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, April 30, 2010

Effie Victor Williamson and Our Scottish Connection. (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

I'm glad to see you at our digital family reunion on a cloudy Saturday night. Imagine where else you could be? Perhaps the movies, dining out, bowling, or - if you're like me - drifting in and out of consciousness in front of the TV. You're right when you say, "If there ain't nutten better ta do might as well go to the digital reunion. Besides that lime green jello salad with lettuce and cottage cheese is mighty tasty."

I just got home from Space Camp. Chalk up another successful camp, except for one injury. One of my high school employees wasn't looking where he was walking, got distracted in conversation, and had an interesting meeting with one of the school's sturdy iron door frames. Blood flowed like the Nile. My EMT did what she could to stop the bleeding. He ended up in the hospital getting 9 stitches. I told him I appreciated his giving his all for the Center and thanked him for carrying the scar to prove it for the rest of his life.

Yes, its all GO at the Space Center.

Tonight we are going to pass a few pictures around the circle and remember our Great Grandmother Effie Victor Williamson, wife of William Jonathan Williamson.

This picture of Effie was enlarged from her wedding picture. Does she resemble anyone in your family? Genetics are always intersting, how some physical traits can skip generations and reappear later.

In this picture taken from the Federal Census Records we see the Victor family as it was in 1870.
(Click to enlarge). Effie was listed as two years old. The Victor family line is a hard one to trace. This census record has given me a clue where to look further. As you read you'll see that Effie's father Whity was born in Delaware. I didn't know that before. I'll keep you posted as the search for 'kin' continues.

This is the Iowa Census of 1885. Again we see that Whity Victor was born in Delaware. By 1885 the family was down to four.

This is a picture of Effie's sister, Eunicy Victor Barker, her husband, Melchi and children. Eunicy would be my Great Great Aunt.

Another picture of William Jonathan Williamson, my Great Grandfather. Again, anyone in your family resemble William in any way?

This document verifies the marriage ceremony of Effie and W.J. at her parents' home in Iowa on February 13, 1887. I've notice that Effie's father's name was spelt "Whity" and "Whitty".

In the front row from left to right is Frank, who lived in Canada, Melchi, Eunicy Jane (Effie's Sister), Bill, and Aletha Lawrence, who lived in Montana. Back row left to right, Beach, who lived his later years in Oregon, and Theron, who lived in Iowa.
Effie resting in peace at her funeral in Spearfish, South Dakota with flower arrangements. Effie died on April 9, 1944.

Since we are discussing our Victor line (which I might add is one of our family's line I'm most fond of considering my name is also Victor) I found the obituary of Effie's father, Whitty Victor. That would make Whitty my Great Great Grandfather.

Adams County Free Press, Page-8
Whitty Victor, whose death last Tuesday was mentioned in last week's paper, was 85 years and l month old. He was born of Christian parents in Essex county, Del,, near Dover, Feb.18,1818. When about fourteen years of age he removed with his parents to Cincinnati, O., where he grew to manhood and where he was married Nov. 6, 1845, to Miss Nancy Norris. A year later he removed to Blackhawk county,Ind., and after several changes of residence he came with his family to Adams county in 1861. He lived near Nodaway for many years and in 1885 sold his farm and bought another six miles west of Corning in Douglas township.

His wife died April 22,1886, and he then made his home with his daughter for a time. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Victor, of whom only three are living, Mrs. Jane Barker of Douglas township, Mrs. Emma Lathrop of Conklin, S. p., Mrs. Effie Williamson of Rapid City, S. D.. A brother and two sisters also survive him, Elijah Victor of Shelbyville, Ind.,Mrs. Elvira Brown of Wellington, Ill.,and Mrs. Sarah Green of University Place, Neb

On July 28, 1887, Mr. Victor was married to Mrs. Mary L. Preston, who died in this city June 20,1901. He was converted at the age of 43 and became an active and faithful member of the M. E. church. He was a devoted Christian man, a true Christian husband and father and his Christian life and Christian teaching bore fruit in the family circle and in the community where he was known and respected as a faithful follower of the Lord. "Blessed are those that die in the Lord"

The funeral was conducted Thursday from the U. B. church in this city by Revs. W. H. Drake and W. F. Wallace. Mr. Victor had selected for the scripture lesson the 90th Psalm and for a text Second Timothy, 7:4. The family has the sympathy of many friends.
We also have a new Scottish line in our Williamson family. Notice on the family tree above, Whity's parents are Elijah and Unicy. Unicy, according to the records, was born in Scotland. There is one major problem in finding the Clan. Unicy's last name isn't recorded on any documents I could find. This is one I'll continue to search. It would be nice to know which tartan to wear at the next family gathering.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Infusion of German Blood! (Mattson Line)

Me in my lederhosen, Celebrating this New German Line with a Frosty Root Beer!

