Friday, March 8, 2019

Truesdell Bridge Disaster: Bessie Louise Rayne Victim

The Evansville Journal, Indiana, May 6, 1873
“DIXON, May 5. – Yesterday afternoon, about 1:15 o’clock, as the Rev. Mr. Pratt was passing a convert for baptism into the water of Rock River, just below the bridge, on the north side, there being a large crowd of men, women, and children witnessing the ceremony from the bridge, the iron-work gave way, and without a moment’s warning fifty or sixty souls were launched into eternity."
Of the 44 victims identified was my husband Bob's great great aunt Bessie Louise RAYNE who drowned at age 15. Bessie was the daughter of Robert Weir and Martha Louise [Woodworth] RAYNE. The family was living in Freeport, Stephenson Co., Illinois on the 1860 Census where Bessie is listed as 2 years old which in 1873 she would have been 15.

from Bob's family album. I am currently trying to secure
an image of her as a teen...if it exists at all.
from of the Dixon Truesdell Bridge before disaster.
You can see the spectators looking at batism being preformed below.
from a postcard found online

from Dixon Truesdell Bridge after collapse.
You can get more information on this disaster at Wikipedia or just "google" it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Last Payment Plus Was Accepted by Reuben Whaples

Articles of Agreement for Warranty Deed was entered into 17 March 1857 between Reuben Whaples “of the first part” and Henry Mohle “of the second part.”  [Note: Mr. Mohle signs his given name Henri instead of Henry.]
This parcel of land was in what is now Oak Park, Illinois. Lot 12 in Block 1 in Whaples Subdivision of land in the south west part of the north west quarter of section 7 Town 39 North Range 13 East in Cook County: State of Illinois. Bob’s great great grandfather Rueben was a wheeler-dealer in land in the area and we have found numerous deeds and insurance policies for purchases and sales.
This particular deal with Mr. Mohle seems to have created a situation where Mr. Mohle couldn’t pay the full amount of $66 plus interest by the end of the year 1857. Amongst all the papers was a note for last payment. I think it is interesting how Reuben accepted that payment.

Received sixty Dollars on the within contract it being apart of the seckond [sic] payment I’ve agree to take shoes and Boots for the remainder Due on said payment  October 26th 1857   Reuben Whaples

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

When you come to a fork in the road, take it...

This is an old saying that most of us now-a-days attribute to Yogi Berra the great baseball player, but according to the website Quote Investigator it wasn't.*

Well, whoever it was who said it first gives new meaning when I come across a "fork" in the road. I have several examples where I came across a fork in the road and I "took it" i.e. took a picture of it.

I "took" this fork in the road in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I "took" this fork in the road in a Regensburg, Germany.

I "took" this fork in the road in York, Yorkshire, England.

I "took" this fork in the road in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I "took" this fork in the road back home in Oak Park, Illinois.
I will continue to collect these images as I think they are just fun.

*The earliest evidence of this expression located by Quote Investigator appeared in 1913. The statement was employed as part of a joke exploiting two common meanings of the word ‘fork’.

By 1988 the quotation was being ascribed to Yogi Berra. By 1998 Berra had embraced the saying. In 2009 a biography presented an entertaining explanation.

  1. 1998, The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said! by Yogi Berra, Page 48, Workman Publishing, New York. (Verified on paper) 
  2. 1913 July 31, Fort Gibson New Era, Wise Directions (Filler item), Quote Page 2, Column 6, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. (NewspaperArchive) 
  3. 1913 July 31, Correctionville News, Wise Directions (Filler item), Quote Page 7, Column 6, Correctionville, Iowa. (NewspaperArchive)

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    One Icy Day in 1965 Mundelein, Illinois

    I love living in it is high in the 50s. A week ago we were bracing for sub-zero temperatures. Today it is 70 degrees warmer than last week! Tomorrow we will be back to winter... 31 degrees predicted then on Wednesday we can expect early spring with almost 40 degrees with rain and some ice as it cools down. By Friday we should be back to winter again, but not before we experience somewhat of an ice storm.

    Seeing the possibility of ice reminds me of a horrible storm in 1965. I was living in Mundelein in my parent's home with my first husband. No one was expecting it to be very bad. We didn't have the advanced notices like we do today. We were without electricity for a while. I don't remember a lot of the particulars except trying to stay warm.

    When we walked outside the ice crackled under foot with every step. Our cars were covered with a thin coating of ice. We had to take hot water to the door locks to get them open. Our doggies were slipping and sliding while walking outside to do their business. Nothing was spared.

