Jan-Feb 2009

Becoming a Citizen

In doing research over the years I have been aware that Naturalization documents can give a good amount of personal information about an immigrant. Though I have tried to access such documents, I had never found any pertinent to the Douglass family. I knew that the reasons for difficulty in finding them were several. The naturalization process occurred over a period of years, the person having first to register a Letter of Intent to become a citizen and then wait a period of time before completing the process. In the interim, they may have moved, the process for naturalization may have changed, the court that did the processing changed, or any number of difficulties could have made the documents not readily available. The letter of intent may have been filed in one court, district or circuit, in one State and the final Naturalization documents filed in a different court in another State.

This is what happened in the case of William Somerset Douglass. Here is a transcript of his Naturalization documents. The italicized words are those that he (or the clerk) filled in the blanks on the documents.

Declaration of Intention

State of South Dakota, Minnehaha County, Circuit Court

I, William Somerset Douglass, age 32 yrs, occupation salesman, do declare upon oath that my person description is: color white, complexion dark, height 6 ft — in, weight 185 pounds, hair brown, eyes blue, other distinctive marks none. I was born in Port Elgin, Canada on the 10 day of March, anno Domini 1879. I now reside at Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, S.D. I emigrated to the United States of America from Sarnia, Canada on the Grand Trunk Railway; my last foreign residence was Port Elgin, Canada. It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and particularly to George II, King of Great Britain and Ireland of whom I am now a subject. I arrived at the port of Port Huron in the state of Michigan on or about the 3 day of October 1896. I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside there. So help me God.

Signed William Somerset Douglass, 29 April 1911.


Petition for Naturalization, US District Court, Eastern District of Washington

(US Department of Labor/Naturalization Service letterhead)

The petition of William Somerset Douglass, respectfully filed showeth:

First: My place of residence is: 403 East D St., North Yakima, Wash.

Second: My occupation is Merchant

Third: I was born on the 10 day of March, anno Domini 1879 at Port Elgin, Canada

Fourth: I emigrated to the United States from Port Elgin, Canada, on or about the 2 day of October, anno Domini 1896, and arrived in the United States at the port of Port Huron, Mich. on the 3 day of October anno Domini 1896, on the vessel Grand Trunk R.R.

Fifth: I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on the 29 day of March, anno Domini 1911 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the Circuit Court of Minnehaha County.

Sixth: I am ….married. My wife’s name is Margaret. She was born in Emmitsburg, Iowa, and now resides at North Yakima, Wash.

Seventh: I am not a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy. I am attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and it is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty and particularly to George II, King of Great Britain and Ireland, to whom at this time I am a subject and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States.

Eighth: I am able to speak the English language.

Ninth: I have resided continuously in the United States of America for a term of five years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 3 day of October, 1896 and in the state of Washington, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 5 day of January, anno Domini 1913, being a residence within this state of at least one year next preceding the date of this petition.

Signed: William Somerset Douglass

Declaration of Intention ……. filed 28 day December, 1917

Note to Clerk of Court: If petitioner arrived in United States on or before June 29, 1906, strike out the words reading “and certificate of arrival No. ….from Department of Labor.


This was followed by Affidavits of Petitioner and 2 Witnesses

Charles H. Douglass, Merchant, and Fred T. Moore, Merchant, both residing North Yakima, Wash. swore that William Somerset Douglass was known by them to be who he said he was, that he had lived in the US continuously since the 31 January 1912 and in the state of Washington since 5 January 1913 and that they had personal knowledge that the petitioner was a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and in every way qualified in his decision, to be admitted a citizen of the United States.

Both signed and the affidavit was recorded by the court clerk. 28 December 1917


Some of the information about William Somerset Douglass I had teased out on my visit to Yakima, WA, several years ago. While I knew that his brother Charles had preceded him to Yakima, I did not know when William came to the States. Charles had emigrated from Canada to Chicago where he married in 1903 and then moved to Yakima with his father-in-law and family. I now know that William emigrated in 1896 at Detroit, wended his way west, probably by railroad to Emmitsburg, Iowa, where he married Margaret McCormack in 1906, then westward again to Sioux Falls, SD, where he registered his letter of intent to become a citizen in 1911. The earliest I found William in Yakima was in 1913 as a VP in the mercantile business that his brother Charles and partners had there. I suspect that he bought out the interest of a retiring partner. It was while he was in Yakima that he finished the Naturalization process. His brother and Fred T. Moore, who vouched for him on the naturalization affidavits, were his partners in the Emporium Department Store in Yakima.

So I know a little more about William Somerset Douglass now that offers avenues for exploration. He was likely a merchant or connected to the mercantile business in Sioux Falls too. A telling bit of info regarding the status of women – the Naturalization petition wanted to know nothing about William’s wife except her first name and where she was born, and oh, yes, was she living with him. Most immigrant women received their naturalization through their husband’s if they had any at all.

For my former musings about William and his brother, Charles, see my July 2005 Digest Excerpt in the Archives.

(William’s lineage: William S.-5, William-4, Robert-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Fall 2008

Genealogy on a Road Trip

I had the opportunity to travel west by car with my Aunt Jean in October. As soon as I consulted the map and realized we would be going through Salina, Kansas, I determined to visit my friends in Concordia, Cloud County. I spent a week there about five years ago when I was doing research for my book, Only a Week Away, and had kept up correspondence with several kinfolk that I met when I was there.

It was a great time for me. I arranged with Marilyn Jackson, genealogy researcher who had started me on my search for the descendants of Lydia Douglass Sibbald in Kansas, to speak to the Genealogical Society since they were to meet while I was in town. I revisited the cemetery, toured the local history museum, and visited friends. Marilyn treated my aunt and I to a thoroughly enjoyable lunch at the Huckleberry Tea Room. Concordia will always have a fond place in my heart, not the least because some of my kin have roots there.

Our next stop, Denver, allowed me the opportunity to meet face-to-face Teresa Creech, a long time fellow researcher of the Alexander branch of the family. She showed me one of those old ornately-carved Bibles, in which on the Family Record sheet was recorded, “Leander D. Hulsaver died October 30, 1890.” I had wanted documentation of the date hoping that I could find a clue to other information about his short life. Leander was the youngest of the four Hulsaver children who lived on the Erie Canal barge until their parents died.

At the time that his mother died he would have been only 7 years old and perhaps went to live with his maternal grandparents, Leander and Ann Douglass in Chaumont, Jefferson County, NY. By the time he was 12 he was working for Albert Sargent in the Chaumont area. He died at age 22.

