Tag Archives: history

A good woman

This story for my Auntie was written as I was on the road, headed back home to West Tennessee from her funeral in Ohio. Thinking of her all day, I quickly put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard, to flesh out my thoughts. After being home and rested for a bit, I looked back at what I had written and felt I could do better. So, for those who have read my story earlier, please forgive me for a few changes. Auntie Audie brought out the best in all she came in contact with and respectfully so, deserves the best in return. 

Six days ago a door to my family’s history was closed. Its doorkeeper, a wondrous storyteller, bridged the past to the future – connecting present generations to generations long past and reminded us of our family’s rich heritage and devotion to God.

Yesterday, our family matriarch was laid to rest and with her, our connection to a glimpse of a Bermuda long gone. Although we lost our beloved sister, mother, grandmother and auntie, her leaving was not just a time of mourning and sadness, but also of a celebration of her life and the love that she gave to us all. The lessons that she taught us in life – love of family, of life and for the almighty – carried over in her remembrance. A gathering of family – siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – came together to celebrate and to remember the woman, who without, many would not be here today.

She was my grandfather’s younger sister and although she was two generations from me, she was one of my favorite family members. Auntie Audie meant a great deal to me. Growing up, I would see her quite often when she visited my grandparents, who lived in the same small town in Ohio. Or we would go to her home for visits, which I loved to do because she had a swimming pool and was always ready to offer a swim, even if I came without a suit, she would tell me she had one for me to use! She was always one who loved to spoil too with snacks and soda, as well as lots of hugs and kisses.

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Father, Louis Benoni holding baby Dorothy Audine, mom Dorothy “Dorrie” May Tatem, and brothers Louis “Billy” William and Albert “Ray” Raymond Panchaud

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Dorothy Audine Panchaud

Dorothy Audine Panchaud Richards was born at home on Thursday, January 20, 1927 in Spanish Point, Bermuda. The third child and only daughter of Louis Benoni Panchaud and Dorothy May Tatem, she was welcomed by her older brothers, four-year old Billy (Louis William) and two-year old Ray (Albert Raymond).

A third brother (and probably her favorite because she could spoil him since he was so much younger than her) joined the family about 10 years later. Named for her mother and grandmother Mary Audin Clough, who in turn was named for her grandmother Mary Audin, Dorothy was called Audie during her life and grew to be a beautiful and stately woman.

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Grandmother Mary Audin Clough

Born into a prominent and old Bermuda family, whose ties to the island began in the 1600s, she grew up healthy, strong, very independent and very much loved, surrounded by a large and extended family on the island.
MARR_PANCHAUDAudine_RICHARDSRobertShe met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Sanford Richards, a young American sailor while he was on duty in Bermuda. Marriage at 20 and five children soon followed, as well as a move that would take her from her island home to a new home and country in 1952.

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Audie and younger brother Michael Panchaud

A gifted pianist, she taught hundreds of students for more than five decades to embrace their talents and to develop a love of music. A steadfast fixture at the organ of her home church, you could find her every Sunday, filling the sanctuary with beautiful and heartfelt music in tribute and honor of her beloved savior.

Audie led a life many dream of – her family and friends were always close by, and she found fulfillment in her life taking care of her family – her children and her many grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews and through her selfless service to the church and to others in need. She was a true woman of God and a genuine friend.

Always a teacher, she was the one who helped instill in me my love of genealogy and my thirst to know where my family came from. From her many albums of old family photographs handed down to her from her mother to her stories and anecdotes of family members which seemed to make the past come alive, her love of family showed through and has been my guiding force as I strive to learn exactly who we are, where we come from and to honor our ancestors who made it possible for us to be here today. For that, I will be eternally indebted to her. I am happy that I was able to introduce her to my contribution to our family’s history and lineage – my sons and her great-great grand nephews and her great-great-great grand nephew, my grandson Liam soon after he was born.

