Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Did She Get In My Posts about the Stephens' Pictures?

Sarah Palin
   Nope! This is not a political blog. I already have my candidate for President, but I do have a remark or two about the Tea Party in here somewhere.  No,  Sarah Palin is here to show you how small a world we live in. Someday you may just be around the corner from someone famous, like the Stephens family was, or you may even be related to someone famous right now. Sarah Palin was on the city council of Wassila, Alaska while the Stephens were still alive, 13.2 miles from their home.

   If you are reading this, and a member of the Stark/Shoemaker family you already are related to someone famous. You are related to Daniel Boone, both the Presidents Bush, President Abraham Lincoln, John Wayne, President Theodore Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, John Hancock (first and largest signature on the Declaration of Independence, not the goofy super hero) Lara Bush, Emily Dickenson, Lucille Ball, Emma Hale Smith, (Joseph Smith's wife), somewhere around 17 Civil War Veterans from both sides, also veterans from both sides of the Revolutionary war ..., and that list goes on and on and on.

My Mother, Eunice Moody Stark - My Father, Thomas E Stark
   Speaking about the Revolutionary war...... My father always drank coffee and my mother always drank tea. In my childhood, I thought that women drank tea, and men drank coffee, but after I got deeper into studying the family I discovered that almost all my father's family fought on the side of the American Revolutionary forces and my mother's family were Loyalists. Most of the Loyalists moved to Canada in the middle of the War. The Americans threw all the tea into the bay in the Boston Tea Party and refused to drink it any more (switching to coffee),  placing as much pressure on the British as they could, but the Loyalists refused, moved to Canada, and passed their tea drinking habits down to their children, including my mother. (Grandma Moody, her mother, was from Canada, and always drank tea).  My Mom still had the tea habit 150 years later, and my Dad had the coffee habit. They probably didn't even imagine they were carrying on traditions from the beginning of the United States Colonists' Rebellion.

Statue of a Miner in Daybrook
   The United States has people of all kinds of nationalities and all kinds of occupations. It looks like the Stephens were miners. In fact they came from Drybrook, Gloucestershire, England, which was a coal mining area.

   I told you that there were two sets of pictures in the Stephens' box about mines.  I was looking up those mines, and trying to find them on the map and guess what? Wassila, the town Sarah Palin lives in, is only 13.2 miles from Palmer, Alaska where Edna and Jim Stephens lived, and also close to the mines.

Jim Stephens (I know his handwriting now) wrote this on the back: "Very Good House at Wasilla Lake."

   In fact there is a picture of a cabin at the edge of Lake Wasilla in this box. I think the Stephens once lived in this house.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just Who Is The Dapper Guy?

Rufus S Moody - Could this be my Dapper Fellow?
Trying to Identify the guy on Right
   To completely explain how I discovered just who this Dapper Guy on the right (of the left picture) was, might not be possible, but it is fun for me at least. Genealogy and Family History sometimes seem boring to some people, but if you think of it as a mystery, a detective story, it  becomes quite exciting, so I will now relate what I know so far.

1. I didn't know who he was at all. I didn't recognize him.

2. I am working on a box of pictures from Edna Moody Stephens and her Husband Jim Stephens.

3.  I know Edna Moody Stephens' family but not Jim's. I had heard that she was the only one who ever communicated with my great grand father, the father-in-law of my grand mother Moody, Rufus S Moody, so I was hoping that there may be a note, or a picture of this Great Grandpa Moody in this box.

4. There appeared to be nothing from the Moody side, not even the note that I heard that Edna had received from Great Grandpa Moody.  My mother said many years ago that Edna received a letter from Rufus stating that he "Played in the Salvation Army Band in San Francisco." The picture above and the younger one of him at the left, had come to the family through Edna, my mother had said. Edna once wrote to Rufus, and he sent her these pictures. I hoped that in this box there would be something more.  Well, we can see that there is no connection between Rufus Moody and the Dapper Guy, though they both look rather dapper. Rufus was born way too early, probably the 1880's, and my Dapper Guy was in the service, probably in World War II, so the only solution is that my Dapper Guy is from Jim Stephens' family..... not Edna's.

"Bill Hagan and I"
5. Now we already knew that, because we have a sample of his handwriting from the back of this picture on the right where he identifies himself as "me." Now I know that whenever I see that handwriting it is the Dapper Guy.

6. And we know the Dapper Guy's father, because in the same handwriting, he identifies "Dad" in three or four pictures.  I just kept looking through the pictures, over and over again and looking at the census records and began to see parts of the family, but still I had not yet put together the entire family.