The Bible itself was a clue. It was inscribed to Mr. and Mrs. Eben Fisher from Mr. and Mrs. Frank Adams. The Eben Fishers were Frank Adams’ mother and stepfather. They married in 1878. Frank and Kate Hulsaver married in 1883, and Leander died in 1890. Since his death is inscribed in ink in the same flowing penmanship as other names and dates in the Bible, one can surmise that his death was known to the family at the time. That does not necessarily mean it happened in the Chaumont area, though, as I have found no death or cemetery record in Jefferson County for him. He could have gone to visit his paternal relatives near Canajoharie. Or even worked on the Erie Canal on one of their barges. Because of the itinerant nature of their life style it is difficult to find information about the Erie Canal workers and families.

(In Only a Week Away, in the chapter about the Erie Canal, Leander is the young child referred to as Lee, whom Kate watches for her mother.)

In Phoenix, I took the opportunity to look up the gravesites of the Catharine Douglass Harrison descendants who gradually migrated south from Hamilton, Ontario to Illinois to Arizona. Finding the Double Butte cemetery was not difficult at all compared to trying to find the cemetery office (not on site) for directions to the gravesites. Finally I appealed for help at the Phoenix library and a woman looked up the cemetery website and copied off the plot info for me.

Then it was back again to the cemetery, find the map located on a pole that showed the sections and fairly quickly I found the large monument for Kirkby Townsend and his wife Ida Ethalon Townsend. The year of her death had not been carved on the monument and the middle name was interesting. I have seen it spelled several other ways but since she obviously bought the monument one would hope she spelled it the way she chose. Since their only son was adopted and lived in California, he may not have even thought about updating the monument.

Then I started canvassing the section that had the Roseveare graves. When I found their plot I was happily surprised to find the gravestone for Elizabeth Harrison included, along with stones for Joseph and Olivia Roseveare and George and Burl Roseveare (March 2007 issue). Elizabeth, Olivia’s mother, died in 1914 and Joseph died in 1913, shortly after the families moved to Phoenix. I might have guessed she would be buried in their plot since the Townsend plot may not have been purchased until much later. (Olivia Roseveare and Ida Townsend were sisters.)

So even though we were on a trip to visit friends and relatives, I managed to get in some genealogy research along the way.

On the way home we stopped near Sanger, Texas, specifically so I could visit Peg Peyton in the Care Inn where she lives. Her daughter, Bev, was nice enough to “talk me in” to the location (on my cell phone) as it was after dark when I went there. Peg was one of my most valuable informants when I started researching the Robert branch and it was a distinct pleasure to meet her finally.


I have been studying how to get my family information up onto the Rootsweb website. They have provisions for putting up only the information you want to put up and you can tailor it according to your preferences. Their program automatically deletes all information about persons who are living. You can take a look at rootsweb.com if you are interested to see what my information might look like there. Click on Family Trees (ignore the Footnote search engine) and then go down to “over 480 million names” and type in any (deceased) family member you wish, just to see how the names come up and what info is there for them. Let me know what you think of the site. As I write this I do not have our family on “rootsweb” yet but will soon. The site meets my criteria for sharing information about ancestors and yet protects privacy of individuals.

This is the last Digest for 2008. The pace and scope of my genealogy research has dropped off significantly. I will never completely lose interest – there will always be those “hard nuts” to crack – but I do not expect to have the quantity of information to share with you going forward as I have had in the past. Nonetheless I will still share interesting stories as they come up and you can use the Search in the menu bar on my website to look up articles of interest. Or simply type in a person’s name in Google. The search engines are doing a great job of bringing people to my website when they are searching on name only or name and location.

I am thinking about compiling all of my past Digests into book format for those who want a copy. Let me know if you would be interested in something of that nature.

August 2008

Obits and Pieces

The returns from my request for obituaries of Wilfred Douglass and his wife, Josephine, in Omaha were disappointing. (Feb. 2008 issue) They gave only the bare minimum of information. In Josephine’s case it did not give her parents’ names and I have been unable to find her in the census prior to her marriage to Wilfred. The only recourse now if I want to know about her parents would be to request and pay for a death certificate. Wilfred’s obituary did tell me where their sons were living at the time he died in 1933: Robert was in Chicago and Jack in Lansing, Michigan.

(Lineage: Wilfred-5, John G.-4, Robert-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Similarly the obituary for Robert L. Bacon from Tacoma, Washington, was not very enlightening either. It did give the names of his children, but not the names of his parents or of the wife he divorced, so I am still not absolutely sure he is the grandson of Nancy Cramer Bacon. The strongest clue might be that he named one son Ralph, which was Nancy’s son’s name. (Sept. 2006 issue)

(Lineage: Ralph-5, Nancy Bacon-4, Mary Ann Cramer-3, John2-, Alexander Douglass-1)

It is always more elucidating and far more interesting to have a face-to-face interview with a member of the family. In July, on the way back from a family reunion, I stopped to see Renee in Toledo. For over an hour she patiently gave me names, birthdates and bits of the Hackstedde family history (Jan. 2007 issue). She even called her mother and sister on the phone to get information for me.

(Lineage: Harold-6, Caroline Hackstedde-5, Sarah Moore-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

In February I was excited to talk to Rev. Earl Ridgeway’s (June 2006 issue) granddaughter, Erma Getman Teelin, on the telephone. At 89, this lady was sharp as a tack. In May I sent her papers with questions about dates and information I was looking for and told her I would call her in two weeks. When I called back there was no answer. After trying for several days, I decided she must have gone to visit one of her children. Weeks went by and I tried sporadically. Then one day I tried and the phone sounded funny. I began to wonder. I checked the Social Security Death Index and discovered Erma had died in July. I am so grateful for the information she gave me over the phone. But best of all was catching a glimpse of her strong spirit and lively mind. I wish I had met her.

(Lineage: Erma-8, Hazel Getman-7, Earl-6, Emma Ridgeway-5, Leander-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Sometimes one gets bits of information from unusual sources. Surfing on the internet for information about the Crooks family, (Apr-May 2006) I got a “hit” for Douglass Crooks in a University of Pennsylvania catalogue. It recorded that in 1903-04 Douglass Crooks ’99 was Vice President of the Dental Alumni Society. From this one would assume that he graduated from the U. of PA School of Dental Medicine in 1899. Following up on that, a November 1904 Psi Omega dental fraternity mentioned that C.Douglass Crooks received many remarks of commendation for a paper he presented to their monthly meeting. I already knew that he had a dentistry office in Philadelphia for over 30 years. He married about 1902 but I know of no children and very little else about this man. He signed his WWI draft registration “C. Douglass Crooks.” The C. stands for Carl, but it appears he always used Douglass.

