Armistice Centennial

US_Flag_BacklitExactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and then the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.

This is a revised version of a post I did five years ago. Since then, some family members have died, and I’ve discovered twenty-seven additional family members who served our country. Note that I have included only relatives who served the United States or the colonies that would eventually become the United States.

Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 7

Happy Mayflower Day, everyone! 398 years ago today—on September 16, 1620—102 men, women, and children left Plymouth, England, and set sail for the Colony of Virginia in the New World. They were unsure how long their voyage would take, whether they would survive the voyage, or what their lives would be like once they landed in the New World.

We now know that their voyage took 66 days, that 5 people died at sea, that the rough winter seas forced them north to Cape Cod, and that their late arrival led to the deaths of nearly half of the crew and passengers during that first winter. My 11th-great-grandfather William Mullins was among those who did not survive that first harsh winter.

Thankfully, my 10th-great-grandparents John Alden and Priscilla Mullins survived that first winter and went on to have ten children together, including their daughter Ruth Alden, my 9th-great-grandmother. Continue reading

Mystery photo: Snowplow and songs

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, so I figured I’d write an easy post about a mystery photo I keep stumbling across. I’m hoping that someone out there reading this might be able to help me identify it. Maybe you’ll recognize the people, or the machines, the song list on the back, or the handwriting of the song list.

I found the photo in a small pile of papers that my grandmother Dorothy Ruth (McMurry) Black inherited from her aunt, Dorothy “Dot” Mary Bailey. Most of the papers were about Dot’s husband Clarence—his WWI service, his life insurance, his parents, and his recent death. Dot had apparently gathered together papers to help her collect Clarence’s life insurance and widow’s benefits. Clarence died in 1982.

There were, however, three prints from my grandparents’ 1955 trip to Disneyland, and an envelope of what look to be color negatives from a 1950s? family vacation. So from the context in which the photo was found, it appears to be from my father’s side of the family. Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 6

It’s been an oddly ambiguous couple of months here in the BlackenedRoots household with  regards to my application to join the Mayflower Society.

As you’ll remember from my last update on this topic, I mailed off my initial stab at documenting my Mayflower line to the State Historian for the California Mayflower Society nine weeks ago. I expected to wait a week or two and hear back from the Historian about parts of my Mayflower line that needed to be better documented. That’s how I figured the Mayflower Society dance went—submit your best effort, be told many parts are weak, resubmit with better documentation for those parts, be told that still a few parts are too weak, resubmit with better documentation for those last few parts, be told that still one part is too weak, resubmit with yet more documentation for that one last line, and finally be told that your pedigree is ready for the scrutiny of the National Office.

Mine didn’t quite go like that. Continue reading

Happy Father’s Day, 2018

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, whether living or amongst the ancestors.

My own father, Keith V. Black, died a little over two years ago. I miss him sorely, but he left a lifetime of memories that will keep him forever alive in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him. My dad was a complex person with several sides to his personality. He was always young at heart—in many ways, he was a teenager well into his seventies. He was an outdoorsman, an enthusiastic participant in the car culture of 1950s Van Nuys, an aspiring photographer, a businessman, an enthusiastic early adopter of technology (he computerized his business in 1978), a passionate fan of music of all genres, an artist, an avid learner, a solitary recluse, and an outgoing man who made friends wherever he went.

He was also a father who was terribly proud of his kids. We may not have always known just how proud he was of us, but as I’m going though his papers I’m learning just how much he defined himself as being the proud father of two children he loved more than we knew.

Here are a few shots that capture my dad doing what he loved more than almost anything else—being a dad. Continue reading

Some Lake Odell photos 1962–1963

I was going through a box of photos my mother had saved from her childhood and early marriage years, and I came across this collection of photos from Lake Odell in 1962 and 1963. As Lake Odell brings back fond memories for many in the Askew, Prettyman, Flaten, and Montgomery families, I thought I’d share them with you.

