"making a fetich of the first rock"

It has been too long since my last post, also timed to a national holiday. Since then, there have been family visits (always nice to spend time with living relatives), a vacation, and a career change. There are two longer posts nearly ready for publication, but I wanted to get this up, brief as it is, reminded by a newly found (albeit distant) cousin--thanks, Heather!

Through Ella Swarts (1862 -1899), a paternal 2x great grandmother, I am descended from four Mayflower families. Her maternal great-great grandparents, Amaziah Doty (1756 – 1833) and his wife Bethiah Hamlin (1758 – 1830) provide the links.
Amaziah’s father was Ebenezer Doty, and through his paternal line we can claim three of those Mayflower folks: Edward Doty, a paternal great-great grandfather; Francis Cooke, father of another paternal great-great grandfather (Jacob Cooke); and Stephen Hopkins, father of a paternal great-great grandmother (Damaris Hopkins, wife of Jacob Cooke).

Edward Doty (? – 1655, one of my 11x great grandfathers)  was one of two indentured servants to Stephen Hopkins, below. Once at Plymouth, he was known as a trouble –maker, involved in numerous disputes and lawsuits in the new colony, which he usually lost. He probably took great joy in the fact that his son married the granddaughter of his former master.

Francis Cooke (1583 – 1663, a 12X great grandfather) was an actual Pilgrim Separatist. His wife’s sister married Jan Lano, whose son Philippe De Lannoy was the progenitor of the Delano family in the U.S. Besides us, other descendants of Stephen Hopkins include Grandma Moses, Orson Welles, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Stephen Hopkins (about 1582 – 1644, also a 12x great grandfather) was not a Pilgrim, but was hired by them to assist in governing the new colony; as such, he was one of the signers of the “Mayflower Compact.” Hopkins was shipwrecked off Bermuda in an earlier expedition, and spent time with the Jamestown colony prior to his boarding the Mayflower. It is believed that his shipwreck experience was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Tempest. The Hopkins are considered one of the First Families of Virginia.
Amaziah Doty’s wife, Bethiah Hamlin connects us to the last of our Mayflower quartet: John Howland (? - 1672, a 10x great grandfather). Howland was another indentured servant (to John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony), but became a freeman after Carver’s death. The Howlands had ten children, and founded one of the three most prolific Mayflower progenies. Alongside us, their other descendants include Franklin D Roosevelt, George Bush, Sarah Palin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Brigham Young, and Humphrey Bogart. Others we may count as more distant cousins are Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford, all of whom are descendants of John Howland’s brother Arnold.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Edward Doty and Faith Clarke
John Doty and Elizabeth Cooke
John Doty and Mehitable Nelson
John Doty and Lydia Dunham
Ebeneezer Doty and Mercy Whiton
Amaziah Doty and Bethiah Hamlin
Stephen S Doty and Polly Holmes
Alma Holmes Doty and Stephen Addison Davenport
Henrietta Davenport and Charles Swarts
Ella Swarts and Charles A Burnett
Alfred Nathaniel Burnett and Jennie Arleta Eaton (great grandparents)

Francis Cooke and Hester Mathieu
Jacob Cooke and Damaris Hopkins
Elizabeth Cooke and John Doty... (see above)

also

Francis Cooke and Hester Mahieu
Jacob Cooke and Damaris Hopkins
Mary Cooke and John Rickard
Johanna Rickard and Elisha Whiton
Mercy Whiton and Ebeneezer Doty... (see above)

Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth Fisher
Damaris Hopkins and Jacob Cooke... (see above)

John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley
Joseph Howland and Elizabeth Southworth
Mercy Howland and Joseph Hamlin'
Southworth Hamlin and Tabitha Atkins
Bethiah Hamlin and Amaziah Doty... (see above)

"the fourth of Seven-month, (what salutes of cannons and small arms!)"

This week beginning with Independence Day, it seemed apt to feature one of my ancestors, a maternal fifth great-grandfather, who fought in the Revolutionary War: Capt Samuel Cherry (15 May 1756 - 27 Oct 1825).




TO THE MEMORY OF CAPT SAMUEL CHERRY
(by his friend Benjamin Coe)

The hero is gone, and deeply lamented
The hero who fought by the side of the brave,
The hero who served in the fields that were tented,
For victory, or an honorable grave.
The hero is gone, but his mem’ry for ages
Will live in the land where freedom is revered.
While history stands recorded in pages,
While the rights of his country are ever revered.
The hero is gone, never returning,
Few are not left to tell us his story.
Tears of the warriors in bitterness burning
Will fall on the vet’ran companion in glory.
The hero is gone, his seasons of glory,
His springs, his summers and autumns are ended.
In the winter of age, with a heart that was heavy
He left us with freedom and liberty blended.

 
Benjamin Coe, author of this poem, famously avoided duty in the Revolutionary War by sending one of his slaves, Cudjo, in his place. Cudjo, who said he descended from African royalty--perhaps an early example of genealogical wishful thinking--received high honors, as one of many slaves who served in the war. Benjamin Coe's brother, Moses Coe, is a direct ancestor of former President George W. Bush. Anyway....

Samuel Cherry was born in Londonderry; this much we know--but which Londonderry? Opinion is divided between those who believe he was born in Londonderry, Ireland, and those who believe he was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire. His birthplace, as well as who his parents were, are apparently lost to history, despite several generations of researchers trying to find out. Perhaps we will never know.

We do know that he was in what was to become the United States by age eighteen, for on 23 April 1775, he enlisted in (then) Capt George Reid's Company (1st New Hampshire Regiment) after the Lexington Alarm. Samuel Cherry fought at Bunker Hill, and participated in the assault on Quebec, Canada.

On 8 November 1776, he was commissioned Lieutenant in Capt James Carr's regiment, 2nd New Hampshire company, under the command of Col Nathan Hale.

In 1777, Samuel Cherry played a prominent role in the Battle of Bemis' Heights, and the Battle of Freeman's Farm (both Saratoga). On 2 December of that year, he was commissioned Captain Lieutenant, 2nd New Hampshire Regiment, under (now) Col Reid.  Also that year, he found time to marry Ann Wallace (23 Feb 1754 - 24 Jun 1812), of Londonderry, New Hampshire. (Although some sources call her Frances Isobelle Wallace, I have never seen documentation for this.)

