Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts

Monday, March 31, 2014

"New" Eckerson house - 100 years later

Pursuing our ancestors in the local newspapers of the time can reward us with some pretty specific nuggets, particularly if our relations lived in a small town.  The editors were always on the lookout for something to fill up the pages, some of which was pretty mundane ("Mr. Smith was in town yesterday doing business at the post office...he reports a fine litter of pigs was born at his place.").

One such item of interest to me appeared in the Centralia Daily Chronicle (Lewis County, Washington).  The issue of Friday, November 7, 1913 published this brief entry:

The Mr. and Mrs. Eckerson, were John and Estella Channell Eckerson, parents of Harold L. Eckerson.  Harold was 11 when they moved into the house, which was located on Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

This photo shows how the house looked some time later, after some shrubbery had matured.
John & Stella Eckerson house, Harrison Avenue, Centralia, WA
Stella was widowed in 1922, and lived out much of the rest of her life in the house alone, except for the period of time she offered room and board to her bachelor uncle, Sam Channell.

Sadly, the house declined over time, and  is now the home of a used car lot, with traffic whizzing by on the widened road.  Going to visit today is like picking a scab, you know you shouldn't do it, but you can't help it.  Interesting to note that some of the leaded glass panes are still in place.

Two different bookends to the life of a house:  the newspaper announcement of a fresh beginning, and its final chapter as a forlorn sales office.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making a Return Trip: Foglesong in Mason County, West Virginia

     Through the years, I've established ancestral connections to many different surnames in a variety of locations.  My approach has always been to work on something until the trail goes cold, then turn to another topic for inspiration.  While it's true that I could have worked more efficiently, had I stuck to one topic for longer periods of time, there was another factor at work.  For me, family history research is supposed to be fun.  If I ignored that, it would be like having one huge homework assignment that never gets completed.  And for me, the fun is in new research, not (unfortunately) organization, or working through a checklist.
     However, as I continue to learn new skills as a genealogist, I'm continually reminded of the value of revisiting my earlier work, and all of those "cold cases."  Many times, they're "cold" because I wasn't thorough enough in my efforts the first or second time around.  (Most of us have been guilty of yanking a book off the library shelf, spending 30 seconds to see whether our ancestor's name is in the index, and quickly moving on.)
     As part of my campaign to do a better job, I made the Foglesong family the target of a recent set of internet searches.  I descend from James Foglesong, born 1814 in Virginia, died 1889 in Lewis County, Washington.  He was part of a large family that spent time in various areas of Virginia, including what would become Mason County, West Virginia.
     Among the search results via Google was one for a Foglesong Cemetery, via the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc., at: .

      This terrific site consolidates cemetery information from northwestern West Virginia. The entry for the Foglesong cemetery contained a wealth of detail about its location, history, burials, and condition (abandoned), as well as several photographs.  The entry states that James Foglesong's father, George Foglesong (1766-1850) is presumed to have been buried there.

Photo courtesy
     With all of the research tools that have become available, this information opens up new avenues of study. How I wish I'd taken the time to locate this information for myself, before I visited the area briefly many years ago!
      As 2014 opens, my resolution will be to dedicate myself to expanding my research, and, hopefully, to "get it right."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Joan L. Eckerson Anderson, 1925 - 2013


The Pacific Northwest got a little less lively on Monday, September 2, 2013, with the death of Joan Lenore Eckerson Anderson, age 88.  Born at home in Centralia, Washington in 1925, to Harold L. and Katie “Babe” Ives Eckerson, “Jo” or “Josie,” as she was known, descended from several old Fords Prairie and Centralia pioneers.  These included her Eckerson, Ives, Channell, Foglesong, and Myers ancestors, many of whom had come to the area long before 1900.  Her mother always said that Jo's arrival was the first of many of her life's dramas, because it occurred during a flood in January, and the doctor had a hard time making it to their house.  Joan attended Fords Prairie School, and graduated from Centralia High School in 1944.  She had many happy memories of growing up as a rural Washington tomboy, even during the Depression, spending time with loving relatives, her friends, and mostly, her beloved horses.  From an early age, she found a lot of joy on horseback, a passion that lasted throughout her life.  Whatever was bothering her, time spent in the barn was the answer.