(Lineage: Douglass-6, Felicia Crooks-5, Orlando-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

With the price of gas, it is becoming more beneficial to spend the equivalent of one third tank of gas and ask someone else to do some sleuthing for you. I sent to Lambton County Genealogical society for information on Earl Harrison who, according to Arnott Harrison’s family history, had lived in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada and had several children. The volunteer at the society was able to get me birth records and obituaries for Earl and his wife. In Earl’s obituary, his sister Merna was listed as Mrs. Rey Landon of Ft. Worth, TX. (Was Rey a typo? I wondered.) I did not find Rey in the Social Security Death Index, but there is a Texas Death Index online and I found him there (Warren Rey Landon, Jr.). It took me a while to find Merna because I was using my estimated birth date and I was off by five years. I eventually found her on the SSDI also, and in the Texas Births online I found the birth of the one daughter that Arnott reported. To see the updated Harrison tree, click here.

It is still more fun and satisfying to visit with people about their families and I always look forward to opportunities to do that.


They say things come in threes and if that is so, I hope that we will not lose more of our grand family for a long while as we have lost three in as many months.

Shirley Flansburg Daniels, 20 June 2008 Waverly, Pennsylvania

(Lineage: Shirley-8, Ava Flansburg-7, Grace Patrick-6, Delia McAfee-5, J.Chester-4, James-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Erma Getman Teelin, 2 Jul 2008, Baraboo, Sauk Co, Michigan

(Lineage: Erma-8, Hazel Getman-7, Earl-6, Emma Ridgeway-5, Leander-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Raphael Luther Bellinger, 12 Aug 2008, Watertown, Jefferson Co, New York

(Lineage: Raphael-7, Delia Bellinger-6, J.Hubert-5, J.Chester-4, James-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Ray Bellinger has been a friend from my childhood when my family used to visit their family on the farm. Later, when I was first married, I remember him coming to our house to help us choose life insurance for our young family. He was soft-spoken, kind, and always had a wonderful smile on his face. My father had utmost respect for him, saying he was a true gentleman and best of all, he was related to us! We were fortunate to know him. Our prayers for comfort go out to his family, as it does to the families of Shirley and Erma also.


July 2008

Missionaries to Congo, Africa

One of the intriguing items in Arnott Harrison’s Harrison History was his cryptic notation after Emma Harrison’s name “Mrs. Broome P. Smith, Missionary at Congo, Africa deceased no children.”

Now I would not have had a clue where to begin looking for more information if it had not been for my visit to Dundas last month and coming across that small news article in the Dundas Star about Broome P. Smith giving a talk about his work in the Congo.

I wondered if they married in Canada and went to the Congo together, or if she had been a single missionary to Congo and they had married there.

I was able to access the 1891 census in Hamilton, Ontario, and there included in Thomas D. Harrison’s family was Emma, 31, single. At least that answered one question. Smith had been on the mission field for many years and was in Dundas at his brother-in-law’s in 1899, so there was a good chance that they married in Canada. Perhaps Emma wrote to Broome on the mission field; she could have met him before he left for the Congo.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance website on the internet was set up well and easy to use. I sent an email and asked if their archives might have information on a Broome P. Smith who had come home from the Congo mission field in 1899. From their website I had already learned that the first C&MA missionaries had gone out not under the C&MA but under a couple of smaller missionary groups which became Christian and Missionary Alliance about 1885. In a short time I got an email telling me they had researched and found a few notes regarding Broome Smith and his wife, but more importantly they gave me the web addresses for their archived annual reports and magazine going back to 1885. These could be searched by every word.

I went to the library to use their computer because their’s is much faster than mine and I found several significant items. By the time I had finished my sleuthing, I knew that Emma had not gone out as a single missionary but had gone out in 1899 as Mrs. Broome Smith, a new missionary.

Now comes an interesting series of events. There was a fairly long article in the C&MA magazine about Broome Smith arriving in California from the Congo on July 31, 1898 and then spending four months talking about his missionary work to the churches in California. He spoke 150 times in the four months. He left there Dec. 5th, “for the east and England” hoping to return to the Congo by April 1st.

In January 1899, when he spoke in Dundas, he was married. That was a whirlwind courtship if he left California in December and was married in January. Of course, we do not know if Emma and Broome knew each other and had planned a wedding but Dundas was obviously “east” and I figured out why “England” before he returned to the Congo. He was born in England and likely his parents still lived there. So he married Emma, they went to England to see his folks and then to the Congo, all between July 31, 1898 and April 1, 1899.

Then, in The Christian and Missionary Alliance magazine, Dec. 30, 1899:

“Death on the Mission Field

We regret to learn that Mrs. Broome Smith, of our Congo Mission, recently married and sent out to this field, died from fever on the Congo on the twenty-fourth of October. Our prayerful sympathy is with our dear brother in his severe bereavement after so short and happy a union in the service of their common Lord.”

We do not know if he brought Emma’s body back to Canada. I suspect she is buried in Africa. There would not have been money to bring her back. The cryptic Congo ledger record that the archivist found for me said simply “Broome left the field Dec. 12, 1899.”

I found no further record of him in the C&MA archives. He either left missionary work or he went to work for a different mission. All comments about Broome’s dedication and passion for the work leads one to suspect he continued somewhere. There was also this comment in the 1899-1900 Annual Report from Dr. Cramer, superintendent of Congo mission:

“The mission sustained a severe loss during the year in the death of Mrs. Broome P. Smith, of whose character and work the brethren on the field speak in the highest terms.”

(Lineage: Emma-5, Thomas D.-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

In the annual reports of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, there were indications that some missionaries were unhappy with their lot at their station, but that did not appear to be the case in the Congo mission where Dr. Reid had nothing but praise for his work and his people and they for him. Some people questioned the C&MA for not providing financial reports of where the money went and they tried to supply reports accordingly. The Congo mission received more than the Sudan mission, their only two missions in Africa, but the Congo mission must have been much larger, at one time having 40 missionaries there, scattered among seven stations on the north bank of the Congo River. Missionaries did not receive money directly from C&MA. Money was sent to the Superintendent of the mission who allocated it pro rata to various members of the mission. It must have been a very hard life.

