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.