It's my genealogy blog, version 2.0, where I tell stories about our famous (and infamous) ancestors- our unsung heroes, our common man, our ordinary people who did extraordinary things- for our children. "[H]istorians talk about events of the past…[r]arely do we talk about the common man, the unsung hero. These people, many times, are unknown to us. All those people’s story mattered just as much as the stories of the great leaders. It’s easy to lose track of all those individuals but they’re there and they deserve to be remembered. One of the great lessons of history, all history, is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. [T]hey are doing something not just for themselves, but for posterity. For their children." (Author unknown to me) Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (The Holy Bible)
So many changes are coming! I’m opening up a shop! The new name of the website is now the name of my business – Honeysuckle Farm, LLC. The blog will remain and will keep the name Days of Our Lives. I named it that because my paternal grandmother and great grandmother (Audrey and Bess) were always watching soap operas when I was little and when I talk about my blog I always think of them. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person.
I’m attempting to point my Shopify shop here. I have no idea what I’m doing so bear with me! I’m figuring it out as fast as I can. I’m hoping that connecting the shop will help me centralize everything. We’ll see… I only have a free trial of Shopify so if it doesn’t work out I’ll have to figure out something else so changes may continue for a month or two while I get it together. For now, you can view my shop items on the Collections page. Once you arrive there, you can click on the titles under each picture to go to each collection although I will tell you that the only one with products listed right now is the Family History Collection. There are only a couple of items listed right now due to the amount of time it’s taking me to learn the new software and get the information online.
Thanks for your understanding and for sticking with me through these changes. I’ll get back to blogging soon. I forget how insanely busy the last few weeks of the school year are but we’re almost there – just two more weeks and then I can focus just on my shop and my blog (and Cousin Camp because YAY- 2021 Cousin Camp is coming at the end of June!!!).
While you’re waiting on me to pull myself together, here are a few pics of one of my absolute favorite places and a place I took the boys for their Cousin Camp field trip a couple of years ago. It was one of my favorite field trip days with the boys.
If you get a chance to visit Saline Courthouse, go! And while you’re in the area, try to find the Cherokee Nation Buffalo ranch and visit the Buffalo. Here’s a website to get you started. https://www.visitcherokeenation.com/attractions/saline-courthouse-museum. You can view inside the courthouse with that link but it doesn’t do justice to the location. Make time to go there!
Today’s blog post is about Ralph LARKIN. I’ll be going off the information I have available to me online (and not digging out my records or any additional information online) as well as going off stories from my Dad to create today’s blog post. Ralph LARKIN is my paternal great grandfather. He died on this date in 1963. I wasn’t born for another 6 years so I don’t have any personal stories about him to tell. Any stories I have come from others and from records.
I have tried to stick with Ralph’s childhood but a big part of childhood is siblings and Ralph has a sibling that’s a big mystery so today I’m going to talk a little about the siblings.
Ralph was born in 1898 in Barry County, Missouri to William and Minerva UNDERWOOD LARKIN. By 1900 (just two years later) the family was living in Aurora, Lawrence County, Missouri. Ralph had two siblings that I can name with certainty- Emily and William. (Alice is another child that some researchers assign to Minerva. We’ll talk about Alice in a minute.) In the 1900 census Ralph’s mom was 48 years old and she stated she gave birth to four children and all four were living. There are only 3 children living in the home, though- Emily (who later goes by Emma; 10 years old), William (who later went by Jess or Jesse; 8 years old), and Ralph (2 years old).
Ten years later in the 1910 census, Ralph’s mom says again that she gave birth to four children but in 1910 she says one child is deceased. The children listed in her household in 1910 are Emma, Jesse (spelled ‘Jessie’), and Ralph. I did a search of pre-1910 Missouri deaths at the Missouri archives database for a possible record of the baby that died but couldn’t find anything that seemed to fit with the information above.
Now let me throw another kink in things. Jess died in 1956. His obituary lists the following siblings: Mrs. Emma SPILLERS of Southwest City, Missouri; Mrs. Alice EDENS of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Ralph LARKIN of Southwest City, Missouri. So, were there actually 5 children total and one died? Did they think Alice was going to die and told the census taker she was dead but then she pulled through? Was there a misunderstanding on either the census taker’s part or the part of the person giving answers to the census taker?
