Monday, January 31, 2011

Mappy Monday: Bartram Farm in Wabaunsee County, Kansas

There's so much more to genealogy than just collecting names and dates. I love learning about the stories of my ancestors: where did they come from, what did they do, what were the hardships, joys and adventures of their lives? Both sides of my family had the pioneer spirit. I have family who moved with William Penn from England to what would become America in the 1600s (more on my Quakers later), folks who became the first white settlers in Indian Territory (before it became Oklahoma) and ancestors who moved from Germany to New York to San Francisco and then to Tracy, California, where they were some of the pioneering settlers in my own hometown.

My maternal great grandfather, Joseph Bartram, was a Welshman who immigrated to the United States in the early 1880s. I'm still trying to figure out the whole story, but legend has it that he came here by ship with his father to bring Herefordshire cattle to Kansas. His father headed back home to the UK, but died at sea before he could reach his homeland. Joseph stayed in Kansas, married Alice A. Veale, and they had 17 kids together (including my Grandpa John).

Before they moved from Kansas to California in around 1930, Joseph and Alice had quite a spread in Plumb, Wabaunsee County, Kansas. Fortunately for me, I was able to find the Kansas Memory website (I love the Internet!) which had, available for download, a 1902 plat map that showed exactly where Joseph's farm sat in relation to his neighbors, as well as how many acres he held. It also shows, with a little dot, where the house stood on the farm. This is the house where Grandpa John grew up! My Aunt Brenda said that she's been out to where the old farm stood but, sadly, there's not much left.

The Bartrams lived in Plumb Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas
Joseph's farm is near the bottom left of the top map. See below for detail.
You can see that the Bartrams had two parcels at a total of 180 acres.
The little square dot is where the house stood.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Obituary: Andrew Jackson Veale & Elizabeth Miller Veale

Here are the obituary notices for my maternal GGG grandparents, Andrew Jackson Veale and Elizabeth Miller Veale.

Andrew Jackson Veale, b. January 10, 1828, in Daviess County, Indiana, and d. December 16, 1904, in Maple Hill, Wabaunsee County, Kansas. His obituary appeared in the December 22, 1904, edition of the Eskridge Star newspaper.

Elizabeth Miller (Veale), b. May 29, 1828, in Indiana, and d. February 12, 1908, in Maple Hill, Wabaunsee County, Kansas. Her obituary appeared in the November 21, 1908, edition of the Alma Signal newspaper

Andrew and Elizabeth were married on August 22, 1849, in Pike County, Indiana, and raised 12 children. I love that her obituary makes special note of the fact that Andrew and Elizabeth Veale were the only couple in Wabaunsee County to have celebrated a golden wedding anniversary.

I've spent a lot of time researching these two because Andrew's grandfather, James Carr Veale, is another one of my Revolutionary War patriots, and I'm having a devil of a time finding one last piece of evidence I need to tie it all together: something (anything!) that definitively proves that Andrew's father is Daniel Veale (who is already proven to be James' son). Andrew's date of death was especially tough to nail down because he died in one town, his obituary appeared in another town's newspaper and, according to Elizabeth's obit, he was buried in a completely different town and county (although that cemetery has no record of him being buried with his wife!).

Sometimes, I think my ancestors are just messing with me for their own entertainment...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Follow Friday: Climbing My Family Tree

One of my biggest inspirations to start this genealogy blog was a fifth cousin I met online who has her own AMAZING blog: Climbing My Family Tree. Jennifer and I share the same GGG grandparents: Milton Price Brittain and Nancy Garriott, and we both discovered that we were trying to get into D.A.R. through our mutual patriot, Nathaniel Brittain.

Jennifer is a fantastic writer as well as a crack genealogist. In addition to writing Climbing My Family Tree, she also writes another blog, Sergeant Major Mom, about being an army wife and home schooling her five (5!) adorable kids.

Please click over to both of Jennifer's blogs -- you won't be disappointed!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm in the D.A.R.!

It's been a crazy-busy week for me, but I couldn't let it pass by without shouting out my excitement at having my application verified to join the Daughters of the American Revolution!

What is D.A.R? 
It's a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children.

How does one join? 
Any woman who is 18 years or older and who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership. I have several ancestors on both sides of my family who fought in the American Revolution, but let me tell you, it's TOUGH proving these lines with documentary evidence.

