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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our 9th Great Grandparents Edward and Elizabeth Riggs (Williamson / Moris Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
With the end of the school year comes hours of extra work for anybody that works in education. That is why the posts have been weekly instead of almost every day. That will remedy itself soon enough when the last bell rings at Central School (home of the Space Education Center) and all the younglings trample each other into the tiles as they compete for first out of the building, first into the freedom of a hot summer afternoon and first into to cool waters of Pleasant Grove's Veteran's Memorial Pool.

Of course there is no break for those of us that must work for a living. The Center's Space Camps begin the evening of the last day of school. I like to complain about the work load but take no heed. I enjoy what I do or I wouldn't do it.

Today started with weather reminiscent of late Fall. It was cold accompanied by a deep and silent fog which hung closely to the mountains around the Fortress. I expect the temperatures to hover around 60 today. Strange weather indeed. A word of warning to family and friends in the East. Our cold fronts, which bring mild rain and modest breezes to us, turn into violent thunderstorms after they rise and fall over the Rockies and bear down on the Great Plains.

Today we are going to spend some time together learning about our 9th Great Grandfather and Grandmother Edward and Elizabeth Riggs. Let's begin with the Relationship Chart for reference.

Relationship Chart

9th Great Grandfather and Grandmother

Edward Riggs and Elizabeth Roosa
Edward Riggs and Mary Munn
Edward Riggs and Alphia Stoughton
Mary Riggs and Daniel Morris
Issac Morris and Rebecca Hathaway
Benjamin Morris and Mary Spinning
Isaac Morris and ?
Nancy Morris and Whitty Victor
Effie Helen Victor and William Jonathan Williamson
Vennie, Ima, Inez, Lille, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles and Maurice Williamson

Our 9th Great Grandfather Edward was born in England about 1614 and came to this county along with his father and family, landing in Boston, Mass. in 1633. He assisted his father in preparing a new house and in taking care of the sick until April 5 1635, when he married Elizabeth Roosa, whose family also came from England.

In 1637 he was a sergeant in the Pequot war, and distinguished himself by rescuing a body of his companions from an Indian ambush. In latter years he became a settler at Milford, Conn. and had land assigned to him.

In 1655, associated with Edward Wooster, Richard Baldwin, John Browne, Robert Dennison, JohnBurnett and perhaps others, they bought from the Indians the county on the Naugatuck, then known as Paugusset, some ten or twelve miles above Milford. They established a plantation which was afterward called Derby. The Riggs family lived on what was known as "Riggs Hill".

Edward built a strong stockade as a protection against the Indians. In this house Edward secretly hid and protected Whaley and Goff, two members of the English Parliament that had condemned and executed Charles I. Emissaries of Charles II were making a most diligent search for them in 1661.

The province of New Jersey was named as a grant from the Crown in 1664. In 1665, Edward, with some of his associates in the plantation of Derby, visited New Jersey and were so well pleased with the prospects that they founded a new plantation on the Passaic and the site of Newark was decided upon. The next year he spent most of the summer preparing the colony with his wife and family. Our 9th Great Grandmother was the first white woman to spend a summer in Newark. The fundamental agreement which organized the colony was executed on June 24, 1667. His sons Edward and Joseph were designated as "Planters", that is, original proprietors. The other son Samuel remained at Derby.

In 1668, the next year after the colony was fully organized, Edward died. His widow then married Caleb Carwithie (sometime before 1671)

In a letter to William Bradford dated 28 July 1637, John Winthrop wrote of the exploits of Edward Riggs in the Pequot war:
... they gave order to surround the swamp, it being about a mile about; but Lieutenant Davenport, and some twelve more, not hearing that command, fell into the swamp among the Indians. The swamp was so thick with shrub wood, and so boggy with all, that some of them stuck fast, and received many shot. Lieutenant Davenport was dangerously wounded about his armhole and another shot in the head, so as fainting, they were in great danger to have been taken by the Indians, but Sergeant Rigges, and Jeffery and two or three more rescued them, and slew diverse of the Indians with their swords"
Facts on the Pequot War:
In the 17th century the Pequot tribe, rival of the Narragansett, was centered along the Thames River in present-day southeast Connecticut. As the colonists expanded westward, friction began to develop. Points of tension included unfair trading, the sale of alcohol, destruction of Pequot crops by colonial cattle and competition over hunting grounds.

