Uncle Dave's book

Sunday, May 31, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #23: Edna Evelyn Hudson

     Edna Evelyn Hudson was my father's aunt.  She was born 9 Feb 1890 in Fayetteville, Arkansas to Benjamin Melvin Hudson and Agnes Georgiana Cookson.  She had three younger sisters. Her mother had been a school teacher before marriage and she encouraged her daughters to succeed academically.  Edna was quite precocious.  I have a letter she wrote to her grandparents detailing a trip to the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  It is full of detailed descriptions and illustrations. A later 1907 Fort Worth newspaper article mentions Edna and her sister, Mabel, as at the top of their respective classes.

     After graduating from High School in Fort Worth in 1908 Edna attended Texas Christian University and received a teaching certificate.  She later (about 1916 as she is listed on the California Voters List in Berkeley in that year)attended University of California at Berkeley and earned a Masters Degree (not sure in what but she taught English so likely that).  Returning to Fort Worth she fell in love but her sweetheart joined the  army in WW I and was killed.  She never married.  In her sister, Bessie's, wedding article the Best Man is named W.K. Swetzer.  I thought this might be her sweetheart but I haven't been able to find this man.

     She spent the rest of her life teaching in Fort Worth and living with her parents.  Her mother died in 1946.  Edna and her father spent a summer driving in the west, visiting her sister Bessie's family in Seattle and her Alma Mater at Berkeley.  In 1948, her sister Alma and her daughter, Evelyn (named for Edna) came to live with Ben and Edna after the death of Alma's husband.  So, she had her family as well as her career. She was active in the Hemphill Presbyterian Church and President of the Q.E.D. Club.

     Edna has a special place in my heart because of her interest in Family History.  In 1904 the family received a letter with a family tree purporting to go back to Anneke Jans Bogardus of New Amsterdam.  Although I don't think the family sent money (this was actually a fraudulent money making scheme), Edna did do some research on the family.  My father had this and a copy of the family data she wrote in her niece's baby book.  This is actually one of the things that got me interested in the family tree in the Eighth Grade!

     It was very unusual for a woman to obtain a Master's Degree before 1920 and she is the first woman in our family to do so. And here is the end of Edna's letter to her grandparents: "We had ice cream for supper this evening and as it is getting dark I must quit. Good By From your loving daughter. Edna. Remember your girls.  Edna-flower is Helitrope(sic) Mabel-...Migonette(sic)Alma...Hyacinth Bessie...Bergamot"

52 Ancestors Year 2 #22: James Casper Negley, Jr.

     James Casper Negley, Jr., was born 3 Dec 1917, the son of James Casper Negley, M.D. and Catherine Constance Collins.  He and his sister, Barbara, were raised sharing their father's love of hunting, fishing and the outdoors. Jim graduated from Glendale High School in 1935 and the University of Southern California in 1939.  The 1940 Census lists him as living at home, working as a salesman for a Wholesale Furniture Company at 40 hours a week.  That was in April 1940, by then WW II had started in Europe and in September 1940 we find Jim enlisting in the Army.

     Jim enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort MacArthur San Pedro as an Aviation Cadet on 9 Sep 1940.  He was 5"9" tall and weighed 137.  Unfortunately,  his debilitating headaches disqualified him as a pilot.  He went to Canada and joined the Canadian Air Force but ran into the same problem, for awhile he worked for an aircraft plant in Canada.  He returned to the US and joined the Coast Guard. He also met, fell in love with and married Eloise Knock, his father's office nurse. They were married 12 Sep 1942 in Los Angeles.  Three months later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor precipitated the U.S. entrance into  WW II and Jim was off to the Pacific.  He was stationed on the Carrier LCP 169 where he drove a Higgins Boat which ferried the Marines onshore where they fought to take an island.  He was at the Battle of Tarawa among others. He also fought off of Alaska.  He would not talk about his war experiences with his sons later, other than very generally.  They were quite impacting for him.  His son Dennis actually researched his WW II experiences and has written a full account.  I also made him an Honor Wall posting on Fold 3 if anyone is interested in knowing more about this part of his life.

