In Her Own Words: Part 1

I am very excited to present a family history written by my grandmother, Mable Gerie Stafford (1919-2011). We simply called her “Grandma G.” I have inserted a few pictures and notes here and there; however, her words are presented exactly how she wrote them. Enjoy!

Autobiography (Gerie Hunley Baughman) (the other coal miner’s daughter)

I was born in the North Eastern part of Ky. in a coal mining town of Wolfpit.

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Wolfpit, Kentucky (circa 1920)

I was one of four children, my brother being the oldest. I was the second born and the first girl. I have two sisters born 2 years apart after me. My mother and father were not real young as most of the young married people were (from early teens to twenty years old). It was not unusual to have young mothers of 15 years old at the time. My father was 26 and my mother was 22 when they were married. My mother had an eighth grade education and was an avid reader. [My grandma was also an avid reader – it must run in the family.] My father only had the fourth grade due to circumstances in the home. My mother taught him how to concentrate on the 3 R’s and he became very good at it.

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Grandma G (sitting) and her Brother, Raymond (around 1920)

I never knew my father’s parents as they died before my parents married. There were 6 boys and 1 girl in my father’s family and when their father died my father was 11 years old. All of the boys old enough went into the mines to take care of the others and their mother. My father was a small boy and when he went to get the job, the mining boss told him to go back home – he was too small to work. My father told him he had to work and they gave him a job of laying wooden ties that supported the rails the coal was brought out on. He worked for 38 years after that in many coal mines throughout Ky. and never had a scratch from any accident. He was very fortunate because many men were crippled or killed from cave-ins in the mine, there was also the danger of gas which killed many men. They took birds into the different areas where they worked and if the birds died, they all left that work area.

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My Grandma’s Father, Charley Stafford (1891-1973)

When the miners died from the accidents there was no compensation from the coal companies to help the families. This was before the unions came in. The people who lived in the camps all pitched in and helped the unfortunate families. They did have a camp Dr. who was paid by the coal co. who owned the mine. If a lady had a baby, the Dr. was sent for and also a midwife if one was near and it cost the family $2.00 to bring the baby. Of course if you needed the Dr. for any medical purpose he came to your home, diagnosed the problem and left the medicine for it, all for $2.00.

We grew up with always having a Dr. to use but no hospital plan until the unions came into the picture. My father worked 10 hr. days and got paid $1.00 a day. The coal company provided the houses to live in and the rent was $3.00 to $5.00 a month for a 2 bedroom home. Most miners would not work at anything other than mining and when the economy got bad and they didn’t work every day they would not even have a garden to grow their food.

I grew up in the years when the whites had their camps and the blacks had theirs, along with the schools and churches. The company’s store had one side for the blacks and one side was for the whites. We never questioned it as we grew up because our parents had taught us that you never speak to a black person and the only time we were close to them was when my father butchered our hogs for winter and they came and took the parts of the hog my father did not use. Their camps were not as nice as the white camps and they stayed mostly to themselves because we had the Ku Klux Klan in our town. They had a club house right in town and my uncle Leo and aunt Franny belonged to it. I saw them in a parade once as a child and my aunt waved to me. She had a white robe and a peaked cone hat on her head but I could tell who it was. After the parade they burned a small cross on the hill above town as their symbol. As far as doing anything bad, I didn’t think they did or some of the townspeople would have heard about it. When a circus or carnival came to town, they were watched very closely by the Klan. [It was my impression that my grandma did not approve of the Klan. I vaguely remember a story where she told a family member to “take off that hood!”]

To be continued…

ABCs of Family History: A

A…

is for ahnentafel. Yes, it’s German. Literally translated as “ancestor table,” an ahnentafel is a simple yet compact way to depict one’s family history. And it can be done without diagrams or the typical family tree structure. This makes an ahnentafel the preferred way to present genealogical information when schematics are limited or impractical (e.g., group emails).