As an older teenager during the years of WWII, Jo worked at a couple of jobs traditionally held by men.  She rode a bus to Chehalis to work as a “Rosie the Riveter,” at a war-time plant established by Boeing.  There she built aircraft components, proud of her ability to work faster than some of the men.  Jo also worked at a service station west of Centralia, where she had two life-changing experiences.  In 1942, she was held up by two men, who threatened her with a gun held to her back, and told her not to talk.  Not one to like being told what to do, Jo promptly called the police after their departure, and the pair was arrested within two hours.  The second life-changer was when a charming young soldier from Chicago came in to the station, looking to have a repair made to the Army vehicle he was driving.  Although Jo had met many lonely young men stationed at nearby Fort Lewis, there was something special about Jack C. Francis.  During her one year at Washington State University at Pullman, she half-heartedly studied home economics, and worried over his safe return from the battlefields of Europe.  They married in November of 1945.

Married life brought a different set of adventures and challenges.  Jack had a case of “itchy feet,” and they moved regularly, once to Alaska.  Two children came along right away:  James Patrick and Mary Catherine, followed later by Jennifer Jo, and finally John David.  To make extra money, Jo did some home remodeling jobs.  Later, it didn't occur to her children to find it odd that their mother could build a brick fireplace or mix cement.  This was long before the “DIY” movement.  Jo also grew a huge garden, and did a mammoth amount of canning every year.  What she didn't plant, she bought by the box directly from the grower.  We dreaded peeling peaches in the heat of August, but loved opening up those jars in January!

In 1955, Jo and Jack followed her parents, and moved to the Napa Valley of California, where they all decided to take a break from the rains of Washington.  Not long after, Jo began her working career with the State of California, training as a psychiatric technician at the State Hospital in Napa.  This was back in the days when that job required a full nurse’s uniform, which involved a white dress, white stockings, and starched cap.  I still remember her freshly-washed cap, plastered to the refrigerator to dry smooth and flat.  After several years, Jo was given the opportunity to organize an on-site center at the hospital, where donated clothing could chosen by the patients in a store-like setting.  Known as the “Dolly Shoppe,” it was a great success.  The family moved to Camarillo, CA for a year in the late 1960's, so that she could duplicate the shop at the hospital there.  Vacation time always involved sleeping bags and either a tent or a trailer, and hitting the road for the great outdoors.

Our mom did a couple of things right in particular:  as kids, we felt well-taken care of, despite having very little money.  It never occurred to us that we were eating bait (smelt), or cheap cuts of meat (the sparest of spare ribs and round steak), because she made it fun by giving them crazy names like, “fence-post meat.”  We were taught from an early age never to utter a racial slur, and to have compassion for the underdog.

Jo and Jack eventually parted ways.  In 1966, Jo married David C. Anderson, with whom she shared many happy years until his death in 1990.  During their marriage, Jo was able to return to her love of riding and owning horses.  After her retirement, she and “Andy” traveled in an RV to many parts of the United States, frequently to various events devoted to the Tennessee Walking Horse.  In the mid-1980's, they made the decision to move back to Washington.  While still in Napa Valley, Jo had operated a saddle shop called Plum Creek Saddlery on their property.  She moved the operation with her to Washington.  She made many friends throughout the Pacific Northwest, swapping horse stories over the sales.  She was later briefly married to Clarence Guenther of Onalaska, WA, with whom she shared memories of old Washington acquaintances, and also made a return trip to Alaska.

The biggest tragedy of Jo's life was the loss of her son, Jame Patrick Francis, in Viet Nam combat in 1969.  Although devastated, she picked up the pieces and moved on.  This same energy enabled her to develop properties relatively late in life.  As a single woman, she had a house site carved into a slope, had buildings built, had landscaping put in, and moved a horse onto the property, all in her early 70's. 

