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  1. Friday’s Faces from the Past: Big Four School in Marquand Missouri

    January 23, 2015 by Pamela M. McMurray

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    Big Four School in Marquand, Missouri, c?

    Big Four School in Marquand, Missouri, c?

    Front row, sitting:

    Second from left- John Newton Whitener

    Third from right- Byrde Caroline Whitener

     

    Standing:

    Third from right- Hazel Marie Whitener Sigler

     

    Notes, Sources, and References: 

    1) Whitener Family photo collection.

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  2. Wordless Wednesday: Unknown Lee? on a Boat

    January 21, 2015 by Pamela M. McMurray

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    Unknown girl at a lake or the beach with boat in background. In with Lee-Alexander-Aiken-Brandenburger papers and photos.

    Unknown girl /woman at a lake or the beach with boat in background. In with Lee-Alexander-Aiken-Brandenburger papers and photos.

     

     

    Notes, Sources, and References: 

    1) Image in with Lee family photos and papers, in a photo album. This woman could also be an Aiken, Russell, Alexander, Schoor, or Brandenburger. If you know who this woman is, please let us know!

     

     

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  3. Those Places Thursday: Newton Iowa and the Old Settlers Meetings

    January 15, 2015 by Pamela M. McMurray

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    A Pioneer Dwelling from History of Jasper County, Iowa, Western Historical Co.,1878. Page 61, GoogleBooks.

    A Pioneer Dwelling from History of Jasper County, Iowa, Western Historical Co.,1878. Page 61, GoogleBooks.

    Every place has their old settlers- those who braved a hostile land and brought ‘civilization': farming and ranching, churches and school houses, commerce and vice, as well as families and friends. Newton in Jasper County, Iowa, had meetings of these brave [some would say foolhardy] souls regularly in later years, and the original book recording those get-togethers is in the Jasper County Historical Society Library. The book may also be found online, at the Iowa GenWeb Jasper county page for Old Settlers of Newton, Iowa.

    Wonderful records were kept by the Old Settlers Association, and they are a wealth of information for anyone whose ancestors were pioneers in the area. Even for those of us whose families were latecomers to the area, “Old Settler” groups recorded many stories of the life that was, and may have continued for some years after our ancestors moved to the area. Plus, these stories are just delightful reading!

    Only those persons who were residents of the Newton area prior to 31 May 1855 were invited to the party held by Albert Lufkin, himself an early settler, at his home on 30 May 1885. Albert had arrived in the area on 31 May 1855, but since the 30th anniversary of that date fell on a Sunday, the gathering was held on the Saturday before. Albert invited about 50 persons, which was all he could entertain with the size of his home.

    Of course, as the years went on the gatherings became smaller due to further migration, old age, and death of the members. They began to invite those who had come after 1855 in order to keep the party at about 50, and at one point, had over 100 people, the largest gathering in Newton to that date.

    The Old Settlers Association met on 1 June 1891 at the Lambert House Parlors in Newton.

    “The tables were lighted as of old Pioneer days with tallow dips and cotton wicks hanging out of saucers of Lard. All at once however, (as the eyes of the Company were not as good as 36 years ago,) the full blaze of the Electric lights – was turned on and the dainties disappeared in a manner to reflect – credit – upon the digestion of the company, and the skill of those who prepared the repast.”

    What changes those early pioneers, some of whom may have been born about 1830, witnessed throughout the century!

    One of my favorite stories from the Newton Old Settler’s Association:

    “I might tell of some of our meetings; I will mention one that was dismissed without the benediction, in consequence of bees stinging the preacher and congregation, but enough for now.” B. Aydelott.”

    There are newspaper accounts of the meetings, and those include many of the events of the meeting as well as the historical. Food was, of course, a primary focus of the event, with storytelling, songs, and speeches after, although sometimes, that good food was a problem:

    “A. J. Osborn had eaten too much and didn’t feel much like talking.”

    "Breaking Prairie" from History of Jasper County, Iowa, Western Historical Co.,1878. Page 63, GoogleBooks.

    “Breaking Prairie” from History of Jasper County, Iowa, Western Historical Co.,1878. Page 63, GoogleBooks.

    By the time my ancestors arrived, there was probably little prairie left to break, but farming was still a difficult task back then- even today. (What would our ancestors have thought of air conditioned, GPS-guided combines???) Our  families who took up residence in Jasper County were:

    Sylvanus Rufus Benjamin and Sara Ann Palmer in 1865 or 1866

    Jonathan N. Benjamin and Hannah E. Ford in 1867

    John S. Roberts and Elizabeth Ann Murrell  by 1868

    Robert Woodson Daniel and Margaret Ann Hemphill (between 1866-1870)

    Frederick Asbury “F.A.” McMurray and Hannah “Melissa” Benjamin by 1870

     

    Cynthia A. Benjamin (1841-1925), sister of Hannah Melissa Benjamin, married Reuben K. Lambert- perhaps she was the “Mrs. Lambert” who prepared such delicious repasts for the Old Settlers?

