Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Grandpa Testorff Treasured Photo

Recently, my father and stepmom sent me some old family Bibles, photos, and other family items. I treasure all of these things so much, but one photograph in the bunch is particularly special. It is an old photograph of my grandfather, Leonard Freemont Testorff, and one of his sisters, Nina Geraldine Testorff. It is perfect for this week's Tuesday Treasures spot.

The photo is a large oval and not in the greatest shape. I considered hanging it as it is but it is so fragile I worry about doing that. So I decided to take a photograph of the original photo and do some digital restoration of it. This is the result.

Leonard and Nina Testorff Restored Photo Tuesday Treasure

I'm not a professional photo restorer by any means. I do a lot of digital art and editing though so I did my best to restore this photo into something I could print and hang up. That way I can keep the original, fragile photo safe and sound. I don't think this turned out too bad. :)

Leonard Testorff and Nina Testorff Tuesday Treasure

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Surname Saturday - Bigham

Surname Saturday Ancestry Chick Logo

This week's Surname Saturday post is going to feature the Bigham name in my family tree. The Bighams are in my paternal line, which has its most recent beginnings in my tree with my grandmother, Mable Louise Bigham.

Mable was born on September 18, 1921 in Oswego, Labette County, Kansas. Her parents were Turence Stanley Bigham and Eva Loretta (Williams) Bigham. In the photo below, you can see my grandmother with her mother, Eva.

Mable Louise Bigham and Mother Eva Williams Bigham

This next photo is of my great grandparents, Turence and Eva Bigham.

Turence and Eva Bigham
Great Grandpa Turence was born on December 20, 1890 in Labette County, Kansas. He would live his whole life in Kansas, until May 16, 1968, when he passed away at the age of 77. Great Grandma Eva passed before him, at age 73, on October 15, 1965, in Oswego.

Turence was the son of Aaron Bigham and Mary Ellen (Crain) Bigham. Aaron was born December 21, 1855 in Washington County, Illinois. Mary Ellen was born October 24, 1867, also in Illinois. My great-great grandparents would have 7 children, 6 who survived. They also would live most of their married lives in Labette County, Kansas. They are pictured in the photo below.

Mary Ellen and Aaron Bigham - Surname Saturday

Aaron's father was John Bigham, born in Ohio on July 20, 1828. John's father was James William Bigham, born 1784 somewhere (as yet unknown) in Ireland. He and his wife, Elizabeth (McCreary) Bigham (who was born in Pennsylvania) would live many years in Guernsey County, Ohio, and then Washington County, Illinois.

James Bigham's father was William Bigham, born somewhere in Ireland in 1760. He and his wife, Sarah Barton (also born in Ireland) would have at least five children and and live for many years in Guernsey County, Ohio. They are both buried in Old Washington Cemetery there. That is as far back in my family tree as I have gotten for my Bigham ancestors.

All I really know of the Bigham surname is that it is a Scottish habitational name from a placed called Bigholm(e). The main parts of the name are the Old Norse "big" from "bygg," meaning "barley" or the Old Danish personal byname Bekki, large or stout; plus the Old Danish "holm," a small island or piece of land surrounded by streams. So it's seems likely that somewhere far back in the Bigham line, even though I have much Irish Bigham ancestry, there may be a Scottish Bigham ancestor somewhere that I haven't yet uncovered.

Hopefully one day I'll dig up those Scottish Bigham roots.
Friday, December 30, 2016

Forget Me Not Friday - Kephart Grandmothers

This week, for Forget Me Not Friday, I'm featuring two generations of my maternal ancestors: my great grandmother, Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart, and her mother, my great, great grandmother, Lavina Elizabeth (Winders) Swinford.

Lavina Winders Swinford and Della Swinford Kephart - Forget Me Not Friday

Lavina Winders was born in Illinois on May 21, 1852 to Andrew Jackson Winders. Her mother is unknown, and is one of the biggest brick walls in my family tree. Andrew was likely married and perhaps his first wife died. He would later marry Delila Nestleroad, who is quite often mistaken for Lavina's mother in many family trees. However, Andrew and Delila didn't marry until 1854, and Delila would only have been 14 at the time of Lavina's birth. Delila was also born in Ohio and living there when she married Andrew. So it doesn't quite add up for her to be Lavina's mother. The search for Lavina's mother's identity continues. 

Lavina would later marry Jonathan J Swinford in 1875 in Missouri. Together they would have eight children by the time they moved into the Oklahoma Territory in 1889 and become what is known as '89ers. One of those children was Della Mae, my great grandmother. You see both of these ladies in the photo. The other woman in the photo is likely one of Lavina's other daughters, either Ethel or Grace. I haven't yet figured out which one.

Jonathan and Lavina would have 2 more children, and the couple would live most of the rest of their lives in Wellston, Lincoln County, Oklahoma. Lavina died on June 6, 1915 in Wellston. Della would marry my great grandfather, John Arthur Kephart, and they too would live out their lives and die in Wellston. Della died on April 7, 1976. I still remember the day we got the news. My mom had been very close to her. It was so hard to watch her and my grandmother grieve this loss.

I love the photo of these two grandmothers of mine. And I love being able to help preserve their memory by keeping their history alive here on the blog, and in my heart.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Grandma Kephart's Teapot

For this week's Tuesday Treasure I want to share a picture of a sweet little teapot, which is really only big enough for about one cup of tea. This belonged to my great grandmother, Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart.

Grandma Kephart's Teapot - Tuesday Treasures

My mom brought this to me, along with several other special things that had belonged to Grandma Kephart, a few years before Mom passed away. And of course it's something I treasure. Mom said that Grandma did use this teapot to make herself tea. I love that blue flower on the brown background, and the scrolls and swirls of green leaves. And I love even more that I can imagine Grandma Kephart fixing herself a nice hot cup of tea with it.

I've often seen similar teapots to this at antique stores and such. Most of them time they are bigger than this one. I don't know if it's even valuable...but it's priceless to me, and I'd never sell it. There's a note tucked inside of it, stating who it's original owner was, so that my daughter will know after I'm gone. I've started doing that with a lot of family heirlooms and other special things around the house. If no one but me knows their story, then once I'm gone the stories will be gone too. So I'm hoping that by adding notes or labels to everything that's important, my daughter and grandkids will know where these things came from. 

After all, preserving the family legacy and history is the goal. 
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Surname Saturday - Sutton

Surname Saturday Ancestry Chick

Another very important surname in my family tree is Sutton, so I thought that I'd spotlight this name for this week's Surname Saturday post.

The name Sutton originates from the Anglo-Saxon words 'sudh,' meaning 'south,' and 'tun,' meaning 'town.' This equates to 'the family of southtown.' The name seems to have its roots in England and Ireland. 

For my family line, the most distant confirmed Sutton ancestor was John C Sutton, my 5th great grandfather. The earliest records for John C Sutton enumerate him on the 1820 Census in Randolph, Dearborn County, Indiana, along with a spouse, 6 sons, and 2 daughters. There is also a Joseph Sutton on that same Census, possibly a brother of John. It is believed that John was born in Pennsylvania, circa 1760-1770.

There is an oral family tradition that John C. Sutton's family left Pennsylvania using a flat boat and floated down river from (or through) Pittsburg. Although some people in the family questioned this as a physical possibility, research has confirmed that many families moved to Ohio and Indiana in this manner.

By the 1830 Census, John and his family are living in Switzerland County, Indiana. Switzerland, Ohio, Dearborn, and Ripley counties come together at just about the spot where John C. Sutton and his family lived. 

Per the "Switzerland Co., Indiana Marriages" (Scheur Publications, Warsaw, Indiana, 1994), at least 7 of John C Sutton's 8 children were married in Switzerland county between 1820-1836. This would include my 4th great grandfather, John D Sutton, who married Susannah "Susan" Dodge on 04 January 1827. 

It is unknown as of yet to whom John C Sutton married, the mother of his children. There is lots of speculation among Sutton family researchers, but her identity remains a mystery at this time. And we really don't know much about John C either for that matter. 

More is known about my 4th great grandparents, John D and Susannah (Dodge) Sutton, who would also have 8 children. You can see these ancestors in the photos below, circa 1860.

John D Sutton and Susannah (Dodge) Sutton - Surname Saturday

John D and Susannah's daughter, Jerusha Harmon Sutton, was my 3rd great grandmother. This family lived at various times in Switzerland and Ripley counties in Indiana, Rock Island County in Illinois, and Hardin county in Iowa. John D and Susannah would also later live in Vernon County, Missouri.

The big mystery of John D Sutton is when and where he died. Family researchers are still on the hunt for definitive proof of his death. His wife's death was also somewhat of a mystery, until I discovered two small obituaries for her a year or so ago; one in the Cape Girardeau Democrat and one in the Kansas City Star from September, 1893. These showed that Susannah died in Vernon County, MO. Hopefully one day we'll discover John D's obituary too.

And the hunt for my Sutton family ancestors continues.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday's Child - Jerry Hollister Kephart

For this week's Wednesday's Child, I am featuring the ancestor that my maternal grandmother, Della Maxine Kephart, considered to be her guardian angel. It was her brother, Jerry Hollister Kephart, who was nicknamed Hollis.

Jerry Hollister Kephart Wednesday's Child

Jerry was born to John Arthur and Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart on October 23, 1925 in Wellston, Oklahoma. His middle name, Hollister, was likely given to him after his great grandfather, Isaac Hollister Templeton (his paternal grandmother's father). I'm not sure if the name Jerry was after someone else, or just a name that my great grandparents liked.

Sadly, Hollis would live only 2 years, passing away on December 19, 1927. Family history says that he died as a result of multiple bee stings. He is buried in Wellston Cemetery in Wellston, OK. I imagine that the above photo was likely taken not long before he died, because he looks to be about two years old here. My grandmother always had that photo of him in her home, and she treasured it.

Jerry Hollister Kephart Grave Wellston OK
Rest in Peace
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Marlboro Playing Cards

Tuesday Treasures Marlboro Playing Cards

It might seem like a strange thing to have a set of Marlboro Playing Cards featured as one of my Tuesday Treasures. But this is no ordinary set of cards. This is the set of cards that belonged to my maternal grandfather, William Hammersmith, whom I affectionately called, Pappy--or Paps, for short. 

Pappy - William Robert Hammersmith

Often when I'd visit my grandparents, Nana and Pappy, I'd play with those Marlboro Playing Cards that belonged to Pappy. I might play Solitaire, or sometimes sometimes we'd play Go Fish or Crazy Eights. You know, back in the day when you couldn't play card games on your phone. He had lots of playing cards, but I always liked these and I'm not even sure why. After Pappy died in 1994, I got to keep these playing cards. So as silly as it might seem, they are indeed something that I treasure. 

The photo of him above is one he sent to me a year or two before he passed away. It's the last photo that he ever sent to me. Incidentally, I also have the shirt that he is wearing in this photo, and I treasure it as well. 

I sure miss Pappy. He was the best grandfather, always smiling and always cracking a joke and making me laugh. Nana showed me how to give him a "Wet Willie" when I was quite young. I did that for years and he never got upset--he'd just laugh. Oh how I miss that laugh. But if I try really, really hard...I can almost hear it.

Love you, Paps.