Let’s go ahead and talk about Alice now. Some researchers have Alice listed as Minerva’s sibling (Ralph’s aunt) and some have Alice listed as Minerva’s child (Ralph’s sibling). On the FindAGrave website Alice is listed as belonging to Minerva’s parents. I believe this is incorrect for a couple of reasons including Alice being listed as a granddaughter of Minerva’s mom on the 1880 census and the fact that Minerva’s mom would have been approaching 60 when Alice was born so biology would make it improbable that she gave birth to Alice.
On the records I’ve found for Alice, she had UNDERWOOD as her last name. So was Alice the illegitimate daughter of Minerva or one of Minerva’s sisters? Was she Minerva’s niece that Minerva ended up raising (a daughter of one of Minerva’s brothers)? Minerva’s brother just happened to get married the year Alice was born so maybe something happened to Alice’s mom and Minerva’s brother couldn’t care for the baby? Allow me to tell you what I think. I think we can safely rule out all of the brothers because in the 1880 census Alice’s father’s birthplace is not given but her mother’s is and her mother’s birthplace is North Carolina. If one of Minerva’s brothers had been the dad, the family would have been able to answer the question of Alice’s father’s birthplace so I think we can safely rule out all of the brothers (Ralph’s uncles). Minerva was approximately 19 when Alice was born so I think it’s most likely that Alice is either Minerva’s or one of the sisters’ illegitimate child. Minerva and Mary are the only ones I’m showing as being born in North Carolina so I think we can safely narrow it down to one of those two women. In looking at these two women, I notice that in 1874 (when Alice was born) Mary was married and going by the name BUTLER. So I think we can finally narrow it down to Minerva as being Alice’s mom. That equals four biological children for Minerva so you would think that would solve the problem, but it doesn’t because Minerva said one of her children was deceased by 1910 and yet Jess’s obituary shows there were four siblings and all were still alive in 1956.
I have yet to figure out this mystery. If you get it figured out- please let me know! It’s difficult for me to imagine that Alice and Ralph were ever very close. Alice had her first two children before Ralph was ever born and she had her third child the same year Ralph was born. We’re going to stop right here with Ralph’s childhood and move on but first, I want to show you some photographs of two of Minerva’s children.
This is Ralph:
This is Ralph’s sister, Emma LARKIN SPILLERS:
In 1918, at age 20, Ralph married Bessie LARKIN STEELEY.
Ralph and Bess
Bessie had been married already once at the age of 14 to Otis STEELEY and that marriage ended in divorce almost as soon as it began. I think for Ralph, this was his first marriage. Ralph’s mom signed the application for a marriage license and Bess’s mom signed the marriage certificate as a witness to the marriage.
Ralph and Bess had 10 children together that I know of. The stories of their children are interesting but I’ll get to those another day. Ralph worked as a mine laborer and then later as a miner in Miami, Oklahoma. He was also a farmer. He always lived close to his family as far as I can tell.
When my Dad talks about Ralph he often recalls that Ralph was very devout in his faith and was of the Pentecostal faith. Ralph loved to fish and was a hard worker.
Ralph and Bess fishing.
Dad says Ralph died when my dad was only 19 so he doesn’t have a lot of memories, but as he recalls it Ralph died of miner’s lung disease from all his years working in the mines. He says Ralph wasn’t a coal miner. My thought on this is that given that Ralph mined in the Miami, Oklahoma area, Ralph would have worked in the zinc or lead mines. Dad said he always thought one contributing factor to Ralph’s death was lead poisoning. Dad says he’s never seen Ralph’s death certificate but basically Ralph suffocated to death. Ralph moved to Arizona on the doctor’s advice in hopes of restoring his health. He didn’t feel like the dry climate helped him so he moved back after a few years. Dad recalls that at the time, it seems the doctors thought Ralph might have asthma.