    A handwritten note under the newspaper article for the [likely] 1896 Old Settlers Association meeting noted that $6.68 was collected, and the disbursements were listed. The reunion had been planned to be outdoors but because of rainy weather, it was moved to the Armory. Three dollars were disbursed to “Will McMurry for rent of hall.” William Elmer McMurray (1874-1957) was the son of F.A. and Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray. There was also a note that, “The drapage bill is still unpaid, and nothing in the treas.” (Drapage would be cloth hanging festively, such as red, white, and blue festoons/banners.)

     

    The moral of the story? Even though I knew my family members were not early settlers in Jasper County, Iowa, reading through this booklet gave me information about times both past and present. One can do a search within the document to find family names, but sometimes it is just more enjoyable to read through and get a sense of what life was like for early settlers, and those same folks when they became “Old Settlers.” You never know what you will find- the payment to Will McMurray was quite a surprise in this booklet!

     

    Notes, Sources, and References: 

    1) Old Settlers of Newton, Iowa: http://iagenweb.org/jasper/history/OldSettlers/Newton.pdf

    2) The “dainties” referred to in the 1891 meeting would have been small appetizers and desserts.

    3) Old Settlers of Newton, Iowa, page 6.  Bee Sting- unknown date of newspaper article, unknown newspaper.

    4) Ibid., 14. Eaten too much- unknown date of newspaper article, unknown newspaper. Probably between 28 Apr and 9 June 1896.

    5) Ibid., Will McMurry- page 19, Secretary’s note of 09 Jun 1896.

     

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  4. Travel Tuesday: Acton Burnell Castle in Shropshire, England

    January 13, 2015 by Pamela M. McMurray

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    Acton Burnell Castle-family picture, taken c1990.

    Acton Burnell Castle-family picture, taken c1990.

    The above picture hung in the home of my grandparents (my grandfather was the the grandson of Nannie M. Burnell) for as long as I remember. They said it was Burnell Castle, and the home of our ancestors in England. It was always on my list of places to travel to, and learn more about.

    The advent of the internet has helped us to learn more about the castle, and trace our family lines back further than could have been previously imagined (at least, by me). I still have not been able to travel to the castle ruins, but maybe one of these days.

    Acton Burnell Castle, Shropshire, England. Wikipedia, by A. R. Yeo (MortimerCat). Creative Commons License 2.5.

    Acton Burnell Castle, Shropshire, England. Wikipedia, by A. R. Yeo (MortimerCat). Creative Commons License 2.5.

    The ‘castle’ at Acton Burnell, a small town in Shropshire, England, began in 1284 as a manor house built by Robert Burnell, friend and Lord Chancellor to King Edward I. Burnell was also Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the house would have been large enough to house Edward I and his retinue, advisers, and soldiers. The red sandstone home was crenellated (the top rectangles with open areas for shooting arrows added) and fortified, both of which required a royal license, showing that the king favored and trusted Robert Burnell.

    The house had square towers at the corners, but with many windows, it was not really built for war, despite the crenellations. The house passed down to younger generations of the Burnell family, deteriorating with the centuries, and then passed out of the family through a marriage.  In Victorian times, two arched openings were added to the ruins to create a ‘folly’- a ‘fanciful’ building popular in the 18th and 19th centuries that was built for purely ornamental purposes. (A Victorian home was built further along the drive.)

    Acton Burnell is famous for another reason: In 1283, King Edward I held a Parliament at Acton Burnell, probably in the adjacent barn. This was the first time that the Commons had ever participated in the legislative process; another Parliament was held there in 1285. One of the gable ends of this barn still stands 732 years later, and the shell of the house still stands nearby with just some of the walls missing.

    The manor house never was, technically, a castle.

    Records in Acton Burnell Parish go back to about 1538, so it will be challenging to trace family lines further than that. We have not yet ‘crossed the Big Pond’ however, so do not know our first Burnell immigrant to the Americas.

    Using Ancestry.com and other trees posted, some researchers have traced our family line back to Robert Burnell, born 1669 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. He married Sarah Chilson (1673-1737) and their child John (1696-1744) is the next generation according to these trees.  Robert died in 1737, and the New England towns kept good records, so it will be interesting to go back through this information to see if it checks out.

    Acton Burnell Castle in Shropshire, England- Map. Wikipedia, Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right, CC 3.0 license.

