Saturday, April 8, 2017

Old Easter Pictures and Keepsakes

Digging around in my stash of pictures I came across this one of me. I would guess I was about 10 years old which would put the picture at Easter time 1955. I was dressed in my Easter finery. My mother was a seamstress and she made this coat and more than likely the dress I was wearing also.The hat and purse was probably store-bought to match. 

I think back now about how many outfits my mother made for me for so many occasions including my wedding dress for my first marriage. I wish I had pictures of everyone. Back then I really didn't know how lucky I was to have a mom who could do all that.

Well, what is in the background of the picture lends itself to another story for later. There are so many memories that lie in those two structures in back of me.

Brother John and I felt one Easter we weren't kids anymore and the game of parents hiding the eggs and we find them had come to an end. So that year 1957 (on front of picture below), John and I hid the eggs and our parents went to find them. Mom found one in a cabinet and John snapped a picture of her discovery. That was a fun day and appropriate for our last family egg hunt.  

There were two dozen eggs hidden, 23 were found on Easter Sunday...the 24th was found several months later. It was behind the mirror above the kitchen sink! 


I don't have many Easter items, but I do have a few keepsakes which I'd like to share with you. As you can see in the bowl on top there are some wonderfully decorated eggs I have picked up here and there and a couple I did pick up in Germany one year. I just love them. 

The large white egg is blown milk glass and was my grandma Porteous'. I don't know how old it is, but it is Victorian. My paternal grandparents were married in 1895. The egg could be from that time or before. I had always admired and loved that big egg. I would make sure it was brought out and displayed on the Easter table when I was a little girl. The paint on the flowers and lettering is fading or missing in spots, but that doesn't matter to me, it's still the most beautiful egg I've ever seen. 

I checked online for any similar ones and none compared to mine. For the ones I saw, the prices range from $12 to $150. To me -- mine is priceless.

The bottom picture is of a vintage glass setting hen. This covered glass bowl was always on our Easter table holding jelly beans. It might have had something else in it at one time or another, but that is what I remember. What I have in it now are the little cotton chicks (made in Japan), a toy pheasant, and a chenille Easter bunny holding a carrot. I don't think they are very old, maybe from the 1940s or 50s. They are saved from my childhood.

It's interesting what we cherish and the varied reasons we have for keeping them. It's the little things like these items that bring back warm memories of my grandma and my childhood.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

One Summer Just Zipped By

There was always something going on in our backyard. Brother John would come up with the most interesting and sometimes crazy things to do.

One summer back in the late 1950s or early 60s, one such crazy idea my brother had was a zip line. This was long before it was called that. Nowadays you can buy kits for the back yard or go to an expensive park attraction to zip. What John did was on the cheap and totally homemade. 

We had a huge old black walnut tree at the end of the driveway and a short distance from our chicken coop on one side of our backyard. I think my grandfather had planted it around 1900. By the time brother John tied a thick rope around the upper half or so of the tree, it was really big. I think it would have taken two or three kids to wrap their arms around it, it was that big.

Anyway, a block and tackle thing something like this one pictured was threaded on the rope and the other end of the rope was secured to a smaller tree about 50 feet away (maybe more) at the edge of our stand of trees we called the little forest. The starting end of the rope was attached about 20 or so feet up the walnut tree – much lower at the other end, therefore allowing for a thrilling ride. There was another rope hanging from the pulley thing which allowed us to whip the pulley thing up to whoever was in the crook of the tree waiting their turn to zip. The person waiting would grab the pulley by the hook, he would push off from the walnut tree holding on for dear life and zip down the rope in a good clip only to end a moment later using his legs to break at the smaller tree. Once at the end, I don't think there was a problem dropping from the pulley to the ground. At least no one complained about the distance. And the ritual would start over again.

We had a short ladder propped up against the tree which reached a branch we would grab onto to boost ourselves up to another branch in order to climb the rest of the way to start our extreme sport. Waiting to ride, we would hug the trunk of the tree. I'm not sure if there was a smallish platform at the jumping off point or not.