Nuptials over, in 1778 Samuel Cherry participated in the Battle of Monmouth. Through 1779, he was a member of General George Sullivan's Indian Expedition through Pennsylvania and western New York. (General Sullivan would later become the father-in-law of Samuel Cherry's wife's cousin.) On 10 October 1779, Samuel Cherry became the father of the first of his eleven children, Samuel Cherry Jr (who later married a Delano), and a few weeks later, on 30 November 1779, he was commissioned Captain in the 2nd New Hampshire.


A re-enactment group as "Capt Cherry's Outfit."


Capt Cherry was present at Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown on 19 October 1781 (a month before his second child, Susan, was born) and retired from the military in January 1783, to resume his civilian career, farming.

Some time before 1800, the Cherry family left Londonderry and moved to Paris, New York. Having been granted two hundred acres in the area as part of his pension, in 1810 he moved to the newly formed town of New Haven, Oswego, New York, where he was appointed one of the first Justices.

Capt Samuel Cherry died, widowed and living with one of his sons, in near poverty on 27 October 1825, and was buried in New Haven Cemetery.


Photograph by Bill Starck.

The Cherry family continued to fight for liberty. Descendants of Capt Cherry fought in the War of 1812, and gave their lives in the Civil War.  Another Samuel, Samuel Alonzo Cherry (16 Dec 1811 - 27 Apr 1897), grandson of Capt Cherry (and one of my third great-granduncles), was a significant member of the Underground Railroad, whose home was a "station" in Marysville, Ohio.

Through my relation to Capt Cherry, I am able to join the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).


1. Samuel Cherry married Ann Wallace, daughter of John Wallace and Janet Steele.

2. John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857) married Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872), parents unknown, on 11 Oct 1808 in Paris, Oneida, New York.

3. Mary Ann Cherry (17 Dec 1813 - 11 Nov 1853) married Frederick Dillazone Ketchum (6 Apr 1811 - 21 Jan 1888), son of Elisha Ketchum and ?, on 13 Feb 1835, in Huron, Erie, Ohio.

4. Caroline Clarissa Ketchum (30 Sep 1848 - 7 Feb 1920) married Phillip Jacob Runser (30 May 1845 - 22 Mar 1921), son on Philippe Jacob Runser and Anna Marie Brunner, on 13 Feb 1871, in Black River Falls, Jackson, Wisconsin.

5. Isabelle "Belle" Runser (21 Oct 1881 - 30 Mar 1960) married John Jacob "Jack" Severin (11Jul 1878 - 2 Jan 1965), son of Jacob S Severin and Anna Margaretha Tiedjens, on 13 Feb 1903, probably in South Dakota.

6. Myrna Margaret Severin (6 Nov 1907 - 12 Jan 1997) married Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984), son of Clarence Edgar Brown and Cora Mabel Kinman, on 21 Oct 1933, in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota.

7. Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010) married [Living] Burnett, son of Leroy Stanley Burnett and Hazel Lucille Erickson, on 4 Mar 1961, in Long Beach, Los Angeles, California.

8. Your humble blogger.



"the effect upon me of my early life"

Last time, I wrote about people to whom I am distantly connected, and ended by mentioning Calvin Coolidge, with whom I seem to have nothing in common, except perhaps a love of dogs. Anyway....

Someone to whom I am closely related--and happily have a great deal in common with--is my maternal grandfather, Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984).



Dana Earl Brown c 1928

Googling his name reveals just one fact: he was an occasional lyricist, with three songs registered for copyright with the Library of Congress, all from 1939: Free, White, and 21, (music by Don Rodricks); I'll Never Let You Go (also with Rodricks, who has two other copyrights in 1934); and No  Shadows, (music by Harold Harvey). Aside from the potentially creepy nature of their titles, I have not been able to learn anything else about these songs, or Grandpa's collaborators. (Although there are at least three other Harold Harveys: one an early twentieth century lesser English painter; another a Hershey, Pennsylvania oncologist; and the last a sex offender and death row inmate in Florida. Harold Harvey was the occasional pseudonym of trumpeter Harry James, but I think they must have been different people.) Don Rodricks did provide the words for the song Treasure Island, (music by George Rex, 1938).

I have not been able to locate copies of these songs, but at least one was a (very) minor success; I have a royalty check for $1.58 from Davis and Schwegler. They are a mostly forgotten  music company, notable only for releasing early recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio. In the All Music Guide Review they are referred to as "a sleazy little fly-by-night outfit that soon went bankrupt."



The Internet not offering much, I am happy that there is a great amount of Grandpa Dana's life documented in photos, clippings, and letters that he saved, which I have been looking through with tremendous enjoyment.

He was born 26 January 1910 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Clarence Edgar Brown (1 Dec 1878 - 21 Aug 1937) and Coral Mabel Kinman (4 Sep 1876 - 22 Aug 1958). He was their second child, the first, Rex Hugh Brown (born 1 Jun 1905), dying at less than a year old. At the time of Dana's birth, his father was an Insurance Manager, a job he probably got from his father-in-law, William Edwin Kinman (Mar 1858 - 13 Jun 1925), who had a long career in that field. Clarence Brown changed jobs often, at other times being a clerk, salesman in a department store, and an advertising man for a printing company. This peripatetic approach to employment was something he would pass along to his son.

The Browns moved, first to Moorhead Minnesota, where another boy was added to the family: Ray Edgar Brown (2 Jul 1914 - 10 May 1980), then on to Minneapolis after 1915, where they finally stayed. Grandpa Dana attended Bryant Junior High, where he was Class President and served as Sports Editor of the Bryant Times, then Central High School, where he was active in tennis, basketball (breaking his collar bone in the process), and glee club, graduating in 1927. Around that time as well, he formed a musical duo with his best friend, Cliff Nash, performing at local amateur nights as "the Kinky Kids." One hopes the name was due to their curly hair, and not the material....



Sometime in the late 'twenties, the Browns moved back to Moorhead, Minnesota, and Grandpa Dana began attending Wheaton College (in Illinois), where he lettered in football and tennis, and again wrote for the school paper, offering up everything from hard reporting to groan-inducing jokes as filler. He also came in second place in the school talent show, with a poem called "Beauty." He did not graduate, returning to Moorhead by 1930, where he began courses with the Minnesota College of Law night school, to mixed results. Like his father, it seems he did not know what he wanted, or could not stick to one thing for very long, although the seeds of many of his life-long interests were already apparent: sports, writing, music, civic involvement, and bad jokes.

