Sunday, April 29, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part I

I was born on December 16, 1902, in the town of La Grande, Oregon, in an area that they now call old town {1986}. According to some records I have, December 16, 1902, was a Tuesday, and I was told by my parents that a heavy snow storm was in progress. {The mean temperature in La Grande on that date was 21.5 degrees.}

Slater Building - La Grande Oregon
Slater Building in La Grande, OR built ca. 1891
I was named John, no middle name. I must explain that the first male child in every generation had been named John. I suppose the practice had been going on for many generations (all those named John were subsequently nicknamed either Jack or Jock). Up to this point, all Aitchison children in my generation had been girls, including my sister, Mildred, who was born December 13, 1899. I was nearly beaten into the world by our cousin, Edgar S. Aitchison, who was born in January, 1903. It was a strange fact, but all those Aitchisons staying in Canada produced girls, while the three who migrated to the States (William, Andrew and Robert) produced nearly all boys. {Uncle Jack's great-grandfather and his family emigrated from Scotland in about 1851. His father was born in Sullivan Township, Grey County, Ontario, Canada, in 1865, and immigrated to the United States in 1892.}

At the time I was born, my father operated what was commonly known as a dray business. Since gasoline powered trucks were not yet invented, Papa {William Rutherford Aitchison} had three (3) teams of horses, a couple of what we called lumber wagons and a buckboard (more on buckboards later). His job was about the same as those people now who operated small to medium-sized trucks. And, since La Grande was a so-called railroad town (junction), there was a thriving business in draying. {La Grande was a hub for the railroad. The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company interchanged there and then went northeast to Elgin, also in Union County.}

Incidentally, the house Papa built and where I was born, is still standing {1986}, and on my last visit it had been remodeled and was occupied. {photo will be added as soon as it is located!}

My sister, Mildred, died in March 1903. There had been an epidemic of diphtheria go through the community and it just about wiped out all children five to six years and younger. {Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection usually affecting the upper respiratory system. It includes a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and weakness. Based on information from the 1890 census, diphtheria was the cause of 50 out of 1,000 deaths from known causes in Oregon. In 1900, the highest number of deaths was among those who were from five to nine years of age, followed closely by those one to three. }  On several occasions, I have visited the cemetery and it is amazing what happened. These people had absolutely no protection.

[Your dad {Eugene Aitchison} and I stopped in la Grande circa 1970-1972 and visited the cemetery. There were a couple of men there in the small office. I asked them how man lots my father had purchased. They had records there which showed four lots for which Dad paid $1.50 each. We still have three lots there. I asked what the lots would sell for now. They told me that $1.50 was all they could be sold for.]

Mildred was just past her third birthday and I was about three months. My folks told me that I was very ill for a while, but eventually got over whatever it was.

Of course, my parents were devastated by their loss and vowed to move out of the area, but it wasn't until February or March 1904 (I was a little over one year) that they were able to dispose of most of their belongings and prepare to move. 

Since Mama {Ivy Ellen Johnson/Youker}, had relatives in Fort Boise (aunts, uncles, cousins and at least one grandparent), she and I took the train for the approximately 150 mile journey (possibly more about her relatives later). {This Fort Boise was the relocated fort (from near Parma, Idaho) built in 1863 near the present city of Boise, Idaho.}
Shasta Limited circa late 1900s
By Edward H. Mitchell, San Francisco (eBay item card front card back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 To be continued....

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Walker

F. W. Walker

1844 - 1905

Francis A. (Frank) Walker was born in May 1844 in England. He immigrated to America in about 1860. He lived from at least 1883 until his death in Jefferson County, Washington. He and his wife, Margaret, had four children. He was a lumberman and a farmer. Frank is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Chimacum, Jefferson County, Washington.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

One Man's Journey

John Aitchison, Uncle Jack, began writing the history of his life on January 17, 1986. Rather than calling it a history, he called it "The Story." It was his way of recording "some of the events of my life." At that time, he lived in Yakima, Washington. He sent the story to us on sheets of lined paper, more than 522 of them, all handwritten. His manuscript covers the first 36 years of his life. He began writing when he was 83 years old. He lived to be 92.

"God gave us memory so
that we may have roses
in December"

Uncle Jack was born just after the turn of the 20th century. Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States at the time, serving from 1901 to 1909. There were 45 states in the Union. Subsequent to his birth, five more states were admitted: Oklahoma (1907), New Mexico (1912), Arizona (1912), Alaska (1959) and Hawaii (1959). He lived through historic and tumultuous events. He witnessed a great deal of change during his lifetime.

