Saturday, March 29, 2014

52 Ancestors - #13 Martha Matilda (Mattie) Riches - She Loved a Nice Car

Martha Matilda’s father George Riches immigrated to the United States from England in 1853 when he 18 years old "to find his fortune in the Americas."  Her mother Jane Wilkens was born in New York State in April 1838; Jane’s parents had also emigrated from England. My mother said that her grandmother always said they were of Scots descent - not Scotch - that was the liquor.

Mattie, as she was known, was born in New York State on February 17, 1863. She had two older sisters, Elizabeth born in 1857 and Anna Jane born July 9, 1861.

Sometime after 1863, the Riches family moved from New York and was living in Waterville, Pepin, Wisconsin where sister Olive was born in 1867/68. Edward Thomas Riches was born July 28, 1872. There was also another brother George Bell born in 1875 who died just before he was three years old.

Mattie married H. (Henry) Pember Taylor on February 13, 1879 in Pierce County, Wisconsin when she was just 16 years old and he was 26. Pember was very well to do and owned a number of Gay 90’s type bars and gambling establishments. Their son Louis Pember Taylor was born in late December 1879. Their second child LaVina died when she was just two years old. Mattie wore fabulous gowns and furs – and danced (which she remembered in her later, religious years with dismay.) In 1880 they were living in Maiden Rock, Pierce, Wisconsin.

Mattie found out that Pember was sleeping with the dance hall girls, something she would not tolerate, so she took their son Louis and left filing for divorce. She received a settlement and opened up a dressmaking shop.

Mattie then met Jefferson Thomas Graves who was five years younger than she.

On December 12, 1895 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin she married Jefferson Thomas Graves, the eldest son of James Americ Graves and Effa Beaubier. JT was very kind and gentle (and someone she could boss!) Mattie made the money decisions and ran everything – she definitely ruled the roost. They had two children - Effa Belle Graves born December 25, 1896 and James Vernon Graves born May 27, 1899. 

Martha Matilda and Jefferson Thomas

JT and Mattie followed his father James out to Washington State and settled in the Jackson Prairie/Mary’s Corner area of Lewis County on a farm in 1903. James helped them clear the land and build their house.

The Riches family also moved to Washington State from Wisconsin. Edward settled in Everett, Washington while her sister Olive’s family and her sister Anna Jane’s and family settled in Elma, Washington.  

Mattie’s sister Olive died after the birth of her third child, daughter Ada Patton and then sadly, Ada Patton Temple died after the birth of her first child, daughter Erma (later spelled Irma) in 1910. JT and Mattie took Erma and raised her for her father Veness Lewis Temple.

Erma and Effa

 November 28, 1911
Louie and Fern

In 1912 Louis moved from Wisconsin to Saskatchewan to farm with his wife Fern and their three children.

JT- Mattie-Effa

Fall of 1927 after Effa moved back home after the death of her husband Alva
Rosalie, Mattie with Vina, Effa, Stella, and Arnold

JT never learned to drive, but Mattie did (which was unusual for the time) and she liked having a car. My Aunt Stella remembered her grandmother deciding it was time for a new car (sometime between 1922 and 1928) so she went to the dealership, found a brand new Durant Star she liked and pulled out cash from her money belt on her waist (she didn’t trust banks) and paid for it in full. She was the only woman to have a car in the area and the only one to drive.  

Stella also related a story to me about Mattie getting stuck on the railroad tracks with a train coming and all of the kids were screaming (Stella, Arnold, Rosalie, and Vina.) JT just quietly said, “Now listen kids, quiet down, your grandma always knows what she is doing.” Grandma Mattie was praying loudly, the car started and the train barely missed them.  Her daughter Effa was very upset and declared that, “They were never riding with Grandma again!”
In spite of being somewhat indifferent to her own daughter Effa (Mattie definitely favored Vern and Irma), Mattie gave her two oldest granddaughters all the love that was missing from their mother. Along with their brother Arnold, they adored their grandmother even though she could be strict and stern. They all had very fond memories of her.
You have to expect the unexpected when doing genealogy research and that is what I found. I did a search in and found something in the October 10, 1930 issue of the local paper that I don’t think that my aunt Stella who was almost 14 at the time, my uncle Arnold who was almost 12 or my mother Rosalie who was 8 knew about. It appears that my great grandfather had a filed for separation from Mattie. According to the separation filing in the article I found, that “the defendant (Mattie) has lost all love for him, has treated him in a cruel and abusive manner, and that when angry with him Mattie struck him with an ‘ax, crowbar, clubs, dishes and other instruments.’” (So now I know why when my grandmother Effa would get mad – she would start throwing the dishes – she learned it from her mother.)
JT also stated that “a few year ago defendant joined a religious organization with which she had since been prominent, and has pronounced him ‘unfit and unclean and filled with evil spirits’, and refused to cook his meals or take care of his clothing; that he is 62 years of age and is compelled to work away from his farm to get necessities for himself.  The defendant had for the past 10 or 15 years banked the receipts from milk and eggs, which he thinks is now about $4000, but she will not tell him how much, nor give him access to any of it.” I imagine that things were quite chilly in the Graves household for some time after that but they did remain married.