In January 1930, Grandpa received the following reply, from New Scotland Yard, London S.W. 1:

"Madam,
With reference to your letter of the 13th December, I am directed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to inform you that he regrets that he is unable to offer you an appointment in the Force, nor is he in a position to advise you as to any other employment in this country for which you may be suitable.
I am, Madam,
Your obedient Servant,
[signed] H G Gilbert"

Clearly the chaps at Scotland Yard  couldn't have been that good as detectives if they mistook Grandpa Dana for a woman. Although he must have attempted to clarify things, as there is another rejection dated just three weeks later, pointedly addressing him as "Sir." Although they have his name as E. Dana Brown.

In May 1931, he received the following reply, from O. O. McIntyre, nationally known for his "New York Night and Day" daily syndicated column (reaching fifteen million readers as his peak), and a former publicist of Florenz Ziegfeld:

"Sorry, I already have a most satisfactory chauffeur. But, here's hoping you make a good columnist."

The brevity is not surprising, as McIntyre reportedly received three thousand letters a week from his fans (and--apparently--aspiring potential employees). McIntyre handled his correspondence and other writing from his bed, beginning after breakfast and continuing until early evening, always with the curtains drawn. He claimed he disliked sunshine.

Anyway. 1931 was a busy, if restless, year for Grandpa.  He was the Managing Editor and contributor to the newly-formed Fargo [North Dakota] News, a weekly newspaper serving the Fargo-Moorhead area. He was a Committeeman for Troop 39 of the Boy Scouts of America. He regularly submitted poems and song lyrics to places as diverse as Christian Business magazine and DeSylva, Brown & Henderson, the successful song publishers. With titles like "Longing," "Song of Melancholy," "Consolation," (from a woman's point of view and submitted as Diane E. Brown!), and "Lady Bugs & Dreams," it is perhaps not surprising that he received numerous rejections. Is it too much to think that the titles suggest his own unhappiness?

Also in 1931, he took a lengthy road trip to Hollywood, California, with another friend, Fred Cook, where they lived for two months before returning home. Although Grandpa kept an entertaining journal of their trip (including roadside tennis games while waiting for help with the inevitable breakdowns; numerous detours; and picking up an apparently never-quite-sober minister in Texas, who rode with them as far as Taos, New Mexico, before vanishing in the night...), he never explains his motives for going west, or what prompted his return.



At any rate, by late 1931, he had a job with the Strutwear Knitting Company, in accounting. Hardly the place for a man with big dreams. But there was more going on... and I will let Grandpa tell it in his own words, in a poem he wrote for my grandmother on their twenty-fifth anniversary:

The place was Minneapolis,
The time was '33.
A minister named Porter
Stood there with you and me.

And, as I slipped that flimsy ring
Upon your shaking hand,
There was no "Great Depression"
For we were feeling grand.

I didn't miss a day of work,
We needed every buck,
Just meeting you in '32
Was my best stroke of luck!

We didn't have much money,
So, we spent more time in bed
Than might have been the custom
If we'd been rich, instead.

So, it really wasn't surprising
That late in '34
We had our little Beverly
To fondle and adore.

And then, in 1935
We took our biggest journey
I chugged to San Leandro
With Beverly, and "Myrnie."

"Myrnie" was Myrna Margaret Severin (6 Nov 1907 - 12 Jun 1997), youngest of three daughters of John Jacob "Jack" Severin (11 Jul 1878 - 2 Jan 1965) and Isabelle "Belle" Runser (21 Oct 1881 - 30 Mar 1960). Grandma Myrna was born in Redfield, South Dakota, and by 1932 was living and teaching (having received a degree from Moorhead State Teachers College) in Fargo. I would love to know how my grandparents met; perhaps one clue is that Grandma's high school diploma recognizes her four years of literary study. Did they meet at a poetry reading? Had she seen something of his in the Fargo News"  It was a brisk courtship, as they were married the next year, on October 21 1933, in the home of Grandpa's aunt and uncle, by the aforementioned Rev Porter, a retired Presbyterian minister.

In 1934, my mother was born, and the following year led to another change in the Brown household. According to Elizabeth Faue, in the "Minneapolis Labor Review:"

In the summer of 1935, Farmer- Labor Party member Oscar Hawkins marveled at the happenings in Minneapolis. Everywhere, discontented workers brought the labor movement to life. Even the Strutwear Company, the public enemy of labor unions, was faced with a strike. As Hawkins reported, “the Strutwear Knitting Works had a sudden and lively strike ten days ago — still on. It is so hard to get the straight of the various conditions. The employers tell the newspapers their story... Stories of the workers are different.”



Although I have no record of my grandfather's participation--or not--in the strike, I do know his reaction: the Browns packed up and moved to northern California. The lived first in San Leandro, then San Francisco, where their second child, my uncle Bruce, was born, then Daly City, and finally, Oakland.


628 Hillside Blvd, Daly City, California
My great-grandparents, Belle & Jack Severin, with my mother and uncle.


Grandpa Dana's jobs were just as numerous:

I worked in hosiery awhile,
Then sold it on the road....
...
The old man sold potato chips,
This followed frozen food.
And then worked on the waterfront,
In a six month's interlude.

A purser with United
I was in '43.
we flew the South Pacific
Till it saw enough of me.

Then, into business for ourselves
With Kenny and with Lee,
In looking back it seems quite odd
We chose a grocery.

The grocery, G & M Grocery, on Foothill Blvd in Oakland, was a joint venture with Walter Rensch, and two relatives: John J Severin, and Kenneth E Richards, Grandpa's father-in-law and brother-in-law, respectively. I have not been able to discover what connection Rensch had to our family, except that he was a neighbor of my grandparents. There was also a pharmacy, Kay Dee Drug Stores, in Alameda owned by the foursome. In 1948, the grocery was sold entirely to Rensch, and Grandpa Dana and Kenny became the co-partners in Kay Dee.

Of course, it wasn't all work in the '40s. Grandpa was also a volunteer Civil Defense Warden, an award-winning member ("Trophies too, by gosh. That guy Dana!") of the East Oakland Racing Pigeon Club (he also raised pheasants and mandarin ducks), President of the East Bay Merchants Association and member of the Elmhurst Lions Club, and an amateur actor with the Oakland Community Players, appearing in such productions as Date with Judy, Goodbye Again, and as "the male lead in the psychological comedy-drama Guest in the House."