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
How is everyone at the end of their Thursday? I'm sitting in my writing rocker feeling the shivers. Its a debate, should I turn up the furnace or get a blanket? Our undecided Utah weather is confused, giving us all four seasons today but I won't complain any further, in a few months I'll be bitterly complaining about the excessive heat.

Grandma Violet also enjoy cool weather over broiling heat. That is one thing I remember about her, she always wanted the windows open and a glass of ice cold water. I can still hear her from the living room of our modest bungalow in Rapid City,
"Victor, Grandma needs a glass of cold water. Let the tap run for awhile."
It was always the same, "Let the tap run for awhile." She knew better than to ask for ice. We never had any. Don't know why now that I stop to think about it.

Tonight I going to make Aunt Bev a very happy woman. With one post I'm going to push back the Pierce family line and take us all across the Atlantic to Germany. Those of us descended through Grandma Mattson have another dose of good Deutsch blood in our veins. Yummmmm, I'm ready for a plate of apple strudel topped with freshly whipped cream.

Now I mention Aunt Bev because I know she is working diligently on many of those family lines. I also noticed the Fiddler line on the Church's genealogy site ends with Abraham. Several months ago I found Abraham's wife Susan (it is really Suzanna). Tonight we make a really big jump and push that line back with this post.

Our German connection comes through Grandma Violet's father, Walter. And now, with the proper drum roll and bugle fanfare here is our German Fiddler Line back to the 1600's.

The Fidler Ancestral Home, Jugenheim German

The Year is 1627. Meet Our Seventh Great Grandparents.

JOHAN GEORGE FIDLER was born 22 OCT 1627 in Jugenheim, Bergstrasse, Hessen-Nassau, Germany. Married
in Germany. She was born ABT 1652 in Darnstadt,,, Germany.
Additional Notes for JOHAN GEORGE FIDLER: Parents are listed as: Maertin Fidler and Annae (last name unknown)

Children of JOHAN FIDLER and ANNA BARBARA are:
  • STILLBORN FIDLER, b. 23 Apr 1676, ,,, Germany; d. 23 Apr 1676, ,,, Germany.
  • STILLBORN FIDLER, b. 06 Apr 1678, ,,, Germany; d. 06 Apr 1678, ,,, Germany.
  • GOTTFRIED FIDLER, b. 1680, ,,, Germany; d. Abt. 1749, Berks, Pennsylvania.


Gottfried Fidler Born: 1680 Germany Died: 1755 Berks, Pennsylvania, USA. Married to
Anna Elisabeth Salomon
Born: 1683 Lammerspiel, Germany Died: 1756 Berks, Pennsylvania, USA

  • Anna Margaretha Fidler F 1726 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Conrad Fidler M 1709 in Hanua Luth, Hanua, Germany
  • Johann Gottfried Fiedler M 1715 in Kniskernsdorf, Schoharie, New York, USA
  • Johann Heinrich Fiedler M 14 Feb 1723 in Schoharie Valley, New York, USA
  • Jacob Fidler M 1724
  • John Fiedler M 1734 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA


Johann Heinrich Fiedler Born: 14 Feb 1723 Schoharie Valley, New York, USA Died: 2 Nov 1777 Heidleberg, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA. Married
Magdalena Schauer
Born: 1721 Schoharie Valley, New York, USA Died: 14 Nov 1777 Heidleberg, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA

  • John Fidler M 27 Dec 1755 in Bern, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA Rosina Fidler F 1754 in Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Adam Fidler M 4 Jun 1748 in Lower Heidelberg, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Catharina Fidler F 1749 in Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Magdalena Fidler F 10 Feb 1750 in Tulpehocken, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Henry Fidler M 21 Mar 1752 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Catherine Fidler F 1754 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Johann Jacob Fidler M 1 Oct 1766 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Maria Catharine Fidler F 30 Jul 1767


Henry Fidler Born: 21 Mar 1752 Berks, Pennsylvania, USA Died: 3 Jun 1831 Tulphehocken, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA. Married:
Eve Lenig
Born: 22 Apr 1756 Berks, Pennsylvania, USA Died: 9 Oct 1804 Berks, Pennsylvania, USA

