Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sibling Saturday: My Brother's Easter Basket!

She didn’t talk to her husband for hours when he came home from work that day. She was terrified, afraid for herself and her precious three children. He did not ask permission, it wasn’t a slight, just a surprise gone a little awry. In that moment she couldn’t see that one day they would become the best of friends. Yep, that day, Dad had brought home a mild mannered Collie and Shepherd blend canine whose name was King. Of course, the kids were elated but the Mom was sure we would all be found dead the next morning, mauled by this intruder!

Stories of King, where to begin?  He was best buddies with the youngest son, Jimmy and the protector of the Mom, Jane. He was a gentle giant but when he wagged his tail everything in its path was on the verge of destruction. He loved long walks late at night, barking at the neighborhood children while tethered to the anchor secured in the middle of the front yard, and vanilla ice cream from Dipper Dan. Yep, when our grandmother was visiting we kids used to lie and say to our Dad, "Grandma said she wants ice cream from Dipper Dan!" She would just smile and Dad would always oblige. We enjoyed ours but King did more! I can still conjure, in my mind, the sight and sound of King lapping up his scoop of vanilla ice cream in his turquoise bowl right in the middle of the walkway from the living room to the dining room.

This was my brother's Easter basket. One year he decided that it should belong to King. One of us kids wrote his name on it and that was it! I have saved it, along with my own childhood Easter basket, all these years. An Easter basket for a dog, weird, I know, but our family is like that, and, remember, I love simple things that remind me of family and special relationships. The price stamp on the bottom of the basket is 89 cents. Now? Priceless!

King was adopted from the Miami Humane Society after weeks of our Dad searching for just the right dog. We think he had been abused, in today's terms, he was a rescued soul.

So, I know that a pet does not really count as an ancestor and King does not fit anywhere into our family tree but who says that the heirlooms that we have from "man's best friend" don't count here, right?! It's my blog and I can write what I want to....! (Can you hear the's gonna' be stuck in my head all day now!)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fearless Females: Wisdom

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?  

Given to me by my grandmother and aunt.

This is the inscription on the inside cover.
Wisdom? Advice?
They gave me THE BOOK on wisdom and the best it!  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fearless Females: An Immigration Story

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

"Back in the day" when finding an immigration record meant that you needed, if I remember correctly, at least three out of five pieces of information about an immigrant family to submit a request to the National Archives, I remember that "bingo" moment when My Uncle Salvatore Abbate provided the missing details. Well, actually, all the details were missing for me. Uncle Salvatore remembered the port they departed from in Sicily, the name of the ship, and the month and year he arrived at Ellis Island, with his mother and siblings.

I carefully completed the application that I had picked up while visiting Washington D.C. and mailed it, yep, snail mail! (Does anyone use that slang anymore? Oops, my age is showing!) Anyway, after months of waiting and pretty much forgetting about ever hearing back, one day, a nice, fat envelope arrived from the Archives. I still remember standing at the mailbox and doing the "happy dance" clutching that envelope in my hands!

The Abbate side of my family is the only one for which I have documentation of the point of entry into the United States and any documentation of their existence in their original "home land." I may be only 1/4 Sicilian but I am certainly proud of the brave family that risked it all for a better life in America.

One of my favorite blog posts is this one, Benvenuti Nella Terra d'America, in which I tell the story of my great grandmother and her children and their voyage to America. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fearless Females: Searching for Mary

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompts: Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

Mary Elizabeth Heath (Thomas) a.k.a. Polly, she's a brick wall alright. I think the wall must be "higher than all the worms!" "Higher than all the worms" is how much we love each other in our family, nobody knows how high that is but I can tell you that it is pretty high!

One of the tough things about Mary is that she is the wife of my other huge brick wall, Jonathan S. Thomas. Jonathan and Mary are my great great-grandparents on my mom's paternal side of the family. I can pretty confidently trace ancestors back several generations on all sides of my family but these two just don't give a clue. Maybe because they had such common names, maybe because they lived in a very rural area, maybe, maybe, maybe....

It appears from US Census records that Mary had two brothers, two half brothers, and one sister. Three of her brothers (including both of her half brothers) were killed in the American Civil War. Her widowed sister, Elizabeth, lived with Johnathan and Mary most of her adult life. It appears, also, that Mary's mother died when Mary was very young, possibly when she was only two or three years old.