Note the autograph of Shirley Temple Agar [her then-husband] on the OCP card.


From a review by Harold Peterson, under the headline "Dana Brown Steals Show":

As a rule we do not like theatre drunks. They either overdraw their roles into messy caricature or underplay badly. However, Harvey Wilson, as acted by Dana Brown proved the exception. Mr. Brown pulled out all stops without overdoing the role and practically walked away with the second act.

DEB, standing on right,  and his supporting cast.


Yet despite all this activity, he is still thinking bigger: there is a reply from the Royal Siamese Embassy from 1948, referring his request to conduct some kind of business endeavor in Siam to another office. Whether through "partner complications," disappointment with his Siamese scheme, or just having been bitten by the acting bug and hoping to make it in Hollywood (as actor? songwriter? something!), the Browns uprooted--for the last time--and headed south, to Long Beach, California.

To be continued....

"other births will bring us richness and variety"

My last two postings--although not by design--ended up featuring members of my extended family, collateral line folks who are not direct ancestors. This week--for no good reason, but it is my blog--I will continue that theme. When I began my genealogical research, I focused primarily on my mother's side of the family, and due to a lack of information about her father's side, turned more to her mother. This made sense, too, as my grandmother and her two sisters (and their descendants) were the core of the relatives I know well, the people I still see at holidays and other family gatherings. Delving into the Severin sisters and their ancestry, I got as far back as Thomas Steele (1683? - 22 Feb 1748) and his wife, Martha Morrison (1686 - 22 Oct 1759), seventh great-grandparents, who were the first arrivals (in 1718) in the New World of this part of my family.


Through the Steele descendants, I am related--albeit distantly--to a number of prominent people and families. Of course, Thomas and Martha had six children, and something like thirty-two grandchildren, and the entire US population in--say--1750 was just over one million people, all living on the eastern seaboard, so the odds are in my favor. I certainly can't claim any of these eminent personages' distinctions for my own, but at least I can say that I found their connections to my own flesh and blood. Here are three such people, in chronological order:


First up is Sarah Putnam (28 Nov 1708 - 13 Apr 1802), who married Joseph Steele (1706 - 23 Feb 1788), sixth great-grand uncle, on 2 August 1737, in Middleton, Essex, Massachusetts. He was one of those six children noted above; his older sister Janet Steele (1703 - after 1754) is my forebear. Sarah was part of the noted Putnam family of colonial New England. Her grandfather Edward Putnam, and his brother, Thomas, were accusers in the Salem witch trials; Arthur Miller used Thomas Putnam as the principle villain in The Crucible. Other notable Putnams include Israel Putnam, a General in the Revolutionary War; George Palmer Putnam,who founded the eponymous publishing house; and his grandson, George P Putnam, best known for marrying Amelia Earhart.



John Sullivan (17  Feb 1740 - 23 Jan 1795), was the father of Lydia Sullivan (17 Mar 1763 - 9 Apr 1842), who married Jonathon Steele (3 Sep 1760 - 3 Sep 1824), first cousin, seven times removed, on 17 January 1788, probably in New Hampshire. Jonathon Steele was the son of David Steele (30 Jan 1727 - 19 Jul 1809), another of Thomas and Martha's children. John Sullivan was a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the establishment of the federal government, George Washington nominated Sullivan as the first District Judge of New Hampshire, a post for which he was confirmed. Sullivan also served as Governor of New Hampshire three times. His most notable achievement, however, may have been that he is purported to have fired the first shot in the Revolutionary War; he was later made a General. There are counties named after Sullivan in five states.


Abigail Delano (10 May 1785 - 24 Jun 1869), married Samuel  Cherry (10 Oct 1779 - 10 Oct 1822), fourth great-grand uncle, in 1803, in New York. Samuel Cherry was the older brother of another of my forebears, John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857). Abigail was a descendant of Jonathan Delano, whose other descendants include presidents Ulysses S Grant and Calvin Coolidge, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and astronaut Alan B Shephard. Jonathan Delano's father was Philippe de Lannoy (or de La Noye), the progenitor of all Delano families in the United States, so yes,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is also a member of this illustrious family.


To point out once more what a small, interconnected world it was, especially in the earliest years of America, I would like to point out that I am also related--collaterally, of course!--to the Delanos through my paternal side, via Francis Cooke (? - 7 Apr 1663), an eleventh great-grandfather; Cooke was Jonathan Delano's grand-uncle by marriage. The aforementioned Calvin Coolidge is also connected to me paternally by marriage. Certainly there is no shared DNA between my discursive self and the famously terse Coolidge, who, when told at dinner that his dining partner had bet she could get more than two words out of him, replied "You lose."

"I play not marches for accepted victors only"

Growing up, when we learned about various American battles in grade-school history, I always felt gypped somehow, because none of my ancestors served in any of those wars. A lot of the other kids could tell stories about someone who had fought in World War II, or more sadly, perhaps a father or mother serving in Vietnam as we spoke. In my family, the men's ages never synced up with either of the World Wars, Korea, nor Vietnam. Of course, now, I realize how fortunate we were.

I remembered this the other day, flipping channels past yet another Civil War documentary--the first wave of who knows how many--as we begin the sesquicentennial of our bloodiest conflict. Now, knowing more about my family, and a good deal more about American history--apologies to Ms Walters (second grade), et al--I can claim some veterans among my ancestors and relations, although we have to go back to the Civil War to find them.

First up, I must mention David Conley (about 1822 - after 1880), maternal third great-grandfather, a farmer who registered for the draft in Richland County, Illinois in July 1863, but never served. He was forty-one years old, after all.


David Conley appears on the fourth line.


Dwight Eaton (4 Dec 1839 - 6 Jun 1925), a paternal third great-grandfather, enlisted as a Private, on 14  November 1864, in the Wisconsin 17th Infantry, Company E. His service included General Sherman's March to the Sea from Atlanta, Georgia; the Chattanooga Campaign, Tennessee; the Carolinas Campaign; and the battle of Goldsboro, North Carolina. His outfit also participated in the "Grand Review" of the Armies that occurred in Washington D C, on 23-24 May, 1865, a tremendous parade and celebration of the end of the war. Within a few weeks, on 14 June 1865, the regiment was disbanded, with losses of two hundred and twenty-one soldiers from a total of just under two thousand. Eaton returned to home life, farming in Wisconsin, and later Minnesota, until his death sixty years later.


