Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Baby's first Christmas was spent pointing at the lights on the tree and playing with the wrapping paper and bows while her adoring parents and grandparents watched.

The second Christmas was an exciting time learning about Santa and presents.
The third Christmas was filled with wonder.  
How tall and pretty the tree was and when would Christmas and Santa finally get here.
The fourth Christmas was filled with delight at the rocking horse Santa brought.  She named him Thunderhoof after a favorite book by Syd Hoff.

May you always have Christmas times filled with excitement, wonder, and delight, but most of all, with love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Maggie Elizabeth Hearne Fowler Alexander

Maggie Elizabeth Hearne was born 10 Jan 1897 in Louisiana to James L. and Josephine G. Wooten Hearne.  She is listed on the 1900 Jackson Parish, Louisiana census with her parents, and two brothers, James E[rnest] and Everett S[ilvester].
Perhaps it is because James Lawson Hearne died in 1905 (see the entry on and the family was in transition, a 1910 census record for Maggie has not been located.  Her brothers' WWI draft registrations were in Winn Parish, Louisiana in 1917 and 1918.

This photo must have been taken before Maggie married.  The arrows point to Ellis Lee, a former beau, Maggie, and her mother.  The person who added the information on the back of the photo stated the names of the others were not known.

Joe, holding Hazel, Maggie "expecting Nellie"

Since Hazel was born in 1915 and Guenelda, "Nellie", was born in December 1917, this photo was most likely taken in 1917 in Winn Parish.

World War I Draft Registration records were located for both of Maggie's brothers and her husband in Winn Parish.  Joe Fowler and James Ernest Hearne registered 5 June 1917 and Everett Silvester Hearne registered 12 Sep 1918.

On the 1920 Winn Parish, Louisiana census, Joseph Fowler and wife, Maggie are listed as living in Winn Parish at the logging camp in Joyce, Louisiana with their daughters Hazel and Nellie.  Maggie's brothers have both married and are enumerated in Joyce "Loging" Camp in Winn Parish.  Their mother, Josephine G. Hearne, is a widow living with her son, Everett, and his wife.

Hazel, Clois, Nellie, Maggie, Josephine G. or Virginia (her mother) with Everett who was called "Son". The picture was probably taken in 1923. Josephine died in December 1927.
According to the 1930 census, the family, including James, the youngest child, were living in Jackson Parish, Louisiana.

This photo of Maggie Elizabeth Hearne Fowler was taken a few months before the death of her husband, Joe Cecil (aka Cephus or Josephus and Joseph) Fowler in February 1943.

A note or poem was recently found among a descendant's pictures.  It seems to be in Maggie's handwriting and is transcribed as follows:

In Memory of My
Husband who died 3 years ago 
                    my husband
In memory of  Joe C. Fowler
Who passed away Feb 6, 1943
Three years has come and gone
Still fond memories linger on
of a loved one we layed away
Three sad years ago today
He is gone but never forgotten
And as dawns another year
In our lonely hours of thinking
Thoughts of him are always near

Maggie married Amzy Dell Alexander some time after the death of his second wife, Bessie Loe, who died in 1947. His first wife, Virginia Tiny Rhymes, died in 1925. He is buried beside her in the East Mount Olive Cemetery in Bienville Parish.
Maggie and Dell Alexander
Maggie died on April 20, 1972 and is buried by Joe Cecil in Jonesboro, Jackson Parish, Louisiana.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Stockings

Although we had a fake fireplace with gas heating in it, we didn't hang stockings on the mantel.  When I was in 5th or 6th grade I awoke on Christmas morning to find a red mesh stocking hanging from my door knob. It was  not the kind we now have that are beautifully embellished and filled with small presents and candy.  It was filled with an apple, a banana, an orange, and an assortment of nuts.  I questioned my Mother about why she would do that and I'll never forget her reply.  She thought it was something special because when she was a girl they didn't have grocery stores where they could buy fruit any time of the year. Getting fruit and nuts they normally didn't have was a special treat for her at Christmas.  What an eye-opener and humbling experience that was.  If there were other things in the stocking, they have been forgotten, but I've never forgotten about the fruit and nuts.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent Calendar Grab Bag - Christmas Carols and Misunderstood Lyrics

A pretty little booklet of Christmas Carols came with our newspaper each year.  One of them stayed in my piano bench for years, but was packed away when we moved.   Simple things like that were such special treats.  As an adult I've still kept a few of the booklets like the one pictured below because they remind me of how magical Christmastime is for children. 