An ahnentafel uses a numbering system to organize your ancestors. The individual whose ancestry is being traced (typically you) is listed as No. 1. The subject’s father and mother are assigned No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Paternal grandparents get No. 4 and No. 5, while the maternal grandparents get No. 6 and No. 7. This means that, with the exception of No. 1, all males will have even numbers and all females will have odd numbers.

Here is an example of an ahnentafel using my maternal grandfather (Harold Edwin Lundquist) as the subject.

1st Generation

1 Harold Edwin LUNDQUIST. Born on 4 January 1910 in Smithfield, Cache Co., Utah. Died 28 May 1979 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., California; he was 69.

On 8 November 1930 when Harold was 20, he married Erma Funk in Preston, Franklin Co., Idaho.

2nd Generation

2 Eric Benjamin LUNDQUIST. Born on 27 December 1871 in Broten, Annehard, Sweden. Died 25 July 1932 in Smithfield, Cache Co., Utah; he was 60.

On 4 November 1903 when Eric was 31, he married Eugenia Harris in Logan, Cache Co., Utah.

3 Eugenia HARRIS. Born on 4 November 1881 in Hyde Park, Cache Co., Utah. Died 14 February 1950 in Smithfield, Cache Co., Utah; she was 68.

3rd Generation

4 Carl Gustav LUNDQUIST. Born on 9 February 1834 in Luckebo, Orebro, Sweden. Died 21 September 1880 in Broten, Annehard, Sweden; he was 46.

On 20 November 1857 when Carl was 23, he married Caroline Erickson in Ostmark, Varmland, Sweden.

5 Caroline ERICKSON. Born on 12 September 1832 in Varmland, Sweden. Died 11 March 1903 in Hyde Park, Cache Co., Utah; she was 70.

6 William Emer HARRIS. Born on 3 December 1854 in Ogden, Weber Co., Utah. Died 27 October 1904 in Pocatello, Bannock Co., Idaho; he was 49.

On 4 November 1877 when William was 22, he married Katherine Sarah Perkes in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., Utah.

7 Katherine Sarah PERKES. Born on 12 May 1861 in Belleville, St. Clair Co., Illinois. Died 7 September 1957 in Smithfield, Cache Co., Utah; she was 96.

As you can see, an ahnentafel generally includes the three main genealogical events: births, marriages, and deaths. In addition, since an ahnentafel doesn’t use diagrams, last names are usually in capital letters so you can easily scan each name.

Take some time to prepare a basic ahnentafel – you never know when it will come in handy.

 

Wednesday’s Leaf: Rodney Earl Lundquist

I wrote about Rodney Earl Lundquist (my grand uncle) last year. Rodney was born on October 16, 1923 in Smithfield, Utah. On January 4, 1943, Rodney enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private.

Recently, I stumbled across some wonderful photographs and documents pertaining to Rodney’s time in the military. Of particular interest was a letter written by Rodney to his mother (Eugenia Harris Lundquist) while serving in Belgium. Here is a transcript of the letter:

Thanksgiving Day 1944

Still in Belgique

Dearest Mom,

I am still in Belgium and I am well and happy. It is getting colder over here but I am warm. I have plenty of clothes and believe it or not, I have a nice warm bed. I guess I was a little luckier than those great guys in the infantry. I hope that on this day you are feeling okay, still smiling, and the same for Charles and all my friends. I haven’t had a letter from you in quite a while. I guess there is something wrong with the postal service. I guess I just don’t deserve any letters because I don’t write much, but as long as I get a letter from you, I don’t care much about anyone else.

The proper Sunday after you receive this letter, I would like you to bear my testimony in behalf of me. Now-after all these months overseas, I know that there is a God and His son Jesus Christ and that Joseph Smith is the true prophet of the Lord and that on this Thanksgiving day, I was thankful to be an American soldier and above all, Mom, I am thankful for you and to you for everything that I have been or ever will be.

Today for our dinner, we have [a] nice young turkey, sweet and mashed potatoes, gravy, apple pie and some good cake. Gee, it’s going to be swell. I hope I can have my next Thanksgiving dinner with you, Mom.