A photo of The Grand Review by Mathew Brady.
The Capitol is visible in the background.


Silas W Brown (1836 - 20 Nov 1893), maternal second great-grandfather, had a longer military career than Dwight Eaton's: he served three years, from 20 August 1861 until 23 August 1864. He enlisted as a Private in Company D (the Dowagiac Light Infantry), 6th Infantry Regiment Michigan, upon its inception.The regiment served primarily on the Mississippi River and along the Gulf of Mexico, and based on its excellent service record, was converted from Infantry to Heavy Artillery in July 1863. Many of the regiment's excursions were considered extremely dangerous, and it received commendation for its gallantry and daring. From a beginning with just nine hundred and forty-four soldiers, it reached a high of almost two thousand. Of those, five hundred and fifteen men were killed, and another three hundred and twenty-seven discharged due to severe wounds. Fortunately, Silas W Brown was among the little over fifty percent who survived unharmed. In 1865, he moved to Missouri (perhaps due to his having seen it during the war?) and married Malinda J Carter (30 Jan 1849 - 8 Jan 1924). They lived briefly in Colorado (he is listed on the 1880 Census as a prospector!), then returned to Missouri, where he died in 1893.

The only extant flag of the Michigan 6th Infantry.



My final Civil War relation was not lucky enough to survive: William Hopkins Cherry, third great-grand uncle. An older brother, James Morgan Cherry (11 Jul 1821 - 30 Dec 1898),  and a younger brother, Charles Henry Cherry (7 Jun 1837 - before 1910), both registered for the draft but do not appear to have served.

William Hopkins Cherry enlisted as a Private in Company E, Ohio 63rd Infantry Regiment on 28 August, 1862. He was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 24 September 1862, then again to Full 1st Lieutenant on 1 June 1863. Most of his time was spent in northern Alabama and Tennessee. He died in a railroad accident near Waverly, Tennessee, while on detached duty with the Engineer Corps. He was returned home to Delaware County, Ohio, where he was buried. Today, there is a re-enactment group honoring the Ohio 63rd.


Was this the recruiting poster that William Hopkins Cherry saw?

William Hopkins CHERRY was born 8 October 1823, in New Haven, Oswego, New York, to John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857) and Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872), the seventh of their nine children. The family moved to central Ohio sometime in the 1840s, and on 24 December 1849 William Hopkins Cherry married Susan Elizabeth Kirtland (Oct 1826 - 15 Sep 1918), daughter of Hezekiah Lord Kirtland and Elizabeth Haywood McNair. Their wedding was reported in the Sandusky Democratic Mirror of 8 Jan 1850. In the U S Federal Census of that year, the Cherrys were living in Delaware, Ohio, neighbors to the family of Rutherford B Hayes, a Delaware native. William Hopkins Cherry's occupation is listed as clothier, and he lived next door to his brother Samuel Alonzo Cherry, also a clothier. The William Hopkins Cherrys had two boarders, both tailors. By 1860, the Cherrys had moved to Huron, Ohio; the boarders were gone, replaced by the Cherrys' two children: John Wallace Cherry and Clara A[dams?] Cherry, named for William's parents. (The family lived just two doors down from the Wilber family, who have as their boarder the eleven year old Caroline Clarissa Ketchum, his deceased sister's daughter.) After William Hopkins Cherry's death in 1864, his wife never remarried (perhaps because she was financially secure from an inheritance of one thousand dollars she had received from her grandfather in 1843, to say nothing of her military widow's pension), eventually moving to Michigan to live with their son, where she died in 1918.


The Cherry family marker, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio.
 W H Cherry, along with his parents and five other relatives, is buried here.
Requiescat in pace.

"All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means"

In my last post, I wrote about one of my paternal fourth great-grandfathers, Stephen Addison Davenport, and quoted from letters he wrote during his trip west to the California gold rush. But where did that information come from? From the archives of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, who had a carbon of a thirty-eight page type-written report from the 1970s by Chandler Davenport Fairbanks, which he had transcribed in 1935 from hand-written research on file in the Library of the New England Genealogical Society Building in Boston, originally made by Bennett F Davenport, a distant cousin, in the 1870s. I had the easy job: I found it on Google. The picture of the Salem Company document? Google. The clipping from The Kenosha Democrat? Ancestry.com.

The musical Avenue Q has a song titled "The Internet is for Porn." While I make no comment on that, I can confirm that the Internet certainly is for genealogy.

Since beginning my family research, I have primarily used Ancestry.com, although vigilant verification of all member-supplied information is essential. But marvellous as Ancestry is, it is not the only source. There are any number of websites, blogs and forums out there, that, with patience and an intrinsic love of puzzle-solving, can yield all kinds of useful information. Besides Google, which is invaluable, through the Internet I have located and corresponded with distant cousins who have offered help over some "brick walls", and received aid from volunteers on numerous websites.

Two particular favorite sites are the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center, which has an astonishing amount of information on Ohio history, combined with an easy-to-use database, and Find A Grave. Find A Grave is a free site, run collectively by volunteers around the country, who list cemetery inhabitants, and provide photos (when possible) on request. From kind Find A Grave members, I have been sent photos of the headstones of numerous relatives, including Southworth Hamlin (paternal seventh great-grandfather, and another of those people with wonderful names)


and Mary Phillips (paternal seventh great-grandmother).



Her name might not be so evocative, but I love the verse on her headstone (although even Google has not yet yielded what it is from, if anything):

Human nature drops a tear / And mourns her absent friend /
But virtue God-like interferes / And cries her soul yet lives.

With all of this data at my fingertips, it is hard to imagine how anyone could have successfully created a family tree before the Internet. Travelling--either to a local genealogy library, if available, or to relevant county courthouses, if possible--and, more likely, the U S Mail were the only real resources. I like to imagine that two of my ancestors were able to assist at least a few of those earlier researchers. Both Leroy Stanley Burnett (31 Aug 1910 - 11 May 1980), my paternal grandfather, and William Edwin Kinman (Mar 1858 - 13 Jun 1925), a maternal second great-grandfather, were postmasters at one time, in Hewitt and Morgan, Minnesota, respectively.

Grandpa Burnett's Postmaster Appointment


Before the Internet, researchers checked out those county courthouses for vital records, and when they could find copies of the US Federal Census--jackpot!--they were able to get even more information. One of my relations, Thomas Francis Kinman (31 Dec 1877 - aft 1940), a maternal great-grand uncle (the son of Postmaster Kinman mentioned above), was actually a census enumerator in 1900; he was the guy who went door to door asking all the questions, and writing down the responses. It's no wonder that his family was the first one on the page!

If only all the Census enumerators had such nice penmanship!

Thomas Kinman did not rest on his laurels after 1900, nor did he remain a teacher, as shown above. Using--what else?--Google, I was able to discover that he was listed in the Nebraska Hall of Fame for 1940, Hall County edition. Here's the listing, in full:

KINMAN, THOMAS FRANCIS Auto Dealer; b Redwood Co, Minn Dec 31, 1877; s of William E Kinman-Sarah J Conley; ed Redwood Minn HS; Southern Minn Normal & Bus Coll; m Bertha J Matz June 24, 1908 Roscoe S D; s Richard E; d Vada M, Jean F, Wilma L, Betty L; 1904-05 Jerauld Co atty, Lane S D; 1905-08 asst cash & cash in bank, Lane S D; 1908-10 bank owner; 1915-17 owner Chevrolet Agcy Mitchell S D; 1917-20 special representative for Chevrolet Motor Co at Minneapolis Minn; 1920-22 mgr retail store at Omaha, 1922-25 special representative at Des Moines Ia, 1925-27 asst zone mgr at Omaha, 1927-30 zone mgr at Fargo N D; 1930-32 zone mgr at Omaha; 1932-34 asst mgr B O P Motor Co, Omaha; 1934- owner Central Chevrolet Motor Co. Grand Island; C of C; Liederkranz Soc; Riverside Country Club; Woodland Country Club; AF&AM 231; Scot Rite, Yankton S D; Shrine, Aberdeen S D; Gun Club; hobbies, golf, fishing, hunting; off 121 E 2nd; res 1906 W Koenig, Grand Island.

Which just shows that not everything on the Internet, whether genealogical or not, is that interesting. (Although I do take a delight in the fact that he had daughters named Betty and Wilma....) And despite the fact that Thomas Francis Kinman and I may not have a lot in common, we are family.






This week's post dedicated to someone with whom I do have more in common,
 the first known genealogist in my family:


Bennett Franklin Davenport, MD, (28 May 1845 - 2 Jun 1927), paternal fifth cousin, six times removed, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Charles and Joan Fullerton (Hagar) Davenport. He received degrees from both Harvard and Columbia universities (1867, 1871). Besides being a prominent genealogist and historian, he was also professor of chemistry at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy (1879 - 86); served as Analyst for the Massachusetts State Board of Health, Lunacy, & Charity (1882 - 92) and as Coroner for Suffolk County (1875 -77), and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1893; published in The American Druggist, Harvard Register ("Recent Progress in Pharmaceutical Preparations"), and The Analyst (Royal Society of Chemistry, Great Britain), among many others; and was a noted authority on butter. In Forty Centuries of Ink (David N Carvalho, 2007), he is credited as having modified a formula for ink in 1900 that was subsequently used as the official ink of record in the state of Massachusetts, and, in 1901 (with the addition of "unnamed blue coloring material"), adopted by the US Treasury Department. His wife, Annie Emmeline Coolidge (6 Sep 1848 - 5 Mar 1934), daughter of John Coolidge and Martha Jane Sturtevant, was a cousin to President Calvin Coolidge.

"Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go"

Our little village of Greenhills was founded on April 1, 1938. Coincidentally, that was also the day--seventy years later--of Stephen's and my first house payment here in our new home: April Fool's Day, indeed. Our village was the second in what turned out to be just three quasi-Utopian experimental "Green Towns" built under the direction of Rexford G. Tugwell--there's a name!-- who guided the Resettlement Administration, an offshoot of FDR's New Deal and WPA. And although we are not "Pioneers," the nickname for original residents and the current middle school's sports teams, it got me thinking about pioneers, and town founders, and how they relate to my family's history. (I also must add that I enjoy the word "founder," as it relates to "find." Can one found a city or just find it, and how do you find it if it is not already there? But I digress; that is a musing for another, linguistic blog....)

Besides having some Mayflower ancestry (ladida! and about whom more at a later date; someone remind me closer to--perhaps?--Thanksgiving) on my father's side, there are a number of other pioneers:

Thomas Steele (1683 - 22 Feb 1748) and Martha Morrison (1686 - 22 Oct 1759), maternal seventh great-grandparents, arrived from Aghadowey Parish, Northern Ireland in one of five ships full of other Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and were among the sixteen families who founded the town of Nutfield (present day Londonderry), Rockingham, New Hampshire in 1719.

Capt Samuel Cherry (15 May 1756 - 27 Oct 1825), a maternal fifth great-grandfather, helped settle New Haven, Oswego, New York in 1810, and was appointed one of the first four justices of the town after its formation in 1813.

Isaac Burnett (1780 - 1860), a paternal fourth great-grandfather, was one of the founders of Newport, Penobscot, Maine in 1814, and served as one of the first school agents, for District 5.


Which is all very historico-glamorous, but perhaps not that exciting. After all, we still see new cities being formed, although I cannot imagine that in the future anyone will find much to boast about if their ancestors were early residents of [insert your local soul-less suburb here]. But what about founding a whole state? Which leads me to the particular subject of this post: Stephen Addison Davenport, another paternal fourth great-grandfather, who sports a name nearly as posh as that of the aforementioned Mr Tugwell.

The Davenports are first recorded in America in 1640, when Thomas Davenport (abt 1615 - 1685, paternal tenth great-grandfather) appeared in the Dorchester (present-day Boston), Massachusetts church records. Successive generations of Davenports lived and farmed throughout New England, each son moving away from his birthplace.

Eliphalet Davenport (1750 - 1835, paternal sixth great-grandfather) fought in the Revolutionary War, enlisting as a Connecticut State Trooper under (then) Capt Israel Putnam (a distant connection on my maternal side) in 1775. According to his Pension records, he served variously as a guard, teamster, and even as personal waiter to Col Thomas Brown, until his discharge in 1779.

His grandson, Stephen Addison Davenport, was born in 1806. He farmed and began raising his family in Madison, New York. In 1841, he moved to the recently-formed Wisconsin Territory and bought a farm near Brighton, in Kenosha County. The move may have come about as a suggestion from his wife, Alma Holmes Doty. She was a descendant of those Mayflower folks to whom I referred earlier, and who seemed to have come from a higher social echelon than the simple Davenport farm-folks; one of her cousins was the Territory's second Governor, James Duane Doty. It is possible that James Doty may have exerted his influence, because Stephen Davenport was elected to serve in the Second Constitutional Convention, representing Racine. Sixty-nine men were picked for this convention, as "men of high standing in their respective Communities" according to Halford Erickson, Commissioner of Labor and Industrial Statistics, in his Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin, 1903. [One wonders what he would make of all the recent goings-on in Wisconsin....] Stephen Addison Davenport was one of the signers of the State Constitution, adopted 1 February 1848 and ratified by popular vote the following month.

One might think that Stephen Davenport, having recently turned forty, fathered six children, and being one of the founders of the thirtieth state admitted to the union, might have taken a well-deserved rest; one would be mistaken. Apparently, the adventurous Davenport gene would not allow this, and Stephen Davenport decided to strike out for even-newer territory: California, and its gold rush. Unfortunately, he was a year too late.

On 30 April 1850, the Salem Company was formed, electing a Capt Noble as their head. It was a group of about two-hundred men, who would travel to California to seek their fortunes. Stephen Addison Davenport was appointed one of Capt Noble's assistants. Among other things, the Company passed a resolution, "excluding Ardent Spirits as a beverage" and disallowing gambling and card playing. The sober group intended to depart from Iowa on 6 May.


Remarkably, there are a number of extant letters from Stephen Davenport to his wife and children, whom he left in the care of a sixteen year old farmhand, Austin Geer. They give a fascinating view into the times.

From Kanesville (now Council Bluffs, the historic starting point of the Mormon Trail), Iowa, 4 May 1850:

 "...now as far as Iowa is concerned it is not a fine nor pleasant nor delightful Country.... There is in this place at this time and in the settlement about 10000 inhabitants and 99 one-hundreths of them are Mormons they are living in mizerable huts as a general thing. Corn is worth 2 dollars per bushel.... [T]he rush of Emigration is Enormous...at this place probably from 5 to 8 thousand people... at St Joe there is said to be 3 times as many as there is here if so great God what the rush must be....Now send the children to school this summer if convenient all except enough to keep you company. Do not be loansum....   [W]e lodge in our waggons nights and bake our own pancakes and keep ourselves as clean as we can but if you or any other person could see the crowd that is here and the situation that we are in, you would then and there see how necessary it is for a man to have a woman.... [G]ood day until I have a chance to wright you from the Eldorado or gold diggings."

And again from Kanesville, 8 May:

 "...tomorrow is the Day we are set to Depart from the White Settlement but I am doubtful whither we get away before the Middle of the week.... Take good care of the pigs there in the pen, yours lovingly S A Davenport"

There are crowds, delays, high prices, and Stephen Davenport continues to suffer from an unknown illness.

From Fort Laramie, Wyoming, 1 June:

 "...dry and cold weather. Grass has but just started our horses have seen hard times. There are a few Soldiers Stationed at this place. The fort and about it is neat and clean. Soldiers neatly dressed and they are in a Romantic place you may Depend. Now in Reguard to myself and my health I am well and Compared with when I last wrote you still I have an occasional pain in my Side and Breast but I do not feel alarmed about it.... I have not seen a white man or woman Except the Emigrants for 590 miles and Do not Expect to See another for 1100 miles more. But I must say to you that I see all kinds of folks and from Every State in the union and they all appear friendly.... Now I want you to Make and Eat you and the children A first rate pie plant pie for me for O God how I long for one and after Eating feed the pigs that I may have Some pork when I get holme next winter.... Now I had the pleasure of Seeing the peak of Laramie that is the fore taste of the Rocky mountains it is now Covered with Snow and ice. This is the most Romantic Country in the world. I believe it is well worth Seeing. We have seen plenty of Buffalo have seen them in Droves."


Fort Laramie, c 1845, by A J Miller

From the North Fork of the American River, Placer County, California, 23 September 1850:

"Dear Wife and Children you must Excuse me for not Writing oftener than what I have, But permit me in the most humble manner to Say to you that our convenience for Writing is not as nice as when we are at holme.... Our Journey across the Plains was Some what A tedious one. We Run Short or porvisions when about a hundred miles from our Journeys End and to that Degree that we were obliged to put our Selves on rations.... This was a hard stent for me after living to Be 43 years old and always having Anough.... We Came through Safe and Sound with our team. All the horses lived through. Old Polly I sold for 85 Dollars, old Nancy I traded to the Indians for A pony and Sold the pony for 80 dollars this made 165 Dollars for my horses, our waggon we throwed away and paid 10 Dollars for another.... I have not lost one Single Day, And have made about 7 Dollars per Day Since.... We arrived here in the mines the 1 Day of August we was from 75 days Coming through the Bluffs.... [We] have been Building a Dam for across the river for purpose of working the bed of the river but have not yet worked it. Digging and washing gold is A hard Business.... I Can only Say that I Shall Come [home] as Soon as I have Money enough to pay my Debts and to get there with. I want you to guide and Direct the Steps of our Children and Say to them that I never lay myself Down on my rather Miserable Bed without thinking of all of you.... For three Months... I lay on the ground without any Shelter over me but my two blankets And was pretty Comfortable too at that. Sleep was never sweeter....We have of late had two quite Rainy Days. This they say is an unheard of thing.... Now I have got a Small but Merry pretty Speciman of pure native gold that I am going to Send to you in this sheet that you may see the nature of the Weed in its natural State this may not look as nice to you as it does to me...."

Stephen writes of the disappointment of the company as to what they expected, finding too many men and not enough gold. His health takes another turn as well.

10 October:

"Dearest and only thought of Woman, I have now Set Down after supper and A hard Days work to inform you that I am yet Alive and well and in as prosperous circumstances as I could expect to be.... Provisions are going up higher But we have got our flour and meat and Butter the latter at one Dolllar per lb. Wouldnt you like to get that for yours.... I suppose you and the girls are knitting your fingers off this fall and Just Save A pare for me mine have got holes in them.... Diging gold is A lottery and Damnd Bewitching. Doo not Believe Anything Else let whom will tell it... for this is A hard way to get Rich and A worse one for Comfort or happiness. All the wealth of the Californias would not induce me to Come on the trip again. All though and for all of the Assertions that I have here made I am not Sorry that I have Come. I have now Seen for myself and know for myself and if I am fortunate enough to get holme Alive and well and once more Enjoy out little family I Shall Be as Rich as I Desire.... Kiss little Willie for me and the younger ones the old ones are to Big to kiss But I doo not forget them. If Austin is there tell him to Be a good Boy."

