My Life’s Story: Chapter 5

 

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My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 5: McPhee Colorado

 

It was in June 1924, that McPhee, Colorado became the next place for me to live in for a short while. It was near Delores but it does not exist anymore. A new sawmill was being built here with a huge logging operation in connection with it. It was here that Charles had come to find work and he was hired to work as a carpenter in the building of the mill. ‘The pay was out of this world!!’ as they say today. It was all of four dollars a day!

To move us, Mother hired a man who had a Model T Ford truck to haul our stuff over to McPhee and he took us along. While I was riding on top of the load and were about half way to Durango, the pin came loose where the steering rod joined in a ball and joint connection to the rods of the front wheels. Suddenly the truck careened off the road onto a slightly slanted shoulder. Luckily, I was holding on to a rope when I was thrown to the other side hurting my back. As the truck righted itself, I was thrown to the other side before he brought the truck to a stop. I wasn’t badly hurt, but, Mother made me ride in the cab the rest of the way. It didn’t take the man long to put in a new pin and we were soon on our way again.

At McPhee, we moved into a three room, board house. The rooms were in a row with no doors, just doorways between them. When the front door was opened, one could see straight through to the back door. Mother put up curtains at the inner doorways for a bit more privacy, and of course, there was the outdoor privy with two holes in the seat. There was water piped behind each row of houses with a faucet in each yard and we had to carry our water into the house for every need.

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I remember that Mother bought two dozen laying hens. She sold eggs at one dollar per dozen all winter. I had to take care of them and deliver the eggs to her customers.

That summer was fun for me, because there were tea parties and sewing clubs for the girls. The boys played ballgames and swam in the Delores River for their entertainment. Then at night, both the boys and girls played games of hide and seek or kick the can and many others that I do not remember the names for them. We were allowed to play outside until nine o’clock which was the curfew hour for all children.

When it was time for school to start, the school was not ready, so we had to have classes in a four room house until it was finished and ready to use.

The only church service was a Sabbath School on a Saturday afternoon sponsored by five ladies who were Seventh-day Adventist. After attending it regularly, it became the only church, of which, I ever wanted to be a member.

In August, I had my first date. It was with an older man. He was nineteen years old and he was working in the mill. He took me to the movies in Delores that night, and his folks went with us; or as I look back, maybe it was they who took us. He had the unbelievable name of Cicero!

I experienced my third introduction to death, here. The Company had given a picnic for all the young people, down by the river. Floyd Bales who was sixteen, drowned August 16th in the Delores River. I think he had cramps. His body was rescued and he was carried back to his home in camp and the doctor was called. Then he was loaded on a truck and his body was taken to Mancos, Colorado, his home, for burial.

That fall, I had my first spell of partial blindness. A traveling eye doctor, as we called him, came to McPhee. On one of my good days, he tested my eyes and then he sent to Denver, Colorado for glasses for me. When I received them, I put them on and I could see clearly again. They were the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I took off at night when I went to bed.

Mr. Austin came home in December. I think he must have had itching feet like a hobo, because we were soon planning a trip to California. Before we could talk Mother into leaving, Bill and Elmer Austin, Mr. Austin’s sons, showed up at our house. Bill was included in our plans for the trip but Elmer went to work in the woods under a Mr. Attie Roberts.

I had received a big, beautiful doll for Christmas. I was kidded about it a lot, I didn’t care as I liked dolls and I spent hours making clothes for it.

The winter months were cold, snowy and muddy under foot. After the holidays were over, I had another attack of not seeing very good and this influenced Mother to agree to the trip to California. She seemed to think that I was suffering from snow blindness, even though the report from Denver stated that I had astigmatism.

February found us packing, storing and getting the old Model T Touring car ready to go. We had to see that the curtains were in good shape so as to keep us comfortable from the wind and cold and possible snow on the way. I seem to remember that we got cold and miserable several times before we finished our trip, which turned out be almost a complete circle back where we had started from.

We started out for Gallup, New Mexico the latter part of February. It was a real nice day when we left, but it did not stay that way long.
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If you wish to know more about McPhee Colorado the National Parks Service has a webpage detailing the town’s history. It is also the sources of the pictures above.