Further poisoning the relationship was the disdain in which the Indians were held by the colonists; many felt no qualms about dispossessing or killing those whom they regarded as ungodly savages.

In July 1636, John Oldham, a trader of questionable honesty, was killed by the Pequot. The incident led Gov. John Endicott to call up the militia. What followed was the first significant clash between English colonists and North American Natives. Allying themselves with the Mohegan and Narragansett, the colonists attacked a Pequot village on the Mystic River (near present-day New London) in May 1637. Encircling their foes under the cover of night, the colonists set the Indian dwellings ablaze, then shot the natives as they fled from their homes. From 400 to 700 Indian men, women and children were killed; many of the survivors were sold into slavery in Bermuda. The Pequot chieftain Sassacus was captured by the Mohawks and executed. His tribe was virtually exterminated. Renowned warrier Uncas, son in law of Sassacus, allied his forces with the English colonists in the war and defeatrf the rival Narragansett in 1643.

The colonists and their allies set an unfortunate precedent in the Pequot War by ignoring the conventions of European warfare to punitively devastate the homes and lives of men, women and children.

A Brief Description of one of the Bloodiest Battles our Great Grandfather fought in.

It is a moonlit pre-dawn in May 1637. English Puritans from Massachusetts Bay Colony and Connecticut Colony, with Mohegan and Narragansett allies, surround a fortified Pequot village at a place called Missituck (Mystic). In the village, the Pequots sleep. Suddenly, a dog barks. The awakened Pequots shout Owanux! Owanux! (Englishmen! Englishmen!) and mount a valiant defense. But within an hour, the village is burned and 400-700 men, women, and children are killed.

Captain John Underhill, one of the English commanders, documents the event in his journal, Newes from America :

Down fell men, women, and children. Those that 'scaped us, fell into the hands of the Indians that were in the rear of us. Not above five of them 'scaped out of our hands. Our Indians came us and greatly admired the manner of Englishmen's fight, but cried "Mach it, mach it!" - that is, "It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men." Great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of young soldiers that never had been in war, to see so many souls lie gasping on the ground, so thick, in some places, that you could hardly pass along.

The massacre at Mystic is over in less than an hour. The battle cuts the heart from the Pequot people and scatters them across what is now southern New England, Long Island, and Upstate New York. Over the next few months, remaining resistors are either tracked down and killed or enslaved. The name "Pequot" is outlawed by the English. The Puritan justification for the action is simply stated by Captain Underhill:

It may be demanded, Why should you be so furious? Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? Sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents. Sometimes the case alters, but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Home at 2214 38th Street, Rapid City. Chapter One.

A Daguerreotype taken of Kevin and Jon Tossing a "football" on our front lawn. We couldn't afford
a real football so you see them using one of my old gym shoes instead :)

Sometime during my confinement in the 5th grade, the owners of our home at 210 N. 42nd Street, Rapid City decided to sell the home, and not to us. That meant packing up our few meager possessions into the Conestoga wagon, hitching up the oxen and seeking a new home on the prairies of South Dakota.

Our new home, 2214 38th Street, was located in the Canyon Lake section of Rapid City. It was a modest rambler build right after World War II. The term modest is relative to what you consider extravagant. My use of the term modest should be defined as modest, when modest is taken as extravagant. In other words, modest for South Dakota standards - remembering a sod home with a two hole outhouse in South Dakota was considered living high on the hog.

My first memory of our new digs involved food. We spent the entire day moving into the house and by nightfall we were dead tired and hungry. The kitchen was a mess and Luella refused to cook. That left one other choice for supper - McDonalds! Eating out for our family meant taking our hot dog and beans outside and eating under one of the half dead trees in the backyard. Our eating out meals were served on Safeway's Scotch Brand Super Flimsy and Quite Flushable Paper Plates, the kind that could double as napkins or bathroom tissue if necessary.