Books have been written and comedians often make comments about misunderstood song lyrics.  Here are two I remember from my childhood.  I had no idea what the words really were until I was older, but since I grew up in Abilene, Texas, the local drawl may have had something to do with my interpretation of the lyrics.

Silent Night - "Rounyun verjun" = "Round yon Virgin" 

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer - "Yugledown inhiztoreeeeeee" = "You'll go down in history!"  (yugle rhymes with bugle)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Calendar - Visiting Santa

If only I had a picture!
Some of us in a group called Remember in Abilene When... on facebook have commented on Mrs. Baird's Bakery in Abilene, Texas having a wonderful display on the front lawn for Christmas.  There were reindeer and a sleigh with the real, live Santa in it.  Just ask any of us who were there!  We stood in line waiting our turn to climb up in the sleigh and tell Santa what we wanted for Christmas. There was a microphone and a speaker so the parents waiting below could hear what the children were requesting. 

In 1956 I told Santa I wanted a walking doll and a stroller, but my Daddy had told me it would cost too much. Mother said Daddy was only telling me that so I would be surprised at Christmas, but it backfired on him when I told that to Santa and everyone else there that night. Mother and Daddy probably laughed more than anyone in the crowd, but Daddy was described as turning several shades of red.

Afterwards we were allowed to tour the bakery and received a mini loaf of bread with butter.  It always smelled so good when we drove by the bakery, but the smell inside the bakery and the taste of the warm, freshly baked bread were unforgettable.  

On Christmas Eve I was thrilled to find I did get my walking doll and stroller.  I've searched the Internet for pictures of her, but have not found one with a dress like she wore. Even though it's worn, I have it somewhere, but I'm not sure if anyone kept the doll.  I think she may have been EEGEE's Susan Stroller Doll.  Her kneecaps were hinged so when they were bent, you could hold her hand, balance her on one foot and move her forward one "step" at a time.  I remember taking her to my grandmother's house in Cherokee, Texas where to my horror my cousin pushed her around in the stroller as fast as he could go, crashing it into the stove.  I also remember how proud I was to take her to kindergarten to show everyone.

She survived hair styling by me and my friends although it became an uncombable mess over the years. Mother kept her and she was loved by my nieces, nephew, and daughter.  Mother used the worn fabric of the stroller as a pattern to remake it for my daughter's dolls.

 One year my daughter embarrassed her Daddy while shopping for a gift for me.  I had told him about a necklace I wanted that was a large lion's head, but I did not want the earrings because it would be too much, as in "gaudy".  When my daughter saw them, she wanted to get the matching earrings, but her Daddy told her they were too much.  When the necklace was pointed out in the case, the saleslady asked if they'd like the matching earrings as well and was told, "My daddy said they were too much."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Favorite Christmas Card

My favorite card is one that was never sent.  It was kept in a box with wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Some were new and some were not so new, but good enough to reuse.  A story Mother tore from a McCall's magazine was also stored in there for reading to me at Christmastime.
I have no idea when my Mother got the card.  Chatter Box - 4550 - Made in U.S.A. is printed on the back.  It was just as much fun to see each year as the ornaments we'd hang on the tree. 
A small metal bell is inside the bell printed on the card.  It is no longer a bright and shiny red, but it still jingles and makes me smile.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Calendar Grab Bag - Old Christmas Postcards

My maternal grandmother, Nora Littie Inman Conley, gave me her postcard album.  Most of them are from the early 1900s.  They show she lived in Llano and Grundyville, Texas during that time period.  Here are some Christmas ones.
This postcard was addressed to my grandmother in 1907, but no message was written on it.  The one cent stamp is still attached; it was postmarked three times.  The first was at 1 PM, Dec 14 in Wellington, Texas.  The second at 7 PM that same day in Memphis, Texas.  The third is on the front - 12:30 AM [or PM?] on Dec 16 in Llano, Texas.