 

Catch up on Eleanor’s Story: Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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How To Preserve A Husband Part 2

 

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Yesterday I posted about an unexpected find in a cookbook my late mother-in-law had given me. It was a recipe on how to preserve a husband. It held good advice wither you are a new wife or a veteran.

The Recipe:

How To Preserve A Husband

Be careful in your selection. Do not choose too young. When once selected, give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some insist on keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them in hot water. This makes them sour, hard to get along with and sometimes, bitter. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well-sweetened with kisses. Wrap them in a mantle of charity. Keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. Thus prepared they will keep for years.

Found in an old cook book

Mrs. James A. McNamara

 

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Concerned over the condition of the paper the recipe was printed on I decided to put it under glass with a little flair.

Using scrapbooking paper, bits of sewing odds and ends (also given to me by my late mother-in-law), and a decorative frame purchased from a garage sale, I proceeded to create a family heirloom that could be passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter (hopefully, fingers crossed).

What little bit of unique family history that may seem like nothing can you create into a family heirloom? I would love to hear from you.

 

How To Preserve A Husband Part 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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Deadly Tuberculosis

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Image Source: knowitall.org

Genealogists and family historians no only need to know how to find and preserve records, expand family trees, and write histories; they need to have a solid sense of history.

What was going on in the world and locally during the life of your ancestors?

Tuberculosis is a disease that has touched many lives throughout history. It is a disease that, today, does not get as much attention as cancer, influenza or casualties of war. Nonetheless, TB was an avid killer up until relatively recently.

In medical arenas, Tuberculosis is called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. However throughout history, consumption, phthisis, and the white plague.

What is TB? According to the CDC:
The bacteria usually attack the lungs. But TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are infected, but not ill, have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.

It appears that Tuberculosis may have emerged 9,000 years ago in Africa. Trade routes, animals such as goats and cows, seals and sea lions all aided in the spread of the disease.

There are written records all around the ancient world from India, China, and Greece. Even in pre-Columbia America have records of TB written in the DNA of skeletal remains thousands of years old.

Fast forward to 1830. In New York City (population 202,589) alone 16,400 people died in that year alone. 8.1% of New York’s population perished from Tuberculosis.

In 1882 Robert Koch asserted that Tuberculosis is an infection disease meaning that it is transmitted from person to person. Armed with this information sanitariums popped up isolating the infected. Still, they did not have an effective way to combat the disease. One out of seven who contracted TB died.

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Image Source: Blue Ridge Sanatorium

By 1900 Tuberculosis was at a crisis level in Great Britain. So much so that in 1901 a royal commission was formed to study TB transmission between humans and animals.

A hundred years ago Tuberculosis was considered the biggest killer in America. It is estimated that in the United States alone at least 450 people died of Tuberculosis every day. To put that into perspective, that means 164,250 lost their lives every year.

It was only in the 1940s that scientists discovered the first medicines to treat TB. We still use the same medication today. However, since 2000, there is a rise in tuberculosis cases with the disease becoming more resistant to the medicines available.

Unless new treatments are discovered, we could face similar devastating effects of TB as did our grandparents and great-grandparents.

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To Learn More:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Research History

Harvard University Library

Wikipedia

 

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 4

 

My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 4: Bayfield Colorado

 

Mother bought a herd of twelve Jersey milk cows to take up to the ranch in Colorado. We loaded up the covered wagon to make the move with. She drove the wagon and Charles drove the cattle behind the wagon. We arrived at the Marr’s home, which was a short way north of Bayfield, about three weeks before Christmas. The snow wasn’t so bad yet, but that we could get up to the ranch and get settled in. Mr. Marr assured Mother that there would be enough hay and other feed for the cattle and mules until spring.

Charles made a trip into town on snowshoes to get things for Christmas and to pick up our mail and a package that was from my father. We had a wonderful Christmas. Charles went out and cut a tree as tall as the ceiling in the living room. Harry and I made all of our tree decorations, and decorated the tree ourselves.

On New Year’s morning we awoke to find snow four feet deep against the window and it had blown onto the porch and against the door. Charles had to literally dig his way to the barn that morning, so that he could do the chores.

