"stucco'd with quadrapeds"

In Delmar R Lowell's indispensable (if you are a Lowell) The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899, he bemoans the fact that so few people are aware of their own lineage, yet--but I will let him tell it:

I have found a few who could not tell with certainty their parent's names [!]--quite a number who could not give birth, dates, or marriage dates of their parents. A larger number who stumble at their grandparents, and a multitude totally ignorant of ancestry further back. [You know who you are.]

This seems pitiful when contrasted with the expense, study and labor used by some to secure and record the ancestry of their horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, cats, etc. I have heard these persons rattle off the ancestry of these animals, when, if life depended upon it, they could not name their grandparents.

Such an exhibition is indeed pitiable.

"Indeed" indeed. And perhaps a little of the Lowell hyperbole has found its way to me. It certainly seems that personality traits, if you will, rather than just looks and other genetic data, do go from generation to generation. Researching my family, there are certain motifs that recur which I find in myself, although I did not inherit--to pick just two--religious mania or a desire to go prospecting....

But I do have a love of dogs, so perhaps it seems likely to have come from some one or more of my ancestors. But whom? And how could I find out? For although Mr Lowell, above, appears to be discussing purebreds, whose heritage indeed can be well-documented (although the American Kennel Club itself dates from only 1884, a mere few generations of human-time, although Dog knows how long in "dog years..."), what about our beloved mutts?

To double back a bit, when I approach each of these bloggeries (a portmanteau of blog and vagary I just coined), I begin with a person or theme in mind. This time: our canine companions. Check!

Next, I riffle through Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1856 edition) for a suitable quotation to use as the title of the post. Now Walt loved his animals nearly as much as his fellow man: "The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie dog...."  From mastodon to pismire, they're all here. This is a man who does "not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else." Yet in all of his work's thousand-plus lines, there is not one mention of a dog. Well, strictly speaking, there is one, in the tenth poem: "Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my side." One of my self-created rules, however, is that I only use one excerpt from each poem, and I already have used a line from number ten on a previous post. Hence the near dada-esque header for this post. And how fortunate I am not to be descend'd from Whitman, from whom I might have acquir'd the habit of the dropp'd final "e."

Anyway. It seems Whitman had a dog, although biographers cannot say for certain. Biographers do tell us that a housekeeper, Mary Oakes Davis, moved in with the bed-ridden Whitman in 1885, bringing with her a dog, cat, two turtledoves, and other animals, but the dog's name is unrecorded. Which leads me back to my point: that however much they are considered part of the family, pets are not well-documented. (Although just today there was an article in the paper about a well-known casket company that is branching out to make pet urns for your four-legged loved ones, and one can find several websites devoted to the dog cemeteries of Paris). I have yet to see a pet on a family tree; they do not appear in any of the usual genealogical documents (except perhaps in the possibly apocryphal wills of elderly ladies who leave their millions to their cats, but no such feline beneficiary exists in my family, at least). 

The closest sources I have found are the U S Federal Non-Population Schedules for Agriculture, but even those include only livestock rather than pets.

An excerpt from the 1850 Schedule 4 Census.

On line 5 of the example above is a maternal fourth great-grandfather: John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857). Although somewhat modest in acreage compared to his neighbors, he seemed to be doing fairly well if we look at the cash value. Moving across the columns, we can see that he had four horses, five heads of cattle, thirteen sheep, and three swine, before moving onto the agricultural items. Yet there is no evidence of a Fido or Tabby....

We can learn a great deal about Cherry and his (human) family. He was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, the sixth of eleven children. The Cherry family, including young John Wallace, moved to Oneida County, New York, in the early 1800s. We know he married in 1808, and fought in the War of 1812.

Around 1840, Cherry and his wife, Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872) along with their eleven children, moved to Marysville, Union, Ohio.  We can surmise that he was a patriotic man: not only the son of a Revolutionary War captain himself, among his sons are the jingoistically named George Washington Cherry (10 Sep 1809 - 17 Jan 1890) and John Adams Cherry (23 Apr 1816 - 28 Aug 1817). The family zeal for liberty continued: his son Samuel Alonzo Cherry (16 Dec 1811 - 27 Apr 1897) was involved with the Underground Railroad, his home being a "station" in Marysville.