Ralph was also very strict. Dad says he loved and respected Ralph but always kept his mouth shut around him! Ralph was stern, but not mean. Dad says Bess was somewhat irreverent and opinionated and was a handful for the strict and devout Ralph.
Ralph died in January of 1963. Bess, whom my cousin has affectionately called ‘the serial bride’, remarried in August of the same year. She married James R. BRIGGS of Joplin, Missouri. I’m going to end Ralph’s story here since I’ve previously written about Ralph’s official cause of death. His birth date is in April so we’ll be visiting him again in April and hopefully we can flesh out his story a little more then. Until then, click on over to Becky’s blog. She’s posting a photo a day that is genealogy related.
Today’s theme is ‘antique’. That’s like saying “go search for Sam Williams”. WHICH ONE??? I go from “almost impossible” (‘sky’ theme) to “the world is available” (‘antique’ theme). Feast or famine, I guess. Today’s antique is something my grandma (Audrey DRAKE- ‘Mam’) made. I believe this one was made in the late 1980’s but I can’t be sure. I also have some individual blocks that I framed. They were supposed to be coasters but I wanted to keep them from getting stained so I framed them.
Crochet runner made by Audrey DRAKE
Mam- Audrey DRAKE
Over the years I’ve acquired a variety of homemade items. Mam often made things for Christmas, weddings, etc. I have several pieces she’s done. Somewhere packed away I also have a doll that Bess LARKIN crocheted for me. I have several quilts that hold special meaning. Some were made by Jessie BATES (‘Granny’) for me, some were made with individual blocks she made but never put into a quilt or with extra fabric she had on hand when she died. I have quilts Kay DRAKE (‘Mom’) made, quilts that Joyce WILLIAMS (my mother-in-law) made, and quilts I’ve made and not given away. I have paintings that Becky DRAKE has done and given me, things my kids and Melissa SCHREIBER (my daughter-in-law) have made for me, things my nieces and nephew and Jared DRAKE (my brother) have made, etc. I love these items dearly. Each of these items is very special to me. Each time the items are used or viewed I remember the person who made them and what that person means to me.
Framed quilt block. Block was made by Granny.
Jessie BATES- Granny
Some of my favorite Christmases were the ‘handmade Christmases’ we had at my Mom and Dad’s house. Everyone should give that a try at least once. I need to start labeling my treasured items soon so if I should die at least people will know what each item is and why it’s special. This is a task Becky and I have talked about doing for a while now. We need to get moving on it! I encourage each of you to post a photo of one homemade item you treasure and why it’s special to you. You may be the only one on earth who knows the significance of a particular piece. Mark your items this week whether you do it by video, by photograph, in writing- however you choose to do it. Make plans for who will get the item when you pass and make your wishes known. If you don’t make plans for your special items they may end up in the trash when you die if for no other reason than no one else recognizes what those items are. Enjoy your week and get busy with your ‘assigned task’.
This blog post will seem long but it’s mostly pictures so keep reading!
FOOD AND MEMORIES
“We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,” Numbers11:5, The Holy Bible
Memories connected with food are strong memories. I’m sure each of us can come up with food memories both good and bad. We write songs about food (Fried Green Tomatoes is one we enjoyed introducing to our kids), we view and paint art about food:
Mom, Shaina, and I with our paintings after the Mother-Daughter paint at my church, February 2015.
We write books about food:
We photograph our food:
Yum! Prime rib!!!
We photograph each other eating food:
Edith HUBBARD DRAKE and her mother, Laura BUTLER HUBBARD- photo courtesy of Deloris NORRIS and Barbara DRAKE BRATTON.
We collect recipes:
(I’m panicking!! Where are my recipes from Kendra and Georgiann?!?! This was part of a group of recipes I received as a going away gift when we left Idaho coupled with recipes I collected from friends while in Idaho.)
We gift food:
Photo courtesy of my sister-in-law, Becky- the master jelly maker and photographer and blogger.
We medicate with food and we forage food:
This is a photo from a series of photos I took. One photo out of this series was published in a book the same year my sister-in-law, Becky, had some photos published.
Bart and I foraging mushrooms earlier this year.
