Wednesday, December 29, 2021

SIDEROAD: Discovering My Son's Other Father

 I am a proud adoptive mother. My ex-husband and I adopted three amazing kids. My oldest boy, now 31, asked me after last Christmas to help him find his birthfather. It was an open adoption, and we know where his birthmother is, but contact from her has been limited. The birthfather was only a name, and my memory of him as he and she handed their little baby to my ex and I on that life-changing day at the Western mobile home office of the Nebraska Children's Home Society in Bayard, Nebraska on that October day in 1990. I also had a handful of photos the birthmother had provided for my son's photo album.  

The birthfather had a relatively Hispanic name so I knew I had my work cut out for me.  We had my son's DNA in 23andMe, so I had some helpful hints, but absolutely no context into which to put the information. My search skills are advanced and I also had one other piece of information I remembered from the day we all met - he was moving on to Texas to join the rest of his family who had relocated.  Thirty years though.  Still, what are the chances?

Birthfather with his father and brothers
It took me about a month of sifting and message-sending to various DNA-related people until I got a response from the son of one of the people I'd messaged.  We had a good long talk and he filled me in on the greater family history.  The family was originally located in Neuvo Leon in Mexico. Over time, some folks moved north of the current border of Texas and some did not.  They were all descended from Spanish settlers who settled the area and typically intermarried with other Spaniards and tended to have lighter complexions.  I got a lot more history, but I still was stalled out on the hunt. This cousin providing the information knew of the line I was looking for, but did not know much else. Four months passed with no progress.

Sometimes, I count on what I call my "spidey senses" to figure out a problem. That little signal that shoots through me when I'm sure I'm onto something. One day, while searching the same search terms for the twentieth time, my spidey sense started to tingle.

I ran across an article about a man with the name I was looking for. Then I saw his photo and I saw my son in his face.  That was totally weird.  Let me tell you.

I hunted down an email for his business and sent a short note along with some photos of when the birthfather was a young man. I heard back from his niece, who works for him.  She played go-between for the next few emails. He took a DNA test and all was confirmed. I never spoke to him myself, but was able to connect he and my son and a fledgling relationship began. 

They texted for months. Then birthfather visited. Then a half-brother visited. Then my son and his family went to his half-sister's quinceniera where he met his biological grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and his birthfather's wife. They felt welcomed and loved. Their relationship continues. I am thrilled for him.

My son is very close to his father, the man who raised him. But, it's got to be kind of weird for him. I hope my ex realizes my son doesn't want to replace him, but needs this relationship. My son is a little weirded out that his birthfather never asks any questions about his childhood or if he was happy. I found that comical since my son is never one to ask any extra questions or share his feelings without something quite compelling driving him to do so. 

They walk the same. They both pass out when they see a needle or blood. Their bodies are shaped the same and they share the same nose and dimples and the cleft in his chin. It's fascinating to watch. Somehow, my son is finding space in his life and his heart to fit in a passle of new siblings, another set of parents, and keep those of us who've known him his whole life close.  I'm pretty proud of him.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Smith Family: Madge Smith Scoles

 Jacob Smith > William Custer Smith > Edwin Smith > Madge Smith Scoles

Madge Smith was the fourth living child and second daughter of Edwin Smith & Kate Smull Smith. She was born 17 Jun 1897 in Bremer County, Iowa. When just about 23, she married Glenn Wesley Scoles, son of James Francis "Frank" Scoles and Ada Mae "Eda" Tracy on 19 Apr 1920 in Waverly, Iowa. We have another Scoles connection through Edwin's brother Walter. Walter's daughter Minnie married Charles Alfred Scoles, brother of Frank Scoles listed above.

Madge and Glenn farmed outside of Nashua, just down the road from the family "home town" of
Plainfield. They had nine children, all now deceased.

Beverly Bethel Scoles: b 24 Nov 20 and d. 30 Nov 1920 in Butler County.