My patriot: Nathaniel Brittain
I finally managed to prove one of my lines all the way back to Nathaniel Brittain, my GGGGG grandfather who fought and died in the American Revolutionary War. Nathaniel was born in 1734 in Chesterfield, Virginia, to James Brittain, an immigrant from Wales, and his wife, Mary Whitty. Nathaniel married Elizabeth Parks in 1760 and they raised eight children.

Not a lot is known about him, but we do know that Nathaniel enlisted and served as a Private in Captain Jonathan Clark's Company, 8th Virginia Regiment, on March 4, 1776. He died while in service on October 17, 1776.

How did I prove this ancestry?
Well, it took a long time and a lot of online searches, phone calls and letter writing to find all the documents needed to prove that I am, indeed, descended from Nathaniel Brittain. My search started with my Grandma Edith's records. She had already laid out the path for me, and I just needed to follow it to gather the documents I needed to prove, generation by generation, her theory about Nathaniel. and were invaluable online sources, as was good old Google. I also made many phone calls to various county courthouses, libraries and historical societies. A very nice woman named Kandi went to an Iowa courthouse to make a copy of a marriage record I needed. Another helpful woman took the time to scan and email a copy of my great great grandfather's cemetery record to me. And, I found a fifth cousin, Jennifer Woods, over at Climbing My Family Tree, who is also trying to join D.A.R. through Nathaniel Brittain. She and I put our heads together and managed to break through some solid brick walls. She's getting her application together and we're both excited about joining this great organization this year. And my friends in the Knitting Genealogists group at Ravelry offered advice, tips and much encouragement. See, genealogy is a team sport!

What's next?
Now, I bask in my glory! Actually, I'm still not completely IN the organization. My application has been verified, but I have to wait until February 5, when the D.A.R. holds it's national meeting and officially accepts my application. I'm told this is a formality. Then, I get to take my oath at my local chapter meeting in San Francisco. I'll have to wait until April to do this since I have prior commitments in March.

I'm proud of my ancestor and proud to be part of a family that played an important role in the founding of our country. I have a good five or six more patriots, on both sides of my family, that I'm working to prove. I hope that my participation in the D.A.R. will help me with that quest, and I also look forward to working with the La Puerta de Oro chapter to give back to our country and community through their many volunteer efforts. I'll be sure to blog any interesting happenings with the D.A.R. and how it relates to genealogy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tech Tuesday: How's Your Google-Fu?

One of my favorite non-genealogy blogs is lifehacker. It offers tip and tricks to, well, make your life easier. I also follow it on Facebook, and find that I learn some time-saving tidbit just about every day. Yesterday, they posed a question on their Facebook page that piqued my interest: What are your favorite search tricks for getting better results?

As someone who is obsessed with genealogy, I spend a lot of time on search engines and I'm always trying to determine ways of configuring search terms to get new -- or better -- results that might help dig up new information or break down stubborn brick walls. For the most part, lifehacker's readers offered up answers to the question that were solid, but that I already knew: use quotation marks around a phrase, use Boolean search terms, check your spelling, use '' to search within a website. Nothing new under the sun, but it got me thinking about how I use search engines, particularly Google. 

Most people think of Google as just a plain old search engine, but Google has acquired a nice assemblage of companies to add to their existing technologies, and has continued to evolve over the years. You can find more than just links to other websites on Google. You can find entire books, scans of newspaper articles, photos, links to Google-hosted blogs (why, yes, this blog is hosted by a Google property). You can even use Google to translate just about anything from one of nearly 60 languages into another.

Here are some examples of the family history treasures that Google has helped me unearth with just a few clicks of the mouse:

Thomas J. Rooks & Serena Jane Ishmael
Google Images (
A quick search on ["Thomas Rooks"] (including the quotation marks, but not the brackets) netted 323 results, including this picture of my GGG grandparents, Thomas J. Rooks and Serena Jane Ishmael. When I clicked on the photo, it took me to a Picasa photo album that is a wealth of photos and document scans, including wills and land documents, pertaining to this part of my family.

I've also found photos of the land where my ancestors lived as well as some really cool old maps. These types of images really help me to understand where my people came from. It's fun to look at the old maps compared to the current maps that you can find on Google Maps to see how the counties and land boundaries may have changed over the years.