We watch movies based around food (I enjoyed Julie and Julia), and we plan events around food (really- you know we have Thanksgiving just for the food). We love food!
I’m going to share a few recipes here and include a short explanation of why I treasure each one and then I’m going to set you free to enjoy your weekend- and maybe a fabulous meal!
ONE OF MY PERSONAL FAVES
“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.” ~ Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
One of the things I make that my family really loves is a sauce for meatloaf. Sounds pretty insignificant, doesn’t it? But when I discovered this sauce it took meatloaf to a whole new level. Here it is (from memory so you may have to adjust it to suit your tastes. I lost the recipe a few years back.)
Lisa’s Meatloaf Sauce recipe
UPDATE: Becky corrected my recipe. You can see where I scribbled on mine because I was unsure. I should have left it alone. Here’s my recipe in Becky’s handwriting (the correct version):
SOMETHING I LOVE OF MY MOM’S
Cool coleslaw trivia: 1) Colombians use it on hot dogs and it is delicious!! 2) Coleslaw got it’s name from the Dutch ‘kool sla’- kool meaning cabbage and sla meaning salad. (Foodreference.com) 3) Coleslaw was made popular as a side dish thanks to NYC deli owner Richard Hellmann who created a formula, bottled it, and marketed it to consumers as a dressing for shredded cabbage. (Foodreference.com)
My mom always made a great coleslaw to take to meals at church. That’s really what I associate this with- potluck meals of my childhood at our small country church (Poynor Baptist Church). You can see by the picture that the recipe is a loved and used recipe. Those are always the best!!
MY GRANNY BATES’ RECIPE
“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing…And they all ate and were satisfied…” Matthew 14: 19-20, The Holy Bible
My granny loved fish. On days when we took Granny with us to town, she would often choose to eat McDonald’s fish sandwiches or eat at a restaurant like Long John Silvers or Captain John’s. Here I will share my granny’s fish batter recipe in her handwriting followed by my mom’s Green Tomato Relish recipe.
Granny’s Fish Batter
Kay’s Green Tomato Relish
“You can’t go wrong with relatively simple comfort food. It’s also about ease. Some cook to impress. I cook for people to enjoy the food.” ~ Al Roker
Mam cooked for people to enjoy the food. I don’t have any handwritten recipes from my dad’s mom but she cooked and canned a lot. I’m not sure she even used recipes! Two of my favorite things that she made us were chocolate gravy and blackberry pies. Here is the recipe I use for chocolate gravy (Somewhere I have this recipe in my husband’s handwriting from my mother-in-law, Joyce, but it must be packed away somewhere).
Mix 2 Tbsp butter with some flour to make a roux. Add milk- start with 1 cup, add more if necessary. Add about 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder and 4 Tbsp sugar. Let blend. Taste test and adjust as necessary. Let it cook at a low temperature until it is the consistency of gravy. Pour over buttered biscuits and enjoy.
As you can see I sort of swag this one. You’ll get the hang of it. Or else my mother-in-law or husband will comment here and adjust my instructions. lol
What I remember having at Mark and Edith’s was homemade ice cream. So delicious! I don’t have their recipe. I don’t recall a recipe ever being used for the ice cream. I’m including a link to one here just as a tribute to their memory.
A Hundred Years Ago blog Black Walnut Ice Cream. I’m pretty sure I would have had this flavor made by Mark and Edith at some point during my childhood.
BECKY DRAKE’S JELLY
Fun fact about Redbud trees: They are the official state tree of Oklahoma.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include my sister-in-law’s jelly in this blog post. One of my favorite recipes is the redbud jelly. I foraged and she cooked. I’m not sure if the recipe below is the recipe she used but it is one of a few that we passed around. I know I have her jelly recipe- I just can’t seem to find it. Here is one that we looked at as a possibility at one point. It will be close enough to taste like her jelly (unless she used a secret ingredient).
This is Becky’s redbud jelly- newly canned. I hope she doesn’t mind that I stole her photo for the blog.