Jeanette Scoles (Twin):  b. 07 Nov 1921in Butler County d. 28 Aug 2004 in New Hampton, Chickasaw County. She married (1) Harry Bradshaw, whose amazing story is here, 04 May 1941 in Toledo, Tama County; and (2) John Zobeck in 1948.

Annette Scoles (Twin): b. 07 Nov 1921 in Butler County d. 03 Mar 2002, Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky. She married (1) Clifford Valentine Querry about early Jan 1946 but was divorced in Seattle in 1948. Cliff was a Navy man and was on the ill-fated USS Lexington in 1942, but survived; and (2) Melvin Jennings was also a Navy man. He remarried after Annette's death.

Conrad Wesley Scoles: b. 02 Jan 1924 d. 07 Jan 1924 Chickasaw County.

Audrey Gail Scoles

Richard Henry "Dickey" Scoles: b. 28 Apr 1925 d. 13 Dec 2006 Nashua, Chickasaw County. Married Frances D Nehls, 05 Jan 1949, Nashua, Chickasaw County. Early on, he worked for Oliver Co. and then he worked for the railroad for nine years as a section crew worker until the railroad started reducing crews. He then worked as a lathe operator at Hydrotile in Nashua and later for H & H Tool & Die in Cedar Falls until he retired.

Audrey Gail Scoles: b. 03 Jul 1926 d. 27 Jul 1987 DuBois, Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Married Harry Ellsworth Shaffer, Sr. Harry was a career Navy man and they settled in his hometown. I recently connected with two of Audrey's sons. We've also discovered a son born prior to the marriage to Harry Shaffer who was adopted in Iowa. That's a tale for another day.  

Wendell Edwin Scoles: b. 24 Jan 1928 d. 01 Aug 1987 Nashua, Chickasaw County. Married Sharon Juel Reazak, 05 Feb 1949, at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Chickasaw County. At the time of his marriage, he worked at the Capitol Tobacco Co in Charles City.  He went to linotype school and worked for the Nashua Reporter as a typesetter. Wendell served in the Navy, enlisting 10 Apr 1945 and discharged 25 Jun 1946.

Burrdette "Bucky" Howard Scoles: b. 26 Mar 1929, Bradford, Chickasaw County d. 17 Sep 1977
Harry E Shaffer

Des Moines, Polk, Iowa. Married Mitsue Miyashiro. Buck was a career Navy man who died while still in service at the Des Moines Veteran's Hospital.

Service Dates:
Enlistment: 01 Jun 1946 Discharge: 04 Mar 1948
Enlistment: 17 Feb 1950 Discharge: 09 Feb 1953
Enlistment: 18 May 1955 Discharge: 17 Sep 1977

Ronald Glenn Scoles: b. 15 Aug 1930 d. 28 Sep 2007 Charles City, Floyd County. Ron lived with his mom until her death and never married. He is buried without a monument at Willow Lawn Cemetery in Plainfield. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Thomas Munson & The Thomas Munson Foundation

My great-great grandmother Mary Jane Munson Smith was part of an absolutely gigantic family of

Munson's signature of the
founders of New Haven is
fifth down on the left

Munsons that started with Capt Thomas Munson, the first emigrant. Munson came originally from Rattlesden, England and became one of the founders of New Haven, Connecticut.

From the Thomas Munson Foundation website

"The first appearance of Thomas Munson (1612-1685) in America is recorded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1637 as a member of the militia unit engaged in the Pequot Indian War. He signed the Fundamental Agreement at New Haven Colony (dated 1639) prior to April 1640 and established his permanent home. His life and actions are well documented in The Munson Record, Volume I and the Connecticut colony records.

The evidence is persuasive that the Thomas Munson who was recorded as being baptized in St. Nicholas Church in Rattlesden, County Suffolk, England on September 13, 1612, was the same man who later distinguished himself in the public affairs of colonial New Haven. The principal tie is the age listed on his gravestone… aged 73 years, which links well with the baptismal record.