Google Translate (
This has really come in handy with my Danish research. It's so ridiculously simple that you'll wonder what you ever did without it for your non-English language research. All you have to do is type or copy in whatever it is you're trying to translate, determine your "from" and "to" languages, then click on the "Translate" button. 

For example, I copied this from the Genealogy Aero website:
"Hvis du interesserer dig for Ærøs historie, eller hvis du har slægt på Ærø, kan denne hjemmeside være et besøg værd. Da hjemmesiden består af flere hundrede sider, har jeg valgt at inddele den i afsnit" 
And, it translates from Danish to English as: 
"If you are interested Ærø history, or if you have relatives on the Aero, this website will be worth a visit. Since the site consists of several hundred pages, I have chosen to divide it into sections."
Is Google Translate always precise? No. But the translations are pretty darn close, and it will definitely give you a solid idea of what's being communicated.

Google News (
You might think of Google News as a repository for the current news of the day, and you'd be correct. However, Google has archived newspaper articles that date back at least to the 1860s. With a simple search ["John Bartram"+ rodeo], I was able to find images of four actual newspaper articles that reported my Grandpa John's rodeo wins in the 1930s. Here's one from the May 18, 1939, Prescott Evening Courier that shows his win in the Bronc Riding contest during the San Francisco World's Fair in May 1939:

And, when I typed in my dad's name ["William Lee Brittain"], and narrowed down time period to 2003-2005, I came up with an abstract of his obituary in the Contra Costa Times. If I wanted to, I could purchase the full copy of the article for my records:

Google Books (
Google now offers millions of book titles to search and read. Some are offered only in "snippet" view, some have larger previews and some you can read in their entirety, directly from your browser, by downloading a PDF or by reading on your mobile device. 

Again, I typed in ["John Bartram" + rodeo] on the Google Books site, and the very first thing that popped up was a link to a book called "Early Livermore" that featured several photos of my Grandpa John competing in rodeo events. This listing offered only a preview of what was included in the book, but I was able to get my hands on a bound copy of this book for my personal collection. I also did some sleuthing around for similar books about locations where my ancestors lived, and came up with a treasure trove of fantastic information on my relatives from several California towns as well as around Missouri and Alabama.

I've also found books that detail my ancestors' military engagements in the Revolutionary War, Civil War (both sides) and World War I. One of my more recent finds has been "The Parish Records of Kelsale, Suffolk" compiled in 1887. In it, I found the September 15, 1816, marriage record of my GGG grandparents, Samuel Bartram and Harriet Boste, as well as the 1842 marriage record of their daughter, Harriet. I'm still exploring that tome for more goodies on my Suffolk, England, ancestors.

Of course, you're not going to find everything on Google, just as you're not going to find everything by spending all your time on Ancestry or Footnote or GenealogyBank or the various historical society and library websites. However, I think that a lot of people neglect to make full use of this handy tool that's right in front of us. And all for free! 

BTW, here are links to help you brush up on your own basic Google-Fu:
What are some of your favorite search tips for unearthing genealogical treasures?

Military Monday: Andrew Lee Brittain in WWI

Andrew Lee Brittain, wagoner, in WWI France, c. 1918

Yesterday, I posted an obituary for my Great Grandma Brittain. Today, for Military Monday, I honor her husband, my great grandfather, Andrew Lee Brittain. Andrew was born to Frederick Harmon Brittain and Mary Jane Rooks on February 26, 1888, in Omaha, Boone County, Arkansas. Shortly after that, the family moved to Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma).

On June 5, 1917, at the ripe age of 29, Andrew registered for the draft, and reported for duty on February 25, 1918. He was a wagoner in Company C, 110th Infantry, 28th Division, which fought in Vichy, France, for nearly a year, returning to Philadelphia in May 1919. He was presented with the Croix de Guerre, which was issued to military commands who performed heroic deeds in combat during WWI. Andrew Lee Brittain was honorably discharged from military service upon his return on May 11, 1919.

