Clarence H. Bailey in World War I, part 4

This is the fourth and final post of this series. In part 3 of this series of posts, I covered Clarence Humphrey Bailey’s time in World War I from when he left Colombey-les-Belles, France, through his hearing the last shots fired before the Armistice, until he celebrated Christmas in Mayen, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation. In this, the conclusion of Clarence’s World War I story, I’ll present his journey from Mayen back to the United States.

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Clarence H. Bailey in World War I, part 3

In part 2 of this series of posts, I covered Clarence Humphrey Bailey’s time in World War I from when he left Camp Lewis in Washington until he arrived in Colombey-les-Belles, France. Until this point, Clarence had been seeing the war from well behind the front lines. He had experienced bombs dropped from German airplanes and being shelled by German artillery, but he had not yet been in the front line trenches or gone “over the top” to charge towards the German front lines. Until now. In part 3, I’ll present Clarence’s journey from Colombey-les-Belles, France, through his hearing the last shots fired on Armistice Day, to his Christmas spent in Mayen, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation.

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Clarence H. Bailey in World War I, part 2

In part 1 of this series of posts, I covered Clarence Humphrey Bailey’s time in World War I from when the U.S. entered the war until the end of his training at Camp Lewis, Washington. In part 2, I’ll be presenting his cross-country rail journey to Camp Merritt, his transatlantic voyage to France, and his journey east across France to Colombey-les-Belles.

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Mystery photo #7: The hidden boy

Today’s post is not only about a new mystery photo I just discovered. It’s also a reminder to double-check anything possibly related to family history before throwing it out. You never know what might be hiding within unless you check thoroughly.

From about the mid 1970s to the late 1980s, my father and grandparents accumulated a number of faux vintage photos and frames. I don’t know whether they were fans of the style or whether that’s just the way that the stores they frequented marketed their frames. In any case, they accumulated piles of these that I later inherited and am still going through.

What I mean by ‘faux vintage’ are generally stained and sometimes artificially distressed oak frames with matted black-and-white or sepia-toned prints behind glass. And to add a layer of realism, my grandmother and father were both heavy smokers for periods of their lives, so the glass and frames were coated with a nicotine patina that made them look like they had been hanging in an old house for decades. But when you turn over these faux vintage frames, their modernity becomes a little more apparent. Relatively clean cardboard is held in place by shiny staples that were hastily and asymmetrically placed during mass production. Remove the cardboard and you find that the antique print is just a modern print on thin, glossy paper.

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Veronika Evertz’ maternal grandparents discovered

Veronika (Evertz) Gores (her maiden name was sometimes spelled Ewertz) was my grandfather Bill Prettyman’s maternal grandmother—she was his mother’s mother. She was born in Germany around 1860 and immigrated to the United States, where she met and married the son of German immigrants. Bill never had the chance to get to know his grandmother Veronika, as she died when Bill was less than a year old. Bill’s mother also died tragically early (read that story here) and after a prolonged period of strain in their relationship that had its origins in a fatal car crash eight years earlier (read that story here). Whatever details Bill’s mother Rose (Gores) Prettyman may have known about her own mother’s German origins apparently never got told to Bill, as he had no stories about Veronika to pass on to me.

Additionally, the stigmatization of German ancestry in the United States that began in the 1910s and carried through the end of World War II caused American families of recent German descent to hide their German ancestry (see here and here for more on this topic) for fear of being seen as un-American or unpatriotic.

Whatever the reason, there is a lot that we don’t know about Veronika Evertz’s German heritage. What we do know is that Veronika was born in Germany to German parents—Peter Evertz and Magdalena Kaufmann, that she had eight siblings (although we don’t know who they were), that her parents also came to the US, and that her mother lived with Veronika and her husband Frank E. Gores in her old age. But that’s just about all we knew for certain.

In an attempt to keep today’s post more brief than it might otherwise become, I’m going to be focusing on just one aspect of my research into Veronika’s German heritage—my discovery of the identity of her maternal grandparents. To the best of my knowledge, this is information that has been lost for nearly a century—since the death of Veronika herself on February 13, 1920.

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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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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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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

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

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