Mary was born sometime during 1829, most likely in Johnson County, Georgia. I have traced her in US Census records every ten years from 1830 to 1880, living in Emanuel, Pulaski, and Appling Counties in Georgia. How it is that someone who regularly shows up every ten years in the census is considered a brick wall? Well, I don't know her mother's name, when Mary died, or where she was buried. Just a few pretty important facts to help wrap up her story.

Possible sources for more information? Ummm...good question! I'll have to think about that some more...actually, I think about that a lot! Like great great-granddaddy Jonathan, we'll find your story Mary, we won't give up until we do!

The researcher, the family historian, and the photographer,
searching for Mary (and Jonathan) in Dexter, Georgia, February 2013
Angie Abbate Mood, James Earl Thomas, Vicky Abbate Johnson

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fearless Females: Wow, I did not know that...

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

Oletha Williams
It was definitely an interesting find when I asked my aunt what happened to my great grandmother's second husband. Her response, "I don't know the name of Grandma Baum's second husband, or her third. Mr. Baum was the fourth and they never divorced. According to my mother, he just 'disappeared."  

So, how did I feel? Here's my response to learning that tidbit, "So, today, I think that if she continued to marry she must have spent her life looking for her prince charming, only to be disappointed over and over again, how sad."

It was not all "doom and gloom" however for Oletha Williams (Stockton, Unknown, Unknown, Baum)! Pictures show a vibrant lady who knew how to have fun. She was a single mom, not an easy position in those days, but she thrived. According to family she was always optimistic and a very interesting woman. 

Oletha J. Williams was born in Jackson Township, Ohio on August 23, 1878. She grew up in Ohio and had two older brothers, Cassius Cerine Williams and Emmet Williams. Her parents were Cyrenius Williams and Nancy Jane Estill. Oletha married Owen Delos Stockton on December 26, 1899 in Brown County, Ohio. In the 1900 US Census they are shown living with Owen's widowed mother, Sarah Winner (Stockton) in Ohio.  In 1910 (US Census) Oletha and her daughter (Lena May) are shown as living with Oletha's mother and Owen is no longer in the picture. They divorced at some point in the early 1900s as Owen remarried in 1916. 

In her adult life, Oletha owned a chicken farm, raised mastiffs, and invested heavily in the real estate market in Florida in the 1920s. If you know Florida history then you know that was a huge gamble and her investments went bust like most everyone else's in those days. The 1940 US Census lists her occupation as a hotel maid.  

There is a 30 year gap in my research on Oletha. She disappears from US Census records after 1910 until 1940. I surmise that she spent most of this time bouncing back and forth from Ohio to Miami with a possible side trip to New York where her daughter Lena May lived with her husband Vito/Victor Abbate.  Finding her during this period is going to require some major research since we do not know the names of her 2nd and 3rd husbands...not deterred however, the search continues! 

Oletha's only child, Lena May Stockton (Abbate) was my grandmother. Pictured to the left are Lena May and her mother Oletha and Lena's children, my aunt Virginia Lee Abbate (Thompson) and my father, Victor James Abbate. The picture was taken not long after the family moved to Miami, Florida from New York in 1936.

Oletha died in Miami, Florida in October 1965, she was 87 years old.

Oletha and her mastiff companions.

Oletha on Miami Beach.
Oletha and friends on Miami Beach.

Oletha and daughter Lena May Stockton (Abbate).

My great grandmother, Oletha and I, April 1960.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fearless Females: Social Butterfly

Women's History Month fearless Females blog prompt: Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

Phyllis Margaret Thomas
I think that if I took a family vote the overwhelming response would be that my Aunt Phyllis (Margaret Thomas) would definitely be our family's social butterfly! Aunt Phyllis had friends everywhere she went. I can't say that she participated in any formal clubs or societies necessarily but she radiated on the dance floor and her enthusiasm was contagious. As teens, my brother and sister loved to hang out with her and our cousins and dance the night away! Me, nope, I might be named for her but I, unfortunately, did not inherit the fun side of her personality. I was probably at home reading yet another book!

As a young child we loved to go to her house. There were always people around and she was the mom of our really cool older cousins, Claudia and Tommy We were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted (we always fell asleep long before "late" came around!), we could drink Pepsi with our breakfast, and she often showed up with a whole box of chocolate covered donuts that we would devour. . Yep, she was the aunt, not the mom, so she could pretty much let us run amok, it was awesome!