During the years 1895 – 1916 things in Congo were very bad. King Leopold of Belgium had claimed the area as his personal domain and was stripping the country of its natural resources. While he never visited Congo himself, he maintained an armed force there who were rewarded for their success in forcing the natives to work extracting rubber. The army was brutal and there have been calls recently that the period during which the population was greatly diminished by murder and dreadful working conditions should be considered genocide. By the time the truth came out to the world, the competition by other rubber companies who could produce rubber cheaper, and the world demand for King Leopold to be accountable for his actions, stopped the devastation as no longer worth the effort.

During this time missionaries were allowed in by suffrage only; in other words keep your mouth shut about what goes on or you will be kicked out of the country. Nothing in the annual reports of the C&MA spoke to the horrible situation in the country except occasionally an allusion to “troubled times” or “we thought our mission was completely lost.” Even in these trying conditions or perhaps because of them, the missionaries were able to win converts. I explored enough reports to learn that the Congo mission did not shut down at the time of Broome Smith’s departure, but it was severely hurt for lack of workers and had to withdraw from some of its outlying areas.

If you would like to explore the Christian and Missionary Alliance archives for yourself, here are the websites I looked at: http://www.cmalliance.org/whoweare/archives/alifepdf.jsp


May-June 2008

The Harrisons of Dundas, Ontario

In the first two weeks of June I traveled to New York State and to Canada, mixing my visits to friends and relatives with my genealogical research. I had no more luck gleaning information about the Harrisons at the Hamilton, Ontario, Library this time than last. But knowing that Henry Wickliffe Harrison lived in Dundas, just outside of Hamilton and only 2 miles from the dorm at McMaster University where I had stayed the night, I sought out the small library in Dundas and struck gold. All of the old Dundas Star newspapers had been gleaned and any name in the paper was put on an index card, telling which paper one could find it in. I quickly found ten such small items in the index, all on microfilm, and spent a productive several hours looking up the articles in the newspapers. In fact, I got so engrossed in looking at the articles that I clean forgot to get a picture of the Dundas War Memorial which I intended to do.

The family of Henry Wickliffe Harrison lived in Dundas for many years. Click on this link to read an interesting story of how “Wick” Harrison came to settle in Dundas. (By the way, Dundas is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, dun-DAS)

There was mention a couple times in The Dundas Star of Gordon Harrison who was serving in WWI and then an article about his death, including portions of the letter his commanding officer sent to his parents.

Gordon’s younger brother, Raymond, managed to break his hip trying to field a high fly ball and falling down on something hard.

The weddings of both Earl and Raymond Harrison were reported. Interestingly in Earl’s wedding, his sister, Merna, was flower girl and in Raymond’s wedding, 14 years later, she was a bridesmaid. That is useful in guessing her age; I have not found a birth record for her yet.

All of these little tidbits helped me to estimate when “Wick” and his family moved from Dundas, Ontario, to Arizona. I had wondered about that ever since I discovered Wickliffe had given information for the death certificate when his older sister, Ida Townsend, died in Phoenix, AZ. The death certificate said Wickliffe lived in Phoenix, too. And he surely lived near there for some time because in 1936 when Raymond married in Flagstaff, his Aunt Ida Townsend gave a wedding dinner in honor of the couple. Ida died in 1950 and Wick died in 1956. Wickliffe came back to visit friends in Dundas in 1954, a year after his wife died, which was the occasion for the article referenced in the link above. (The story about Wick reminds me of the stories that Hubert Douglass, of Sackets Harbor, would spin whenever a reporter came around to talk about “the early years.”)

Wickliffe was not the only Harrison in Dundas. Remember John Durlin Harrison, Wickliffe’s brother, who moved from Hamilton, Ontario, to Lee County, Illinois, to try his hand at farming and after a few years moved back to Dundas to be a merchant again? Well, his son, Archie, died following or during an operation in Dundas when he was 14. One wonders what kind of operation was required at that young age, but the paper did not tell that. The only other news item about John’s family was the announcement that his oldest daughter, Miss Ida Harrison, had successfully passed the elementary piano examination of Toronto University. Ida was 13 at the time of this note in the paper; she married at age 22. I wonder if she went to college.

For your perusal I am transcribing below some of the articles from the newspaper. If you want to see how they fit into the Douglass family, the Harrisons are part of Catharine Douglass‘ branch; you can check out the relationships in her family tree.

(Lineage: Wickliffe-5, Thomas D.-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

The Dundas Star, July 22, 1897

Mrs. Wyck Harrison is expected home from Pt. Sydney, Muskoka, today having made a pleasant visit among relatives and friends. (Julia Watson Harrison’s sister lived in Pt. Sydney; in fact Julia and Wick married in Pt. Sydney.)

The Dundas Star, Jan. 19, 1899, pg. 5

Mr. Broome P. Smith, a missionary in Central Africa connected with the Christian and Missionary Alliance of New York, who is now in town the guest of his brother-in-law, Mr. W. Harrison, intends delivering a lecture in the Methodist Sunday School building Friday evening, the 20th inst., (tomorrow) The lecture will embrace scenes and incidents during his sixteen years residence among the heathen natives. He will exhibit some of the mementoes secured during the time and altogether the lecture promises to be of a very interesting nature as Mr. Smith is a versatile speaker. There will be a collection in aid of the work.

(Broome Smith married Wick’s oldest sister, Emma. I suspect that at the time of this article, Emma had died, or was sick, which may have precipitated the trip home from Africa. She died before 1900 as her mother reported in the 1900 census that she had born 7 children and 6 were living.)

The Dundas Star, December 5, 1918

Pte. Gordon Harrison Was Killed Instantly

Mr. H.W. Harrison has received the following letter from Lieut. F. G. Dyke, giving particulars of the death of his son, Pte. A.G. Harrison, who was killed in action. Pte. Harrison was first listed as missing after the heavy fighting which took place September 28th to October 1st. He enlisted in the 129th battalion on April 24, 1916, and proceeded overseas after a long stay at Camp Borden. He was transferred to the 118th battalion and on reaching France was again transferred, entering the trenches with the 58th battalion. He was more than ten months in France. Before he enlisted he was employed in the Dundas office of the H. & D. railway and later on the Grand Trunk. Besides his parents, two brothers and a sister survive. The letter follows:

“No doubt you have already been advised of the death of your son, Pte. A.G. Harrison, but I am not sure whether or not you have received any particulars. I was not with him at the time but will tell you what I know about it. He was instantly killed by machine gun fire during the fighting between Sept. 28th and Oct. 1st. From the newspapers you will know where the Canadian Corps was then and may be able to take some slight satisfaction from the fact that it was in a big and very successful show that he met his death, and that it was instantaneous.