Jo was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Babe Eckerson, her brother, John Eckerson, her second husband, David C. Anderson, and her son, James Patrick Francis.  She is survived by her daughter, Mary C. Lesch and her husband Bill, whose loving and attentive care helped Mom live way beyond her nine lives.  She is also survived by daughter Jennifer J. Pina and her husband Davie.  Jennifer is honored to have assumed the role of family historian, and firmly believes our ancestors had a sense of humor.    Also surviving is her son John D. (Francis) Anderson and his wife Joyce.  John is our master of revels and tech wizard, who provided Mom with a steady supply of milkshakes and old-time radio recordings.  Jo also leaves six grandchildren:  Christine, Michael, Daniel, and Timothy Lesch, and Rebecca and Irene Anderson, as well as several great grandchildren.

The word “feisty” might have been created with our mom in mind.  At her annual health assessment conference five weeks before she died, Jo had this typical exchange:  when the social worker asked her what year it was, Mom (who was clearly stumped) saved herself by saying, “If you don't know what year it is, you need to go figure it out, I'm not helping you!”  One health provider commented that we must have learned to think on our feet, growing up around our mother.  She never let the truth get in the way of a good story, nor did she miss an opportunity to let fly with a zinger.  At the end of the day, there was no more loving, fun, and generous mama grizzly.  You only have one mother, and ours was unique.

The family wishes to extend their thanks for the excellent care provided by the staff at both Delaware Plaza Assisted Living, and Frontier Rehabilitation Center of Longview, WA, and by David Westrup, M.D.  As her son John said, they helped Mom coast in for a smooth landing.

This tribute can be viewed online at 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jen on Gen Gets Fresh

Vintage children's shoe collection, in possession of the author

     Today marks Jen on Gen's new look.  For some time, I've wanted to update the look of the blog from one of the standard templates offered by Google.  Without wanting to spend a lot of time learning the process to do it myself, I went looking for a template kit.  The nice folks over at helped me over a technical glitch to get it up and running.  I've also ditched the "work in progress" as part of the description.  Since I've been at this for awhile now, it looks as though I'm sticking around.
     I thought I'd take the opportunity to celebrate the freshened look of the blog by sharing this photo of part of my ancestral kid's shoe collection.  I don't know all of the details, but I believe that the tan and black pair on the right belonged to Katie "Babe" Lois Ives, who was born in Centralia, Lewis Co., Washington in 1904.  The white ones on the left were made by hand out of felt.  There might be a Native American connection:  an ancestor either learned how to make them, or bought them from a local Native American woman, in perhaps rural Washington.  They have clearly never been worn, unless it was for two minutes to admire them.
     I look forward to rummaging in the corners of my memory and collection, and bringing some of both out into the light on the fresh new workspace.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Edward Channell family: treasure among the essentials

Signature of Edward Channell in Bible
(In possession of the author)
     Among my ancestors are  many who made the journey across vast parts of the United States.  No, they didn't come to seek their fortunes in the Gold Rush of 1849, nor were they fur traders, or travelers around the tip of South America.  One particular family, that of Edward Channell, made the sensible decision to wait until the railroad had been completed across the United States, and travel in relative safety and "comfort."
     A recent clean-out of my garage made me wonder:  how did I managed to accumulate so much "stuff," half of which I don't remember having?  I doubt the Channell family were able to bring many possessions with them on the move from Douds, Van Buren County, Iowa, to Centralia, Lewis County, Washington.  Thankfully, among the belongings they picked up along the way are those considered treasures by their descendants.
     Somehow,  their massive Bible, printed as a tutorial, has survived.  Whether they carried it with them, shipped it separately, or acquired it later, I don't know.  The complete title is lengthy, but starts out, "Hitchcock's New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible:  or, the whole of the Old and New Testaments Arranged According to Subjects in Twenty-Seven Books..."  It was printed by A. J. Johnson & Son of New York & Philadelphia.  The copyright date, in Roman numerals, is 1875.
Edward Channell family Bible, copyright 1875
     Besides the inscribed name (top), someone kindly included a very specific piece of information.  Considering the long stretch between the censuses of 1880 and 1900, this was most welcome:  the time of the family's move to Washington.  "Edward Channell and Family Emigrated to Wash. Ter. in the month of Sept. 1881."