Odell Summit Lodge was run by members of my family until it was accidentally burned down in November, 1971. It was owned by my grandmother Harriet (Askew) Prettyman’s two brothers and one of her brothers-in-law—Bob and Frank Askew and Howie Flaten. The three men and their spouses lived at the lake year-round and together with help from other family members, they ran a lodge, rented out cabins, ran a store, rented boats, and served up meals. Every summer, members of our extended family would travel up to help run the lodge in the busy season in exchange for a nearly free vacation.

I’m gradually accumulating enough info on the decade-long run of the Odell Summit Lodge to write a history of our period of its history, from its purchase by members of the Askew clan, to the building of a new lodge, to the accidental burning of both old and new lodges, to a last-ditch effort to rebuild the resort after it burned. But that’s too much for a lazy Sunday. For today, I’ll just present the photos from 1962 and 1963. Continue reading

More early Disneyland photos

Dan and Polly, this one’s for you. For those of you who are regular, long-time readers of my blog, you know I’ve got a sweet spot for Disneyland history. I’ve previously published two posts (this one and this one) on photos I found of my father, uncle, cousin, and grandparents visiting Disneyland on opening day on July 18, 1955. So you can imagine how happy I was when I stumbled upon some new photos of Disneyland in the 1950s.

This time, they’re photos taken (presumably by my mother) in July, 1959, just four years after Disneyland opened its doors to the world.

Unfortunately, my mother took photos as I did in my teens—careful to make sure none of those pesky family members got in frame lest the shot be ruined. Sigh. Teenagers. Amiright? Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 5

Just a quick post to update you on where I am after another three weeks on my Mayflower Society quest. The quick answer: I spent two weeks hearing nothing from the California Historian of the Mayflower Society, and making depressingly little headway on my own. I sent off more requests for birth and marriage certificates and made relatively little progress (I did make a few small discoveries that I’ll share with you below).

And then—bam!—the long-awaited letter from the California Historian arrived with my worksheet and a handy three-page guide to proving my Mayflower line and preparing my lineage papers. I say “bam!” because that guide indicated that I might already have everything I need to establish my line. The standard of proof, while tough, is nowhere near as tough as I imagined it would be. Continue reading

Aunt Dot’s high school graduation

I was lucky enough to know my dear “Aunt Dot” well into my college years. Aunt Dot was Dorothy Mary Bailey (1896–1987), and she was my grandmother Dorothy Ruth (McMurry) Black’s aunt, so she was my great-great-aunt. She was an impressively graceful, charming, loving, and selfless woman. In fact, she also appears to have been a poised little girl as well. You can see for yourself—she’s the little girl in the center of my site’s banner photograph.

Dorothy and her husband Clarence had no children of their own, and treated my grandmother as the daughter they never had. I often felt that I was also the great-grandson they never had. In any case, when Dorothy died, she left everything she had to my grandmother. When my grandmother died, it all passed to my father, and with my father’s death two years ago, I inherited a lovingly cared-for set of photos, letters, documents, and other artifacts that I’ll be sharing with you over the coming years.

For today’s post, I’d like to share Dorothy Bailey’s high school graduation program. Dorothy graduated from William Winlock Miller high school 104 years ago today—May 28, 1914. Continue reading

John Ogden “The Pilgrim” (1609–1682)

I just bought myself a little pre-Father’s-Day present to start reading on an upcoming long road trip this weekend: Jack Harpster’s 2015 John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609–1682), and it arrived in the mail today. I’m really looking forward to reading it over the next couple of weeks. I ordered the 1858 Vinton genealogy a few days before this, but that looks like it’s not going to be here until mid-June. So it was totally reasonable getting another book in the meantime, right?

I also figured that with all the attention I’m spending on joining one or more hereditary societies this year—all of which are currently based on my father’s side of the family tree—I shouldn’t neglect my mother’s side of the family. So mom, uncle Dan, Jill, and all of my Askew kinsfolk reading this: this one’s for you.

To give you an idea of how far back we’re going, John Ogden is my 11th-great-grandfather. He was the great-great-grandfather of our Revolutionary War ancestor, Benjamin Woodruff (the subject of this post and this post). John Ogden was even distant history for Benjamin Woodruff—John Ogden the Pilgrim had been dead for 62 years by the time Benjamin Woodruff was even born. Continue reading