Mystery: Our non-military Colonel

If you’ve ever eaten fast-food fried chicken, you’ve probably heard of at least one case of a man who goes by the title “Colonel” despite not having served in a military branch that bestows that rank. (And we’re not talking about stolen valor, but a genuinely bestowed title—just not bestowed by the military.) Harland David Sanders was formally given the honorary title “Colonel Sanders” by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. His title is a legitimate example of the more than two century old tradition known as the Kentucky Colonel.

So when and why was Col. Joseph Askew given the title “Colonel?” I’ve never found evidence of Joseph ever having served in the military in either his native England or his adopted county of the United States. Of course, absence of evidence does not indicate conclusive evidence of absence, but it is still a strong indication that his title of “colonel” has a non-military explanation.

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Calling all Askew descendants!

I need your help!

In writing my previous post on Joseph Askew’s life as a teenager and a young adult, I serendipitously discovered that one of the projects he had worked on in the late 1850s—the Glasgow Water Works—had taken photographs of workers on this project. Just last month these photographs were rescued from a trash bin by a Scottish Water staff member.

In talking with staff at Scottish Water (the folks who rescued these rare photos from the dumpster), I learned that Joseph Askew is the only worker they know of from the early days of the project who has descendants that know about his involvement with that project. And with the 160th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s dedication of the project coming up this October 16th, the folks at Scottish Water are excited about this newly found connection to Joseph Askew and want to write and/or publish a story about the Joseph Askew connection to the Glasgow Water Works.

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Prelude to the Askew migration

Today’s post was inspired by my second cousin once removed, David Richard Askew. We’re both descendants of Wilfred L. Askew and his first wife Hattie S. (Eddy) Askew. He reached out last week to let me know how much he appreciates the work I share on this blog, especially with respect to our shared ancestors. We talked for nearly three hours about all things Askew, and he gave me several new leads (in the form of inherited family stories that I hadn’t heard), and made me realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of Joseph and Jane Askew’s story.

In today’s post, I’ll do a bit more scratching to see if I can reveal more information about Joseph and Jane and their family in the two decades prior to their migration to the United States.

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Home movies: 1968–1969

For today’s post, I’d like to share another home movie that my father Keith Black digitized and that I recently found on his computer.

This home movie is composed of footage shot between May 1968 (just before my sister was born) and the summer of 1970 (just after my sister began walking). It captures Michael Black, Jill Black, Keith Black, Polly Black, Vernon Black, Dorothy Black, Gary Black, Mala Gayer, Bill Prettyman, Harriet Prettyman, Dan Prettyman, Jerry Young, Sue Mawer, Bob Mawer, Jimmy Mawer, and others. The fashions—especially my paisley pants and Harriet’s bold print dress—are really something. Sideburns also feature prominently.

I’ve written up a guide to the scenes below, but please leave me comments about anything I missed or may have gotten wrong.

Enjoy!

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100th anniversary of Bill Prettyman’s birth

As I was making drinks for my wife and mother last night in our home tiki room that I named after my grandfather Bill Prettyman (“Prettyman’s Atoll”), my mother reminded me that the previous day (March 1) was Bill’s birthday. I’ve never been good with birthdays, but I can remember years, and so when she said that, I realized that March 1 was the 100th anniversary of Bill’s birthday on March 1, 1919. Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old on Friday.

I feel like the 100th anniversary of his birth calls for a post, but as these posts usually take days to write and I only have a few hours before I return to the workaday world, I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to write a full biography of him, but given the short time I have, I will instead present a short sketch of the first twenty-five or so years of my grandfather’s life.

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The mysterious Lucille Johnson

As part of my New Year’s resolution to organize all of my family history materials, I’ve been going through and organizing boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous material I’ve been given over the years by family members to preserve.

This particular photo was one of two photo postcards that were mixed in with relatively recent photos from the 1980s and 1990s. I suppose that the person who gave them to me had a photo drawer and just put these much older photos in with everything else.

In any case, the photos were labeled by my grandmother, Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman and were apparently originally given to her mother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew. One of the photos was labeled “Loraine McCrea,” and as I have several photos of Loraine, I recognized her as Loraine. No mystery there.

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Home movies: Kansas mid 1950s

For today’s post, I’d like to share another home movie that my father Keith Black digitized and that I recently found on his computer.