RICHARDS_Robert_AudinePANCHAUD_Nov 2006Uncle Bob, her beloved husband of 70 years was called home first on December 1, 2015 and Auntie Audie, I’m sure feeling she could not continue without him, soon followed less than two months later. I believe they are both laughing and happy to be together once more and I’m willing to bet they have joined her oldest brother and my grandpa, Louis “Billy” William Panchaud and my nana, Angelena Dorothy Mello Panchaud, in a friendly game of bowling once more.

Rest in peace loved ones, for we will soon see one another once more.


A Christmas Gift

First of all Happy New Year! Tonight to celebrate, I decided to research a small Bible I had acquired and am ashamed to discover it has been 11 months since I have written… don’t know what I have been doing… well, yes, I do know. Living life but I have no idea where 2012 went and now we’re at 2013. My New Year’s resolution is to write at a minimum ONCE PER WEEK!  Okay, now on to my historical hunt and story for today.

With love from Mother

I love to purchase old items that I find with names in them. I enjoy researching the names and trying to discover who the previous owners were and to learn a small semblance of what their lives may have been like. After I’ve figure out a bit about their lives, I try to find current family members and work to reunited the items with the original owner’s family.

inscription

Tonight, to start off the new year, I researched the name of Miss Fannie I. Elliott, the name I found written in a small bible I discovered in a local antique store. On the facing page of the cover was the inscription, “Fannie I. Elliott A Christmas gift from her mother. Dec. 25th, 1884” I wanted to find out who Fannie I. Elliott and her mother were.

bibleThe book was with a batch of items that came from Ohio, so when I entered Fannie’s name into Ancestry.com’s search engine, I felt pretty good when the name appeared in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio. I was even more convince I had the right person after checking and linking other possible connections and family trees.

New Beginnings

Fannie Idella Elliott was born on Feb. 21, 1866 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio to William George Elliott (Dec. 16, 1824 – Nov. 7, 1897) and Louisa Parfitt (May 5, 1825 – June 4, 1900). She was either the eighth or ninth child born to the couple, as she was a twin. Her sister was named Anna Luella. Her parents were both born in England. I discovered a christening record for her father for Jan. 2, 1825 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, England naming him as the son of Jacob Elliot and Susanna and one for her mother, the daughter of James Parfitt and Mary, christened on 26 Jun 1825 in Bruton, Somerset, England.

Family genealogy trees located on the web all purported that Fannie’s parents were married in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio on Sept. 16, 1847, but while researching each of their 10 children, the oldest, Frank Riddle Elliot, is reported to have been born in England according to both his death certificate and christening registration, although the name on the christening registration lists his name as Riddle Frank Elliot, christened on Dec. 10, 1848 at Brewham, Somerset, England to William and Louisa. This could mean a couple of things… the family history trees have the marriage location wrong, the family traveled back to their home country and the babe was born in England while on the visit or Frank was born in England before they left but his parents weren’t married and they lied on the christening registration, and quite possibly, that could be why they left England.

William and Louisa, in addition to the twins and Frank (Nov. 6, 1848-Oct. 7, 1909), were the parents of James John Elliot (Jan. 18, 1850 – June 6, 1931), Sarah M. (1853-1932), Fred (1855-1930), Lettia Louisa (1858-1943), Thomas Henry (abt 1860 – ?), Gilbert Willson (July 5, 1863 – May 21, 1946) and Walter Edward (Sept. 1, 1868-Oct.1, 1951).

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1860 federal census showing William Elliot and his family

On June 8, 1860, the census taker recorded William Elliot and his wife Louisa were living in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio with their children Frank, 11; James, 9; Sarah, 7; Fred, 5 and Lettie, 2. All the children, including Frank, were listed as being born in Ohio.