An invitation from her friend Viola to "come and take Xmas with us" was included in the message to my grandmother, Miss Nora Inman, in Llano, Texas.  Viola also states, "I went to church yesterday and had a nice time.  [can't read the name] and Virgia started school today."

 The back of the previous postcard was postmarked Nov 17, 1908 in Grundyville, Texas in Lampasas County.  My mother was born there in 1911.  Grundyville no longer exists and has only a short paragraph in The Handbook of Texas.

This card was sent by Emett Handy on Nov 19, 1908 from Pilot Point which is in Denton County, Texas.  I do not know how he and my grandmother knew each other, but found on the 1910 Lampasas County, Texas census, the families of William H. and Jefferson D. Handy near her and her husband, Frank Conley on Hamilton Road.

The postmark looks like TIOCA, Nov 24. The rest is too faded to read, but the last number of the year is an 8. It was addressed to my grandmother in Llano, Texas and signed "guess who".  Other postcards to her from Emett E. Handy from TIOGA, Texas solved that mystery.  In 2008 I contacted one of Emett's descendents through Ancestry and sent images of the postcards, but neither of us knows what their relationship might have been.

 My grandmother's sister, Earl Ophelia Inman Myers, sent this one to my grandmother some time after my grandmother's marriage to John Franklin Conley on 23 December 1908.  The top part of the postmark shows Llano [Texas] and the one cent stamp is still attached.

  This was to my mother from her "granmama".    Unfortunately I do not know which  one.  There is no  date, but it was after 1911.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Gifts

Each year I received a new doll for Christmas.  One year I received a walking doll which I'll discuss more in an entry about visiting Santa.  Another year I received a "wedding dress doll", as I called her.  I don't remember giving her a name because I never played with her.  I wanted her to stay in perfect condition so she stayed on my bed and later in a box under my bed. I never felt close to her like I did my Tiny Tears doll I received in 1955 and still have.
 She had painted-on hair, dark brown in color like mine - not blonde!  She had eyelashes and eyes that opened and closed.  Best of all she would drink a bottle, and cry tears or pee.  One day a friend and I mixed up a concoction that was supposed to be formula to put in the bottle.  To my delight and the envy of my friends, it made my doll smell like "baby spit-up".  Like so many things we did not realize as being toxic back then, that formula was and has aided in the aging of her tiny body.

Believe it or not, I loved these pajamas my dear Aunt Lou gave my cousins and me in 1954.  The shirt was red and white stripes and the bloomers were red,  my favorite color at the time.  The shirt and bloomers swallowed me; I was so disappointed my sleeves had to be rolled up and the bloomers were too big to wear.  This picture was taken at our house in Abilene, Texas.  We moved from Menard to Abilene in the summer of 1954 so this was our first Christmas there.  I wish I had my Daddy's rolltop desk pictured in the background, but I do have my mother's cedar chest that's pictured under the Christmas tree.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Tree Ornaments

Tucked away in boxes are a few ornaments from my childhood.  One is a painted glass Santa that was placed in the string of lights.  Although it no longer lights up and the paint is dull or missing in spots, it is still special.

We saved wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows to reuse as did so many people who had lived through the Depression and World War II.  I still have a few of the special ones.  A present wrapped at a store with special decorations on it heightened the anticipation of what could be inside. 

Other ornaments I remember were made of plastic and most melted together in storage years ago, but I salvaged one or two of them even though I did not like them as a child.  I never understood why anyone would make or buy aqua colored plastic icicles, snowflakes, and stars with matching ones in white.