I don't know much about my great grandfather's tour of duty in France, other than he was a wagoner. From his military papers, however, I was able to glean a few personal tidbits about him, including:
  • He had gray eyes and brown hair
  • He was a farmer
  • He had pin-up girl tattoos on his arms (now we know where I got my penchant for ink!)
  • His character was listed as "Excellent"
  • He had a $10,000 life insurance policy

Another relic of his time in the war, however, showed that he was also a bit of a poet, and quite in love with a girl back home: Jessie Luetta Halstead, who would become his wife shortly after his return from France. Here's the poem that he wrote for my Great Grandma Brittain while he was pining for her overseas. It tells of the brutal hardships he faced as a soldier, and how her love kept him strong through his ordeals:

There is a little girl I am loving,
in the land across the sea,
through the softness of the twighlight
she comes creeping close to me.

I can almost feel her handclasp,
I can see her tender eyes,
As they glow across the darkness
with a light that never dies.

Yes a hard day lies behind me,
there is a bitter dawn ahead,
the man next to me is moaning,
and my bunkmate is dead.

But she is coming through the darkness
and her glance is misty bright
and I know her love is near me,
through the horror of the night.

Yes she gave me to our country
when she might have made me stay
and she kissed me, smiling bravely
as I brushed the tears away.

And her voice rings past the moaning,
past the battle raging near
And she says be true and fearless
just because I love you dear.

And I made myself a promise
that I will justify her plan,
the ideal that she set me
of a soldier, and a man.

Andrew and Jessie raised four children (Woodie, Audrie, Pauline and Evelyn). The family moved to California in 1940, and Andrew died on January 22, 1954, in Hayward, California.

You can read more about the 110th Infantry here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Obituary: Jessie Luetta Halstead Brittain

Jessie Luetta Halstead Brittain was one of my great grandmothers on my dad's side. Great Grandma Brittain was born on September 13, 1898 in Indian City, Payne County, Oklahoma. She was married to Andrew Lee Brittain, and was mother to Woodie (my grandfather), Audrey, Pauline and Evelyn.  She died on July 10, 1974, while on a trip home to Oklahoma to visit family.

My sister, Cindy, and I were lucky that we got to know Great Grandma Brittain during her visits to California.
Cushing Daily Citizen, Oklahoma
July 11, 1974

Mrs. Brittain

Mrs. Jessie Luetta Brittain, 75, former resident of Lincoln County and sister of Myrtle Halstead, 1006 E. Oak, died Wednesday morning following an apparent heart attack. Mrs. Brittain had been visiting in Cushing since Monday from her home in Lebanon, Oregon.

Visitation may be made at The Fairley Home until noon on Friday, when Mrs. Brittain will be transported to Oakland, California, where funeral services will be directed by the Grant Miller Mortuary of Oakland.

A native of Oklahoma, Mrs. Brittain was born September 13, 1898 in Lincoln Count, the daughter of the late William and Nancy Halstead. She was married to Andrew Lee Brittain in September 1918 and they made their home in Lincoln County until they moved to California in 1940. Following the death of Mr. Brittain in 1954 she has made her home in Lebanon, Oregon.

Great Grandma Brittain and me
Those who survive include: a son, Woody Brittain, Livermore, Calif.; three daughters; Mrs. Claude (Audrey) Turner, Lebanon, Oregon, Mrs. Vernon (Pauline) Pearson, Porterville, Calif., and Mrs. Frank (Evelyn) McDonald, Hayward, Calif; one brother; Elmer Louis Halstead, Chandler, Oklahoma; her sister; Miss Myrtle Halstead, Cushing; 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Donna's Heaven on Wheels Frosting

Our family loves to eat. And drink. And cook. Fortunately, we've had quite a few good chefs and bakers on both my Bartram and Brittain sides. Nobody goes hungry at our family get-togethers!

My mom has a very old recipe box crammed full of recipes. Some are recipes that she's found in cookbooks or magazine over the years and decided to keep around. Some are from dear family friends. A lot of them are recipes that our own ancestors used back in their day -- many in their own handwriting, and sometimes with helpful (or cryptic!) notes in the margins.

Recipes such as Aunt Rae's Crabby Potato Salad, Dad's Monterey Clam Chowder (which he modified from an old Milk Advisory Board flier from the 1980s that had a pre-stardom Heather Locklear on the cover), Great Grandma Madsen's Tamale Pie, Cousin Stan's Spaghetti Sauce and many more are still made over and over in our family kitchens. My favorites are the ones that aren't precise in their ingredients lists or instructions: requiring "a no. 2 can of crushed pineapple" or telling me to "bake in a moderate oven." I love that the "bake in a moderate oven" instruction doesn't even bother to note the amount of time that particular cake needs to bake!