Stephen Addison Davenport died the following month, from an unknown cause, without ever returning home. The Kenosha Democrat of 19 June 1852 reported that on 11 May, his estate was settled, some of the Davenport farmland being sold off to repay his debts.



Stephen Addison Davenport was born 20 November, 1806, probably in Pennsylvania. He married Alma Holmes Doty (9 Oct 1814 - 10 Aug 1879) in August 1835 in Madison, New York, her birthplace. Shortly after the birth of their third daughter in 1840, the family moved to a farm near Brighton, in the recently organized Wisconsin Territory (the farm stayed in the family until 1952). Three additional children followed, the last in 1849. The following year, Stephen Davenport went west with the Salem Company (to which he was appointed an Assistant) to make his fortune in the California Gold Rush. He died in Placer County, California, November 1850, but is erroneously shown in the 1850 United States Federal Census as still residing in Brighton, Kenosha, Wisconsin in September.

1 Stephen Addison Davenport married Alma Holmes Doty.

2 Henrietta Davenport (Jan 1836 - May 1904) married Charles Swarts (12 Feb 1835 - 8 Jun 1909), son of John Swarts and Mary McDonald, in Wisconsin, in 1859.

3 Ella Swarts (1862 - Apr 1899) was born and lived her entire life in Minnesota. She married Charles A Burnett (Feb 1856 - 17 Jan 1930), son of Nathaniel S Burnett and Rachel Elizabeth Squire, in Scott County, Minnesota, September 1879.

4 Alfred Nathaniel Burnett (19 Aug 1883 - 31 Jul 1959) married Jennie Arleta Eaton (14 Mar 1891 - 15 Apr 1979), daughter of Dor Henry Eaton and Anna B A Miller, in Minnesota, in 1909.

5  Leroy Stanley Burnett (31 Aug 1910 - 11 May 1980) married Hazel Lucille Erickson (6 Sep 1910 - 6 May 2002), daughter of Erick Albert Erickson and Johanna Maria Svard, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 21 June 1933.

6. [Living] Burnett married Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010), daughter of Dana Earl Brown and Myrna Margaret Severin, in Long Beach, California, on 4 March 1961.

7  Your humble blogger.



"Born here of parents born here from parents"

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
                                                               --Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

It is not yet summer and I, now forty-nine years old, otherwise feel quite in accord with Mr Whitman.
His “Leaves of Grass” went through several iterations and perhaps this blog will too. At this point, my intention is to share stories about my ancestors, and my reactions to those stories. One of Whitman’s versions of his “Song of Myself” was divided into fifty-two parts, which neatly corresponds with the number of weeks in a year, a lovely echo of Time, and which appeals to my sense of structure, so I am planning to write fifty-two posts. Each post will focus on one family member, or at least use him or her as a jumping off point.
This being the last week of March, I am acutely aware of two things: that my mother died a year ago this month, and that my parents were married fifty years ago this month. (Those of you who know my birth date can see that this blog will not be entirely free from scandal….) Any kind of examination of my family begins here.


Body language?
My mother’s death was the catalyst for my re-interest in genealogy. After her death, while sorting through her things at my grandparents’ house, I discovered many photos, letters, etc., with which I was unfamiliar, which, perhaps naturally, got me thinking about family. When I got home, I pulled out an old binder I had with some early attempts at genealogy, then went online to learn more. From this was born a hobby (although the word seems hardly adequate, “obsession” being perhaps too strong), as well as this blog. Ironically, my mother took almost no interest in history or “the past” herself.
But she did like to tell stories. One story that she told at most family gatherings was about her banty rooster, Debbie, a family pet she had while growing up in Oakland, California, and which she apparently named herself, unaware that Debbie was a he-chicken. (Later, she owned a parakeet she named Jim Beam the Fifth, which she tried to “take for a walk” by tying a string to its leg, but that is another story….) While riding with the family to her grandparents’ house for Sunday dinner, she was quite sure she heard Debbie crowing, and looked back several times to see if he was following the car. Her parents convinced her she was imagining things, but she was quite sure she had heard Debbie.  The next day she was horrified to discover Debbie was missing. My grandfather assured her that Debbie must have gotten loose and run away, and that possibly my mother could have been right about thinking she had heard Debbie chasing the car. It was not until a few weeks later, discovering feathers in the trunk of the car, that she realized that Debbie had been the Sunday dinner. The story would always conclude with my mother jokingly saying that she would never forgive her parents for the deception. (Perhaps coincidentally, Stephen and I are going this afternoon to pick up chicks--meaning poultry--at the local farm supply, as we are going to attempt to keep chickens ourselves.)
Another of my mother’s childhood companions was Suzy, the doll. Happily, Suzy met with a better fate than Debbie, and still lives with me today, resting on a bureau.


Beverly and Suzy. Regrettably, there are no pictures of Debbie.

Beverly Alane Brown was born August 8, 1934, at 9:37 a.m. in the Swedish Hospital (six pounds, nine ounces, Dr C. O. Maland delivering) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a fact she disputed, always claiming she was a California native. The family did move to Oakland, California when she was just a year old. She was christened by a Reverend Ratz on October 21, 1936 (her parents’ third anniversary). The Browns lived in the San Francisco bay area, then moved to Long Beach, California, when my mother was in her teens. She attended Wilson High School and Long Beach City College (noted mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne was a sorority sister). Her first marriage was brief, and after moving back home, she worked for Shell Oil and later Proctor & Gamble, where she met my father, whom she married March 4, 1961. After moving to Fountain Valley, California in 1965, she became very active in the Friends of the Library and F V Women’s Club, both of which organizations she served as President, among other roles. After living briefly in Ohio, the family (my sister having been born in 1969) returned to Fountain Valley, where my mother resumed volunteering, winning recognition as Citizen of the Year in 1990, due in part for having led a recall of the mayor the previous year. My parents divorced in 1983. In 2003, my mother moved into the house her parents had built in Long Beach, at which time she made the newly-formed Fountain Valley Police Department RSVP program her priority, receiving numerous recognitions for her leadership and the number of hours she volunteered. After her death, on March 7, 2010, the Police Department created an annual award in her name to recognize other individuals who follow her example by making a positive contribution to the city she loved.