Thursday, September 30, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Button, Button ...

I've got the button! And then some. One of my strongest memories as a girl was playing with my mother's button box. It contained hundreds of buttons - big and small, old and new. As a little girl I would sort, stack, string, - or just run my fingers through and rattle them. I loved the feel and sound of them. When I was home sick, and Mother wanted to distract me from whatever ailed me, she would bring out special buttons - a wool covered one from her first tailored blazer, rhinestone studded ones from prom dresses, buttons from her father's dress shirts - and tell me a story.

Over the years we raided the box for chips when playing cards, to replace lost board game pieces, to use as money for doll hospitals or frontier villages in the yard. The sparkly ones were dress up jewelry strung on pipe cleaners for rings or string for necklaces. Some appeared on Halloween costumes, both mine and my children's. A few even ended up on clothes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: R.J. Williams c. 1888

Reese Jackson Williams (1862-1940)

This image is undated but believed to have been taken around the time of his marriage in 1888. It was most likely take at a studio in Johnson City, TN where he was living. The image is a digital reproduction of a scanned copy made in the 1990s. The location of the original photograph is unknown.

Source:  Reese Jackson Williams, Scanned reproduction, c. 1888. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Palmer Family Record

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is the first transcription of a document from the papers of Maria Lee Palmer Smith (1844-1931), my husband's great-grandmother.  It is an undated record of her parent's family in Maria Lee's handwriting.  Punctuation, format and spelling are retained from the original, though line breaks have been altered.

James A Palmer and Margaret M. Meredith of Lancaster County – Va. were married the 16th day of May 1842 by the Rev. John B. Randamne (sp?) at the Eutaw House Baltimore Md.
                        “                                                “
An infant girl born dead  In April 1843 at 1 o’clock of Margaret M. and James A. Palmer.
Maria Lee second daughter of Margaret M. and Jas. A. Palmer born Saturday the 9th day of March 184x4.
John Thomas Armstead son of James A and Margaret M. Palmer born Wednesday the 21st day of Jan – 1846 –
Died on the 14th day of December 1847 James A. Palmer youngest son of Col Armstead J. Palmer
Died on the 21st of July 1889 at Clifton Lancaster Co. Va Margaret M. Palmer aged 65 years –

Note: This document includes the first references I have seen to another child (the stillborn daughter), to "Thomas" as another given name for Maria Lee's brother, and to the description of her father as the "youngest son".  The last is of particular interest, since all the records I have seen to-date give no clues to any other children, something I have found puzzling.  Since her grandfather's will names only the one son, perhaps other children died before adulthood.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Sinking Creek Baptist Church (Carter County, TN)

AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by dmott9
During 1930s the Federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) transcribed historical records. One project (#465-44-3-445) in Carter County, TN was to transcribe the records of Sinking Creek Baptist Church, founded about 1775. The 1783 log church still stands on the property. The WPA transcribed records dating from 13 Jan 1787 to 1879.  The records have been grouped into one volume and published by Mountain Press.

Sinking Creek was in Washington County when the records begin.  Carter County was formed on Apr. 9, 1796.

The WPA transcription of Record Book II – (A) (dated Apr 13, 1794 -Feb 1803) includes the following references that pertain to the Mulkey and Hampton families  (names searched for were Mulkey, Hampton, Eton/Acton, Baylis, Lacey, Howard, O’dell) or to probable slaves living in the area:

On Apr. 13, 1794 the church is “Under the care of the Revd Mr. Jonathan Mulkey”. (p. 1 original document)

On the same day the minutes note that Hannah Hays and Sarah Mulkey were issued Letters of Dismission. Sarah Mulkey’s name is crossed out. (p. 2 original document)

On June 15, 1794 “a negroe woman named Jane Recd. under Recommendation at Sinking Creek Meeting House”. (p. 2 original document)

On July 12, 1794 “Read by the Revd Mr. Jonathan Mulkey, the Minutes of the association held at Cedar Creek on the fourth Saturday in May”. (p. 3 original document)

On Sept. 6, 1794 “a charge was had & Laid in against Mary Odle … & She appeared Criminale, the Church therefore thought her worthy of Excommunication, & the Said Mary Odl has agree’d not to Blame this Church JC”. (pp. 4-5 original document)