One year, for Mom's birthday, I "borrowed" her recipe box and typed all of her recipes into a cookbook that she could actually use. Dad and Cindy helped me put the pages into plastic page protectors, we made a cute cover and put it into a three-ring binder for her as her gift. She loved it so much that she had us make a couple dozen more of "Mom's Recipe Collection" books to share with other family and friends. I still refer to my copy regularly and occasionally add new recipes to the collection.

I like to think that my own fairly solid culinary skills came from a combination of good genes/osmosis plus all the years I spent in Mrs. Birkhahn's 4-H cooking group. I hope my relatives, living or dead, don't mind if I share some of our not-so-secret family recipes with you from time to time.

My sweetie's birthday is coming up, and I'm thinking about birthday cakes right now. So, here's my first submission for Family Recipe Friday: 

Donna Madsen Bartram
Grandma Donna's Heaven on Wheels Frosting
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbls. thin cream
1/2c. brown sugar
3 Tbls. butter
powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
nut meat halves

Mix in saucepan cream, brown sugar, and butter. Bring to a good boil, stirring constantly. Allow to cool and add enough powdered sugar to make thick enough for spreading. Add vanilla and spread on cake. Top with nut meat halves.
(Note: I lost the file with the recipes in it ages ago, so I'm no longer honoring requests for new copies of Mom's book)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Cars!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.
Week 3: Cars.  What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.

I *wish* I had a picture of my first car. She was something to behold. A 1969 Ford Torino purchased from some good family friends. Puke green with black racing stripes along the side, and one of those air cam-thingies on the hood. Oh, and a V8 engine, which was probably too fast and powerful for this teenaged country girl. Her name was Myrtle. Myrtle, The Turtle, The Mean Green Driving Machine. And she was all mine. She was huge -- I swear, I could fit my sister and another five or so friends in there and we'd turn up the 8-track stereo and go cruisin', usually up and down Pacific Ave. in Stockton, California (do kids still cruise?). She was also easy to spot in a crowded high school parking lot full of big, new, shiny pickup trucks, Camaros, Firebirds and the like. Sadly, Myrtle left us in around 1983, after I went off to college, when my little sister was driving her and was run off the road by some crazy madman (so we're told, anyway...). Cindy was fine, Myrtle was not. R.I.P., Myrtle. You are still missed.

In lieu of pics of my own beloved first wheels, here are some photos of our family's cars through time. To be honest, it was easier to find pictures of my people on horses and bulls than with their cars!

I think that was our family's 1967 Ford Galaxy (c. 1971 or 1972)

Not sure, but I think these are Bartrams

Grandma Edith, Great Grandma Brittain and Dad: Road trip! (c. 1955 or so)

Grandma Edith -- Glamming it up on their road trip

Uncle Johnnie Bruhns with his puppies and car

Great Grandma Ethel Modena Martindale Hunt (Grandma Dobbs
to us!) and her mom, Nancy Dezina Jaggers Martindale

My dad, William Lee Brittain

Grandpa Woodie Brittain, holding my dad in front of their car (c. 1942)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Raymond "Dutch" Bartram - 1907-1954

Raymond "Dutch" Bartram
I'm one of those strange people who loves traipsing through cemeteries. I love to pay respects to my own ancestors, but I'm really happy just to go exploring any old cemetery, admiring the beautiful gravestones and wondering about the lives of the people who now reside in these permanent homes.
Dutch and his sister, Grace Bartram
One of my favorite family graves, though, is that of my Great Uncle Dutch (aka Raymond Bartram), who was born September 1, 1907, in Harveyville, Kansas. Dutch was my Grandpa John's older brother and rodeo partner-in-crime. He and Grandpa John were the first of our Bartram pioneers in California. Having caught a freight train out here to start their cowboy lives, they eventually went back to Kansas, and then came back to the Golden State with their parents and several other siblings.