I thought of her immediately when this blog prompt was proposed because even when she was much older and living at Epworth Village, a retirement and nursing community, she still loved to be around people and people loved to be around her. Proof of that? She was voted "Miss Susanna Wesley," to represent her section of the Village. But that's not all! Phyllis went on to win it all against the ladies from the other areas of the Village, or as we say in the family, Aunt Phyllis was "The Queen of the Nursing Home!"

More about Aunt Phyllis will come in later posts but for today, enjoy these photographs of a special lady being honored because she made people feel special!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fearless Females: She's Newsworthy

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

Mary Anna Ruth Harvey Shepard
January 7, 1847-September 10, 1936

My great great-grandmother, Mary Anna Ruth Harvey Shepard (Granny Shepard) had her "moment in the spotlight" when she was interviewed by a reporter from the Macon Telegraph in the early 1930s. I would think that it would have been pretty unusual that the Macon newspaper would be interested in a story about a woman who lived in the little town of Dexter, Georgia that was some 60 or so miles away. The interesting thing about her, and what sparked the article, was that, at the time, she had 105 descendants. Mary was born in 1847 so she would have been in her mid-80s when this interview took place. She had been a widow for almost 20 years.

Here are a few interesting excerpts about life in the late 1800s:

...."I had a hard time raising my children, too, she said. They're living in paradise and don't know it. I came along just after the war (To Mrs. Shepard there has been but one war, that between the North and the South) and I know about hard times. I raised my family right down here in the 'Piney Woods,' when the nearest store was at Cochran or Dublin. There was no such town as Dexter then. All this country was wild.
"We never knew what it was to buy a pair of stockings. I knitted all my husband and children had. And I spun and wove the cloth to make their clothes, too." "And dyed it, too, ma," interrupted her daughter. I can remember helping to beat up walnut hulls and hunt for gall berries to make their clothes, too."
"We raised sheep and cut the wool off them and wove the cloth, and dyed it and I made all my husband's clothes and my boys', too. We would beat up walnut hulls and boil them and strain them to dye brown with. And we would go down to the branch and break off the gall berry bushes and boil them to make a black dye. The gall berries were gathered in the spring, when they were green."
"There was plenty of wild indigo, growing in the woods in those days. Some folks raised it at home to dye things with, but we got ours from the woods. It dyed blue. And sometimes I would but a little copperas and it dyed a sort of golden brown. Pine bark would make a sort of purple dye.
"Law me alive!" she sighed, "Some of my grandchildren think it is terrible because they have their wages cut. But they don't know anything."
"That they don't!" agreed Mrs. Shepard, "Too much money is not good for anybody. I never had much of it, but I have been blessed to raise such good children and to have so few deaths in the grandchildren, there have only been six deaths.
Not only is the mortality rate low in the Shepard family, the longevity of the family is remarkable. Octogenarians predominate. Mrs. Shepard's mother, Mrs. Jane Harvey, lived to be 86 and most of the members of the past generations lived for more than their allotted three-score and ten years. *

Mary Anna Ruth Harvey Shepard was married to Thomas Hansel Shepard and they were the parents of nine children including my great grandmother, Mary Jane Shepard Thomas. Mary Anna Ruth, too, lived beyond her "allotted three-score and ten years," having passed away on September 10, 1936 at the age of 89.

*The article ran in the Macon Telegraph circa 1931-1933 and was titled, "Dexter Woman had 105 Descendants, All But 12 Living in Same Locality". It was written by Susan Myrick. The excerpts in this post were copied from a reprinting of the the article in the book Dexter, by Amy Holland Alderman.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fearless Females: Working Girls!

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

We Abbate siblings were fortunate to have our mom, Jane Thomas Abbate, at home during our "growing up" years. In the 1950s, before children, she worked at the Dade County Courthouse in the evidence department. She always told us the most graphic (and awful, for me, the squeamish child!) stories about the morbid pictures and items that she catalogued and stored for future court proceedings. She loved that job and I am pretty sure that started her love for reading murder mysteries too!

My paternal grandmother, May L. Abbott, was a stenographer and worked at the Department of Immigration in Miami. This is a photo of a page in one of her course books. The book, titled, Expert Shorthand Speed Course, was printed in 1945 and featured the "Gregg" method of shorthand. Interestingly, all of the pictures in the book feature men working in offices and demonstrating the proper posture, etc. for taking dictation. I suppose that it was not as common for women to work in those days, but then, my grandmother was no ordinary young lady!