Well, Mom, I must close now, give my love to Charles and everybody at home.

All my love to the best mom in all the world.

Your son,

Rodney

P.S. A Merry Christmas and a Happy, Happy New Year.

God bless you.

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Rodney Earl Lundquist (1923-1944)

Rodney was killed on December 23, 1944 in Belgium. He was 21 years old. His obituary was printed in the January 8, 1945 Salt Lake Tribune.

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Obituary of Rodney Earl Lundquist

Rodney received the Purple Heart medal for his service.

Cause of Death: Senility?

Lately I’ve been obsessed with death certificates. Apparently, I’m not alone. A recent family history trend involves mapping causes of death within a particular line and noting patterns. Whether it be cancer or heart disease, such patterns pave the way for more detailed family medical histories.

As you probably know, death certificates often use archaic or peculiar terms to describe the cause of death. For example, here is the death certificate of my second great grandmother, Katherine Sarah Perkes (May 12, 1861 – September 7, 1957).

Death Certificate

As you can see, “senility” is listed as the cause of death. In 2016, when we hear the word “senile,” we usually think of someone who has lost his or her mental capacity. However, use of the word has changed throughout the years, and the attending physician who signed Katherine’s death certificate probably meant she had died from old age (Katherine was 96 years old!). In fact, “senility” was frequently listed as the cause of death when the deceased was elderly and no apparent disease or condition contributed to death.

As you search your ancestors’ death certificates, you may see the terms “senile decay,” “senile dementia,” or “senile insanity.” In those instances, it is highly likely that the deceased had been suffering from diminished mental capacity due to old age.

Have you come across other interesting causes of death? Here is a short list of terms I found fascinating:

  • Ablepsy: blindness
  • American plague: yellow fever
  • Bad blood: syphilis
  • Bladder in throat: diphtheria
  • Brain fever: meningitis
  • Cachexy: malnutrition
  • Camp fever: typhus
  • Dropsy of the brain: encephalitis
  • Falling sickness: epilepsy
  • Flux of humour: circulation
  • Grocer’s itch: skin disease caused by mites in sugar or flour
  • Inanition: physical condition resulting from lack of food
  • King’s evil: tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands
  • Milk sickness: disease from milk of cattle that had eaten poisonous weeds
  • Nervous prostration: extreme exhaustion from inability to control physical and mental activities
  • Nostalgia: homesickness
  • Pott’s disease: tuberculosis of spine
  • Quinsy: tonsillitis
  • Remitting fever: malaria
  • Scirrhus: cancerous tumors
  • Stranger’s fever: yellow fever
  • Summer complaint: diarrhea, usually in infants caused by spoiled milk

For more terms, click here.

Wednesday’s Leaf: James Alonzo Holman

Today we feature James Alonzo Holman, my third great uncle. James was born on September 1, 1835 in Beaver, Pennsylvania. As the oldest boy in the family, he developed a sense of responsibility at an early age. This was particularly true when the family was driven from their home in Nauvoo, Illinois.

In 1851, James and his family settled in Santaquin, Utah. During this time, James became a minute man and member of the cavalry. He also met and married Sarah Ann Mathis.

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James Alonzo Holman and Sarah Ann Mathis

James was also involved in different enterprises, including grading and building railroads. In fact, he was present when the famous Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Summit, Utah.

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James Alonzo Holman (third from the left) and His Brothers

James died on September 24, 1920 at the age of 85. He was the father of 13 children and 78 grandchildren.

*Wednesday’s Leaf celebrates ancestors recently added to a growing family tree.

Named After A U.S. President

The other day I noticed an interesting trend in my family tree: ancestors named after U.S. presidents. For example, there is my third great uncle George Washington Crum (1853-1942). Today, however, I want to focus on my fourth great uncle Andrew Jackson Allred.

Andrew Jackson Allred (1831-1899)

Andrew Jackson Allred was born on February 12, 1831 in Monroe County, Missouri. At that time, Andrew Jackson was the president of the U.S. Known as “Jack” all his life, he was the twelfth (and last) child born to James Allred and Elizabeth Warren. Jack’s family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints one year before his birth.

