Unusual Sources, Part 1

I LOVE unusual sources for family history! I love that moment when you find family history in a completely unexpected place – something that makes you want to do the happy dance and get online to tell all your geni friends what you just found and where so they can look up that resource too to see if they can hit a jackpot like you did. So to see that this was included as a theme for 2021’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks was a bonus for me. I’m going for gold and trying to post one unusual resource I’ve found for both my paternal and maternal families in part 1. In part 2, I will post unusual sources I’ve used for my husband’s paternal and maternal families. I love this topic so much I may do parts 3 and 4 where I post unusual sources for my grandsons’ parents who aren’t my biological children. Since I don’t have one specific family to introduce, I’ll just jump right in.

Dad’s family

It’s been difficult to determine which governmental record to pull out and show you for my Dad’s family. I really wanted to talk about my 3rd great grand uncle Theodore “Clay” LARKIN and the pardon he received in 1906 from the governor, but it would take some explanation to tell you why I used the Annual Report of the Attorney General to the Governor of the State of Ohio to write Clay’s story. I could tell you about my 2nd great grand uncle Willard “Red” Nelson DRAKE and show you the Ft. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary inmate case file that was kept on Red. I could tell you about finding my Dad’s doctoral thesis paper online at a university library. I could even tell you about documents I used to help me unravel the occupational story of my 2nd great grandfather who worked for Tulsa Vitrified Brick and Tile Company in the old Greenwood section of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma or the documents crucial to fleshing out the story of my 3rd great grandfather who had a run-in with the short-lived Liberal Republican Party in 1870.

I could tell you all those things but instead, I’m going to tell you about some unusual records I found at the National Archives facility in Fort Worth, Texas. I was researching my great grandfather, Ralph LARKIN. Another researcher had posted a photo identification on Ancestry for Ralph and I wanted a copy of the identification plus the health records that went with it. I couldn’t get a response from the other researcher so I began to look around for who might hold records like that. I found out National Archives in Fort Worth held Bureau of Mine records for Oklahoma. That’s what prompted a trip to NARA in Fort Worth, Texas. You can read more about that trip here. I didn’t find the photo identification I wanted but I did find some other very unique records. One of those was a hand-drawn chart tracking medical checkups/conditions for various mine workers in the Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma area.

nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc 2
A hand-tabulated medical chart for a clinical study conducted by Dr. Frank V. MERIWETHER for Bureau of Mines’ Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma Clinic.
nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc
Close-up of Dr. MERIWETHER’s hand-tabulated chart showing entry for Ralph Larkin.

This one record was so unique and personal to my 2nd great-grandfather that it made the whole research portion of the trip worth going. Never underestimate the amount and type of information the government keeps on people. If you know how to find that information you will find some very unique and valuable records.

Bonus round for Dad’s family: While putting together this post, I learned that our John Bell Sr. was known for the suspicion that he was killed by the Bell Witch. Yes- THAT Bell witch. You can get a short synopsis of the Bell Witch legend at Wikipedia and then research it further from there. For whoever’s keeping count…that means I have witches/witch stories on both sides of my family!

Mom’s family

As with my Dad’s family, I could tell you about lots of unusual records I’ve found that tell me about my mom’s family history. School records hold a lot of data on a family with young children- families such as my grandparents’, Troy “Lum” and Jessie (RITER) BATES. Native American records hold a lot of valuable information you can’t find elsewhere and I treasure the records I’ve found for my 3rd great grandfather, Jefferson LATTY, and his mom Martha Frances “Fanny” (SCOTT) LATTY. I’ve even found the preacher’s license for my 3rd great-grandfather, Reverend Charles George SEELY, as well as receiving the church history records from the church he helped found and for which he was the first preacher. I’ve even found museum exhibits that gave me information about my REITER family history. I’m going to save all those records for another blog post because I want to tell you about one of the more interesting maps I’ve been able to use.

One resource that I’ve used from time to time are property maps. However, while recently searching for my mom’s family I found one that isn’t like any other property map I’ve found. It’s a “Settlement Map” for Franklin County, Virginia. Not only is it unusual, I was able to locate two lines of my mom’s family – the family of William TONEY (my 7th great-grandfather) and the family of Isaac BATES (my 6th great-grandfather). On the same map, I also located a line from my dad’s family – my 8th great-grandfather John GREER’s sons – along with a location named after my 7th great-grandfather Aquilla GREER)! Surprise!

Franklin County, Virginia Settlement Map


If you haven’t yet searched for maps online, I encourage you to look for them. There are so many interesting and unique maps online these days. Try searching for locations instead of people. One search term hint: try searching for a location plus the word map or a location plus a surname. Like this:

“Franklin County, Virginia” AND map


“Franklin County, Virginia” AND Toney

Using the quotation marks tells the search engine that every word inside the quotation marks must be found within a couple of words of each other instead of anywhere on the page in any combination. Adding the capitalized word ‘AND’ tells the computer that not only must it find the phrase in quotation marks, it must also find the other word on the same page. So for the first query, the search engine must find the phrase “Franklin County, Virginia” all together and your search results should only include pages that have that phrase PLUS the word ‘map’. Likewise on the second example except the word ‘Toney’ must be on the same page as “Franklin County, Virginia”. Learning to create better search terms helps you find information you would not otherwise find.

I’m wishing you all the best in your online searches this week! Try the examples above and see how it works for you. This will work on any search you do, not just genealogy searches. Try it out! If you find something wonderful- come back here and tell me about it!