Probably my most cherished ornament is a red velvet bird made by my mother when my daughter was small which makes it about 30 years old now.  After a move, I thought it had been lost, but it resurfaced one year and tears of joy actually filled my eyes.  It warms my heart each time I remove it and place it on our tree because it reminds me of Mother, how she loved family, and how she loved to sew and do things for us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thriller Thursday - The Murder of Long John Strother

In my search for information as to the identity of my husband's great grandparents I contacted Edward L. Strother, author of  The Strother Family 300 Years from Virginia to Louisiana, published by Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, in 2002.  Along with the suggestion that I contact Laurine, who is cited in footnote 12 below, he sent me a copy of pages 169-170 from the book; many thanks to him for allowing me to copy and include them below.  It would seem that my father-in-law's "Uncle Johnny" was the son of "Long John".  But was "Long John" also the father of Joe Cecil Fowler?  Perhaps I have an idea for a Mystery Monday blog entry...

The Murder of Long John Strother

On a fall morning, 20 November 1888, John R “Long John” Strother left his home in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, on horseback. He had not gone far when three men attacked him. Long John was shot from his horse, and, after he fell, was shot in the top of the head with buckshot. Neighbors said it was a most brutal murder.[1] But what led these men to bring such a violent end to Long John Strother? 

John R. Strother was born May 18, 1834, near Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, into a wealthy family, son of Richard5 Strother (John4, Francis3, Jeremiah2, William1) and Mary Black.[2] When John was only four years old, his father died on 10 July 1838.[3] His mother raised John and his four siblings on the family plantation in Hancock County.  After the sale of the plantation in the 1850’s, family members moved to Baldwin County.[4] With the outbreak of the Civil War, John joined the Confederate forces, serving as a private in Company F, 9th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.[5]

After the war, John returned to Baldwin County and married Mary Price on 14 March 1865.[6] In January 1866 he was elected sheriff of Baldwin County.[7] On 24 March 1866, following an unknown misunderstanding, John shot Mr. W. A. Robertson in the right thigh, who died a few days later.[8] John resigned as sheriff and fled. On 2 June 1866, Georgia Governor Charles J. Jenkins issued a proclamation offering a $200 reward for John’s capture.[9] While no details are available, John later was exonerated. He returned to Baldwin County, and in 1871 next married Sarah Kenan. However, on 3 July 1871 John shot and killed Lewis Holmes Kenan, member of a prominent Baldwin County family and former state senator, on a main street in Milledgeville, Georgia.[10] Again, John had to flee. Friends put him in a crate and loaded him on a train bound for Louisiana, where his first cousin, Berry Strother, could provide refuge.
John lived alone in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, near Kimmelton. He taught penmanship and dancing. Being a fugitive from the law, he carried a rifle everywhere that he went. He had been raised as a southern gentleman, so felt superior to most people in the community. He was a ladies man, hated and feared by many. With Naluse Americe "Nettie" Johnson, he had a son, John William Strother, born 5 February 1887 at Hico, Lincoln Parish.[11]
In November 1888, John taunted Turner Bentley, saying Turner’s wife Mary was carrying a child fathered by John. A few days later Turner Bentley, Anders Lloyd and Will King killed John. Frances Jane Strother Robinett, sister of John Melton Strother, wrote John’s people in Georgia at the time. When Turner Bentley later died, he confessed the killing. Turner was son of Sophronia Robinett Bentley Strother, wife of John Melton Strother, by her first marriage. Long John Strother is buried in Buckner Cemetery in Claiborne Parish.[12]