In fact, we know a great deal about all of John Wallace Cherry's children: Charles Henry Cherry (7 Jun 1837 - 16 Mar 1908) died after a three-day bout with pneumonia; the aforementioned George was a postmaster (one of those recurring family motifs I mentioned); William Hopkins Cherry (8 Oct 1823 - 23 Jun 1864) was killed in the Civil War.... Yet not a thing about the no-doubt beloved Cherry pets.

But wait!  There are those thirteen sheep.... And where there are sheep, it seems only natural there must be a dog to herd and protect them. I want to call him Towser. I can see him now, racing around those forty-three acres, playing fetch with the Cherry young'uns, guarding the thirteen sheep....

Yet rather than share a fictional biography of the imagined (or --as I'm going to believe--only undocumented) Towser, I will share the history of a genuine canine family member, our Maisie.

We adopted Maisie for my  40th  birthday, after an outing to the recently-opened local animal shelter "just to look" (in the same way we were going "just to look" at flat screen televisions, airfares to Walt Disney World, and houses in Ohio, to give just three examples). The landlord of the duplex we were living in did not want us to have pets, but he was nice--and generally absent-- and we thought a small dog wouldn't be a problem. And there she was, an adorable little "terrier mix," as the shelter's tag described her. So cute! It would be like having Toto.

Baby Maisie.

Of course, as we later learned from our vet, shelters have good intentions, but not the best eye for distinguishing between families (not unlike some genealogists). As she said: "The big ones are always 'lab mix,' the little ones 'dachshund mix' and the furry ones 'terrier mix.''' Our "terrier mix" puppy ended up being mostly bearded collie and weighs in at over sixty pounds. Toto she ain't.

Like others of her (almost) breed, she has the bearded collie's distinctive run, and instinctive desire to herd other animals, as we learned the hard way on an early trip to the dog park.

Go, dog, go.

Maisie was born 10 Jun 2001, and as I said, she was meant as my present for my birthday that September. After choosing her, we had to pick her up a few days later, so that she could be checked by the vet and spayed, a condition of the shelter with which we were happy to comply. As it turned out, her pick-up day was September 11th. The September 11th. Like everyone else that horrible day, we were so caught up in the news that we completely forgot about our new charge. Around eleven a.m., the vet's office called to remind us, asking if we were coming in, so that the employees could go home to be with their families. We zoomed out and brought dear Maisie home. It was cheering to have something so loving and alive to hold while we watched the developments of that terrible day. My patriotism being nearly as evolved as my ancestor's, we still try to find joy on the anniversary of the attacks by celebrating "Maisie Day," and our Miss Mu, as we have somehow come to call her.

The many moods of Maisie-mu.

Beyond being the catalyst for her own holiday, Maisie also was the instigator of a new business venture. Looking at various commercial dog treats, we found they were either costly, unhealthy, or most often both. My other half being a crafty sort, he began trying out different recipes for dog treats, finally landing on a variety of wholesome flavors our dogs (Rosie and Coco being added to the menagerie in the meantime) loved. We shared the treats with friends' and neighbors' companions, who kept suggesting (the F and N, not the companions, although I'm sure they would have if they could) that we start a dog treat business. Which we did (plug, plug): MaiRo & Co Dog Treat Bakery, link to which conveniently located to your right.

From left: Rosie, Maisie, and Coco.

As our business grew (we've been featured in Pup Culture magazine, and have four-legged clients from California to New York; as I write this, in fact, I am sitting at the MaiRo & Co Dog Treat Bakery booth at a benefit for the Greenhills Fire Department), we began to grow more of our own ingredients. Not usually found among the trendy (cf. genealogy), I have somehow joined the ranks of urban farmer. In fact, a couple years back we even began to raise chickens to provide fresh eggs. Which reminds me that I did not see chickens on that Agricultural Census either....

All this talk of farming and patriotism at last brings me back to my ostensible human subject, John Wallace Cherry, and inherited family traits. Thanks, "Grandpa John," for the love of dogs!

John Wallace Cherry's marker.
 It is adjacent to a larger memorial to several members of the family.
Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware Ohio. Photo: Robert Burnett

And Rest in Peace, Towser, wherever you are.

[Special thanks to Hidden Genealogy Nuggets' blog: Genealogy by the States for the prompt!]

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

2. 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 February 1835, in Huron, Erie, Ohio.

3. 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 19 February 1871, in Black River Falls, Jackson, Wisconsin.

4. 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 February 1903, probably in South Dakota.

5. 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 October 1933, in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota.

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

7. Your humble blogger.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice article, wonderful tale about Maisie Day.
    Keep up the good work.
    Love Ya