Longevity–52 Ancestors, Week 3

I am participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. The topic this week is “Longevity.”

I’m talking about my grandmother and her McCullough brothers and sisters this week. (I do have other ancestors than my grandmother and her family and I will talk about them one of these days! They are just the ones who come to mind so far when I see these topics.)

My grandmother had three brothers and six sisters and the majority of them lived 80 or more years. My grandmother (May McCullough) and one of her sisters (Nellie Christina McCullough) were 101 and 102 before they died in 1993. A brother (James Andrew McCullough) and sister (Edna L. McCullough) were 99 and 96 when they died. Two sisters were over 80. This group of brothers and sisters had Longevity!

May-McCullough-Miller
May McCullough Miller signing the book she wrote (taken about 1974 when she was 82 years old)

The above picture of my grandmother shows her signing Golden Memories of the Paulina Area she wrote about the Paulina, Oregon area where she spent a lot of her life helping my grandfather run the general store and running the post office for the little town. She got herself a typewriter and typed the book over several years. She paid to have the book published, but I think the book is amazing!

Her family were all used to working hard. Their father sent them from their home near John Day, Oregon when they were young to go out and work. My grandmother took care of young children, helped one of her sisters cook at a ranch and worked in the house and general store and then married a son in the family. She told me about a baby she took care of whose mother had tuberculosis and was kept away from her baby. However, the mother eventually died as did the baby. I’m amazed my grandmother didn’t get tuberculosis.

My grandmother once told me she did exercises every day. She continued to ride horseback into her 70’s and, of course, cooked and cleaned every day for most of her life. She broke her hip when she was 90 and when she left the hospital she said “Oh, I’ll go into a nursing home now.” That lasted about two hours before she called her son and said, “Please come and pick me up!”

She continued to live by herself in a trailer on my aunt and uncle’s ranch until she died. In the last five or six years of her life she was mostly in a wheel chair and had a woman who came in to help her get up in the morning, cook meals for her and help her get to bed. Everyone on the ranch would stop in and visit at various times during the day and friends and relatives came by, but mostly she managed by herself. My cousins and I used to say she was too ornery to die! She wasn’t always the easiest person to be around and I do think that helped her stay alive.

Who in your family has shown longevity? Was it because they lived to an old age or longevity in a job or some other type of longevity?

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Start–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year I plan to participate in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. There is a prompt each week to write about and the idea is to write something about an ancestor (or collateral relative).

This week’s prompt is Start which, of course, makes sense since this is the beginning of a new year! It also makes sense for me since my blog has lapsed a bit and I’m planning a re-start this year.

Start of marriage 100 years ago today

This week I’m talking about my maternal grandparents–Arthur “Lyle” Miller and May McCullough–since they were married one hundred years ago today (6 January 1918 in Prineville, Crook, Oregon). This was the start of their life together as a married couple.

At the time of their marriage they were living in Paulina, Crook, Oregon which was a tiny town in eastern Oregon about 55 miles from Prineville. Paulina had a general store, a school, some houses and that was about it. I don’t think the town is much different today.

I think they had to travel to Prineville to get married since Paulina didn’t have a full-time minister or anyone else to marry them. So they took a horse-drawn stage from Paulina to Prineville on that January day. It had to have been a very cold and long trip. The average daytime January temperatures in that part of Oregon are in the 30’s.

May-McCullough-Lyle-Miller-wedding-photo
6 January 1918, May McCullough and Arthur “Lyle” Miller wedding photo, Prineville, Crook, Oregon
What my Mom told me

The story my mother told was that my grandfather had asked my grandmother to marry him several times, but she didn’t say “yes” right away! My Grandpa’s dad had died two years before and as the oldest son he took over running his mom and dad’s general store even though he was only 19 years old. He took care of his mother and two younger brothers as well as the general store–although my great-grandmother Lillie Chambers Miller did go back to teaching school not too long after her husband died.