For a long time, I was the only girl allowed to climb and ride. I guess I was somewhat of a daredevil, or just crazy now that I look back on it. There were several of my brother's friends who participated, too. It was hours of fun most of the summer. No one wore a helmet or pads. There was no break on the pulley to stop us – only our legs. No one ever got hurt either.

One instance I remember, a girlfriend of mine wanted to have a ride. So the guys helped her up the tree and onto the seat. As she was starting to zip, one of the fellows grabbed the dangling rope and held my friend in the middle of her run high enough up she couldn't (or wouldn't) jump down. She started to scream to let her down, but they held her up there for what seemed an eternity and finally released her to finish her run. She never asked to zip again!

For the longest time we were all holding on to the hook, dangling as we went down. I don't know why, but one day there was a crude seat attached to the pulley hook. The seat was a piece of wood with small ropes on each side similar to a homemade swing's seat. Zipping down wasn't the same; the adrenalin rush didn't rush as it did for us holding onto the hook for dear life. The fun pretty much subsided.

This is how I remember it. I'm sure my brother could add a lot more stories to it. I don't remember how long our fun lasted that one summer. Once it ended, I'm sure brother John was on to something else before school started. There was always something going on in our backyard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Thought I Threw It Out

My ornament isn't much to look at. It is very plain. It is paper thin and feather light. The color is gold and is wearing thin; in some spots it is nonexistent. I love it though. It was my grandma Porteous's and more than likely from around 1895.

Bob and I emptied our china cabinets and packed everything away. We were having our living room and dining room floors done. We didn't unpacked anything until we painted the two rooms several months later. Just before Christmas, everything was put back into the cabinets. All the containers emptied and packing paper thrown out.

Only one item was missing from the display in our larger cabinet. I had the leaf stand, but not my ornament! I felt so bad and a little empty. I thought we threw it out with the paper since it was so light weight. Bob assured me we didn't and said I probably just put it someplace safe and didn't remember where. For a couple months now every time I thought about the ornament, I'd look in drawers, containers, and small boxes, but didn't find it. Now it is middle of February and I was still wondering where is it.

Well, today I was in the dining room, just standing there for no reason I could think of. I have no idea why...maybe it was fate. I walked over to the big china cabinet and stared at some of my crystal dishes. I looked at my dried bridal bouquet in the large crystal snifter and saw some wadded newspaper under the bouquet. What in the world was that doing in there? Well, low and behold, there it was. I had put grandma's ornament in there for safe keeping! I quickly unwrapped it and replaced it on the stand. I thought I had lost it, but again it is safe and sound in my china cabinet. I feel better now.

Grandma Porteous's Christmas ornament. It is very thin and extremely light weight.
I believe the ornament is from around 1895.
The only thing not that old is the neck, ring, and holder.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Grandpa Porteous From a Tiny Pair of Shoes

Some may say I was a snoopy little girl when I opened my grandmother’s built-in cabinet’s drawer chockfull of wonderful things to explore, but I prefer to be called a young family archaeologist uncovering historical family artifacts from the depths of grandma’s pullout treasure chest. The drawer’s treasure helped develop my curiosity for my ancestors. 

Under the hand-crocheted doilies and embroidered napkins was a black hat – oval in shape, no brim, but had folded up flaps hugging the sides with the ribbon tails dangling from the back. This hat has long disappeared. I guess it was a Glengarry hat which goes along with the family story we were Scottish. I had always wondered about that, but I have yet to find any Portas family connecting outside of Lincolnshire, England.

Another interesting item was a pair of tiny leather shoes with a button on each to clasp the straps. They looked like a pair of girls Mary Jane's or ballet slippers. Grandma said they belonged to my grandfather and they went along with the hat. 

As the story goes, grandpa had these shoes when he came to America in 1870 at three years of age along with his parents John and Mary Ann Portus, his older sister Georgianna, and little brother John Henry. That’s 147 years ago!