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Ralph Larkin- Black Hawk Mine Machinist

This blog post is about my paternal great grandfather, Ralph LARKIN.  If you’d like to read past blog posts about him to refresh your memory before moving on, you can find information about him in these blog posts:

Week 4- Weekend Wrap-Up (has a couple of newspaper articles)

Weekend Wrap-Up for Week 2 (includes a document)

Ralph Larkin and the Mystery of His Missing Sibling (includes photographs of Ralph and Bessie)

Savory Saturday- The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home (includes a section about Bessie and Ralph plus a photograph)

Medical Monday- Know Your Health History! (includes a document)

Black Blizzards- The Second Dust Bowl, Abilene, Texas, 1954-1957 (includes photographs)

Close to Home, Close to the Heart- Part 2

This past week I traveled down to Texas to spend some time.  Bart and I enjoyed the beach in Galveston and I researched in a couple of different places.  If you are ever in the Houston, Texas area I highly recommend the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research at 5300 Caroline Street.  I barely scratched the surface of all they have there.  I didn’t come away with anything I feel like I can share here on the blog yet but it was worth the trip.  I had hoped to make it to the Sterling Municipal Library in Baytown, Texas but didn’t quite get there.  On Thursday and Friday, in addition to visiting family, I got to go to the National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas.  I had called ahead and let them know what I wanted to look at and to make an appointment so they were ready for me when I got there.  I definitely recommend doing that if you get to go to the Archives.  It will make your trip go much more smoothly.  When you get there, you can expect to spend a few minutes getting a researcher card.  You’ll have to provide state or federal photo identification and go through a short tutorial before getting your card and being allowed to research so plan your trip accordingly.  Also, their last document pull is at 2:00 p.m.  Anything you request after that time will have to wait for the following day.  You should call ahead to confirm they will be open.  While I was there they were talking about a potential shutdown as of midnight tonight due to the federal government not being able (or willing??) to finalize a budget for this country.  So those types of things do affect the National Archives and you need to be aware of that.  One last thing to be aware of- they do have restricted documents.  Most times these documents will be removed before you get to see the files.  From what I understand though, sometimes the documents are simply placed in an envelope and marked restricted but left inside the file and you are not allowed to photograph those documents.  If the envelope is sealed you cannot unseal it to take a look.

Researching in the National Archives requires a different strategy than researching in a genealogical library.  In the National Archives, you’re looking for records created by a government agency so you have to think in terms of how your family interacted with that agency.  It takes a bit to become accustomed to the different way of thinking but it’s worth it.  In this case, I went in knowing that I was looking for records created by the Bureau of Mines.  Both mine and Bart’s families, as well as our daughter-in-law’s family, had miners who worked in the tri-state mining district of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  Specifically, I had seen photo identification/health records that another researcher had obtained and I believed these records were held by the National Archives.  The Bureau of Mines operated a health clinic in Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma.  The clinic had two sides.  The side where they did examinations of miners for employment in the mines and for other issues (especially Tuberculosis and mining-related lung diseases) called the Picher Clinic as well as a second side of the clinic that treated venereal diseases.  Apparently in the heyday of mining, Picher had a massive outbreak of syphilis and gonorrhea and the government felt it needed to bring the situation under control so they set up both a health clinic and a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic.  The STD clinic was called the Picher Cooperative Clinic.  It was called this because it was a cooperative effort between the Tri-State Zinc and Lead Ore Producers Association, the U. S. Public Health Service (office of the Surgeon General), and the U. S. Bureau of Mines, along with the help of various medical researchers.  So, you’ve got medical researchers, the U. S. government, and an association that was led and governed by mine owners.  What could go wrong??  Seriously though, they did a lot of good but they were also doing some experimental work on the miners.  Having said that, we didn’t get where we are today in the medical field without experimental drug trials and studies, etc.  Overall, I think there was a lot of good done by the Clinic and the head doctor, Frank V. MERIWETHER, whose official title was Acting Assistant Surgeon and who was appointed by the then-U. S. Surgeon General, Hugh S. CUMMING.  Both Dr. MERIWETHER and Surgeon General Hugh CUMMING served under President Woodrow WILSON.

It really was so interesting to read all the letters and reports and studies talking about the work that Dr. MERIWETHER did.  (I’ll admit I reminisced a little about my time as a paralegal at Hawley, Troxell, Ennis & Hawley law firm in Boise, Idaho where I worked on Superfund cases with reports similar to these.)  Dr. MERIWETHER was constantly conducting medical research studies and trials on various health issues, traveling around the country to conferences, observing other doctors and allowing other doctors to come in and observe his work.  He was even involved in a First Aid and Mine Rescue Contest.  He was one of the lead researchers on Psuedo-Military Tuberculosis which you can read about on Wikipedia.  The exact photo that’s on Wikipedia is in his files at the National Archives.  I held it in my hands just yesterday!  He led an interesting life.  But I’m not here to talk about Dr. MERIWETHER today.  I’m here to tell you what I found about my family!