As you know he had been batman to Lieut. Martin, and as we were in the same company in the 58th I saw a great deal of your son around company headquarters. In all the time I knew him since the 119th was broken up your son’s conduct and manner of carrying on out here was of the very best. I can remember nothing in connection with him that he would not have cared to have let you know. I will not attempt any formal words of consolation, but will merely express my own very real regret at his loss”.

April 2008

Harrison Cousins

About a year ago I wrote about George Roseveare, a metallurgist who worked at and taught about copper mining. His brother, William, was also a scientist but I did not find as much in the scientific journals about him; his area was chemistry. I did find a death record on the Social Security Death Index for William showing that he died in Lynchburg, VA.

Last month when I was planning my trip to Virginia Beach to visit my Aunt Jean Schroy, I realized that my travels would take me near or through Lynchburg, and that was too good an opportunity not to explore further. I looked up info for the historical library there, checked the internet for Roseveare in Lynchburg and found a 2003 report of a ten mile run, with two Roseveare entrants, possibly brothers, who came in together at the end of the race. They just had to be related; my intuition was telling me so. They were too young to be William’s sons, probably grandsons. I sent a letter to one of the men saying that I would be in Lynchburg and if he was William’s grandson, I would really like to meet him. (I have probably sent off twenty such letters and usually I hear nothing back.) In a few days I received an email from the gentleman’s father saying his son had forwarded my letter to him knowing he would be interested. He would be happy to see me. I was overjoyed.

I met the Roseveares and had a wonderful visit with them. Best of all, they were not surprised at all to learn that they were cousins on the Harrison side of the family. A Roseveare cousin had compiled a huge book about the Roseveares and most exciting for me, they also had a typewritten copy of “Harrison History” by Arnott D. Harrison, that explained volumes. Check out the Harrison family tree and see all the new names I have been able to fill in thanks to Arnott D. Harrison, my third cousin, twice removed (3rd cousin of Ethel Douglass Lee, my grandmother) whom I had not even heard of before. And yes, the “D” in Arnott’s name is for Douglas.

Arnott’s Harrison History explained why I kept running into so many Harrison families when I was doing research in Halton county, Ontario. Catharine Douglass, the youngest of the nine siblings whom I research, married Henry Harrison in Halton county and she died and is buried there as is her husband. But when I tried to figure out which of the many Harrisons in Halton county were related, I could only guess that William Harrison was a brother. Well it turns out that almost all of them were related. Thomas Harrison and his wife, Elizabeth, emigrated from England in 1820. They had six sons, four of whom were born in England, the younger two in Ontario.

Thomas settled in Halton county, Trafalgar township, Lot 12, 1st concession. “At that time,” Arnott wrote, “there were few settlers and but small clearings, so they had their full share of the hardships incident to a new settlement.” In 1824 Thomas died, leaving his wife Elizabeth with a large family, the oldest 17 and the youngest 3 months. Even with her large family, and with only two daughters to help her at home, Elizabeth took on the school teacher’s job when the new school opened in the district and held that position for several years. In the mornings and evenings, she plied her shuttle, weaving for her neighbors, who in return, performed work on her farm. Later she was superintendent of the Sunday School in the Methodist Church. She died in 1867 at age 86, having been a loyal Methodist for nearly sixty years. All six of her sons had farms in Halton county. No wonder I felt like the county had more than its full quota of Harrisons.

Henry Harrison, whom Catharine Douglass married, was the second oldest of Thomas and Elizabeth’s sons. He was a wheelwright (described as one who repairs carriages) and a wagonmaker, which trade he passed on to his son, Thomas D. Harrison.

But to get back to William Roseveare. His son told me that William taught at the University of Wisconsin after getting his PhD. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He was at UW in Madison for ten years and then he went into industry and worked for Dupont. He worked on the development of dacron during the war, a much stronger fabric for parachutes than the nylon previously used. In ensuing years, he worked for Dupont in Richmond, VA and later in North Carolina. William saw a good part of the country a generation or so before family members moved around so much. He was born in Michigan, grew up in Arizona, got his PhD. in California, taught in Wisconsin and worked in Virginia and North Carolina.

To help you place the Roseveares in the Douglass family, think Catharine Douglass Harrison.

(Lineage: William-6, Olivia Roseveare-5, Thomas-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)


Stories are the life blood of genealogy. Here’s another little snippet from Arnott Douglass.

“Thomas Harrison’s father died and left all his property in England in the care of his brother, who was to hand it over to Thomas, then a young man, providing he did nothing to displease the uncle. Of course they were all Church of England people. In the year of 1805, he (Thomas) married Elizabeth Hodge of Devonshire, England, and with her joined the Methodist Church, which was considered a disgrace by his uncle, and (he) was at once disowned.”

(Which probably figured greatly in his decision to emigrate – ELI)


Another piece of information I gleaned from Arnott’s Harrison History is that Benjamin Tassie was not the only Douglass cousin to die in World War I. Albert Gordon Harrison, Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment, died on Oct. 1, 1918 in France, within a month of Tassie and not far distant. Gordon, as he was called, was the son of Henry Wycliffe and Julia (Watson) Harrison of Dundas, Ontario. His name is inscribed on the War Memorial erected in 1948 in Dundas. I tried to get a picture of the War Memorial but could not. I will have to get one when I am in Canada next time. Gordon Harrison is buried in Drummond cemetery, Nord, France. William Roseveare and Gordon Harrison were first cousins.

(Lineage: Gordon-6, Henry W.-5, Thomas-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

March 2008

Fred Clemons – Knight in Shining Armor

When I wrote the chapter in Only a Week Away about Pvt. Clemons, I did not have the following article. It was sent to me by Fred’s great granddaughter, along with his picture. It is unknown what paper this article may have been printed in, but judging from the content, perhaps it was a fraternal organization. The Knights Templar were popular in this era and might account for the references to knighthood.