My maternal grandmother, Mildred Silas Thomas, worked in the "Infants Department" at Jackson's/Byrons Department Store in downtown Miami after our grandfather passed away. She spent many years working there and I remember that she always rode the bus, come to think of it, I don't ever remember her having a car! I searched all over the internet for a picture of the Jackson's/Byrons logo but found nothing but this more current picture of the building where the department store was located. I did find several articles recounting the Jackson's/Byrons lunch counter and its role as a "ground zero" location during the Civil Rights demonstrations in Miami in the 1950s. Fortunately times have changed a lot since then!

Fearless Females: Religion and Faith

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity

Each of the Bibles pictured here belonged to a female ancestor and/or were given to me by one. They represent a heritage of faith, generations of women who loved, served, and lived for Jesus. Some have verses marked or underlined and others have messages of inspiration or love on the dedication pages. These ladies passed on a pretty amazing heritage and I, for one, am grateful for a mom, grandmothers, and aunts who were examples of authentic faith. 

Here's a story about some of my ancestors, including two women who helped start a church in Dexter, Georgia:

Summer, 1893...the south was still rebuilding after the Civil War. The economy had been in shambles but the railroad was beginning to bring prosperity to a small town in middle Georgia called Dexter. In July, 1893, just before the official incorporation of their town, a group of residents presented "letters from other churches" as a request for their membership to be transferred to form the new Dexter Baptist Church. They met in the local school building until a permanent building was erected in 1903. Check out this link to the Laurens Baptist Association which lists the founding members of the Dexter Baptist Church. You will have to scroll down a little to find Dexter. The listing contains four family members: J. (Jonathan) S. Thomas, J. (John) G. (Griffin) Thomas, Mary J. (Jane) Shepherd, and Mary E. (Elizabeth) Mullis. Jonathan S. Thomas is my great-great grandfather, John Griffin and Mary Jane Thomas are my great grandparents and Mary Elizabeth Mullis is an aunt (Sister of John Griffin, daughter of Jonathan S.) Almost one hundred and twenty years later, Dexter Baptist Church is still there, a newer building, and a congregation with history.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rentz, the Trees, and Aunt Dib!

I'll deviate from the "Fearless Females" series today since the blog prompt will take me back to an ancestor I have already written about several times. I have had this other story on the back burner for a few weeks and then, today, when I was checking in at, I realized that it is the anniversary of the death of a favorite grand-aunt and she figures predominantly into this story. So...

One of the things on our list when my sister and I visited Georgia last month was to stop by Rentz, Georgia, the town where our grandmother was born and raised and where we had spent time as kids visiting family during summers. Top on our list was to see if the trees that stood in front of our grand aunt's house (Corrie Mim "Dib" Silas Davidson) were still standing. We knew that the house had been moved, but, we were really hoping that the trees that were centered on either side of the entrance to the house were still there. Trees? Yep, because when the Abbate siblings were teenagers, visiting our Aunt Dib in Rentz, we carved our names in them!

As we approached Rentz I spotted the trees right away. The Rentz Baptist Church was the landmark that made it easy to find them. The church had bought the property where her home stood many years ago. They had built on the land but the trees were still there. We quickly parked the car and jumped out to see if we could find our names and sure enough, after a little searching, we found them.  Fortunately, my sister had carved the year as well as her name giving us a reference point in time. So, 37 years later Ang, Vicki "76," and "Jim" were plainly visible, a little higher and much wider but definitely still visible!

Of  course, returning to Rentz and finding our names on the trees was great fun but the flood of memories quickly took over as we drove around looking for other landmarks that we recalled. There was not much we could recognized as it appeared as though a lot of "downtown" has been torn down or abandoned. We did find the old gas station where our aunt and grandmother were spared in a traffic incident that included "pushing the foot feed" instead of the brakes one day. Yep, they went careening between the pumps and the building but, thankfully, walked away with just a few scratches!

Corrie Mim (Dib) Silas Davidson
Rentz, Georgia
August 1966

My grandmother, Mildred Arlene Silas (Thomas) and her sister, Corrie Mim Silas (Davidson), were close and lived together for a time when they were both widows. We remember that Aunt "Dib" as we called her (her lifelong nickname) burned her trash in the backyard which probably does not sound like much excitement, but, for us "city" kids it involved fire right in her backyard and that was way cool! We were allowed to eat Cornflakes for dinner if we wanted, hung out on her big front porch in the stiffling Georgia heat, and we walked to "town" without escort. Carefree summer days...