On Sept. 6, 1794 “The Church agrees to Cite James Edin to Church Meeting at Sinking Creek the Second Saturday in October….” (p. 5 original document)

On Dec. 13, 1794 “The Deacons for the Church of Christ at the Buffaloe Ridge met at the House of Joseph Crouch….
… agreed to Choose a Moderator for this Church, when the Revd Brother Jonathan Mulkey was unanimously chosen JC.” (pp. 5-7 original document)

On Jan. 18, 1797 “The Church … doeth Excommunicate John Carr on Sartain Chargis Lade in by the Church at the fork of Little which is these 1st he is Gilty of persuadeing a Negro to Run a way from his Master By his own Confestion ….” (p. 15 original document)

An undated list of “Money Collected for the Contingency of the Church by Deacon Hendrix” is included on pages 17-19 and includes the name of Sister Ecton. She paid 9 pence. (p. 18 original document)

On Mar. 18, 1797 a list of payments made includes Phillomon Lacey and Elizb Ecton. Lacy paid 6 pence. Ecton paid 1 shilling 6 pence. (p. 26 original document)

No further records were found.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sorting Saturday: What not to keep

I am trying - really, really trying - to sort through the boxes of stuff that have been parked in my basement and back bedroom for the last decade (at least). This is not a project that plays to my strengths. Rather it  involves every known weakness I (and apparently half my genetic fore-bearers) possess.  Lack of organizational skills, lack of self-discipline, total disinterest in actually finishing anything - except dessert.

And these piles and boxes are the stuff of science fiction. They reproduce - almost as if they're filled with rabbits. I used to wonder how, but I have stumbled upon a clue. Apparently they read. Those clever boxes have absorbed the knowledge from these 1936 & 1947 health brochures tucked in one of the boxes and are putting that know how into practice.

Of course, the real mystery is why my grandmother kept them and why I am having the worst time throwing them away.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Clip Art

I'm enjoying the new Geneablogger themes (Monday's my favorite). Plenty of spots to tuck random posts in, should one wish.  Thanks, Thomas.

ere's a quick tip. Dover Publications offers free samples each week of clip art from their collections. While most of them aren't of much use for a genealogical blog, they do prompt some fun ideas. If I was just a little surer of those "chasing Charlemagne" connections my great-aunts made I might use this fellow below. Perhaps some story about waiting for a white knight or a Military Monday post...

Clip art from Dover Publications.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 1919 Women's Basketball Team

This image is from a photograph in the collection of Iva Williams Sawyer (pictured above, 2nd from right).  It shows the 1919 Womens' Basketball Team from East Tennessee State Normal School.

East Tennessee State Normal School Women's Basketball Team.  Photograph, 1919. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Robert Hampton, Bond Guarantor, 18 April 1822

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This bond is one of several documents supporting a close relationship of this Hampton family with the Bayles/Bayless family. I am very interested in this Hampton family and its possible relationship to Rachel Hampton (abt 1794-bef 1880), wife of Isaac Mulkey.

William Bayles, Thomas Finch and Robert Hampton; bond for appeal; William Bayles vs. David Deaderick; April 18, 1822.

Know all men by these present that __
William Boyls  Thomas Finch & Robert Hampton
are ___ and firmly bound unto David Deaderick
in the just and full sum of one thousand Dollars
well and truly to be paid unto the sd David Deaderick
void on condition that the sd William Bayles shall
present this appeal with effect. this day obtained from
the county court of Washington to the next circuit
court to be held for the county  of Washington
at the court house in Jonesboro on the Second
Monday in September next or in ca__ of failure
____ pay and satisfy all costs & charges which
may accru by wrongfully carrying a__ the same
Witness and hands & seals this 18th day of
April 1822
                                                Wm Bayles – (seal)
                                                Thos Finch  (seal)
         Robt Hamton (seal)

Source: Washington County Court Records 1780-1965, Subgroup G, Misc. Judicial Documents, 1777-1928, Box 1, Folder 8, Item 25. Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee University, Johnson City, TN.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A New Look

I have been fiddling with the look & feel of the blog.  Not sure if this is the final design, but it's today's design. The background is a photograph of Margaret Meredith Palmer's 1840 baptismal veil. You can read about Margaret here and about my recent "discovery" of the veil here.

