Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday's Child - August Henry Testorff

This week's Wednesday's Child shines a spotlight on my paternal great grandfather, August Henry Testorff, who was born on July 20, 1884 in Tropoli, Bremer County, Iowa. 

August Henry Testorff on Ancestry Chick

Judging by his size in this photo, and the fact that he is standing up by himself, I'd say this photo was taken sometime in 1885. August lived with his family in Bremer County, Iowa until the early 1900's. Between 1900 and 1909, August had moved to Missouri, and then by 1910 to Kansas. He married my great grandmother, Neta Jane Eads in Oswego, Kansas in 1915. According to census records and city directories, August, Neta and their family went back and forth between Kansas City, Missouri, and Labette County, Kansas for several years (many of my Testorff ancestors lived in Kansas City and Labette County, KS). But they seemed to have lived the most in Oswego, Kansas, where both August and Neta passed away. They are both buried in Oswego Cemetery.

Both August and Neta passed away before I was born, so I never got to meet them. I'm grateful though to have a few photos of them here and there to help me put faces with their names as I try to help preserve their memories.
Friday, July 22, 2016

Forget Me Not Friday - Jerusha Sutton Templeton

For this week's Forget Me Not Friday I'm going to spotlight my maternal third great grandmother, Jerusha Harmon (Sutton) Templeton. 

Jerusha Harmon Sutton Templeton
Jerusha was born on March 4th, 1835 in Switzerland County, Indiana. Her parents were John D. Sutton and Susanna (Dodge) Sutton. Jerusha would grow up and marry her husband, Isaac Hollister Templeton on July 3, 1853 in Rock Island County, Illinois. Together they would at least 5 children that grew to adulthood, and they would live in Iowa for a time, then Oklahoma, and then finally in Missouri. Isaac passed away in Missouri in 1914, so Jerusha went to live with one her daughters in Oklahoma and would remain there until she passed on June 26, 1920 in Ringwood, OK. She was laid to rest next to Isaac though in Diggins, Missouri.

I love this photo of Jerusha. There's something so serene about her. And I just thought it was perfect to share for Forget Me Not Friday.
Saturday, July 9, 2016

Surname Saturday - Kephart

Surname Saturday Ancestry Chick

For this week's Surname Saturday post I'd like to share an important surname in my family tree: Kephart. Kephart is the Americanized spelling of the German Gebhardt. According to various sources, the surname Kephart was first found in Silesia, where this family name dates back to at least the 9th century. The name is derived from the Old High German elements "geb," which means "gift" and "hard," meaning "brave, hardy." I rather like the sound of that.

So far, in my family tree, I have gotten the Kephart line back to around 1750 in Maryland, where my 5th great grandfather, Simon Kephart was born and lived. I believe he died there too, but I haven't found the exact date information yet. That is about as far back as my mother got in her research as well (she was a genealogist too). We know that he died before January of 1801 though, because his 2nd wife, Susannah (my 5th great grandmother) died then during childbirth and was listed as a widow in her death notice. So Simon had to have died fairly near to the time of his wife's death.

Now I know the original line goes back to Germany somewhere, and I will get there eventually. But my Kephart family line from Simon went from Maryland, to Ohio, with my 4th great grandfather, George Kephart. George had two children born in Maryland (including my 3rd great grandfather, Ormand, and his sister, Susan), and one child born in Allen County, Ohio (my 3rd great Uncle, Peter Kephart). 

I have many Kephart ancestors that were born and lived and died in Ohio--particularly in Allen County, most of them in or near Spencerville and Amanda Township. Ormand died quite young in 1856 at the age of  36 in Spencerville. He had four children in Spencerville before his death, including Catharine, George, and Oscar, and my 2nd great grandfather, Alexis Elihu Kephart; and one child, Ormand, who was born six months after his father's death.

What I love about the Allen County Kephart connection is that I live only an hour from there. When I moved to Ohio in 1987--where my husband grew up--I had no idea of my ancestral connection, because I wasn't yet doing genealogy. So to discover this later was kind of awesome to me. It actually turns out that I have ancestors from my maternal and paternal sides of my tree that lived and/or died in Allen County, Ohio!

My grandfather, Alexis married his bride, Susan Eleanor Templeton in her home state of Illinois in 1877. They lived in Spencerville, Ohio for awhile, then would eventually move to Kansas, then Iowa, before finally settling in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. They had five children, including my great grandfather, John Arthur Kephart, and his brothers Edgar and Byron, and his two sisters, Anna Carrie, and Rusha.  The photo below is of this Kephart family.

Alexis Kephart Family - Ancestry Chick


My mother was born a Kephart, her mother's maiden name, because my grandmother, Della Kephart, was unmarried at the time that my mother was born. I spent a lot of time around Kephart uncles, aunts, and cousins when I was growing up in California. A lot of the children of John Arthur ended up in California. So literally, our Kephart line ended up migrating across the entire country over time. 

I still have much digging to do into the Kephart family line. I have always felt very connected to this part of my family, so I love digging into my Kephart roots. I really enjoy learning anything new that I can about this branch of my family tree.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pappy's Cuckoo Clock

I was thinking about what I should share this week for part of my Tuesday Treasures feature here on the blog. I wasn't sure what to choose as I was walking through my kitchen thinking about it, and I ended up stopping right in front of my grandfather's cuckoo clock. I'd say that was a pretty good sign as to which family heirloom I should feature. 

Pappy's Cuckoo Clock

I called my grandfather, William Hammersmith, Pappy (or Paps for short). And for as far back as I can remember, Nana (my grandma) and Pappy always had this cuckoo clock hanging in their house. Pappy was in the Navy, so I am guessing that it was a treasure he picked up somewhere during that time. I'm sure he told me at some point where it came from. I need to check with my uncle about its origin, as he may know. Right here this minute though, I can't recall the story. What I do recall is how he'd wind the click each day and that at various times throughout the day, that little cuckoo would come out to let us know what time it was.

After Pappy died in 1994, my mom inherited the clock. And it hung in her house until she passed away in 2012, at which time it came home with me. I still have the weighted chains for it that get pulled to keep it wound (whatever they're called), though I never use them. Honestly, at this point in my life the cuckoo would drive me a little crazy. Funny how I loved to hear that cuckoo as a kid. :)  But I love the clock itself--the carved birds and leaves are so pretty. It's hanging in my kitchen and will likely stay there until I pass away. And it does my heart good just to look at it each day as I walk through the kitchen. It's a simple reminder that once upon a time, this clock was cuckooing in my grandparents' house...when we were all together as a family. And if I really try, I can still hear it.
Friday, June 17, 2016

Forget Me Not Friday - The Testorffs

For this week's Forget Me Not Friday feature, since this weekend is Father's Day, I thought I'd post a photo that includes my father, Ken Testorff, my Uncle, Russel Testorff, and my grandfather, Leonard Testorff.

Ken Testorff Russel Testorff Leonard Testorff

That's my father on the far left (wasn't he cute?!), then my uncle, and then my Grandpa Testorff. I always called him Grandpa T. My parents were divorced when I was very young, so I didn't get see my grandparents a lot after that because we moved across the country. But we always kept in touch and he and my grandma were always very near in my heart. He was a musician--he loved his fiddle, and he was even part of more than one band over the years. Grandpa T was somewhat of a celebrity, I'd say. :)

All three of the Testorff men were born and raised in Oswego, Labette County, Kansas. I love that the boys are wearing bib overalls in this photo. I'm not sure of the exact year of this photo, but my dad looks to be about 10-12 here, so that would put it between 1953-55, or thereabouts. It was likely taken in my grandparents yard. And just to show that my grandpa had a funny side too, here's another photo that was taken the same day.

Leonard Testorff

You can tell that he was just hamming it up for the camera. But that's why I love it. Grandpa always wrote wonderful letters and always had some wisdom to share with me. He was a wonderful grandfather. I'm fortunate that one year he sent me a cassette tape of him and his "Over the Hill Gang" band playing music. That was about 25 years ago. Just last year I had that cassette transferred to a CD so that I could listen to it again. I saved it on my computer too. So any time I want to feel a little bit closer to Grandpa T, I just have to turn on his music...and there he is.

Miss you, Grandpa.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wednesday's Child - Della Maxine Kephart

For this week's Wednesday's Child feature I'm featuring a photo of Nana, my maternal grandmother, Della Maxine Kephart. Nana was born on September 29, 1927, in Wellston, Oklahoma to John Arthur and Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart.

Della Maxine Kephart
I never saw this photo before this past week when my Uncle posted it online so that I could see it. I had never seen a photo of Nana when she was little, so I had asked if he had any. I love this photo, even though it's a little blurry. She looks to be about two years old here. You can still see her wonderful big smile, and I can't help but wonder who she was smiling at in that moment. 

My Nana was a huge part of my life when I was growing up. Our birthdays were only one day apart so we almost always spent them together. We shared a love of poetry, and Elvis. She made the best "Pot Pie" (which was the family version of chicken and noodles) and the best fried chicken on the planet. She was there for so many milestone moments in my life and was a very special lady. She proclaimed our family motto to be NAIH (Never Apart In Heart), which I still use to this day. And she made the yellow rose our family flower. So even now, when I see yellow roses I can't help but think of her. 

Love and miss you, Nana. NAIH 

Yellow Rose



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Robert Xenophen Zed Barkley Tombstone

This is the story of the tombstone of my paternal 5th great grandfather, Robert Xenophen 'Zed' Barkley, and the mistake it still carries 174 years after his death.

Robert Zed Barkely Tomb

Robert and his son, Richard Alexander Barkley both fought in the Dawson Campaign at the Battle of Salado Creek in Texas in 1842. Robert, nicknamed 'Zed,' serving the Republic as a Texas Ranger, was killed during the battle, and Richard was taken prisoner. Fifty-three men were involved in the Battle of Salado Creek, and thirty-six were killed that day. Two men managed to escape, while the fifteen others were taken prisoner. Only nine of the men taken as prisoners would survive, one of whom was Robert's son, Richard, who escaped much later. 

The remains of the men killed at Salado were buried on September 18, 1842. Six years later, in 1848, those remains were moved to Monument Hill Tomb south of La Grange, Texas. This crypt stands as a memorial to the brave men who died at the Dawson Massacre, and others at the later "Black Bean Incident." Among those remains is Robert Barkley, however his name on the memorial is reported twice on the memorial due to that error with his name.

Since Robert's middle name was Xenophen, his nickname, 'Zed' was the cause of the confusion. Both names were referenced and both ended up appearing on the tomb, though they are both in fact the same person: Robert Barkley. Even the standing marker that notes the names of the men's remains includes a postscript at the bottom that references 'Zed' Barkley as not being at the battle. This is an error that has been resolved by later researchers and historians--because 'Zed' IS Robert.

Dawson Massacer Marker Monument Hill


I'm really fascinated by this ancestor and his resting place, so I thought it was appropriate to share for this Tombstone Tuesday. I've been reading a lot about Robert and his family over the last few weeks. He was a very interesting man, whose life story would (in my opinion anyway) make an interesting movie. I only wish I had learned about Robert Barkley when I still lived in Texas, because I'd have loved to visit his grave.