The Church records document that the Thomas Munson of Rattlesden was the son of John and Elizabeth Munson. John was baptized 14 October 1571 and was buried 26 November 1650. Elizabeth was buried 3 January 1634/5. John was the son of Richard and Margery (Barnes) Munson. Richard was buried at Rattlesden on 3 December 1590, while Margery was buried there 7 February 1622/3. (The Munson Family of County Suffolk, England, and New Haven, Connecticut, Milton Rubincam, The American Genealogist, January 1941.) Thomas Munson of Hartford and New Haven married Joanna. This marriage produced 3
children (generation 2): Elizabeth, Samuel, and Hannah. Generation 2 produced 19 generation 3 descendants (grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna); Generation 3 produced 66 great-grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna (generation 4).

From the beginning of TMF, a “Clan-based” structure was recognized. Originally, each TMF Clan was understood to consist of all identified linear descendants of Thomas and Joanna through male lines; as Clan Head was the great-grandson in that line; the Clan bore his Name. 17 such Clans were recognized. Obviously, many lines from Thomas and Joanna were overlooked in this structure: the descendants of Elizabeth (generation 2) and Hannah (generation 2) as well as all the female lines in later generations. In 2008, TMF broadened the definitions to recognize descendancy traced through all the great-grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna. Thus were identified as many as 43 potential new Clans. To date, descendants in 7 of these have been located and their new clans have been activated. Listed on this website is the current list of 24 Clans."

The early Munson's lived in New Haven. Here's a neat image of where the early Munson's lived in town:

I am from Clan William. I have purchased the first two volumes of The Thomas Munson Genealogy and though Clan William is completely left out of Vol II, enough information was available in Vol I to help keep my efforts going. Clan William seems to have a lot of people who moved West early on, which could account for the genealogy not being able to keep up with their movements while Vol II was being prepared. I'm awaiting Vols III-V to see where I've gotten it right/wrong/or where the genealogy document needs some help. 

There are well over a million living descendants of Thomas Munson living in the US today. Wow! 

Leland Barr and World War II

SMITH, Jacob > SMITH, William Custer > SMITH, Edwin > Smith, Vivan and Leland Barr

Leland Barr was the husband of my great aunt Vivian. I had warm feelings for her. She and Leland never had any kids, but Vivian was very fond of all of  us as well. He was born in 02 Nov 1906 in Shell Rock, Iowa. 

Vivian visit Leland before he left
for Europe
Uncle Leland was very quiet. Didn't see him smile a lot and can't recall anytime where he was laughing and joking, but he was a nice enough guy. He served in World War 2 and his service record isn't entirely clear, but this is from an earlier post:

Vivian met a young man from Shell Rock, Leland Barr, son of  William Barr and Marie Hufstader. In 1938, they married and she and Leland set up housekeeping in Plainfield. He made his living doing day labor. In April 1943, they moved to Waterloo where he had secured employment with Rath Packing Company, a major employer with good pay and benefits. Then, in August, Leland was drafted. He was and sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic and advanced training in October.

After a 10-day furlough, he was sent to England and spent the next two years attached to the 49th Combat Engineers serving in England, France, and Belgium. While overseas, he fell into a mine shaft and was seriously injured; his legs were never the same. After the war, he was discharged as a private in December, 1945, returning to Waterloo and started work at Hartman Locker. He was rehired by Rath in early 1947, and according to Evelyn’s daughter Cheryl, he had a job  operating the large swing doors in the plant which wouldn’t tax him too much due to his war injuries. He remained with Rath until retirement.

The other day, I spoke with my cousin Tony, who had found a box of Vivian's things that had been in the care of my Uncle Harold who recently passed away. Yesterday, I went through the box and found a minor treasure of things from Uncle Leland's service.

Good Conduct Medal, WWII

These are not all identified, but the one on the bar is the Victory Medal and the one on the right is a campaign medal (which I believe is not identical, but similar to the one on top with three clusters. The one on the bottom looks like the Bronze Star ribbon, but there is absolutely no indication Leland received such an award.