It was more than 3/4 of the way through the second day and I was a little discouraged.  Then I opened up a hand-tabulated chart for one of the studies that Dr. MERIWETHER was working on and there it was-  ‘LARKIN, RALPH’!!  I was so glad to find something!

nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc 2

nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc

(I apologize for the photos.  When I pulled out my camera to take pictures it wasn’t working so I had to resort to cell phone photos.  Also, names of other persons have been marked over in case any of them are still living.)  There is no title to this chart nor any letter that I could find to explain it’s existence.  So, going off the general work that Dr. MERIWETHER did and including the column titles on this chart, it looks like my great grandfather (Ralph LARKIN) went to see Dr. MERIWETHER about his teeth.  Or at least, on the day Ralph went that’s what Dr. MERIWETHER was concerned about.  The chart tracks the following information for the patients listed: Name, Occupation (at the mines), Eye health, Ear health, whether the miner had artificial teeth, whether the teeth were dirty, whether the miner had pyorrhea (another term for periodontitis, or an inflammation of the tissue around the teeth – Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 25th Edition), whether the miner had any teeth missing, whether the miner needed or wanted his teeth clean (I’m guessing on this one based on the fact that he already covered whether the teeth were clean and this column basically is yes or blank; the actual column title is ‘Clean’), whether the miner’s teeth are decayed, and a column each for Silicosis and Tuberculosis diagnoses both of which were a major reason for the Picher Clinic in the first place (and both were major areas of clinical research performed by Dr. MERIWETHER).  Silicosis (also called Pneumoconiosis or Miner’s Lung or Black Lung Disease for coal miners) is a lung fibrosis caused by the inhalation of dust from stone, sand, or flint which contains silicon dioxide.  (Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 25th Edition).  The study of silicosis was a major, and apparently career-long, undertaking of Dr. MERIWETHER so I would not be surprised at all if the whole reason for checking patients’ teeth was because he had learned or suspected that silicosis caused certain dental conditions.

Miners with silicosis would eventually develop a cough that would progress into difficulty breathing and sometimes sharp chest pain when breathing.  It could cause death if contact was continual and long term and the condition wasn’t treated.  The disease would present very much like Bronchitis and when the doctor listened to your lungs he would hear them wheezing and crackling when you breathed.  Miners with silicosis had an increased risk of other problems such as Tuberculosis, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis.  (Lung.org)  Chronic silicosis might eventually lead to your legs swelling, an increased breathing rate, and a bluish discoloration of your lips.  Chronic silicosis created an angel wing pattern on x-rays that was called “Angel of Death”.  The disease ultimately led to respiratory failure and death if left untreated and/or with continued, prolonged exposure.  Remember, in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s there was no OSHA to force your employer to provide you with health protections like breathing masks.  They were also still trying to make advances on controlling and healing Tuberculosis and other diseases.  (Also, just a little side note that surprised me: I say “him” when referring to miners but there were female miners as well.  I was surprised by this.  When you see photographs it’s always men but I did see at least one woman identified as a miner in Dr. MERIWETHER’s records.)

Angel of Death silicosis xray

Photo is an example of the wing formation called “Angel of Death” that is caused by silicosis.  Photo was found at Learning Radiology.

But, back to Ralph LARKIN.  Ralph’s exam gave the following information about his health.  He was a machinist.  Ralph’s eyes and ears were “ok”.  Ralph didn’t have any artificial teeth.  His teeth were dirty (as were the majority of miners’ teeth according to this chart).  He had pyorrhea.  According to how I’m interpreting the chart, he was missing one upper tooth and 3 lower teeth.  His teeth were not marked to be cleaned.  There is no notation why they weren’t cleaned.  He had several decayed teeth including 2 upper and 2 lower teeth.  He had Late Stage 1 Silicosis.  He was Class C for Tuberculosis.  I’m not sure what Class C means.  In regard to the silicosis diagnosis though, this is what I learned.  Silicosis.com is a lawyer’s website for both Silicosis and Mesothelioma.  Even though this is a legal and not medical website and their goal is to make money, it really put it into perspective for me when a site coupled Silicosis with Mesothelioma.  I hadn’t realized that Silicosis was in the same class of disease as Mesothelioma.  Although I haven’t been able to find stages of Silicosis, the Silicosis/Mesothelioma site did list stages of Mesothelioma and that website makes it seem as though the two diseases are extremely similar- enough so to be able to compare stages of the two diseases.  Stage 1 of Mesothelioma means the disease is still “localized” or confined to the area of origin.  Ralph was late stage 1.  I’m guessing it was still localized to one small area of his lungs but he was on the verge of the first advanced stage of the disease.  He would have experienced shortness of breath with physical activity.  Possibly a fever and possibly some chest pain when breathing.  Ralph had to have already had large amounts of silica dust in his lungs just for the disease to even be detectable.  If Ralph smoked, the effects of the disease would have been worse.  My dad always told me that Ralph had a lung disease.  I really didn’t realize the extent of the lung disease until I found him on this chart this week and started researching silicosis.

The work that Dr. MERIWETHER did was so important to miners.  He not only was expert enough to be appointed by the U. S. Surgeon General to a clinic specializing in diagnosing and treating miners, he was educating his peers all across the country and doing specialized trips to other mines across the country to help diagnose other miners.  Even so, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that miners started demanding protections for their health.  In 1973 (some 55 or so years after Ralph was diagnosed and 10 years after his death), coal miners received their protections via the Black Lung Benefits Act of 1973.  Those who mined something other than coal were apparently not covered under these protections.  (Black Lung Benefits Act of 1973)

Here are a few short YouTube videos on the subject.