I would love any feedback, especially if anyone is having problems with the layout.  Easier to read? Harder? Are the columns overlapping or bleeding into one another?  Are pictures too big? Too small?  I'm such a novice at this but its fun learning!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Surname Saturday: Pereksta – Immigration Records

In my last Surname Saturday post I outlined what I had been told by my family and other Pereksta researchers. Once Ellis Island records became available online I decided to find out what I could about the Perekstas in America.

A note regarding spelling and research. Immigration, census and church records contain a multitude of spellings for the name. While I have done more than reasonably exhaustive (think completely exhausting) searches of census and immigration data, I have missed some records. Uncle John remains elusive in the 1910 census, though he should be living in or near Berwick, PA. My aunt Mary returned to Prislop and then came back to the United States. I haven’t found her return record. There are census records for Perekstas who don’t correspond to the immigration records I have found.  There are other surnames that sound like Pereksta – Prexta and Prechta both appear frequently in Soundex searches. I decided to concentrate on records that either used the modern spelling or could be linked the geographic areas known Perekstas lived. In these records the villages of Starina and Prislop have both Hungarian and Rusyn/Slovak names. I have used internet sources exclusively (more on that later).  And Stephen Morse is a god.

That said, here’s what I’ve found to date.

IMMIGRATION RECORDS – includes known Perekstas and potential Perekstas

Abstracts include surname, first name, port arrival (or departure for Hamburg) date, age, port, ship, indexed surname, and indexed village name. Names in bold are records for my great grandfather Ivan Pereksta and his children.

  • Pereksta, Janos, 4/6/1901, 43 , NY, Pretoria, Pareksta, Preszlop
  • Pereksta, Maria, 9/13/1901, 19 , NY, Columbia, Porckosta,
  • Pereksta, Georg, 9/13/1901, 24 , NY, Columbia, Prickosta,
  • Pereksta, Marya, 10/28/1902, 27 , NY, Finland, Perokozta, Zengliasztarnia
  • Pereksta, Michaly, 10/28/1902,  4 , NY, Finland, Perokozta, Zengliasztarnia
  • Pereksta, Anna, 9/2/1902, , 32 , NY, Friesland, Persszta, Sztarina
  • Pereksta, Janos, 9/27/1902, 34 , Hamburg, Graf Waldersee Pereksta, Setera
  • Pereksta, Ferenc, 9/18/1905, 25 , NY, Francesca, Pereksztre, Priupol
  • Perelya Kanyik Mihaly, 5/9/1907, 24 , NY, Carpathia, Perelya, Pereszlo
  • Pereksta, Janos, 12/22/1908, 26 , NY, Amerika, Pereiszka, Priszlup
  • Pereksta, Peter, 1/8/1909, 24 , NY, Batavia, Pereschle, Priszlop
  • Pereksta, Janos, 9/3/1909, 47 , NY, Kaiserin Augusta Victoria , Pereksta , Kis Pereszlo
  • Pereksta, Vazul, 10/31/1909, 29 , NY, Amerika, Perekszta, Cziroka Ujfalu
  • Pereksta, Suzanna, 2/22/1911, 17 , Phila., Haverford, Peresla or Peresta, Prystok
  • Pereksta, Janos, 11/9/1911, 40 , Hamburg, Prinz Oskar, Pereksta, Sternia
  • Pereksta, Georg, 5/25/1912, 17 , Hamburg, Pretoria, Perekszta, Ordosfalva
  • Perekszla, Georg, 6/1/1912, 17 , NY, Pretoria, Perekszla, Ordosfalva
  • Pereksta, Anna, 6/14/1913, 18 , NY, Amerika, Perckosta, Prysloys
  • Pereksta, Janos, 6/14/1913, 44 , NY, Amerika, Pereksta, Prysloys
  • Pereksta, Janos, 12/22/1925, 68 , NY, Westphalia, Percksta, Pristop

Census and 19th c. church records to come in future posts.  

Addendum:  Records for Mihal Pereksta and George Pereksta were missed.

  • Pereksta, Mihal, 6/3/1888, 28, Hamburg, Rhaetia, Pereksta, Priszlof
  • Pereksta, Mihal, 6/18/1888, 28, NY, Rhaetia, Perchsta, 
  • Pereksta, Gyorgy, 11/23/1899, NY, Meier, Perekszta, Sztarina
  • Pereksta, Gyorgy, 11/23/1906, 28, NY, Main, Perekszta, Czirokofalu

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sharing a Slice of Life: Chores

Bear with me – I will get to chores – but first let’s talk about yards and gardens.