     I can now visualize this couple as they made the trip across the country by train.  Not only were they leaving everything that was familiar behind them, they had to manage the trip with three young daughters, ages 6, 3, and 8 months!  
     An adventure, indeed...   



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sisters? Not exactly...Rena M. Fuller Ives & Carrie Smith Ives

     Recently, I visited the updated Washington State Library, now located in Tumwater.  I had last used the collection at the old location in downtown Olympia, close to the capitol building.  The new facility makes for a productive experience, with easy parking, helpful staff, and free downloading of materials to your own thumb drive.
     One of the things I was able to clarify, was the relationship between two women who had married into my family, Rena M. Fuller and Carrie A. Smith.  While they aren't "my" ancestors, I thought the clues in their obituaries were worth sharing.  I sure wish this kind of detail would happen to me more often...
     Rena Mae Fuller was the wife of Levi "Lee" Ives, and lived from 1857-1944.  In an obituary of 6 April 1944, in the Herald-Reporter newspaper of Brewster and Pateros, Washington, she is described as "a real pioneer," and "the first white woman along the Columbia River at the place now called Pateros."  (The site was originally known as Ives Landing.)  Her survivors are listed as 3 brothers:  Frank, Arch and Scott Fuller, and one sister, Carrie A. Ives of Pateros.  Looking at my records, and the 1880 census, I knew that a Carrie A. Smith had married Joseph Daniel Ives, brother to Lee Ives.  So, did Rena's obituary really mean that Carrie was a sister-in-law, instead of sister?  Or did it mean something else?  Earlier census records were located for the Riley Fuller family, showing two young females named Rena and Carrie.  Where did the name Smith fit in?
     Luckily, I located an obituary for Mrs. Carrie Amanda Ives, in the Herald-Reporter of 5 September 1946, which brought clarity to the relationship.  "She was born in Gloverville (Gloversville?), N.Y. October 4, 1862.  Her father Edward Smith was killed during the Civil War.  Her mother Mary Haggert Smith married Riley Fuller, and they located first in Illinois, then in Kansas."  With regard to Carrie's marriage to Joseph D. Ives, it states, "They came to Washington state in the early 80's and homesteaded along the Okanogan river, near what is now the town of Monse.  They were the first white settlers in that particular section of the country."  (It's hard to imagine the loneliness these two women experienced.)  Carrie's obit also states that her survivors are two half brothers, Arch and Scott.   Information from Carrie Ives' death record can be accessed via the Washington State digital archives, at .  The names of her parents are listed as being Edward Smith and Mary Haggert.
     The relationships Rena Fuller Ives shared with those who appeared with her on the early census were varied:  father, step-mother, no blood ties, and half-siblings.  Blended families are certainly nothing new.  The census record, however, doesn't begin to explain this complexity.
     Another example of the drilling deeper for "the rest of the story."  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love Over Coffee: Isaac L. Myers & Hester Burgard