This photo includes his death certificate. He was hospitalized and died on one of my leaves and I attended his funeral in 1979. He is buried in Waterloo, Iowa. There is a certificate of service which he had framed, his death certificate, a letter from the War Department regarding his service, a copy of his basic training book from Ft Leonard Wood, MO (where I would attend basic training 35 years later), and finally, a Nazi Iron Cross - source unknown.

The Iron Cross was worn by Nazi soldiers during WWII
There is a swastika and "1939" raised on the cross.

I'm left with more questions. Why does he have a bronze star ribbon? How did he get the Iron Cross? What were his experiences in Europe? There is no one left to ask.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Jacob Smith: Setting the Record Straight

Old Fennimore: Sixty years after the Jacob Smith Family Arrived

This is my response to Ancestry Family Trees that have Jacob Smith dying in May of 1858 in
Fennimore, Grant County, Wisconsin.
It is my belief that this is wrong.

Click to enlarge

Jacob Smith is my 3GG. It is believed he was born in 1798 in New Jersey or New York (no confirming documents have been discovered) and also that his father was James Smith (reportedly of New Jersey), who later moved to Ohio. There are available records of the existence of both James and Jacob in Ohio. 

Jacob married Mary Catherine "Cathie" Randolph at an unknown location and date. In 1820, Jacob was living in Richland, Belmont, Ohio and in 1840 he was in Smithfield, Jefferson, Ohio. Birth records of his children also detail that the Smith's lived in Guernsey, Ohio (1822) and Harrison County (1826 until at least 1831) before ending up in Jefferson County.

In 1846, Jacob's oldest son James and his wife had their third child, John Richard, in Grant County, Wisconsin; their previous child, Alexander, was born in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1845. So, we can presume, since they all went together, that they arrived in Wisconsin in late 1845 or early 1846. Jacob and children are all reflected in the 1850 census in Grant County.

Oddly enough, there was a second Jacob Smith living in the Fennimore area at the same time my Jacob Smith lived there. It is his death date that is attributed in error to our Jacob Smith. 

This was easily disproved through two documents: The obituary of the "other" Jacob Smith and the probate documents of the same "other" Jacob Smith.

First, the obituary: 

"Mr. SMITH was born in Wayne county, Penn., March 19, 1829, son of Jacob and Sophia (WHEELER) SMITH. His father was born east of the Green Mountains, in Vermont, in 1802, and his grandfather was a clergyman of the Methodist Church, and lived in New England al his life. Jacob SMITH was the youngest son in a family of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, all of whom were given Bible names, as was the fashion of the times. The sons were called Simeon, Reuben, Daniel, Abram, Isaac and Jacob. The names of the daughters cannot now be obtained, as that generation has passed from earth. In 1824 Jacob SMITH married Sophia WHEELER, who was born in Massachusetts, her birth occurring the same year as her husband's. She as a daughter of Simeon and Polly (NOBLE) WHEELER. Her mother was a daughter of Capt. Charles NOBLE, a Revolutionary soldier, who died before the close of the Revolution, from disease contracted in the service. Melford Pratt SMITH therefore is a great-grandson of a Revolutionary soldier. The NOBLE family was long prominent in Massachusetts. Four brothers came from England in early Colonial times, and from them are descended the greater part of the NOBLES in the United States.

In 1826 Jacob SMITH, with his wife and only child, removed to Wayne county, Penn., and in 1853 the parents, with their family, then consisting of six children, came to Grant county, Wis., and settled on a farm in the town of Fennimore. Within six years after their arrival five of the family had passed away. The parents and three of their children, Algernon and Celestial and Cecilia (twins), had succumbed to sickness, and gone on "to join the great majority," The children reached maturity before they died. The mother's death occurred in 1857, and the father's the following year. There are now living of this family, Esther (the wife of O.N. SMITH, of Eau Claire, Wis.), Melford P., and Alfica (of Iowa)."