How the couple met

In the 1910 census record my Grandma and her older sister Nettie (Nell) were working for my Grandpa’s family. Her older sister was working in the general store and May was working as a house servant so that’s how my grandparents met! By the time they got married I think Nell had a different job and May worked in the general store and was also the postal clerk. The Post Office was in the general store and my Grandma May was the Postmaster until she retired in the early 1940’s.

Grandma’s age

When I was growing up no one really knew my Grandma’s age, but I didn’t really think about it until I was grown and we all finally found out she was four years older than Grandpa! The adults in the family had known she was older than Grandpa, but she’d never say by how much. This must have really bothered her because in the 1910 census her age is listed as 18 years old which is correct. However, in the 1920 census her age is listed as 24 years even though she was 25 in January 1918!

The mother-in-law

I get the feeling that Grandma May and Great-Grandmother Lillie didn’t get along too well. Mom told me that when my grandparents got back home to Paulina my Great-Grandmother Lillie said, “Well, you robbed the cradle.” Maybe that’s when my great-grandmother started teaching school again! According to Mom, Grandma May never forgot that and unfortunately, Grandma May had to care for Great-Grandmother Lillie when she was old. Not a good situation for either of them.

And probably not the best start to a marriage either. However, my grandparents were married for 62 years until my grandfather died in 1980.

History repeats

The odd thing is that I am four years older than my husband, too. (We just had our 36th anniversary). Luckily, his family never said anything about our age difference when we were dating or when we got married. We were both older than my grandparents so that probably helped!

Ready for the family reunion

I’ve been getting ready for a family reunion for the past week or so. My husband’s BARR family gets together twice a year–in August and at Thanksgiving. We are leaving this afternoon for our eight-hour car trip!

My three kids are coming so I’m excited about that. I don’t get to see my son too often since he lives in New York City. Lots of my husband’s family lives in the Midwest–mostly Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa so lots of people come each year.

Photos from past years:

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The August family reunion is in northern Wisconsin where a cousin and her family have a house on a lake. It’s a fun weekend and 50 to 100 relatives show up. There are lots of activities, boat rides, swimming, food, conversations and laughter with family members we don’t see too often.

We usually have a new tee-shirt designed for that year and annual events such as “Swim the Lake.” This is the 25th year for the lake swim. Several boats go with the swimmers and everyone wears life preservers. It’s an event kids and adults look forward to each year! Some years we have themes–last year was a 90th birthday party for our oldest family member and we had dance lessons for the Charleston and other dances–and some years there are games like a watermelon seed spitting contest or relay races.

Families sign up to make a meal, bring supplies or do clean up. Our family is making Sunday morning breakfast–waffles and overnight oatmeal with fresh fruit, syrup and whipped cream among the toppings. I’ve spent time figuring out a waffle recipe for 75 people! I’ve put together double batches of the dry ingredients in ziplock bags so we can make a smaller batch of waffle batter as we need it. My two daughters, son and husband are all helping with the breakfast and bringing supplies, waffle irons and crockpots.

I will post some photos from this year’s reunion next week.

Peter Coleman VALLEY and family–what my Dad told me

The VALLEY family is my Dad’s Norwegian part of our family. My grandfather died when I was a little girl, but my Dad related what he knew about his father’s family:

My grandfather–Peter Coleman VALLEY–didn’t know too much about his parents. He was born in Wisconsin and he left home after his dad died because he didn’t get along with his mother. Peter said “my mother took up with other men.” After he left home, he lied about his age (he was 16) so he could join the Army in 1900. He was in the Philippines and later in the Boxer Rebellion in China during the Spanish-American War. [My father says his dad was born 28 August 1884, but military records when he joined the Army show 18 April 1882 and later military records show 28 August 1882.]

1900 Census showing Peter Valley in Puerto Rico with other military

Peter’s parents came from Norway and their names were Fred VALLEY and Katinka Pauline WALLISVERD (or WALLISVERG or WALLESVERD or WALLESVERDH or some other spelling!). Peter didn’t know where they came from in Norway, but he thought the family name was changed from Neseldolen [my brother tells me the spelling should be Nesledalen] (which might mean nettle valley–and maybe it’s a Norwegian farm name?? Because he thought they came from a place called Neseldolen. [Nesledalen]) He also thought there was a family connection in Trondheim, Norway (a harbor city on the west coast of Norway) who might have been a ship’s carpenter or harbor master, but didn’t know a name.