William was born  22 Jan 1867 in Nether Hallam, Sheffield, Yorkshire. He’d be 150 years old now. Almost a year later on 22 Dec 1867 he was baptized in St. Michael’s Coningsby, Lincolnshire parish church although they were living in Horncastle.

William's birth entry: Twenty second January 1867, 40 Portland Street, William Dennis, Boy,
(father) John Portus, (mother) Mary Ann Portus formerly Vanplew,
(father's occupation) General labourer,
X The mark of Mary Ann Portus Mother 40 Portland street Nether Hallam,
(date registered) Twenty eighth February 1867 by Henry Bloor Registrar.

Baptism entry in the parish record of St. Michael's, Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
Dec 22 (1867), William Dennis, (parents) John & Mary Ann, Portieus,
(abode) Horncastle, (father's occupation) Labourer

Coningsby parish church St. Michael's. [photo by me]

The family sailed from England in April of 1870 aboard the ship SS Malta, arrived in New York on 3 May, and were living on Maple St. in Mechanics Grove, Illinois, (now Mundelein) in time for the 1870 federal census on 21 June. The manifest was hard to find as their name was PORTEUS and I was unsuspecting of that spelling. And only John was listed, Mary Ann was listed as M.A.  On the 1870 census, our surname looks to be spelled phonetically probably due to the heavy Lincolnshire accent of my great grandfather John. The proper Scottish spelling of our name – PORTEOUS – as our surname is now, was first seen in Lake County. In Lincolnshire, England, our surname was spelled PORTAS or PORTUS. As my genealogy advanced, I realized not to rely on one spelling.

All young William's belongings were in this wooden trunk. His name is carved on the top.

Federal Census
Fremont township in the County of Lake, State of Illinois, enumerated 21 June 1870.
Post Office: Deans Corners.
You can see our name is now spelled PORTOS, both John and Mary Ann are 28, Georgiana 4, William D. 3, John H. 1, all born in England.

I grew up in the house grandpa built for grandma as a wedding present. It was a big two-story house located next to Lincoln School on Maple St. in Mundelein. The house is no longer there, but the house across the street is one Mary Ann’s uncle John Rouse secured for them to live in temporarily before moving to the Midlothian Road house. 

Panorama view of Maple Ave. houses. You can see the W.D. Porteous house and the school next door. Evidently this image was taken before the orchard was put in.
Another view of the Maple Ave. house. Aunt Violet, my dad's older sister is
standing by the orchard where the chickens are running free.

I don’t know much about William’s boyhood in Lake County, Ill., except the family settled in a house on Midlothian Road just west of Diamond Lake in Fremont Township. It was mostly small farms and prairie there. I’m sure he had fun exploring, fishing, and hunting. My dad was good at that, too.
The Midlothian Rd. house. Sitting on the porch is great grandma Porteous; she could be holding a baby, 
standing in front of porch is great grandpa Porteous and Georgiana, 

and on the side by the driveway is William. 
I wish I had a larger image of this house, but this is the best I could get.

I have grandpa's autograph book presented to him 24 June 1883, which would make him about 16-17 years old. It was probably a birthday or graduation present from his great aunt Matilda Rouse. My grandmother Carrie Ida SNYDER wrote in it as a “friend” in 1890. I also have her book in which William wrote in 1889 “Ever remember a friend.” 

Grandpa and grandma would be married a few years later in 1895. William and Carrie had four children, three of which lived to be adults. They are Violet, Carroll (my dad), and Mildred (aunt MiMi). I don’t have a record of the fourth because he/she died at birth and maybe was never named. I heard it was a girl named Ruth, but can’t verify it. 

Marriage - 22 October 1895. William was 28 and Carrie Ida Snyder, 26.
They were married at the Snyder home.

Grandma and grandpa's wedding picture.

Family Tree!
Grandma and grandpa in front. Aunt Violet and aunt Mildred sitting in tree
with my dad Carroll standing in tree.
William became a naturalized citizen 16 March 1888. He was 21 years of age. Normally, a child would have become a citizen when his father did, but John didn’t become a citizen until two years after. 