Click to enlarge
Last Will & Testament of the "Other" Jacob Smith

Click to enlarge

In the end, we are put in a place that the best we can narrow down my Jacob Smith's death date to between the census of 1850 to the census of 1860, where in 1860 his wife is found living with his mentally disabled son and spinster daughter in the home of their son William Custer Smith in Fremont Township, Butler County, Iowa. 

We may never know what exactly became of Jacob, but there is a high likelihood he did not ever come to Iowa with several other members of the family, but died in Grant County.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Smith Family: Lydia Hinmon was Unlucky in Love

Lydia Hinmon was connected to the Smith/Smull/Munson families by marriage in multiple ways. Every time I read about her, I can't help but feel she was super unlucky with love. Her parents were George Hinmon and Anna Lewis, who originally hailed from New York State and later Erie, Pennsylvania, and then pioneered to Jasper County, Iowa. The two children I was able to locate were George Richard Hinmon (1833-1914) and Lydia (abt. 1839-bef. 1885). George would settle in the Bremer/Chickasaw, Iowa County area and several of his children would intermix with ours.

While still in Concord, Erie, Pennsylvania, Lydia married William C Stuck (05 Aug 1855).  The young couple lived in Albion in Dane County, Wisconsin. In 1860, their only child, Llewellyn Jermiah Stuck was born. He would live in Floyd County, Iowa for a time as an adult, but eventually he and his wife Mary Campbell would live in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. They had many children.

William Stuck fought with the Wisconsin 5th Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He began his service in late May of 1861 and lasted until the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station in Virginia which began 07 Nov 1863. He was injured in battle and died in a Washington DC hospital.

"Pressured by Washington to make another attack on General Robert E. Lee’s army in northern Virginia, and perhaps enjoying the success of his partial victory over Lee at Bristoe Station three weeks earlier, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade ordered an assault against Lee’s infantry along the Rappahannock River on November 7th, 1863. A single pontoon bridge at Rappahannock Station was the only connection between Lee's army and the northern bank of the river. The bridge was protected by a bridgehead on the north bank consisting of redoubts and trenches. Confederate batteries posted on hills south of the river gave additional strength to the position. As Lee anticipated, Meade divided his forces, ordering Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick to the bridgehead and positioning Maj. Gen. William H. French five miles downstream to engage a Confederate line near Kelly’s Ford. To counter this move, Lee shifted a force under Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes to Kelly’s Ford, where they were overwhelmed by French. At Rappahannock Station, Sedgwick’s men skirmished with Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates before launching a brutal nighttime bayonet attack. The Federals overran Early’s bridgehead taking more than 1,600 prisoners. Defeated, Lee retreated into Orange County south of the Rapidan River while the Army of the Potomac occupied the vicinity of Brandy Station and Culpeper County. Later in November, before the winter weather ended military campaign season, Meade would attempt one more offensive against Lee at Mine Run."
Second Battle of Rappahannock Station
(click on image to increase size)

In 1866, she married George Harshman in Jasper County, Iowa. George was a widower with two young sons. The marriage didn't last though. George moved on to Nebraska and died in Scottsbluff in 1898.

The next chapter in Lydia's life was her marriage to widower Francis "Frank" Doole. Doole had a long marriage with Martha Shaw, but she died in 1879. They had five children. Lydia married him the following year in 1880 in Floyd County. Frank, by all accounts was cantankerous and difficult. Some of his shenanigans included plowing up the tombstone the children had placed for their mother and being arrested for running a "Blind Pig. What's a blind pig? In the Midwest, Blind Pigs started in the 1880s and were quite a problem, according to the anti-alcohol crowd. It got its name because some wily proprietor would sell tickets to a back room to see a "blind pig," and the ticket price included a drink." 

The last time Lydia is seen in records is in the 1885 Iowa State Census, when she lived with Frank and his son William. Then, she disappears. Dead? Did she divorce him and move to Wisconsin to be with her son? We don't know. Doole married my great-great aunt Sarah Smith, a lifelong spinster in 1887. She divorced Doole before their deaths.

