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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Favorite Photos–52 Ancestors, Week 2

It’s hard to choose a favorite photo and for this post I’ve got two.

Paulina, Oregon is the small eastern Oregon town where my mother–Bette MILLER–was born and raised. The town was named for a Paiute Indian. Chief Paulina led a band of Paiute Indians in the 1850’s and 1860’s to attack and rob settlers in central and eastern Oregon. He was shot and killed in 1867. Many landmarks in central and eastern Oregon carry his name.

The town’s first post office was established in 1882. Paulina has always been a very small community. Today the town has about 65 people, but when my mother lived there I think there were probably a lot fewer people in the town.  Even though the town was small lots of people homesteaded in the area so the town was there to support them with groceries, mail, school and a place to socialize.

Paulina-Oregon-1909
Paulina, Oregon about 1909

As you can see from the above photo this is an isolated and quite bleak setting. The general store my grandfather owned is the large building on the right in the rear of the photo.

Bette Miller sitting on barrel behind general store, about 1926

This is one of my favorite childhood photos of my mother. She’s sitting on a barrel behind her dad’s general store and even though she didn’t have a yard to play in she seems very happy!

Do you have favorite photos of family or places?

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!

Finding Lillie in the 1930 census

My great-grandmother Lillie CHAMBERS became a widow when her husband John Leland “Lee” MILLER died in 1916 in Paulina, Crook County, Oregon. Her oldest son was 20 and took over running the general store in the tiny town of Paulina.

Her two other sons were 16 and 8 in 1916. She came to Oregon in the 1890’s to teach school and that’s what she did until she married my great-grandfather. After his death she started teaching again and taught in various schools throughout Crook County.

I found Lillie and her two younger sons in the 1920 census still living in Paulina (listed as the Beaver Precinct in the Census¹):

1920 Census
Lillie Miller and her two sons–Eugene and Joe–listed at the bottom. She’s 48 years old, widowed and teaching public school

If you look at the top of the census form Lyle & May Miller are listed. Arthur Lyle MILLER was Lillie’s oldest son. Lyle and May were my grandparents. His occupation is “Retail Merchant–Groceries” and May’s occupation is “Postmistress–Government.” Lyle and May got married in 1918.

I searched for Lillie MILLER in the 1930 census records, but she wasn’t living in Paulina. I knew she didn’t die until the 1950’s and that she stayed in Crook County, Oregon and taught in various schools, but I was unable to find her.

However, one day when I was searching for my grandmother’s brothers and sisters to add to my family tree I found one of my grandmother’s brothers in the 1930 census² (see below) and when I looked down the page there was Lillie! She was boarding in someone’s home and still teaching school. She was still in Crook County, but was living in the Maury area of Crook County.

1930 Census, Maury, Crook, Oregon
Lillie Miller is near the bottom of this page. Listed as a boarder with the Morris family, 59 years old, widowed, teaching public school

The household above the Morris family shows James and Viola McCULLOUGH and their daughter Maxine. James was my Grandma May’s brother.

Finding Lillie in this census record was just chance on my part, but it did remind me to check the rest of the census page to see if there are other people I recognize on the page. And I have found other census records which show two or more families which are ancestors. For example, I found a census record in the 1800’s  which showed two families living next door to each other and I realized that a son and daughter from each family married a few years later. That’s always nice to find…and a good reminder to keep my eyes open!

…………………

Source Info:

¹Year: 1920; Census Place: Beaver, Crook, Oregon; Roll: T625_1491; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 28; Image: 475.

²Year: 1930; Census Place: Maury, Crook, Oregon; Roll: 1939; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0015; Image: 465.0; FHL microfilm: 2341673.

My family DNA results, part 1

My kids bought me a DNA test from Ancestry for my birthday this year. I’ve gotten the results back and it’s all so interesting–though I am still trying to understand it all! I got my brother to do his DNA, too, so I thought I would write a series of articles about what I think I’ve learned. This will help me figure things out in my own mind and I hope if I get things wrong maybe someone will comment and help me.

My ethnicity estimates are:
  • 68% Scandinavian
  • 15% Great Britain
  • 11 % Europe West

With the following low confidence areas:

  • 4% Ireland
  • ≤ 1% Europe East
  • ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula

What I know  about my ethnicity from my genealogy:

  • My VALLEY and JOHNSON families came from Norway and Sweden.
  • The WINTERS and HARMS families came from Germany.
  • My great-grandmother Lillie CHAMBERS thought her family came from Ireland.
  • The story I’ve read is that my MILLER family came from Germany before the Revolutionary War.
  • We think the McCULLOUGH family came from Scotland.
  • There are several family lines which were in the United States in the 1700’s and we don’t know for sure where they came from and in some cases I’m not confident putting them into my family tree since I don’t have evidence they belong there. The PICKERING family probably came from Great Britain.

