Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayflower ancestry and what have you

Today I finally had a moment to satisfy the vague curiosity I had been feeling about my Mayflower ancestors in anticipation of Thanksgiving. My Pilgrim line and Nate's both come from the same child of Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland, but I couldn't remember exactly which child or how it came down to me. I knew the Howlands came from my mom's side, and I thought through the Eppersons, but there are still about 14 zillion possibilities of direction even within those parameters. It's times like those that this blog really earns its keep. Its keep is exactly zero dollars and minimal effort, so you should be pretty relieved that it's worth it. 

I clicked on the Mayflower label, my Mayflower post came up, and I refreshed my memory ever so slightly. That Mayflower post was worth exactly the zero dollars it earns; it was so sketchy about the directness of the line that it took me about twenty minutes of looking at my family tree to find the link. But I found it!
See that Ammi Chipman in the very bottom right? That is the brother of Nate's ancestor, and their dad was the Howlands' grand-something-son. It is because the daughters of that line are my ancestors that I couldn't find the line. They turn from Chipmans to Simmonses to Atkinsons so fast I missed them the first few times I looked. Eventually, as I mentioned in the Mayflower post, my great-grandma Irva Shurtleff Epperson was born. 

Funnily and strangely, as coincidences are, I found a John Carver in my line during my search who was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1661. (Cue the laugh track.) It's funny because John Howland, my Pilgrim man, came on the Mayflower to Plymouth as a servant to the Governor named John Carver--the guy who wrote the Mayflower Compact. They came (as you will remember or Wikipedia will remind you) in 1620, so this John Carver I'm related to is clearly not the same John Carver, and it's really not remarkable since both those names were fairly common in England just then (and now, and always, I assume). But it is a fun coincidence and it gave me a couple minutes' research to do.

The moral of this story is, what's the point of all this? I know, that's not even a moral! I can't remember who came from where and when, and I mix up their stories, and I forget which pioneers came from which pilgrims, and I get confused when Swedish ancestors move to Copenhagen, Denmark before the emigrate (that one sent me on a convoluted tangent today), and to make matters worse, it all comes out a little confusedly and boring when I write it up here. I think I should take a writing lesson from Bill Bryson on how to relay lots and lots frankly useless facts in a way that makes them sound amusing and even potentially worthwhile. Now, now, don't worry; the actual reason I do any research into my family history is just for my personal edification. I like doing it, and to be honest I am a little embarrassed to even say it's "research," because I don't uncover anything new. It's interesting to me, even if there is no visible point to it. It's better than building ships in bottles or giant lego cities, right? (Correction--building ships in bottles is awesome and now I can't stop thinking about how much I want a ship in a bottle. Maybe a mini Mayflower, for the Howlands sake!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some lesser-talked about family Vets

-Since Nate and I both have Mayflower ancestors, we probably have some Revolutionary War soldiers in our families, but neither of us know about that. One more thing to look into!
-My Grandpa Stricklan's grandpa William and his brother fought on opposite sides of the Civil War. William was in Indiana by then, so he fought for the Union.
-My Grandpa Stricklan's uncle Frank was in the Air Force in WWI.
-My Grandpa Paul Stricklan was requested to stay in Idaho and keep his sheep and milk route during WWII to help with the food shortage.
-Nate's grandpa fought in WWII and Korea. His brother Gene also fought in WWII.
-My mom was born on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma but I can't be sure why. (For someone interested in family history I sure know next to nothing, right?)
-Nate's cousin Ryan was a Marine in the early 2000's. He served at least two tours in the Middle East.

And here are some rather random soldier photos that my Grandma Stricklan kept in her family albums:
Paul's cousin Lester Miller born 1918

Virginia and Bill Palmer

Monday, November 10, 2014

RT's story as he wrote it: "I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS...JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE!"

"I'll Be Home For Christmas...if only in my dreams" was the song playing through the speakers at the "Ship Store" on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.

I was 17 when I joined the Navy, and upon high school graduation was immediately sent to the San Diego Naval Training Center for Boot Camp. Upon completion of "Boots" and a short leave  home, I was given the opportunity to attend a basic engineering school and upon graduation was sent to Treasure Island for assignment to a ship and overseas duty.

The Christmas holidays were coming fast, and I was becoming a bit lonely, thinking of home in Smithfield. Plus I saw many sailors packing their bags for Christmas leaves, but thought I wouldn't be eligible because of the previous leave. But why not? So I submitted a request and, to my surprise, it was granted as of December 23. I hurriedly packed a small bag, put on my winter uniform, caught a train to the Oakland Train Depot, bought a ticket and was on my way that night.

It was a long trip with many stops, arriving in Ogden Christmas Eve. I hurried up 25th Street to the Greyhound Depot, but was told, "Sorry, no buses until 11:00 am tomorrow." Christmas Day!