"Phil, Dad, Marge and Doris"
7. I knew some part of the Dapper Guy's family. The 1901 Wales, England census says Roland Stephens is the father, Caroline, the mother, James L or A Stephens is the oldest brother,  Emma is a daughter, a year younger, Reginald, two years younger.... then Ronald (who the Dapper guy thought were twins), then Frank and and Doris who actually were twins. Then another picture had Phil and Marge with Doris and "Dad."  So I think I have the whole family, but still have to place the Dapper Guy into the family. Then, the Dapper Guy's father must be James A Stephens.

Edna & Jim Stephens
"Ben Hamsrik and myself"
8. So now I can ask the question, "Where does Edna and Jim Stephens fit into this family?" I began comparing pictures that are years apart of  Edna and Jim, and comparing the handwriting on them and other pictures. On the right is a picture of Jim and Edna the way I remember them, but no writing on the back. And no date, though I think it is in the 1970's at a family reunion.

"Edna & I at Little Susitna last Spring"
9. Another question that keeps coming back is about the mine. Who are the people at the mine.

   There are at least two different mines, and the pictures of the mines have the same handwriting........ I haven't told you about the mine yet?,,,,,,, but the  picture on the left is at the mine ........ The handwriting on the back is the same as the Dapper Guy.... This guy doesn't look dapper anymore. He's a mechanic, but the back says, "Ben Hamsrik and myself." I think "myself" is the one on the right because I used my magnifying glass and held it up close to my eye and could see the Dapper Guy's smile behind his hand. Since the handwriting is the same...., that's him!

   Finally I flipped over another picture and there it was. I had now memorized the Dapper Guy's handwriting so I knew it, and the back of the picture said, " Edna & I at Little Susitma last spring." The Dapper Guy is Jim Stephens himself!!! I had seen this picture before and had read the caption on the back, but didn't know the handwriting. I kept tossing it aside. So.......... when you are telling about your pictures, whether on line or in a scrapbook, or just a note on the back.... Don't say, "That's Me."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Edna Moody

Edna Moody Stephens and James Roland Stephens

Edna Moody is my aunt. She is my mother's oldest sister. I have only met her a few times and cannot even say that I knew her. She died in 1999, and a few years later I received a box with her photographs and a few other things.

For the past few days, maybe a week I've been looking at those pictures, trying to figure out who her family members were, and organizing them in our Stark/Shoemaker family tree which you can get to by going to ancestry.com :https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/6396505/person/-1296522044/facts.

I know all of Edna's brothers and sisters better than I know her. She moved to Alaska soon after she and James Roland Stephens were married, so my mother never took me to her house. Not once.

As a child, I do not have any memories of her. She came to my parents 50th Anniversary in the Redwoods in 1985, and she came to many Moody family reunions, but there were always so many people there that I never talked to her more than to say hello. I have found some pictures of her being at a Moody family reunion at Sequoia Park when I was there, but I was probably running through the forest with my cousins.

I Identify My Dapper Friend's Handwriting

From This Picture I Got His Handwriting
   Trying to explain how you figured out a complex identification, is like trying to explain an advanced algebra problem to fifth graders. You know it can be done, but "How can I break it down into the parts clear enough, and 'Will they sit still and listen while I explain it?" Is the problem I'm having trying to explain how I figured out who this dapper guy is. There was a long process.......   and then suddenly, the answer appeared, and I knew I was right.

That Handwriting Matched This Handwriting From The Next Picture
        It's easy to see now, and I can hardly believe I had a problem from the beginning. It's kind of like Columbus trying to claim twenty years after his first discovery of America, that he still should receive his ten percent of all the revenue earned from the Americas. No one cared at that point. Columbus was out of favor, so they didn't care about all of his problems trying to cross the "Ocean Sea," and it's even worse for Columbus today. The Indians blame all of their problems on him as if he caused them himself. No one really cares about Columbus except a few of us who still think that God guided him, and it may have been another hundred and fifty years before the Portuguese crawled around the coast of Africa, India, and Melanesia. Even then they would only have been to China, and still would not have discovered America.
1. The writing above is on the back of this.

   The Stephens family pictures are like that to me. I have this deep down feeling that they are important because they represent a family of real people, and if I don't take the time to figure out who they are and who the family is, the information will be lost and may never be  recovered.

   Because I have taught eighth graders since 1967, I have a lot of experience  identifying handwriting. Eighth graders tend to try to cheat, so I often compare handwriting samples. I found this picture on the right  with the same handwriting as the one with the two brothers, so I knew that the writer was the same..... But a new problem surfaced. The writer didn't get the subject right. This guy is not one of the two brothers who died before 1918!

Not Twins - two years apart
   Look for yourself. My writer misidentified the picture above. He must have written the names on them a long time after he got the pictures. Neither of these soldiers is the same man as the one on the above right, so who is this one?