Rentz Cemetery
February 2013

So, today is the anniversary of Aunt Dib's death. She was born on December 4, 1902 and she passed away at the age of 77 on March 9, 1980. She was married to Ewell R. Davidson and they were the parents of one child, Jacqueline Davidson (Moore).  She has grandchildren and great grandchildren that still live in Georgia and nieces and nephews all over the U.S. that, to this day, remember a favorite aunt!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fearless Females: Diary, Journal or Letters?

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompt: Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

Here's a photo of just a small portion of the collection of family photos, letters, and information that was compiled by my mom, Eucebia Jane Thomas Abbate. Yep, she's the one who started this whole "family history" thing I've got going here. She and I made some pretty interesting discoveries about her family over the years.

I find myself wondering if our descendants will get as much enjoyment reading back over our emails and text messages as we get reading over our ancestors letters? Hmmm, there's something about the handwriting, the old stamps, the kitschy stationery...

Here's an excerpt from a note my mom received from an aunt in 1989. Her aunt would have been about 70 years old at the time. The handwriting is perfect but she must have been having a rough week:
"I got these right away (copies of an obituary) and lost them even faster. I found them in this very envelope. Yesterday Grace brought some chicken and dressing for my lunch. Fifteen minutes later I couldn't find it. How would you feel if you walked into the bedroom and found your food sitting on an old hassock? That's exactly how I felt. Love you, Henrietta"
I think that rather than complaining, knowing this aunt, she was probably laughing at herself as she wrote because I remember that she had quite a sense of humor. I am not sure her age had everything to do with losing her lunch...I bet many of us who younger than she was will admit that we have walked out of a room wondering where we left something too!

P.S. The cute little girl in the picture above is my mom and the aunt was the wife of my mom's uncle, John Owen (Pap) Silas.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fearless Females: Family Recipe

Women's History Month...Fearless Females blog prompt for today: Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite?

Isabelle Hume Mood
Our favorite family recipe is Sweet Potato Souffle, a.k.a. Cama's Sweet Potatoes. "Cama," as she was know to our children (her 8th and 10th grandchildren) was my husband's mother, Isabelle Hume Mood. I could get all mushy here and tell you about how she was as "sweet" as this dish but let's just suffice it to say that I could not have dreamed of a kinder, more loving and gentle mother-in-law. I think I can safely speak for her entire family when I say that no matter what really immature or just down right ridiculous things we did, she always encouraged us and was quick with a smile. Her hero quality: unconditional love! She was a special lady who endured great loss over her lifetime but also saw great joy. Check the family recipe page for a transcribed copy of the recipe, and look for more about Isabelle in future posts!

Cama's Sweet Potatoes are a favorite at our
Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners.
One taste you you will know why!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fearless Females: My First Heirloom

Women's History Month...Fearless Females blog prompt of the day: Describe an heirloom you inherited from a female ancestor.  

This lovely Old Colony/Open Lace depression glass butter dish is the first family heirloom I remember receiving. Funny how something once considered a low quality item that was given away with food or gasoline purchases has become so collectible! My aunt, Phyllis Margaret Thomas (Pinder) gave me the dish one year for my birthday. Aunt Phyllis had been given the dish by her aunt (her mother's sister), Winnie Estelle Silas (Lowrance). I did not know Aunt Winnie but I sure did know my Aunt Phyllis, there will be more about her in a post later this month...she's my "social butterfly!"

Winnie Estelle Silas (Lowrance)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Jonathan S. Thomas

Here lies the man who genealogists would call my "brick wall," Jonathan S. Thomas, my great-great grandfather.  Years of "on again, off again" research by several family members have gone into finding who he was, who his parents were, and where they came from before living in the United States.  We've learned a good bit about his life but still have not figured out anything about the generation before him.

We believe that Jonathan was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia (Pulaski County) about 1836.  He married Mary Elizabeth Heath November 30, 1853 and they were the parents of four children, of which two lived to adulthood. The eldest child, Mary Anne Elizabeth Thomas (Mullis) lived in Dexter and raised her family there.  John Griffin Thomas lived there as well and was a widow when he married my great grandmother, Mary Jane Shepherd.

Jonathan owned, farmed, and leased almost 900 acres in Dexter at the time of his death.  He was a founding member of the Dexter Baptist Church and the Dexter Masonic Lodge.  We don't know what happened to his first wife, Mary, but we do know that he remarried in 1891 and had two more children, Grover Cleveland Thomas and Juliana May Thomas.  Juliana died in infancy just days before her mother, Mary Etta McKay (Thomas) died.  Jonathan died on May 18, 1900 at the age of 64.  His grave, pictured above, is located on property he owned and that is currently owned by (James) Earl Thomas, his great grandson.