I grew up in the 1960s in a New York City suburb. Yards were landscaped with swingsets, grass, rocks and trees to play in. Some had flowers. But I don’t remember a single vegetable growing in any of our yards. Hens & chicks were succulent plants growing in the rock gardens. Once a year you had to water or prune them. All pretty low maintenance until you were old enough to mow the lawn (chore!) or for the few weekends in the fall when we raked leaves (chore!).

Compare this with my grandmother’s working backyard in Binghamton, NY.  Baba had clotheslines running from the house, a garden of tomatoes, peppers, flowers, all planted in neat rows. Empty coops that used to hold birds (maybe even rabbits?) marked the fenceline. It was exotic to me, as were the peas I shucked (treat, not chore). I thought peas came from cans. (Be kind to my mother’s memory and recall that these were the days of instant potato flakes and Velveeta; days when we truly ate locally – no out of season veggies flown in from California, Texas or Chile.)

One summer we took the trip of a lifetime and went to Europe. We spent a few days in Belgium visiting friends. The first evening Monsieur D. took us out to the yard to show us the doves in the dovecote and asked us which ones we liked. I didn’t make the connection that I was picking the evening’s entrée, but once I understood I was fascinated. The dove was yummy and delicate, different from anything I’d eaten. I didn’t give a thought to the journey from cote to table.

Fast forward to 1974 when my father was transferred to Paris. I abandoned all thoughts of college in the United States and tagged along. Mother, having undue faith in my high school French, sent me to the market to get a chicken for dinner (another chore!). I said my piece to the butcher who asked me if I wanted the chicken préparé. Knowing Mother would cook the bird, I declined, grabbed the bird wrapped in butcher’s paper, dropped it in the kitchen and headed off to school.

My father greeted me when I got home with the news that Mother had a headache, was resting and that I would be wise to avoid her. He also suggested the next chicken I brought home should be plucked, cleaned and missing its feet. In other words, préparé. Oops.

We were suburban Americans who got our neatly wrapped, canned or processed food from the A & P. Mother had not a clue what to do with a bird on the counter missing only its head and some feathers; a bird that had probably been squawking that morning. Fortunately, my father, raised in the shadows of those coops in Baba’s yard knew exactly what to do. I don’t believe he has cleaned a bird since, but on that day, the lessons of his childhood chores paid dividends!

An aside – thinking of chores brought to mind a few that were specific to a moment in time. I had to occasionally rotate the canned goods in our bomb shelter and sweep out the cobwebs. Not so strange when you consider there were missile silos next door to my high school. My husband had to keep the gas tank filled in his mother’s car – which meant waiting in lines at the station in the 1970s. I wonder which of today’s chores will be anachronistic in a few years?

Postscript - Where was this guy when I needed him.  Maybe I should take one of his workshops...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Anna Pereksta

Anna Pereksta (left) and her friend, Mrs. Havtur, c. 1915

Anna, my grandmother, was born 10 Mar 1895 in Prislup, Zemplinska Zupa, Austria-Hungary (today's Slovakia) to Ivan Pereksta and Olena Sidor.  She died 19 Oct 1982 in Johnson City, Broome County, NY.

Source:  Anna Pereksta and Mrs. Havtur, Photograph, c. 1915. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2007.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Madness Monday: Crazy with Joy

The genealogy gods, fickle sprites that they be, have smiled upon me. While we were visiting my mother-in-law this past weekend her sister brought out an old family Bible. An 1832 Bible, to be exact. A Bible I did not know existed. I know I paled; I damn near swooned.

The moment would read like geneaporn if I used the adjectives that come to mind. Let me just say the earth moved.

And there was more. She dug out other items for me to examine. She has her grandmother's genealogical research papers and rolled pedigree charts from the late 19th and early 20th century; first person accounts of the Civil War; handwritten certified copies of early 19th c. wills and estate inventories; her great-grandmother's baptismal veil from 1840 (that one brought me to tears). I didn't even open half the envelopes or file folders.

I spent a crazed few hours transcribing the family record from the Bible and doing a preliminary inventory while watching the clock so I wouldn't miss my plane home. I will go back in the Spring with a plan of action and the necessary equipment to document and archive the materials.