Tragically, Uncle Dutch's life was cut short on January 12, 1954, when he was walking across San Pablo Avenue and was hit by a bus. His wife, Helen, had this wonderful gravestone made as a tribute to his full, yet too short, life.
Dutch was buried at Lone Tree Cemetery in Hayward, Alameda County, California. The tribute reads:
I have hung up my spurs and saddle
Put my horse in the old Corral
Bid Goodbye to my pals in the bunkhouse
And the range that I loved so well.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Military Monday: James Monroe Purser, Civil War Confederate Soldier

The first couple of episodes of PBS's new season of "American Experience" have focused on the Civil War (I'm watching the one on Robert E. Lee right now). That has me thinking of my own Civil War ancestors and how they contributed to both sides of that defining event in our country's history.

The soldier that fascinates me lately is one James Monroe Purser. Known as "Jim," he was born in Georgia on June 10, 1843, to Richard William Purser, of North Carolina, and Elizabeth Scott Bentley Purser, of Tallapoosa, Georgia. He had four brothers and one sister. When Jim was a child, his family moved to Alabama, where they farmed. His father died sometime between the 1850 and 1860 US censuses.

On February 4, 1862, at at Murphee's Crossroads in Blount County, Alabama, Jim enlisted in the Confederate army to fight the Union in the Civil War. His brothers, Richard and Moses, also enlisted and fought in the war. Jim was promoted from Private to 2nd Corporal in the 28th Alabama Infantry, Company B, but his service in the Confederate army wasn't without its trials and tribulations. As you can see in the army documents, below, Jim became ill within just a couple of months of enlisting, and ended up in the hospital at Shelby Springs, Alabama, for a time. Shortly after that, he somehow managed to lose his "gun and accoutrements" somewhere near Tupelo, Mississippi.  

Jim's most serious trial, however, came during a defining battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee. From the end of September through October 1863, General Braxton Bragg’s focus was on cutting off supplies to the Union army. On October 17, Major General Ulysses S. Grant took over the Western armies and moved to reinforce Chattanooga and establish a new supply line for the Union. When Major General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived with his divisions in mid-November, the Union began its offensive at Chattanooga.
Battle of Chattanooga as reported in Harper's Weekly
On November 23 and November 24, Union forces captured Orchard Knob and Lookout Mountain. On November 25, Union soldiers assaulted and captured the Confederate position on Missionary Ridge. Thousands of men were captured or died on both sides during these three bloody days, but the Union army held Chattanooga, which became the supply and logistics base for Sherman’s 1864 Atlanta Campaign.

A scene at Rock Island, painted by fellow prisoner, John F. Gisch
Jim and his brother, Richard, were both captured during the Battle of Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge in November 1863. They were confined at Rock Island Prison, Illinois, on December 5, 1863.

Rock Island hadn't even been completed when it started taking in more than 5,000 Confederate prisoners that December.
The water supply and drainage were sub par, creating a sanitation problem; the temperature was well below zero degrees; and a smallpox epidemic sickened thousands and killed more than 600 within three months. During the Civil War, more than 12,000 men were imprisoned at Rock Island, and nearly 2,000 prisoners died there.

Both Jim and Richard Purser lived through their imprisonment, and were released in March 1865 as part of a P.O.W. exchange program with the Union army. All three Purser brothers who fought in the war lived for several decades after the war, raising families and, hopefully, enjoying their lives.

Inscription reads: "Beloved One, Farewell"
James Monroe Purser returned to Alabama and married Nancy Susan Hodge in 1866. They had eight children (including my great great grandmother, Francis Georgia Ann Purser), most of whom lived to adulthood. They moved to Texas sometime between 1870 and 1880, and Nancy died there in 1883. Jim married Sarah Jane Sykes in 1886 and had five more children with her. They moved from Texas to Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma) sometime after 1900, and Jim died in Non, Hughes County, Oklahoma on January 29, 1914, at the age of 70.

James Monroe Purser was buried at Non Cemetery in Non, Oklahoma.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Obituary: Nancy Catherine Campbell Halstead: 1856-1940

It's Sunday, and I'm currently watching the Chicago Bears pummel the Seattle Seahawks in a very snowy playoff game. Well, it's not really even a game at this point, so I though I'd share some more family history!