I walked back to the train depot feeling discouraged, sat down and asked for Heavenly Father's help. I stepped out onto Wall Street and stuck out my thumb. I was mighty cold, but I did get a ride.

I was dropped in Brigham City about 11:00 pm on the Tabernacle corner, but had no luck getting another ride. Things in Brigham were pretty much closed, but I saw a lighted sign about 2 blocks north and found it to be a small hotel. The manager invited me in to warm up. there was very little traffic, but about my fourth trip back to the corner I could see two headlights, and I offered a silent prayer. Maybe it was a loud one! The car turned east. (That was the road going into Sardine Canyon and over the mountain into Cache Valley.) They saw me and stopped.

The car was warm and comfortable. What a blessing. They asked who I was and where I was going. The wife said the were the Bowmans from Lewiston and had just left their son, a new Navy pilot, at the train depot so he could return to his station in California and duty in the Pacific.

About 1:30 or 2:00 am they let me out at 160 South Main in Smithfield just in front of my home. I was elated and rushed up the driveway to the side back door. I knocked lightly a few times, saw the hall light come on, the door window curtains pulled back a little, and I saw my Mom's eye. What a surprise! They didn't know I was coming. The door opened, and I was greeted with hugs and kisses from Dad and Mom.

After the shock and some conversation, they suggested not waking my 7-year-old sister Helen, and that I could be one of her Christmas presents. What a joyful time when she came into my bedroom and saw me, even before she had gone down stairs to the tree.

What a great "I'll Be Home For Christmas" that was..."Just you wait and see!"
Christmas 1943 (the previous year) Helen, Myrle, Ralph

Some Clark Veterans

There are many veterans of the US armed forces in Nate's and my families. Since Veteran's Day is on Tuesday, here are a few of them.

Nate's grandpa, Ralph Clark, grew up in a white house on Main Street in Smithfield. His older brother Gene joined the Army during WWII while Ralph was still in high school. Ralph joined the Navy at age 17, and served as a petty officer on the USS Rowan in the Pacific. Nate can remember Grampsie talking about watching the ocean from the ship. He even has a soldier coming home Christmas story! For the family's 2005 Christmas card, Grampsie wrote the story of his 1944 Christmas homecoming, which is transcribed HERE.
"Our Sailor Boy Ralph Age 18 years"

For a few years before Ralph was old enough to join up, Gene had been in the Army. According to the memory of two great-nephews (Nate and his brother Justin), Gene served in Italy, and "something about tanks." There is a poster in the Smithfield History Museum of all of the town's WWII soldiers which shows both Ralph and Gene's pictures. Both Clark boys were fortunate to come home safely when the war ended.
Ralph, dad Carl Clark, Gene
After the war Ralph was in the ROTC at USU and in 1951 went to Korea as a forward observer. He became a first lieutenant in combat. He spent a few years there, and he has recorded a Story Corps broadcast for Utah Public Radio about one of his more life-threatening experiences. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters.
1952 1st Lt. RT in Korea

1951 Lt. RT Clark, pilot Lt. Downer
I know Nate is really proud of his grandpa and his time spent serving his country.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

lately: a friend, some Scottish music and the end of the Stricklan line

I haven't been doing or thinking very much about family history lately, but within the last day a couple of things have brought it back to the front of my mind. (In order from understandable association to abstract absurdity.)

1. A friend of mine (Hi Coppelia!) told me that her grandma has recently passed away and she is now very busy going through the house her grandma lived in for the last 60+ years. She is coming across a lot of cool old things and stories and histories that are changing the way she has thought of her grandparents her whole life.

2. I bought an old mirror and hung it across from our weird little portrait of a lady. They're both old, like my ancestors.

3. I have been listening to Kate Rusby while I clean the kitchen this morning, particularly this song, which for some really unaccountable reason makes me cry every time I hear it. It also makes me try to remember which, if any, of my actual ancestors are from Scotland. If they are so far back, anyway, why do I feel such a connection with them and that rainy, sheepy country? I loved it so much while I was there, just as much as I thought I would. Jocelyn, of course, always talked about the British Isles with a lot of love, but more particularly Ireland than Scotland. So I wonder what it is. Why do I love you, Scotland?

These three things brought me to look at my family tree again, but then I got distracted from Scotland by Stricklans (oops, sorry, Scotland!). I don't see why these Stricklan lines peter out so early. My brothers Jesse and Tim have looked up the surname "Stricklan," and it comes from Northern England (pretty close to Scotland!), and several notable Strickland emigrants came to North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Since our Abel was from Virginia, I am going to assume for now that he came from one of those early immigrants. But how do I find out for sure, and which one? I need to find a professional genealogist to help me. (And come to think of it, if I had known it was an option I would have become a professional genealogist myself. Then I could have me help me.)