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The 1870 census taken in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

The 1870 census shows the reality of the times of the building of America. Each family listed on the census form along with the Elliot family was an immigrant family, with every head of household affirming they were born in England, Germany or France. The ninth US census shows the family still living in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio but with additional children. Living in the home are William, 47 and his wife Louisa, 45; son Frank, 21, whose birth, along with his parents, are listed as in England, James, 19; Sarah, 17; Fred, 14; Lettie, 12; Henry, 9; Gilbert, 6; twins Anna and Fanny, 4 and one-year old Walter. William, as a farmer, was able to give his family a comfortable living as evidenced by the value of his real estate, $7,300 and his personal estate was valued at $1,00.

William Elliott and family in 1880 Federal Census Cuyahoga County, Ohio

William Elliott and family in 1880 Federal Census Cuyahoga County, Ohio

According to the 1880 US Federal Census, the Elliott family was living in North Olmsted, Cuyahoga, Ohio. William and Louisa are both 55 years of age and living at home were James J., 29; Thomas H. 19; Gilbert W. 16; Anna L. 14; Fannie I. 14 and Walter aged 11.

When Fannie was 18 she was given the bible, a copy of the New Testament published by the American Bible Society in 1872, on Dec. 25, 1884 according to the inscription written by her mother. I’m going to assume that since she was a twin, her mother Louisa, probably gave her sister Anne a bible as well. The bible’s pages are in remarkable condition, considering its 141 years, and unfortunately, I believe that’s from its lack of use.

BibleLeaf

A New Generation

By the time Christmas rolled around the following year, Fannie had become the bride of Walter R. Keyes (1864-Jan. 9, 1938) at the age of 19. They married on Dec. 24, 1885 in Rockport Township, Cuyahoga, Ohio. There is a notation on the marriage certificate that the consent can be found on doc. no. N, No. 1 file. Walter Keyes is the son of James H. Keyes from Gloucester, England and Martha J. Wilde of Scotland.

Marriage certificate for Fannie Elliott and Walter Keyes

Marriage certificate for Fannie Elliott and Walter Keyes

The young couple started their family with the birth of a daughter, Luella M. (1887-1947). A second daughter, Alta Keyes, was born on Aug. 12, 1888 in Rockport, Cuyahoga, Ohio and died before she was two. A son, Howard, was born on 1891, followed by Ada R. (1894-1936); Walter J. (1897-1980); Melvin (1900-1980) and baby Everest who was born in 1902 and died the following year.

1900UnitedStatesFederalCensusWalter was a hardware clerk in 1900 and the family lived in Rocky River, Cuyahoga. The 1900 federal census shows that Walter and Fannie had been married for 15 years and she was the mother of six children, with five of them living. The family had a 25-year old servant living with them named William E. Baker.

In 1910, the family is still living in Rocky River, Ohio next to Walter’s younger brother Edward and his family. Walter and Fannie were now 45 and 44 years of age respectively and had recorded on the census as having another child who had been born and died. Walter was listed as a hardware merchant, son Howard was a salesperson, working alongside his father and 16-year old daughter Ada/Ida was a bookkeeper for a local coal company.

Fannie and Walter Keyes in 1910

Fannie and Walter Keyes in 1910

Fannie and Walter were present at the weddings of their children, including Howard, who married Alma L. Mireau on June 3, 1912 and Ada, who became the bride of Arthur H. Hoag on Aug. 9, 1917.

The 1920 census shows the family living on Chapel Road in Madison Township, Lake County, Ohio. Only Walter, Fannie and their youngest son Walter, 21, are living in the home. In 1920, Walter has left the hardware business and lists his occupation as farmer and the son is a bank teller. The family is doing well and own their home free and clear.

Walter & Fannie living alone in 1930

Walter & Fannie living alone in 1930

The 1930 census shows that Walter and Fannie are in their mid-60s and are living alone back in Cuyahoga County. Walter is no longer working and they also own this home, located at 194 Loraine St., free and clear.