Angie Mood and Earl Thomas at
 the Thomas property
 in Dexter, Georgia.

My sister and I recently spent a couple of days in Dexter talking to our Mom's first cousin, (James) Earl Thomas, about the family and searching through his box of family papers to see if we could come up with anything on this elusive ancestor.  It was so cool to get the tour of the family land and to see this grave site for myself.  It is located just where Jonathan wanted to be buried, under his oak tree.  Well, the tree has seen better days, but the site is still special! We might have narrowed down just a little on his life in the late 1800s and when he actually moved to this property, but nothing that would help us answer the most important questions. We won't give up on you great great granddaddy, I know the clues are out there somewhere.  Earl and I are determined!

John Griffin Thomas, (James) Earl Thomas, Vicky Abbate Johnson
February 2013 in Dexter, Georgia

Jonathan S. Thomas

Fearless Females: How'd they meet?

Today's Fearless Females blog prompt: Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

I'll have to go to grandparents on this one and it is a story told on my very first blog post, She's A Solid Lady. The "how they met" story that I know is of my paternal grandparents. First, however, let's get their names straight!

Grandpa: Born Vito Carmello Abbate, grandpa went by Victor after arriving in America. Sometime during the early to mid-1930s he changed his last name to Abbott. From that day on he was known as Victor C. Abbott.

Grandma: Born Lena May Stockton, grandma preferred to use her middle name for a first name and her first name initial as a middle name. Got that? She went by May L. Stockton. When she and grandpa were first married they used the last name Abbate but she too decided to "go by" Abbott. From that day on she was known as May L. Abbott.

So, when I asked my aunt (their daughter) how they met, here's her response:
"How did Lena May and Victor meet? I believe they met in Miami on vacation. It was the "in" thing to do for the Ohio crowd to visit Miami during the winter months, and Victor must have done the same. Somewhere there are photos of them hanging out at the beach. Other members of Victor's family must have been in Miami too, because my mother told me they were never allowed to date as a couple. One of Dad's sisters always had to be along!"  

Victor and May Abbott
Austin, Texas
July 1972

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fearless Females: Marriage Record

Continuing to honor the women in our family, today's question from The Accidental Genealogist:

Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

I stumbled on this Marriage License one day while searching the Civil War records for my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Hansel Shepherd. It always pays to look around when searching records. I would not have found this had I not searched several pages before and beyond the pension application that I was originally looking for. This Marriage License was attached to the Widow's Pension Application that was filed upon Thomas' death by his wife, Mary Anna Ruth Harvey (Shepherd).

Here are a couple of excerpts from an interview with Mary Anna Ruth Harvey Shepherd for the Macon Telegraph in the early 1930s:

"My husband was Thomas Hansel Shepherd and he fought in the (Civil) war in the last year. That was before we were married though, he was just a boy!"

"I was married when I was not quite 18 and my husband was just 18 and we farmed, that's about all a boy could do in those days." 

Thomas and Mary were married in Laurens County, Georgia on December 21, 1865.

Mary Anna Ruth Harvey Shepherd
"Granny Shepherd"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fearless Females: Names and Naming Patterns

So, that was quick, I am officially "caught up" with the Fearless Females blog prompts!

Today, The Accidental Genealogist asks: Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern.  If not then list the most unique or unusual female first name you've come across in your family tree.

Well, I am named for a guy so I am not thinking that I will be the subject here today!  No naming pattern for me either although both of my given names are family names.

BUT! Today's prompt is particularly interesting because last night I realized, for the first time ever, that my mom's name is actually a combination of her grandmothers' middle names.  I NEVER noticed that before, probably because she had such an unusual first name and I have always focused on how in the world they came up with that name. (Not just for her but for the two other female ancestors with the same name as well.)  Her name was Eucebia Jane.  Her grandmothers were Minnie Eucebia Alligood (Silas) and Mary Jane Shepherd (Thomas). Mom always used the name "Jane" and was often called "Janie" by family and close friends. She lived in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood later in life and she loved telling her Hispanic friends that her name was actually Eucebia, she had the "Spanish" pronunciation down just right. She always made them laugh!

My beautiful mom Eucebia Jane Thomas (Abbate) at age 19.
The photograph on the television is her mom,
Mildred Arlene Silas Thomas.