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 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)