Over the next several weeks, I will be transcribing Jack's story here, as he related it. In his correspondence to me, he asked that I edit the story if it needed it. He wanted his spelling to be correct, and to leave a good impression on his readers. Oftentimes, he would take a break in the narrative to explain something to me more clearly so that I'd have a better contextual understanding of what he was sharing. He also included drawings as explanations. These things will also be a part of this transcription.

I am looking forward to taking Uncle Jack's journey and sharing it with those of you who find it interesting. In many ways, his story is the story shared by thousands of Americans who lived during the pre-World War II era. I hope you enjoy it.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

On this date...

Just for fun, I decided to sort through my family file for people who were born on this date. With the customized report options I can use in RootsMagic, I found eight individuals. Six of them are biologically related to me; one is a 'married in;' and the other is an in-law.

Happy Birthday to them!
  • Anna Cook was born 14 April 1695 in Tiverton, Newport County, Rhode Island. Her parents were John and Ruth (Shaw) Cooke. Anna died in July 1775 in the same town where she was born. She was my 8th great grandaunt.
  • Mary Ann Everitt was born 14 Apri 1821 in Nichols, Tioga County, New York. Her parents were Dr. John and Sarah (Coryell) Everitt. Mary Ann married Benjamin Loundsberry in about 1850. She was my 1st cousin 5 times removed.
  • Horace Field was born 14 April 1784 in Conway, Franklin County, Massachusetts. His parents were Solomon and Mary (Wright) Field. He married Zerviah Burnham. He was my 1st cousin 6 times removed.
  • Benjamin Fish was born 14 April 1716 in Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island. His parents were Preserved and Ruth (Cooke) Fish. He was my 7th great granduncle.
  • Joshua Isham was born 14 April 1727 in Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. His parents were Isaac and Abigail (Lumbert) Isham. He died in July 1771 in Barnstable. He was my 7th great granduncle.
  • Lydia Parker was born 14 April 1652 in New Haven, Connecticut. Her parents were Edward and Elizabeth (Wood) Parker. She married John Thomas in 1671. She was my 8th great grandaunt.
  • Sarah Tompkins was born 14 April 1763 in Little Compton, Newport County, Rhode Island. Sarah died in 1856. She was the wife of Nathaniel Brownell who was my 3rd cousin 7 times removed.
  • Jonathan Youker was born 14 April 1841 in Prescott, Ontario, Canada. His parents were Phillip and Patience (Stanton) Youker. He died on 6 December 1930. He was my husband's great granduncle.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Gillespie

Cozbi Shull
d. 13 February 1872
Cozbi (or Cozbie, Cosbia, Cosby) Gillespie was the wife of Joshua Shull. She was born about 1840 in Virginia. She was the daughter of Henry and Ellen Gillespie, and lived in Gentry County, Missouri, at least by 1860 when the census taker went through the area. She and Joshua were married sometime between 1860 and 1870. They had four children named on the 1870 census: Thomas, Joseph, Elizabeth and Martha.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

1940 Census - Who have I found?

In a previous post, I decided the first person I would seek (and hopefully find) was my grandfather, Carl Orson Avery. He and my grandma were divorced in Kansas in 1939. The way I understand it, he then left Kansas. He had lived in Bakersfield previously with an aunt's family, so I thought he might have gone there again. I also  know he lived in, or near, Bakersfield, California in 1941 and 1942. So, looking through Bakersfield enumeration districts was my first task. Not there. Neither was his aunt, whose address I'd found.

My mom and I worked together to make the work go faster. After finishing Bakersfield proper, we selected a couple of outlying enumeration districts. There, in E.D. 15-36, we found his aunt and her family. No Carl there, either. We did see a family that could be his second wife's family, but no proof.

Anyway, knowing he'd lived in Oildale at one time, I decided to have a look-see. No Carl! However, I did find ......

Merle Haggard!

He was only three years old, born in California. He was living with his parents, James and Flossie, and a much older brother, Lowell, who was . The latter three were born in Oklahoma. So, Merle himself apparently wasn't an 'Okie from Muskogee,' but his family may have been.

Still looking for Carl...

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Bellis

John M. Bellis
1850 - 1932

 born February 23, 1850 
died December 8, 1932
buried Lewis Cemetery, Ray County, Missouri
John Bellis was the son of Austin Bellis (b. Ray County, Missouri) and Nancy Lewis (b. Kentucky). He was born in Ray County and lived out his life there. He was married in 1878 to Miss Nelia Smith. After her death, he married Mrs. (Susan) Florence Palmer in 1890. John died near Orrick, Ray County, Missouri.

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