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.

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. 

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'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

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. 

Forget Me Not Friday - Leonard Freemont Testorff

For this week's Forget Me Not Friday post, I'm featuring a man that I am proud to call my grandfather: Leonard Freemont Testorff.

Leonard Freemont - Testorff Forget Me Not Friday

Leonard was my paternal grandfather, born October 29, 1915 in Oswego, Labette County, Kansas. His parents were August Henry Testorff and Neta Jane (Eads) Testorff, and he had one brother, Kenneth Paul; and also two sisters, Nina Geraldine, and Betty Jane.

Grandpa married my grandmother, Mable Louise Bigham on February 1, 1941 in Columbus, Kansas. They would live in Oswego, Kansas and have two sons, including my father, Kenneth Harold, and my uncle, Russell Leonard.

It seems fitting, since it's Veterans Day, to honor my grandfather's military service. He enlisted in the Army on November 14, 1943 and would serve his country until December 30, 1945. He achieved the rank of TEC 5--Technician 5th Grade. He is the tall one in the photo, below.

Leonard Testorff World War II

Grandpa Testorff lived to the ripe old age of 88, passing away on January 9, 2004, in Oswego, Kansas. He was a kind, religious, family man, who was a carpenter, drove an old school bus, loved to fish, and played the fiddle. He was quite the musician, in fact, performing with more than one band.

Marvin Blackburn and the Saddle Pals - Leonard Testorff

I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my Grandpa T, because we always lived in opposite parts of the country. But we always corresponded and he always had some loving words of wisdom and faith to share with me. I miss his letters, and I miss him and my grandma more than I can say. I loved them very much.

Check out a sampling of my Grandpa and his Over the Hill Gang band from my SoundCloud gadget below!

This one's for you, Grandpa T. Love you always!
Grandpa Leonard Testorff and His Fiddle

Surname Saturday - Testorff

Surname Saturday Ancestry Chick

My maiden name is Testorff, so this is the perfect name to feature for this week's Surname Saturday. The downside is that I can't really share any cool tidbits about that particular surname's meaning, because I am having trouble finding anything! But here's what I do know about my Testorff roots...

My 3rd great grandfather, Christian Tesdorf, was born on November 2, 1819 in Germany. He married his wife, Sophia in 1852. In October of 1872, Christian, Sophia, and 3 of their children, Carl, Ludwig. and Emilie, departed from Hamburg, Germany (via Le Havre, France) aboard the Holsatia and arrived in New York on November 7, 1872. They would settle in Leroy, Bremer County, Iowa and are enumerated there in the 1880 Census.

Tesdorf Arrives America 1872

Louis August Ludwig Testorff was my 2nd great grandfather. Though he and his parents and siblings are listed in the Hamburg Passenger Lists with 'Tesdorf' as their surname, their surname was also seen at various times as Tessdorff, Tessdorf, and also Testorff. 

Christian and Sophia both died in Bremer County, Iowa (in 1900 and 1894, respectively). My 2nd great grandfather, Louis (aka Ludwig) would marry his wife, Anna Meyer in Bremer County, and eight children there. Later, they moved to Labette County, Kansas, and then finally settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where they would live until their deaths.

Surname Saturday - Testorff

So all I really know so far about my Testorff surname is that I have traced it back to my 3rd great grandfather, Christian, in Germany. I haven't gotten farther back than him in my Testorff line since German ancestry is a bit confusing. But hopefully one day I'll find even more Testorff/Tesdorf/Tessdorff origins in Germany, because I'd sure love to find out more about that part of my heritage.

Surname Saturday - Templeton

Surname Saturday - Templeton

Another important surname in my family tree is Templeton. So I am featuring that line in my tree for this week's Surname Saturday post.

The nearest Templeton ancestor that I have in my tree is my great, great grandmother, Susan Eleanor Templeton, who married my great, great grandfather, Alexis Elihu Kephart. I've mentioned both of these ancestors before, including the recent Surname Saturday - Kephart post that I did.

According to the Surname Database, which follows along with Ancestry's surname info, the Templeton surname is primarily Scottish, and it appears in Scotland before the time of Robert the Bruce. They also note that, "The origination is from the village of Templeton in Ayrshire, and it is in the counties of Ayr and Lanark that the name is most predominantly recorded. The derivation of the name is from the pre 7th century Olde English 'templ' referring to a pre-Christian place of worship, plus 'tun', a village or homestead."