A petition, final oath and certificate (minor).

William was a carpenter contractor. He had a ditch digging machine and had a threshing machine which he had hired men to work for him. Most of my information comes from stories told by my aunt Violet and Grandma. I have not put them all together yet. Some may be subject to my memory or to theirs – I’m currently poking around for proof. 

Ditch digging machine in front of the Maple Ave. house. Aunt Violet is standing on it.

I did learn William was a magistrate/justice of the peace, according to the curator of the Fort Hill Historical Society there. He was also AREA/Mundelein's Treasurer.

1922 Directory for AREA (Mundelein).

I have an envelope with William’s corner card return address showing the title of Village Treasurer.
Envelope with my grandfather's corner card (return address).
Village Treasurer

Obituaries can hold a lot of information. I found out more about him from his 1927 obituary. 

W.D. Porteous Dies Suddenly
The Mundelein community was deeply shocked Wednesday afternoon by the sudden death of William D. Porteous, one of the oldest residents of that village and a man prominent in the civic affairs of the community. His death was due to heart failure superinduced by over exertion when he tried to raise a ladder to the roof of his home which had been ignited by sparks from the chimney.
    The fire was discovered shortly after noon Wednesday by school children in the school yard which adjoins the Porteous home. The alarm was given by Mr. Porteous who has been under treatment for some months for heart ailment, rushed to the rear of his garage to secure a ladder. He had carried the ladder to the house and was about to raise it when seized.
    An employe of the Public Service Company who is a member of the first aid team of that organization, was working nearby and hurried to the aid of the stricken man. With the help of others who had arrived on the scene he worked for some time to rekindle the spark of life but his efforts were unavailable.
    Dr. J.L. Taylor, who had been hastily summoned, stated on his arrival that death had been practically instantaneous.
    In the meantime the fire department had extinguished the blaze with but a minor damage to the roof of the home.
    The inquest was held Wednesday night and the jury returned a verdict of death from heart failure.
    William d. Porteous was born in England and came to this country at the age of four years with his parents who settled in Fremont township. He has been a resident of the village of Mundelein for the past thirty years where he has held the office of village treasurer since the incorporation of the village under the name of Rockefeller in 1909.
    Mr. Porteous was a carpenter contractor and was actively engaged in that profession until ill health forced his retirement from active work.
    He is survived by his widow and three children, Mrs. M.A. Chandler of Mundelein, Mrs. Frank Druba of Waukegan and Carroll who lives at home. He leaves also one brother J.J. Porteous of Libertyville and one sister, Mrs. C.G.Small who is now enroute from California.
    The funeral services will be held at the home on West Maple avenue at two o'clock standard time Saturday, Rev. C. Arthur Jevene officiating and interment will be made in Ivanhoe cemetery. The services at the grave will be in charge of the Ivanhoe camp of the Modern Woodmen of which he is a member.

Headstone in Ivanhoe Cemetery. Find A Grave Memorial# 65551437.

Memorial certificate from the Modern Woodman.

Little by little I'm finding more things about my grandfather. These details and proving some of the stories will put “meat on the bones” of his life and give me a better picture of just who he was. My family history research never ends.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'm Intrigued by Teague

It’s the beginning of a new year – 2017, and I wish you all a very happy new year. I started this post on the last day of 2016 and was hoping to squeeze in one last post before 2017 comes. Well, I didn’t succeed. There is just too much going on over the new year holiday and it was hard to sit down and write let alone concentrate.

Image of what Teague and other men may have 
looked like in the Plymouth Colony during the 1600s.

As I trudge away gathering information on my recently known-about 8x great grandfather Teague Jones, I’m reminded this genealogy/family history stuff can leave you hanging high and dry as well as reward you with information which will catapult your research beyond your imagination. I think high and dry takes center stage in its own little way.