Nancy, left, with daughter, Jessie, and grandchildren

Today's Sunday Obituary is dedicated to my great great grandmother, Nancy Catherine Campbell Halstead. Nancy was born on November 13, 1856, in Palo Alto County, Iowa. She married William Leroy Halstead in Missouri in 1880, and they raised eight kids. She passed away on March 14, 1940, in Cushing, Oklahoma.

One of the things I love about these old obituaries is that they often tell us more about the lives of our ancestors than, perhaps, we would find out from our living relatives who actually knew them. I knew Nancy's daughter (my great grandmother, Jessie Luetta Halstead), and I know her grandson (my grandfather, Woodie Brittain), but I don't recall either of them ever telling me much about their own ancestors. In the case of Nancy, I had no idea that her family were some of the earliest Oklahoma pioneers.

I have a poor copy of this obituary from my Grandma Edith's records, but it doesn't list the newspaper in which it appeared, so here's the text as well as some photos that have been passed to me from other cousins I've met online:
Nancy with her husband, William Leroy Halstead

March 14, 1940 
Cushing, Oklahoma

Pioneer Cushing Woman Dies Today

Mrs. Nancy C. Halstead, age 83, died at 2:20 o'clock this morning at her home southeast of Cushing. She was a pioneer of Oklahoma, coming to Lincoln County in 1893 where she and her husband homesteaded the Skinner place five miles south of Cushing, later moving to their present location where they have lived the past 30 years. She became a member of the Methodist church several years ago.

Funeral services are to be held tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o'clock in the home, with Rev. Golden Shook, pastor of the Methodist church
in charge. Burial will be in the Avery
Avery Cemetery, Avery, Lincoln County, Oklahoma
cemetery under direction of the Garrison Mortuary.

Surviving relatives include her husband, William Leroy Halstead of the home; four daughters, Mrs. Mary Thompson of Cushing, Mrs. Gertie Bradshaw of Lebanon, Missouri, Mrs. Jessie Brittain of Avery and Miss Myrtle Halstead of Avery; four sons, C.D. Halstead of Oklahoma City, Charley Halstead of Beaumont, Kansas, J.R. Halstead and L.E. Halstead of Avery; two sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Folley of West Bend, Iowa and Mrs. Ida Elkins of Jefferson, Iowa; thirty grandchildren and forty-two great-grandchildren. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: An Actual Treasure Chest!

My very treasured chest from Grandpa John
For Treasure Chest Thursday, I thought it might be fun to share with you my favorite treasure chest!

This beautiful little hand-carved box was a gift from my Grandpa John Bartram (the bull rider from this post) to his mom, Alice Veale Bartram. Grandpa procured the box while he was on his trip to Australia to compete in the rodeo events at the World Games in 1936. At one point during their travels, the ship docked in Tahiti, and Grandpa did a little shopping while he was there.

Grandpa lived with us while I was growing up, and after he passed away in 1987, my mom ended up with the box. A few years ago, she gave it to me. It now holds some of my own treasures, including some vintage buttons, photos of my 1969 VW Beetle and a bunch of old security passes from when I worked at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

Here's another picture of Grandpa and a bunch of his rodeo friends at the World Games in Australia.

John Bartram is on the left

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Frederick Harmon Brittain and Mary Jane Rooks

Here's a picture of my great great grandparents, Frederick Harmon Brittain and Mary Jane Rooks, as well as a copy of their marriage certificate. They were married on September 14, 1879 in Lowery City, Missouri.

Mary Jane Rooks Brittain and Frederick Harmon Brittain

Marriage Certificate - I love the decorative scroll work on it!
Witnesses to the marriage were Frederick's father, Milton Price Brittain, and Mary Jane's father, Thomas J. Rooks.

Frederick and Mary Jane had 12 children, including my great grandfather, Andrew Lee Brittain. Sadly, three of those children didn't make it past the age of three. At some point after their wedding, and possibly around the time of the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889, the family moved from Missouri to Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma). Frederick apparently ran into some trouble with the law around 1900 (he's in the US Jail at Muskogee in the 1900 US census, but I'm still working on the mystery of why he was there. Stay tuned!), and Mary Jane passed away in 1904. Frederick remarried, in 1906, to Sarah Frances Young, and they had three children together. They moved to Van Buren County, Arkansas, sometime after 1910, and he passed away there in 1921.