This home movie is from the mid 1950s (probably 1954 or 1955) and captures Keith Black as a teenager, with his younger brother Gary Black, and their parents Vernon Black and Dorothy (McMurry) Black. This film documents the same trip that was documented in Dorothy (McMurry) Black’s photo album that I wrote about in this post.

I’m hoping that family members (especially my uncle Gary and my Kansas cousins) will help me to identify many of the people and places shown in this film. Please leave a comment below if you can help me identify anyone or any locations.

I’ll write up additional details here as soon as I have them.

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Home movies: Christmas 1967

Most of my recent posts have been about people who lived centuries ago, so I thought it would be nice to focus on more recent history in today’s post.

Before he died nearly three years ago, my father—Keith Black—thoughtfully digitized several reels of 8mm home movies that he had found while going through his and his parents’ belongings a couple of years earlier.

I haven’t had the chance until very recently to see any of this video for myself, and now that I have seen it I want to share it with anyone who might be interested. I’ll share the others over the coming weeks. These home movies were shot between the late 1950s and the early 1970s.

Today’s video is entitled “Our Merry Christmas 1967 with Mikie.” I was surprised to see me called Mikie in the title, as family lore states that when I was less than six months old my great-grandfather Clyde Askew held me in his arms and declared “Don’t ever call him Mikie.”

Starring in the movie below are Michael Black, Polly (Prettyman) Black, Keith Black, Gary Black, and Gary’s girlfriend Sandra Sederberg. The first part of the film was shot on location at either our Haskell Avenue or Vesper Avenue house (let me know if you know which) in Van Nuys, and at Vernon and Dorothy (McMurry) Black’s Hamlin Street house, also in Van Nuys.

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Two generations of Coddingtons migrate to the New World

In today’s post I’ll continue my recent theme of focusing on ancestors who were early immigrants to the future United States. I’ll be purposefully focusing on details of the immigrants’ lives before they arrived in the New World, and will address their activities once here in another post.

Stockdale Coddington was baptized on March 8, 1570, in Saint Mary the Virgin Church in the village of Bletchingley, in Surrey county, England. Thus we can surmise that he was born somewhere within Bletchingley Parish in late February or early March, 1570. Stockdale was the third-born child and eldest son of the four children born to James Quidington (1530–1606) and Joan Stockdale (ca. 1537–1612). Quidington was a common Surrey variant spelling of Coddington, along with Cuddington and Quedinton.

1570 was 449 years ago, which may be hard to conceptualize for non-historians. To help you visualize England in 1570, here are a few guideposts: Elizabeth I had been queen of England for a dozen years, Pope Pius V had just excommunicated Queen Elizabeth (on February 25, 1570), Thomas Tallis was a 65-year-old composer, and William Shakespeare was not yet six years old (not until about April, 1570). The King James Bible would not be published for another 41 years. It would be another 12 years until England tried to colonize the new world (unsuccessfully, at Roanoke from 1584 to 1589), and 37 years before England founded its first successful colony in the New World—Jamestown in 1607. The voyage of the Mayflower was still 50 years in the future.

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Mayflower descendancy, part 8

I spent nearly all of my genealogical time and focus in 2018 proving my descent from Mayflower passengers John Alden (and therefore also from his wife Priscilla Mullens and her father William Mullins, both also Mayflower passengers). I had hoped to hear by the end of 2018 that my lineage was deemed sufficiently documented to be accepted for membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (the “Mayflower Society”). Alas, January 1, 2019, came and I still hadn’t heard a decision from the California State Historian or the Historian General in Plymouth.

Just this past Monday, however, I received a letter from the California Historian that my lineage and application had finally been accepted, and that my membership would be formally voted on at the Board of Assistants meeting on January 19. That meeting just ended and I have received the long-awaited news—I am now a member of the Mayflower Society! I am the 94,495th person to successfully apply since the Society was founded in 1897.

Now that I’ve proven our line back to the Mayflower, my cousins on my McMurry side who descend from Lucinda Tracy (Bailey) McMurry can now also just by definitely proving their descent from our common ancestors (Lucinda Tracey Bailey McMurry for second cousins, or just to Dorothy Ruth McMurry Black for first cousins). The 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower is coming up next year, so if you’ve ever considered joining, this would be a great time to do so. If you’re interested in formally documenting your Mayflower line and joining the Mayflower Society, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you out. Even if you don’t want to have your Mayflower descent certified, if you descend from Lucinda Tracy (Bailey) McMurry, know that you are indeed a descendant of at least three Mayflower passengers. I hope that makes you feel as good as it does me!

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