    Maple Street just west of Rt. 45 in Mundelein, Illinois

    The back of my parents' home on Maple St. Everything looks do dreary.
    Thanks to my brother John for finding and sending me these pictures.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    When You Are Little Everything Is Big: Donuts

    Grandma's breadboard is still fairly large as I remember it from my childhood. Grandma got married in 1895 so I would think this board is from that era. I've had it for over 50 years and it gives me fond memories of her making donuts, molasses cookies, and bread on it. No matter what she would make on that board, it turned out perfect. I can only hope for that.

    For the longest time I have been wanting to make donuts with the donut cutter that was my grandma's. Maybe they will turn out as good as hers. I still can taste that cake dough with the hint of nutmeg and them covered with flavored sugar. She didn't put any other decorations on it...just cinnamon and sugar. I loved that taste even though I don't particularly like cinnamon.

    I found the cutter...cleaned the dust off of it. The cutter must be as old as the cutting board. It is about three inches in diameter and has the removable "donut hole" cutter inside. There is a knobby wooden handle on top. Between the board and the cutter, that would make those two things 124 years old...and they still work! The rolling pin is new and about one third the age.

    So, I find a recipe online for cake donuts that looked similar to grandma's. Pretty simple. I have all the ingredients assembled and I start to put them together. I didn't use my electric mixer because I wanted to do this like grandma would have. Everything went in fine, but the dough was very stiff and a little lumpy. I turned it out onto the board and did a little kneading to smooth it out. Well, that didn't work well at all. I didn't want to knead it too much to make the dough tough. I covered the dough with plastic wrap to let it rest a bit. At that time Bob came into the kitchen and saw me with my head in hand and frown on face. 

    Me being a little upset at the dough results, asked Bob to rescue me by helping out. He took the task of rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes. Meanwhile, I had the oil heating up in my stainless steel dutch oven with the thermometer in it. Grandma always used a cast iron dutch oven and never used a thermometer...but her donuts turned out great. I wasn't going to trust my instincts like she did hers. 

    The oil was hot, the donuts were cut, Bob was at the ready to drop the shapes into the oil. We decided to drop the leftover, odd shaped pieces of dough in first. That way we could judge how long to keep them in the hot oil. I got the cinnamon sugar ready for the first drop. All's looking good. The odd shaped pieces come out, I sugared them.... Bob and I taste tested the odd pieces and they tasted good. The dough was dense, but the taste was tolerable. Now for the rest of the donuts to be dropped. All's looking good. First batch came out. I sugared them. We were on a roll. 

    All the donuts and donut holes were done and sugared. They looked pretty good, too. Yet, something was wrong. They were smaller than I remember. They should have been larger like I remembered as a child. How could that be? I used the same cutter grandma did. Could it be that when you are little everything is big? 

    Thursday, January 24, 2019

    ARRRGHH! Return Look at 7th Great Grandfather William Portas

    I don't know what to do now. I'm at a loss. This is the time of the year when I should be working on my genealogy/family history and forging ahead, but my gumption is as dreary as it is outside. I come upstairs to my main computer and can't get started. I look at my tree program and there is so much that has to be filled in, I don't know where to start.

    As you know, my priority surname is PORTAS and all its variations. I am a hunter-gatherer. My research has primarily been in Lincolnshire, England. I have many many PORTAS families put together and have joined many of those with my family. I am back to mid 1600s with my 7x great grandparents William and Syllina (BIRKET) m. 26 Jan 1679, Wold Newton, Lincs. Both William and Syllina are buried in Tetney parish church: William 1716 and Syllina 1720.

    Previous posts on William and Syllina:

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013    SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2014    TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014    

    SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2016    SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2018

    I've come to a screeching halt! I should have paid more attention years ago to William's baptism date. I could go further back like I thought I had done. I have unsubstantiated parent names well into the 1500s, but I'm not sure they belong to my line! ARRRGHH!

    Well, someone gave me William's baptism date as "about 1660" and I have also seen it on Family Trees. The date is suspect (no source), but does seem feasible because the parents I have for William were married about 1660. 

    If William was born 1660, that made him 19 when he married Syllina in 1679. Age 19 is feasible since they did marry young back then. Yet, the odd thing is Syllina was baptized 1648 which means she was 31 years old or 12 years older than William. To me that age difference is odd and a little suspect. I'm not saying what I have is wrong, but it is something to have a serious think about.