As anyone can see from the above information I haven’t really taken my genealogy across the pond. Based on what I am quite sure about I’m surprised I didn’t show up with more Irish and Western Europe (German) ethnicity. And I was surprised I show up with 11% Great Britain.

From what I have read these ethnicity estimates are just that: estimates. Also right above the Ethnicity Estimate on Ancestry it says “Thousands of years ago” so that seems to indicate this is not necessarily something that shows up in my genealogy.

My brother’s ethnicity results:
  • 63% Scandinavian
  • 23 % Europe West
  • 10 % Ireland

With the following low confidence areas:

  • 2% Europe East
  • ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula
  • 0% Great Britain

Since my paternal grandparents were 100% Scandinavian and their families were probably in Norway and Sweden for a long time the fact that both my brother and I are so high with our Scandinavian ethnicity makes sense to me. He shows a bit more Europe West than I do (23% as opposed to my 11%) and quite a bit more Ireland than me (10% versus 4%). I’m surprised he shows 0% Great Britain and I show 15% Great Britain.

I do need to remember these are “estimates from thousands of years ago!” And I have read that the Vikings traveled into Germany and, of course, Great Britain and Ireland–and I’m sure they left some DNA behind! They were even into Russia and Eastern Europe. The ≤ 1% Iberian Peninsula both my brother and I show is surprising though I don’t think it’s very significant.

Well, I hope I haven’t made a bunch of incorrect assumptions based on my ethnicity estimates. I think the biggest takeaway for me is that the ethnicity estimates might offer a hint, but I shouldn’t use these estimates to say “I have Irish ethnicity” unless I have genealogy to back it up.

To anyone who has more experience with DNA  can you tell me if I’m on the right path with this?

A book for Central Oregon history buffs

crooked-river-countryCrooked River Country: Wranglers, Rogues, and Barons (linked to Amazon)

by David Braly

Published by Washington State University Press, Pullman, Washington, 2007

331 pages, includes a Select Bibliography, Chapter Index of Personages and a separate map in a pocket in the back cover

Synopsis from GoodreadsCrooked River Country is a sweeping account of north central Oregon’s thrilling history, primarily the years between 1800 and 1950. Bordered by intimidating natural barriers, the rough country and harsh winters produced equally hardy inhabitants.

Legends include Billy Chinook, Chief Paulina, Elisha Barnes, James M. Blakely, Newt Williamson, James J. Hill, Johnnie Hudspeth, and Les Schwab. In the early 1800s, only Native Americans, fur trappers, military expeditions, and missionaries roamed the forbidding setting, but after mid-century, pioneer families discovered lush pastures nestled in the expanse between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains.

The homestead boom sparked deadly Paiute raids and conflicts over grazing rights. As land became more precious, Native Americans were forced onto reservations and Vigilante ranchers terrorized settlers. Moonshiners fought back. Dishonest politicians and capitalists exploited land claim laws and stole vast amounts of timberland.

Steamship and railroad lines further opened the region, and the territory gradually became less wild. Big eastern lumber companies arrived and constructed the largest pine mills in the world. The stock market collapsed, and citizens faced severe economic depression intensified by prolonged drought. New Deal programs, good rainfall, and World War II eventually spurred industrial and population growth.

Crooked River Country presents the captivating and thoroughly researched saga of the region’s astonishing transformation.

I bought this book last week on Amazon and so far I’ve only read a couple of chapters and browsed through the book. I looked through the Index of Personages for any of my ancestors who lived in that part of the country and found my great-grandfather Lee MILLER. He’s mentioned in a paragraph about Paulina, Oregon.

Paulina had been founded in 1870, and its post office was established in 1880 with John T. Faulkner serving as postmaster. Livestock baron Bill Brown sometimes listed himself as a Paulina resident. Cornett had a stage station there, but the big businesses in the early 20th century were the Paulina Cash Store, operated by Lee Miller and George Ruba, and the Hotel Paulina, built by Elmer Clark in 1906. The hotel had a lounge, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor, and eight bedrooms upstairs. While a few homesteaders filed for land in the vicinity, the Paulina area remained a ranching district. (from Crooked River County by David Braly, p. 187)

It’s always nice to see a name I know in print! The book starts with early history of the area and continues to the early 1950’s with the last chapter talking about the growth and importance of Prineville, Oregon after WWII when the post-war building boom created the need for more lumber. The first chapter explores the area as a whole and defines Central Oregon as a larger area than how it’s defined today.

I grew up in Central Oregon and my parents were born there. My Miller relatives came to Oregon in 1847 on the Oregon Trail so even though I don’t live in Oregon any longer I have deep roots there. And lots of relatives all over Oregon. I think I will learn a lot more about the history of the area I grew up in.

About David Braly

From the back cover: He’s a Prineville resident, a former journalist, is a popular author of numerous articles about the West. He was selected as a 2005 Spur Award finalist for best Western short fiction.

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