Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anniversary: Forrest & Vella Alley

My paternal Grandma's older sister was Vella Church, born 17 November 1898 in Calhoun County, West Virginia, to Eli Church and Lenora Summers Church. (Note that their names appear as Ely Church and M. Sumers Church in the birth register entry for Vella.)

Eli and Lenora moved their family to Moundsville in 1913 - and sometime within the next six years Vella met Forrest William Alley, pictured with her in this photo taken in 1919:

Forrest W. Alley and Vella Church

On 28 June 1922, Vella married Forrest, who was the son of Elias Sheridan Alley and Mary H. "Mollie" Young.  Although the marriage license was issued and recorded in Brooke County, West Virginia, the actual marriage apparently took place in Marshall County.  The preprinted location of Wellsburg is crossed out in the Ministers' Return section of the record where W. C. Harold certified that he united Forrest and Vella in marriage at Moundsville.

Forrest and Vella had four children, all born in Moundsville.  Forrest died in 1952 at the young age of 55.  That must have been an extremely rough year for Vella as both of Forrest's parents also died in 1952.  But she continued on, living until 24 June 1989 when she passed away at the age of 90.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Memories of Garages and Snakes

Yesterday's post on my sister's blog has an interesting title:  "Country Life = sssssSnakesssss" which got me to remembering snake events when I was young.  But first, a little background ...

When I was two years old, Mom and Dad bought a small piece of property from Dad's parents and built a cement block garage across the road from Grandma and Grandpa.  It was designed to eventually be a one-car garage with an attached workshop.  The garage was to serve as a temporary home until they could build a house - so it had a regular front door and a big window in the spots designed to one day have two garage doors.

Much to Mom's dismay, the years kept rolling by and we were still living in that garage.  It was comfortable enough ... one side had a living and dining area and a bathroom, the other side had the entry, master bedroom, kitchen and a laundry/storage room.  We had a sleeper sofa in the living room that served as my bed - it later became a bed for two when my sister was born.  Mom did eventually get her house 12 or so years later when I was a freshman in high school.  But I digress ...

Living in the country, we occasionally had small garter snakes get inside.  No big deal.  Until one day when the snake wasn't a garter snake.

I was still pretty young and we were getting ready to leave home.  I opened the front door and was mesmerized by a big snake that was coiled up between the screen and the wooden door ... a copperhead!  I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the snake.  I can remember standing there watching it as it was flicking its tongue - while Mom and Dad were yelling to move back NOW.  Turned out there was a nest of baby copperheads outside the garage below the big living room window, just a few feet from the front door.

Yes, life in the country does indeed include snakes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

West Virginia

All native West Virginians know that 20 June 1863 was the date when West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union.  I won't go into the historic details here ... check out the West Virginia Division of Culture and History article, "West Virginia Statehood" or any of a multitude of web sites.

Genealogists often run into changing county and state lines.  There is a great set of maps on the VAGenWeb site that shows the progression of the changing county lines in Virginia and West Virginia.

Many of my ancestors lived on what is now Fork Ridge in Marshall County, West Virginia.  Consider the history of that area:
  • In 1721, it was in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
  • In 1734, it was in Orange County, Virginia.
  • In 1745, it was in Augusta County, Virginia.  Was also called West Augusta District.
  • As of October 1776, it was in Ohio County, Virginia.
  • As of 12 March 1835, it was in Marshall County, Virginia.
  • And finally, as of 20 June 1863, it was in Marshall County, West Virginia.

In many family histories, the transition from Virginia to West Virginia is often handled by recording the state where something happened as (West) Virginia.  Any time you see this, it indicates that the event occurred in an area that is now in West Virginia, but was in Virginia at the time it happened.  A great example:  Census records for 1870 and later often record the place of birth for persons born prior to 20 June 1863 as West Virginia when it was actually still Virginia.

The trick is to remember to always consider the date and the location together.  There are a lot of folks whose location changed from Ohio County, Virginia, to Marshall County, West Virginia ... and they never even moved!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day 2011 is drawing to a close as I write this ... I hope it was a great day for all you fathers.  To all the sons and daughters, I hope you were able to spend some time with your father or at least able to connect through any of the technologies we have available these days.

If your father has passed away, I understand ... my own dad died unexpectedly in his sleep in 2009.  This is a photo of Dad and me in front of one of Mom's rosebushes.  It's still hard to believe that he's gone.

Don Kuhn with daughter, Jo Ellen ~ 1960

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Memories of Sue Ella (Aston) Chambers

A year ago today, my cousin passed away after a life that was far too short.  Sue was born 23 August 1955 in Glen Dale, West Virginia, and died 16 June 2010 in Suwanee, Georgia, at the young age of 54.  She had to deal with numerous health issues through the years, but she had a strong faith in God that carried her through.

When we were young, we spent a lot of time together - our mothers, Eva (Harris) Aston and Louise (Harris) Kuhn, were sisters and we only lived a few miles apart.  Aunt Eva's family, including her widowed mother, Dessie (Aston) Harris, lived on the Harris farm on Brushy Ridge where Aunt Eva and Mom where raised.