     After the war Jim and Eloise moved to Oregon where he attended Oregon State University.  Their first son, James Patrick Negley, was born in Corvallis in 1946.  He then worked as a Forestry Ranger and his son Dennis was born in McMinnville in 1948.  Around 1950 the family moved to Reno, Nevada, where he took on the job of Chief Law Enforcement Commissioner for the Nevada Fish and Game Commission. He was good at his job, too good because he arrested or fined some friends of big time gambling concerns in Las Vegas.  When the Commission was down-sized in May 1957 he was out of a job.  Meanwhile, a daughter, Kathleen ("Kasey") was born on 3 Jul 1954.  Jim went back to school to get his masters in Police Science at the University of Nevada.  Upon graduation in 1958 he moved to Modesto, California to teach at Modesto Junior College, founding the Police Science Department there.

     He was successful in this, teaching many who became policemen in the area.  Until one day he was on a fishing trip with a friend and was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He spent many months in the hospital but eventually was able to resume his teaching position in a wheelchair.  He even visited Australia with his wife in August 1968.  When he returned he lost his teaching position and the inability to pursue his love of hunting and fishing and being in the outdoors became too much.  He ended his life on 29 Jun 1971 at the age of 53.

     Jim had strong opinions and ideas of what was right.  I found a letter he wrote to a local paper which is well written and illustrates his degree of integrity in defending what he feels is right.  To quote just a bit of this letter.  It appeared in the Modesto Bee on 9 Nov 1967 and was title, "Outraged Reader".  He was responding to an attack on the governor.

      "One thing for sure about you flacks down there on the Peach County Free Press...you can never be accused of doing business without a license.  You sure use a lot of journalistic license.

     "I will not sign this as "disgusted" with my initials or an alias, I am
                                        James C. Negley


Friday, May 15, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #21 Johan August Almquist aka John A. Allen

     Johan August Almquist was the oldest son of Nils Johan Almquist and Anna Charlotta Johannesdatter.  He was born on 31 January 1851 in Brunn, Alvsborg, Sweden.  He had a younger brother and two sisters.  In 1864 his father, Nils, decided to go to America.  Johan's mother didn't want to go. One day in April 1864, Nils decided to leave anyway and took the children with him.  Anna Charlotta called the police and they found Nils as he was about to board the boat.  They let him leave but made him leave the children behind.  Just over a year later, on 21 June 1865, Johan and his brother, Anders, left Sweden for America. Johan was 14.

     Johan and Anders joined their in Swan Lake, Meeker, Minnesota.  Not long after Nils married his second wife, Anna Elizabeth Finstad.  The official marriage record is dated 12 Oct 1869 but their first son was born June 1869.  The Census records say she arrived in the U.S. in 1866. At least by 1868 Nils and Elizabeth were living together.  The boys did not get along with their new stepmother.  The family story is that they both rebelled from her and ran away.  As a result they were put in Reform School.  This was a recent development at that time, one starting in St. Paul in 1868. While there they were schooled and trained.  Anders went into the mercantile business when he left and Johan became a railroad worker.  Johan, by now John, had a major falling out with his father over this and changed his last name to Allen.  By the 1870 Census we find him under the name of Allen working in a saw mill in Stillwater, Minnesota.  By the 1880 Census he is married with children and living in Palo Pinto.

     He married Mary Moore and they had seven children.  He worked for the Railroad as a car carpenter, then the Foreman of the Car shop and finally as a Car Inspector.  His father died in 1893 and I don't know if they were ever reconciled.  However, he must have stayed in touch with his sister, Hulda Peterson, as my grandfather, her son Walter, knew his cousins and kept in touch with them all his life.  I found a number of them in his Address Book after he passed away in 1982.