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve read that you can look for a 2006 documentary by Shane Roberts that features interviews with miners suffering from silicosis as well as footage shot in the mines.  I haven’t been able to find that documentary myself.   NPR did an episode on this topic.  If you prefer lighter entertainment, you might try watching the 1939 movie Four Wives in which actor Eddie Albert plays a doctor studying pneumoconiosis- much like Dr. MERIWETHER.  I’ve tried to locate some of Dr. MERIWETHER’s studies and journal articles that were published but I’ve been unsuccessful.  Quite a few recent researchers cite his work in their papers but I haven’t been able to find any of his actual published studies for you to look at.

Ralph’s family always believed it was the lung disease that killed him even though his death certificate does not bear that out.  I’m sure the lung disease was never treated and did give him trouble since he was on the verge of the disease moving from Stage 1 to the initial advanced stages of the disease.  Ralph was diagnosed with late stage 1 silicosis around October of 1927 as best I can tell.  He had been working in the lead and zinc mines of Ottawa County, Oklahoma since at least 1918.  My guess is he was probably already working there earlier than 1917.  In 1918 he was working for Black Hawk Mining Company in Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma.

The screenshots below were found at Schehrer at homestead.com.  This is a great website for learning about old Picher mining history.  You could spend hours here just looking at photos.

Black Hawk mine and mill picher ok

black hawk mine waste rock

On the same website I took a screenshot of the photo below of Quapaw, Oklahoma.  The photo was taken about 1920 when Ralph and Bessie LARKIN would have been living there.

quapaw ok 1920

I believe the section of a Superfund government report below gives a better description of where Black Hawk Mine was located based on a more recent geographical description of Picher.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find the business ‘Picher Express’ without the help of someone who knew what the town looked like before it was demolished.  The last time I was there, there was practically nothing left of Picher Express except the shell of a building and an old pay phone.  However, for those who remember Picher, it’s a good description of the location of Black Hawk Mine.

black haw mine superfund site

You can get your own copy of this report at the DEQ Superfund website.

Ralph left mining work sometime around late 1929 to early 1930.  I’m sure 10-15 years in the mines without any kind of health precautions or proper medical care took a toll on his health.  I’m going to leave you with a couple of photographs of some minerals found at Black Hawk Mine.

black hawk mine find

black hawk mine find 2

These photos were found on Minerals.net.  Enjoy your weekend.

Peace and health,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Quincy Bell, Civil War Hero or Political Thug?, Part 1

We can all be different people at different times.  No one is static.  So can someone be both a hero and a thug in different circumstances?  I’m going to explore that question today in the life of my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, Quincy Adam BELL.  He was married to Elizabeth Emoline STEPHENSON (possibly spelled STEVESON, STEPHESON or STEVENSON).  The line of descent is from Quincy through his daughter Eliza, and Eliza’s son Ralph LARKIN who was my great-grandfather.  Quincy was born on this date (13 March) in 1825.  I have not written about Quincy before.  Normally I would take the time to introduce him to you but today I have a story to tell you that my sister-in-law has been asking me to tell for over a year.  (By the way, you should visit her blog over at Down in the Root Cellar.)  I will give you an abbreviated introduction but mostly I want to get right into his story.

Quincy was born in Tennessee but he lived the majority of his life in Missouri.  He came to Missouri with his parents and siblings sometime around 1836.  I want to skip ahead though, to Quincy at age 36.  The year was 1861 and America was barreling toward a civil war.  Quincy volunteered to serve for the Union.  On 28 August 1861, Quincy enrolled as a Private in Captain Coleman’s Company, Missouri Infantry for a period of 6 months.  One of his fellow Privates was John Smith PHELPS who had served both in the Missouri House of Representatives and in Congress (including serving on the House Ways and Means Committee) since 1840.  (I think it was this connection with PHELPS that caused Quincy to end up in a situation that got him in trouble later in his life.)  They fought in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek after which the company retreated to Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri (which was named after John Smith Phelps when it was created).  It was during this time that, in a special arrangement with President Abraham LINCOLN, John Smith PHELPS organized an infantry regiment – Phelps’ Infantry Regiment.  By November of 1861, Quincy had enrolled as a Private in Company A, Phelps’ Infantry Regiment in Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri.  They spent most of the winter of 1861-1862 at Fort Wyman in Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri.  In March of 1862, the Company fought a fierce battle at Pea Ridge, Benton County, Arkansas.  The battle lasted two days.


Pea Ridge Battlefield maps found on Wikipedia.


Sketch of the Last Hour of the Battle of Pea Ridge found on Wikipedia.

Quincy’s muster-out date from Company A, Phelps’ Infantry was 11 April 1862.  He mustered out in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri and was given $26.62 for “clothing in kind or money advanced”.  He was marked as Present.  I don’t know the succession of events but I have found an index card showing that Quincy mustered in to Company M of the 16th Missouri Cavalry as a Private and before he mustered out he had been promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant.  A Quartermaster Sergeant is in charge of supplies, as I understand it.  I know that he was in this company in 1863 but that’s as close as I’ve gotten so far.

You can read a short couple of paragraphs about the 16th Missouri at NPS.gov.  One thing I know this company was doing in 1863 other than fighting in skirmishes was fighting Confederate Guerillas in the Springfield, Greene County, Missouri area.  You can read a short snippet about Phelps’ Regiment also at NPS.gov.

Other researchers have listed him as being in Berry’s Battalion Cavalry,  Cass County Home Guards Cavalry, Stewart’s Battalion Cavalry, and Van Horn’s Battalion Cavalry during 1863.  I have not found documentation to support these claims yet.