  While I was studying these pictures I was also placing the people in a family tree and searching for a census with all of them in the same family.  I found the 1901 Wales census that had all the names that matched who I've discovered so far, except for one name. This census said James "L" Stephens instead of James "A" Stephens, so I threw it out two or three times. I looked at the actual census as the census taker wrote it, and it was an "L." Finally, I have decided that the census taker just made a mistake, and didn't listen good enough. Or my writer could have mistakenly written an "A" for the "L" on the picture. I'm sure this census is the right Stephens family! 

2. Frank Stephens, Doris's Twin, same as picture above.
   This is the census that also shows that the twins were  Frank and Doris, who I earlier said were both girls. So one of the soldiers was a twin, and the other was Doris. And that's why my Dapper Friend confused them also. He knew he had a soldier who was a twin, so he assumed that they were both males. (I just rechecked and sure enough, Frank is listed as "son," and Doris is listed as "daughter.")

   Back to the pictures. I studied some more of them and this next one says, "Frank Stephens" on the back with the same handwriting as my mysterious dapper gentleman, who I now know has done all this writing on these pictures. And Frank Stephens matches with the 1901 Wales census. He is the one in the picture above on the right who my writer thought was one of the twin "brothers." That means that Frank is also the uncle of the writer in the WWII picture at the top of this page. I compared these two pictures very carefully. I numbered them 1 and 2, so we can see that they are the same man, not one of the other soldiers.

  It is kind of ironic that I'm trying to tell you all about these English Soldiers on the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate breaking away from England. All of these brothers are English, but I can't find any of them on the 1911 census in Wales.

   What I did find was  a ship record of a James A Stephens in 1910,  and right above his name was Roland Stephens, his father, age 41, just like the census. The record even named "James A" as "son," age 19. ..... So that's why I can't find them on the 1911 census in Wales. They immigrated to the United States, and they came on the ship Mauretania.. At least James A Stephens and his son Roland came to America in 1910, maybe they went back, because the older boys went into the English service.

   I'm getting closer and closer to identifying my mysterious Dapper Friend who was a WWII soldier. At least I know his uncles were soldiers in England.

Phil, Dad, Marge, Doris who is Twin of Frank: All Siblings
   At first I thought this next picture would pull it together for me, but it added new mysteries. On the back in my Dapper Friend's handwriting is the following: "Phil, Marge, Dad, Doris." So there is Doris, who we see on the 1901 census, but now we have a "Marge" and a "Phil" who we haven't seen before, not on a census, nor in a picture, yet.

   It looks like, Doris and "Dad" are brother and sister, so I began to theorize that Phil and Marge may also be two missing siblings..... Dad is the Dapper guy's father, James A Stephens.

A Mystery Revealed

   I have been working intensely on this box of Stephens pictures for almost a month now and had been looking at some of them for more than ten years but couldn't figure out who these two guys were. I still don't know who the one on the left is, but I have some theories. I have identified the dapper gentleman on the right who looks like he might be a movie star in a 1940's film. In fact, I thought that might be what this picture was for a while, a fan photo. It is a large photo, and very sharp, a studio photograph, I guess.

   I'll try to show you how I figured it out, since he didn't help me at all with his writing on the back of his pictures.  That's why I'm writing this, by the way, so you might realize you need to identify your pictures better. (Me too, my sister keeps telling me to write the names of the children, so she can review the genealogy and see who they are.) Someone who reads this might still have some paper pictures in a drawer somewhere. Don't think that anyone will know who the people are if you don't write their names clearly on the back.

   And internet pictures....  they're even worse. I've gotten email pictures that say, "This is me and so and so, at the beach." Well... that's nice,  but...... I've got 36 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren in all stages of development, and a picture today of you might look like your aunt, or cousin, or mother from ten years ago.  For example, look at these two pictures on the right. One is my daughter Suzy and the other is her daughter Whitney, but they look an awful lot alike. Sometimes I can tell from the coloring of the picture which is older, but these pictures are both pretty good, in fact I might guess that the picture on the left is older, but it isn't. Suzy is the mother, and she is on the right.

   Sometimes I can't find my keys from ten minutes ago, let alone identify a picture I copied from your email or Facebook page two weeks ago. There are so many pictures on my computers, that I sometimes can't find them immediately after I scan them. Sometimes my scanner is set to save a picture on a different disk than I thought it was, and it gets lost immediately, so I have to use the search system to find it, and even Macintosh computers take time, especially when you have ten hard drives...... I'll get back to this, but it's getting too late now, and I've got some stuff I need to do tomorrow.....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to the Box

   In this box that came from James and Edna Stephens there are some old, old pictures. I have looked at these a few times in the last ten years, but this time I decided I would try to figure out who the people were.