Although I have been able to locate the death certificate numbers for Fannie and Walter, I have been unable to find a copy of their actual certificates. Fannie I. Elliot Keyes died on July 5, 1932 at the age of 66. Walter passes a few years later on Jan. 9, 1938 at the age of 74. Fannie’s twin sister, Anna Luella married Bertrand H. Perrin and died on Oct. 16, 1938 in Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio.

Death certificate of Anna Luella Elliott Perrin, twin sister of Fanny Idella Elliott Keyes.

Death certificate of Anna Luella Elliott Perrin, twin sister of Fanny Idella Elliott Keyes.


The Wolfinger Brothers

William Penn and Herman Wolfinger mid-1880s

Found this pair of attractive young men in a local antique shop waiting to be taken home. The names scrawled on the back are W.P. and H. Wolfinger and they appear to be brothers to me. The picture, taken about 1885, was taken in San Francisco by William Shew (1820-1903), a fairly well-known photographer whose story was told previously.

At first glance, I am drawn to the casual stance of the young man on the left, leaning on the column. He looks completely comfortable while his brother on the right is trying very hard to appear distinguished, using a popular pose for gentlemen of the day. Some folks believe it was an imitation of Napoleon’s  famous pose but in reality people had a hard time keeping still while waiting during the long exposure times. For those who had trouble keeping their hands still, they held them inside their coats. This was to prevent the picture from being blurred in case they moved their hands during the exposure time. The long exposure times are also why it appears as if our ancestors were permanently depressed in their photographs. They weren’t depressed, it was just easier to hold a relaxed face then a constantly smiling one. You try smiling for 15 minutes…. I bet your jaws will be aching  afterwards!

They were brothers and both were born in Pennsylvania to Mary Wolfinger. Their father’s name is currently unknown as it appears he died soon after William was born. The 1860 US Federal Census shows the boys living with their 30-year-old mother and 10-year-old sister Louisa in Pennsylvania. Herman was 8 and William Penn was 7. The mother’s  birthplace is listed as Baden, which confirms later census reports.

It appears young William caught the gold fever rush. In 1870, at the age of 17, William is listed as Penn Wolfinger and is found living in Little York Township in the county of Nevada, California on his own. He is living in a hotel ran by Peter Drunzer and his wife, Mary, and his occupation is recorded as a miner.  Nevada County was the home of the second-largest gold-mining district in California. First discovered in 1850, for the next 100 years, the county produced over 68.4 tonnes of gold.

Born in February 1852, 28-year-old Herman, a cabinet maker, was residing in San Francisco, California along with his 24-year-old wife Julia, a long way away from her home state of New York in 1880. Also living in the home were son Herman M. Wolfinger, aged 4 and Julia’s mother, 60-year-old Catherine Smucker and her 27-year-old sister, also named Catherine. By 1880, William, who was born in May 1853, seems to have given up on prospecting and is living in the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Louisa and Theodore Erdin, in San Francisco, along with their four young daughters, Emma 8, Mary 6, Clara 4 and Julia 1. His occupation is listed as a cabinet maker.

In 1900,  at the age of 47, William was married to a 27-year-old Irish wife named Georgina. They had four children living at home – stepdaughter Margaret Stelling 7, daughter Eva 15, son Fred 13 and 11-year-old Elsie. He was still a cabinet maker and worked at Sterling Furniture Co., located at 1107 Treat Ave. and did quite well for himself. The company made educational furniture, such as the combination school desk and chair. The family was living at 5 Oak St., San Francisco, CA. Herman was living close by his brother at 786 1/2 Stevenson St. in a 3-storey flat. Herman was a widower, living with his children Herman M. 23, Raymond E. 16, Ethel T. 18 and Mabel J. 14.

Between 1900 and 1925, Herman and William moved residences quite a bit. One wonders if perhaps cabinet making wasn’t as lucrative as they had hoped. In 1904, Herman was living in room 13 on the 3rd floor of 100 Jones. In 1905, Herman marries again, a fellow Pennsylvanian named Bertha L.  and they are living at 152 Church Street in 1907. This is the second marriage for them both. William was living at 571 Duboce Ave in 1907. In 1912, records find William Penn living at 1751 Market Street. In 1916, he had moved once again to 20 12th Street. In 1923, he’s shown living at 2242 22nd Ave., still working as a cabinet maker.