I’ll start by explaining I don’t have all the information I need, but nonetheless what I have is a start. I have consulted cousin Kevin’s extensive research on our FOWLER family. I regard his research as being accurate and highly trustworthy. He is the one to tip me onto the lineage of Mercy Jones, my 5x great grandmother who leads me back a couple generations to Teague. So I will lay out this story as best as I can. My other sources vary from NEHGS databases to Find A Grave to FamilySearch and Ancestry to History of Cape Cod and some on Rhode Island.

Fowlers First
In past posts I have talked about my gr-gr-grandfather Luther FOWLER and his father Abel Jr.; some of his father Abel Sr., but not much on Sr.’s father Simeon who married Mercy JONES 20 Mar 1745 in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. So far there isn’t that much to say about Mercy except she was born 17 Jan 1727, East Greenwich, Rhode Island to Jeremiah and Mary [REYNOLDS] JONES. Mercy along with husband Simeon are buried in the Fowler Private Burying Lot in White Creek, Washington Co., New York

Now the Jones
Mercy’s father Jeremiah JONES was born about 1680 in Yarmouth, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts (Cape Cod) to Josiah and Elizabeth [BERRY] JONES. Josiah was born in Yarmouth also about 1661 (but possibly 1652) to Teague JONES. Elizabeth was born about 1656 to Richard and Alice BERRY. I don’t know where, but would think it be Yarmouth also because Teague and Richard were friends and lived in the same area.

We don’t know where or when Teague was born, but the possibility he was born about 1620 is more likely. He could have been born in England or then again his birthplace could be the Plymouth Colony. No one seems to know from where Teague comes. Nor do they know who his parents are. It is so frustrating not being able to go back one more generation which is more than likely across the pond.

There is no proof of who Teague’s wife was either, but speculation on many online family trees states she was a Wampanoag Indian named Ruhamah Samoset. Cousin Kevin just said she was possibly Wampanoag. Ruhamah is a biblical name which could be from her Indian heritage or maybe from a white Christian family. One of Teague’s daughters was named Ruhamah. So my 8x great grandmother’s name is most likely that. I have seen online DNA reports stating there was no native American blood in their lineage. This leads me to believe she was born to a non-native family.

According to "JOSIAH & ELIZABETH (BERRY) JONES, BIOGRAPHICAL ITEMS" article on FamilySearch, Frederick Freeman in his “Annals of Yarmouth” states that "Yarmouth records prior to 1677 were lost and we have only imperfect materials for the early history of this town." So proving anything about Teague is somewhat hard. Some of the information could be just storytelling. In my tree program, I have listed five children born to Teague, but no one seems to be able to be prove much since records are scarce to nonexistent. Conjecture is, they are more than likely his children because of their ages and places born.

Teague is another name for Timothy or Thaddeus. It is said, Teague came to the colonies about 1645 from England, at least that is when his name first shows up in records, but according to the History of Chatham, Early Settlers by William C. Smith, "Teague Jones came first to Yarmouth soon after its settlement, being then a young man." Yarmouth was "organized and incorporated as part of the Plymouth Colony on September 3, 1639" according to wikipedia. In the History of Cape Cod by Frederick Freeman, the part about men of Yarmouth, there was a mention of my 8x great grandfather: "In 1645 the name of Teague Jones appears as a soldier from this town, in company with others in the Narraganset war.” His name was also mentioned on a 1675 list of tax-paying inhabitants and their comparative wealth: Teague Jones, £2.4.

There are accounts of Teague being reprimanded for not going to “meetings.” Also he and his friend Richard BERRY were told to "part their uncivil living together in 1653" and Teague and Richard were found playing cards on the Sabbath much to the chagrin of the townspeople. Teague was accused of sodomy by Richard, but later in the trial, Richard recanted his accusation. After all that, Teague’s son Josiah married Richard’s daughter Elizabeth in 1677. This is the line I descend from. 