    Acton Burnell Castle in Shropshire, England- Map. Wikipedia, Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right,   CC 3.0 license.

    The research I have checked thus far traces our Burnell line back to John Burnell (1750-1837) and his wife Mary Bannister (1752-1838). The Burnells are a very interesting line and have family members who worked to change the world. There will be more to come on these fascinating ancestors!

     

    Notes, Sources, and References: 

    1) Wikipedia Article on Acton Burnell Castle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acton_Burnell_Castle

    2) English Heritage: Acton Burnell: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/acton-burnell-castle/

    3) A great series of Acton Burnell Castle images: http://www.castlewales.com/acton.html

    4) Acton Burnell available parish records: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Acton_Burnell,_Shropshire.

     

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    We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
     

    Copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

    Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
     
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  5. Motivation Monday: Get It All Down Before It’s Too Late

    January 12, 2015 by Pamela M. McMurray

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    Anna Mae (Beerbower) Helbling with her daughter, Mary Theresa Helbling, 1925. Mary Theresa was my first storyteller, and so many of those stories revolved around her dear mother.

    Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling with her daughter, Mary Theresa Helbling, 1925.

    “Get It All Down Before It’s Too Late”

     

    These are words family historians hear all too frequently, but all too frequently, we do not have the time to make that happen. Somehow we have to balance researching the past with the stories we are creating with current generations. The fragmentation of families and distance from loved ones make it even more difficult, but with all our high-tech tools, there are many ways we can make it actually happen.

    I recently read a great article by Clay Jenkinson in the Bismarck Tribune, 28 December 2014. He kindly gave me permission to quote from his article:

    “Every life is important, every life has mystery and astonishing adventures.

    Every relaxed person can speak forth whoppers that will lift you out of your chair. We take for granted their stories, sometimes regard them as tedious, but then they die and that unique voice is lost forever, and those amazing stories begin to lose their authenticity and take on the rounded curves of safe family narrative and myth.

    We must get it all down before it’s too late.”

    The entire article may be found here. It is well written and a worthwhile read.

    Tedious“- an excellent word in this context. I think of the stories I found “tedious” as a child, and so wish I had listened better, or asked the family elders to write down those memories- they do not seem so tedious today. Today, I scour the internet and ask family questions trying to learn those tedious stories, but seldom am successful. I am, though, thankful for all that I did get down on videotape or paper, especially those names on the backs of photographs.

    Mary Theresa Helbling, my first storyteller, captivated me with stories of her dear mother, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling, and grandmother, Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower, who lived with them. One year we visited in June, but it had to be a quick visit. Mary was happy and healthy at age 80 (and didn’t seem that old at all), so we laid out plans to go through photo albums and family treasures and record memories when we returned in August. By the time we got there just two months later, however, the insidious tentacles of Alzheimers had strangled those memories, and they were lost forever.

    I always expect too much in my New Year’s resolutions, so this year I am going to make two simple ones:

    1) Talk more with the oldest members of the family, and get their stories recorded in some technology.

    2) Convert the videotapes and audio recordings I have to today’s technology, so they won’t be lost forever.

    I guess these are not that simple and will be time-consuming, but definitely worth the effort. And I did not set specific goals or use the overwhelming word “all,” so maybe these will get done.

    I realized too that my own story is not really down on paper, and now I am one of the older generation. (That is SO hard to write! I still feel 30-something in my heart.) I do have some journals I have kept for our son of his growing up years, plus some from one college semester when we were required to keep a journal in English 101, but that is just a small fraction of my life. We do get the “so-tedious—you’ve-told-me-that-before” eye-roll when we tell stories to our son, but maybe I’ll put them down anyway, in case he is ever interested, or those grandchildren we hope to have eventually.

     

    After all, every life is important.

     

    Notes, Sources, and References: 

    1)  Photo from Helbling family photo album.

    2) Family history: Get it all down before it’s too late- http://bismarcktribune.com/news/columnists/clay-jenkinson/family-history-get-it-all-down-before-it-s-too/article_8a54f302-8b96-11e4-90b1-dbbf4b6e92ed.html

    3) Clay Jenkinson seems like a very interesting person- check out his Amazon.com page (actually, sign up & use smile.amazon.com to have Amazon donate a portion of your purchases to a favorite charity): http://smile.amazon.com/Clay-Jenkinson/e/B001K7OX96/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

    I love how he brings the humanities to (what some would call dry) history, and will be ordering a number of his books. (No financial interest, just excited about finding his work, especially since I am a Lewis & Clark groupie.)

    4) P.S. I apologize, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, for those teenage eye-rolls. I really do regret them now- you were right.

     

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    We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
     

    Copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

    Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
     
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