    I have a feeling his birth was somewhere between 1640-1650? My cousin Margaret has William's father as a Thomas bp. abt 1640 as do others. Could this Thomas be William's brother given the oddity of William's 1660 date and Syllina's 1648? I think that is more plausible. Thomas' father is also Thomas. 

    I haven't been able to find William's baptism in parish records or the Bishop Transcripts, presuming he was baptized in Wold Newton. I've looked in several other possible parishes to no avail. That far back, a lot of parish record pages aren't readable or non-existent.
     William could have been baptized as an adult, too, meaning he and Syllina could be about the same age.

    Syllina was baptized 20 Dec 1648, Ludborough, Lincs, about five miles away. She probably was "in service" at Wold Newton and met William there. Wold Newton was an estate-town owned by the Welfitt family with less than 70 residents around 1675.

    In William's Last Will & Testament, he names his brothers John and George, giving each five shillings. That means both were alive at the time of the 1716 writing. In my database, under William's parents, are brothers John and George, but John died in 1686 - 30 years prior; George was still around? ARRRGHH!

    The naming pattern of William and Syllina's children might give me an idea of a father's name. William and Syllina had seven (known) children: William 1679, Mary 1681, John (died some time before 1689) and Thomas 1683 (twins?), Jane 1685, Elizabeth 1688, John 1689. There aren't any big gaps in the birth dates, so I don't think there are any other children.

    Usually the first son is named after his paternal grandfather, second son after maternal grandfather, third son after father, fourth son after father's oldest brother.

    First born is William, then John who passed away early (his name was recycled with seventh child). Third born son is named Thomas. Following common naming patterns, you would think William's father should be William not Thomas. Thomas (bp. 1640) is my guess for William's "potential" brother. ARRRGHH!

    I don't know if I'm right or not. All I know is I really have to get to a family history center to go through their images. Why oh why did I take that second look at William and Syllina?


    Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Smell of Wet Woolen Mittens in the Early '50s

    It was snowing lightly recently. There was a slim chance of actual coverage to make the roofs in our neighborhood white, but that didn't stop me from thinking about playing in the snow when I was a little girl.

    My doggie came in from the yard with some snow on her back. She smelled like wet wool. It was a distinctive smell I will never forget... It brought back a few memories from days gone by one of very wet home-knitted brown snow-packed mittens dripping on the living room floor. Grandma said, put those mittens on the heater to dry. I minded her; the water dripped on the hot metal of the heater with a sizzling sound.

    I always put my brown rubber boots in back of the heater but not until the packs of snow inside the boots were emptied. My wet socks also were taken off and put on the heater along with my hat and scarf. My coat and leggings were draped on the rocking chair next to the heater. By the time all was dry and I warmed up, I had them on again. As soon as my hat came on, I was out the door for more fun. We didn't have TV to watch the day away. We didn't have iPhones and electronic games to while away the time. There was only the big out doors to play in.

    My brother and I would get busy building snow forts for that inevitable snow fight. Neighbor kids would show up to help build and fortify the walls. There was always a stockpile of snowballs that each of us would put aside ready for the onslaught. I don't remember if we broke up into sides, but I remember throwing and ducking, getting hit, throwing and ducking, but never getting hurt. There was a time or two when a snowball was packed a little too tight and would sting when it hit.

    On newly fallen snow I couldn't wait to go out in the school yard during recess and make a large circle, tamping down the snow into a wagon-wheel figure with a safety circle in the middle. My friends from school would play fox & geese. There was a designated "fox" and the rest of us were geese. We were actually playing tag but only on a grid. We would all race around the circle, some cutting through to reach the middle safety zone taking care not to go off the grid. I don't remember all the rules, I'm sure most of them were made up as the game progressed. It was fun none the less.

    I found this online at Family Reunion Helper

    Of course we made snow angels. Didn't everyone? Snowman?...yes, but not Frosty-type. Ours never come to life. Remember we didn't have TV back then and I don't remember hearing about Frosty until later when there was TV in our house. We wouldn't find the hat or scarf until a day when the snow was melted.

    Sometimes if the snow was deep enough and our driveway was packed, we would get our sleds and coasters out and have fun going up and down the incline from the front yard to the back.

    I don't remember if we would get a treat of hot chocolate and cookies when we would finally decide we were done goofy around in the snow. I'm sure we did because that is what grandmas do. I remember sitting by the heater to warm up.

    As I got older, we also had our backyard garden flooded and enjoyed ice skating.

    I wish I had pictures of my days gone by, but you know most were lost in a house fire.

    Happy memories of rosy cheeks and noses with all-most frozen fingers and toes. It was a simpler life for sure. It was just fun.