Children of HENRY FIDLER and EVE LENIG are:
  • Sarah Fidler F 16 Aug 1800 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Maria Catharine Fidler F 23 Apr 1776 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • John Fidler M 31 Oct 1778 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Henry Fidler M 11 Nov 1779 in Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Eva Barbara Fidler F 16 Apr 1782 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Elizabeth Fidler F 24 Dec 1784 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Magdalena Fidler F 31 May 1787 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Maria Christina Fidler F 16 Dec 1789 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Eva Catharine Fidler F 24 Mar 1792 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Maria Margaret Fidler F 3 Feb 1794 in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Abraham Fidler M 6 Jul 1796 in Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA


Abraham Fiddler Birth: 6 Jul 1796 - Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA. Marriage: Jackson Township, Montgomery, Ohio, USA Death: Richland, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA Married:
Susanna Keller
Born: 5 Jul 1796 in Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA Died: 7 Oct 1821 in Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA Marriage: 1819 in Jackson Township, Montgomery, Ohio, USA

  • Maria Eva Fidler F 20 Mar 1820 in Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Anna Catharine Fidler F 3 Apr 1821 in Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Elizabeth Fidler F 5 Apr 1822 in Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Henry Fiddler M 22 Nov 1823 in Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Jonathan William Fidler M 12 Oct 1829 in Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania, USA


Henry Fiddler b. 1823. d. 1896 Iowa
Francis George
b. 1824. d. 1903 South Dakota


Eldora Elizabeth Fiddler b. 1859 Eldora, Iowa. d. 1912 Hot Springs and
Edwin Sherman Pierce
b. 1862 Illinois d. ?


Walter Edwin Pierce b. 1885 South Dakota. d. 1956 Washington State and
Vesta Althea Dennis


Violet Pierce and
Walter Mattson


Luella Mattson and
Charles Williamson


Kim, Victor, Kevin, Janice, Jon, Jilane, Lisa, Annette.

And What's a Family digital reunion without music and singing? Tonight a German folk song to celebrate new ancestors, once lost in time and now found....... Feel free to sing along. My German is a bit rusty so I'll provide the foot tapping.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Brintons and Bagleys with a Connection to Shakesphere. Williamson Line

Family Line

William Brinton (b. 1636) - Ann Bagley (b. 1634)
10th Great Grandparents
John Willis - Ester Brinton
William Willis - Mary Titus
John Willis - Abigail Willets
John Willis - Margaret Cornell
John Willis - Phebe Bennett,
Bennett Willis - Katherine Nosseman
Jonathan Willis - Anabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis - George Matthew Williamson
William J. Williamson - Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.
Charles - Luella

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Welcome to our Williamson Virtual Family Reunion around our digital campfire for tonight's story. What a day indeed. The wind is blowing, bringing in a strong cold front from the Pacific. A warning to our distant cousins in the mid west and east coast. There be a storm brewin and it be a wicked one at that! We are in for days of rain and possibly even snow.

Tonight we discuss two families we are tied to through our Willis line. Now, a word of caution. Genealogy isn't always an exact science. With that taken as a given in all our discussions, I must preface my remarks by making you aware of a dispute I can't seem to resolve. The parentage of our Great Grandfather Bennet Willis. We are descended from Bennet Willis, that can be taken to the bank. Who his parents really are is the debate. The majority of the Willis documents I've found online give his parentage as I've illustrated it above. However, there are a few Willis genealogists that give a different set of parents for Bennett. I've spent hours myself trying to solve the dispute but can't. Perhaps some day when there are more records available. Until then I've decided to accept the majority opinion and give it to you for your consideration.
Please remember, what the stories we tell about the Willis line beyond Bennett could be debated and should not be taken as the absolute truth. It is just the best that I can find at the moment and could be proven incorrect later. Could be - unlikely but possible. OK?

So gather around the fire and let me tell you about our 10th Great Grandparents William and Ann. Much of this material tonight was taken direction from the research done by another family and can be found at the following web site (http://www.mccullough.nl/).

The Brintons and Bagleys

The Brintons and Bagleys were Quakers who immigrated to America from Staffordshire Co., England. William Brinton married Ann Bagley in 1659 while in England. They had five children (3 girls, Esther, Ann & Elizabeth, and 2 boys, William & Edward) between the years 1660 and 1675. One son, Edward Brinton, died at an early age.

A Shakespeare Connection

Ann's brother, Edward Bagley (an 11th Uncle to us) has also become the subject of much recent research, as he was mentioned as a "kinsman" and named as executor of Lady Elizabeth Bernard's will. Lady Bernard was Shakespeare's granddaughter and last surviving direct descendant, and Edward could very well have ended up with Lady Bernard's (and by extension, Shakespeare's) papers. Unfortunately, the nature of the connection between the Bagley's and the Shakespeare family has not yet been conclusively determined, and so it is not yet possible to say if this connection also applied to Ann Bagley Brinton. However, the research article by John Taplin gives at the very least some interesting insights into life and social relationships in the Brinton's hometown area in the 1500 and 1600's.