     Among the more unusual items that have passed through the generations of my family is this 19th-century coffee grinder.  It's known to have belonged to my 2nd great-parents, Isaac L. Myers and his wife, Hester Burgard, who was called Hetty.  One theory is that he constructed it as a gift for her at the time of their Civil War-era wedding.  I'm not sure whether this part is true.  While there are certainly some elements of the piece which could have been built by hand, the mechanism probably wasn't.  There are some patches of glue on the back side of the drawer, perhaps it was repaired along the way.  I've seen similar items on eBay, so a coffee grinder from this period isn't especially rare.  
     Isaac L. Myers was born 4 April, 1841, in York County, Pennsylvania.  He served just over three months in Company B of the 1st Battalion, PA Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.  The timing of his enlistment, in June of 1863, suggests that fears of the Confederate advance toward nearby Gettysburg must have prevailed over the pacifist teachings of the Church of the Brethren, of which he was a member.  Or, perhaps he was restless for "adventure."  Whatever the circumstances, soon after he moved to Astoria, Fulton County, Illinois.  Hester Burgard, born 31 March 1844 in Cumberland Co, PA, was a member of the Brethren Church there.  Isaac had become the singing master of the church, and Hetty "set her cap" for him.  He never stood a chance:  they were married March 5, 1865. 
     The couple lived at various times in Illinois, Kansas, and finally in Washington state, farming and serving the Brethren community.   They became parents to two sons and two daughters, all of whom left descendants.  Isaac died in 1912, Hetty lived on until 1932.  I was able to visit their last home together shortly before it was torn down.  Today the site, on the corner of Gold & Locust Streets in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington, stands vacant.
     Whatever the origins or value of this old, beat-up coffee grinder are, the link to this hard-working, kind, and loving couple is priceless. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Joanna Ives Faidley: surrounded by her girls

     My grandmother had definite opinions about who she liked and disliked among her relatives. She wouldn't have hesitated to say that her father's sister, Joanna Ives Faidley, was one of her favorite aunts.  Apparently, this was helped by the fact that "Aunt Joie" could be counted upon to take my grandmother's side, when a question of appropriate fashion arose.  My grandmother grew up attending the Church of the Brethren, which her grandfather, Allen Ives (Joanna's father), had founded in Centralia, Washington.  The Church frowned upon extremes of dress.  When my grandmother would ask for her next dress to be sewn in whatever the new style was,  her own mother might frown and be ready to say no.  Aunt Joie could be counted on to come to the rescue, saying it wasn't too extreme, and that it was a fine idea.  Although a devoted member of the Church herself, Joanna Faidley seemed to be pretty whimsical.  She is frequently pictured with a huge grin, and this picture of her own daughters would seem to indicate that they were hardly restricted to severe clothing.  Giving her youngest daughter the name "Bluebelle" indicates that this lady was by no means conventional.  I know the size of the hair bow was envied by my grandmother!

     In this picture, Joanna Ives Faidley is seated in front of her five daughters.  From left to right are:  Mayme/Mamie, Rena, Ida, Lou, and Bluebelle.  My grandmother took a red felt pen many years later and added all the names.  While we might question her choice of tool and placement, I am really grateful to have the information.    Comparing the names to available census listings, the caption on the photograph is probably one of the few places where these women are all named at once.  There are, however, name variations to be aware of for clarification.  Mayme is Mary Elizabeth, born in 1883, Rena is Irene/Irena, born in 1873, Ida was born in 1885, Lou was Frances Louella, born about 1870, and Bluebelle was Kate Bluebelle, a happy surprise in 1892.  Sadly, she only lived to the age of 27, and is buried with her father, John Faidley,  in Kansas. 
     According to the known ages, and the book Family Chronicle's More Dating Old Photographs, 1840-1929, this picture appears to have been taken around 1910-1912.  Note:  on a PC, double-click to open larger.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Probate proceedings: why aren't they all like this?!?

     We've all had great hopes of placing our ancestors in an earlier generation by using wills and probate proceedings.  Unfortunately, too often some hazy terms are used such as "his wife," or "his children."  Sometimes, however, we are surprised by the amount of detail that's been meticulously added.  Here is an example from Van Buren County, Iowa, and the estate of my ancestor, George Channell, who died in 1898.  Note that every heir is named, along with relationship, residence and age.  It isn't as though these are young children, either.  This is an excellent means of confirming information I'd collected from other sources.
     A further example of the benefit of collecting ALL available data, not just listings out of indexes or abstracts.  This comes via microfilmed copies available via the Family History Library.  I viewed them in Salt Lake City, but the film can be ordered online for viewing at local Family History Centers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Allen Ives and the Church of the Brethren, Centralia, WA