As an early pioneer in the church, Jack experienced intense persecution at a young age. Eventually, Jack and his family arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1851. They settled in Manti, Sanpete County, Utah. It was here that Jack became interested in Native American culture and language and eventually became an interpreter.

On November 3, 1855, Jack married Chloe Stevens. Five months after their seventh child was born, Chloe died at the age of 34.

Andrew Jackson Allred 1831-1899 and Chole Stevens 1838-1872

Andrew Jackson Allred and Chloe Stevens

In July of 1873, Jack married his second wife, Elizabeth Ivy. They had two children together. In the spring of 1876, Jack was called by Brigham Young to settle in Rabbit Valley and establish a trading post. Jack did so and initially built his home east of the Fremont River. However, the winter was so harsh that year that the river froze over and flooded most of the valley. So Jack moved west to the top of the hill, which is now known as Allred Point.

In 1888, Jack’s second wife, Elizabeth, died. He later married his third wife, Martina Nielson Anderson, and had two more children.

Jack died on October 10, 1899 at the age of 68. He is buried with his second wife Elizabeth in the Fremont Cemetery (Wayne County, Utah).

Named After A President: A U.S. Tradition

It turns out that parents often named their children after U.S. presidents. Here are some fun facts from the Social Security Administration:

  1. In 1933, the name “Franklin” jumped to No. 33, up from No. 147 in 1931.
  2. The name “Dwight” climbed in the 1950’s; similarly, “Lyndon” surged in the 1960’s (going from No. 635 in 1962 to No. 348 in 1964).
  3. “Theodore” peaked in the first decade of the 20th century.
  4. “Lincoln” (for boys) and “Reagan” (for girls) became very popular in the 1990’s.
  5. In 1928, the name “Hoover” came in at No. 367 for boys’ names. However, in 1931 (in the midst of the Great Depression), the name dropped to No. 945.
  6. “Clinton” was a fairly popular name in the 1970’s and 1980’s and ranked No. 211 in 1992. Following the Monica Lewinsky scandal, however, the name plummeted to No. 664.

Naming your child after a U.S. president was a way to honor the prestigious office while expressing a form of American pride. Following the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s, however, the tradition started to fade as people began to view the office with a cynical eye. Despite this, it seems the tradition is gaining in popularity, especially in the African American community following the election of Barack Obama. Hopefully this is an American tradition that will live on through the ages.

Wednesday’s Leaf: Sarah Earl

Today we feature Sarah Earl, my third great grandmother. Sarah was born on July 2, 1835 in Scarborough, York, Ontario, Canada. Sarah’s grandfather, Henry Earl, belonged to a group of Loyalists who left America in 1783 to found New Brunswick, Canada.

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Sarah Earl (1835-1927)

Around 1836, Sarah’s family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Eventually, the Earl family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Sarah was baptized in 1843. After being driven out of Illinois, Sarah and her family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 11, 1850.

In 1843, Sarah married Alma Harris and eventually settled in Logan, Utah. Sarah was often described as sweet, gracious, and intensely interested in life. She also had a deep love for music.

Sarah passed away on June 19, 1927 in Logan, Utah.

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Sarah’s Obituary (June 20, 1927)

 

Sarah Earl Headstone

Sarah’s Headstone (Logan Cemetery)

 

Family Headline: April 12th

On this day in 1978, I was born!

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Celebrating My 2nd Birthday

Sharing my birthday is David Letterman (born in 1947).

April 12th also has some historical significance – it was the day that marked the beginning of the American Civil War. Shortly after 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, the newly formed Confederate States Army (led by General Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard) bombarded Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina.

Discovering Mental Illness In Your Family Tree

People are generally reluctant to discuss the less desirable aspects of family history. This is particularly true when it comes to mental illness. First of all, the topic is incredibly complex, and most of us do not fully understand the ins and outs of mental health. Secondly, we fear the genetic implications of mental illness. Will I inherit my ancestor’s disorder? Will my children? This post discusses the discovery of mental illness in my family tree and how that can help you.