Hoping to find someone in the Doole or Stuck families who might have the answer.  

Monday, November 23, 2020

Munson Family: Harry K. Newburn, University President

Samuel II Munson > Calvin Munson > Susanna Munson > Jacob Newburn > Charles R Newburn > Harry K Newburn

Samuel was the father of my 4GG, Freeman Munson, Calvin was Freeman's oldest brother.

Harry Kenneth Newburn was the middle son of three boys of Charles R Newburn and his wife Mary Alice Bayless. He was born Jan 1, 1906 in Cuba, Fulton County, Illinois. He married Wandaleigh "Lee" Brady on Jun 16, 1928 in Burlington, Iowa.

Harry attended university at Western Illinois University, graduating in 1929. He got both his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, finally completing his formal education in 1933. 

His first jobs were in K-12 education, teaching high school and serving as both principal and superintendent in Iowa and Illinois before accepting a position as dean of the liberal arts college at the University of Iowa in 1941. 

In 1945, he accepted a position as the president of University of Oregon, where he made great strides in improving the university and elevating its position in the University system. The U of O website describes his term as 8th university president as:

"When Harry K. Newburn became the eighth UO president, he faced a rapidly growing enrollment on an under-staffed and under-built campus. Student housing was inadequate to meet the 81 percent enrollment increase from 1945 to 1946, and long-time faculty members were reaching retirement age. Convincing the legislature to allow salary increases, he enabled the UO to compete for and attract more highly qualified professors. The classroom, office, and housing shortages were met with a variety of responses, some temporary, such as Quonset huts used as classrooms, and others more permanent, such as the building of Emerald Hall and the establishment of single and married students housing. During President Newburn's tenure, the number of graduate degrees earned also increased dramatically." ~ University of Oregon  

Newburn had a good, solid career at U of O. I found this little vignette about his sense of humor (very academic, that humor): 

"The university's eighth president, Harry K. Newburn, was not without a sense of humor. In a series of letters sent during Oct. 1949, professor Eldon Johnson submitted to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts an emergency request for the creation of the class "Pipe Smoking." President Newburn responded that while the course "passes through all sixteen committees," he could not submit the request for the course to the State Board of Higher Education. He did, however, recommend the book reading list be made available in the browsing library, and that there should be lectures on the subject." ~

He held the position at Oregon until 1953, when he resigned to take a position as president with the Ford Foundation's Educational Television Foundation and taught at Arizona State University. 

In 1959, Harry took a position as president of the Montana University. This was his most challenging and clearly most frustrating professional challenge to date. Montana University, formerly known as Montana State University, had many presidents prior to Newburn coming on board. Tenures were relatively short. Newburn was known for wanting to ensure the university could attract brilliant teaching minds and wanted the salaries that would attract those types of educators. The Board of Regents did not feel that was a priority. When Newburn resigned in 1963, Time Magazine described MU as a "graveyard of presidents." Though Newburn did not publicly state why he departed, it was widely believe his growing frustration with the Regents on a number of important issues and financial support were to blame.

Off he went in 1963 to his new position as professor of education and as director of the ASU Center for Higher Education. He took the position as president of Cleveland State University from 1965-1966, returning to ASU as Dean of the College of Education and in 1969, he became president of ASU until 1971. Harry's last position was as president of Cleveland State University from 1971-1973. In 1973, he retired to his home in Arizona.

Harry had a heart attack in 1974 and was taken to Desert Samaritan Hospital, where he died four days later, on Aug 25, 1974. He was 68.

As I was reading about Harry, I noted how important the role of the wife of the president plays in the career of the president (during that time, only men were named president, so no politically incorrect terminology is intended). Wanda was a great partner and did all the right things as she raised her own three children and provided important support to Harry. I found this great article about their arrival to University of Oregon and the coverage she herself received.