Untitled clipping

“The ladies will certainly recognize the above photo as that of our gallant cavalier, Mr. Fred Clemons. He is a fair sample of the old days when knighthood was in flower. He decided for the priesthood at an early age that he might save men, but his fondness for the other half of humanity overcame his early inclinations, and he launched out, determined to save all especially the other half, and he has stuck bravely at it for 50 years and says he will continue on in the good old way. He says there is a slight variation in the two halves, but thanks the Lord for that. He was born in old Jefferson County, N.Y., not far from 50 years ago, joined the army at the age of 16 and was at the battle of the Wilderness, siege of Petersburg, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, coming to Michigan shortly after this, and has been engaged in all kinds of business ever since, namely, doctor, tailor, butcher, barber, harness maker, Jack the giant killer and photographer. Fred is an all round good fellow, made a rip roaring good commissioner for six years, but gave this position up four years ago to devote all of his time to “that other half,” and says he is making a howling success of it. He makes a rattling good Times correspondent and is sporting editor of the Chicago Chimes-Herald, edits the matrimonial column in the Lodies’ Old Journal, and is the author of the book entitled “How to be Married Though Happy, or What Must I do to be Shaved?” (in two volumes). In religion he is a staunch Republican and is intensely devoted to the welfare of the ladies of this or any other town. His good looks are constantly getting him into trouble. Last winter he was challenged to fight a duel for his lady love, as they did in days of yore in Merry England. He chose flails as the weapons and it is needless to say that his opponent beat a precipitate retreat. He is also a poet of no mean order and writes interestingly of the days when chivalry was abroad in the land. Being a true knight at heart, with a soul filled with chivalry, he longs to tilt at a jousting with knights who ride to glory or defeat for the favor of his Ladye Fayre as did the knights of old England.

At present he is in quest of Adams’ lost rib or what it was made into, and the probabilities are that before fall he will overtake it, that is if one can judge from appearances, for lately the snug little home on Saginaw street has undergone quite a transformation – everything on the European plan – and …he says himself all that’s needed is a piece of calico about five feet two inches long, cut diagonally and belted in the middle. Well, Fred, here’s to…. (copy of clipping ends there)

There is a newspaper date of August 8, 1902 cut out and pasted to the page on which this clipping was pasted. Fred was born in 1846 so that would make him 56 in 1902, “not far from 50”. His first wife died in 1896 and he married Rosella Livingston in 1897. Unfortunately, in the 1900 census he is listed as divorced. So all the comments in the article about “the other half” may be related to Fred once again courting the ladies. I did not find any record of a third marriage. Fred Clemons died in January 1919 and is buried in Newton cemetery, Arbela township, Tuscola County, Michigan.


In 1880 Fred’s brother, Edward, left Redfield, NY, with his family and traveled to Trego County, Kansas. Perhaps Edward intended to homestead in the area, but things were very unsettled there at that time.

According to the cyclopedia of Kansas, 1879 has been a bad crop year and many immigrants were returning east broke. Also there had been reports of some Indian marauding within the recent past in the western area of the state. The returning immigrants, the risk of Indian raids and the recent problems with cattle drovers, who drove their herds wherever they wanted on the way to Abilene, would have been discouraging. Several murderers from incidents in unorganized territory were turned over to the sheriff but they had to be let go as there was no authority to try them. Three counties were attached to Trego County for jurisdictional purposes succeeding this event. No wonder Edward and his family left; they went to Tuscola, Michigan where his brother Alfred was living. They were there about a year when Edward’s wife, Julia (Streeter), died and he took her back to NY state for burial. She is buried in Greensboro cemetery, north of Redfield.

A year and a half later, Edward went once again to Tuscola. It is unknown how long he stayed there but ultimately he returned to Oswego County, NY. He never remarried and lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Aurelia and Alfred Ackley many of his remaining years. He was buried next to his wife in Greensboro in Oct. 1927.

Alfred (“Fred”) was the only one of his siblings who moved from NY state.


I have been looking forward to my trip to Virginia Beach, because I planned to drive through Lynchburg and would have the opportunity to do some family research there. I am making progress in finding descendants of the Catharine Douglass Harrison branch of the family at long last. That means that I only have the Mary Douglas Cramer branch to continue searching. Mary had fourteen children and her obituary in 1885 said that nine were still living, but so far I have not been able to track her descendants in the 20th century. I know where a few of them lived but can not find any descendants. Perhaps they had none, but my experience says that is unlikely. Often when the available information denies any descendants, I have not only found descendants but sometimes a family with many children and grandchildren.

I will keep looking.


February 2008

Josephine Reichenstein Douglass

I had tried several times over the course of the last four years to learn where and when Josephine Reichenstein Douglass, wife of Wilfred Douglass, died. I accessed the available death indices online and looked every so often for Reichenstein family trees. I tried different spellings of the name at first but after I received a copy of their marriage license I was pretty sure her name was spelled correctly. Then a few weeks ago I came across a website called Omaha Obits. I put her name in the search engine and I found her. Not only her but Wilfred, too. This website does not have the actual obituaries on it, just the index to where the obituary is in the newspaper. I have sent for the obituaries but have not received them yet. The index reads Douglas, Josephine (Mrs. Wilfred R.); 53; 17 Nov 1933; @ Forest Lawn (cemetery). And Douglas, Wilfred R.; 60; 30 Sep 1940 @ Forest Lawn.

Wilfred and Josephine had two children. Robert, born 1909, and Jack, born in 1914. Robert must have died relatively young and without children. He does not appear in the Social Security Death Index which names most people who died after 1966. And there are no records that I have found, or that have been passed on to me, naming any children.

Jack, after his stint in the armed services, had a career in civil service for the Army and lived in California, North Carolina and Alaska before retiring to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He and his wife died in 1992 and 1988, respectively, and are buried there.

The cover to the Genealogy of the Canadian Branch of the Douglass Family, says: “Compiled by Wilfred Robert Bruce Douglass, Omaha, Nebraska, May, 1926.” In his Introduction, Wilfred writes that information about the early generations came from notes of his father, Dr. John G. Douglass, and from Dr. Douglass’ sister, Eleanor Sproat, who was ninety-three years old at his writing.

This unpublished genealogy was so valuable to me as I began to research other branches of the Douglass family that it seems only fitting that I try and glean what facts I can about Wilfred’s own family. I am looking forward to receiving the obituaries. Wilfred was a department manager of a retail furniture store in Omaha for many years, so I am hoping the newspaper will have good information in the obituaries.

(Lineage: Wilfred-5, Dr. John-4, Robert-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Earl Douglas Ridgeway

While the ministry as an occupation is not absent from the current generation of the Douglass family, I was very interested to learn (see June 2006 Digest) that Earl Ridgeway (1875-1955) had served churches in several areas of New York State in the early part of the last century. I finally received his obituary. He had served both Methodist and Baptist churches in central New York State. He died in No. Columbia, Herkimer County, NY. You can read his obituary here. I have written to his granddaughter in Baraboo, WI, for more information.

(Lineage: Earl-6, Emma Ridgeway-5, Leander-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Flossie Clemons Willett

Sometimes I think that the stars are just aligned right for my subconscious to be cruising on the same wavelength as another person’s.