It took me awhile to determine that there were two Mattie Graves in Lewis County born at about the same time – my Mattie M. Graves who lived at Jackson Prairie/South Chehalis area and Mattie N. Graves who lived in Centralia and had been born in Oregon.  Some things just didn’t add up so I just keep looking as many places as I could. It didn’t help that newspapers are notoriously inaccurate at times with names and sometimes it was Mattie K., Mattie V., or Mattie X.

I believe that my Mattie may have also been involved in the W.C.T.U. (the Women’s Christian Temperance Union) from the comment made in JT’s separation filing and because she had seen the evils of drink – up close - during her first marriage and she worried about her baby brother’s soul because he drank wine. She was very, very religious in her later years.

July 27, 1934 at Mt Rainier
Duke La Mere (Irma's 2nd husband), Mattie, Vina, JT

A holiday favorite was an old family recipe for an English Pudding. Unfortunately, Mattie and Effa did not share the recipe and it was lost when they died. There was another family recipe that was shared – The Family Fudge recipe. It is different than any other fudge that I have every tried and it remains a favorite treat when the cousins get together. All the daughters made it for their families when we were growing up. (And my cousin is making it for me Sunday afternoon when I go to her house for dinner and genealogy!)

3 cups sugar
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
½ cube of butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups milk
½ cup corn syrup

Cook until a soft ball – at a nice full boil (that can be stirred down).

Remove from heat.  Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cube butter
1 tablespoon of peanut butter (if desired)

Let cool for 10 minutes, then beat it (with mixer) until it starts turning dull.  Then beat by hand a few minutes as it starts to set. Pour onto a large buttered plate.

 Mattie and JT approximately 1936

The Homestead at Jackson Prairie
May 23, 1937

 JT and Mattie Graves 1939

Mattie died on Thursday, March 21, 1940 at 9:15 am of cardiac failure at age 77. She had been in horrible, horrible pain from the severe arthritis that she suffered from for a number of years. She was buried in Chehalis, Washington at the Claquato Cemetery on Saturday, March 23rd. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors - #12 Pearl Burris - A Gold Miner with Diamonds in her Eye Teeth

Pearl Burris was born on March 5, 1888 in Tuscumbia, Missouri. Her parents were Burrel Williamson Burris and Rosetta George.  Her sister Opal (born September 9, 1891 and died July 7, 1892) and her brother W. Edgar (born March 9, 1889 and died March 1890) did not survive past one year of age. Her younger sister Ruby (my paternal grandmother) was born April 24, 1902 in Pueblo, Colorado and was 14 years younger.
 Pearl with Friend

Pearl married Charles W. Pardew on December 24, 1906 in Howell, Missouri when she was 18 years old and he claimed that he was 21 even though he had been born in 1888 also. They were divorced some time prior to October of 1912. He remarried on October 21, 1912 while he was living in Viola, Arkansas. Pearl and her parents had lived for three years in Viola, Arkansas after her sister Ruby’s birth in Colorado in 1902 so that must be where Pearl met Charles.

On February 28, 1913, Pearl was staying at the Metropolitan Hotel in Springfield, Missouri. On August 5, 1913 she was sent a postcard c/o Colonial Hotel in Springfield which was then forwarded to Richland, Missouri. 

In Kansas City, Missouri on March 21, 1914 Pearl B. Burris Pardew married Neal Christ Toft. She was 26 years old and he was 20.

On February 9, 1916, Pearl Toft was living at 762 Euclid, St Louis, Missouri.

Pearl’s mother Rosetta was very ill and in the hospital in Chicago where she died on August 27, 1920. Pearl and Neal Toft were living in Chicago, Illinois when they applied for US Passports on December 20, 1920 to leave the United States through the Port of New Orleans on January 1, 1921. On the application she obviously felt that the US Government did not need to know how old she was because she claimed that she was born in 1892. This was not true according to my grandmother and father and not possible according to the 1900, 1910 Censuses.  