When we all went ty a party on a ranch, every woman that came brought food and everyone stayed all night eating and dancing until morning. The children were bedded down on pallets and beds. We usually made the trip to the party in a sleigh with hot bricks for our feet and blankets to wrap up in. It was real fun and we looked forward to every party that was given.

Since school would not start until the first of April, we had plenty of time to play in the snow, to snowshoe and ski on the mountain side behind our house. We would walk the trapline that Charles had set out soon after we got settled. We thought that we were helping bring in the furs from the animals that he had caught in the traps. He made quite a bit of money from the sale of the furs.

When school started, Harry and I went to school in a little one room building with two cloakrooms. We always had a hot drink with our lunches. We rode horse back to school each morning. It was about seven miles by the road and five miles by the short cut through the gap. The pony that we rode was mine and her name was Penny, because she had a shiny coppered colored coat of hair. She had a colt that spring and its name was Redwing. Mother gave the colt to Harry for his own pony when it was grown up.

Mrs. Painter was our teacher and she taught eight grades. Many times, Mrs. Painter would have me listen to the first grade children read or maybe it would be giving out the spelling words to the second and third grade children. I often thought how nice it would be to be a teacher, but I never got the chance to go to school to learn to become one because of ill health when I was young.

In September, Harry became ill with appendicitis and died in the Mercy Hospital in Durango, Colorado.

When School was out, Mother and I moved into Bayfield, but Charles remained on the ranch until the cows were sold. Mr. Austin went south to find work. I went to the Bayfield grade school and I had to take the seventh grade over due to some rules they had of children coming in to town from a country school.

Our fun, that winter, was skating on the ice in the river and the ice on the ponds, and sledding down Wheeler’s Hill on the hard packed snow on the road, and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. We would use the campfire to warm ourselves by between trips down the hill or after skating for a while. At night the stars were clear and bright and when the moon was full, the country side looked like a fairy winter wonderland. The air would be cold and crisp and we see our breath like a fog in the air. At the end of the evening we would walk home where our mothers would have hot chocolate waiting for us to warm our insides, before we had to go to bed.

When school was out for the summer, Mother and I got ready to move to McPhee, Colorado where Charles had already gone to get work, as there was a new sawmill being built there.

 

To be continued…

 

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Catch up on Eleanor’s story: Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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What’s In Your Shoebox?

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Like many in the genealogy world, I utilize Ancestry from time to time. We all know Ancestry has a sizeable database that is enticing and is expensive.

Also like many genealogists I have limited funds. Sadly, my genealogy budget is tiny.

To keep costs down, as far as Ancestry is concerned, I keep my free account only paying for premium membership on a month to month basis as needed. I spend more per month; however, I save big throughout the year.

One of the features of Ancestry I use during my paid months is the Shoebox. For those of you who don’t know about the Ancestry Shoebox, it is a place where you can send bookmarked records for another time or if you are not sure a record applies to your tree.

Lately, my shoebox seems forgotten. This morning I scrolled down to the bottom of my Ancestry home page. There was the shoebox, neglected for quite some time.

I almost cringed as I clicked to open the shoebox. How many records are waiting for my attention? The number of pages at the bottom of the screen was mindboggling.

Eighteen pages!

At about ten records a page it means there are 180 records to sift through. That is days worth of work.

The bookmarks date back to summer 2013. Slightly horrified and sheepish are the words that come to mind.

To keep my shoebox in mind, I moved it up to the top of my home screen. Yes, you can customize your Ancestry home page to fit your needs.

Now, the shoebox is eye level reminding me of the records awaiting my attention.

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New Genealogy Goal: Clean out my Ancestry Shoebox before the end of the year.

If you have an Ancestry account, ask yourself what is in your shoebox? What useful record is waiting for rediscovery?

What is your Shoebox number?

 

 

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Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

Visit me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

The Ghost Town of French New Mexico

 

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Near Springer New Mexico

 

French, New Mexico is a former settlement named for Capt. William French, who came to the US from French Park, Ireland, in 1883. He settled first in Grant County, then moved to Colfax County, where he became a prominent land-owner.