Last month I tried once more to learn something about Flossie Clemons, specifically who she had married. I knew she had adopted a daughter, Ernestine Eddy, and Ernestine had married Paul McNeal, but I could not find Flossie in the census anywhere.

Flossie Clemons was born in Tuscola County, Michigan, one of four children born to Alfred Clemons who moved to Michigan from Redfield, NY around 1867. Her mother died when Flossie was eight. Her sister married a local farmer and her brothers never married. There was some information on the Rootsweb website that she had married a Willett, but I could not find her married to a Willett in any census.

On that day in January I decided to look at every Flossie in the 1910 Michigan census who was the right age. After I had worked my way through thirteen Flossies with only one of them a “possible”, I decided to try the 1920 census. Working methodically, I came across Flossie Ady in the index. But when I looked at the original census, it was not Ady; someone had written through it and it looked like Eddy. To top it off, Flossie Ady, had a 3 year old daughter, Ernestine, living with her. They were living as roomers with a family.

I was congratulating myself on my hard-earned information when the very next day, Ernestine’s daughter signed my guest book on my website! How cool is that? She told me the name in question was not Eddy but Eedy! No wonder I could not find it in the census – it was indexed wrong. I never would of thought to try Eedy. Anyway, Kathleen told me Flossie had been married to J. Ernest Eedy and they had adopted Ernestine. For whatever reason, Ernest did not remain a part of their lives and Flossie and Ernestine lived in a succession of rooming houses while Ernestine was growing up. William Willett came into Flossie’s life later on, but he is not buried in Arbela township cemetery where Flossie Willett is. We are not sure how long they were together.

This “goes to show you” that if you just keep chipping away at the bricks in the wall, eventually you will break through. Kind of like mining for gold. You never know when you’ll find that nugget. Or as one of my cousins calls it, that “eureka moment.”

(Lineage: Flossie-6, Alfred-5, Candace Clemons-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander-1)

Olive A. Andrews

Speaking of chipping away at walls, I finally bit the bullet and paid the fee for a death certificate for Olive A. Andrews from St. Paul, MN. I have been trying to determine if Olive is really the daughter of Robert and Cornelia Flewelling who moved from Oxford County, Ontario to Manistee County, Michigan. And is she the same person who appears with the family as “Verlina”, the only time Robert and Cornelia had a daughter with them at census time? Is she also the “Orlee” Flewelling who married Dr. Tomlin in Manistee County? The marriage index has the Tomlin’s marriage license listed, but it is NOT on the page indexed. So frustrating! I have a lot of circumstantial evidence but no proof of this woman’s parents, or her real name, or her date of birth. So when I found a record for Robert and Cornelia living with their “daughter”, Olive A. Andrews, in St. Paul, MN, I thought Olive’s death certificate might give me the proof that I wanted.

When the death certificate came, I opened it hoping for something substantial. I was disappointed. The death certificate had very little information. In the census Olive had been listed as a widow who had no children. The informant for the death certificate, Charles H. Winter, knew only her birthdate (which fits none of the various ages recorded for Verlina or Orlee). Her parents, maiden name, and the name of her deceased husband, were “unknown.” The only new information I received for my $9 was the place she is buried, Oakland cemetery. Next step is to see if I can find Olive living with a husband by the name of Andrews before he died, then see if I can find their marriage license. Somewhere there must be a record that directly connects this woman with her parents. There is a story to tell here if I can determine the facts.

(Lineage: Olive/Orlee/Verlina-5, Robert-4, Betsy Flewelling-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

January 2008

O-O-Oh, I Can Hear The Gossips Now

The New York Times archived newspapers came online recently and I was looking for more information about Dorothea Douglass’ family when I came across this tasty item. I had never heard this story before. It was well before my time and even before my father’s, though I doubt he would have told it to me; he never talked about such things when I was growing up. By the time I was eight or nine and prone to eavesdrop on adult conversations at the Douglass reunion, this news would have been 30 years old, so not surprising it did not come up.

New York Times, April 29, 1911, pg. 7

Man of 80, Licensed Two Weeks, Not Wed

Marriage of George H. Hughes to Kathleen Douglass Declared Off By His Attorney

Friends Have Him In Charge

Outcome of Sensation Caused When Would-be Bride and Bridegroom Appeared At The City Hall

The Marriage of George Henry Hughes, the Vice President of Standard Oilcloth Company, 320 Broadway, and Miss Kathleen Douglass, 36 years old, of Croton Falls, N.Y. who obtained a marriage license at City Hall a fortnight ago, has not yet taken place.

According to Mr. Hughes legal advisor, Theodore E. Leeds of 3 Broad Street, it will not take place at all. Miss Douglass has returned to her home, according to the attorney, and Mr. Hughes is out of the city at the home of friends who are caring for him.

Mr. Hughes and Miss Douglass created some surprise on April 15 by entering the license bureau at city hall and asking for a license. Mr. Hughes was so feeble he had to use a crutch and a cane in walking. He was supported on one side by Miss Douglass and on the other by a middle-aged woman, who was said to be one of Miss Douglass’s relatives.

When Miss Douglass and Mr. Hughes were leaving the bureau after getting the license the reporters, struck by the disparity of ages, questioned the pair. All that Miss Douglass would do was to show the marriage license. The license stated that Mr. Hughes was a widower, 80 years old, a retired manufacturer, living at the Berkeley, 20 Fifth Ave. Miss Douglass was described in the license 36 years old, of Croton Falls, NY, her father having been the late John Petit Douglass, and her mother’s maiden name having been Henrietta Hughson.

While the License Clerk was issuing the license Miss Douglass did most of the talking, the aged merchant seeming too feeble to take an active part in the proceedings. The couple left the bureau without stating when or where the marriage would take place.

The Sunday following Mr. Hughes and Miss Douglass were seen together, as they had often been seen before, in the Central Presbyterian Church. Last Sunday, however, Mr. Hughes was seen there by himself, and the report spread that his friends had suggested that the marriage better not take place.

Just why the marriage has not taken place, Mr. Leeds said yesterday that he did not care to state.

“I have been Mr. Hughes legal adviser for more than fifteen years,” said Mr. Leeds, but he has merely consulted me about his business and not about his private affairs. About two weeks ago he asked me to get some marriage license blanks. I did so and handed them to him in an envelope which had my name printed on it. That is the way my name has been brought into the case. Mr. Hughes is out of the city. He is staying with friends, and Miss Douglass is not with him. I believe she has gone back to her home. The marriage itself, I know, is permanently off.”

Mr. Hughes is a native of Nottingham, England. He was for fifty years an oilcloth manufacturer in this city. He is said to have a daughter who lives in England.