At the time she applied for the passport she was 5’ 4” tall, had a high forehead, straight nose, medium mouth, round chin, oval face, fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. 

Pearl's passport photo

She is shown as returning by herself on the SS Governor Cobb to Key West, Florida from Havana, Cuba on March 18, 1921 – and she is listed as single.

In 1930 Pearl is living in Jackson, California and Neal is living in Missouri. She was still living in Jackson when her father died February 3, 1934.

In 1936 Ruby, her husband and three younger children left Missouri and moved to California so Pearl could help them out. My father was out with his dog hunting raccoons on Christmas Eve; they left while he was out and he came home to an empty house. His Mitchell grandparents took him in. Ruby and her family then moved to Seattle and Pearl helped them get a place and purchased the necessities for the family.

In the late 1930’s Pearl had a gold mine in Alaska that she worked. She would often answer her sister Ruby’s tearful pleas for money in 1938 with checks of $50 to $100.

The caption on the back of this picture was written by Pearl: At entrance of mine. Note miners cap and lamp I have on. Front of cap.

On the fifth of November 1945, Pearl married Walter Turner in Ketchikan, Alaska Territory. Pearl was 57 years old and Walter was 49 years old.

According to my grandmother Ruby, Pearl also did not feel that the US Government had any business knowing how much they made on that claim and she left the Alaska Territory with her money in a money belt (a theme on both sides of my family) prior to Alaska becoming a state in 1958. Pearl also left the Alaska Territory with a lot of nice jewelry – diamond watches and rings, and a ring with a gold nugget on it. Pearl must not have trusted banks either because she kept part of her money in bags of gold dust and diamonds. Pearl also had diamonds put into her eye teeth. 

Pearl owned several homes in California including one in Indio. Pearl and her husband had purchased property in Mexico and had moved a lot of their money there in preparation of permanently moving to Mexico. 

Pearl and Walter were killed in a horrible car/semi truck accident in Imperial, California on June 2, 1960. Pearl was 72 years old and Walter was 64. They were most probably heading to or returning from their home in Mexico. The medical examiner determined that Pearl had outlived her husband by a few minutes. There was a will leaving her sister Ruby $1, but it was unsigned and since Pearl had never had children Ruby inherited everything. Ruby spent a lot of time tearing out walls and searching for hidden money. There was no record of what they had in Mexico and Mexican officials could “find” nothing.

Ruby would come to visit us in Portland and let my sister and I wear the diamond rings and watches when we were 8 and 9 years old. And yes, Ruby managed to spend every dime in a few years – as her sister Pearl had feared.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Certificate in Genealogy from the University of Washington

They are now accepting applications, and I have decided to sign up for the 2014-2015 Certificate in Genealogy program at the University of Washington. It starts September 25, 2014 and go until June 4, 2015. There is never going to be a really good time to devote every Thursday evening to something for nine months so I might as well do it now before I retire since I work about a half hour away from the University of Washington and I won't be able to afford to stay in this area once I retire.

From the website:

Learn to do professional-level genealogical research into your family history. Work with an array of resources  including cemetery, military and naturalization records  to help you uncover fascinating stories about your ancestors. Conduct research that illuminates the political, economic and social context of your family’s past. Interpret historical documents and photographs. Develop interviewing techniques. Gain problem-solving strategies to overcome investigative roadblocks. Produce a substantial narrative of your family’s unique story.
  • Development and completion of a personal research project
  • One-on-one consultation with instructors and written feedback on projects
  • Access to databases and interlibrary loan at UW libraries
The application process required a credit card (of course!) a 250 word letter of application your experience doing genealogical research and the areas of family history you intend to explore in your final project and a resume describing education and applicable experience. I was very disappointed when it did not ask for my student ID# - which I have remembered for 43 years - 7135351.

The total cost of the program for nine months and 9 Continuing Education Credits is $2,337 which is a $50 application fee, tuition of $719 per quarter and a $44 per quarter registration fee. This is a bit more than my first year at $150 for 15 credits per quarter and my second through fourth years at $188 per quarter.

My son thinks it is a waste of money - that I could just learn on my own and my daughter laughed when I told her I was going to sign up. Not sure of what to think of that. I am certainly hoping that I am going to enjoy it. I do know that back in the day - a very nice, retired gentleman was taking a class every quarter and really enjoyed it. I would meet with him to help him with the math in Astronomy class.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors - #11 Lionell Burris Mitchell - The Inventor of the Stooley

(Thanks to my brother Terry for the Stooley story which took place between 1959 and 1961 – I was only 6 or 7 at the time.)