     This story goes to show how important it is to record the family stories and not lose sight of them.  I had done so and had another Johan A. Almquist in Meeker County confused with him.  Then one day I found my earlier family records and saw that he had changed his name to Allen.  I found  a possible man on Ancestry and it was the names in my Grandfather's address that proved to me it was the right man.  I contacted his descendant who had posted the tree and explained it all to her.  Her family had not known his original name or the names of his parents.  So this straightened it out for two families!

Friday, May 8, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #20: Elisabetta Maria Cattarina Wegher, beloved Mother

     Elisabetta Maria Catterina Wegher, known as Maria, was the youngest of nine children born to Luigi Paulino Wegher and Elisabetta Fachini. Maria was born on 14 Nov 1830 in Maso Milano in the parish of Sporminore.  Maso Milano is a small community based on a large rocky plateau at the place where the two rivers, Noce and Sporeggio, join.  It was founded by Alberto Pezzi, a blacksmith from the Odrio district of Milano, when he came to Sporminore and set up business as a blacksmith. He is noted in the Church records in 1577. His son took over from him and then it passed to other blacksmiths until in 1750 Michele Wegher came from Lauregno and took over.  Luigi was his great grandson. The Weghers lived in Maso Milano and the family is still there today.

     Maria married Giovanni Luigi Stefani on 20 Oct 1849 at the age of 18.  She brought a fair amount of property into the marriage as her family was prosperous.  Giovanni and Maria had bad luck with their children.  Out of seven children, when the youngest, Francesco, was born only two others were alive.  And one of these, his brother Giacomo died when Francesco was 4.  The only other surviving child, his sister, Adelaide, had an accident when young and spent 6 years convalescing resulting in her having a hunched back.  This must have been heart wrenching for Maria.

     She must have doted on her youngest son, Francesco, who was strong and healthy and devoted to her. Her husband, on the other hand, didn't take any of this well and became a ne'er do well drunkard.  Frank would hold back as much money as he could from what he and his father earned by peddling and give it to his mother.  When he was older he went to Germany and France and worked at various jobs (Railroad, mines, chemical plant) and sent money back to his mother. It wasn't until after she died on 23 Nov 1884, that he left for America.  In later years he told his children how terrible his father was but praised his mother.  "He dearly loved his mother" is how his son, Clement, put it.

     The family lived in house #54, which still stands in Sporminore today. I believe that she would have been very proud of her son and her daughter, their lives and their families and the many descendants both have living in America and Italy today.

Friday, May 1, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #19: Margaret Hepler

     Margaret Hepler was the mother of my husband's grandfather.  The only info I had about her was her name and that she had married John Milton Negley.  I found them in the 1880 Census living in Elizabeth, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  It gave her age as 33, suggesting she was born in 1847. It gave Pennsylvania as place of birth. Research showed a Tobias Hepler in Butler County, PA who had a daughter, Margaret, born about 1847. I determined that Butler was adjacent to Allegheny County and that John Milton Negley had two Uncles and their families living in Butler County. But how could I be sure that Tobias was Margaret's father? I sent messages to two people on Ancestry who had Tobias in their trees. One of them sent me a link to Tobias' will.  Here's what I found:

            " I give and bequeath my sons and daughters Elizabeth Burtner wife of John Burtner, Mary Titus wife of John Titus, John Hepler, Joseph Hepler, Margaret Negley wife of John Negley, William Hepler, Catharine Hepler after expenses are paid divided equally among the Seven above named..."  written in 1879.

     So I had found her parents.  I was able to find her in the 1950, 1860 and 1870 Censuses after this. This also led me into discovering in her ancestry a line of French Canadians that goes back to Quebec in 1652!

     I still don't know much about her, though.  She and John lived on a farm in 1880, they had three children.  She died in 1890. I don't know the exact date of her birth, marriage or death.  I think her death had a profound effect on the family as in 1900 John is living in Pittsburgh working as a Street Car Conductor while the three children are living on the farm in Elizabeth. I wish I knew more about her!

     What this does tell me is the importance of wills in family history research and the value of communicating with other researchers!