Leo Ivan Lundquist (1895-1975)

Leo Ivan Lundquist, my first cousin twice removed, was born on December 4, 1895. Leo was the second son of Emanuel Richard Lundquist, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in 1881.

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Leo Ivan Lundquist (seated child), About 1897

I was first drawn to Leo after examining his draft registration card from World War I.

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World War I Draft Registration Card (June 5, 1917)

As you can see, the Registrar lists Leo as “insane” and specifies that as an exemption from the draft.

After digging a little deeper into Leo’s history, I found a very interesting census record from 1920.

1920 Census

1920 Census Record

According to the record, Leo was a patient of the Utah State Mental Hospital in Provo, Utah. He was approximately 24 years old at the time.

Utah State Mental Hospital

Originally called the Territorial Insane Asylum, the Utah State Mental Hospital opened its doors in 1885. Early documents describe the hospital as being eight blocks from the nearest residence in Provo and separated from the city by swampland and the city dump. The Asylum was renamed the Utah State Mental Hospital in 1903. In 1927, it adopted its current name, the Utah State Hospital, in an attempt to lessen the negative connotation associated with the word “mental.”

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The Utah State Mental Hospital (Provo, Utah)

Attitudes Toward Mental Illness

Mental illness was highly misunderstood in the 1920’s (arguably, it is still misunderstood). Our ancestors probably used the words “insane” or “idiot” quite differently than we do today. An individual was sometimes labeled “insane” if he behaved in a way that society could not comprehend (e.g., he suffered from anxiety or depression). In addition, asylums were sometimes known to house individuals who were not mentally ill – the elderly, for example, or those with untreatable conditions such as epilepsy.

By today’s standards, many of the “treatments” performed on patients were archaic and cruel. During the 1930’s, frontal lobotomies were quite common. In fact, early medications designed for the treatment of mental illness were not developed until the 1950’s. The 1950’s also saw a shift in attitudes toward the mentally ill. Treatment generally transitioned from institutional care to community-based care.

Leo’s Move To Wyoming

The 1930 census provided more details on Leo’s life. According to the record, Leo had moved to the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Sheridan County, Wyoming. Again, Leo is listed as an “insane patient,” but something more interesting stands out. Under the “Occupation” column, Leo is described as a “Clerk.” This leads me to believe that although considered “insane” in 1930, Leo was able to perform basic job responsibilities. Also, I discovered that Leo was a veteran. Eventually, I learned that he enlisted in the U.S. military on February 23, 1915 and was released on September 28, 1916. It is very possible that his condition is directly connected to something that occurred while serving in the military.

1930 Census

1930 Census Record

Research Tips

Researching a mentally ill ancestor can be quite challenging. First of all, family members may be reluctant to talk about that individual. Secondly, source documents may be hard to find, and there may be privacy law restrictions if your ancestor was in a mental institution. Here are some tips to overcome these hurdles:

  1. A court proceeding may have been held before your ancestor was institutionalized. Search court records for more information on the nature of your ancestor’s condition.
  2. Your ancestor’s death record may list the informant as someone who worked at the mental institution. This can at least inform you as to where your ancestor was living.
  3. If you know where your ancestor was hospitalized, try to contact that institution for any available records. Again, privacy laws may come into play, and some hospitals do not release really old records as they are considered closed. I recently contacted the Utah State Hospital and am hoping to receive a response soon.
  4. Look for nontraditional records, such as social history sources, newspaper articles, or articles on the particular institution where your ancestor was housed.
  5. Don’t necessarily equate the word “insane” with mentally ill. It may be that your ancestor was merely eccentric or misunderstood by his community. Dive deeper into records to learn the true nature of his condition.

Above all, persistence is the key. Learning about our mentally ill ancestors is extremely important because it allows us to understand the hardships they endured. And family history is just like any kind of history – it reports the good and the bad, and our mentally ill ancestors deserve to be a part of it.