“When we lived in John Day, Oregon, Dad’s pride and joy was his 1957 Mercury Montclair with the Turnpike Cruiser engine. Unfortunately, it was also our eldest brother Marc’s pride and joy when it came to setting speed records (he was in high school at that time and we were surrounded by curvy mountain roads and long flat desert roads.) One morning after Marc had been out with the Merc the night before, Dad came into the house and demanded to know why Marc had been driving at a certain (excessive) speed. In spite of Marc’s denials, Dad insisted that he knew exactly how fast the car had been driven.  This went on for some time, and Marc asked Dad how he knew how fast he had been driving. Dad’s answer was that he had installed a ‘Stooley’ on the car.  He explained to Marc that a Stooley (short for stool pigeon) was a device trucking companies used to record all kinds of data on how their trucks were driven.  I don’t know if there was such a thing nearly 50 years ago (all cars basically have them now), but Marc was convinced.  Off he went to the local service station. He put the Merc up on the hoist. He looked everywhere he could under that car, under the hood, anywhere he could think to look. No luck. He could not find the fabled Stooley. Finally, in desperation Marc asked Dad to show him where this magical device was.  Dad explained that it was all very simple: He took the car out on the road, drove it at various speeds, and after each run at a particular speed, he would look at how long the bug splatters on the windshield were.  Armed with this information, Dad could always tell exactly how fast Marc had been driving.  I don’t recall whether Marc started washing the car more often or not.

Dad was really quite an inventor (as was his father), and the Stooley is a prime example of how his mind could work. The Stooley was a marvel of invention: no moving parts, very reliable and accurate, and completely undetectable.”

Even more remarkable was that everything that Dad knew was self-taught. At this time he was an electronics technician for the US Forest Service stationed at the Malheur National Forest. In 1961 – he was transferred to and put in charge of the Mt Hood National Forest communications in Portland, Oregon – and of all fire communications for Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. He continued to invent a number of things and managed to save the US Forest Service hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, the move to Portland was not good one for the 1957 Mercury Montclair. Our brother Marc stayed in John Day for a couple of years and then joined us in Portland to attend college. I-84 proved to be flat, fast, and too tempting for Marc going up the Columbia River Gorge one night and he managed to put a rod through the engine and then continued to drive it until it was dead. This was the summer of 1964 and we were leaving the next day for a family vacation to the coast. I was totally humiliated and wanted to duck my head as we drove into the resort in a ghastly ancient 1940 something loaner car with the trunk tied down with rope. The mechanic was not able revive the Merc.

Friday, March 14, 2014

DNA Results for Three Siblings

All I can say is that I wish I knew what our parents results would be!

Here is a post by The Legal Genealogist describing the results for four of her grandparents twelve children who were full blood siblings. Her first chart shows the amount of DNA each sibling has in common with the other and then later in the article she talks about how many DNA matches each sibling had with possible cousins and how many they had in common. With a total of 1,681 matches for all four by the end of February, there were only 159 that all four had in common.

Here is a great example from the Ancestry Blog on DNA inheritance that uses children's letter blocks.
When you see the results below REMEMBER my previous post that the most redheads are found in Scotland! (Well, 13% for Scotland with 10% in Ireland.)

What is it with the switched Europe West and Great Britain for Terry and then Lisa and me?

I haven't had time to check the matches we have in common on but I did recognize about a dozen that we have in common with a quick look.

  • Europe West 62%
  • Europe West 6%
  • Europe West 8%
  • Great Britain 18%
  • Great Britain 82%
  • Great Britain 54%
  • Iberian Peninsula 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula 9%
  • Ireland 6%
  • Ireland 1%
  • Ireland 11%
  • Scandinavia 5%
  • Scandinavia < 1%
  • Scandinavia 15%
  • Italy/Greece < 1%
  • Italy/Greece 1%
  • Italy/Greece 2%

  • Europe East 1%
  • Europe East <1%

Area Definitions: 

Europe West
Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
Also found in: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic

Europe East 
Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia Also found in: Germany, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Estonia, Bulgaria

Great Britain
Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
Also located in: Ireland, France, Germany

Iberian Peninsula
Primarily found in: Spain, Portugal
May also be found in: France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy

Primarily located in: Sweden, Norway, Denmark
Also found in: Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, Finland

Italy, Greece
Primarily located in: Italy, Greece
Also found in: France, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Romania, Turkey, Slovenia, Algeria, Tunisia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo

Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland
Also found in: France, England