Now, I want to skip ahead a little.  The year is 1870 and very politically charged- much like the current political climate.  It’s 11 August in Missouri- hot, humid, nearly unbearable.  Quincy is 45 years old.  I’m going to leave you right here for the night and finish the story tomorrow.  Be sure you come back because this is where he runs into trouble!

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Sources: NPS.gov; Wikipedia; Fold3; Ancestry; https://www.civilwar.org/learn/civil-war/battles/pea-ridge (I like CivilWar.org’s battlefield photos better).  I encourage you to explore CivilWarTalk.com’s website as well.

Week 4- Weekend Wrap Up

There is so much to tell you and I’m just going to jump right into it!!

One of our good friends (and DeReK’s good friends), Herman Garcia, messaged me with a photo and story after I posted the blog about DeReK. Herman was unable to message during the week leading up to the post because he was in drills and did not have access to his phone. Here is the photo and story he sent:

Herman’s story:

photo was taken when I helped Derek move to Dallas. He was a big OU fan obviously and we enjoyed watching, talking crap on Texas longhorns. Every start of football season I think about watching games together when we were at NSU.

I miss him and another thing I wanted to share was how he has inspired me even today on establishing a relationship with the Lord. I faced some trials in life and I often think about how strong his faith and I wish sometimes I could call him and talk about scripture and what I could do to grow my faith but I know one day in heaven we’ll be able to hang out and hang out with God talking about OU football. Marley recently asked me where she got a caterpillar and I told her uncle Derek got it for her and I told her how he was daddy’s friend and how he was a good man I even showed her this photo. She said we were silly which she was right. Being around him you knew you were going to laugh about something. I love you and Bart and Shaina and August, Melissa. Happy Birthday Derek.

We’re so proud of Herman. He’s become an incredible man and father. He’s a proud American and a great law enforcement officer. We love Herman and his family and I was so glad to hear from him.

William LARKIN and Minerva UNDERWOOD LARKIN (Dad’s family); and, William and Laura (BULLOCK) RITER (Mom’s family)

Going back a couple of weeks ago to when I was talking about William LARKIN: I was able to acquire both of the death certificates I talked about in that blog post. The one that I speculated might be Minerva UNDERWOOD LARKIN was, unfortunately, not her. However, the person it was is related so I want to talk about that for a minute. I actually wanted it to be it’s own blog post (and maybe it will be someday) but for now I’ll just give you the straight information without a story. It turns out the death certificate was for an infant that did not live. The baby belonged to Samuel Anglus and Frances DEAN (or possibly BEAN) LARKIN. Samuel was a brother to our William listed above so the baby was our William and Minerva’s nephew. The baby was not named therefore there was no name on the death certificate other than her last name. She died the same day she was born- 19 March 1917. I do believe she lived a few hours since the death certificate says she lived 1 day as opposed to saying she was stillborn. The cause of death was “premature labor”. She was born in McBride, Cherokee County, Oklahoma and is buried at Baldridge Cemetery in Gans, Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. I don’t know if her grave is marked but I’m hoping to go see about it soon. I would say that it probably is not marked for the simple reason that when I looked up that cemetery online, there were only 2 graves listed and neither was hers. I created an online memorial for her if you would like to go leave flowers. You can find it here . Even though her mother’s surname on the death certificate is BEAN, the marriage certificate for Samuel and Frances says “DEAN”. If I had to choose one, I would say the correct name is probably DEAN. I’m sure Frances was upset and stressed at the time the baby died. The doctor wrote up the death certificate information. I’m sure he wrote what he thought he heard which accounts for the BEAN name. I could be wrong but that’s my guess and my theory. I’m not going to include other details because I’m looking for an opening in my schedule to tell you about this family soon. Most likely, there is no death certificate for Minerva UNDERWOOD LARKIN but I’m going to keep searching until I’ve exhausted all avenues.

The next death certificate was the one I hoped was for our William LARKIN. If this William LARKIN is related, I haven’t found the connection. This William was born in 1851 in Illinois and died in 1926 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. None of our direct-line LARKIN’s went through Illinois so if he’s related it would have to be through a collateral line (brother/sister of our direct-line ancestor).

One more issue with William LARKIN. I attempted to get more information about the mine he owned. Mom and I visited the Missouri Southern State University Archives & Special Collections and spoke with Archivist Charles Nodler. He oversees an incredible collection of Tri-State Mining maps. I was able to narrow down the section of Aurora where the mines are located but was unable to locate the specific mine William owned.

See all those tiny dots on the map? Each tiny dot is a mine shaft! This is only the town of Aurora.

All is not lost- there are other places I can look but I wanted to keep you updated on the search for the mine that was once in the family. While there I asked if there were documents that might list miners in the area and associate them with a particular mine – employment records or whatever might list names and associate them with mines. Bart and I and even our daughter-in-law all have many miner-ancestors who were working in the Tri-State area. The archivist didn’t know of any employment records and pointed us back to city directories. I have access to some directories online but he did take us to the directories he had on hand. We were able to find my mom’s grandparents, William and Laura (BULLOCK) RITER in the 1925 Polk’s Directory for Joplin. I wrote about Laura in week 1 and have written about William *****in the Lost and Found series that starts here.


The same week I wrote about William LARKIN, I also wrote about Ralph LARKIN and his sister, Alice EDENS. I hypothesized that Alice was Ralph’s sister and not his aunt. I gave my reasons for this belief. Here is one more piece of documentation that further supports the theory that Alice is Ralph’s sister, not his aunt.