"Put those hot dogs down," Charles said to Luella. "We're going to McDonalds!"

The cheer that nearly lifted the roof off that house must have caught the neighbors by surprise. They already thought we were strange. I base that opinion on their reactions to us as we moved in. They stood by their fences and stared. The women kept counting us. You could see them with their index fingers up in the air tapping some invisible key as they counted us. The look of shock and disgust followed the final 8th tap.

"Eight in that little house!" were the words spoken in hushed tones and audible to someone with keen hearing like myself. Of course it all made sense to them when they found out we were Mormons. They seemed confused after that, always wondering where dad kept his other wife.

We were not allowed to accompany Charles and Luella to McDonalds that night. Kim and I had to babysit. Besides, they needed time away from us. I also think neither one had the energy to deal with our excitement. Can you imagine the frustration of taking this gaggle of underprivileged children into a McDonalds. Getting us to take our attention off the real tiled floors and onto the menu would be their first problem. Getting us to choose what we'd like to eat would be the next. How could we be expected to decide between a hamburger or cheese burger? How could we pick a chocolate shake over vanilla? Did we want fries? Of course we wanted fries but large or small? Have I painted the picture correctly? Can you just see all six of us kids standing there frozen with our fingers pointing in the general direction of the menu and mouths open wide, not saying one word due to the maddening array of choices?

Charles and Luella returned with the food. I had one hamburger and a few fries from the communal pile. My special treat was one of McDonald's hot Cherry Pies. I opened the pie and tried to shove the entire thing into my mouth at once knowing that if I didn't I'd have to share it with someone. What I didn't know was that the filling was hot. In those days companies assumed you were smart enough to understand that the name "Hot Cherry Pie" on the packaging meant the pie was to be considered Hot. Flash forward to today and you'll see a warning on the packaging telling you that the filling in the pie is hot.

Needless to say, I burned my mouth and was in misery for several hours. That pretty much sums up my first impressions of life at 2214 38th Street.

Shall I take you on a virtual tour of our home on 38th Street?

On Arrival by Car
Our teetering mail box was the first thing anyone noticed as they drove up to our home. The box once stood tall and proud until Luella backed into it with the car, breaking the metal pole off its base. The actual mailbox itself broke off as it fell. Not to worry, we were expects at fixing things with little money and little skill. We put a stick into the base and put the mailbox's pole over the stick. That kept the box upright in a drunken sort of way. The pole had an odd 80 degree angle. The mailbox itself was reattached to the pole with a coat hanger. It was fun to watch our mailbox in a good wind. The pole spun around and the box bobbled up and down sending our uncollected letters and bills every which way.

"What do you mean our electric bill hasn't been paid. Did you send it to us. We never got it,"
(wink wink).

On Approach to the Front Door
There was an amusement park, Fun House feel to our front steps and porch. The porch had settled after being poured, thus giving you the slight feeling you were on the deck of a ship listing slightly to port. It was fun to see our two grandmothers navigate the porch when they'd come visiting. If they weren't careful, the tilt would take them off balance and straight into the prickly bushes surrounding the front of the house.

Our front door had a half circle window. In the window was a sticker with a question mark. Under the question mark it said, "Ask us the Golden Question". All good Mormons knew the Golden Questions.
"What do you know about the Mormon Church?"
"Would you like to know more?"

Funny, but in all the years I lived in that home I don't ever recall anyone asking me what that sticker meant. Besides, everyone in our neighborhood knew we were Mormons, which is why they kept their distance. No one was ever rude to us, they just couldn't be bothered. Our neighbors on one side were members of the Church of the Open Bible. I always thought that was the strangest name for a church. I wondered if there was a Church of the Closed Bible out there somewhere.

Our neighbors to the other side couldn't have children of their own and had adopted two boys. The lady was jealous of mom. They eventually warmed to us as their two boys became friendly toward Lisa.

Our front door's paint scheme was interesting. Luella went through a phase of antiquing things during the 1970's. Anything in that house that stood still for more than 30 minutes risked getting antiqued (children and pets included). The eight of us learned to keep moving, never laying in front of the TV for more than twenty minutes at a time.

The first step in her antiquing process was painting the object a shade of olive green. Mold is green and mold is found on old things, therefore it stood to Luella's reasoning that falsely antiquing any piece of furniture, wall or door would begin with olive green. The next step was taking black paint and streaking it over the green using patented hand and wrist motions learned from a correspondent's course easily obtained through the mail by sending in a coupon from the back of a comic book. Our front door was antiqued, along with the writing table and a large cabinet across from the piano. There were other things but my memory fails me.

Upon Entering the House
There was a small closet with a brown accordion folding door to your left as you entered our home. Closet are for coats and jackets, right? Wrong. Our closet was a closet of mysteries. It could have been a portal into another dimension of space time for all we knew. We rarely opened it, and when we did, it was usually to look for a missing toddler or the source of some lingering distasteful smell that couldn't be removed with burning incense and /or a good carpet clean. Another reason we rarely opened that closet was because the accordion door liked to skip off its track and fall forward onto the person pulling on the handle.

The mystery closet was set into a Willy Wonka milk chocolate colored wall. I always thought the dark brown wall gave the room a bit of class - a kind of two toned effect, perfect for the family with 8 Oompa Loompas.

Our color TV sat in front of you as you entered the living room. It was a large cabinet TV salvaged from the mud and muck left behind in the park down the street by the June 1972 Rapid City flood. We never found the original owners but we sure enjoyed their TV. Yes, leave it to the Williamson family of Rapid City to find a way to pick up a color TV cheap, free cheap. Remnants of the mud and muck were always visible the whole time we owned that TV if you looked closely at the plastic grill covering the speakers.

It was a miracle the set worked at all. Mind you, the color was never perfect, but having a TV that showed people with sea sick green skin and skies cast in light yellowish hues was as good as sliced bread after having lived most of our life in black and white.

More Later..........


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Home in Rapid City and My Afternoon with Luella.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
The Fortress is getting battered with high south winds today. A weather front promises rain later tonight as it forces out the warm and reintroduces us to the cold. The Queen Mother is in mourning over the change. She loves the warmth. It gives her a chance to venture out to the gazebo and make friends with the birds and trees.

I heard weeping and wailing from her apartment below and took pity. Pity is a confusing emotion when it comes to Luella. It sticks in my throat until I do something about it. That something usual means venturing down into the Fortress Catacombs and engaging her in time consuming counseling.

Such unannounced visits can be dangerous. I usually catch her enjoying some kind of forbidden morsel absolutely outlawed by her draconian diet. She jerks in an attempt to hide the delicacy from view as I open the door. Luella's blouses show the faint outline of the stains from the sudden jerking. The carpet around her chair carries the stain record of her attempts to conceal the calorie rich treat beside or under her chair.

Last Sunday's record of my unannounced visit.
Ice Cream remnants I believe

Once I'm in the room I'm trapped.

"Come look at these new plants," she said. Her mood morphed from wailing over the coming cold to cheer at having someone to talk to.

"I've got things I'm ......." My talking did no good. She was already out the door pointing to several planters on the deck holding plants of various colors and sizes.

After getting my third botany lesson of the week, she pointed out the new position of her automated light house which spins and lights when you clap your hands. She'd moved it from the Gazebo to the deck. Above it hung a newly installed fisherman's net with several small homes attached and swinging freely in the breeze, homes you'd find in a typical New England fishing village. One such home was dangling perilously close to the top of the lighthouse.

Of course, I had to reposition the net so the lighthouse was safe.

"Oh, come and take a smell of my prayer tree," she said as she waddled off onto the grass and down the slope. I followed. My mood changed from mild annoyance to patience. Luella is a lovely old gal and her quirks make her the very person we all love to love. With chest out and spry step I marched across the lawn, walked up to her prayer tree (named because the branches stretch upwards - fancy that??) and buried my nose into the small white blossoms. One sneeze later I had to agree the smell was 'heavenly'.

Before being released and allowed to return to the upper floors of the Fortress, I was asked to install her new DVD player. Luella goes through DVD players like boys through sneakers. She forgets to turn them off so they play for weeks, then months nonstop. They eventually burn themselves out.

I opened he cabinet to removed the old player and install the new. Luella is a connoisseur of dust (don't ask, she will never admit it). It was so thick in the cabinet it could have passed for the interior of King Tut's Tomb. My moving things about didn't help the situation. Moments after the installation she was complaining about "damned dust" in the air and how it was causing her to wheeze.

The next several minutes were spent in teaching her the differences between the DVD remote, the TV remote and the Dish Player remote.

The next several minutes after that were spent in teaching her the differences between the DVD remote, the TV remote and the Dish Player remote.

The next several minutes after that were spent in teaching her the differences between the DVD remote, the TV remote and the Dish Player remote.

The next several minutes were spent in teaching her the buttons to switch inputs and how to control the DVD player.

After that, the next several minutes were spent in teaching her the buttons to switch inputs and how to control the DVD player.

And after that, the next several minutes were spent in teaching her the buttons to switch inputs and how to control the DVD player.

The next several minutes were spent teaching her the correct way to eject the disc from the player. She got that rather quickly. She's such a good girl!

Well, I'm finally back upstairs and able to post the one thing I wanted to put out today. Above you'll find the Realtor's Notice on our home in Rapid City. I wanted to type a few paragraphs about that old home but the clock on the wall is telling me it is about time to collect Luella, pack her into the Battlestar, drop the car into low gear and climb the hill to Jilane's home for Sunday Supper. I'm told tonight we are going to have Kevin's world famous cheese soup and Wendy's Chili a la Kevin. Delicious!

So, more to come on our Rapid City house. Until them, Bon Appetit.


Grandma Elda's First Husband. An Update.

Grandma Elda at the time of her First Marriage to William John Zderic

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Family,
In an earlier post we discovered that Grandma Elda was married prior to her wedding to our Grandfather Charles. This came as a surprise to all. Elda didn't talk about this marriage and I don't recall it ever being spoken of in any family conversation.

The Marriage Certificate

May I suggest you read the original post before moving on to the update posted below:


I received an email from William John Zderic's daughter Miriam. My blog post on this previous marriage was discovered by her brother. She was kind enough to write and supply the following information, giving us an insight into Grandma's first husband.

I am a daughter of William John Zderic. My brother found your blog and sent it to me. Wow, we had no idea our father (who was a very, very good man) was married prior to marrying our mother.

I did notice he put down he was 21 in 1926 (only 17!) Anyway, Bill (he did not go by John to anyone we'd ever known) and Ida were happily married and had 11 children (I am the 10th) - 6 boys/5 girls. Our youngest sister, Monica, was born with Down's Syndrome in 1960 and lived our parents until their deaths. Monica died from cancer 4 years ago, she was much loved and was very special to our father especially.

Anyway, Bill's family is Croatian (not Austrian), he was born in the US, his older siblings in Croatia (Dalmatia). My parents moved to Tacoma, Washington sometime in 1948, and the last 5 of us were born there. Dad had family in Tacoma.

We lived a very nice, very average life....my dad was a devout Catholic and we all went to Catholic Schools through high school. My dad was much loved by all, he was a gently, loving, caring man. He worked hard, we always had what we needed and all felt loved.

Hope that fills in some holes. Our names are: Joseph Benedict, Roberta Ann, Patrick William, Joan Kathryn, David John, Francis Anthony, James Michael, Christine Marie, John (no middle name), Mary Josephine (Mary Jo, me), and Monica Elizabeth.

We are not related in anyway, but a little history is interesting. Take care, looks like you have a lovely family.

I now go by Miriam,

Miriam Zderic

Thank you Miriam for your kind email. Our best to you and your families. If you are ever in Utah please stop and say hello. We have a wonderful view of Utah Valley from a deck that enjoys company and good conversation.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Carnival of Visual Delights

A Special Mother's Day Remembrance to Honor This Special Day.
The Queen Mother and her Offspring's Offspring taken around 1993.
Can you Name them All?