In 1910, the federal census finds 58-year-old Herman and his wife of five years, living in Beaverdam, Hanover, Virginia. He has given up cabinet making and is recorded as working a home farm that he proudly owns. His 38-year0old wife, Bertha, tends to the home.

William Penn, 56, is living with his 23-year-old son Frederick at 1752 Market Street, which appears to be a boarding house in San Francisco. Both William and Frederick are listed as married, not widowed, but their wives are not recorded as living with them. The son doesn’t have an occupation listed but William is identified as a carpenter for the telephone service company.

Probably feeling lost without his old trade, 1920 finds Herman listed once again as a cabinet maker. At 67, he works from home to provide for his wife of 15 years. They are still living at their farm in Beaverdam, Va.

In 1920 William and Georgina, 66 and 47 years-old respectiviely, are living next to their son Frederick W., who also became a cabinet maker, and his family.  Fred is married to Catherine, and has two sons, William F., 9 and Raymond, 6 and a 4-year-old daughter, Delores.

William  and his wife, Georgina, are shown on the San Diego County voter registration list for 1940. His occupation is still listed as cabinet maker, although by now, William would be 86 years-old. They are living at 1874 O’Ferrell St.

Although, I haven’t found out exactly when they died, it is deduced that Herman Wolfinger dies sometime between 1920 and 1930 and William Penn Wolfinger dies after 1940.


William Shew (1820-1903) – Photographer & Daguerreotype Innovator

W.P. & H. Wolfinger

I came across this picture of a pair of distinguished looking brothers named W.P & H. Wolfinger and wanted to research them to tell their story… but my ADHD kicked in and I was distracted by the photographer’s name on the back of the cabinet card instead… Wm Shew’s new Photographic Establishment, 145 Kearny Street, San Francisco. 

What caught my eye were the words Photographic Establishment. Normally, on cabinet cards, the photographer only has the word “photographer” after his name but William Shew went all out and that intrigued me. I had to know more about him.

I came across a blog by Michael Colbruno called Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Michael has researched William Shew since he is buried in Mountain View Cemetery. I’ve taken the liberty to add a few pictures and some additional information… It’s a great story and history lesson.

William Shew was born on a farm in Waterton, New York on March 1820. At the age of 20 he read an article by the inventor Samuel F.B. Morse about the daguerrotype process and, along with his three brothers, moved to New York City to study with Morse. His brothers Jacob, Myron and Trueman were also photographers, but not attained the stature of William Shew. Morse would become more famous as the inventor of the telegraph.

After completing his studies, Shew worked briefly in upstate New York before becoming the supervisor at John Plumbe’s gallery in Boston. Three years later he opened John Shew and Company in Boston, where he manufactured his own dyes and created daguerrotypes with wooden frames, thin vaneer backings and embossed paper coverings. In 1846, Shew married Elizabeth Marie Studley and had a daughter they named Theodora Alice, born in Feb. 1848. He also became and active member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

William Shew's passport application applied for on Jan. 27, 1851

In 1851, he sold his business and sailed on the steamer Tennessee to San Francisco, where he joined his brother Jacob who arrived in 1849. It is believed that Shew set up a gallery shortly after arriving in San Francisco, which may have been destroyed by the 1851 fire that swept the city. After the fire he set up “Shew’s Daguerreian Saloon.”

The wagon drew the attention of the neighboring Alta California newspaper, which wrote, “A good deal of curiosity has been expressed in regard to the object and intention of the big wagon which fills up a large portion of the plaza, and which was yesterday being covered with a frame. Some suppose that ‘the elephant’ which so many people come here to see was to be caged up in it and exhibited to greenhorns at a quarter a sight. . .It seems, however, that it is to be a traveling daguerreotype establishment, with which the proprietor intends to travel around the city and country, taking views and portraits.” 

That same year, John Wesly Jones hired Jacob and William Shew to take dagurrotypes for the California portion of his moving panorama “Great Pantoscope of California, the Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City, Nebraska and Kansas.” In 1852 the brothers expanded the business, selling portraits and pictures of buildings, as well as daguerrotype materials.

During this period he continued his interest in the anti-slavery movement and is believed to have hosted the first Free-Soil convention held in San Francisco on October 8, 1852. His interest in politics expanded beyond slavery and Shew went on to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education and he hosted meetings of the Temperance Society at his office. He also became an active member of a number of photographic associations and societies.

By 1854, he was operating his business at the corner of Montgomery and Sacramento in San Francisco, later moving to a “fire-proof building” at Clay and Montgomery. His brother, who had been his shop supervisor, opening a competing business named Hamilton & Shew located directly across the street. William Shew expanded his business to include photographs and ambrotypes (positive photographic images printed on glass).

In 1864, he entered a competition at the Mechanics’ Institute Exhibition where he displayed pictures of Thomas Starr King, Edwin Sumner, Gen. John Sutter and Sam Houston. In 1878, his only daughter, Theodora “Dora” married Calvert Meade.

On Oct. 11, 1889, Shew’s wife of approximately 43 years died of typhoid fever along with his youngest grand daughter, Edith Dora Meade. In 1892, at the age of 72, Shew married his second wife Annie Katherine. She was 26.

By 1902, the octagenarian was still operating his studio. A year later he died and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery. His wife continued to operate his studio after his death. Tragically, most of his work was destroyed in the 1906 fire and earthquake. However, many of his works can still be found in history books and major collections, including at the Smithsonian Institution, California Historical Society, Bancroft Library in Berkeley and the Wells Fargo Bank Historical Room.


What Genealogical Records Might be Hiding in Your House?

There are many places you can find family history information. As you search for valuable records in your home, think about looking at some of these sources. 

Florence Nightengales birth certificate

Bibles. Old Bibles may contain a few pages devoted to genealogical records of the family (births, marriages, and deaths). Information found in a family Bible should be carefully evaluated and, where possible, confirmed by other sources.

Diaries and Journals.  Study journal entries for genealogical data.

Biographies. Unpublished biographies are often found among loose family papers. Although a biography may be unscholarly and poorly written, it will be a treasure to the family historian.

Letters. Old letters are the most informal and intimate family sources. Addresses, names of correspondents, postmarks, and dates are useful information to a genealogist.

Memorial Cards and Funeral Programs. Genealogical data on funeral memorabilia include date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of burial, and age at death.

Church Records. Certificates of birth, baptism (or christening), marriage, death, and funeral notices are often found in church records.

Civil Records. Competent civil recorders prepared birth, marriage, and death certificates usually near the date of the event.

Citizenship Records. Records of immigrant ancestors may include citizenship papers, date of arrival in the United States, port of embarkation and debarkation, and other details.

Fraternal Records. The Masonic Lodge, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc., have preserved biographical sketches of their membership. If your ancestor joined a fraternal society, you may procure a biographical sketch.

Genealogical Records. Other family members may have compiled genealogical records, such as family group records and pedigree charts. Photocopying these records will save you many hours of research time.

Histories. Specific local histories describe the geography, political atmosphere, economic trends, etc., of ancestral residences.

Credit to BYU Independent Study course

Understanding the Basic Research Process

There are five steps to this process:

  1. Write down what you know
  2. Decide what you want to learn
  3. Choose a source of information
  4. Learn from your source
  5. Use what you learn

When you complete the fifth step, you start over again. Systematically you can fill in all the gaps. After you organize and design a system for yourself, you will find that step one is easily accomplished. 