(Jess is Ralph’s brother.)

In addition to this article, I found one more news article this week about Ralph and Bess announcing the birth of their son, Paul, so I thought I would share it here:


Last week I wrote about Dettie Louisa GIBSON BATES and her sibling, half-siblings, and step-siblings (all 23 of them!!). When Mom and I visited the archives at Missouri Southern State University, we looked not only at the Tri-State Mining Maps collection but also at a small file about the Old Peace Church Cemetery in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. Dettie’s mom, Lucinda DOW ALBIN GIBSON JONES GATEWOOD, is buried there but we’ve been unable to locate her exact burial spot. We were hoping to find it or at least get a little closer. Unfortunately, what we discovered is that we will probably never know for sure where her burial spot is. Information in the file shows that no burial records were ever kept and in fact, information about burials were so bad that sometimes bodies were buried on top of other bodies. I haven’t given up, but I’m not holding out much hope we’ll ever get any closer than we’ve already gotten.

Troy and Jessie RITER BATES

Remember last year when I wrote about finding a deed? I took one of the deeds and compared it to Satellite maps on Google and came up with finding directions. (See blog post here) Well, one day this past December when Bart was off work I asked him to go driving around with me and we found what we believed was the property listed in the deed. Then this week I took my mom back to that area and asked her to show me where their old property was and she took me to exactly the place Bart and I had gone. (It’s nice to have validation!) She had so many stories to tell me connected with that place. I took photos both times I went and when I get an unscheduled day on the blog (soon) I’m going to post the photos and stories for you. It was a nice trip. She also showed me some of the properties where her grandparents lived and I’ll be using photos of these properties later in the year on future blog posts.

Enjoy your weekend, family! I start my new job next week so I’m hoping I can keep up with the blog!! Bart starts jury duty next week too, so it’s going to be a crazy week here.

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Weekend Wrap-Up for Week 2

My computer has shut down four times while writing this one blog post. So if it’s a little choppy or the editing is done poorly- I’m sorry. I’m a little frustrated at this point! This has been a crazy busy week. I’m glad you’re coming back around the blog today for the weekend wrap-up. I’ve got lots to tell you! I’ll organize this post by following up on each featured ancestor in the order I presented them on the blog this week. Let’s get started!


First thing this week we talked about Ralph and the hubbub with how many siblings there were and where Alice UNDERWOOD EDENS fit into things. I emailed another researcher who I’ve been in touch with before about Alice. I explained to her the research I had in front of me, what my conclusions were and why, and offered her some documents. I asked her to read the blog post and get back to me with her thoughts and conclusions on the matter. She responded to my first email but didn’t respond again after that. I’m not sure if my conclusions about Alice upset her or whether she is just busy right now and unable to deal with genealogy. Since I’m not certain about her outlook I won’t post her name. I will, however, post Alice’s death certificate which Becky was kind enough to locate and send to me. You can see that the certificate declares Minerva’s parents to also be Alice’s parents. I still stand by my original conclusion although this particular record doesn’t support my conclusion. I am definitely open to anyone who would like to offer a different conclusion with supporting evidence. In the meantime, here’s that death certificate:


On Tuesday I featured James BUTLER. Becky had the great idea of putting the BUTLER-CAUDILL marriage certificate on a yellow background which makes it easier to read. EasiER- not easy. Here’s the copy she did for us:

The best and most exciting breakthrough of the week also comes courtesy of Becky and her stellar sleuthing abilities. She has finally found the couple I truly believe to be the parents of Nancy CAUDILL BUTLER. I’ve had several different couples listed and changed them for various reasons and the couple I have listed now is not a couple I was ever very sure of. However, this couple that Becky found looks to be the right ones FINALLY! Thanks, Becky!! Here’s the screenshot she sent me showing the family in the 1870 census:

So now you know! Nancy CAUDILL’S parents were Joseph and Martha BOWLIN CAUDILL. BOWLIN has also been spelled BOLLEN on some records.


There is so much to say about William! Becky came through for us again by finding the newspaper article about William’s tent burning and the city directory page. Great job, Becky! I thought it was a little odd that William lived in a tent but it turns out Tulsa was basically a tent city at that time so it was perfectly normal for that time period. Becky pointed out that also listed on the city directory page are William’s son Jess and his dad Joseph (my 3rd great grandfather who was 68 at the time!). They were all living together along with William’s wife Minerva and a Mrs. Emma LARKIN. I’m still trying to place this Emma. I don’t know of Jess or Joseph being married to an Emma nor do I know of Ralph (William’s other son) marrying an Emma. William had a daughter named Emma but she married a SPILLERS and this directory page specifically refers to her as “Mrs.”. So I’m still trying to place her. If you get it figured out before I do, please share with us!

The next time you’re driving around Tulsa (and wondering if William, Jess, and Joe might have paved the road you’re driving on) I want you to check out some locations if you have the time to wander around. Owen Park would be a good place to start. Vitrified Brick & Tile had their business located there at the location where Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School now stands. Tulsa Preservation Commission has a great PDF brochure you can access online that gives a little history about Vitrified Brick along with a sketch of the business as it looked in 1907. You can find it here. While you’re in that area you might as well drive by 121 N Nogales where the LARKIN’s lived. It’s near where the company used to be. Mechelle has agreed to get us some photos of the old fair ground district area which played a part in the newspaper article we read. She’ll get to that when she has some free time. Thanks Mechelle!