Returning to the Brintons in America
In an effort to escape religious persecution, William came to America in the spring of 1684 with his wife and his only living son, William. The family settled near what is now New Castle, Delaware. It is said they lived in a cave throughout the first winter. They survived thanks to gifts of game supplied by the Indians that traveled the trails near their shelter. Once the weather cleared, William built the family a log cabin and planted a pear tree as a symbol of a fruitful future. He purchased 50 acres from Thomas King in March of 1686 and 450 acres in Oct. of that same year in Birmingham. These purchases included the lands on which he was already living. In 1688 he purchased an additional 400 acres.

Several years later, the son William , built the William Brinton 1704 House pictured above on an adjoining part of this land. William Sr. and Ann had originally left their three daughters Ann, Elizabeth, and Esther behind in England, but eventually these children and their husbands also emigrated to this area.

As Quakers, William and Ann lost much of what they owned to the British government. William was again on the unpopular side of religion within seven years of coming to America as he joined the rebellious Quaker, George Keith. This group broke up after a few years, William and his family returned to the Orthodox Quaker church where they were members in good standing at Concord Monthly Meeting at the time of their deaths, shortly after one another.

A biography of Ann, written in part by her husband William, was reprinted in "The Friend", Vol 33, a Quaker publication.

So, to wrap up, again we find we are descended from good rebellious Quaker stock along the Willis line. Persecuted in England they sailed the six to twelve week voyager across the Atlantic in hopes of finding a new home in a new country.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Grandma Vesta Pierce Logan. Grandma Violet's Mother. Her Life in Pictures. (Mattson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Time again for our digital reunion around our virtual campfire. I see from the look in some of your eyes its been "one of those days". What did you expect for a Monday? Remember the old Carpenter's Song, "Rainy Days and Monday's Always Get Me Down?" Perhaps the smell and crackling of our campfire along with good company will perk your spirits. If not, there are always Smores........

I'm glad you've all come over tonight because I'd like to share a collection of pictures taken of my Great Grandmother Logan. She was born Vesta Althea Dennis at Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1892. She died on July 11, 1978 in California. She was 86 years old. She is buried in San Bernardino California. She had two children, Violet and Walter. She herself was the youngest of six children.

I can't detail her entire life history. I don't know it and neither do my sources (Mother). And if I thought I had to post the entire history with dates and details then I would never get around to it. Writing a family's history can be overwhelming. It would be a full time job of writing and organizing and writing and organizing and so on and so forth. That's why most people won't tackle it. Instead they accumulate mountains of photos with the intent of write something some day but will never get to it because it seems so monumental.

This blog is an example of another way to do it. My philosophy is "don't even try". Attack your family history one photo at a time and hope when your finished it will all be there, as if my magic. I agree this Blog's organization may be helter skelter but the goal of having something in print for posterity's sake is being achieved and the impossible conquered one grain of sand at a time until the mountain is moved.

So, here we go with a campfire remembrance of Great Grandma Logan.
I believe I met Grandma Logan once. She came to Rapid City to visit her daughter, Grandma Violet. We took the five generation picture posted on a previous post at that time. I remember how frail she was. I remember Grandma Mattson took gentle care of her as a daughter would. I remembered thinking how strange I had a Great Grandmother I didn't know.

Here she was as a young child. This picture was taken in Hot Springs around 1894. She was two / three years old. Luella comments about her curly hair with ringlets every time she sees a photo of Vesta. Her father, John Dennis, died when she was very young. Her mother, Isabel Deanora Helgerson McCrilles, was previously married as was her father. They both came into the marriage with children of their own.

This picture show Grandma Vesta with her two children, Walter (4 years old) and Violet (2 years old). This was about the time Vesta and her husband Walter Edwin Pierce divorced. No one knows why they divorced. The divorce was devastating to this young family. Vesta was a single mother living in the early part of the 20th century. Not a good situation to be in.

This picture shows Grandma Vesta with Grandma Violet and Great Uncle Walter. The picture might have been taken in California. They moved to California for two according to Luella.
1. There was a terrible drought throughout the Dakota's and Montana.
2. She wanted to get Violet away from Grandpa Mattson. Walter Mattson was six years older than Violet. You know, one of those mom things. No one was good enough for her Violet.

Grandpa Mattson joined the CC's with Violet's brother Walter Pierce. They worked together throughout the mid west. When they both left the CC's Walter Pierce went back to California and Grandpa Mattson decided to move to South America to work (no one knows why). He made it as far as San Diego and discovered there was no work to be had. On his way back to Montana he stopped to say hello to his friend Walter Pierce and of course, he became reacquainted with Violet. The rest is history, as they say.

Great Grandma Vesta and Grandma Violet standing together in front of the garage Walter Mattson built on their Montana ranch. Vesta came to visit the Mattson family's Montana ranch several times. She'd stay a week or two then return to California. Mother remembers she took the bus. Quite a long trip! Vesta loved her visits to Montana. She enjoyed the great outdoors and her grandchildren.

This is an earlier picture of Vesta on Deaver Ranch, one mile from the Mattson Ranch. She was Deaver's housekeeper for awhile before they married. On the day of their wedding they butchered a pig. It hung in the tree to be eaten later (perhaps for a wedding party). After the wedding Vesta was shiveried (?) (an old Montana custom where the neighbors and friends kidnap the wife after the wedding. The husband must search for her. Strange custom) Upon their return to their ranch they found the pig missing. It was stolen. That was a big thing in those days. Food was always scarce. The crime never solved.

This picture was taken in Belle Fourche Park. The family was on its way from the Montana ranch to Rapid City were Grandmother Vesta and cousin Diane were to collect the Greyhound Bus for the trip back to Riverside, CA. They had been in Montana for a month long visit to the ranch which included some schooling for Diane in the one room school house at Pinelle. Aunt Linda and Diane were both 10 and in the fifth grade. Luella was in school in Brodus. Luella remembers this outing. Their picnic consisted of cottage cheese, pork and beans and sandwiches. They stopped for ice cream on the way home.

Uncle Marvin is on the far left, then Uncle John, Luella, Diana (daughter of Walter Pierce,his only child ), then Aunt Linda. Grandma Vesta is standing behind them. The five of them were her only grandchildren.

Vesta subscribed to comic books for Luella and her brothers and sister. Luella said the kids waited anxiously for the comics to come by mail. Each was devoured frame by frame, word by word.

A picture of Grandma Vesta and Diana. Walter divorced his wife and sent Diana to live with Vesta. Today Diana lives in Placerville California.

This is a picture of mother and daughter, Vesta and Violet. Vesta was living in a nursing home at the time. Violet and Grandpa Mattson moved to California while Uncle John was on his mission. Violet was better able to care for Vesta.

Violet moved back to Rapid City after Grandpa Mattson died to be near her family and grandchildren.

Vesta stayed behind in California and continued to reside in the nursing home. These two pictures show Vesta on a nursing home shopping spree.

This is the last picture taken of Grandma Vesta in the hospital. Diana and her first husband are with her. Vesta died shortly afterwords.

And that takes us to the end of our time together. The fire is dwindling down and its getting cool. Shall we call it a night then?

So until next time.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grandma Mattson and her Brother as Children in Rapid City

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Everyone!
I'm sitting in my rocker with feet up on the widow sill. The clock ticks away over my right shoulder reminding me how long I've spent in this chair today. This is today's third post for the Family History Blog! You know, this can become addictive. You get researching a line and you can't let it go until you get an answer, and most of the time you end up in some dark, dank back ally of history that ends with a brick wall and two or three beat up, metal trash cans minus their lids, oozing with trash and smells. That's when you walk up to the dead end, place your forehead against the weather worn bricks and start banging away until you remember its time for 30 Rock (or Modern Family. Both OK in my opinion).

My problem is that I'm interested in our 'Way Back' ancestors AND the ones within my memory. I'm surrounded with wicker cabinets full of old family photographs and documents that will eventually all be scanned and inserted into this blog, providing everyone in the family a complete history of who we are and where we came from. Some of you've written wondering how I have the patience to do this. Well, after spending the full day surrounded by scores and scores of ultra hyper 10 - 14 year olds on field trips to the Space Center and a staff of adolescents suffering from excessive hormonal output mixed with over inflated or deflated egos - the natural highs and lows of being a teenager, the quiet and piece of this chair and the window sill are a blessing. I type and unwind at the same time (until I hit that brick wall and then want to prove that you can rip a lap top in two like a telephone book - which I saw Jake do so I know it can be done. I mean if Jake can do it, well........ anyone can - Right?)

OK, enough said.

I found these pictures of Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) and her brother in one of Mom's neglected file folders. They are fading with age. Today they are digitized and locked into a state of preservation for your enjoyment. I used iPhoto to restore the images. What you see is the best I could do, so here goes.

We set our Way Back Machine to 1924/25. Rapid City South Dakota.

This is 7 year old Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) sitting outside her home in Rapid City. She lived there with her mother (Vesta) and her older brother Walter. They lived in a neighborhood called North Rapid. Remember from previous posts, Violet's parents divorced when she was about 3 years old. Her mother had no help (no government programs to help single mothers in those days) and had to raise the children on her own working as a waitress. Extreme poverty was the only way to describe their living conditions.

This is another picture taken at the same time. Seven year old Grandma is in a dance pose. Violet once told Luella she wanted to dance so badly that she use to walk into downtown Rapid and peer through the window of a dance studio to watch the young girls dance, then she'd go home and practice what she saw on her own. Of course, they couldn't afford dance lessons. Mother just commented on how thin Violet looks in these pictures.
Violet told Luella that she and Walter walked to downtown Rapid to watch the construction of the Hotel Alex Johnson pictured below on its opening day in 1927.

The New Alex Johnson Hotel

Rapid City as Grandma Saw it in the 1920's

This is a picture of Violet's 8 year old brother Walter on his wagon in front of their home in 1924. Violet and Walter always referred to each other as Brother and Sister, never by their first names.

Doesn't it make you appreciate what you have when you see Grandma's living conditions as a child? It makes you think your kids are spoiled just a bit doesn't it when you look at everything you've given them and then consider the wagon you see our Great Uncle playing with might be his only toy.

Here is another picture of Great Uncle Walter. This picture was taken in 1925 when he was 9 years old. His coveralls are far to big, but you did what you had to do in those days.

And finally, the mystery photograph. Mom doesn't know who this is and of course, Grandma isn't here to tell us. This was taken on the same roll of film as the other pictures. It doesn't look like Great Grandma Vesta so it may be one of her friends or a relative. Another example of the importance of getting these pictures digitized and labeled correctly before we lose the only people that know who they are. The clock is ticking and there are so many pictures.


The Last Will and Testament of our 5th Great Grandfather George Frederick Phlegar, and Photos (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Happy Sunday!

We saw the entire spectrum of weather this week in our hamlet of Pleasant Grove. The week started warm, very warm. By mid week the storm front that spawned so many tornadoes in the south and east swept through Utah toward the Rocky Mountains. By Thursday snow was falling in the back yard.

That is one advantage of living in Northern Utah. Our weather is mild and tame considering many other parts of the country. The storms that produce treacherous ice storms, tornadoes, blizzards and flooding in the Mid West usually sweep through Utah first in their mild state. They intensify as they climb through the mountains toward Denver and the East. Perhaps I will send out weather alerts to our cousins living east whenever a front passes through. So, here is a picture of Sunday’s weather as seen from the Upper deck of the “Fortress”.

The Last Will and Testament of George Frederick Phlegar

Today I'd like to let you read the Last Will and Testament of my generation's 5th Great Grandfather, George Frederick Phlegar.

Tom Phlegar, one of our distant cousins, sent this to me. Tom reads the Blog and wanted to extend a hearty "Hello" to all of us from the Phlegars living in the 'Old Country' of the South. Tom sent a parcel full of documents relating to our Phlegar line, many of which I will be posting as time permits. One of the documents was a typed copy of George Frederick's Will.

Let's begin with the first page of the Frederick's Will (notice that he goes by the name Frederick and also notice he calls his wife Maria, leaving off the Anna). Remember, click on the image to enlarge.

I'm interested in how each item of furniture in the home seems to be accounted for. He gives away the "Copper Kettle" and "one iron pot". All of the items mentioned are very typical for a well provisioned home in the late 1700's. From this page we also read about his farm's holdings.
Now Page 2 (Click to Enlarge)

Well Well Well...... It seems our Great Grandfather kept a bit of whiskey around the house. I'm sure it was for medicinal use only. On page two he disperses garden tools and the crop already in the field. He then orders the Plantation sold (150 acres) and all the money used to pay his debts. The remaining money is directed to purchase things for his wife and family.
Now Page 3: (Click to Enlarge)

I enjoyed reading his provision that his daughter Maria Margaret receive "one good bed (which will contain no less than eighteen pounds of feathers) and a bedstand". That had to be one comfortable bed! It seemed he was taking care his daughter had the necessary "hope chest" to ensure a successful marriage.

You'll notice that, with the plantation sold, he orders a home be purchased near the village of York for his wife. It seemed he felt the plantation couldn't manage without him. To be sure his family had the funds to continue living without the plantation he ordered the sum of 200 British Pounds be set aside and the family live off its interest (around $50,000 - $75,000 in today's money).
And now the final page of the Will: (Click to Enlarge)

Life was certainly different in the late 1700's. Remember, this will was signed in 1789, the year Washington was elected to be the nation's first President.

In addition to the Will, Tom sent the following photographs from his family's vacation to Germany to visit the Point of Phlegar Origins where distant cousins of our still live.