When Mom was very sick and sometimes in the hospital when I was young, I would stay with Aunt Eva.  (Earlier this year, I wrote about one Easter I spent there.)  Of course we visited there a lot even when Mom was healthy, so I have a lot of memories of times spent on the farm ...

Sue and I climbing into bed with Grandma Dess on the many nights I stayed with them.

"Driving" cars around on the toy room's lineoleum floor that had roads or streets (some details are just a little hazy now!) - the toy room was a small room off of Grandma Dess' bedroom.

Swinging in one of two swings that hung from a huge willow tree - a superb place for two little girls to play.

Spending time in the barn while the milking was done.

Riding Trigger, a black and white pony, while Sue lead him around the yard.

Riding the school bus and playing Authors with Sue's deck of cards.  I also remember that Sue carrying dolls (Barbie?) in a little red case to play with on the bus when we were in grade school.

Walking up and down the hillsides and all through the woods looking for wildflowers.  Sue and I had a school project for which we had to collect and dry wildflowers, and research the botanical info about them.

The memories go on and on ...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kuhn Boys

Sometimes a simple photo is better than a lot of words ... this one from the early 1930's shows my dad, in the center, with his two older brothers.

Dale Milton Kuhn (1925 to 1990)
Donald Glenn Kuhn (1929 to 2009)
Philip Lee Kuhn (1923 to 2005)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June Brides

Today is the wedding anniversary of my parents, Alda Louise Harris and Donald Glenn Kuhn.

Yes, Mom was a June bride ... and as I thought about that I got to wondering how many other June brides there were in my family.  I tend to categorize people as ancestors in the lines of my grandparents; i.e. surnames of Kuhn and Church on my Dad's side, Harris and Aston on Mom's. 

01 June 1850Rachel Reed and David Summers
12 June 1865Martha Ellen Matthew and Joseph Summers
20 June 1934Lenna Alice Church and Allen M. Bonar
23 June 1926Eula C. McMillan and Okey Anise Church
28 June 1922Carrie Vella Church and Forrest William Alley
01 June 1815Cleopatra Sherwin and Rufus Bartlett
02 June 1901Leota J. Howard and William Ollison Harris
02 June 1955Freda Fay Landers and Homer J. Stewart, Jr.
07 June 1911Virginia R. Genther and Pardon Smith Harris
08 June 1929Fay E. Harris and Curtis S. Blake
14 June 1894Olivia "Ollie" Harris and Charles Keller Stewart
18 June 1850Emeline S. Bartlett and John Rulong
22 June 1907Letha Harris and Frank Allen
28 June 1919Grace Iona Parks and Oren Elson Rulong
29 June 1860Isabella Littleton and John A. Harris
15 June 1926Clara Edith Kuhn and Joseph Serenella

Interestingly, I found no June brides in the Aston line and only one in the Kuhn line other than Mom and Dad.  In the interest of privacy, this list does not include couples in my records who are still living - if they had been included, there would have been Astons and more Kuhns.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paden Island, West Virginia

Are you familiar with Paden Island? In spite of growing up only a few miles up-river from it, I had never heard of Paden/Paden's Island until I was reading through the Civil War pension papers of my 2nd great-grandfather, William S. Church.  That was a few years back, but my current reviews of my info before I "go live" with a genealogy website have brought the island back to my attention.

It is commonly reported in a variety of records that William was born in Wetzel County, Virginia (which of course changed to West Virginia in 1863). Courtesy of distant cousin Candace Church, I have copies of several of the documents relative to William's "Invalid's Pension" entitlements for his Civil War service. I found a couple references to his place of birth:
  • "paten ilant, W Va" from a document he completed and signed 23 March 1915. (It becomes clear as you read this form that William wasn't one of the best spellers!)
  • "Patens Island, Wetzel County, W Va" from the Declaration for Pension filed on 08 August 1921

I believe both of these are misspellings of Paden Island, an 81-acre island in the Ohio River next to Paden City.  While Paden City straddles the line between Wetzel and Tyler counties (Wetzel was formed from the northern end of Tyler County in 1846), the island is part of Wetzel County.

Based on info from a variety of sources, Obediah Paden, patented 2,000 acres of land in 1796 (or 1790) which became known as Paden's Bottom. He reportedly paid $1,333 for that river bottom, surrounding hills, and the island in the Ohio River that was lying in front of the valley. In 1877 the U. S. Mail Service came to the town's new name, Paden Valley. In 1895 Paden's Valley changed it's name to Padensvalley (one word); then to Paden City in 1903.

One of the better written and quite interesting accounts of the life of Obediah Paden can be read at "A History of the Paden/Peden Family;" it supports most of the info shown here.  Other sources include a history of Paden City and the city website.

In the 1800's, there were families who lived on Paden Island for several years; there are no longer any active human residences. I have not yet found when that changed, but Paden Island is now part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
"Public uses of all types have occurred on and around the Ohio River Islands in recent years. The relatively undisturbed nature of many of the islands have made them popular areas for nature study, hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, and pleasure boating. As islands are acquired for the Refuge, only those uses determined to be compatible with Refuge purposes will be allowed to continue."

A website about Ohio River fishing maintains that Paden Island is good for fishing:  "The head of the island is best—fish the gravel and small rock for black bass."