If you examine a pedigree chart, it’s easy to see the missing puzzle pieces and determine what you need to learn. From there you can choose a source of information, review the source, and record new information. Then the process starts over as you identify new holes in your puzzle.


The residents of Quarter Rd. Cemetery…part 1

Last week, a couple of friends found an old and forgotten cemetery in the woods in Stanton, Haywood County, Tennessee. Long forgotten by the town and family members, their markers dirty and in disrepair, five individuals sleep the among the trees and critters aching to be discovered and remembered once more. Who were these people and why were they buried in the woods. Was it once the former location of a church that has lost it members and now only the cemetery marks its former existence? Or is it simply the hands of time that have enveloped the land and works to obliterate their memories? This was a mystery that is screaming to be solved! I’ll write my findings for each story… each mystery that I can uncover. We begin with the tale of Herman Sales.

Herman Sales May 12, 1895-Aug. 1, 1920

Young Herman Sales was born on May 12, 1895 in Shelby County, Tennessee to John and Letha Sales. He is their firstborn.

During the next five years, many changes occur in young Herman’s life. His mother has three more children and his father abandons the family. On the evening of June 27, 1900, the twelfth US Federal census was taken and found 5-year-old Herman, his mother Letha, brothers Raney and Billy and sister Hollie living with John’s parents, Albert and Mandy Sales and their three minor children still living at home. It’s an extremely crowed home with 10 people sharing the small space and everyone of age helps out on the family farm. Herman’s mother Letha is shown as being 38 years old and divorced. None of the family has gone to school and no one can read or write.

The 1910 US Federal Census was taken on Apr. 28, 1910 finds Herman’s parents back together once again and more children have been added to the household. Fourteen-year-old Herman is living with his parents, John and Letha and seven siblings in a rented home in Shelby County, TN on Central College and Kerrville Rd. His parents have been married for more than 16 years and in addition to the eight children living, his mother has lost two of her babies. Herman’s mother age is still shown as 38. She is 10 years older than her husband and I imagine it’s vanity that leads her to tell the enumerator the small fib.  Herman’s father is a farmer in his own right and needs the assistance of his oldest sons, so Herman and his 12-year-old brother Raney work the farm as laborers with their father. Neither one can read or write and have not attended school at all during the year. In fact, none of the Sales children have attended school in 1920 and out of his entire family, only his father John is shown as knowing how to read or write.

Herman Sales WWI draft Registration Card

In June of 1917, Herman registers for the WWI draft. He gave his year as birth as 1895 but did not give a month or day, perhaps because he didn’t know them. He told the registrar he worked for Earl Griffin in Fayette County and he was married. He was medium build, medium height with brown eyes and black hair. When it came time to sign his draft card, he could only make his mark because he still did not know how to read or write.

Just seven shorts months before his death, the 1920 US Federal Census was taken in Haywood County, TN and tells us he was black, married and the father of two babies. Herman’s wife Anna, 18-month old son Clifton and newborn daughter Lulu Bell lived with him in a rented shack on Hillville Road in Stanton where he farmed the land to make a living for his young family. His next door neighbors, Lee Powell and Edwin Moore, one black, one white, were also farmers and they worked the land together. His brother, Raney lived close by with his wife Rosie and their year-old daughter. A nephew, 7-year-old Roland Hamer also lived with them. Roland’s headstone was also found in the cemetery. His story will be next.

Although we don’t know the cause of Herman’s death, we do know that his headstone tells us he thought about the needs of his family in case of his death. The seal at the top of his stone is from the Masonic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in 1883 by two former slaves, John Edward Bush and Chester W. Keatts, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The organization originally provided illness, death, and burial insurance, including a headstone for a small monthly membership fee during an era of segregation when few basic services were available to black people. By being a member of the MTA and paying his monthly dues, Herman ensured his family had the money for his burial and a stone in which to mark his grave. During  a difficult time, his pre-planning ensured the burden of his funeral cost did not fall to his family and enabled us to find his final resting place 90 years later to tell his story.


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