[1] Union Recorder, 25 December 1888, Russell Library (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[2] James Jefferson Robinett Bible.
[3] Gentry, Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters DAR, 4:54.
[4] 1860 U. S. Census Baldwin County, Georgia, page 221, dwellings and families 692 and 693.
[5] Delwyn Associates, Records of Baldwin County, Georgia  (Albany, Georgia: 1975), 88-89.
[6] Richard E. Dodd, Strother and Some Allied Lines (Marshallville, Georgia: privately printed, 1980), II: 121A.
[7] Federal Union, 9 January 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[8] Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, Georgia), 10 April 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[9] Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, Georgia), 6 June 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[10] Information on 1871 furnished by Hugh Harrington, Milledgeville, Georgia.
[11] Death Certificate 12913 of John William Strother, Louisiana Department of Health, New Orleans.
[12] Information on Louisiana life and death of John R. Strother furnished by Hazel V. Boyter Martin, Natchitoches, Louisiana, in letter to Edward L. Strother, 15 June 1987, based on story told to her by Albert Hood, Kimmelton, Louisiana. Data corroborated by Linnie Laurin Strother Adcock, Choushatta, Louisiana, descendant of John R. Strother, in letter dated 6 July 1987.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Workday Wednesday - Joyce, Winn Parish, Louisiana

Today I discovered the Workday Wednesday blog prompt on GeneaBlogger

Can anyone tell me about the Joyce Laying Camp?  Before posing this question, I did an Internet search and found no references to it except when 1920 census records are mentioned.  It appears to me what was written Joyce Loging Camp was transcribed Joyce Laying Camp.  There is no category for submitting  alternate information to Ancestry regarding this.  Should I try?  Suggestions???

My search also found a book, Winn Parish, part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing in June 2011.  The picture of the cover was used with permission from the publisher.  Information about the book states, "The majority of the images were donated from private collections and local residents."
Joe Cecil Fowler, seated on front of the log - others unknown
 My father-in-law is so pleased to have pictures of his father as a logger.  He told me one of them was loaned to someone since it was the only one in existence.  I wonder if one of these is in the book, which I will definitely order as soon as I finish this blog entry!

Joe Fowler is standing on the left.
The names of the other men are unknown.

 A note on the back said this was taken from a larger picture.


Text at the bottom in white reads:
Saw Crew
J. M. Temple, Fm'n. 
AT. Boyd, Sea ler
Joyce, La.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

52 Weeks Minus 48

"Like a kid in a candy store!" That's me!

As someone new to blogging and someone who loves genealogy I've found many new delights in the genealogy blogs.  I want to sample them all!  How to choose???  Ok, I'll pace myself and try not to over-indulge.  Or maybe I'll blog often for now and pace myself later....

My primary purpose for starting a blog was to chronicle the research I've done and new information I'm finding.  I've downloaded The Big Genealogy Blog Book by Amy Coffin to my Kindle, but I actually found the first reference to her 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History on Geneabloggers.  This has me thinking about my own genealogy research.  Although I enjoy the research to locate documents and facts, I would love to find more stories about my ancestors.  And with that in mind...

Historical Events Week 49 - Describe a memorable national historical event from your childhood. How old were you and how did you process this event? How did it affect your family?

The first that popped into my mind was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  He was fatally shot while he was in a motorcade with his wife, Jackie, Texas governor, John Connally, and the governor's wife, Nellie.

At that time I was a seventh-grader at Lincoln Junior High in Abilene, Texas.  Our girls' PE class had accomplished some goal and as a reward, allowed to walk a few blocks off campus to Sears.  Since I had lunch period following PE, that allowed extra time to be away.  On our way back to school, a classmate came running up from behind and told us she saw on TV the President had been shot, but we didn't believe her.  While we were waiting outside for the bell to ring to go in for class, we were making jokes about it.  I remember someone saying our school, Lincoln, would probably be renamed Kennedy.

My next class was Texas History with Coach Briles.  I remember our principal, Mr. Kennamer, coming on the PA and making the announcement.  I remember how quiet the room - the school - was.  I remember feeling awful that we'd been joking about it.