French was the author of Recollections of a Western Ranchland, 1883-1889. He organized the French Tract, a group of farms with French as its center, but litigation over water rights doomed the enterprise.

The community of French was withered and died from the lack of irrigation, competition with nearby Springer and Maxwell, and the decline of railroad transportation. French never topped more than 250 residents. Captain French eventually moved to England, where he died. Today the community of French survives only as RR siding.

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Map of Colfax County New Mexico

 

George Barrett and his wife Lydia Halstead Barrett were among the 250 farming residents. My great-grandmother, Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen, remembers that her grandfather’s farm was located outside of the small town of French. The tiny town of French was not too far away from Springer.

George Barrett died in 1923 in Miami, New Mexico after the French Tract settlement failed. Miami not shown on the map below is about 10 miles west of Springer.

 

Interested in learning more? Read Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen’s My Life’s Story.

 

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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Death Certificate: George W. Jackson

 

 

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Image Source: FamilySearch

 

George W. Jackson, born 28 July 1850 in Tennessee, was the son of William R. Jackson and Mahala Cooper. He was the 7th of ten siblings.

According to his death certificate, George was seventy years old at this time of his death on 16 January 1921.

He was a mechanic who was widowed. His residence was in Coalfield which is near the center of Tennessee.

The informant for George’s death certificate was Wiley Jackson also of Coalfield Tennessee.

Cause of death is hard to read. The secondary contributor to George’s death is Nephritis which is an inflammation of the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure.

Interesting to note, the undertaker was an L.G. Jackson.

 

Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

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Tennessee Marriage Record

 

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Image Source: FamilySearch

 

 

Tennessee has surprisingly good resources for genealogy researchers. These include extensive marriage records. On Family Search (a free LDS site) has over a million records in their Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 database. In this database, there are images you can view and save to your computer.

Looking at an image of the original document is valuable. You may find transcribing errors or pick up a tidbit of information that can help you in your research.

This database is invaluable for anyone researching their Tennessean roots.

The marriage record above belongs to Steven Kitsmiller Lowe and his bride, Pearl Myers. Their marriage took place on 23 June 1907 in Carter County, Tennessee.

Steven Kitsmiller Lowe was born 10 February 1881 in Carter County, Tennessee. He was the son of George J. Lowe and Jemima Jane Colbaugh.

Pearl Myers Lowe was born 20 August 1889 in Tennessee. I have not researched Pearl’s family, and I do not have much background information for her.

Steven and Pearl had two daughters, Edith (b. 1908) and Ethel (b. 1910) both born in Carter County, Tennessee

Around 1912, They family pulled up stacks and moved across the country to Southern California, Kings County. Making their home around the small town of Lemoore where they stayed for the rest of their lives.

If you are researching your family tree in Tennessee, take a look at the Family Search Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 database. It is free and provides helpful information.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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Ties From The Past

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A few months ago, my daughter Elizabeth, freshly graduated from High school, left for an extended stay in Germany, eighteen months to be exact. Recently, she has taken up baking. To be honest, this new found interest in cookery caught me by surprise. Cooking and baking have a long tradition in my family of which, while growing up, my daughter wanted no part.

She also claims no interest in family history. Do you hear the sad sigh from my heart?

You can imagine my delight when she asked me for a couple of cookie recipes. She already had my chocolate chip cookie recipe which I got from my mother. Here was my chance to be sneaky by slipping in a family history tidbit while recipe sharing.

I sent her my great-grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe along with a short history.

She did not say anything about the small history lesson. However, she was happy with the recipe, although finding Cream of Tartar in Germany was an adventure. A few days later, she sent me pictures of the cookies.

She may not yet realize the significance of the sugar cookie recipe. It bonds her together with her 2nd great-grandmother Annabelle Evans Pinkerton, a lady she never met.

Food is a part of our genealogy. Recipes, cooking and baking techniques and flavor profiles get handed down from one generation to the next. My daughter is baking cookies for her friends with a recipe that is over 80 years old.

Someday, I hope she understands that she is a part of a living family tradition and one day passes it on to her children.

How often do we forget that food is a living history that connects us with our past?

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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