I'll have all kinds of specific questions as I figure out how to proceed, but for now a dazed "Yippee!" and a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving is all I can manage. I would name my firstborn child for her if I could. At least their names are close. 

Amanuensis Monday: Phil Sawyer Obituary

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This undated news clipping was part of the papers of my great-aunts Selma Sawyer and Mary Kathryn McKenzie.  It was likely published in Marion County, TN on 10 April 1931.  Their brother, James Phillip Sawyer was born 26 Aug 1901 in Warrensburg and died on 9 April 1931 in Marion County, TN. An aside, Phil is most likely the baseball player pictured in my Summer Frolics posting.


Whitwell Coach, former Baseball Pitcher, Fatally Hurt in Head-On Crash.

Phil Sawyer, 28-year-old coach of the Whitwell High school athletic teams, died early yesterday morning from injuries sustained Wednesday afternoon in a head-on auto collision near Whitwell. When first treated at Erlanger hospital his injuries were thought to be not fatal, but shock and loss of blood caused his death.
The body was prepared for burial by Chapman's and sent to Pikeville, where it was viewed by hundreds of Whitwell and Pikeville citizens and students of the Whitwell school, where he was very popular and where Mrs. Sawyer taught.
Charles Seward, 43, of Hixson pike, driver of the car that struck Sawyer's machine, remains in a serious condition. Newell sanitarium attaches said his condition showed some improvement, but that he was still in a critical condition. He sustained a broken hip, fractured jawbone, severe lacerations and four teeth were knocked out.
The Sawyer and Seward autos collided head-on about three and one-half miles north of Whitwell. Seward was alone, but Mrs. Sawyer sat beside her husband. She was only slightly injured.
Sawyer was well known in baseball circles. He played professionally for several years, making good records with clubs in the Applachian and the South Atlantic leagues, both of which now are disbanded. Sawyer pitched for Greeneville (Tenn.) in the Appalachian league, and aided that team in winning a pennant. He pitched for Knoxville when that town was in the Sally league.  He was a right-hander of amazing speed and control and while with Knoxville had many chances to try out for major league teams. However, his interest in professional baseball declined and he began a coaching career.
He took over the Whitwell position more than a year ago and the teams coached by him made good records. He was a young man of retiring disposition, modest to an extreme degree and insistent that credit for any of his many achievements be given those who "gave me a break."
The body will be sent from Pikeville this morning to Greeneville, Tenn., his former home, where funeral services will be held Sunday.
He is survived by his wife; parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Sawyer, of Greeneville; three brothers, Robert, of Morristown; Conway and Winston, of Warrensburg, Tenn; five sisters, Mrs. L. H. Luttrell, of Greeneville; Mrs. Herbert Haun, of Mohawk, Tenn.; Misses Selma, Emma and Mary Catherine Sawyer, of Warrensburg.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Follow Friday: Good Reads for Research Addicts

Dionne Ford had a wonderful post last month, Ancestry Inspired Reading, that started me thinking about whether my reading reflects my love of history and genealogy. Okay, obvious. Of course it does – far beyond books specific to my family history.

Even in fiction I am drawn to mystery and the search.  My favorite part of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the research. Larsson sketched interesting characters; he included enough darkness and evil to more than satisfy my macabre side. But it’s the scenes in the stacks or poring over old photographs that grabbed me. Probably not the scenes the rest of my family remembers.

A quick glance at my bookshelf yielded another three books (all non-fiction) I loved for the same reason.

The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D. T. Max

From the book jacket – “For two hundred years, a noble Venetian family has suffered from a progressive insomnia that kills…. In Papua New Guinea, a primitive tribe is struck by a lethal illness whose principal symptom is uncontrollable laughter. In England, once-placid cows attack their owners….” 

I know prions and Mad Cow Disease don’t seem the stuff of a good read, but I devoured this book.  The only lingering effect has been to my eating habits. Great research and gripping story.

After Long Silence by Helen Fremont

Fremont’s 1999 memoir about discovering her family’s hidden history and her parents’ lives as Holocaust survivors is extraordinarily well-written. It was completely absorbing, heartbreaking and affirming. 