Do you remember that new Oklahoma vital records database I told you about in William’s blog post? Well I was able to get the death certificate for the William Larkin listed on the database (the one in the screenshot in the blog post). It was not our William LARKIN. I was really disappointed. I also tried to get the other one with the female LARKIN that was unnamed on the database (the other screenshot I posted). There were some issues and they wouldn’t release it to me. The Oklahoma City office is supposed to review my request and make a determination of whether I can have a copy of it. I haven’t heard from them yet but when I do I’ll let you know.

I’m also still working the mine angle and trying to find information about the mine William owned. I’ve found a spreadsheet online that gives me hope the information is out there somewhere. You can take a look at the spreadsheet here. I’m also looking through the finding aids at the State Historical Society of Missouri to see if they have records. I found a map here that defines the Aurora Mining District and a second map that shows current mines in the area. Also I’ll still need to make another trip to the courthouse in Lawrence County to see what they have. I’m working on it but don’t let that stop you from trying to figure out the mystery before I do! If you make a discovery share it with us!


I hope you noticed that this time I included Clara’s middle names. Thanks for reminding me, Bob! He said the photo I used in the blog post was from their 50th wedding anniversary. He also told me a great little story that’s too good to keep to myself! He said, “Grandma’s (Clara’s) Dad, Michael Turk, had no use for William Wolf. He packed up his daughter and sent her to Cleveland. William went after her. That’s why they were married in Ohio.” That clears up a long-time mystery for me! I always wondered how they ended up marrying in Ohio. Problem solved! Thanks, Bob! Bob was also kind enough to look at the cruise party photo and tell me Clara definitely wasn’t in that photo. After posting, I had gone in and enlarged the photo quite a bit and was at the same conclusion myself but I only have one photo of her and never met her so it was nice to get a family member’s opinion.

Betty let me know that the name of the town in which William was farming is actually Port Hope, not Fort Hope. Thanks, Betty! Also, Clara and William had two girls and three boys so I need to go back and correct that blog post. Thanks again, everyone!


I don’t have any updates on Charles or Esther but wanted to thank everyone for their kind words about these posts. I was in a hurry with Charles’ post and wasn’t happy with how choppy the story ended up being but some days I have next to no time to edit after I write. I don’t want that to stop me from getting the information out there, though. So, it is what it is. Thanks for sticking with me anyway! Thanks to Joyce for her kind words about how I handled Esther’s Alzheimer’s. I’m glad to know Esther would have approved.

Enjoy your weekend, family and friends! Next week will be another great week! Think positive thoughts, pray your prayers, love and support each other.

Until tomorrow,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Ralph Larkin and the Mystery of His Missing Sibling

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.

food and memories blog post ralph bess larkin fishing.jpg
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.

Until tomorrow,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Savory Saturday- The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

This blog post will seem long but it’s mostly pictures so keep reading!


“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!


“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):


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!!

Kay’s Coleslaw


“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


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!– lyrics by Howard Johnson/Billy Moll/Robert King
You must see this! It’s a real song: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream.

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.


Fun fact about Redbud trees: They are the official state tree of Oklahoma.

Redbud trees.

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.

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.


“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.


“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.

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Medical Monday- Know Your Health History!

Medical Monday is a part of my effort to return to some shorter posts to get more information out to you. It’s so important to know your medical history. So often a doctor will ask if a particular disease runs in your family. It’s to your advantage to know the correct answer! You can actually get insurance to pay for genetic testing for some diseases if the disease is prevalent in your family history. I’m going to start Medical Mondays with Ralph LARKIN, my great-grandfather.

Here is his death certificate from Missouri Digital Heritage.

Ralph’s official “immediate” cause of death was “acute myocardial decompensation”. Wikipedia says this:

“Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is a sudden worsening of the signs and symptoms of heart failure, which typically includes difficulty breathing (dyspnea), leg or feet swelling, and fatigue. ADHF is a common and potentially serious cause of acute respiratory distress. The condition is caused by severe congestion of multiple organs by fluid that is inadequately circulated by the failing heart. An attack of decompensation can be caused by underlying medical illness, such as myocardial infarction, infection, or thyroid disease.”

Ralph’s ADHF was caused by the underlying illness of myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. According to emedicine.com and Wikipedia, Ralph’s signs and symptoms would have looked like this:

“Difficulty breathing, a cardinal symptom of left ventricular failure, may manifest with progressively increasing severity as the following:
-Difficulty breathing with physical activity (exertional dyspnea)
-Difficulty breathing while lying flat (orthopnea)
-Episodes of waking up from sleep gasping for air (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea)
– Acute pulmonary edema
Other cardiac symptoms of heart failure include chest pain/pressure and palpitations. Common noncardiac signs and symptoms of heart failure include loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, weakness, low urine output, waking up at night to urinate, and cerebral symptoms of varying severity, ranging from anxiety to memory impairment and confusion.”

A physical sign that others would have seen include “jugular venous distension” (an enlarged jugular vein). It looks like this photo from Wikipedia (look for the arrow):


Lastly, Ralph’s death certificate lists his heart attack as being caused by Arteriosclerosis which is “hardening of the arteries” (from Mayoclinic.org).

I hope this week is a healthy one for you. If you are in my same line of descent, please take charge of your own medical health. You know your body. Watch out for these symptoms of heart failure. Change your diet and activities to take into consideration that you may be genetically predisposed to have heart problems and let your doctor know this!