BECKY’S REDBUD JELLY
3 cups of redbuds
Approx. 2 cups boiling water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons sure-jel powder
2 cups sugar
Rinse the blooms and put in a large jar, pour boiling water over to cover. Cover and let sit till room temp the put in fridge for 24 hours. Pour through strainer into a pan, discard flowers and heat to boiling. Add lemon juice and sure-jel, heat to boil again, add sugar and heat to boiling. Boil hard for 1 minute. Put in sterilized jars and seal. It’s that simple. Made 3 1/2 jelly jars.
RALPH AND BESS LARKIN’S CANNED FISH
“Life is rather like a tin of sardines- we’re all of us looking for the key.” ~ Alan Bennett
My dad has memories of Ralph LARKIN fishing every weekend and Bess canning the fish. They would can small fish whole. The canning process softened the bones so there was no need to bone the fish first. Dad says the canned fish were good. I don’t have a recipe for canned fish but here is a website I trust that talks about canning fish. Becky and I may have to try it sometime.
Ralph and Bess LARKIN fishing.
LAURA RITER AND HER ANGEL FOOD CAKES
“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.” ~ Buddy Valastro
I don’t have a recipe for (nor do I have a memory of) Laura’s angel food cakes but when I was young my mom shared with me her memory of Laura’s cakes and now whenever I make an angel food cake, I do this as a nod to Laura. When Laura made angel food cakes she put candy sprinkles in the batter before baking so it came out with colored dots all through the cake. It makes a pretty cake and is safe for diabetics to eat for dessert.
Candy sprinkles that I use in my angel food cakes.
I would love to see your family recipes or food memories. Share them here or on Facebook. I hope this weekend is all “comfort food and sprinkles” for you.
There were a couple of late entries for stories about Uncle David so I thought I would do a mid-week post. Included in this post is an article I recently found that mentioned my Aunt Carol so I thought I would include it as well.
After publishing the previous blog post, my cousin said he remembered the long drives from Iowa back to Oklahoma that his family made when his dad wanted to go fishing with David. He remembers his dad and David shooting at snakes while the kids swam. Troy and David would sit on the bank fishing while the kids swam and they would shoot at the occasional snake they saw in the water.
Memory is a strange and unpredictable thing. After reading the previous blog post, David’s sister Kay commented that she must have been wrong about David enlisting at such a young age. David was actually 17 years old when he enlisted.
David’s brother-in-law, Roy, remembers going noodling with David over in the Disney-Tiajuana, Oklahoma (Delaware/Mayes County), area when they closed the spillways on the dam. They took a gunny sack to put the fish in. Roy caught some fish and put them in the gunny sack but David made him take them back out and throw them back because David said they were too small. Afterward, David regretted that because they didn’t get too many fish that day. Roy commented that David always knew when they were going to close the spillways and he could go fishing. Overall, everyone commented how much David loved fishing. Here is a photo from the GRDA website showing the Pensacola spillway gates:
My Aunt Carolyn passed away a few years ago. Yesterday I was doing genealogical research on Ancestry.com and came across a newspaper article that mentioned her. The article was from the morning edition of the Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas- Taylor and Jones Counties) dated 14 October 1954. Below is a transcription of the relevant portions of the article:
“Tuscola Residents Visits in Missouri”
“TUSCOLA, October 13 (RNS)- Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Larkin and children, and his brother, Carl Larkin, visited in Southwest, Mo. with Mrs. Gene Drake, sister of Ralph and Carl, and her family. They were accompanied home by Mrs. Drake and her daughter, Carolyn, who visited the Larkins and the N. J. MINITRA family.”
The Ralph LARKIN mentioned here is not our great-grandfather but rather his and Bess’ son, Ralph LARKIN, JR.. Ralph, Carl, and Audrey were siblings. I have no idea what connection the MINITRA family had to ours.
I love that old newspapers include gossip sections like this. They hold interesting information on our ancestor’s lives that can help us place them in a certain location at a certain time. This article also helps explain why Gene and Audrey moved back and forth between McDonanld County, Missouri, and Abilene, Texas, several times between 1954 and 1957. An article similar to this one that was published in 1953 helped explain why Ralph LARKIN, JR. moved to Abilene, Texas. It stated that his then-wife was a long-time resident of the area and her family still lived there.