Peter had a younger brother named William VALLEY (born in 1886). They also had a younger half-brother named John HOOD (born in 1894). They were all born in Wisconsin. Peter moved to Minnesota after he left the Army and married my grandmother Olga Tekla Laura Nora JOHNSON. Her parents were Swedish. Peter worked in sawmills in Minnesota and moved his family to Bend, Oregon in 1919 to work in a sawmill there. My grandparents lived the rest of their lives there.

Some questions I have:

  1. I have found very little information about Fred VALLEY. I’m not sure when he died. This year I did find a state record for a Fred VALLEY who died in 1898 in Wisconsin. Is this my Fred VALLEY? I need to get a copy of the death certificate to find out what information it shows.
  2. I found a Lutheran church record in Stoughton, Wisconsin for the baptism of William VALLEY in 1886, but I haven’t been able to find any birth record for Peter VALLEY. Differing records show he was born in Gilman, Taylor County, Wisconsin, United States. Another record shows Pierce County, Wisconsin as a birth site.
  3. I found a New York Passenger List which shows Godfred Vallesvar and Katrine Vallesvar arriving in the U.S. in 1883 and planning to go to Stoughton, Wisconsin. Is this Fred and Katinka VALLEY?
  4. Is John HOOD Peter and William’s half-brother?

I am thinking of going on a research trip to Madison, Wisconsin to search for state records for the VALLEY family and also do research at the Naseth Library (a Norwegian American Genealogical Society) also in Madison.

Source info:

Year: 1900; Census Place: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Military and Naval Forces; Roll: 1838; Enumeration District: 0102; FHL microfilm: 1241838; found on Ancestory.com

What Lillie Marks CHAMBERS remembered about her extended family

Lillie’s father was William CHAMBERS. Either he or his father was one of four (or maybe six) brothers (Alexander, James, John and William) who left their family home and father (also named William CHAMBERS) in Londonderry, Ireland after some sort of quarrel with him. The brothers came to Ohio.

Her other grandfather–John D. MARKS–lived in Illinois. One of his daughters (Mary) was Lillie’s mother. She died when Lillie was a baby. Lillie remembers that her grandfather loved to tease. She used to ask him what the “D” stood for in his name. He would answer, “Devil, I guess.”

Arthur is a recurring family name–one of Lillie’s brothers was named Arthur and Lillie and Lee MILLER named their oldest son Arthur Lyle MILLER. A family member was named Daniel and called “Black Daniel,” apparently because he was “Black Irish.¹”

¹From what I read about “Black Irish” there’s a lot of debate about where that term comes from. Whether it is describing someone with black hair and eyes and a dark complexion or a derogatory term toward the Irish or some group of Irish people. This term isn’t often used in Ireland. See Irish Central

 

 

Remember the families

Names I’m currently researching

I’m starting a blog to talk about my family genealogy plus stories I discover or receive from other family members or remember my parents or other family members telling. I’m not going to write much about my living family. The purpose is to add the stories, genealogy and the history from the places my ancestors lived. I named the blog “Remember the Families” for several reasons.

I want to have a place to write the stories and genealogy so my children and cousins can find them. It’s always hard to decide it’s time to write that family history book telling “everything” we’ve learned, but this way I can write short posts and perhaps later put it all together in one place.

I also want to remember to focus on the whole family not just my direct ancestors. By doing that I’ve already discovered stories and information about my direct ancestors. Plus this makes for a richer genealogy and will perhaps help me discover living cousins who can help fill in the blanks.

I hope others might find some ideas to research their families, but I also hope to invite my family to visit and perhaps they will add to my posts in the comments or decide to write a short memory they have about our family. Please comment whether part of the family or not and let me know how I’m doing here!