The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn

Huge, wandering, reflective memoir about his search for information about six family members who died during the Holocaust. I adored it – every page – but it is a challenging book. A friend told me that my admiration of the book revealed much about my own mind. She was not complimenting me. Ruth Franklin’s 2006 review is fair and accurate. That said, Mendelsohn is an eloquent, elegant writer and his is an amazing book.

Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times about Isabel Wilkerson’s new book about black migration in 20th century America, The Warmth of Other Suns.  Santa dear, if you’re reading, it needs to be on my bookshelf. Please.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy 90th to the Dudette!

Today is my mother-in-law's 90th birthday.  She has lived an amazing life - and continues to.  Here's a sampling -

Age 2
She was born in Frederick, Maryland when it was still a small, agricultural community.  Her father, a local doctor and instructor at Hood College's Nursing School, made his rounds by horse and buggy.  As they grew up the children learned to ask exactly what their father was teaching each day. When he covered the brain or digestive system they scrambled to find dinner invitations because his anatomical specimens, obtained from a local butcher, usually ended up on the dinner table.

Some summers she was sent to help her maternal uncle's family. No big thing, except they lived in Lander, Wyoming, quite a journey from her bucolic eastern home. She traveled alone by train and remembers magical visits and dramatic vistas. One morning shortly after her first arrival they were going riding. She donned her jodphurs, riding jacket and English helmet and walked out expecting to find the English saddle she rode at home. Instead she was greeted by uproarious laughter and immediately named the Dudette. At the week-end barn dances ranchers would swing her round and pass her on, her feet never touching the ground. She was welcomed by her uncle's in-laws each time she visited and adopted into their large, boisterous family. Years later she cemented the relationships by marrying into the family herself.

Lt. Dudette
When World War II broke out she enlisted as a Navy nurse and was stationed in the Pacific.  A petite woman, she didn't always have control of the recovering marines. They delighted in tucking her in a laundry hamper and racing around the halls. Her commanding officers were not amused, but I believe her laughter healed wounds.

After the war Lt. Dudette headed back to Wyoming where she worked for her uncle until slipping off to marry her aunt's very handsome nephew, also a Navy veteran back from the war. She outranked him, but he was determined to finish college and get a job far from the ranches where he'd toiled. They moved to Laramie, where she worked, while he went to school. They shared an uninsulated garage with their landlord's car. During the winter a wood stove kept them from freezing - barely.

Eventually her husband graduated and achieved his dream of a far away job - mapping the Persian Gulf, to be exact. The Dudette moved back to Maryland and went back to school to get her bachelor's degree. But that proved difficult. When her husband returned from the Gulf his government job demanded frequent moves - Georgia, Panama City, Maryland, Dallas, Chicago, Butte, St. Louis, Long Island. With each move she lost credits. But she persevered and graduated one semester before her son. She went on to do post-graduate work.

The Dudette was the only member of her family to move from Maryland and after decades of traveling the country she and her husband retired to Frederick. She and her five brothers and sisters have since lost their spouses, but they are a sturdy bunch and will gather this weekend to celebrate. And the day will be full of teasing, laughter and great love.

Happy, happy birthday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Endicott-Johnson Cutting Room Employees

A belated Labor Day tribute - According notes my aunt made in her father's diary, my grandfather Stefan got his first job in the United States a little more than 3 months after his arrival. On April 11, 1921 he began working at the Gotham Ross Park Factory (in or near Binghamton, NY).  He worked there 16 weeks "pulling lastes" (I'd love to know what this means!).  He then went to work for Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company (June 10, 1921) first working outside with a shovel and pick, and moved inside (Sept. 22, 1921) to the West End Victory Cutting Room "Block".  He finally becoming a leather cutter (upper leather machine) Aug. 22, 1922, the job he held until he died, at work, 26 years later.

This photo was taken in 1937 in honor of the employees 100% participation in a Red Cross and company fund drive.  My grandfather is pictured in the second row, sitting in the middle, with an open collar and apron.

Endicott-Johnson West End Victory Cutting Room Employees, Photograph, 8 Feb 1937. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2007.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Samuel McAdams Family Notes

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

Three pages of notes, handwritten (with a margin note and a couple of additions at later dates in pencil and pen), were written by my grandmother, Iva Williams Sawyer. The notes contain birth, marriage and death information for the family of her grandparents, Samuel Bryson McAdams and Rachel Mulkey. The pages appear to have been written in the 1960s and may have been copied from another source, but I have no knowledge of the source of the information contained in these notes. It is possible that Iva was writing down information her mother, Flora McAdams (eldest child of Samuel & Rachel) had given her. These notes were in her papers at her death.

