that was dispensed in glass bottles.  That is when it dawned on me that I had some pictures of my dad working at an old gas station. 

My mom has written "JOE '40" on the top left border.  Dad is touching a gas pump that has gas priced at 15 and a half  cents per gallon.  He is carrying another out dated item.  A battery service tool.  Filled with distilled water and a pipette (like a turkey baster) for putting the water into the battery.  Yes, car batteries needed constant care up until the sealed batteries came along in the 1980's.  Behind dad and between the gas pumps, are the bulk oil containers with their hand cranks for pumping the oil and kerosene into the customers container or a glass bottle for servicing the customers oil needs.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with my genealogy search.  Well, this service station is located on Pacific Coast Highway, near the city limits of Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.  Just a few blocks away from the 1st Street rental my parents had following their Feb 1940 marriage.  This is just another piece of the puzzling question.  Why neither of my parents are counted in the 1940 census?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today's Breakthrough!!

Well, actually it was yesterday but who is really keeping track.  Internet searching is just so much fun.  Hours of going line by line through hundreds of pages of the 1940 Census for Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, and La Verne I came up empty handed.  I have yet to find either Joe or Dorothy in the 1940 Census.  I did find Joe on a 1940 Los Angeles County registered voter list with their Hermosa Beach address of 645 1st Street.  A registered Republican???  Growing up he was always a Democrat, so this was interesting to me.

I then went to the Family Search data base and found a copy of their marriage certificate.  This was a document that no one had a copy and then it just popped from the page - - I had their wedding date off by a year.  They were married 25 Feb 1940, not 1941.  The census was taken in April, so they should be listed somewhere as husband and wife. I may have to face the fact that they were missed in the 1940 census.  But with this new information, and the voter registration list I may be able to narrow my search to the Hermosa Beach area.  I remember them telling me that Dad managed the gasoline service station that was located on the triangle at Pacific Coast Highway and Catalina Ave.  Today it is where the large Welcome to King Harbor sign is located along with the artistic sculptures and small park.

I remember seeing photos of this station many years ago, finding one may help to pinpoint a time frame when he was there.  Till then the 1940 Census search continues.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hunting for Mom!

Born 26 Aug 1920 in Los Angeles County, California she would have been 19 yrs old when the 1940 census was taken. Dorothy Hamilton married Joe Kerr 25 Feb 1941. After months of searching I have been unable to locate her or dad in the census. There is a Dorothy listed in a household where she is the niece of the head person, Oscar Cobb. Hi wife, Jessie S Cobb, and her mother Jessie L Snavely. If anyone recognizes the Cobb or Snavely name as part of our ancestors, please let me know.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Colorado Dreaming

March is Womans History Month and this is my favorite historical woman in my family.

She is my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Permelia Lamb.  Born in Circleville, Pickaway, Ohio, USA 24 Aug 1837.  On 14 Feb 1856 she married James Denbow and moved to Iowa.  He died in 1865 from injuries sustained  in the civil war.  Now a widow with their only daughter Viola, Mary remained in  Iowa and eventually married James Eakins in 1875. This photo is the two of them in Longmont, Colorado.  Taken between 1891, when they moved to Colorado, and 1899 when Mary once again became a widow.
Mary Lamb is one of my favorite female family members.  She comes from the Lambs of Groton, Connecticut and for me has that hearty spirit of the post civil war western expansionist.

Jerry Kerr

In the beginning!

Starting a blog about Genealogy is a little scary.  So many blogs, and so many with experience way beyond my own.  In spite of this, I plan on posting my research methods and listen to my peers as they comment.  Keeping the conversations civil, like friends sitting around a warming Campfire!

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