      My grandmother was born in 1904, and had vivid memories of her grandfather, Allen Ives, who was born in 1828.  She conveyed the impression that some wished that he'd paid as much attention to his own family as he did to his church flock, but I have no way of knowing if that was true.  I do know for certain that he eventually went blind, which began when a cinder from a pile of burning debris blew into his eye.  It was her job as a little girl to lead him by the hand  to the outhouse, and wait outside for him, which she detested.  
      The journey of Allen Ives took him from Indiana to Ohio, then Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, and ended in rural Washington state with his death in 1911.  Embracing the Church of the Brethren as a young man,  he worked tirelessly throughout his life for the benefit of his fellow church members.  Books on early history of the various communities in which he lived indicate that the founding of a new church was the first order of business when he arrived.  Many of the names of people known to be church members appear to have traveled in the same general pattern, some being family connections.  Perhaps he was directed by church authorities to spread the growth of membership.
     A document in my collection relates the founding of one of the western outposts of the Church of the Brethren, in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington in 1897.  I've left the  punctuation (or lack) intact:

     "Centralia, Wash. - Jan. 2 1897     The Brethren of Centralia, Wash. assembled at the home of Elder Allen Ives for to organize a Church.  the meeting was opened by singing hymn No. 253.  Prayer by G.C. Carl, closed by Bro. Ives.  Allen Ives was chosen Moderator Stated the object of the meeting and the meeting was ordered open for business.  The meeting proceeded by reading all the Church letters that was presented, Namely Elder Allen Ives and Wife.  Sister Christlieb, Sister Benbow, Sister Miller, Sister Hildreth, and Bro. Holcomb.  The following five were received by Christian Baptism at this place, Bro. Weaver and wife, Bro. Armstrong and Wife, and Bro. Roundtree,  Elder Allen Ives."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mining the family treasures for Christmas decor

     The family trips of my childhood were never undertaken without the "toilet kit," a small leather suitcase which served as a sort of portable medicine cabinet. Besides toothpaste, there was always a small jar of Pond's cold cream, Chapstick, with its original, waxy flavor and black metal cylinder, and a tube of something for poison oak, which, when spread over a rash, dried to a nasty pinkish brown patch.  We would set out on camping trips in our unlovely Rambler station wagon, the wooden poles of the tent crammed crosswise behind the back seat, providing a firm neck support.  Most of the time the destination was Washington state, so there'd be rain at some point.  As a result, the green canvas tent always held a strong whiff of mildew.  Arrival at the campsite for the night meant everyone blowing up his or her air mattress, which usually deflated at some point overnight.  I know all this now, but at the time, a trip only meant a wonderful adventure was in store.  We have dozens of beautiful pictures where we're all smiling, so we managed quite well.
     Several years ago, I asked my mother for the "toilet kit" as a reminder of those times.  I think she had to replace the mirror in the lid, but eventually gifted it to me.  Inside was a note which read, "I hope you cherish the enclosed items as they come from my heart."  And yes, there was a jar of Pond's cold cream, a couple of 1960's pink plastic hair rollers, and the like.
     I hadn't remembered that part when I took the suitcase down off the shelf today, and it gave me a real chuckle to experience it all over.
     It had struck me that the case would make the perfect place for items of holiday decor, displayed on my hutch.  I put some wadded newspaper on the bottom, and arranged some fun items like they were spilling out the top.  The felt winter doll is one my sister made several years back.  It's fun seeing the case out on display, and only I know why my decorations carry a faint aroma of a 1960's hair net when I walk past.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mystery classroom, Wenatchee, Chelan Co., WA, 1911

This post card emerged from a collection of materials in my mother's possession, who was born in Lewis County, Washington.  I assume this post card must have been enclosed in a letter to one of her relatives in 1911.  No idea who the people are, but it is interesting to see.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charles A. Ives Property

View of the Charles Abrastus Ives property, Ford's Prairie, Lewis County, Washington.  July, 2011.