    I had tossed this picture of these two dapper gentlemen aside time after time, not being able to recognize either of them, and there is absolutely nothing written on the back.

  Then I discovered this picture below and the guy on the left looks like the dapper guy on the right in the first photo, but this apparent military photo below has writing on the back, so guess what it says: "Bill Hagan and I. ......(??word??) 44-46" That didn't help much. And I have absolutely no idea who Bill Hagan is, probably someone who works with the writer. Most of these pictures either have nothing on the back, or the writer says "This is me." Or "Here is my wife," sometimes naming her, but he doesn't identify himself. Above is the actual writing, but what is that word between the "I" and the "44-46?" ...I have no Idea right now. Maybe it's the place?

  I kept studying the pictures and went on to discover some of somebody's brothers who were identified . This military picture below, actually had the subjects named. On the back it says "World War I. Reginald & Ronald Stephens. Dad's twin brothers." Then in someone else's handwriting it says "Stephens." "So Dad Stephens is their brother??? Now just who is Dad Stephens?" I thought.

   I stopped worrying about who's brother they were for  a few minutes and tried to look up the military records of Reginald and Ronald Stephens. Right off I made a hit on "Reginald Stephens." I found him on the "UK, Soldiers, Died in the Great War 1914-1919."    He died still in England. I haven't figured out how yet, but the 1918 flu had taken a great toll on British soldiers, and Reginald died August 26, 1918.

  Then I discovered  Albert Ronald Stephens also on the same list of United Kingdom soldiers who died in World War I.  Ronald was killed in action in Flanders, France October 1, 1915, so this picture had to have been taken before that. Both the brothers were dead by 1918, before America even got into the war!

   Then I tried to figure out which soldier was Reginald and which was Ronald. Without telling her anything, I asked Dorothy which one looked the older. She said, "The guy sitting." I thought so too, so I named the guy sitting Reginald, because I found him on a census with his parents and his  brother,  Ronald, but the census says that Ronald was two years younger, and the writer had said they were twins, so that didn't make sense. Later I found another census that had two sisters in the same family as twins. I guess the writer confused the twin sisters with the twin brothers.

   More of this detective story later..............  Maybe I'll tell you then who the dapper guy on the right in the top   photo is.

When You're A Kid

   When you're a kid, you don't think about the old people who you visit with your parents.  You go with your mom to your grandma's home and if there are no kids there you sit around and read comic books or watch the clock. At least that's what I did.

   Grandma Moody had a white digital clock. This was in the 1940's and 50's. Yes, a real digital clock, but it wasn't electronic. It must have had wheels that rolled around like the odometer on a car, at least an older car. It was often quiet at Grandma Moody's, especially  when no cousins came, so I'd sit and watch that clock turn. The seconds went by: 25..26..27..28, and I'd wait for the next wheel to click over onto the next minute, or the next hour.

   When there were cousins there, I'd run with them through the woods. Grandma Moody lived on Glatt Street in Eureka, California right across from Sequoia Park which is a redwood forest. There were huge redwoods there, and trails, and soggy creeks, and a duck pond, and even a zoo, and if you went far enough you'd come out on the other side where there was a playground and picnic area.
Uncle James Stephens on the left, my dad third from left.

  The picture on the right was from one of those family reunions at Sequoia Park, but I don't remember much, because I was running through the woods.

   The most fun just came from chasing cousins through the woods, or picking huckelberries, or climbing stumps. There were giant stumps  that must have been 15 feet across, and those stumps were hollowed out by time, so you could climb up on top, probably ten feet up and drop down into a stump. Sometimes it'd be hard to get back out, but the old first growth redwood (probably from the 1880's) was soft, so you could dig your toes and hands into it and scramble up.

   When I go back there now,  the forest seems so tame, so quiet, and so peaceful, but then .... it was exciting, sweaty, and full of fun, except when there were no cousins. If there were no cousins at Grandma Moody's I'd sit on the couch because the forest was dark and scary, especially after I saw the Wizard of OZ.

   So I don't remember the old people. I don't remember Edna or Jim Stephens, except from a few family reunions. Today it seems so sad that not many people are going to remember Aunt Edna or Uncle Jim.

   Jacque, my sister does remember them. She wrote this comment on facebook under my first picture of Edna:

Jacque Smith: "She and uncle Jimmy came to Eureka a few times. She was at my woman's   softball game when I sprained both ankles! They were fun."

Jacque gave me a large box of pictures from Edna and Jim Stephens. I decided to find out who the people were in the pictures. I didn't know any of them.