Peace and health!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Black Blizzards- The Second Dust Bowl, Abilene, Texas, 1954-1957

The Dust Bowl has always captured my attention and I especially love a well written novel set in that era such as Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust. My ancestors seem to have (thankfully) missed the “black blizzards” (huge, black dust clouds) that rolled across the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.

Photograph courtesy of http://www.fs.fed.us/greatestgood/images/gallery/depression-CCC/DepressiontheCCC/photos/photo11.shtml.

When the black blizzards rolled through it blocked out everything – even the sun. This photo was taken at 3:00 in the afternoon on Black Sunday in 1935:

Photograph courtesy of http://discovermagazine.com/.

You can see a video recreation of black blizzards at http://www.history.com/.

In the 1930’s President Roosevelt ordered the Civilian Conservation Corps to plant a “belt of more than 200 million trees from Canada to Abilene Texas, to break the wind, hold water in the soil, and hold the soil itself in place.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl) This did not stop the black blizzards from returning in the 1950’s although it did lessen their intensity. (https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hda01).

My grandparents- Eugene and Audrey DRAKE- and their children lived in Abilene, Texas during the mid-1950’s when the area had a revival of dust storms reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl storms. My dad was very young at that time. However, he can recall the black blizzards rolling through. He said when they hit, you couldn’t see anything around you. Everyone rushed into their homes and began stuffing wet rags into every crack and crevice possible to keep the dust out. If a crack was missed, dust poured into the home. Even with the wet rags in place, the dust was still a problem. It was like a black wall rolling toward you when the black blizzards rolled in.

1950’s Abilene, Texas

In the 1950’s, Abilene was a dry city so there would not have been any bars there. The Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra gave it’s first concert in 1950 and fine arts groups were active there during this time period. The city boasted a professional baseball team- The Blue Sox- which was associated with the Brooklyn Dodgers and operated in Abilene until 1957. Major employers in the area included the railroad and the military bases. In 1953, Abilene schools were still segregated. (https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hda01) This was the environment in which my dad lived and attended school in Abilene from 1954-1957. He went to school there between his 5th and 8th grade years. He does not remember the elementary school he attended. He said at that time the family lived on North 11th Street in Abilene and they were close enough to the school that he walked to school. I was unable to tell by looking online (especially being unfamiliar with the area) which elementary school he might have attended. He does remember attending North Junior High.

In addition to living on North 11th Street, the family also lived on Burger Street in Abilene.

He was very self-conscious and felt out of place being from the country and now attending school in a city. However, he said he was well-liked and remembers being invited, accepted, and involved in school social and academic pursuits while he was there. Financially, life was very difficult. One of his prized possessions was the 1957 school yearbook his mom saved up to buy for him.

Here he is in 7th grade, 1956-57 at North Junior High:

He was in Mrs. Boyland’s Homeroom 4. Here is Mrs. Boyland in the 1956-57 school year:

The Principal that year was J. M. Anthony. He struck fear in students at North Junior High.

Dad’s favorite teacher that year was the pretty Miss Cole, English teacher:

Outside of North Junior High, the drought raged on in Texas. In regard to the drought, one farmer had these things to say, “…the biggest difference was that in the `30s, it broke people financially. But the 1950s broke them spiritually.” Water arrived in town periodically in tanks on the back of trucks and people rushed to get it. One state official wrote a letter to his peer in July 1950 saying that residents in Abilene were accusing the government officials of being communists, presumably in response to the water shortage issues and other drought-related problems. 1951, 1954, and 1956 were in the top 10 of driest years on record in Texas. Crops wouldn’t grow, ponds dried up, and the ground was so dry it had 6-inch open cracks. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/14/texas-drought-dry-spell-1950_n_926703.html)

In the 1954-56 time period, San Angelo newspapers reported up to 70 mile per hour wind gusts causing horrible dust storms which killed people, uprooted trees, damaged property and crops, and killed livestock; wind spreading fires that destroyed buildings; wind gusts that blew down walls; and, horrific vehicle accidents caused by low visibility due to the dust in the air. At points there was zero visibility due to the dust blizzards. Instead of finding rain in their rain gauges, residents found inches of dust. The storms were often very fast moving leaving little time to take cover.
(http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/rick-smith-where-did-all-the-dust-storms-go) The drought finally broke early in 1957. That was also the year Gene and Audrey and their family moved out of Texas for the final time.

In researching my family’s stay in Abilene, I found two reasons why my grandparents chose Abilene as a residence. My father told me they went there to try and get better jobs and have a better financial situation. In addition to that information, I found a newspaper article on Ancestry.com that helped explain what drew my family specifically to Abilene versus another city. Audrey’s brother, Ralph, moved to that area in 1953 with his wife. Their brother, Carl, was also living there. It’s quite possible that the deciding factor in favor of Abilene was that there were close family members there. You can read about the article I found in my blog post at Days of Our Lives: Close to Home, Close to the Heart, Part 2 beginning at the section heading, “Carolyn Bennett”.

I’m glad my family had that time with other family members but I’m very thankful they moved back here to Oklahoma where my parents married and created my family. Life could easily have turned out so differently. I try to be thankful for every turn mine has taken.

Remember this coming week to treasure family and love each other. For more genealogy goodness, click on over to my Sister-In-Law’s blog at Down in the Root Cellar where she is participating in the same genealogy blog challenge I’m doing this year.

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Close to Home, Close to the Heart- Part 2

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:

Photo found at http://www.grda.com/

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.

Until this weekend,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives