Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving. We Celebrate with Pictures from the 1970's, 80's, and 90's. An Assortment of Odd's, End's, and Things Best Forgotten.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove, Utah

Hello All,
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Something unusual is happening in Utah. All eight Williamson brothers and sisters are gathered for the holiday.  Jon is here from Las Vegas. Kevin flew in from Nashville. Janice is here from California. Lisa drove up from Arizona. Annette, Kim, Jilane, and I are transplantees who've taken sanctuary in this fair state.  Such a gathering of great minds and overblown personalities hasn't happened in ten years. It's not that we can't stand each other's company, or politics, or religious views, or peculiar tastes in movies and music; it is a fact born of busy schedules and an acknowledgement that having spent so many years together in a modest post war 100 square foot bungalow on 38th Street, Rapid City, we find a little distance quite comfortable :)
     To celebrate this auspicious occasion, I've pulled out another of my dusty photo albums filled with grainy images detailing a simpler time when all we had to worry about was getting out of chores, finding something to wear in one of many piles of laundry piled haphazardly in a musky labyrinth we lovingly called "The Utility Room", and being the first to select which bowl of ice cream would be yours (ice cream was rarely dispensed fairly at 2214 38th Street, so being the first to pick from the eight bowls gave you the largest helping, which meant more calories, thus giving you a better chance of survival in the long dark South Dakota winters.)    

     Could there be a better picture showing the love of two sisters?  Lisa and Annette in the late 1970s.  While not sure of the particular circumstances leading up to the picture, one would guess based on Lisa's love of attention, that she'd tolerated the baby of the family long enough.        

     I did my best to restore this old picture to its proper colors, but in the end gave in to the fact that the ravages of time has had its way with the photo, much like what time has done to Jilane, Annette, and Lisa over the same number of years.  Once young and fair, now wrinkled, worn, and leathery.

     I'm guessing this might be an easter egg hunt.  Strange to see Lisa with an empty paper bag. Her modus operandi always was if you can't find them, take them from the younger more innocent and naive.    

     Judging from the Safeway Crispy Rice cereal box on the counter,  we're looking at supper time in the Williamson home on 38th Street in the late 1970's.  Jon is looking his usual malnourished self.  He was always too slow getting to the ice cream bowls - a runt of the litter type thing.  
     You'd think by the number of pots and pans on the stove the Williamson home was the center of fine cuisine in western South Dakota. Actually, there was no other place to store kitchen items rarely used :)  Thank goodness for the microwave oven - a recent invention at the time - which restored hot food to the kitchen table. (OK I exaggerate. Perhaps my memory has clouded over time.  Did the microwave come out in the early 80's).   

     Janice cleaned up and painted for prom.  I think her date was drawn to a similar part in her hair - one of those strange fetishes.  Janice was in a state of shock for most of the evening as seen in her face. She realized my brotherly prediction of her converting to Catholicism and, out of a need for companionship, spending her adult life as a nun in a convent might not come true!  

     This is Jon Williamson taken in the 1980s.  Most people don't know this, but our Jon was the first to take regular selfies, at least whenever he could afford the film and processing.

     Janice following her twin brothers fascination with selfies.  This picture was taken in our 38th Street kitchen.  Could it be she's finding it difficult to breath?  Or perhaps it's her modesty she's so seriously protecting by wearing something designed to guard the frontier woman from bears and marauding indians.

     This photo album has no rhyme or reason to it.  We go from casual day to day photos from Rapid City to this picture of Kim, JD, Forrest, Brandon, and Amber at their temple sealing.

     We switch gears now and move to the Mattson home in American Fork, Utah.  Again we are in the 1980s.  

     Angie Mattson

Jacob Mattson

Gina Mattson

Forrest DelGrosso.  They were visiting from Colorado.

Kirk Mattson

Joseph Mattson, never without a football. 

Brandon DelGrosso

Switching gears again, we find ourselves back in Rapid City in the 1980's enjoying the ward's talent show held in the cultural hall.  

     Lacking a performing talent of his own, Kevin volunteered to be someone's sidekick in a comedy act.  That's a cup of water on his back. His mission was to remove it without getting wet.   

     Jon is seen either getting or giving something pink.  I'm guessing the item was 'found' unattended and Jon is being a gentlemen and returning it to its proper owner.  Jon was the best at finding missing things; and for a small finder's fee, was prone to return them. 

     A very rare photo indeed showing our Jon doing one of his first mimes.  What a performer; always was and still is.