The following accounts were among compiled stories found on a website by Scott Robson,
"According to the public records, he was not altogether a desirable citizen. In 1653 he and Richard Berry were ordered 'to part their uncivil living together.' In 1655 he had dispute with an Indian, Mashantampaine, about a gun, which the Court ordered to be restored to the Indian. In 1667 he was complained against for not coming to meeting. His fondness for strong drink, also, caused him trouble with the authorities.”
Another account on same website:
"Oct. 29, 1649, Richard Berry accused Teague Jones of Yarmouth of the crime of sodomy, and Jones was put under heavy bonds for his appearance at the March term of the Court to answer. At that Court, Berry confessed that he had borne false witness against Jones, and for his perjury was whipped at the post in Plymouth. Richard, notwithstanding his humiliating confession that he had sworn falsely, and his visit to the whipping-post, continued to live on excellent terms with his friend Teague at Doctor's Weir, near the mouth of Bass River. The court, however, thought differently, and caused them 'to part their uncivil living together'. Teague's son Josiah later married Richard's daughter Elizabeth Berry in 1677."

There has been speculation he is the son of the Mayflower’s captain Christopher Jones, but no one has been able to prove it. Interesting bit nonetheless. Scott Robson found this:
"Teague is also a surname in England, which led me years ago to surmise that possibly his mother's [maiden] name was Teague. While in SLC last spring I found a marriage in St. James, Clerkenwell, Middlesecc, ENG, 1617, for Richard Jones and Helen Teague. They are certainly the right generation to be the parents of Teague Jones. Unfortunately, I looked through the printed transcriptions of the St. James records, and there are no children being baptised during the right time period with Richard Jones as the father, with or without a mother named Helen. I looked through all the rest of the transcribed & printed London parish registers, and found nothing. Somewhere I have a copy of the actual record as I found it in the St. James parish records, but I can't put my hands on it right now."

Many early deed records don’t exist because of a fire in 1827, but I found an item of interest on about Teague Jones.
Added by Elwin Nickerson II about my Great Grandfather: Citation as Follows: Teague Jones came to Massachusetts at a very early date, since he appears at Yarmouth in 1645 among soldiers ‘school went forth wth the late expedition against Narrohiggansets and their Confederates,” in Oct of that year. [Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 2, p. 91] On 14 Feb 1673/4 he bought a farm at Monomoit from William Nickerson Sr. bounded on the north by the White Pond and land of John Nickerson and on the east by “the highway that leads into the Inlands”. He also obtained by the same deed six acres of upland at the Oyster Pond, two acres of meadow at Oyster Pond and two more acres on the south side of the pond as well as thirty acres of meadow at Gregory’s Neck on the east side of Taylor’s Pond, South Chatham. On 27 Dec. 1675 he added five acres to this farm lying between the pond and the highway and bounded on the east by Edward Cottle’s land in West Chatham. On 29 May 1691 He sold his farm on the west side of the Bass River to his son Jeremiah. Josiah Jones and Joseph Eldridge owned the adjoining farms.
[added by Elwin Nickerson II, Documents on file- SEE Vital Court Records Barnstable, Year 1737- also Note John Chase on Record the Year April 8/1715 Account of Teague Jones Living on BASS River wife Family (About the Year 1660)?. Taken from family records of Ruhamah Jones my Great Grandmother.]

When I found this description of the land Teague owned in Chatham, I was curious as to where it was in relation to where my brother and sister-in-law lived and Oyster Pond sounded familiar. I found Oyster Pond on the map marked “A” and then looked for Waveland Ave. marked “C”...the arrow shows approximately where Dwight’s house is. “B” is possibly “the highway that leads into the Inlands.” So I can’t be sure without a proper deed, but it sure looks like Dwight and Florine live on or very close to the land of our 8x great grandparents! 

Years ago, I had no idea my mother and aunt Florence’s stories of those times and our family were true. I was of the thinking our Fowlers were the only ones who I should investigate. It was naive of me, I know, but as research continues, I did come to my senses. Dah...where there is one marriage, there are parents and grandparents...well, you know, and soon I had more names to research. 

Not having much conclusive evidence about Teague Jones life and times in the Plymouth Colony kind of leaves me high and dry. Yet, just knowing he is one of my early colonial ancestors, intrigues me; I want to learn more about Teague and my JONES family. 

My having family at the beginning of our country really intrigues me.