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Queen Luella and I are sitting in the great room. I think I'm giving her the best Mother's Day gift of all - my undivided attention. I'm in one chair typing and she's in another pouring through boxes of photographs and remembering stories so quickly I've given up trying to keep up. The stories will have to wait for another day.

And the topic of conversation has changed yet again. She's describing her trip to Europe, telling me how the bathtubs in Scandinavia are and that she dared not attempt a bath fearing she could never get out (either that or drown). The stacks of photographs she's shifting through are forming a wall on the floor around her rocking chair.

"Look at this good job award I got at WalMart," she said. "I don't remember getting it."

A thought crossed my mind. Perhaps I'll take the certificate when she's not looking and have it framed. I'll give it to her next Mother's Day. I'll present it with a bouquet of nearly wilted flowers from our local Walmart, just as an added touch. Who wouldn't want a Good Job WalMart Certificate hanging on your wall nicely framed. (She'd hate it but wouldn't dare not hang it up considering the expense I'd gone through to have it framed and presented. Mean isn't it?)

And we're moving along to something else. "Here is a nice picture for the computer."

She handed me a few treasures to post on the blog from the box she's shifting through. Because of this special day, I've decide to honor her request and post these random photographs for all to enjoy.

Shall we begin with a newspaper clipping from 1975?

Here we see Luella doing needlepoint while working at Big D's Bi Lo Self Service Station on Jackson Blvd, Rapid City. She made the local paper. Needlepoint was her way to keep her mind occupied during the long hours of monitoring the pumps and taking customer's money. I remember that LaVoy's jacket. It reminded me of rainbow sherbet.

Now we journey further back in time. Luella and a few other girls are pictured singing for the Eastern Star Meeting in Brodus Montana. Luella was about 13 years old. Grandma Mattson was a member of the Masonic Eastern Star. Grandpa Mattson was a 32 degree Mason. Luella joined Job's Daughters when they moved to Spearfish.

"I joined so I could get a white bible when I got married," she said.

Luella had a few issues with Loopy, the third girl from the left in the plaid dress. Loopy liked to scratch Luella as Luella guarded her during their school's basketball games. Loopy had one lazy eyelid making her look a bit off balance :)

This is a picture of Grandma Mattson (Violet) as a 16 year old in Montana before moving to California. She's standing in her riding gear with a neighbor.

And what's a mother day without a picture of Grandma Elda during a Vercellino picnic taken around 1928? Elda is standing on the far left. Her mother, Maria, is on the front row, fifth from the left. Her father, John, is at the end of the front row on the far right.

"Here is a picture of my grandparents. I've never seen this picture before. Look at my grandfather's smile," Luella said. "This is my favorite picture of him."

My Great Grandmother Ida Tornburg and Great Grandfather Albert Mattson are with Raymond Lidman. Raymond was the son of Ed and Rose Lidman. Ed was the son of Josephine Mattson Lidman, Albert's sister. This picture was taken in Montana.

This is a picture of Great Grandmother Vesta (Grandma Violet's mother) with her grandchildren. Aunt Linda is on her lap. Uncle John is ready to throw the ball and Luella is looking at something completely different and off focus. The picture was taken in 1944.

And finally..... Something Completely Different - tossed in for fun. Aunt Pam is sitting on the left holding Shane Mattson. Aunt Linda is on the right holding Joy Lynn. Aunt Pam looks like she's just returned from the Beauty Parlor having her hair molded for the day :)

Just an awesome photograph.

Have an Awesome Mother's Day


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Deciphering the Dennis Family

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Everyone!
It was a busy week at the Space Center with double field trips stretching from 9:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. then private programs afterwords, giving me little time to do anything else so I apologize for the absence of posts. This week offers a reprieve so I should have the odd hour or two to push onwards to find those who came before.

Today I'd like to post another family mystery and see if anyone has suggestions or opinions. Yesterday afternoon I pondered over the family tree (the official tree - click on the tree near the top of the right side bar). I felt a sense of accomplishment with the fully developed lines (lines stretching back to Europe), coupled with frustration at other branches that dead ended prematurely somewhere back east. The Dennis and Crippen branches are two examples.

Our Great Great Great Grandparents, Levi Dennis and Sarah Crippen seem to be parentless. All searches to date have ended with frustration and the overwhelming urge to place one's entire leg through the computer screen after several hours and several Diet Mountain Dews. Cousin Angie has taken it upon herself to adopt GGG Grandmother Sarah and force her way through time and space in a heroic attempt to discover her lineage. I decided to do the same with her husband, GGG Grandfather Levi Dennis.

After spending several hours in the hunt I feel I have a few promising leads that I'll share with you.

Lead 1. The Marriage Certificate:

This is the marriage certificate for Levi Dennis and Sarah Crippen. They were married by William Sharp, Justice of the Peace for Grainger County, Tennessee in November 1842. The top of the certificated says "Know all men by these presents, that we Levi Dennis and William Dennis......". I'm assuming that Levi and William guaranteed that there was no known reason why Levi Dennis and Sarah Crippen couldn't marry.

Levi and William both signed the certificate. The question arises whether the Levi who signed the document is the same Levi that married Sarah or could it be a relative? The next question is the identity of William Dennis. Is William Dennis Levi's Father, brother, or cousin? My gut feeling tells me the groom himself signed the guarantee.

Lead 2: Sarah's Will

This will was recorded in Grainger County, Tennessee. This is a strange short document. It appears to be signed on March 26, 1843, one year after the marriage of Levi to Sarah. Who is the William Dennis she calls her beloved? Notice the witnesses' names: William Sharp, Levi Dennis, William Dennis Sr. and John White. Remember, William Sharp was the Justice of the Peace that married Levi and Sarah (from their wedding certificate).

Levi Dennis died in 1846 after having moved the family to Sullivan County Missouri. Sarah married Samuel Bingham in 1847. Notice the will was recorded on November 8, 1850. So it was signed while Levi and Sarah where married and recorded a few years after Levi's death.

The Marriage Entry for Sarah and Samuel Bingham

Lead 3: The 1840 Federal Census

The 1840 Federal Census records the following Dennis Heads of Households in Grainger County, Tennessee (Remember, the census was taken two years before Levi married Sarah, thus I assume Levi wouldn't be listed as a head of house because, being a single man, he was most likely living in his father's home and working the farm).
  1. Eli Dennis
  2. William Dennis
  3. Thomas Dennis
  4. Caswell Dennis
So, in all of Grainger County there were four Dennis households. Here we find William mentioned again.

Lead 5

This is the Ancestry Information on Thomas Dennis. He was born in North Carolina along with his wife, Charity Beason. They were living in Grainger County Tennessee. Look at the names of their children.

  1. William Dennis born 1813.
  2. Abby Dennis
  3. Eli Dennis
  4. Caswell Dennis
  5. John Dennis
At the bottom of this entry someone posted a comment that reads, "They had 12 children". Our GGG Grandfather was born in 1812. Who are the other children and why aren't they listed?

So, from the evidence at hand I'm guessing Levi belongs to this Grainger County Tennessee branch of the Dennis family. I'm guessing William to be his brother. I'm guessing his parents were Thomas and Charity Dennis from North Carolina. Yes, I'm assuming a lot but look at the evidence.

There is another clue still waiting to be investigated. Levi and Sarah's firstborn was my Great Great Grandfather John Mayberry Dennis. Where did the name 'Mayberry' come from? I'm guessing it came from the first or last name of a relative.

I'll continue looking and perhaps will one day find Levi's name on some family relationship chart. Until then, the search for the people that gave us life continues.


Sunday at the Fortress

From Today's Lectionary: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
John 20:19-31
20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

20:21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

20:22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

20:24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

20:26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe."

20:28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

20:29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

20:31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
I spent several hours in the King's College Chapel enjoying the music of the King's College Choir during the time I lived in Cambridge,England . Today we listen to the choir as they sing the famous Easter hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today".