     Who is this guy!  I'm memorized by the teeth and the furry mat of hair erupting out of his shirt.

We switch gears once again.  Pictures from the 1990's. These were taken during a quick family trip to California where I received the Milken Award in Education.

     We're near the beach, debating whether or not we should go any closer to the water.  There were rumors the sand was unforgiving that day.

Charles Williamson got to the water first. Maybe the first time he'd seen the ocean. Dad didn't get out much, bless his heart.

Janice and Lisa made it to the beach safely and thought to show a little leg in hopes of drawing a bit of attention.

Luella didn't get too far before the sand enveloped her ankles.  The warning was true.   Jon, realizing the danger he was in, cut her loose to save himself.  It's just how we were raised.

"Is she still breathing?" Jon asked.  
"I think so," Jilane replied. "The sand is moving under her nose.  We really need to get her out before she sinks any further.  Hold on mom. We're going to get you out."  
"I told her not to walk out this far."  

Well, we tried. The sand eventually took her.  We held a brief memorial service then headed back to the car.  Lisa waved one last goodbye as the last wisps of gray disappeared into the sand.  

Luella.  Mom. Moments before......
We like to remember her this way.

     Here we are in Jon's apartment.  Lisa, Janice, and Jon.

Charles and Luella.  Surprisingly a couple beach bums stumbled upon her after we'd left and dug her out.  She wasn't happy and refused to speak to us for the rest of the day.

Jon, Janice, Jilane, Lisa sporting their California hairstyles.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Generation of the Upright. The Story of our 5th Great Grandparents William Cantwell and Nancy Ann Williams. Part 1 (Mattson / Pierce Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Today I present the first of many posts containing a book called The Generation of the Upright telling the Cantwell family story.  William Cantwell and Nancy Ann Williams are our 5th Great Grandparents.  

Let us begin with the Relationship Chart

     The book will be put out several pages at a time.  Enjoy


Sunday, August 28, 2016

More On Our 5th Great Grandfather John Nossaman, Revolutionary War Veteran (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
     The posts to the blog are few and far between. I've exhausted most avenues of online research and wait for additional information to appear. The good news is that there is new information on our 5th Great Grandparents on the Williamson line; John and Catherine Nossaman (Nosseman).  This comes from the Find a Grave project's website. 
     We will start with the Relationship Chart for reference:

Relationship Chart
5th Great Grandparents 
John Conrad Nosseman
Married Catherine
Catherine Nosseman
Married Bennett Willis
Jonathan Willis
Married Anabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis.
Married George Matthew Williamson
William J. Williamson
Married Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.
Charles married first Elda Kay Vercellino and second Elsie Jensen

The following is the biography of John Nossaman from the Find a Grave Project.

Birth: Jan., 1751, Germany 
Death: 1827 West Virginia, USA
     Family genealogists concur that this is the grave of John Nossaman, Sr., honored by his family and friends w/ old style Roman lettering of his headstone. He was christened Johan Conrad Nasseman, 25 Jan 1751 in Mainz, Germany, the son of Heinrich and Anna Marie (Gretz) Nasseman. At the age of 22 he struck out by himself and emigrated from Germany to America, arriving in Philadelphia on the ship "Sally" on August 23, 1773. Soon after arriving, he Americanized his name to John Nossaman. During a six year indenture he served to pay for the passage, he won his wife, Cathrina, and enlisted in the Lancaster County Pennsylvania Militia. He served in that unit continually during the Revolutionary War, first as a substitute, then as his own man, from 1777 through 1784. He mustered out of the 7th battalion, 5th Company of the Lancaster County Militia in 1784, just a few months after the Treaty of Paris was signed. 
     By 1785, he had purchased 10 acres in Lancaster County. Along with many other German immigrants, he then moved with his wife Cathrina and growing family, likely down the Wilderness Trail, to the Virginia frontier, arriving in Greenbrier County prior to 1789. It was less than a decade after the last of the Indian Wars, although periodic troubles continued through at least 1781. He acquired land on Indian Creek in Greenbrier County, VA in 1789 and farmed several plots in the region, without slave labor. By this time, he had dropped "Conrad" from his name. 
     He bought, farmed and sold various plots on Indian Creek, Rich Creek, and Brush Creek in newly formed Monroe County, and later in life across the New River in Giles County. At his homesteads in Monroe County he raised a family of four daughters and a son, nurturing them to maturity with his spouse Cathrina, and saw them marry well.

      Catherine, b. 1779 PA, m. Bennett Willis in VA 1800, d. 1843, VA (8 children) 
      Elizabeth, b. 1782 PA, m. David Paine in VA 1801 VA, d. 1815, VA (>5 children) 
      John, Jr. b. 1786 PA, m. Abigail Wylie in VA 1809 VA, m. Luresa Meadows, 1821, KY, d. 1849, IN (13 children) 
      Susannah, b. abt 1790, VA, m. William Pennington, Jr. 1808 in VA, d. 1834, KY (11 children) 
      Sidney, b. 1796 VA, m. John Belcher in VA 1816, VA, d. 1850, IN (11 children) 

      The record indicates he was successful as a tobacco farmer, businessman, and family man: he and Cathrina celebrated more than 40 years of marriage together, and they became grandparents of at least 48 grandchildren. There are consistent indications in the record that he was literate, enterprising, entrepreneurial, individualistic, industrious, vigorous in acquiring and defending his property, and respected by his neighbors, the founding settlers of Peterstown. 
     Today his descendants number more than 20,000 across eight generations, with 8000 or more living today, including many with surnames of Pennington, Willis, Paine, Belcher, Sytsma, and many others. He is the patriarch of the Nossaman family name in the United States. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Vercellinos Return to America. December 3, 1903.

The American Line's SS St. Louis
From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Today's focus for our virtual family gathering centers on the early days of the Vercellino family.  John (Giovanni) Vercellino was born in northern Italy.  He immigrated to the United States, arriving first in 1885 according to the 1920 US Census. There is a problem with his first arrival date. The 1910 US Census lists him as having arrived in 1880. The South Dakota state census of 1915 has his arrival in 1882. He married Maria Viano in 1894. The Vercellino's moved to Trojan (Lead), South Dakota in 1905, the same year Grandma Elda was born.

John and Maria Vercellino

We know the Vercellino's moved to Italy shortly after their marriage where their first born son Raymond was born in 1898. From Italy, the family moved to Kimberly, South Africa.  John Vercellino worked in the Kimberly Diamond Mine as a security guard ensuring the laborers didn't leave the mine with diamonds tucked away somewhere on their person.  The family lived in South Africa a short time (not even one year according to Charles Williamson, Elda's son) before returning to the United States, arriving on December 5, 1903 on board the SS St. Louis of the America Line.

The St. Louis's passenger manifest lists the Vercellino family on the ship's register.  

The SS St. Louis Ship Register. The Vercellinos are at the top of the page
Click to enlarge.
SS St. Louis, was a transatlantic passenger liner built by the William Cramp & Sons Building & Engine CompanyPhiladelphia and was launched on 12 November 1894; sponsored by Mrs. Grover Cleveland, wife of the President of the United States; and entered merchant service in 1895, under United States registry for the International Navigation Co., of New York with her maiden voyage between New York and Southampton,England. She was acquired by the United States Navy during the Spanish–American War and commissioned under the name USS St. Louis in 1898, and again during World War I under the name USS Louisville (ID-1644) from 1918 to 1919. After she reverted to her original name in 1919, she burned in 1920 while undergoing a refit. She was scrapped in 1924 in Genoa.

The SS St. Louis

 The Vercellino family most assuredly travelled in steerage (3rd class).  Their sleeping accommodations would have been similar to the ones seen above.  Spartan? Yes, but easily survivable for a five day Atlantic crossing.  

 The photo above shows the dining saloon of the St. Louis. It may have been for all classes considering the ship wasn't large. 

Post cards were available for messages home.

From Ellis Island in New York we lose the Vercellino's trail until they reappear in South Dakota in 1905. Great Grandpa John (Giovanni) found work in the Homestake Mine.  

Thank you for Reading,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Great Grandpa John (Giovanni) Vercellino's Death Probate Court Records.

John (Giovanni) Vercellino in his World War I Italian Military Uniform

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Summer is here and that means school is out.  I have TIME to work on other projects, like this long neglected family history blog.  Let's start this summer with a posting on Great Grandpa John Vercellino's Probate Records.  What makes this interesting is his Italian government bonds and the signatures of the entire family - Maria, Raymond, Elda, and Edward. We begin with the Relationship Chart for reference:

Relationship Chart


And now the court records...

Victor Williamson

John (Giovanni) Vercellino Probate Records

John (Giovanni) Vercellino 

John (Giovanni) and Marie Vercellino on their wedding day