My mom traced our Templeton lineage to one Andrew Templeton, born 07 August in 1786 in New Hampshire. But that's as far as she, or I for that matter, have gotten with our Templeton line. The problem is that there is more than one Andrew Templeton from that same area and time period. So there's lots of conflicting information and confusion, particularly since they all seem to have lived in New York at some point and had children there. So it gets a little sketchy.

Fast forward a bit to the birth of my 3rd great grandfather, Isaac Hollister Templeton, born 02 August 1830 in Middle Granville, New York. His story is intriguing. Family tradition says that he was born as John Dexter Templeton, but that his father died before his birth and his mother was unable to care for him--having 7 children already--and thus he was given to close family friend, Isaac Hollister (born 1796 in Glastonbury, CT) to raise. So John Dexter was given the name of Isaac and was raised in the Hollister family. Isaac/John Dexter is enumerated with the Hollister family in 1850 in Rock Island County, Illinois.

When my Isaac reached manhood though, he took back his Templeton surname and thus became Isaac Hollister Templeton. Isaac would later marry my 3rd great grandmother, Jerusha Harmon Sutton and they would have at least five children. One of their children was given Isaac's original birth name, John Dexter. And another was given the name of Isaac's adoptive brothers from the Hollister family, Edwin Hall.

Isaac and Jerusha Templeton - Surname Saturday
Isaac Hollister Templeton & Jerusha Harmon (Sutton) Templeton

My mom's research indicates that the death of Isaac's father, Andrew has not yet been documented. I'm still looking for that information, as it may provide us with more details about Isaac and his adoption by the Hollister family. 

A family story describes Isaac as "a tall, thin man, looking much like Abe Lincoln, and had an abrupt way of speaking. When the weather was cool, he always wore a long, black overcoat. He never buttoned it though - just pushed it back and walked with his hands in the pockets."

My mother noted that during the winter of 1913-1914, Isaac had a stroke and was completely paralyzed. He died in April, 1914, four months before his eighty-fourth birthday. Isaac was borne to Cardwell Chapel Cemetery on a spring wagon drawn by a pair of matched grey horses.

I have much more research to do on this ancestor. Such interesting tidbits that need to be further explored! And I hope to eventually find many more Templeton ancestors to fill my family tree.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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'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

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.

Missouri Digital Newspaper Project

I was Googling around the other day and came across the State Historical Society of Missouri website. I'm sure I've been on that site before because I have many ancestors from Missouri, but I guess it's been awhile. They have many wonderful resources, but one that I particularly like is their Missouri Digital Newspaper Project. It is a digital collection of their historic newspapers, and they are freely searchable to the public. 

Missouri Historical Society Digital Newspaper Project

Many of their newspapers are also available on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website, but I like the format the Missouri website has, listing each county and its related newspaper that you can search. Just click on the image above to be taken to the Missouri newspaper site. If you hover your cursor over each newspaper title, you can see the source for the link to see where it will take you. I use Firefox, so that source link appears in the lower left corner of my browser window. You'll see that some of the links go to Chronicling America, but some go to other pages in the Missouri Digital Newspaper Project website--so those sources are not likely to be on Chronicling America. Doing that should help you pinpoint which resources might be those that you haven't looked through before on Chronicling America. There were several I visited on the Missouri site that I hadn't seen before and I was able to find a couple articles that I might not have found otherwise. 

So if you have some ancestors from Missouri, this newspaper resource might prove helpful to you. 
Happy  Hunting!

Grandma Kepharts Frying Pan

For this week's Tuesday Treasures feature I'm spotlighting a simple little speckled enamel frying pan. It's not much to look at really, but it is something I truly treasure.

Grandma Kephart's Frying Pan

This little frying pan belonged to my great grandmother, Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart. Grandma Kephart was born in 1888 and died in 1976. She is the only great grandmother I ever knew--although my only memories of her are from phone calls and letters. I wasn't yet ten years old when she passed away, and I don't recall ever meeting her in person. So if I did I was much too young to remember. But she did write letters and send cards, and she did call from time to time too. I still have a bracelet that she made for me out of old buttons in my jewelry box. Perhaps I'll share that another time. 

This pan though, it's special. I inherited it after my grandmother, Della Maxine (Kephart) Hammersmith died in 1989. She was my 'Nana,' and I had grown up with her, so there was a special bond there. Nana was also the first person in my close family that I had ever lost, so that was a tough loss on many levels. I'd never really known grief until Nana died. I was 22 when I lost her, and looking through all of her belongings seemed so odd. My mom and my grandfather, Pappy, urged me to take some things to remember Nana by. That was a difficult thing to do for lots of reasons. But one of the things I did take was this little frying pan that I'd seen on Nana's stove many times. My mom told me that it had belonged to my Grandma Kephart, and that she used to fry eggs in it. It was her egg-frying pan, and my mom knew that because she was incredibly close to Grandma Kephart, so she'd seen her use that pan even as a little girl. That made it a perfect choice, a special keepsake that my great grandmother used, and so did my Nana.

This little speckled enamel pan has been sitting on my stove ever since Nana died in 1989. I use it as a spoon rest. I don't even know exactly how old it is, but it's got to be at least 60+ years. I think it's holding up very well for its age. To other people who look at it, they likely just see an old pan. But I see a timeless and priceless treasure that has belonged to two other generations of women on my mom's side of the family. And that's kind of wonderful.

Forget Me Not Friday - Mom and Nana

Since this weekend is Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a photo seems fitting for the occasion on this Forget Me Not Friday. This is a photo of my mother, Carolyne Ruth Kephart helping her mother (my Nana) hang laundry on the line. I'd say that my mom looks to be about three years old here. 

Mom and Nana
It was just a simple little everyday moment, caught on film and preserved in time. It's really nothing and everything in the world at the same time. Mom and Nana are both gone now, and I miss them both terribly, especially around Mother's Day. Mom's only been gone for four years, but I still cry if I let myself think about how much I miss her. And it's difficult not to do that around Mother's Day.

Still, photos like this also make me smile too. They're precious. And they guarantee I can't forget these two amazing women who helped shape the woman that I became.

Love you, Mom and Nana. NAIH

Surname Saturday - Swinford

Surname Saturday

For my first Surname Saturday post I'd like to share the Swinford surname from my family tree. According to the Ancestry website, the Swinford surname has the following origins.

English: habitational name from places called Swinford in Oxfordshire and Leicestershire, from Kingswinford in Staffordshire, or from Old Swinford in Worcestershire, named with Old English swin ‘swine’, ‘hog’ + ford ‘ford’.

The Swinford line of my family, we believe, goes back to England. I haven't yet documented the origin source as of yet. Still on the hunt. My early Swinford ancestors in America though migrated from South Carolina, to Tennesse, to Missouri, to Oklahoma. My closest male ancestor with the Swinford surname was Jonathan J. Swinford, born 26 JUNE 1852 in McMinn County, Tennessee. His daughter, Della Mae Swinford was my maternal great grandmother. She was born 13 MAY 1888 in Vandalia, Audrain, Missouri. They are both buried in Wellston, Oklahoma, in Wellston Cemetery. Jonathan's father, my 3x great grandfather, was James Swinford, who was born in 1830 in McNairy County, Tennessee. James died in 1863 as a prisoner of war in Alton Military Prison in Alton, Illinois.

So that is a little history of my family tree's Swinford line and origins. Below is a photo of my great grandmother, Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart.

Della Mae Swinford Kephart Surname Saturday

Wednesday's Child - Leona Mae Bigham

For this Wednesday, instead of sharing 'Wisdom' from my ancestors I thought I'd share a photo for another new feature, Wednesday's Child. This week's photo is of Leona Mae Bigham. This photo was taken in 1924, when Leona was about four months old.

Leona Mae Bigham
Leona was my paternal grandmother's sister, born 31 January 1924 in Kansas. She was my great aunt, and my grandmother was Mable Louise (Bigham) Testorff. She was quite an adorable baby.

It Must Be Love

One of my regular features on the blog is going to be called Forget Me Not Friday. This will be a Friday feature to highlight photos of my ancestors and share a little information about them and/or the photo as well. First up for this week is a photo of my paternal grandparents, Leonard Freemont Testorff and Mable Louise (Bigham) Testorff.

Leonard and Mable Testorff Forget Me Not
My grandmother gave me the photo, dated November 1940. She told me that this photo was taken on the day that they became engaged. They would marry on 01 February, 1941, in Columbus, Cherokee County, Kansas. It must have been true love too, because only in death did they part.

They were amazing grandparents, even though we lived across the country from each other for most of my life. I count them as one of my greatest blessings in life.

Susan Kephart - How to Lift the Mortgage

This week's Wisdom Wednesday features a letter written in 1915 by my 2nd great grandmother, Susan Eleanor (Templeton) Kephart, wife of Alexis Elihu Kephart. Susan and Alexis were prominent farmers for over 30 years, and they both won various prizes and awards for their farming, which I will highlight in other posts later on. But for today, I wanted to share a bit of wisdom from Susan by way of this letter, written as part of a writing contest for women that was featured in the Farmer's Champion newspaper of Elgin, Oklahoma in May of 1915. It is entitled, How to Lift the Mortgage

Susan Eleanor Kephart
How to Lift the Mortgage Letter by Susan Kephart
I don't know the results of the writing contest, so I'm not sure if Susan won or not. But I won when I found this article, because it gave me some wonderful insight into the mind of my great, great grandma Susan. She was smart and tough and very well-spoken, and she was dedicated to being the best farm wife she could possibly be. I'll share more about Susan in future posts. She is indeed one of my favorite ancestors.

Alanson Hayes Family Bible

For my first Tuesday Treasure post I thought it would be perfect to share with you one of my favorite family heirlooms: The Alanson Hayes Family Bible.

Alanson Hayes BIble

 Type: Family Bible
Title: A Hayes Family Bible
Periodical: The Holy Bible, containing The Old and New Testaments
Publication: B. Waugh and T. Mason for the Methodist Episcopal Church
at the Conference Office, 200 Mulberry Street, New York, 1834

Hayes Family Bible Page

 This Bible belonged to my 4th great grandparents, Alanson Hayes, Sr. and Rhoda (Slater) Hayes. Alanson was born in Granby, Connecticut on 17 April 1781. Rhoda was born on 23 May 1788 in Guilford, Vermont. They were married 13 August 1801 (per the Bible) in Guilford, Vermont.

Alanson Hayes and Rhoda Slater Hayes

This Bible was preserved by the Kephart and Hayes families and gifted to Carolyne (Kephart) Gould in 2002 by Don Drozdenko, also a descendent of Ormand Kephart (who was son-in-law of Alanson). At Christmas, 2003, this Bible was placed in my keeping, as the daughter of Carolyne Gould.

The Hayes Family Bible contained a few little treasures, including a short piece of material marking the Book of Isaiah, Chapters 34, 35 and 36. There was also a piece of roughly-torn paper marking the Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 27 to 29. A folded snowflake was near the front of the book, made from old advertising.

Snowflake from Hayes Bible

Hidden within a piece of muslin was a small (about 1-1/2 by 2 inches) photograph. On the back is written the words "View from Chimney Rock." A friend of my mom's from North Carolina says the photo was taken from Chimney Rock, NC, viewing a river that no longer exists due to construction of a dam. In the distance is a mountain that is said to be the home of the "Little People."

Chimney Rock Pic in Hayes Bible

The Bible also contained the Quarterly Meeting ticket for Alanson Hayes from the Methodist Episcopal Church. This ticket could have belonged to either Alanson Hayes Sr or Jr. Ormand Kephart's name appears on the back of this ticket, so it's possible that the Bible was passed down to Alanson's daughter, Ann Amanda, my 3rd great grandmother, wife of Ormand.

Alanson Hayes Church Ticket in Bible

There was also a newspaper clipping of a poem, apparently a reprint from "The Ohio Farmer" that was found. And just today I was looking at the Bible again and another poem tucked in the Book of St. John Chapter VI, and a Sacred Song clipping in the Book of II Samuel.

Hayes Family Bible Poems

When I stop and think about the fact that I have a Bible that is 182 years old--and that it belonged to my 4th great grandparents, it amazes me. It has definitely seen better days and it's quite delicate, so I have only handled it a few times since my mother gave it to me. It is truly a treasure to me. I think the only thing that would make it more precious to me is if I had a photo of Alanson and Rhoda Hayes to go along with it. Maybe one day. Even without the photo though this is one heirloom I will continue to treasure until my last breath.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin