Surname Saturday - Hammersmith

Surname Saturday - Hammesmith

Since today marks what would have been the 57th wedding anniversary of my grandparents, Della Maxine Kephart and William Robert Hammersmith. So I thought it would be the perfect time to celebrate the Hammersmith surname.

Wedding Day of Della Kephart and William Hammersmith

The Hammersmith surname was first found at Hammersley in Staffordshire, England. Many Hammersmiths migrated from England in the 18th Century. 

The grandfather of William Robert Hammersmith, Henry L. Hammersmith, was born circa 1870 in New York. His last name was listed as Hammerschmidt on his marriage record. I haven't found a lot of information on him yet, but I do know that his wife, Fannie Clark, was also born in England. I also know that their 2 known children, Edith Lucetta and Robert Henry Hammersmith, were both born in America. Edith was born in Pennsylvania, and Robert (father of William Robert Hammersmith) was born in New Jersey, both born in the 1890's.

The portrait (above) shows my maternal grandmother, Della Maxine Kephart on the day she married my grandfather, William Hammersmith. In this photo you also see my mother, Carolyne (Kephart) Testorff Gould, and my uncle, Robert Geissinger. My grandmother, whom I called Nana, lost her first husband, Robert Samuel Geissinger, in 1959. She married William Robert Hammersmith on May 20th, 1960 in Pennsylvania. 

William Robert Hammersmith wasn't my biological grandfather, but he was every bit my grandpa, whom I called Pappy (or Paps). He was a huge part of my life growing up and he was a funny, strong, loving, hard-working, and selfless man. So it seems appropriate to dedicate this Surname Saturday to him and my Nana, who would have celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on this day.

Wednesday's Child - Eva Loretta Williams

This week's Wednesday's Child is my paternal great grandmother, Eva Loretta Williams. Eva was born on March 10, 1892 in Labette County, Kansas. 

Eva Loretta Williams - Wednesday's Child

I am really not sure how old Grandma Eva is in this photo. If I had to guess, I would say about 12 or 13. Eva married my great grandfather, Turence Stanley Bigham, on February 18, 1912 in Erie, Neosho County, Kansas.

Eva and Stanley would have eight children together, although two of them passed away at around two-years-old. One of their children, Mable Louise Bigham, was my grandmother. Eva and Stanley lived in Kansas for the rest of their lives. Eva passed away on October 15, 1965, at the age of 73, in Oswego, Kansas. 

I love that photo of Grandma Eva. It also makes me think that a love of sailor dresses runs in the family. Case in point...

Me - Sailer Dress
(Yep, that's me.)

You gotta love my shoes too, right? LOL. My father was in the Navy, so of course I had a sailor dress! But I loved that dress. I am pretty sure I wore until I wore it out. :)

Forget Me Not Friday - Neta Jane Eads

It's been awhile since I've done a Forget Me Not Friday post, so it's a good day to do one. This week I'm featuring my paternal great grandmother, Neta Jane Eads.

Neta Jane Eads Forget Me Not Friday

Neta Jane Eads was the first child born to John William and Lillie Mahala (Williams) Eads. She was born on September 8, 1895 in Tipton, Moniteau County, Missouri. 

Neta Jane Eads (Testorff) on Car

Her family moved to Kansas circa 1914, which is where she met my great grandfather, August Henry Testorff. They married on January 13, 1915 in Oswego, Labette County, Kansas. They lived for a period in Kansas City, Missouri, but spent most of their married years in Oswego. Three of their four children (Leonard Freemont--my grandfather, Nina Geraldine, and Kenneth Paul) were born in Kansas; only their daughter Betty Jane was born in Missouri.

Neta died in Kansas on May 12, 1947; August died in Kansas City on June 9, 1963. They are buried together in Oswego Cemetery in Oswego, Kansas.

I think Grandma Neta had really lovely eyes--they seem very soulful. And I think she had a beautiful smile. I just wish I could have seen it in person. 

Lincoln County Oklahoma History

In my last blog post, I wrote about a recent photo discovery made of an old photo gallery built and owned by my great grandfather, John Arthur Kephart. It was so great to get that from the kind researcher at the Lincoln County Historical Society in Chandler, Oklahoma. So I asked her what book she found the photo in, and she told me it was from the Society's history book of the county, called Lincoln County Oklahoma History. That book is no longer in print, but I found a copy on Ebay--all 1,572 pages of it. I have so many ancestors from Lincoln County, I knew I had to have, so I'm glad I won that auction!

Lincoln County Oklahoma History Book

Believe me when I say that I've not yet read this beast of a book. I'm skimming and scanning my way through slowly. But I did check the index straight away to check for ancestor names, and they were there! In particular, I have found a couple of great photos and articles, both written by my great aunt, Ruby Christina (Kephart) Stephens, who is my namesake. Much of the content of the book about various local families was written by living family members, who I'm sure also provided many photos. I so love the photos! Yay!

The photo below is of my great, great grandmother, Susan Eleanor (Templeton) Kephart. Next to her is her granddaughter, my great aunt Ruby, when she was a young girl.

Susan Eleanor (Templeton) Kephart and Granddaughter Ruby Kephart

Nellie (as Susan was often called) was a prize-winning gardener and canner, among many other things. So I love that this photo in the book shows her with some of her canned goods. 

This next photo from the book is of my maternal great grandparents, Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart, and John Arthur Kephart. 

John Arthur and Della Mae (Swinford) Kephart 1945

Until I saw this photograph in the book, I had forgotten that I had seen a real one many times before--in my grandparents' home. As soon as I saw it I could picture it hanging on Nana's wall. I love that photo of them! I only wish I had a real copy of the photo myself.  But this one is better than nothing, and it sure was nice to find it in the book.

And since my great grandfather was a photographer back in the day, and one of the only ones in Lincoln County for quite awhile, he is credited for taking some of the photos in the history book as well. As I go through the book I am bookmarking pages and making notes, and I hope to share more information from it here on the blog in the future. I have some other Swinford ancestors in the book as well. So who knows what else I may find.

I wish every county had books like this. It really is a wonderful way to travel back in time and visit the places so many of my ancestors lived. What a treasure for a genealogist like me! 

John Arthur Kephart - Photo Gallery

My latest addition to my Tuesday Treasures is something that arrived in the mail today and I was thrilled to receive it. It is a photocopy of a photo that appeared in a book of some sort (still waiting to confirm which publication and its date). The photo is of Kephart's Photo Gallery from Wellston, Oklahoma, which belonged to my great grandfather, John Arthur Kephart. His business existed at the very least (based on my research) between 1908 and 1916. 

John Arthur Kephart Photo Gallery - Tuesday Treasure

A little background is necessary here. I need to point out that I never even knew that my great grandfather was a photographer until one day a couple of years ago. I was searching through old newspapers online from Wellston, Oklahoma, and I found a wedding announcement from 1908 for John Arthur Kephart and my great grandmother, Della Mae Swinford. That announcement noted that my great grandpa had a photography business. This was just exciting to me. 

John A Kephart Weds Della M Swinford Wellston Oklahoma

After finding that, I did some more searching and found various ads like the one below, in the Wellston News for his photography business.

John Arthur Kephart Photography Ad Wellston Oklahoma

Grandpa Kephart must have been a pretty good photographer, because at least one of his photos was featured in the newspaper. And the Audubon Society was also interested in one of his photos. I don't think that photo was ever published though; I did a lot of research and some correspondence with the Audubon Society and was not able to locate any photo taken by him. It is nice to know they were interested though!

John Arthur Kephart Published Photo Wellston OK

John Arthur Kephart Photographer Audubon Society

A little more digging and I discovered (still, a couple of years ago) that Grandpa Kephart had one photo studio, and then tore it down in 1916 and built another one in its place. Apparently the first one was his residence as well at that time.


The part that is awesome to me, well at least one thing anyway, is that my mom did genealogy too, and she never mentioned that Grandpa Kephart had been a photographer. So to find all of this information in the past couple of years, and now the photo of his business is bittersweet--because she is no longer here for me to share it with her. She would have loved all of this, because she loved her grandparents so very much!

I must add that the photo was found for me thanks to a wonderful worker, named Carol, at the Lincoln County Historical Society in Chandler, Oklahoma. She was looking for something else for me and just happened to find that photo. I'm so very glad she did! I am always digging for more information on my great grandparents, and with any luck I'll find more in the future.

For now, I'll just end this with a photo of John Arthur Kephart. So you can see what my great grandpa looked like.

John Arthur Kephart - Maternal Great Grandfather

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

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.