Page one


Flora Elizabeth McAdams Apr. 17 – 1867
Elmer Ellis McAdams Aug. 4th, 1869
Albert Martin McAdams April 10, 1871
Thomas Edward McAdams June 7th, 1874
Isaac Judson McAdams Feb. 12th, 1877
Ulysses Dakota McAdams Dec 14, 1879
Mamie Violetta McAdams June 22, 1883

Page two


Samuel B. McAdams
   May 13th, 1900
Rachel Mulkey McAdams
   April 22, 1906
Albert M. McAdams
   Nov. 30th, 1913
Elmer E. McAdams
   Jan 20, 1925
Edward T. McAdams
   Mar 21st, 1930
Lena L. Williams (Daughter of Flora Williams)
   Feb 9th, 1896
Mamie V. McAdams
   Oct 12th, 1884
Lonnie Mae McAdams – Daughter of Albert McAdams
   Dec 19, 1899
Vera Ethel McAdams – Daughter of Ed McAdams
   Nov. 14, 1903
Flora McAdams Williams
   Dec. 17th, 1945 – at Johnson City Tenn.

[The next two items were written at later date, in darker ink, but also written by Iva.]

 Earl Emmet Williams – Aug. 1, 1915
Argil Bryson Williams – Nov 1, 1960

Page three

[No heading]

Samuel B. McAdams
b. Feb. 3rd, 1845                                [hand drawn vertical line] m. May 9th 1866
Rachel Mulkey
b. Sept 15th 1939

Flora Elizabeth McAdams                  m.             Reese Jackson Williams
b. April 13th, 1867                                                Mar. 8, 1888
Elmer E. McAdams                          m.             Ollie Davidson
b. Aug 4, 1869                                                      Jan. 6, 1901
Albert M. McAdams                         m.              Lola Oliver
b. April 10th, 1871                                                  Sept 12th, 1895
Thomas Edward McAdams               m.               Lou Hayes
b. June 7th, 1874                                                   Dec. 24, 1895
Isaac Judson McAdams
b. June 7th, 1874
Ulysses D. McAdams
  Dec. 14, 1879
Mamie V. McAdams
b. June 22, 1883
d. Oct 12 1884 [this item is written in pencil and includes the margin note “Correct in another place”]
Ula Lee McAdams
b. Oct. 25, 1898
Lonnie Mae McAdams
b. June 15th, 1896
Vera Ethel McAdams
b. Dec. 28, 1896

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Surname Saturday: Pereksta - What the families say

Pereksta is the surname of my paternal grandmother, Anna Pereksta (b. 1895, Prislop; d. 1982, Johnson City, NY). It is equally rare in this country and in Slovakia where all known Pereksta immigrants who settled in the United States were born.

Most American Perekstas descend from one of two men: my great-uncle John (b. 1882, Prislop; d. 1948, NJ), or George (1878-1938) also born in Prislop and who died in Ohio. There was another Anna Pereksta who lived in Binghamton, NY (as my grandmother did) married to a Wasyl/William Pastorok. My aunt referred to her as ‘tall Anna Pereksta’. We have corresponded with people researching each of these families but not been able to establish if or how we are related.

Here’s what I’ve been told.

My family knows nothing about my great-grandfather Ivan Pereksta’s origins beyond his birth on 25 Jan 1857 in Prislop (present day Slovakia). My aunt remembers hearing of one cousin – a George Pereksta who came to America, was a miner in Pennsylvania and then moved to Vermont where he died in mining accident. He was married to a widow with daughters who settled in Binghamton after his death. He had no children. This happened before 1925. When I discovered a William Pereksta on the 1920 and 1930 census living only blocks from Uncle John I asked again. My aunt had a vague memory of a Mary Pereksta who was a cousin of Uncle John’s.  Her father and Uncle John quarreled and the two families stopped communicating.  These were the only hints that we were related to any other Perekstas in the United States.

In the 1980s or 90s my aunt told us the following story. About 1975 she attended a wedding in Berwick, PA.  She didn’t remember whose wedding it was but was certain it was not a relative. A woman leaned across the table and asked her if she knew that Pereksta was a “made up” name. She had been told that my aunt’s grandfather had been Jewish. He had fallen in love with and married a Greek Catholic girl and changed his name. She said the name meant “a bridge” or “crossing over”. This was news to my aunt, and she had trouble believing it. She asked a Pereksta cousin if she had ever heard anything similar from her mother (she had not) and finally asked her mother, Anna, if the story was true. While Anna denied the family was Jewish, she did not dispute the story entirely. The phrase she used was, “So I have heard.”

When we visited with our Pereksta cousins in Slovakia they had no further information. We did not specifically ask how other Perekstas were related, only if they knew anything more about Ivan than we did.

My father corresponded briefly with a man researching the family of Anna Pereksta Pastorok. In 2000 he wrote that he was researching the following associated families: Macan, Lupkovics, Bundja, Simkulet, Pastorok, and Pereksta. He gave Anna’s husband name as James and said they had been living in Danbury, CT in 1902 and in Binghamton, NY by 1920. They had a son William or James (he used both) who married Susan Macan in 1911 in Auburn, NY. He gave Anna’s birth as abt. 1867 in either Prislop or Starina.

We have corresponded with descendants of the George Pereksta who settled near Cleveland, Ohio. According to their information, George was born in 1878 in Prislap (as they spelled it) and came to America in 1902. He had a sister Anna and a brother whose name they didn't know. George married Anastasia Jafko in 1899. She was born in 1880 in Velko Polana, Czechoslovakia and came to America in 1906. They had 8 children, three daughters born in Pittsburg and 5 sons born in Cleveland. Two of the sons died very young.

Finally, through Facebook we have been in touch with someone researching a Pereksta who does not descend from my uncle John or from George in Ohio. His family is from New Jersey.

Next week – What I have learned.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Genealogy in the 1940s

F.R. Conway letter
My great-aunt Selma Sawyer was the family custodian of records and lived across the Nolichucky River from her great-grandfather Conway's land. Visitors poking around Cocke or Greene County asking about the Conways were often referred to her for information and housing.  Being gregarious and hospitable she took them in for a night, or at the very least served up a country meal. She was not a researcher, but was eager to see what other's had learned. I used to accuse her of chasing Charlemagne, but she saw no shame in collecting illustrious relations, and had the family crests on her wall to prove it. There are more than a dozen letters from genealogists she met (never leaving her porch, I suspect) in her papers. They attest to her warmth - and perhaps their hope that she might lead them to whatever Holy Grail they were seeking.

Helen Cooper letter
The letters suggest some competition for artifacts (imagine!), express frustration at other researchers' stinginess with information, and include a few not so subtle barbs. But they also demonstrate great generosity, warmth and a passion for the hunt that I recognize.

Helen Cooper Map
Helen Cooper's letter (right) sparked my interest in history when I was a girl. I was no more than 11 when my aunt showed it to me and I was fascinated. It amazed me that someone had an old map, that others wanted to see it and that someone took the time to copy it - twice!

Ethel Jackson letter

I admit to being amused by Ethel Jackson's (right)  letter. More than half the letters are from her. They are chatty and casual. I was ready to lump her with Aunt Selma as nothing more than a crown collector until I realized how many hours she spent digging through court house basements and various attics. Some of the documents that I "found" to support the Conway information I had been given actually were found by Mrs. Jackson in the 1930s and 1940s. Whatever the tone of her letters, she dug.

I'm grateful I'm researching today, and not then. But there's charm in the idea of roaming the countryside, knocking on doors and being invited into the family. I have to wonder though, some of those doors up in the mountains might have had moonshiners behind them.  Knocking on those could have proved fatal.

Letters to Selma Sawyer from: F.R. Conway, dtd 28 May 1940; Helen Cooper, dtd 4 Oct 1945; and Ethel Jackson, undated. Digital images. Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: First Wheels, Greene County, Tennessee

Girl in Buggy, Greene County, Tennessee

This photo is from a photo album belonging to Selma Sawyer that was stored in a chest in her home near Warrensburg, TN until 1997.  Most of the photos in the album seem to date from the same time frame.  Some have been dated c. 1918.

Girl in Buggy, Photograph, date unknown. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997.