The old Lutheran Church in Wiernsheim. Tom wrote that "Records are now in the archives in Stutgart" referring to the church's records of Phlegar birth's, marriages and deaths.

"Main Street Wiernsheim, Germany looking at Rathaus (Town Hall)" Tom wrote on the back of this photo.

And finally, to wrap up this lengthy post on the Phlegar line Tom sent this picture of a business run by one of our 7th Cousins. Notice the family name is spelt differently in Germany.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I'm hoping you found something of interest in this historical peak into the lives of our ancestors from the early days of our Republic.


And Now for Something Completely Different.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Happy Sunday!
Yes, we start today with something completely different.
Before I started this blog I was unaware of our family's strong German ties on the Williamson line. So, in honor of that strong German, Lutheran blood I'd like to share a bit of German culture with you.
I wanted to find a song I was sure our German ancestors sang in their homes. My requirement? It had to be as old as our family link to Germany. Take a minute to enjoy this 200 year old German Lullaby and imagine one of our German Great Grandmothers singing it to you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Williamson Children. The Early Years. The Very Early Years.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

For tonight's post we set the Way Back Machine to the early 1960's, Rapid City South Dakota. Rising up from the center of the city was a hill the residents referred to as Signal Heights. The Charles Williamson family lived on the top of hill at 39 East Signal Drive. To the south of the hill was the neighborhood of Robbinsdale, and to the north, a neighborhood called North Rapid.

The Williamson were your typical, and not so typical American family of the time. Charles worked for the South Dakota State Highway Department. Luella worked odd jobs here and there to supplement the family income but mostly was the young mom of a growing family.

Tonight we're going to look at a few snapshots taken of the Williamson children. Brace yourselves, some of the images you're about to see may not be suitable for younger children and those with weak constitutions. That being said, we begin:

This is a picture of Charles and Luella's first two children. You have Princess Kim on the left and Uncle Gomez on the right. I warned you to turn away didn't I, and you didn't heed that warning. I'll wait a moment so your eyes can adjust to image................................................
OK, now that you're not looking at the picture through your fingers I want to say a few things.
1. Notice Kim has the toy. I'm left to my own devices. Can you see the frustration in my face? Can you see me pleading for a toy of my own? Did they give me one? No. So, with nothing to hold in my hands they were left to flap about.
2. Did you notice who has nice pretty white shoes? Notice who doesn't have shoes?
3. Notice who has what appears to be a bunny rabbit on his shirt? What's up with that!? And why am I poised to resemble Jabba the Hut?
4. What's with the bald head? Couldn't something have been done about that? This picture was taken at Penny's Photo Studio. I'm sure they had something in their bag of tricks to cover that head. How about a hat of some kind?

Well, at least I wasn't born with Kim's monster tongue. Look at that muscle protruding from her teeth! It's a wonder she learned to talk at all. Luckily for her she grew into it (although the opposite could be said for those on the receiving end of a Kim DelGrosso rebuke. Zorro's blade has nothing on Kim's tongue. An inherited trait from my Grandma Elda).

Here we are again. We are older and YES, I've been given shoes! I'm still a bit crooked but I'm OK with that. I'm also glad they got a picture of me without my mouth wide open like some newly hatched bird chirping away for something to eat. I'm liking that awesome head of hair coming in (though sad to report much of it is finding its way onto the bathroom and shower floor).
Wow, doesn't that sofa look comfortable? I think I can still remember it. It gave you splinters if you slid across it.

This is a picture of Janice

This is a picture of her twin brother Jonathan.

Notice Jon is also minus a toy but at least he has shoes. Dad got a raise.
What does one say about our family's set of twins? On the baby cuteness scale how does Jon and Jan compare to Kim and I (Although Kim and I aren't twins, we are 11 months apart so that's close enough for comparison's sake)?
Even today Kim and I have a tendency to ooze baby cuteness whenever we enter a room. I, of course, always let her enter first, you know...... to warm the audience for the real zinger about to enter.

Jon and Janice, on the other hand, are...well, Jon and Janice. Are they clever? Yes. But are they "pinch those baby cheeks" cute? Hmmmm....

Legal Disclaimer: OK I'm joking. If I don't say it now neither of them will talk to me at the next family wake. A bit touchy sometimes, but that comes from being middle children. There I go again; best to move on.

And finally we have Kevin. He was the child stuck between Kim and I, and, Jon and Janice. He was truly the middle child, with a temperament capable of melting steel when ignited. Kevin would only take so much sibling abuse and then explode, so you had to be careful not to push him too far. Those of us that lived with him knew when and where to run when he erupted. It was either run and hide or dodge the Tonka Trucks, chairs, knifes, iron, lamps or vases thrown at you with his dead on pitching arm.