I don't remember much more about that day, or how it affected my family, but I remember the news coverage.  I remember the pink mohair suit Jackie was wearing and the blood stains on it.  I remember the drawn looks on the faces of Lyndon Johnson and others as he was being sworn in as President.  What I also remember was my anguish as I thought, "Why did it have to happen in Texas?" and later when I heard comments that JFK hadn't wanted to come to the state I so love.  Evidently whether Kennedy said he didn't want to come to Texas ir not is one of the many things debated since his assassination.  As a twelve year old, I didn't think of there being political or other reasons for the President not wanting to come to Texas; I interpreted it as his not liking Texans and thinking we were hicks. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chipping Away at a Brick Wall…

and over three decades, yes decades, later the wall is beginning to crumble.  Here’s how it happened.

Since I had enjoyed learning about my ancestors through my genealogy research, as a young bride, I was anxious to learn about my husband’s family.  My mother-in-law answered questions about her family, but my father-in-law didn’t want to talk about his.  After making attempts at finding out more over the course of several visits, my mother-in-law told me my father-in-law didn’t really know much about his family.  I was stunned to hear that he didn’t know who his paternal grandparents were, but was told his dad probably didn’t like to talk about it because of skeletons in the closet, so I quit asking.

My father-in-law has seen my enthusiasm for genealogy over the years and watched me sit with my mother-in-law labeling pictures.  I scanned family photographs and made a slideshow presentation we were able to view on their big screen TV before my mother-in-law passed from this life.  Perhaps all of these things and the passage of time made my father-in-law ready to tell me what he knew.  Plus he agreed to do a DNA test.

The main names I had were Joe Fowler, Johnny Strather (spelling of surname unknown) and Will Farley.  I first looked for census records on and located some entries for his grandfather and his two half-brothers for the years 1900 through 1930.  As he had said, they lived in separate households.  I also located World War I Draft Registrations for his grandfather and one of the brothers, John William Strother.   Other things he remembered such as name of one of the Johnny’s sons, that Johnny was a farmer and Will had a shoe shop, were verified in these documents.  He told me “Uncle Johnny” had a wife who died when my father-in-law “was just a kid.”  That explained the different names for his wife in the 1920 and 1930 censuses.   

Since I found more information on John Strother than the others, I focused on him by doing a surname search on the internet.  One of the many results that came up was an excerpt from a book published by Ed Strother in 2002.  The excerpt was about a man named John Strother who lived in Louisiana.  I was then able to find a website that had Mr. Strother’s contact information and the results of numerous DNA tests.  Coincidentally the first DNA results for my father-in-law had arrived in the mail from Family Tree DNA.  Although our results didn’t seem to match, I emailed an outline of what I knew about our Strother family connection and asked if he was familiar with any of it.  He was familiar enough with it to suggest a possible connection to the family in Louisiana.  The email address was still valid and I am now awaiting further information from a granddaughter of “Uncle Johnny” who has already emailed me quite a bit.

Just as in episodes of Who Do You Think You Are, this summary makes it seem much easier than it was and does not begin to relate how many hours of research were required.  And like the show, it was such a thrill to share what I’d learned so far with my father-in-law and the family at Thanksgiving.  

For more about what I’ve found on the other side of the brick wall, please read what I’m posting on my Fowler Family page.  It is truly a work in progress.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Blog Entry

After years of non-blogging, I've decided to attempt a blog.  As a retiree, I should have the time now, right?  Not necessarily, so we'll see!

I've been researching my family genealogy since I was in high school or college and want what I've found to be preserved in case future generations are interested in it.  Have other family members before me made an attempt to preserve information and I've not located it? I wonder!  So much has been lost as generations pass, papers are thrown away, stories and facts are forgotten, and acts of man and nature destroy things.  Technology has given us many more ways to preserve what we now have and know.

Lately I've been watching  webinars presented by Legacy Family Tree.  I missed the live webinars by Dear Myrtle, one of my new friends in genealogy, but I was able to order the recorded Blogging for Beginners and More Blogging for Beginners on CD from Legacy.  After receiving them, I put them on a shelf and continued with other things.  Evidently the time was right for viewing them yesterday and now I'm actually setting up my first blog.