Miss Kathleen Douglass is the daughter of John Petit Douglass, a well-to-do property owner in Jefferson County. She is the sister of former State Senator, Curtiss Douglass, who married Mrs. John A. Dix’s sister. Miss Douglass is thus a connection by marriage of the Governor of the State.


I have written about Kathleen Douglass before. Most recently I have been trying to determine if and when she studied music in Stuttgart, Germany, at the Conservatory of Music. So far the language barrier has prevented success there.

We do know that she was an accomplished singer of some talent, based on the demand for her services not only at wedding ceremonies but at church conferences and other organizational gatherings.

Her residences over the years varied, so we assume that she traveled frequently. She lived in London, England at one time, but usually in Theresa, N.Y. near where she grew up. She was living in Croton Falls, NY when her mother died in 1906, so she evidently lived there for several years. Croton Falls is north of NYC about 40-50 miles, an upscale residential area and an easy train-ride into the City.

We can speculate about the circumstances of her relationship with Mr. Hughes. I am particularly interested in the “middle-aged woman” who accompanied the couple to the license bureau. I can find no one who would qualify for that role in the family. My first thought was that it must be Dorothea, who was addicted to New York society pages and would be trying to make a good match for her aunt. But Dorothea was barely 21 in 1911. The age would fit Kathleen’s sister-in-law, Curtis’ wife, Nancy, but as a Senator’s wife, and a sister of Governor Dix, Nancy would be readily recognized by the reporters.

Of course, the information that the woman was a relative of the Douglass family could be wrong, too. The age listed for Kathleen (36) was wrong on the license. She was 46 in 1911. It certainly would have been fortunate if she had married Mr. Hughes. She lived a long life and in her later years received financial support from her sister, Henrietta Shipley of South Africa. There is a good chance that friends and relatives of Mr. Hughes were unwilling to share his estate.

Kathleen was interested in family genealogy and wrote to Dr. John G. Douglass that she had done extensive research in archives in Edinborough, Scotland, but was disappointed, finding no information about the family there. At the time that she wrote to him, she gave her address as 200 W. 88th St., NYC. This was likely about the time of the above New York Times article as Dr. John died in 1913.

November 2007

Boils, Buggies and Bullets

We worry about our personal safety and that of our families. We are dismayed by the amount of misery and mayhem in our society. Some times we wonder if we will ever feel truly safe again.

When did we ever feel truly safe? Can you remember? Perhaps when we lived at home and our parents shouldered the responsibilities and kept their worries out of our hearing. Safety has never been an absolute. Life, as the advertisement on TV says, “Life comes at you fast”!

For our ancestors safety was not a niggling worry that caused them to seek out yoga or meditation or exercise to relieve the tensions. Safety was something to be concerned about all the time.

And there were certainly enough things that could change their lives in an instant. Their health was constantly under siege. If typhoid, scarlet fever, whooping cough, pneumonia, diphtheria and flu were not enough to worry about (and to flee from if one had the means), there was always the danger of sepsis and infections. All they had for treating these ills were the home remedies that were passed down by their grandmothers, and whisky or laudanum for pain. There was no penicillin, no insulin, and only limited anesthesia. The chances of surviving an operation were less than 50%.

Did you ever have a boil or an abscess? I had one once. Nasty, painful things that one went to the doctor to have lanced. But first you had to let it “ripen” so hopefully the doctor could get the core out. Abram Dorr, a music teacher, died of an abscess at the base of his brain six months after he and Flora Douglass were married. He died at home, age 26.

Besides diseases and infection, there was always the danger of accidents. Have you ever marveled at how your ancestors accomplished the prodigious tasks they did? The cost was often high. Read any of the old time newspapers and you will find simple one-to-three-line statements, like this one:

“On Monday, while J. Hubert Douglas of Pillar Point was riding down hill on a big load of cheese, the horses became unmanageable, and he was thrown under the wagon. His arm was broken, and the shoulder crushed by the wagon wheels. Doctors Jewett and Spencer attended the man.”

There was no health insurance, no operation to clean out broken fragments of bone, no nursing care in the hospital. The family coped as best they could. And neighbors pitched in and helped; they never knew when they might find themselves in similar straights.

“Mr. Jones horses ran away on Bridge St. and just as it neared the end of the bridge, the buggy overturned and Jones was thrown out. He was severely hurt and the doctors do not expect him to recover.”

And then what happened to his family? Women had no legal rights beyond what safeguards their husband or father left in his will – if he had one. Little wonder they married quickly, finding the best situation they could for themselves and their children. Can you imagine the conversation among the supporting womenfolk after the funeral, listing off the eligible men in the area, looking for a replacement? Men found themselves in similar dire situations when their wives succumbed, and they had a family of young children to care for.

They lived in hard times and whisky was readily available to fuel their angers and resentments. Violence came upon them suddenly and went away as quickly, leaving in its wake all kinds of wounds, physical and mental.

Nadine married Harold when she was 15 and in a couple years their family included two babies. Harold was belligerent when drunk and was known to treat Nadine badly. She left him and took her babies home to her father’s house. Harold tried unsuccess-fully to get Nadine to come back to him. At 4 a.m. one morning, Harold came to his father-in-law Lige’s house and barged in, demanding to see Nadine. She was scared and held the door of her room against him. He shot a couple times through the door, which brought Lige out with his revolver and a gun fight ensued. When both Lige and Harold were down, family members ran to the neighbors to call the sheriff. Both men were taken to the hospital. Harold died of his wounds and a coroner’s court cleared Lige of any wrongdoing.

Can you imagine the scene? Four a.m. in the morning, the family is awakened by a loud, gun-wielding, drunken man who forces his way into the house. It’s pitch black. I am sure the whole family (14 of them) were all up and cowering. Perhaps someone lit a lantern. Harold yells for Nadine and she won’t see him. He shoots; the family scatters out of the house like bees from a hive. Lige runs for his revolver, afraid for his daughter, and shoots at Harold. His first shot glances off Harold’s rifle. Harold shoots back and runs for the yard, where the two men continue to trade shots. What must have been going through the minds of the women and children who witnessed this terrible battle?

Family was all you had. There was no network of social services, no homeless shelters, no way to survive outside of a family unit. And family responsibility reached further than your own household. It included aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and all those “related by marriage”.

Today when we talk about the “breakdown of the family unit”, we need to think about the responsibilities that are thrust upon the government and social agencies. They have been required to take over what years ago the family did. And in spite of all the violence that is reported in the news, I know that I am much safer today than my ancestors were.

But safety has never been an absolute. ###