Kevin looks so sweet and innocent in this picture but let me say this, you could use this picture as a movie poster for The Shining III. Don't let that innocent expression fool you. It would be a mistake. Others did and are alive today only by God's grace. Behind that face was a cold, calculating brain. A brain that looked for any opportunity to get noticed. A brain that schemed for ways to survive middle childhood. It was a brain that always pondered the proper moves to get that bigger bowl of ice cream or that second slice of pizza.

I always had a lingering sense of fear during the years he and I shared a bedroom. You never knew what he'd do in the middle of the night if you upset him earlier in the day. I always made it my policy to inquire about his mood before shutting off the lights. If there was any doubt I slept with one eye open. A survival skill in a small house with eight children, each odd, and unique, in their own way :)


More on the Soldiers in our Family's Past (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Tonight we take a moment to honor the memories of additional ancestors who I recently discovered served in the armed forces. We already know about ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War, including a Great Grandfather that died at Valley Forge (see previous blog posts). Tonight we learn about a few others. The information on them is brief at best (which is typical for most genealogical research) but worth mentioning and remembering.

We begin with my generation’s 4th Great Grandfather, Bennett Willis. He was born in 1780. On November 13, 1800 he married Katherine Nossaman. She was born in 1779. Bennett was Katherine’s second husband.
Military Recruiting Poster, War of 1812

Bennett enlisted to fight in the war of 1812 against the British. He was 32 years old. He was killed in action on January 18, 1814. I don’t know the battle or the circumstances of his death. He left behind a widow and eight children. One of them was our 3rd Great Grandfather, Jonathan Willis.

Jonathan Willis was born in 1807. He was seven years old when his father died. He spent his entire life in farming. In politics he was a member of the Whig Party, at least until the Civil War, when he became a member of the Democratic Party. The Willis’s were all Southerners proud and true, as were many of the Williamson’s - coming from Virginia, one would expect that. Religiously Jonathan was a devout Lutheran.

John married Arabella Phlegar and with her had ten sons and four daughters! Imagine that, 14 children!

One of their daughters was Margaret Ann. She married my generation’s 2nd Great Grandfather, George Matthew Williiamson.

I’d like to mention two of the other children, our Great Great Great Uncles and brothers of Margaret Ann.
Son Bennet was a soldier in the Confederate Army serving in the Virginia 24th regiment Infantry.
The 24th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia.

The 24th Virginia was assembled in June, 1861, with men from Floyd, Franklin, Carroll, Giles, Pulaski, Mercer, and Henry Counties. It served under Early at First Manassas, then was assigned to Early's, Kemper's, and W.R. Terry's Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia.

The 24th participated in the campaigns of the army from Williamsburg to Gettysburg except when it was detached to Suffolk with Longstreet. Later it was involved in the engagements at Plymouth and Drewry's Bluff, the Petersburg siege north of the James River, and the Appomattox operations.

The regiment contained 740 men in April, 1862, and reported 189 casualties at Williamsburg and 107 at Seven Pines. It lost 4 killed, 61 wounded, and 14 missing at Frayser's Farm, had 8 wounded at Fredericksburg, and had about forty percent of the 395 engaged at Gettysburg disabled. Many were lost at Sayler's Creek with no officers and 22 men surrendered on April 9, 1865.

Son Samuel was killed during the Civil War serving with General Stonewall Jackson in the Confederate Army during a battle a Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864.
At dawn, October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps. Commander Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley and Sherman’s successes in Georgia to re-election.

Estimated Casualties
  • 5,665 UnionUnion Flag
  • 2,910 ConfederateConfederate Flag
In closing, I want to comment on the diversity in our Williamson family. My research shows a family of many different religions and political persuasions. We have ancestors persecuted for their religion (Quakerism) which motivated them to leave England to seek a new life in the new world. We are a family descended from others seeking to improve their situation in life by starting fresh in the new world (Phlegars, Goodykoontz, Trouts - All German). We have ancestors who fought on the Union side and the Confederate side in the Civil War. We have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, and every other war since then.

We are descended from a patchwork of nationalities, beliefs, and traditions which makes us the people we are today. I'm learning of a family of proud and strong individuals who survived the trials and tribulations of life with faith in each other and in their God and Country.


Relationship Chart

Bennett Willis born: 1780. Married Katherine Nossaman born: 1779
Jonathan Willis Married Arabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis. Married George Matthew Williamson
William Jonathan Williamson. Married Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.
Charles Williamson (CB)
Me (my generation)